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Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Sri Lanka president talks elections; “very close” to turning economy around

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s job is to turn the economy around, an objective the government is now “very close” to meeting, and his party wishes to contest and “hopes to win”, Wickremesinghe said responding to a question on his re-election.

Speaking to journalists at a meeting with media representatives at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on Tuesday November 14, President Wickremesinghe said he has introduced a “new economy” sans politics.

“I have also introduced – which I want to do without politics – a new economy for Sri Lanka. Let’s debate on it [and on] where we’re going. Thereafter, let’s see what we are doing,” he added.

Wickremesinghe was responding to a question by a journalist on whether he and his United National Party (UNP) intend to contest the presidential election due to be held by October 2024.

The UNP was reduced to a single national list seat at the 2020 parliamentary election after a landslide victory by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019 triggered a mass exodus of UNP members to the newly formed Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB). The SJB contested the 2020 parliamentary polls leading its own alliance and went onto become the incumbent main opposition party.

Wickremesinghe said the UNP “wants to contest next time and they hope to win because they’re the only ones who spoke the truth and they had to go out of politics”.

“I think that’s going to be their strongest point,” he said, adding that the party will have a “lot of new faces”.

“Well, there are other parties also, in government and in the opposition who will contest. My first job is to ensure that we have terminated the bankruptcy. So once we have terminated the bankruptcy we’re introducing new plans. At that stage we have to decide what is going to happen,” he said.

“I come here to get all your support to terminate the bankruptcy,” he added.

Asked if would contest for the presidency himself if he was successful in turning the economy around, Wickremesinghe said: “What do you think I should do?”

The journalist responded that there might be a public backlash against her if she were to respond in the affirmative.

“Why should there be a public backlash? I think I’ll wait till it’s over,” replied Wickremesinghe.

“My job is to turn the economy around. We’ve come very close to it. And I have also introduced – which I want to do without politics – a new economy. Let’s debate on it. Where we’re going. Thereafter let’s see what we’re doing,” he said. (Colombo/Nov15/2023)

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Sri Lanka finding ways to clear 1.1mn pending cases: Justice Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is taking a series of steps to speed up 1.1 million pending court cases and encourage alternative dispute solving mechanisms, Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe said.

“The delay in court cases is a serious problem,” Minister Rajapakshe told a briefing at the President’s Media Centre.

“We have already taken several steps to expedite cases.”

There were 5,680 cases in Supreme Court, 4,054 in the Court of Appeal, 6,168 in the High Court of Civil Appeal, 8,363 in the Commercial High Court, 28,000 in the High Court, 254,000 in District Courts and 791,000 in Magistrates Courts.

In 2015, only 49 percent of complaints to mediation boards were resolved. Following reforms, the ratio has been increased to 70 percent.

The value of disputes going to mediation board has been raised to one million rupees from 500,000 rupees.

To solve land problems in the post-war period, special mediation boards on property was set up in the North and the East.

Mediation boards on property will be set up in another 16 districts.

Commercial High Courts were increased to four from three.

Another Commercial High Court will be set up in the future. The consideration of cases that can go to a High Court was raised from 4 million rupees to 10 million rupees.

A commercial dispute resolution law will be introduced next January.

A small claims court has been established.

Case involving disputes below 2 million rupees can be directed to small claims court.

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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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