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Wednesday February 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka president calls meeting to discuss ethnic issue after Dec 11

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has reiterated his call for immediate bipartisan consensus on a permanent solution to the island nation’s decades-long ethnic problem, inviting opposition lawmakers for a round of talks after December 11.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday November 23, Wickremesinghe once again invited all parties representing the parliament to discuss a lasting solution to the grievances of the country’s Tamil minority, most of whom reside in the formerly war-ravaged northern and eastern provinces of the island.

“There is nothing new to talk about. [We just have to] decide what is relevant. I think we can do it by next year. My aim is to do it by the 75th anniversary of independence. If you can’t do that, you may not have that [sp] Sri Lanka by 2048,” said Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe had previously invited all Tamil political parties to a discussion on issues faced by the Tamil community with a view to resolving them with no foreign intervention by February 04 next year when Sri Lanka celebrates 75 years of independence from the British.

On November 10, Wickremesinghe asked parties that represent the Tamil community in parliament help “resolve these issues amicably without outside interference”.

The privately owned The Sunday Times reported on November 06 that a ministerial team was to be appointed to draw up the “broad outlines of what such a project should encompass”. This would later form the basis of discussions with all stakeholders, the English weekly reported.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Wickremeisnghe asked Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislator M A Sumanthiran if he is willing to come on board. He posed the same question to chief opposition whip and main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Lakshman Kiriella and MP Mano Gansean whose Democratic People’s Front (DPF) is part of an SJB-led alliance.

SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa was absent at the time, and a party member was heard saying “We’ll ask our leader and get back to you”.

Kiriella responded that Wickremesinghe knew very well that Kirella had long supported devolution of power. The real question, he said, was whether Wickremesinghe’s new backers in the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) would ever support meaningful devolution.

“We know what the SLPP really feels in their heart of hearts. They are opposed to devolution,” said Kiriella, challenging SLPP leader and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to state his position on record.

Kiriella said it was the Kandyan Sinhalese who had first proposed devolution in the 1930s. One of the Kandyan leaders at the time, he said, was an ancestor of the incumbent president.

Said Wickremesinghe: “Will you ask your leader and tell us this evening, then?”

MP Ganesan said: “The SJB alliance is agreeable to devolution of power. That is why we’re here. We wouldn’t be, otherwise.”

Responding to Wickremesinghe, MP Sumanthiran said: “If you call for a meeting of all parties as soon as we conclude the budget session, we can finish it before December 31.”

Wickremesinghe agreed and said a meeting will be called in the week following December 11.

Kiriella, however, noted that when ousted former President Gotabaya Rajapakasa had invited the SJB for talks on a proposed new constitution, he had sent a missive to the party that they shouldn’t join if they wished to protect the 13th amendment to the constitution.

President Wickremesinghe assured Kirella that he would in fact protect the 13th amendment, which came in the wake of the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord and saw the creation of the provincial councils.

“You’re one person. Are the others here in agreement? Are the MPs? We know very well about the honourable president. He was our leader for 20 years,” said Kiriella.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, too, has historically opposed devolution, the MP said.

In a lighter vein, he quipped: “The prime minister said this morning that he’s also an American now. Maybe it’s the influence of the president. We applaud that.”

SLPP MP Gevindu Kumaratunga who now sits in the opposition cautioned that they can only support a proposal that will honour Sri Lanka’s unitary character.

“If you’re asking for a consensus within a unitary Sri Lanka, we’ll agree. Outside of that, I don’t think a majority of people will agree. There is a ground reality here. Our soldiers laid down their lives to protect the unitary state,” said Kumaratunga.

President Wickremesinghe pressed on, asking the House at large to agree to a meeting to discuss proposals.

“We have to build confidence with the Tamil community. But we also have to build confidence with those people in the Sinhalese community who have reasonable concerns as to where it will lead,” he said.

The president also said that Muslim youth who were arrested in connection with the 2019 Easter bombings against whom there is no evidence will also be released soon as discussed at the latest security council meeting. (Colombo/Nov23/2022)

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Sri Lanka shares edge up at close

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s shares edged up on Wednesday pushed as investors bought in to beaten down shares following the previous session’s drop, market analyst said.“

At this price level what we are seeing is a lot of confidence from the investors to collect when the prices drop. So, the market is not falling sharply,” a market analyst said.

Market had also seen buying in Expolanka shares on speculation that the parent company of SG Holdings was buying back into the shares.

All Share Price Index (ASPI) edged up by 0.96 percent or 84.96 points to 8,950.01.

The most liquid index S&P SL20 gained 1.27 percent or 35.02 points to 2,799.53.

Banking and Insurance counters had seen interest on the back of positive sentiments from the IMF.

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

The market saw a turnover of 1.5 billion rupees today,lower than the month’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees and nearly half of 2022 average turnover of 2.9 billion rupees.

The bourse saw a flow of net foreign inflow of 45 million rupees extending the net offshore buying to 1.9 billion so far this year.

Top gainers of the day were Commercial Bank, Expolanka, and Ceylinco Insurance. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)






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Sri Lanka bond yields down at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were down at close following a bond auction on Wednesday, dealers said while a guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged.

“The rates were steady at the auction,” a dealer said.

“This can be a signal to the market saying the rates will go down in the future.”

A bond maturing on 01.07.2025 closed at 32.40/60 percent, down from yesterday’s 32.60/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2027 closed at 29.10/35 marginally down from yesterday’s 29.20/75 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions remained unchanged at 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 371.38 rupees on Friday, data showed. (Colombo/Feb 01/2022)

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Sri Lanka bill auction hits pothole after 2025 bond spike

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka sold only 45 billion rupees in Treasury bills at Wednesday’s auction after offering 120 billion rupees, data from the state debt office showed, amid market confusion over a spike in a two year bond at an earlier action.

30.1 billion rupees of 3-month bills were sold at 29.91 percent, unchanged from a week earlier after offering 60 billion rupees for auction.

5.1 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold at 28.72 percent, flat after offering 30 billion.

10.3 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold at 27.72 percent after offering 30 billion.

Phase II subscriptions have been opened.

The market was foxed after the 2025 bonds were accepted at sharply higher yield than market on January 30, dealer said.

There was further confusion as the there was an outright purchase of 2025 at around 29 percent earlier in January.

Some investors speculated that the authorities were trying to drive more buyers towards short end bonds as bill volumes were getting larger. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)

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