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Saturday May 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka parliament votes to remove PUCSL chief

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament has voted to remove the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission Chairman Janaka Ratnayake, Speaker Mahinda Abeywardena said.

Out of 225 members 123 voted to remove him while 77 voted against.

This is the first time a head of an independent government commission was sacked by the parliament.

Wijesekara told parliament during a debate proceeding a vote to remove Ratnayake as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) that the official had acted obstinately without the concurrence of fellow commission members.

Five charges were levelled against the PUCSL chief by the minister, the first two which were based on a February 10 verdict by the Court of Appeal rejecting an application filed by Ratnayake against an electricity tariff hike.

“My gut feeling is that I will be removed as a Chairman tomorrow,” Ratnayake told reporters a day earlier.

“If I can change the country, I will definitely join politics, because my intention is to serve the people and what is right.”

Opposition legislators slammed the decision saying it undermined independent commissions.

Ratnayake had blocked delayed a tariff hike in early 2023, resulting in losses to the Ceylon Electricity Board, he claimed. The PUCSL also had not enabled tariff hikes for nine years, requiring its governing law to be changed, Wijesekera said.

“We understand that Janaka Ratnayake and his family have not been able to come to the gallery at parliament and that is to be deplored,” Wickremeratne told parliament. “Even if a person is convicted in a court of law, the person can be present there.”

Wickremeratne said Sri Lanka’s parliament had a bizarre record over independent commissions, undermining good governance.

“The Sri Lankan parliament has a bizarre record on some of these issues,” Wickremeratne said. “We have members in these chambers who voted for independent commissions in the 17th amendment. Then the same people in the 18th amendment voted to abolish the independent commissions.

“Once again we bring a 19th amendment and we bring in independent commissions. Then in the 20th amendment, we bring another amendment in an authoritarian system putting all the power in one individual.

“And then we bring a 21st amendment reintroducing the independent commissions. This is he record of the Sri Lankan parliament and dome of the MPs who have been voting on this. ”

“Today, we plan to undermine an independent commission by removing a chairman of an independent commission.”

Such practices, where democracy (majoritarianism) undermines liberties and freedoms of citizens is called constitutional authoritarianism, political analysts say.

Sri Lanka inherited a law making parliament from British rule as a transplanted political system without a history or tradition in liberal thinking. (Colombo/May24/2023)

Comments (2)

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  1. PHILIP says:

    This is parliamentary thuggery. Defeats the purpose for which a parliament is created. It has become a blood-sucking parasite in the country. Dissolve the parliament and call for elections

  2. NIMLUCKY says:

    Had he sought the services of a psychiatrist sometime ago, this would not have happened to him.

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  1. PHILIP says:

    This is parliamentary thuggery. Defeats the purpose for which a parliament is created. It has become a blood-sucking parasite in the country. Dissolve the parliament and call for elections

  2. NIMLUCKY says:

    Had he sought the services of a psychiatrist sometime ago, this would not have happened to him.

Sri Lanka suffers over $138mn foreign outflow from govt bonds in 2024 after rate cuts

ECONOMYNEXT – Foreign investors have dumped 41.6 billion-rupee ($138.6 million) worth of Sri Lanka government securities in the first 20 weeks of 2024, the central bank data showed, after reduction in the key policy interest rates.

The foreign holding in Sri Lanka’s treasury bills and treasury bonds fell to 75.9 billion rupees on the week ended on Friday (17), May 2024, from 117.4 billion rupees on the week ended on December 29.

The central bank rate has reduced the key policy rates by 50 basis points so far in 2024, extending the rates cut by 700 basis points since June last year.

The rupee appreciated 9.1 percent in the first four months, but the gain failed to attract foreign investors amid a dragged debt restructuring negotiation with external private creditors.

Currency dealers said lackluster demand for dollars due to dampened imports with heavy controls, boom in both tourism revenue and remittances have helped to increase the dollar liquidity in the market, leading to the appreciation of the local currency.

The dealers said foreign investors can earn capital gain if they had bought government securities before the appreciation and now the offshore investors might be selling their bonds.

“They are also discouraged by policy rate cut because that will reduce their returns from the rupee bond investments,” a currency dealer said.

The yield in 12-month T-bills has fallen 336 basis points in the first four months of this year, the central bank data showed.

The central bank also reduced the Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR) of commercial banks by 200 basis points in August last year to boost liquidity in the market with an aim to reduce market interest rates.

Under tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions for its $3 billion loan program, the central bank raised key monetary policy rates in 2022 and last year to bring down inflation which hit over 70 percent in 2022. The inflation has fallen to the lower single digit now.

The rupee has appreciated to around 300 against the US dollar this week from around 330 level early in November. The local currency was at 365 rupees against the US dollar in early 2022. Depreciation causes capital loss for foreign investors. (Colombo/May 18/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s ‘Sancharaka Udawa’ tourist fair seeks to involve universities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ‘Sancharaka Udawa’ tourism fair kicked off this week to promote interaction between industry stakeholders and relevant Government bodies, including the Tourist Police, and also universities.

“Several universities, including Colombo, Uva Wellasa, Kelaniya, Sabaragamuwa and Rajarata were given free stalls to facilitate student interaction with industry professionals,” Chairman of the Sancharaka Udawa Organising Committee, Charith De De Alwis said in a statement.

The event takes place today (18) at the BMICH and houses stalls for hoteliers, tour and transport services, with a goal of attracting 10,000 visitors.

Organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), the 11th edition of Sancharaka Udawa offers a platform for both B2B and B2C sectors.

“Sancharaka Udawa houses over 170 exhibitors and a footfall of more than 10,000 visitors,” De Alwis said.

This year’s edition will include participants from outbound tourism sectors to facilitate capacity building. The event provides networking opportunities for industry newcomers and veterans.

“The networking platform offers opportunity for small and medium-sized service providers integrating them into the broader tourism landscape. The anticipated outcome is a substantial increase in bookings particularly for regional small-scale tourism service providers.” (Colombo/May18/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s CEB sells LTL shares to West Coast IPP for Rs26bn

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has sold shares of an affiliate to West Coast Power Company Limited, an independent power producer giving profits of 25.9 billion rupees in the March 2024 quarter, interim accounts showed.

The sale has been carried out as a transfer.

“Twenty-eight percent (28-pct) of share ownership of CEB within LTL Holding’s equity capital has been transferred to West Coast Power Company Ltd for a total consideration of Rs 26 billion as part of a partial settlement of outstanding dues…” the March interim accounts said.

“This transaction resulted in a net gain of Rs25.9 billion rupees which has been recognized and reflected in the ‘Gain from Share Disposal’ in the individual financial statement in CEB.”

LTL Holdings is a former transformer making unit of the CEB set up with ABB where the foreign holding was sold to its management.

The firm has since set up several IPPs.

West Coast Power operates a 300MW combined cycle IPP in Kerawalapitiya promoted by LTL group liked firms in which both the Treasury and Employees Provident Fund also have shares.

Its operational and maintenance contract is with Lakdhanavi, another private IPP. The firm has been paying dividends.

The capital gain from the transfer of shares helped the CEB post profits to 84 billion rupees for the March 2024 quarter.

CEB reported gross profits of 62.7 billion rupees from energy sales and 30.6 billion rupees in other income and gains in the March 2024 quarter. Other income was only 3.1 billion rupees in last year. (Colombo/May18/2024)

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