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Friday July 12th, 2024

Sri Lanka president needs referendum to extend his tenure: Justice Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe will need a referendum if he needs to extend his tenure by one year despite an error in the constitution’s 19th amendment when it was passed in 2015, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.

Speculations have been on rise that the island nation’s constitution could allow President Wickremesinghe to extend his tenure by one year due to a mistake in the constitution, which was approved with more than two-third majority.

While all references to the six-year terms of both the president and parliament were changed to five years in line with the 19th Amendment, Article 83(b) was overlooked and left unchanged, giving a loophole to extend his term for President Wickremesinghe.

However, Minister Rajapakshe said despite an inconsistency, the rulers need both two-third majority and referendum to change 9 clauses in the constitution which also include the people’s voting right.

“There is an issue here. When the tenure of the president and parliament was reduced to five years, all the corresponding clauses have been reduced to five years. However, it has not been amended in this clause,” Rajapakshe told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Wednesday (12)

“But, because it was not changed in this clause, nobody has the right give a new interpretation to the constitution,” he said.

“So, this means if the president wants to extend his tenure, mandatorily, you need a two-third majority with minimum 150 MPs approving it in the parliament plus it has to be approved by a referendum. Nobody can give an artificial interpretation on this.”

“For referendum, you need to bring a proposal to the parliament and it has to be approved by a two-third majority, and then you have to wait until it is approved by a referendum. This is something you can’t do practically.”

The Election Commission has announced that the presidential election will be held between September 17 and October 16, this year.

The speculation on possible extension of the presidential tenure comes after Wickremesinghe-led center-right Unuted National Party’s General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara called for a referendum to postpone both presidential and parliamentary elections by two years to extend Wickremesinghe’s term to continue ongoing economic reforms.

However, his proposal  met strong criticism. Wickremesinghe government has already postponed local government polls scheduled to be held in March last year indefinitely.

Wickremesinghe was elected as the president by the parliament in July 2022 after an unprecedented economic crisis grew into a political crisis with mass protests forced then leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country citing threats to his life.

Wickremesinghe after becoming the president secured an IMF deal, implemented some hard reforms including raising taxes, and planned to divest state assets to reduce losses.

Political analysts say despite his reforms to ensure the economic recovery from the economic crisis, Wickremesinghe is not the most populour leader among the general public.

Opposition politicians like center-right Samagi Jana Balawegaya’s (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa and Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka are populour among the voters, but both of them have been largely silent on specific economic policy strategies on the recovery and economic growth. (Colombo/June 12/2024)

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Sri Lanka appoints new Attorney General

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed K A Parinda Ranasinghe PC as Attorney General.

He was appointed in terms of Article 61E (b) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the president’s media division said.

The new AG received the appointment from President Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday.

He fills the post after the retirement of former Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 301.70/302.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger at 301.70/302.00 to the US dollar on Friday, from 302.80/303.00 to the US dollar on Thursday, dealers said, while bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.90/11.00 percent, up from 10.85/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.75/80 percent, up from 11.80/88 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.10/30 percent, up from 12.15/25 percent. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, muted activity

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Friday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.35 percent, or 41.71 points, at 11,843; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.56 percent, or 19.20 points, at 3,454.

Turnover was low at 653 million.

“The market picked up a bit from yesterday but it’s still below the psychological 12,000 mark,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“Local retail participation drove the market predominantly.”

John Keells Holdings Plc brought in Rs109mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 194.50.

Melstacorp Plc contributed in Rs104mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 85.00.

Sentiment around the banking counters was mostly negative. Sampath Bank Plc closed down at 77.00, closed flat at 101.25, and Hatton National Bank Plc closed flat at 195.25.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc (up at 103.50), Bukit Darah Plc (up at 397.00), and Hayleys Plc (up at 101.00).

Foreign participation remained low as well. There was a higher net foreign outflow of 101 million.

“Foreign selling was seen on John Keells Holdings, and banking counters; Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 195.00), Pan Asia Banking Corporation Plc (down at 20.70), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc.

There was selective foreing interest on the diversified financials sector, particularly in companies that had vehicle leasing portfolios. “We think this might be due to the news of the vehicle import ban possibly ending.”

LOLC Holdings Plc closed up at 440.50, People’s Leasing and Finance Plc closed up at 12.20.

Softlogic Holdings Plc which announced the date of its rights issue, closed up at 8.50. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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