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Thursday June 20th, 2024

Sri Lanka university lecturers accuse govt of hurting quality of paper-marking

ECONOMYNEXT – University lecturers who have withdrawn from marking GCE Advanced Level answer scripts as part of a trade union campaign said they will not be intimidated and also accused the government of hurting the quality of the paper-marking process by hiring substitutes.

Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) media spokesman Charudaththa Illangasinghe told reporters Monday April 24 that the association will meet Tuesday evening to discuss the issue and any further trade union action.

“A/L is an important exam; it is the university entrance exam. The government is attempting to bring down quality of the process by getting other parties to mark the answer scripts,” said Illangasinge.

“We will not allow the government to destroy education,” he added.

Illangasinghe was referring to a decision by the government to recruit retired university lecturers to the answer scripts. This follows a controversial statement by President Ranil Wickremesinghe on April 19 when he issued a one-week ultimatum to the education sector trade unions engaged in the papermarking boycott as part of its ongoing series of protests against an International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed tax hike.

The two-month delay has already seen the schedule for releasing results being disrupted, which has also delayed this year’s exams.

President Wickremsinghe at a meeting with Education Ministry officials on Wednesday warned that he would make education an essential service under emergency law and initiate legal action against teachers who did not comply with the law.

“All those marked the papers last time, must be available for service now. If not, I will prosecute them and take their property also,” Wickremesinghe told the officials.

“You can’t stop the education of children. What nonsense is this? By next week, I will tell the AG (Attorney General) to be ready with the emergency regulations.”

FUTA and school teachers unions’ have been up in arms over the president’s warning.

Illangasinghe called the government’s progressive income tax hike “inhuman”.

“It was the government that brought this problem and it is the government that keeps the problem going.

The government must find a speedy solution and quickly resolve the problem of marking answer scripts,” he said.

FUTA has written to President Wickremesinghe about how they will not be intimidated by “empty threats”.

“We would like to tell the public, don’t fear anything. We plan to end this soon. We stand for these children.

We care about education. We won’t let the government destroy education,” he said. (Colombo/Apr24/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares debt management experience at global forum

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has shared its experiences at a forum on debt management to “provide lessons for others”, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe has said.

Semasinghe spoke on “The Role of Debt Management in Navigating Crises” at the 14th Debt Management Facility (DMF) Stakeholders’ Forum, in Livingstone, Zambia.

“I shared the experiences of Sri Lanka which can provide valuable lessons for others and explored the critical elements of capacity building and sound institutional practices in managing debt, particularly in the context of economic challenges,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“Sri Lanka’s experience demonstrates that effective debt management is not just about managing numbers but also about building robust institutions and capacities.”

The journey underscores the importance of transparent, accountable governance and the need for international support and cooperation in times of crisis, he said.

“Sri Lanka prioritized addressing gaps in public debt management by drafting a consolidated Public Debt Management Act, ensuring clarity and legal robustness and establishing a centralized Public Debt Management Office with operational autonomy.

“The role of debt management in navigating crises is multifaceted and critical. Further, by investing in capacity building, adhering to sound institutional practices, and strategically managing debt restructuring and liability operations, countries can better withstand economic shocks and pave the way for sustainable recovery.”

Developing countries face severe debt distress as they are more vulnerable to external shocks, Semasinghe said, and “managing global debt requires coordinated international efforts on debt restructuring where necessary, timely fiscal policy adaptation and help sustainable economic growth.”

The state minister also pointed out the financial impact of climate change was an emerging challenge, as countries need investment to mitigate and adapt to climate impacts, “especially through non-debt creating inflows, which would require private capital mobilization.” (Colombo/Jun20/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 305.10/30 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger ahead of the long weekend at 305.10/30 to the US dollar on Thursday, up from 305.40/55 to the US dollar Wednesday, dealers said, while some bond yields edged up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.45/80 percent, up from 10.35/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 11.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.00/15 percent, up from 11.95/12.35 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.12.2031 closed at 12.05/25 percent.

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, JKH trade pushes turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Thursday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.19 percent, or 23.11 points, at 12,249; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.15 percent, or 5.33 points, at 3,610.

Turnover was 2 billion. Nearly half of this (Rs980mn) came from a crossing on John Keells Holdings Plc. The share closed down at 202.00.

“There were several crossings today which pushed turnover,” market participants said.

“Institutions and high net-worth activity drove the market, while the retail investors we feel are still about uncertain and adopting a wait-and-see approach.”

Melstacorp Plc was among the companies that saw active volumes (Rs194mn) in the day. The share closed up at 87.10.

Top contributors to the index included TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 41.70), Sampath Bank Plc (up at 79.50), Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 201.00). Hayleys Plc (up at 105.00) and its subsidiary Hayleys Fabric Plc (up at 46.60) were also positive contributors. (Colombo/Jun20/2024)

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