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Monday December 5th, 2022

Sri Lanka protestors rebuff alternative ‘GoGama’ sites, call for change

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan protestors have rebuffed President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s suggestions for alternative agitation sites as the iconic GotaGoGama site is on track to be closed following a court order that came in the wake of the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Protestors say the Aragalaya site on the Galle Face promenade facing the Presidential Secretariat is a symbol of a country-wide phenomenon.

Wickremesinghe became President thanks to the protestors who came to the streets after being hit by high inflation and shortages of fuel and cooking gas due to forex shortages coming from money printing.

In a meeting with protestors Friday President Ranil Wickremesinghe, had suggested that protestors move the “agitation site” to Campbell Park, Hyde Park or Viharamahadevi Park. The President had also suggested to the youth protestors that the Floating Market in Colombo City be converted as a space for protestors to “chill, enjoy a beer” and appreciate art, music and discussion.

Several groups involved in the Aragalaya’ protests told EconomyNext that the occupation part of the  people’s movement was effectively over following the court order.

GotaGoGama ends, struggle continues

“It’s not an occupying movement anymore,” Buddhi Karunaratne of the Black Cap Movement told EconomyNext. “We respect the court order, we respect the wishes of the people…but we have not left the struggle.”

The protest site at Galle Face was set up on April 09, when Sri Lankans decided to camp outside the Presidential Secretariat and show their dissent against ex President Gotabaya Rajapaksha and his government, whose money printing to keep interest rates low, led to an economic collapse.

“The Government does not have to point out agitation sites,” Samith Bodhipaksha of the Sarwapakshika Aragalakaruwo group told EconomyNext.

“The people have a Constitutional right to protest, and they will choose a site that is convenient for them.”

The largely peaceful movement was organically initiated by independent individuals from all social strata, who were suffering from an economic crisis. Some eventually banded into organized groups.

Protestors had asked about the possibility of erecting a monument or a People’s University for Sri Lankans to enhance their political literacy as a way to show homage to the Galle Face agitation site.

“This is a symbol of peaceful protests which was able to topple a government and send leaders home,” said Sahan Wiratunga of the Liberal Fellowship Representatives.

During the discussion, the President had floated the idea of converting the Manning Floating Market into a place where youth can gather to express themselves.

“They were looking into a few places if youngsters wanted to get together and demonstrate on a particular issue. He said that if [protestors] wanted to have a good time, there was no issue in having a beer and having a good time,” according to Wiratunga.

Karunaratne said that the President had suggested the Floating market as a place to “play some music and have an art gallery.”

“We have decided to make a space for [protestors] with art and everything…I told them that they can call it RanilGoGama if they like, so my name is in too, at least,” Wickremesinghe said in a recording broadcast over national news networks.

Protestors said that while the idea of a youth hub was not unreasonable, it was not the change that they were calling for, and stability should the priority.

Wickremesinghe is an art and literature connoisseur, and owned many valuable and historic books and artworks, many of which were lost to fire set to his home by ‘fascists’ as he called them.

He has been cracking down hard on protestors since his appointment, with a key trade union leader also arrested.

Only the tip of the iceberg

Protestors are still calling for a system change and say the Galle Face protest was a representation of a national movement.

Bodhipaksha said, “Ranil and [in the past] Mahinda Rajapaksha are trying to put the struggle to only one area…the struggle is all over the country, Galle Face is just a symbol.”

They also said that they would continue with pushing for a system change.

“We are wrapping up the occupation part [of the aragale] but we are carrying out with the aragale to bring in reforms, to bring in more youth and female representation,” said Wiratunga.

“We got to the streets not just to chase out Gotabaya, but to bring in reforms, to change the system. So we are continuing until that happens.” (Colombo/6Aug/2022)

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Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium on Sri Lanka debt, 15 years of debt restructuring

ECONOMYNEXT — The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis, India’s The Hindustan Times reported.

While the Paris Club has yet to formally reach out to India and China, Colombo has yet to initiate a formal dialogue with the Xi Jinping regime, the newspaper reported on Saturday December 03, inferring that the chances of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approving its 2.9 billion dollar extended fund facility for Sri Lanka in December now ranges from very low to nonexistent.

“This means that Sri Lanka will have to wait for the March IMF meeting of the IMF before any aid is extended by the Bretton Woods institution,” the newspaper reported.

