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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka private credit negative in April, CPC dollar debt taken over by govt

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s private credit was negative by 43 billion rupees in April 2023, and the central government has taken dollar debt amounting to several hundred billion rupees owed by state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to banks.

Private credit has contracted by 644 billion rupees from September 2023, when the country’s runaway inflation stopped along with large scale liquidity injections.

Sri Lanka’s negative private credit has reduced outflows as domestic investments fell, allowing the rupee to strengthen.

With external stability restored the central bank is now urging banks to lower interest rates, which are elevated partly due to reluctance to buy government securities due to fears of debt re-structuring.

Credit to state enterprises fell by 516 billion rupees to 1,130 billion rupees in April 2023 from a month earlier as bank dollar debt guaranteed by the Treasury was taken over by the central government.

Credit to government from commercial banks rose to 4,876 billion rupees, from 4,358 billion rupees.

CPC borrowed dollar from banks went up as the country was hit by forex shortages from flexible inflation targeting, including in 2018 when the firm market priced fuel under a price formula.

Under an IMF program state enterprises which do not have significant dollar revenues have been barred from taking dollar loans. (Colombo/Jun05/2023)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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