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Thursday March 23rd, 2023

Sri Lanka to erase Slave Island tag 178 years after British abolished slavery in Ceylon

EMANCIPATION: British liberals cautiously and systematically broke down the institution of slavery in Ceylon and elsewhere.

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has ordered that the name ‘Slave Island’ to be erased from the address books 178 years after the British finally abolished slavery in the island.

The Slave Island is believed to be a place where the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) quartered some of its slaves.

Instead, the area will be called by the Sinhalese name of Companggna Veediya.

Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake has requested the Public Administration Ministry to issue the required gazette.

The move to wipe out the historical name, comes as the country prepares to mark 75 years of gaining self determination from the British and just 178 years and two months after the Colonial rulers finally abolished the ancient custom from the island.

A slave is a person who was owned by a third person who was be bought and who was sold like merchandise under fuedal and Mercantilist rule. A slave cannot quit the job and is not sacked like under capitalism.

By the time the Abolition Gazette was issued by the Government of Ceylon on December 20, 1844, the institution of slavery had been systematically broken down by liberal British civil servants.

The British Empire, under pressure from classical liberals and the Abolition Movement outlawed slavery within its territories and made treaties outside (the US was not a part of the British Empire and slavery continued) sometimes using the Royal Navy (See Preventive squadron or West Africa Squadron).

The Preventive Squadron, which at peak was estimated to have involved 15 percent of the Royal Navy hunted and arrested 1,600 slave ships. Over 1,500 Royal Navy sailors were killed in the operation which ran for over 4 decades.

The VOC had imported slaves (East Indians and Subcontinental Indians) for fortifications and other work and later freed or sold them to natives, adding to the existing stock of traditional slaves, according to historical records.

In Sri Lanka, the British first caused all slaves to be registered so that no new persons could be enslaved. Then a gazette was issued to combine divided slave ownership.

Then children were emancipated. Owners were paid compensation between two to three Rix dollars to ‘buy’ slave kids from tax money collected in the country.


The forgotten history of slavery in Sri Lanka

The Ambivalence of Freedom: Slaves in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Shocking parallels in abolishing slavery and protectionist exploitation in Sri Lanka

Slavery existed in the several parts of the island, including the in the North East and Kandy. In the Maritime Provinces it was breaking down as Mercantilism gave way to freer trade and capitalism.

In Kandy British officials said the institution was ‘mild’ (they could own property, but if a slave died the property went to the owner).

Kandyan slave owners requested 60 years to end slavery, which the officials managed to negotiate down.

The slaves in Kandy were either descendants of enslaved people or persons sold into slavery during bad times (“acquired by purchase of children from their parents in times of great scarcity”) or were enslaved for debts (“in satisfaction of pecuniary claims”), the British civil servants involved in the abolition of slavery noted.

In Sri Lanka the pioneer abolitionist was Chief Justice Sir Alexander Johnston who initiated voluntary emancipation starting with his jurors in 1816. (Colombo/Feb03/2023)

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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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