“Fact is that for Sri Lanka to revive, creditors will have to take a huge hair cut with Paris Club clearly hinting that global south should also take the same cut as global north notwithstanding the inequitable distribution of wealth. In the meantime, as Colombo is still to get its act together and initiate a dialogue and debt reconciliation with China, it will need bridge funding to sustain the next three month before the IMF executive board meeting in March 2023. Clearly, things will get much worse for Sri Lanka before they get any better—both economically and politically,” the report said. (Colombo/Dec04/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea prices up amid low volumes

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka tea prices picked up at the last auction in November amid low volumes, brokers said.

“Auction offerings continued to record a further decline and totalled 4.2 million Kilograms, of which Ex-Estate offerings comprised of 0.6 million Kilograms. There was good demand,” Forbes and Walker Tea brokers said.

“In the Ex-Estate catalogues, overall quality of teas showed no appreciable change. Here again, there was good demand in the backdrop of extremely low volumes.”

High Growns

BOP Best Westerns were firm to 50 rupees per kg dearer. Below best and plainer types were Rs.50/- per kg easier on last.

Nuwara Eliya’s were firm.

BOPF Best Westerns were firm to selectively dearer. Below best and plainer teas declined by 50 rupees per kg.

Uva/Uda Pussellawas’ were generally firm and price variances were often reflective of quality with the exception of Select Best Uva BOPF’s which were firm and up to 50 rupees per kilogram dearer.

CTC teas, in general, were mostly firm.

“Most regular buyers were active, with perhaps a slightly more forceful trend from the local trade,” brokers said.

Corresponding OP1’s met with improved demand. Well-made OP/OPA’s in general were fully firm, whilst the Below Best varieties and poorer sorts met with improved demand. PEK/PEK1’s, in general, were fully firm to selectively dearer.

In the Tippy catalogues, well-made FBOP/FF1’s sold around last levels, whilst the cleaner Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated. Balance too were dearer to a lesser extent.

In the Premium catalogues, very Tippy teas continued to attract good demand. Best were firm to selectively dearer, whilst the Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated

Low Growns

Low Growns comprised 1.8 million Kilograms. Market met with improved demand, in general.

In the Leafy & Semi Leafy catalogues, select Best BOP1/OP1’s were fully firm, whilst the Below Best/bolder BOP1’s were barely steady.

Low-grown teas, farmed mainly by smallholders and exported to the Middle East and Central Asia, are the most sought-after and expensive Ceylon Teas.

Low-grown CTC prices have gained this week to 982.80 per kilogram this week from 934.76 per kilogram last week.

Few Select best BOP1s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower. Poorer types maintained.

BOPF’s in general, firm market.

FBOPF/FBOPF1’s select best and best increased in value, whilst the below best and bottom held firm.

Selected best BOP1’s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower.Poorer types maintained.

OP1’s selects best together with best and below best were firm to dearer. Poorer sorts were fully firm.

Medium Growns

BOPF’s, select best gained by 50 rupees per kilogram. Others maintained.

BOP1’s select best dearer by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others moved up by 50 rupees per kg.

OP1: select best gained by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others dearer by 100 rupees per kg.

OP/OPA’s in general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg whilst the poorer sorts were firm.

PEK’s Select best gained by 50 rupees per kg whilst all others maintained. PEK1: In general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg. (Colombo/Dec 04/2022)

 

 

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Sri Lanka Ports Authority East Terminal contractor paid: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Authority had paid a deposit for a gantry crane and made the required payment for the contractor to complete building the East Container Terminal, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said.

The East Container Terminal, a part of which is already built is being completed as a fully SLPA owned terminal at a cost of 480 million dollars Ports and Shipping Minister de Silva said.

“ECT we are funding with money available in the ports authority,” he said.

“Up to now we have paid an advance for the gantry crane. And for the construction we have paid all the money agreed with the contractor. So that is going on well.”

Sri Lanka is undergoing the worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s soft-pegged (flexible exchange rate) central bank which has created difficulties in funding the project.

“Every penny we collect as dollars we are keeping them separately and utilizing that for the Eastern Terminal work,” Minister de Silva said.

“We are confident that the ECT will be completed within the envisaged time. It is a difficult task in view of the dollar problem.

Banks were also not releasing the dollar deposits of the SLPA earlier but are now doing so, he said.

“Our deposits in banks they have utilized for urgent other national purposes,” he said.

“So they are releasing that money slowly. I am happy that they are releasing that money little by little. So with that we will be able to manage that.”

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