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Wednesday February 28th, 2024

Sri Lanka rainstorm kills 25, swimming in floodwaters adds to toll

ECONOMYNEXT – Three more deaths have been reported due to the prevailing adverse weather in Sri Lanka, bringing the death toll to 25, with red alerts for landslides have been issued to Kegalle, Kandy and Kurunegala districts, the Disaster management Centre (DMC) said.

DMC Deputy Director Pradeep Kodippili told reporters that out of the 25 deaths, 12 were due to drowning.

“Most of the deaths were due to people going for a swim or a boat ride in the flood areas,” Kodippili told reporters on Thursday (11).

“We ask urge public not to do that. Do not go knowingly engage in these activities in flooded areas.”

The DMC said more than 12,000 people are still in relief centres, while latest data shows around 200,000 people from 60,000 families have been affected by the inclement weather.

Kodippili said 700 to 1,000 properties were damaged and valuations are being done by government agents and DMC officials for compensation.

Residents in low laying areas around reservoirs and rivers have also been asked to be vigilant due to many dam doors being opened to control water levels.

Meanwhile, the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) issued land side warnings for several areas on Thursday (11).

Level one

  • Galle – Nagoda, Neluwa, Yakkamulla, and Akmeemana District Secretariat Divisions
  • Rathnapura – Kiriella, Elapatha, Nivithigala and Kuruwita District Secretariat Divisions
  • Matale – Pallepola, Matale and Yatawatta District Secretariat Divisions
  • Kalutara – Ingiriya, Walallawita and Horana District Secretariat Divisions
  • Gampaha – Mirigama, Aththanagalla and Dompe District Secretariat Divisions
  • Nuwara Eliya – Walapane, Ambagamuwa, Hanguranetha and Kothmale District Secretariat Divisions

Level two

  • Badulla – Passara and Ella District Secretariat Divisions
  • Colombo –Seethawaka and Padukka District Secretariat Divisions
  • Kalutara – Mathugama, Agalawatta, Bulathsinghala, Palindanuwara and Dodangoda District Secretariat
  • Divisions
  • Galle – Baddegama abd Elpitiya District Secretariat Divisions
  • Rathnapura – Ayagama, Rathnapura, Eheliyagoda and Kalawana District Secretariat Divisions
  • Matale – Raththota and Ukuwela District Secretariat Divisions
  • Kandy – Pathadumbara, Minipe, Meda dumbara, Poojapitiya, Ududumbara, Delthota, Hatharaliyadda,
  • Akurana, Panvila and Kundasale District Secretariat Divisions

Level three (Red alert/ Evacuate)

  • Kegalle – Yatiyanthota, Ruwanwella, Mawanella, Aranayaka, Bulathkohupitiya, Dehiowita, Rambukkana,
  • Kegalle, Warakapola, Deraniyagala and Galigamuwa District Secretariat Divisions
  • Kandy – Harispaththuwa, Doluwa, Yatinuwara, Udapalatha, Pasbage korale, Gangawata Korale,
  • Udunuwara and Gangaihala korale District Secretariat Divisions
  • Kurunegala – Mallawapitiya, Rideegama, Alawwa, Narammala, Mawathagama and Polgahawela District Secretariat Divisions

The Meteorology Department said a low pressure area in the south-east Bay of Bengal has intensified into a depression. Currently located about 300 kilometers north of Point Pedro, it is expected to move northwestwards and reach the northern Tamil Nadu coast Thursday evening.

On land, the Met Department said, showers will occur at times in Western, Sabaragamuwa, North-western and Central provinces and in Galle and Matara districts.

Showers were also forecast to occur Northern Province in the morning hours.

Showers or thundershowers may occur at parts of Uva province and in Ampara and Batticaloa districts in the evening or night. Fairly heavy showers about 75millimeters can be expected at some places in Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and North-western provinces.

“Strong winds up to 40-50 kilometers per hour can be expected over the island,” the department said.

Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in sea areas extending from Puttalam to Hambantota via, Colombo and Galle, the Met Department further said.

Wnds will be South-westerly at speeds of around 30-40 kilometers per hour in sea areas around the island. Wind speeds can increase up to 50-60 kilometers per hour at times in the sea areas extending from Puttalam to Hambantota via, Colombo and Galle.

Sea areas extending from Puttalam to Hambantota via Colombo and Galle will be rough at times and temporarily strong gusty winds and very rough seas can be expected during thundershowers. Naval and fishing communities have been warned to be vigilant. (Colombo/ Nov 11/2021)

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Sri Lanka’s religious leaders need to cultivate harmony: Prez

ECONOMYNEXT – The responsibility of cultivating harmony rests significantly on the shoulders of religious leaders, Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has said.

“While politicians often pursue power, religious leaders strive to maintain their positions, frequently resorting to the perilous avenues of racism and bigotry. This unfortunate trend has plagued our country since the 1930s, yielding disastrous outcomes,” Wickremesinghe was quoted by his media division as saying at the ‘Religions to Reconcile’ national inter-religious symposium, organized by the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, held today (28) at the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall (BMICH).

“Our nation has endured the bitter consequences of racism and religious extremism, culminating in a devastating conflict.

“With the military conflict resolved, Sri Lanka’s political challenges are now receiving attention, necessitating a renewed focus on coexistence,” Wickremesinghe said, adding that steps are being taken to resolve land disputes, address the issue of missing persons, release certain individuals, and initiate a delimitation of powers.

The President’s speech:

Having acknowledged the intrinsic connection between religion and reconciliation, our nation has endured the bitter consequences of racism and religious extremism, culminating in a devastating conflict. Following the cessation of hostilities, our main objective has been to foster coexistence among all communities.

