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Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Sri Lanka opposition calls SLPP bluff, challenges ruling party to defeat budget

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ECONOMYNEXT – Amid speculation of a widening rift within the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) over its political future, the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has called the SLPP’s bluff, challenging it to defeat the upcoming budget if they want an election.

Former SJB parliamentarian Mujibur Rahuman said the SLPP can defeat the upcoming budget if they want a parliamentary election.

“If the Rajapaksas want to go for an election, they can defeat the budget. We don’t know if they’ll take that decision,” Rahuman said speaking to reporters.

“What we see is that they talk big outside, but turn into kittens at the sight of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Those are the Rajapksas that are visible to us,” he said.

SLPP legislator S M Chandrasena said his party will be the “main factor” at future presidential and parliamentary elections, speculation over its internal divisions notwithstanding.

Chandrasena told reporters at the party headquarters Friday November 10 morning that no one can bring the SLPP down.

“Many are slinging mud at the SLPP, claiming the Pohottuwa (party symbol) was what caused the economic crisis and other crises. We know that for years, particularly during the Yahapalana government, the country took 12 billion dollars in loans. With nothing to show for it, as we know,” the MP said.

“So our party cannot be brought down. Our party is the main factor in the election of the next president and also in the formation of the next government,” he added.

Meanwhile, according to National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the SLPP is in a predicament. Dissanayake said at an event in the US earlier this week that an early parliamentary poll would prove disastrous to the Rajapaksa-led party, so they would have to throw their weight behind President Wickremesinghe at the presidential poll, which would also spell a shift of power to Wickremesinghe’s associates and confidantes in his United National Party (UNP).

The only way for an early parliamentary poll would be for the president to dissolve parliament, which he is unlikely to do, with the upcoming budget also unlikely to be defeated, Dissanayake, who leads the Marxist-Leninist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) said.

Dissanayake currently leads at least one opinion poll on presidential election voting intent. (Colombo/Nov10/2023)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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Gov minister highlights abortion rights, sex-ed for children, and Sri Lanka men killing their women

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s legislators have politicized the topics of rape and violence without addressing the elephant in the room, Jeevan Thondaman, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development said in parliament on Monday (4).

“All the members here are talking about rape. What happens after that? We must talk about abortion rights. That is not something anyone wants to touch on, and that is why we are in this place right now,” Thondaman said.

“Despite alarming statistics on rape and violence, women are often blamed and punished for it. The criminalisation of abortion is a major example of this.”

Sri Lanka has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. According to a 2016 estimate by the Health Ministry, he said, approximately 658 abortions take place a day, and close to 250,000 a year.

“That’s 250,000 women whose lives you are endangering.”

He added that what was needed at this point in time was comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for children and young people.

“Only through CSE in schools will children and young people develop, accurate, age appropriate knowledge attitude and skills; positive values such as respect for human rights, gender equality, diversity and attitude and skills that contribute to a safe, healthy and positive relationship.”

Thondaman pointed out that CSE plays a pivotal role in preparing young people for a world where HIV, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and sexual and gender based violence still pose a risk to their well-being.

“CSE basically empowers children take control and make informed decisions freely and responsibly.”

Thondaman also highlighted the findings of a 2021 study (Fatalities_20211109_UNFPA) by the UNFPA and the University of Kelaniya that showed that a majority of women killed in Sri Lanka were murdered by those close to them.

“62 percent of homicides of Sri Lankan women are committed by either an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member. 84 percent are killed in their own homes by someone they know.”

Police and the judiciary have failed Sri Lanka’s women, the minister pointed out.

“Only 5 percent of these cases, between 2013-2017, were ever concluded. Men claim they were provoked, or are of unsound mind or have mental illness: These have been successful defenses. And the Police often express sympathy to this narrative as opposed to the victim’s.”

“We have a history of protecting oppressors.”

It takes 7-10 years for a child rape case to conclude, he pointed out.

Establishment of child courts are needed, he said, as well as several legislative amendments. “The government is working on a new law to reform the domestic violence act, reform of marriage and divorce laws to ensure there is an easier path to divorce: no one should be forced to remain in a marriage that is either abusive or not healthy.” (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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