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Thursday March 23rd, 2023

Sri Lanka reconciliation: Vigneswaran backs president, wants monks not to interfere

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has a clear vision for the country which must be supported and the Buddhist clergy must stay out of the reconciliation process, Jaffna district MP and former Northern Province Chief Minister C V Vigenswaran said.

Responding to questions by reporters on his way out of parliament on Wednesday February 08, Vigneswaran said he approved of the president’s throne speech delivered that morning.

“I welcome it,” he said.

In his speech, President Wickremesinghe reiterated a pledge to fully implement the 13th amendment to the constitution, which has drawn fiery opposition from nationalist Buddhist monks.

However, Vigenswaran noted that the 13th amendment is not the solution to Tamil grievances.

“In a unitary state, the government carries out the will of the majority community,” he said, adding that as former chief minister of the northern province, he personally experienced how the central government made it impossible for the council to function independently.

“Our goal is a federal solution, but we do think it will be a good thing to fully implement 13th amendment as it currently exists,” he said.

A group of nationalist monks had gathered outside the parliament complex Wednesday morning protesting the proposed implementation of the 13th amendment.

A video of one of the monks setting fire to a copy of the amendment was widely circulated.

Asked to comment on the monks’ protest, Vigenswaran likened it to a similar incident in 1958 when a group of monks forced then Prime Minister S W R D Bandaranaike to abrogate an agreement reached with Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) leader S J V Chelvanayagam. The pact was on the creation of a series of regional councils to provide a level of autonomy to the Tamil minority.

Bandaranaike famously tore the agreement to pieces after vehement protest by the monks.

Aiyo, it was the monks that in 1958 did the same thing and created a problem,” said Vigneswaran.

“Monks must not interfere with these things. They think they alone can save the country and give good [unclear] to the country,” said the MP.

Vigneswaran said he plans to write an open letter to the country’s chief Buddhist prelates on the matter in due course. He claimed that not all Buddhist monks are opposed to the 13th amendment and that some priests who visited Jaffna recently had even said a solution to the conflict should go beyond it.

“We will not turn back until we have obtained a federal solution,” he added.

President Wickremesinghe has repeatedly stated that he plans a full implementation of the amendment.

The 13th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution emerged from the controversial Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 as a purported solution to the worsening ethnic conflict, four years after war broke out. Provincial councils came in the wake of this amendment, though land and police powers have yet to be devolved to the provinces as originally envisioned. Both Sinhalese and Tamil nationalists have historically opposed the amendment, the former claiming it devolved too much, the latter complaining it didn’t devolve enough.

A full implementation of the amendment will see land and police powers devolved to the provinces, a development that is not likely to garner support from Sri Lanka’s more nationalist-oriented parties including sections of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

Federalism has been a highly controversial and politically inflammable idea in Sri Lanka over the years, with many nationalist or even some moderate parties in the south vehemently opposing the very suggestion of it. It is unclear whether this stance has softened over the 13 years since the end of the war, but to date no Sinhalese-dominated party has come out in support for it. (Colombo/Feb08/2023)

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Sri Lanka establishes committee to investigate aircraft incidents

An aircraft lands at the Jaffna International Airport, which was opened in October 2019 and promises to push the tourism frontiers in Jaffna.

ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka’s has established an expert committee under the state-run Civil Aviation Authority to investigate aircraft accidents and to implement precautionary methods in the Sri Lankan airspace, an Official said.

“Even if it is only one flight, there is a chance an accident may occur,” Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General, P. A. Jayakantha said.

“This particular committee is there to investigate aircraft accidents and act as a mechanism to take over if something goes wrong”.

Sri Lanka has encountered around 2,700 minor aircraft accidents and incidents mostly on the ground in the 19 years through 2021, the CAA annual reports showed.

The new committee will analyze the past accidents and take precautionary measures while also conducting investigations and provide independent reports in the future, Jayakantha said.

The team is provided with required training and qualifications by the CAA along with an International organization, free of charge.

“Internationally also it is a requirement to have a team to investigate the aircraft accidents,” Jayakantha added.

“For a long time we have not fulfilled this requirement and that is why we established this team with the cabinet approval. Moreover, recently, Sri Lanka’s two aircrafts, one training aircraft and a commercial aircraft met an accident”

The committee will be on active duty, until the Accident Investigation Act is passed and a proper Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau is established. (Colombo/ Mar23/2023)

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Sri Lanka bond yields steady, Rupee 319/325 at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields closed steady on Thursday while rupee closed weaker, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 30.60/31.00 percent on Tuesday, down from 30.25/75 percent on Wednesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 27.80/28.10 percent, steady from 27.90/28.00 percent from Wednesday.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 319/325 against the US dollar depreciating from 318/320 from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March23/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares dive to two-week low on local debt restructuring fears

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka market fell for a fourth session to a two-week low on Thursday, led by financials, as worries over domestic debt restructuring continued after the IMF loan was approved earlier this week resulting in investors adopting a wait-and-see approach until further clarity was provided, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 1.38 percent or 131.07 points to 9,395.98, lowest since March 02.

Analysts said, majority of the banks have been on slower investment trends on fears of domestic debt restructuring after the IMF approval and waiting for more clarity on the local debt restructuring.

“The market is on muted sentiments despite the IMF loan being approved and is going through a period of consolidation,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The market saw a net foreign outflow of 298 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.64 percent, or 45.33 points, down at 2,722.94.

The market saw a turnover of 3.4 billion rupees on Thursday, above this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

This is the highest turnover generated since March 08, which is when the market was driven off of positive sentiments from International Monetary Fund deal hope after Chinese assurances.

Top contributors to revenue was Agalawatte Plantations, on off board transactions of a stake change, contributing revenue of 1.6 billion rupees, Ranatunga said.

Top contributors to revenue industry wise was Food and Beverage and Telecommunications.

Sri Lanka Telecom has been seeing positive uptrends as the Secretary to the Treasury has informed the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) and Lanka Hospitals PLC that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval in principle for the divestment of the stakes held by the Treasury Secretary in the two companies.

Top losers were Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank.

Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector and announce them the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

Banks have been witnessing profit taking and selling pressures after continuous uptrends prior to the IMF loan had been approved.

Analysts said, selling pressures is expected to ease as the IMF hopes to reduce inflationary pressures which will in turn lead to reductions in interest rates. (Colombo/Mar23/2023)

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