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Friday August 19th, 2022

Sri Lanka Kandy Perahera goes online in Covid crisis

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s traditional Kandy Perahera will be held without a physical audience but it will be broadcast live on social media and digital television, the government said amid a worsening Coronavirus crisis.

The annual festival which used to attract thousands of foreign tourists and locals will be held from August 13 to 23.

“Due to the Covid pandemic, this year’s Perahera will be held without public participation under health guidelines,” a government statement quoting the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy said.

However it will available on the Temple of the Tooth facebook and Youtube channels, on Sri Lanka Telecom PEO TV channels 20/150 and Dialog TV channel 16.

There will be 100 elephants and 5,600 artistes, the statement said.

The statement said the Perahera would be held for the 1711 time.

From tomorrow the a daytime parade will be held for 5 days. From the 18 to 22 the Randoli Perahera will be held. (Colombo/Aug11/2020

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Sri Lanka’s protestors must bear damages to Galle Face Green: minister

Protestors at Galle Face demanding that President Rajapaksa step down

ECONOMYNEXT – The damages caused to Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Green area due the anti-government protests there must be financially borne by the protestors, Minister of Urban Development and Housing Prasanna Ranatunga said.

“It’s public property and the Urban Development Authority (UDA) has invested a lot of money to develop that area,” said Ranatunga on Friday August 19.

Several protestors had filed fundamental rights petitions at the Supreme Court seeking permission to continue their occupation at Galle Face till August 10. Ranatunga said that the protestors that filed such petitions will be held responsible for the damages in the area.

Sri Lanka’s Aragalaya (Struggle) protestors had occupied the site for 125 days in order to oust ex President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government. Friday marked nine days since the area was vacated by the protestors.The crowd kept thinning towards the end of July and into early August due to a combination of reasons. Political analysts attributed it to protest fatigue, a genuine desire to give newly sworn in President Ranil Wickremesinghe a chance, a semblance of normality following what appears to be an end to cooking gas queues and an easing of the fuel crisis, as well as a climate of fear brought about by an alleged government crackdown.

“Estimates should be taken and a court case should be filed, to find the people responsible. We can tell the auditors that the Aragalaya is responsible for the damages,” said Ranatunga.

“Once the damage has been assessed someone responsible has to take charge because auditing discrepancies may occur. Money has already been spent on Galle Face and if we want to spend more, we will be questioned by the auditors on what happened to the money that was already spent,” he said.

A large number of protestors stormed and occupied the Presidential House, Presidential Secretariat, Temple Trees and Prime Minister’s Office on July 09 and after, into which investigations are underway.

After the protestors had vacated the protest site on August 10, Sri Lanka’s police sought public assistance to arrest protestors that broke into state owned entities, even after President Wickremesinghe said had said he had no desire to crack down on peaceful protesters.

“Some groups are trying to spread propaganda through social media that I am hunting down the protesters. This is not true. I will not allow any kind of prejudice against peaceful activists. I will establish an office to protect the peaceful protesters and support them,” he said, though he and others in the government have said previously that unlawful and “fascist” elements that have hijacked the Aragalaya must be dealt with according to the law.

Some protestors who were occupying Galle Face told EconomyNext that they have lost their jobs, have changed their physical appearance and are being forced to pay for damage.

A key protestor told EconomyNext: “I did it for the country, for myself, my family and all who are unhappy. But now my life is at risk. I have changed how I look, I lost my job and am rummaging about my savings which are depleting just like the country’s reserves.”

“The government keeps failing to understand us. We don’t have money to eat and we are expected to pay a price for loving and attempting to save the country from these good for nothing fellows,” said another protestor. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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India has helped Sri Lanka to best of its ability, will assist with IMF: Jaishankar

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

ECONOMYNEXT – India has helped the crisis-hit Sri Lanka to the best of its ability and will help the island nation with its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.

Indian media quoted Jaishankar as saying at an event in Bangkok on Thursday August 17 that this year alone, India has extended 3.8 billion US dollars in support to Sri Lanka including lines of credit and swap arrangement.

“Any help we can give to Sri Lanka at the IMF that we will naturally do,” India’s NDTV quoted Jaishankar as saying on its website.

Jaishankar’s speech focused on India’s relations with China India, which he said was going through an “extremely difficult phase” after what Beijing has done at the border.

The Asian Century will not happen if the two neighbours could not join hands, he said.

The foreign minister did not make any explicit reference to the recent diplomatic standoff between India, Sri Lanka and China over a Chinese tracking vessel that is currently docked in the island’s Hambantota Port for replenishment purposes.

Related:

Chinese tracking vessel Yuan Wang 5 docks at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port

“At the moment (the India-China) relationship is going through an extremely difficult phase after what China did at the border,” he said.

“I think if India and China have to come together, there are many reasons to do so, not necessarily only Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that it is in India and China’s own interest to join hands. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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Pressure on Sri Lanka’s exchange rate is easing: central bank chief

ECONOMYNEXT – Pressure on the exchange rate is easing with higher interest rates and a slowdown in credit with kerb premiums also falling, central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

“We are seeing the pressure on the rupee easing as a result of exports growing and imports contracting and we hope that trend will continue,” Weerasinghe said at a policy review meeting on Thursday August 18.

“On the foreign the remittances side, the severe shortage of forex has been settled down to a certain extent,” he said.

For the first five months of 2022 Sri Lanka has earned 1.33 billion dollars in remittance.

Import expenditure for the first five months of 2022 stood at 8.7 billion dollars.

Weerasinghe said forex inflows, mainly remittances, have helped pay for the import expenditure of key commodities.

“We are especially able to allocate forex for the purchase of fuel, gas, and medicine. The import cost has reduced and export income is at considerable levels,” he said.

“We are able to facilitate the purchase of basic needs of the country even without going for short term loans. That is a positive sign when compared with previous policy decision making.”

“There is very little intervention by [the central bank],” he said.

According to central bank data, Sri Lanka’s trade deficit has narrowed to 3.5 billion dollars in the first half of 2022 compared to 4.3 billion dollars in the previous year as import expenditure slows down.

Exports earnings for the month of July was 1.15 billion dollars while the import expenditure was 1.25 billion dollars.

Central bank officials said the gap between the black-market premium and the banks have reduced for forex.

The bank is quoting the US dollar around 360 under a guidance peg whereas commercial banks were selling at around 370 levels.

However, it will continue to monitor dollar earning exporters to repatriate the dollars into the country to further improve the situation. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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