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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Sri Lanka local govt polls: president’s party adamant time is not right for elections

ECONOMYNEXT – Amid some lingering uncertainty over the timely conduct of Sri Lank’s local government polls scheduled for March 09, the United National Party (UNP), headed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, maintains that now is not the time for an election.

UNP parliamentarian Vajira Abeywardena, a long-time Wickremesinghe loyalist, told reporters on Monday January 23 that the party is disappointed that an election is being held at a time that is not conducive to the conduct of an election.

“The election is not a priority for the people. The crisis is still not over,” Abeywardena said, speaking at an event.

Sri Lanka’s national election commission has announced that the local government polls will be held as scheduled on March 09 for 340 municipal councils, urban councils and pradeshiya sabhas. However, accepting nominations for the Kalmunai Municipal Council has been suspended following an interim injunction issued by the Supreme Court.

Both the UNP and sections of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which have teamed up to contest some of the local bodies, continue to insist that now is not the time for elections, despite both parties submitting nominations and placing deposits for the polls.

The government, however, claims that Sri Lanka cannot afford an election at this juncture. The local government polls is estimated to cost around 10 billion rupees.

Abeywardena said an election is taking place at a time when even government workers’ allowances are being taxed.

“It would’ve been better to stop the election and cancel that tax. The private sector has also collapsed,” he said.

An election in March will also affect tourism, with many more tourist arrivals anticipated between February and April, he said.

“If an election process begins again, tourism businesses and hotels that suffered for three years will collapse once again,” the national list MP said that

“If the country is destroyed once again, it is your future that will be destroyed,” he added.

Meanwhile opposition the National People’s Power (NPP), a leftist outfit headed by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), who some analysts predict will fare well at the upcoming polls, is adamant that the election go ahead.

NPP legislator Harini Amarasuriya said at a public event that an opportunity has presented itself to end 75 years of “corrupt rule”.

“The 9th is an unlucky day for these rogue leaders. But a very lucky day for citizens.

“March 09 is the day the first step will be taken towards establishing a people-centric administration elected by the people,” she said. (Colombo/Jan23/2023)

Comments (2)

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  1. AZOOR Junaideen says:

    Govt parties are afraid to face the election after damaging the economy thus making it a bankrupt nation. This a good opportunity to signal that the end is near

  2. Sunil says:

    Although it is an election to choose members for local governments, people are showing more interest in this than even a presidential or parliamentary election and are keen to initiate a process to chase away the rogues of the ruling party that has brought the country to its knees within a short span of two and a half years.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. AZOOR Junaideen says:

    Govt parties are afraid to face the election after damaging the economy thus making it a bankrupt nation. This a good opportunity to signal that the end is near

  2. Sunil says:

    Although it is an election to choose members for local governments, people are showing more interest in this than even a presidential or parliamentary election and are keen to initiate a process to chase away the rogues of the ruling party that has brought the country to its knees within a short span of two and a half years.

Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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