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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lankan shares close at 3-month high amid positive macroeconomic outlook

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged up at close to a three-month high on Thursday as the market continued to run on positive macroeconomics over the International Monetary Fund’s extended loan facility, dealers said.

“The market was volatile during the first half of the day, and shares were down due to profit-taking,” an analyst said.

“The financial indexes are taking a breather because of profit-taking, which was seen as the financial sector was running on the International Monetary Fund assurances.”

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed up 0.58 percent, or 55.62 points higher, at 9,703.48.

“The turnover generated is interesting because it was split across the board, meaning more than one sector is pushing the market.”

The loan from the IMF was originally expected in December of last year.

As creditors of the island nation, India and the Paris Club have given specific assurances to restructure Sri Lanka’s sovereign debt of external borrowing, while China only gave a two-year moratorium and promised to restructure debt.

However, Sri Lanka has sought a more specific assurance in line with the IMF deal.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Tuesday, said the letter of intent was sent on Monday, the same day as the assurance from China came in, for the board’s approval of the land program.

“We expect Board Approval in the third or fourth week of March,” Wickremesinghe told parliament.

The market saw a net foreign inflow of 21.1 million rupees. So far in 2023, the market has recorded a total net foreign inflow of 3.4 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 0.5 percent, or 14.39 points, up at 2,865.93.

The market saw a turnover of 2.4 billion rupees on Thursday, higher than this year’s daily average of 1.9 billion rupees.

The top gainers were Royal Ceramic Lanka, John Keells Holdings, and Vallibel One. (Colombo/Mar 09/2023)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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