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Tuesday January 31st, 2023

Sri Lanka police arrest key protest leader amid fears of August 9 agitation 

Ratta – Image credit: facebook.com/Rathidu

ECONOMYNEXT- A prominent Sri Lankan protester has been arrested by the Colombo Crimes Division after a number of  arrests have been made over illegally entering public properties during the July 9 protest which led former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and amid fears of a similar protest on August 9.

A social activist and Youtuber Rathindu Senaratne commonly known as “Ratta” was arrested on Monday (01) for violating the law and breaching a court order during a protest held on a main road in front of the island nation’s World Trade Center on 21 May, which was held against the government’s mismanagement.

Ratta was arrested while he had voluntarily appeared to produce a statement on behalf of the arrest of another protest leader Pathum Kerner, who was also arrested for breaching police barriers near a parliament junction.

The series of arrests come after protesters have planned another massive protest on August 9 similar to the one that forced former president Rajapaksa to flee the country fearing for his life. The planned protest on August 9 is to force President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who succeed Rajapaksa through a parliament vote, to resign.

Wickremesinghe has been tough of protesters, some activists say and he has repeatedly said nobody can burn houses of people in the name of protest.

Wickremesinghe on July 18 has declared state of emergency which gives wide powers for police to arrest people.

A day after Wickremesinghe took over as the president on July 21, the military attacked and evicted the protesters inside and near the presidential secretariat which was occupied by the agitators from July 9.

The number of protesters near the presidential secretariat also has declined sharply amid series of arrests and some protesters withdrawing from the agitation which has been taking place since April 9. They have been demanding former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign and all Rajapaksa family members to leave from the key governmental positions.

The protesters have said the day 9th of the each month has been a lucky day for them after former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign on May 9, his brother an former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa resigned on June 9 and ex-president Gotabaya Rajapapksa fled the presidential palace on July 9 before fleeing the country and resigning from Singapore via an email.

The July 9 protest saw at least 200,000 people joining the key protesters near the presidential secretariat. They stormed into the presidential palace, presidential secretariat, prime minister’s official residence, and burnt then prime minister Wickremesinghe’s private residence. The police has been now investigating into the incidence.

Government officials have said Wickremesinghe administration has been fearing of August 9 protest.  (Colombo/Aug 02/2022)

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  1. Sanji says:

    I am a Sri Lankan, who cares about my country. So far the only people who cares about this country are the boys and girls who are protesting, who showed us that we too have right to stand up. All our politicians only cares about their commission, their money, their statues and their power. Don’t we have the right to say our politicians are wrong? Now they are the ones who are spreading fascism in the country. I am ashamed to say that I am a Sri Lankan.

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  1. Sanji says:

    I am a Sri Lankan, who cares about my country. So far the only people who cares about this country are the boys and girls who are protesting, who showed us that we too have right to stand up. All our politicians only cares about their commission, their money, their statues and their power. Don’t we have the right to say our politicians are wrong? Now they are the ones who are spreading fascism in the country. I am ashamed to say that I am a Sri Lankan.

Sri Lanka shares down for 2nd day as tax hike, delay in Chinese debt assurance weigh

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged down on Tuesday as worries over delay in financial assurances from China which is mandatory for a $2.9 billion dollar IMF loan and rise in protests against tax hike kept investors in check, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) edged down by 0.28 percent or 24.62 points to 8,865.05. It fell for the second session after hitting more than three-month high.

“The market is looking for more macro cues because of faster Chinese debt assurance was expected. The market is also hit by fall in corporate earnings due to high taxes,” an analyst said.

China has given an initial response on debt re-structuring to Sri Lanka though analysts familiar with the process say it is not a ‘hard assurance’ sufficient for the IMF program to go through.

The International Monetary Fund is working with China on extending maturities of Chinese loans to defaulted countries like Sri Lanka, as there is resistance to hair-cuts, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told reporters on January 14.
The earnings for first quarter are expected to be negative for many corporates with higher taxes and rising costs. However, investors had not expected earnings to be low in the December quarter because of year end pick ups on heavy counters, the analyst said.
Earnings in the second quarter of 2023 are expected to be more positive with the anticipation of IMF loan and possible reduction in the market interest rates as the tax revenue has started to generate funds.