The responsibility of cultivating harmony rests significantly on the shoulders of religious leaders. It is imperative that we remain mindful of our intentions. While politicians often pursue power, religious leaders strive to maintain their positions, frequently resorting to the perilous avenues of racism and bigotry. This unfortunate trend has plagued our country since the 1930s, yielding disastrous outcomes that require no further explanation.

Take Singapore, for example, where the absence of racism and bigotry has contributed to its rapid development despite its diverse linguistic landscape. With the military conflict resolved, Sri Lanka’s political challenges are now receiving attention, necessitating a renewed focus on coexistence, a topic also being deliberated in Parliament.

Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, served as the Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Religious Affairs and Co-Existence when he was serving as the Speaker. This committee was established in response to conflicts involving Muslims in March 2018, as well as incidents in Galle in 2017 and Beruwela in 2014. Various proposals were put forth by these committees to address these issues, and consensus was reached on their implementation. It’s crucial that we uphold this agreement and continue working collaboratively to resolve these challenges.

Towards the close of last year, numerous Buddhist monks and Tamil leaders presented the Himalaya Declaration, a document we are currently adhering to. As we move forward, the final phase entails fostering synergy, particularly through discussions with Tamil political parties and MPs, aimed at addressing lingering issues. Steps have been initiated to resolve the matter of missing persons, with further updates forthcoming in the near future. Additionally, arrangements have been made for the release of certain individuals held in connection with these matters.

The primary concern at present revolves around the fate of the missing persons. To address this issue, we’ve presented and successfully passed a bill in Parliament to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Numerous reports from Disappearance Commissions have been reviewed, and one report authored by Judge A.H.M.D.Nawaz was selected.

Following the approval of the draft for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged his support for these initiatives. Similar assistance is being extended by other nations as well, enabling us to advance these critical endeavours.

Addressing the on-going political challenges, our attention is directed towards resolving land disputes, particularly in regions like Jaffna where tensions persist between villagers and the Wildlife Department. Similar conflicts also arise in areas such as Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, and Mahianganaya. We aim to address these issues through inclusive dialogue, involving all concerned parties. Furthermore, I have instructed to proceed in accordance with the 1985 map. Additionally, I anticipate meeting with Tamil MPs in Parliament next week to discuss these matters further. Following consultations with the security forces, agreements have been reached to release more land, providing a pathway forward in our efforts.

Another pressing issue is the delimitation of powers. A key demand is the empowerment of the 3rd list of devolution, with an emphasis on not interfering with police powers at present, leaving them open for future consideration. The Land Act is slated for presentation, and there are no objections to the delegation of other subjects in the 3rd list. However, securing the necessary consensus with other parties in Parliament to achieve a two-thirds majority remains crucial.

Simultaneously, discussions are underway regarding the implementation of the Provincial Board of Education. Proposals have been made to establish provincial professional training institutes in each province. Additionally, plans are underway to appoint provincial-level committees to lead the modernization of agriculture, establish a tourism board, and undertake related initiatives.

Additionally, the work of five provincial ministries is expected to be distributed among twenty ministries. This restructuring cannot simply resemble a general ministry, so officials are currently deliberating on adjusting their structure accordingly.

I eagerly anticipate addressing the final aspect of this matter, the decentralized budget, once all parties have convened. There’s also a call for a secondary board, akin to a Senate, which the government does not oppose. However, such an initiative would need to coincide with the framing of a constitution, potentially requiring a referendum. I also intend to engage in discussions on this topic with other party leaders.

These measures aim to lay the groundwork for a new era in our country. Religious leaders have been entrusted with significant responsibilities in this endeavour. I am confident that further discussions on these matters will yield fruitful outcomes.

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 310.00/15 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 310.00/15 to the US dollar Wednesday, from 310.25/50 on Tuesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.60/80 percent from 10.60/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent up from 11.80/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2028 closed stable at 12.00/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.20/50 percent from 12.25/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed stable at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2031 closed at 12.55/75 percent down from 12.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.50/90 percent down from 12.55/13.00 percent. (Colombo/Feb28/2024)

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Sri Lanka Treasuries yields edge up after steep fall

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasury bill yields edged up across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 3-month yield up 09 basis points to 9.87 percent, data from state debt office showed.

The debt office sold 27.5 billion rupees of 3-month bills after offering 35 billion rupees.

The 6-month yield rose 09 basis points to 9.95 percent with 37.23 billion rupees of bills sold, after offering 47.5 billion rupees.

The 12-month yield went up 03 bis points to 10.05 percent, with 39.5 billion rupees of bills sold and 40 billion rupees offered.

Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yield have come down sharply in recent weeks.

The trend was partly helped by some banks which were earlier not buying into bills, starting to buy them.

Deposit in the central banks overnight window (private sector sterilization) has come down from around 200 billion to around 130 billion rupees in recent weeks.

Sri Lanka’s central bank in the past have triggered currency crises and eventual high corrective rates by not allowing Treasury bill yields to move when up private credit picks up and buying them into the balance sheet.

The resulting forex problems are then blamed on budget deficits (politicians) and current account deficits (mainly imports of the public usually petroleum, gold or cars).

The central bank can still buy Treasury bills outright from banks, term or overnight to inject money, alter rupee reserves of banks and encourage them to overtrade and trigger forex shortages, confidence shocks, capital flight and a second default, critics say.

The central bank recently lifted counterparty limits of standing facilities, which are given at the policy rate without a penalty unlike in countries with greater monetary stability.

In recent weeks the central bank has oversold bills outright and injected money long term and short term, though so far overall net injections have been deflationary. (Colombo/Feb28/2024)

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