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Friday June 2nd, 2023

Sri Lanka protest site started to oust Prime Minister

Protestors at Mynagogama

ECONOMYNEXT – Protesters in Sri Lanka who have been camping outside the president’s office for 19 days in a row demanding that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa step down have set up a new protest site outside Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official residence Temple Trees demanding his resignation.

Named “Myna Go Gama” – Myna (as in the bird) being a recently established nickname for the PM – the new site takes after the main protest site at the Galle Face Green named Gota Go Gama. The new site was opened after police failed to obtain a court order preventing its establishment near the Galle Road entrance of Temple Trees. A number of luxury hotels and embassies exist on this particular stretch of road.

Police had parked four buses and a truck to prevent protesters sitting on the pavement by Temple Trees. However, the organisers got creative and found a gap between a bus and truck to put up a tent and start their agitation to oust the second-most powerful Rajapaksa, who was Sri Lanka’s president from 2005 to 2015.

Protesters hung an old picture of Rajapaksa with a Hitleresque toothbrush moustache on a nearby lamp post, with two small white flags hoisted on either side of the picture, presumably signifying death. Some of the protestors stuck their anti-Rajapaksa placards on the buses parked nearby.

Many protesters said they found it difficult to voice their demands because of loud Buddhist pirith chanting coming out of the PM’s residence. The chanting was drowning out the protestors’ voices to the point even their comments to the media were barely audible.

Placards carried slogans like “you destroyed the feature we dreamt of” and “We need justice for Rambukkana killing”, referring to a police shoot in the central district of Kegalle that left a protestor dead.

Widespread protests started around Sri Lanka following shortages of essentials like milk powder, medicines, fuel, and cooking gas amid extended power cuts. A police attack on a March 31 protest, President Rajapaksa’s declaration of emergency law followed by a 36-hour curfew, and temporary a social media ban aggravated middle class youth who had never been to a protest.

Meaningful protests

Many people now see the protests as something meaningful because they have already delivered some results which they see as positive.

The protests have forced the resignation of the previous cabinet and central bank governor who had stubbornly resisted seeking IMF assistance in addressing the economic crisis.

They have also precipitated the resignation of all Rajapaksas from their ministerial positions excepts for the president and prime minister so far.

“A couple of us at Gotagogama decided to come and have an organised protest here, because we wanted to show that the protests are not violent or destructive,” Chamara Jayakody, a 29-year old tourism sector employee told EconomyNext.

“The Government wants to create a picture that protesters were causing social instability, but that is not the case. We encourage people to join us in this collective fight. Our problem is not only with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but this entire system.”

“There are no jobs anymore. People can’t even pluck coconuts because people don’t have the money to hire them. That is how low we have fallen.”

The “MynaGoGama” is just 2.1km away from the main protest site at GotaGoGama.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa, who had been widely respected and almost deified by the majority Sinhala Buddhists for his leadership role in ending Sri Lanka’s 26-year war, is fast losing his appeal, analysts say.

Political crisis

The economic crisis has now turned into a political crisis with the demand for the resignation of both President and Prime Minister Rajapaksa on the rise.

Some protestors shouted “Old Mahinda, go home’ while screamed leveled allegations of corruption under him.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa has responded to his critics and said he can even run with the youth and that he still follows his physical exercise routines. The 76-year old veteran politician on Tuesday (26) said he will not resign unless somebody removes him.

Ven Pussiyankulame Sumanarathana Thera, a monk from Sri Lanka’s North-central district of Anuradhapura had travelled to Colombo after he heard that protesters were backed by some parties with vested interest and extremists.

“I came all the way from Anuradhapura because I heard these protests were backed by NGOs and extremists. But what i saw was that the protesters are from all walks of life who are affected by the ongoing economic crisis. I don’t think the Sri Lankan people will let politicians steal in this manner again, or use racism as a tool to gain political power,” he said.

“People are enduring much hardship to be here, they sleep in tents, and the rain often leaks through,the ground gets muddy and it is mostly impossible to sleep. People who see me often offer a comfortable place for me to pass the night, but a revolution has to be done from the site of the struggle, and I and everyone else will be here until the end, enduring all the hardships.”

Most other demonstrators said they were there to support the youth of the country and the people who are going through hardships due to these crisis.

“I used to do import and export business and we have enough meals to eat too but I am here everyday because I want to support the youth. Rajapaksas have stolen our country,” said a mother of two.

Rajapaksas have denied corruption allegations, claiming all charges are fabricated by opposition parties. However, many Rajapaksa critics have said the first family always used the government as their family business. (ColomboApr26/2022)

Comments (2)

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  1. Lakdasa De Silva says:

    Bus Service
    Is there a bus service from ” Gota Go Gama” to ” Myna Go Gama” ?

  2. John Perera says:

    When people finally realize that the president is not only corrupt but is war criminal ……then we will really start to see the beginnings of a new and decent Sri lanka.

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Comments (2)

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Lakdasa De Silva says:

    Bus Service
    Is there a bus service from ” Gota Go Gama” to ” Myna Go Gama” ?

  2. John Perera says:

    When people finally realize that the president is not only corrupt but is war criminal ……then we will really start to see the beginnings of a new and decent Sri lanka.

Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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