However, the central bank said the IMF deal is likely in the first quarter or in the first month of the second quarter.

The most liquid index S&P SL20 dropped by 0.64 percent or 17.74 points to 2,764.51 points.

The central bank has said it could cut interest rates in future when the country sees fall in inflation, which has already started decelerating.

The market saw a turnover of 1.7 billion rupees, slightly lower than the month’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees and while being significantly lower than 2022’s daily average turnover of 2.9 billion rupees.

The bourse saw a net foreign inflow (NFI) of 93 million rupees extending the net offshore buying to 413 million rupees so far this year.

Top losers were LOLC, Royal Ceramics Limited and Hayleys. (Colombo/Jan31/2023)

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Sri Lanka exports fall in December as global recession weighs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports earnings fell 9.7 percent in December year-on-year as the island nation saw a drop in buying from its key export destinations which are facing a looming recession after the Russia-Ukraine war.

The earnings from the merchandise exports recorded $1.04 billion  in December 2022 compared to the same month in the previous year as per the data released by the Sri Lanka Customs.

“This was mainly due to the decrease in export earnings from Apparel & Textiles, Tea, Rubber based Products, and Coconut based Products, Food & Beverages, Spices & Essential Oils and Fisheries products,” the Export Development Board (EDB) said in a statement.

“The reason for this decline was due to the ongoing recession in major markets due to rising cost of production, energy etc. Imports declined sharply due to inflation and demand for goods and services are reduced.”

However, Sri Lanka saw a record export earning of $13.1 billion in 2022 due to increased demand in the key exports throughout the year

Earnings from all major product sectors except Electrical & Electronic components as well as Diamonds, Gems & Jewellery fell in December.

Exports of Apparel & Textiles decreased by 9.6 percent to $480.3 million in December 2022.  Export earnings from Tea fell by 3 percent to $107.3 million, Rubber and Rubber Finished products dropped 20.3 percent to $74.5 million,

However, export earnings from the Electrical & Electronics Components increased by 16.18 percent to $42.9 million in December 2022, while Diamond, Gems & Jewelry jumped 35.7 percent to $30.8 million. (Colombo/Jan31/2023)

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Sri Lanka records over 6,000 dengue cases in first three weeks of January

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka recorded over than 6,000 dengue cases in the first three weeks of January 2023 after a spell of heavy monsoon rain though a drop in cases is likely from February, officials said.

Health officials identified 6,204 dengue patients by January 22, up from 5,793 recorded in the corresponding period last year.

“A rise in cases can be observed in the November-January period with the heavy rain due to the northeast monsoon,” an official from the National Dengue Control Unit told EconomyNext.

Of all reported cases, 46.3 percent were from the Western Province, official reports showed.

Akuressa, Batticaloa, Eravur, Trincomalee, Madampe, Badulla, Eheliyagoda, Kegalle, Kalmunai North and Alayadivembu MOH areas were identified as high-risk areas for dengue during the third week of January by the health officials.

“We are expecting a decline in dengue cases soon. The Western province is always in the top position with the highest number of dengue cases. Apart from that, we are seeing a higher number of cases during this period in areas like Puttalam, Jaffna districts. A certain number of cases have also been recorded in the Kandy district,” the official said.

“Usually the cases peak in December, but they decline by February. This year, too, we are facing this scenario. There is an increase of dengue during the months of November, December and January”.

Due to the economic situation in the country, the Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) in an earlier report said, diesel and pesticides are not being provided by the ministry.

However, rejecting the allegation, the official from the NDCU said the government has provided enough funds for get the necessary pesticides but it is being used according to a scientific method to avoid building a resistance in the dengue mosquito.

“The recommendation is to do the fogging if there is a dengue outbreak or if there are few patients reported from the same locality.

“If you use this pesticide haphazardly, the mosquitos will develop resistance against it,” the official said, adding that there are adequate stocks of the chemical available. (Colombo/ Jan 31/2023)

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