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Tuesday May 21st, 2024

Sri Lanka ICT leaders call for stability, access to dollars for essential services, end to emergency

LIFE SKILLS: Students going through computer applications assistant course

ECONOMYNEXT – A collective of information and communication technology (ITC) industry leaders in Sri Lanka on Monday (04) called for transparency, stability in governance and fiscal management, access to dollars for startups and small businesses for essential services and an end to an ongoing public emergency.

Signed by over 160 industry representatives including Sanjiva Weerwarana of WSO2 and Hasith Yaggahavita of 99x, the statement said the ICT community finds it difficult to defend and justify to its stakeholders that Sri Lanka is a safe environment to build innovative businesses, products and provide continued services at global standards.

“The current situation sends dangerous signals and in fact many of our community have had to start looking outside of Sri Lanka for the continued delivery of their products and services. The economic impact created by the current situation further compounds the challenges faced by our early-stage companies and will prevent necessary investment and risk capital to come into the country. We beseech the government to repeal the State of Emergency as this is causing more uncertainty amongst our stakeholders,” the statement said.

Sri Lanka has seen a wave of public protests, most of them seemingly spontaneous and with no involvement of opposition parties, against President Rajapaksa and the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led government over their handling of the one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history. As fuel shortages and power cuts brought about by a severe dollar shortage forced people onto the streets, culminating in a 36-curfew over the April 02-03 weekend, uncertainty looms over the fate of the government with speculation rife of mass resignations.

The signatories expressed grave concern over the public emergency declared by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last Friday (01) in the aftermath of a protest outside his residence the previous night.

“As a community, we are gravely concerned by the declaration of the state of emergency by his Excellency the President on the night of April 1st, 2022. Our community is of the view that the declaration of state of emergency is not the solution to the present social economic situation. We believe that the right approach is in fact to open a dialogue between the political leadership and the country’s constituents,” the statement said.

Sri Lanka’s digital economy represents approximately 4.37% of GDP and, according to the statement, is positioned to grow exponentially in the coming years. 

“This ecosystem has developed itself mostly on its own, relying on the support of each other on the values of freedom of expression and collaboration. Hence this ecosystem is firmly committed to protecting people’s basic civil liberties which includes the freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly,” the ICT professionals said. 

“This community for its part is committed to protecting the rights of its constituents and the basic civil liberties we expect of a democratic nation state. We believe that the decisions that affect the country need to be participatory and collaborative with our industry,” it added.

The industry leaders called on the government to: 

  • Ensure stability in governance and fiscal management of inflation to provide overall confidence to the ICT community. 
  • Improve decision making by the government to provide the minimum power required for the continuity of our industry and introduce incentives immediately for solar and other renewable energy solutions. 
  • Provide access for startups and small businesses to the minimum dollars required to pay for essential services not available locally. 
  • Remove emergency, curfew, and suppression of citizens’ rights to peacefully protest and or express displeasure of what they are experiencing as severe hardships.
  • Refrain from blocking access to the internet and all social media sites during states of emergencies that completely deny business for startups who rely on accessing their customers, suppliers and/or produce through these channels. 
  • We require transparency and accountability at all levels of government.


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Sri Lanka declares May 21 as National Mourning day over Iranian President’s death

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka declared a national mourning day on Tuesday, May 21 in view of expressing its solidarity with Iran after sudden death of Iran President Ebrahim Raisi following a helicopter crash.

President Raisi and eight others including Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were killed in the crash when the helicopter had a “hard landing” reportedly due to adverse weather conditions with heavy fog. However, President’s two convoy helicopters reached the destination safely.

“The Sri Lankan government has declared a national mourning day on tomorrow (May 21) on behalf of the sudden death of Iranian president Mr. Ebrahim Raisi,” the Department of Government Information said in a statement.

It also urged all the state institutions have to hoist the national flag half mast.

Raisi was in Sri Lanka on April 24 to launch the Uma Oya dam on a one-day official visit amid tight security. His helicopter crashed when he was returning to Iran after launching a dam in the Azerbaijan border.

President Raisi is seen as a hardliner and a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said the island nation will deal with Iran for investments and trade without being caught into the United States-led sanctions.

Sri Lanka was unable to receive $450 million from Iran for a recently opened Uma Oya multipurpose project started before the sanctions.

Sri Lanka now exports tea to Iran for no dollar payment. Instead, Sri Lanka tea producers are paid by the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) in rupees for the pending crude oil import payments for Iran.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his condolences on the tragic incident.

“Sri Lanka is deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian and other senior Irani official,” he said in his official X-platform.

“I express my deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the bereaved families, the government and the people of Iran.”

Raisi, a Muslim jurist, served as the eighth president of Iran from 2021 until his death. (Colombo/May 20/2024)

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Sri Lanka helps launch Global Blended Finance Alliance

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has joined a group of nations led by Indonesia which aims to mobilise capital to achieve carbon neutrality, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman said.

The Global Blended Finance Alliance mooted by Indonesia in 2018, was formally launched at the World Water Forum in Bali today.

Among the other founding members are Fiji, France, UAE, Kenya, Luxembourg and Canada.

“Through our collective efforts, the Global Blended Finance Alliance aims to mobilise both public and private capital to help nations achieve carbon neutrality and the SDGs,” Thondaman said on social media platform X (twitter).

“The world has a USD 2.5 trillion funding gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” he said.

Blended finance is the strategic use of development finance, such as public and/or philanthropic funds, for the mobilisation of additional commercial finance towards sustainable development in developing countries. (Colombo/May20/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes slightly stronger at 299.60/75 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee appreciated slightly to close at 299.60/75 to the US dollar on Friday, from 299.70/80 the previous week, dealers said. Bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed up at 10.15/35 percent from 10.05/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed up at 10.45/55 percent from 10.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 10.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2030 closed at 11.70/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed up at 11.90/12.05 percent from 11.85/12.00 percent. (Colombo/May20/2024)

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