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Saturday January 28th, 2023

Sri Lanka President invites parliament to probe 2020 macro blunders

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe invited the parliament to set up a select committee to probe monetary and fiscal policy blunders that led to sovereign default on foreign debt worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s central bank.

“If the House agrees I can appoint a Presidential commission of Inquiry,” President Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament.

“Otherwise have a select committee. The parliament has powers to do that. You’ll decide on that.”

He was responding to opposition legislator Kabir Hashim who said the public was undergoing severe hardship the key actors who were responsible for tax cuts and money printing after 2020 which led to the default were free and not accountable.

“You said there were no options but bear this pain,” Hashim said. “Ok. Everyone up to now has made sacrifices. But we have a problem.

“Who created this problem? The Institute of Policy Studies, which is a semi-government institution says policy errors in 2020 led to the crisis. The officials and politicians who took these decisions are still free.

“Up to now no investigation has been done on these officials. Please appoint a Presidential commission. This is a request from the opposition.”

“I do not think there is anything to hide,” President Wickremesinghe said. “Our system had a lot of structural defects, which got triggered off by reducing taxes.

“I think the former President has accepted that. We will go into that and find out what the structural defects are, because we must remedy them also.”

Some critics say a key structural defect is the intermediate central bank. (Colombo/Dec08/2022)

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Sri Lanka utility to continue power cuts, regulator says no

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has decided to continue power cuts, as the dry season hits the country despite orders to give 24 hours of power.

The utility said its Board “has decided to continue the demand management programme” and it has informed the regulator of this decision on January 27.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said it had not approved the power cuts “as it violate and affect the rights of 331,000 students sitting for the Advanced Level exams.”

Sri Lanka’s CEB has high running costs due to long term scuttling of planned coal plants by activists and lastly President Maithripala Sirisena.

‘CEB’s costs went up as demand went up since the last coal plant opening and steady collapse of the currency from 131 to 182 to the US dollar due to open market operations unleashed to suppress rates and operate a flexible inflation targeting by the central bank.

Even more aggressive liquidity injections after 2020 to target an output gap then busted the currency from 182 to 360 to the US dollar.

CEB has to use extra fuel from around February to April 2022 as the dry season hits reducing hydro power.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission has ordered the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to supply fuel and banks to give credit for extra power.

Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekera has alleged that CPC officials agreed under duress and threat of jail sentence to supply fuel.

The CEB has to cut power in case demand outstrips supply to maintain frequency at 50 Hz to avoid cascading failures, according to sector analysts. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka president suspends parliament till Feb 08

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has suspended parliament till February 08, according to a gazette notice.

Parliament will re-convene at 1000 am on January 08.

President Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he would make a speech, officially declaring his intention to give effect to the 13th amendment to the constitution on provincial councils.

Provincial councils, a power sharing arrangement backed by India as a solution to the ethnic Tamil have not yet been given police and land powers. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka expects influx of global twins

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s expecting thousands twins and non-twin visitors including at least thirty contestants for a Twins Miss and Mr World 2023 contest, where they will join their counterparts in the country.

“We expect upwards of 4000 participants to arrive in the country for the event,” Founder and Chairperson Vice President Global Twins Multiple Birth Forum, Upuli Gamage told reporters.

“And we very much hope that this number will keep going up in the years to come.”

The country amidst an economic crisis is celebrating the Twins Miss & Mr World 2023 for the first time in the World in Sri Lanka to grab the attention of more than 30 countries.

Prospective Sri Lankan twins can apply for the local contest to be held in May. Winners will go the international event in July.

Twins contests are being held in 30 other countries and three participants will come from each country, according to the organizers.

“This event helps to build a positive image of the country while grabbing the attention of 50 countries,” Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Chalaka Gajabahu said.

“And I heard this can be go as a World record to the genus book, that will give country free PR, free digital media marketing, free social media marketing.”

The Sri Lankan Twins Organization along with the tourism authority has initiated this program including twins of this country as a promotional campaign in hopes of bringing in foreign revenue.

There will be series of events commencing from July 24 to 31 including a business forum for investors to interact. Visitors fro 30 countries are expected.

“Countries like Japan do such programs often and we too should, to grab foreign attention,” Consul General to Japan, Sunil Gamage said.

“This will help to build International bonds. This is an opportunity to bring investors.” (Colombo/Jan27/2022)

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