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Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Sri Lanka to ban import, use of fertilizer, agro-chemicals to save foreign exchange

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will ban import and use of fertilizer, insecticide and weedicide on which hundreds of millions of dollars and give subsidies to farmers for cross losses, according to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a statement said.

Though massive amounts are spend on chemical fertilizer, weedicide and insecticide there is no qualitative growth in agriculture, President Rajapaksa had said at a meeting

Sri Lanka will ban chemical fertilizer, insecticide and weedicide but will give financial support to boost organic fertilizer.

“The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides pollutes rivers and streams and poses a serious challenge to quality drinking water supply,” the President was quoted as saying.

“The Government expenditure with regard to a number of non-communicable diseases, including kidney disease and cancer, is rising every year.

“The loss of livelihoods of the people living in rural areas, deteriorating health conditions and the declining of people’s productivity have become challenges the country is facing today.

“Reduced yields as a result of infertility of soil and the destruction of biodiversity can be witnessed.”

The government the money spent on fertilizer subsidies to cover any crop losses of the farmers. About 50 billion rupees was spent on fertilizer subsidies a year.

“Farmers may assume that giving up on chemical fertilizers will reduce the yield,” the statement said.

“If it does, the President guaranteed that the Rs. 50 billion spent annually on chemical fertilizers will be used to recover their loss.”

Sri Lanka has spent 221 million US dollars on fertilizer imports in 2019. With the rise in oil prices the cost of imported fertilizer could rise to 300 to 400 million US dollars the statement said.

The entire state machinery should be mobilized the population for this objective, President had said.

There could be objections from farmers as it was a sensitive matter for most engaged in agriculture.

Basil Rajapasksa, the head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival had noted that the goal could be “easily accomplished through the contribution of religious leaders, organizations affiliated to farmers, professionals, researchers, government officials, the media and all other relevant parties.”

Sri Lanka is facing foreign exchange shortages in the wake of unprecedented money printing under so-called Modern Monetary Theory.

Sri Lanka has faced forex shortages from shortly after a Latin America-style central bank with a soft-pegged exchange regime was set up in 1950 allowing money to be printed for open market operations or to finance the budget deficit.

From then on most economic programs have failed as policy was directed to ‘save foreign exchange’.

When money is printed to push up domestic credit imports exceed dollar inflows and it is no longer possible to hold the exchange rate.

The soft-peg has made the rupee vulnerable Federal Reserve money printing (rising commodity prices) as money is printed to subsidize oil or other commodities, and also to eventual Federal Reserve tightening as domestics rates are not raised in step, analysts have shown.

The Fed is now printing money driving up commodity prices.

Analysts and economists have called for laws to restrain discretionary domestic operations of the central bank and control its discretionary powers so that it cannot trigger monetary stability and it is possible to engage in ordinary economic activities.

Sri Lanka’s monetary instability started to worsen from around 2015 with ‘flexible’ inflation targeting and a ‘flexible’ exchange rate involving fully discretionary policy, critics have said. (Colombo/April30/2021)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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Gov minister highlights abortion rights, sex-ed for children, and Sri Lanka men killing their women

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s legislators have politicized the topics of rape and violence without addressing the elephant in the room, Jeevan Thondaman, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development said in parliament on Monday (4).

“All the members here are talking about rape. What happens after that? We must talk about abortion rights. That is not something anyone wants to touch on, and that is why we are in this place right now,” Thondaman said.

“Despite alarming statistics on rape and violence, women are often blamed and punished for it. The criminalisation of abortion is a major example of this.”

Sri Lanka has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. According to a 2016 estimate by the Health Ministry, he said, approximately 658 abortions take place a day, and close to 250,000 a year.

“That’s 250,000 women whose lives you are endangering.”

He added that what was needed at this point in time was comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for children and young people.

“Only through CSE in schools will children and young people develop, accurate, age appropriate knowledge attitude and skills; positive values such as respect for human rights, gender equality, diversity and attitude and skills that contribute to a safe, healthy and positive relationship.”

Thondaman pointed out that CSE plays a pivotal role in preparing young people for a world where HIV, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and sexual and gender based violence still pose a risk to their well-being.

“CSE basically empowers children take control and make informed decisions freely and responsibly.”

Thondaman also highlighted the findings of a 2021 study (Fatalities_20211109_UNFPA) by the UNFPA and the University of Kelaniya that showed that a majority of women killed in Sri Lanka were murdered by those close to them.

“62 percent of homicides of Sri Lankan women are committed by either an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member. 84 percent are killed in their own homes by someone they know.”

Police and the judiciary have failed Sri Lanka’s women, the minister pointed out.

“Only 5 percent of these cases, between 2013-2017, were ever concluded. Men claim they were provoked, or are of unsound mind or have mental illness: These have been successful defenses. And the Police often express sympathy to this narrative as opposed to the victim’s.”

“We have a history of protecting oppressors.”

It takes 7-10 years for a child rape case to conclude, he pointed out.

Establishment of child courts are needed, he said, as well as several legislative amendments. “The government is working on a new law to reform the domestic violence act, reform of marriage and divorce laws to ensure there is an easier path to divorce: no one should be forced to remain in a marriage that is either abusive or not healthy.” (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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