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Tuesday August 16th, 2022

Sri Lankans express anger, frustration over president’s tweet after cricket win 

Sri Lanka won the ODI series against Australia for the first time in 30 years. Picture Credit: International Cricket Council

ECONOMYNEXT – Hundreds of Sri Lankans, battered by the country’s worst ever forex crisis, took to Twitter to vent their frustration at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this week when he tweeted a congratulatory message to the national cricket team which won a five-match cricket series against Australia.

A young Sri Lankan cricket team won the fourth game held in Colombo by just four runs to secure a series win after conquering the five-time world champions.

“Congratulations to Sri Lanka cricket team on the win against Australia in the one day series. The sportsmanship shown by the Sri Lankan team has been remarkable. People of Sri Lanka are also grateful for the support given by Cricket Australia to overcome the economic challenges in Sri Lanka,” Rajapaksa tweeted. 

Sri Lankans, who have been going pillar to post to feed their families and ensure essentials like fuel, cooking gas, medicines, food, and milk powder amid lengthy power cuts, took their frustration out on the president who had just turned 73 a few days prior.

It was the first time Sri Lanka had won a series against mighty Australia in 30 years.

Many Sri Lankans see Rajapaksa and his family as responsible for the current economic crisis. Thousands of young, nonpartisan protesters have been demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation for 76 days as of Thursday July 23 near the presidential secretariat in Colombo. Over this period, Sri Lanka saw a change in prime ministers as well as the resignation of the entire cabinet twice over.

However, Rajapaksa has said he cannot leave as a “failed president” and has vowed see his term to its completion in November 2025.

“You obviously never played any sport. That is why you do not know how to accept defeat. You are a failed President. Please GO,” responded one Twitter user.

“At least learn from cricket how to make way for someone more capable than you,” another tweep said.

“Please resign and make this moment even better to give some relief to the grievances of the nation,” said another.

Some of the tweeps used abusive language in response to the president’s congratulatory tweet, and many demanded that he step down due what they called his abject failure.

“No. This is victory for the cricket team. Your dismissal is the real victory for all Sri Lankans,” said one tweet.

“Please Mr President keep out of this. The SL cricket team is the only entertainment and [source of] pride we are left with,” said another.

“How can the Australian cricket team help to overcome economic challenges? Did they bring dollars in the plane? Pls don’t take credit for our team’s win,” another tweeted.

Some more tweets are reproduced below:

“Dont think people will be delusional with this win and forget to remind you about the most important message…..” GOTAGOHOME”

“Namal went, Cricket prospered You go, Watch how the country will prosper.”

“A young team of cricketers put us back on the winning streak. Please handover the reigns to a team that can win – we as a country need to rejoice and winning back our lives we had.”

“Please don’t try to get involved in this [and] screw this one up too. Just let it be the way it is. You are NOT needed.”

One Twitter user had used crossed out images of President Rajapaksa, current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa with the line: “There is no point of cultivating without removing weeds”.

Thousands of Sri Lankans started spontaneous protests over the looming economic crisis early in March when Rajapaksa’s government started to impose power cuts and struggled to import fuel and cooking gas due to a crippling dollar shortage – a shortage that experts have blamed directly on ill-advised policies of the government.

Rajapaksa is also blamed for his disastrous ban on chemical (inorganic) fertilizer without providing any alternative to farmers. As a results, the country has seen record high food prices due to a shortfall in farmland produce and lack of fuel to transport agricultural commodities.

The president also appointed himself as the Defence and Digital Technology Minister and appointed his elder brother Mahinda as Prime Minister. His oldest brother Chamal was made Minister of Irrigation while younger brother Basil became Finance Minister. His nephew and Mahinda’s son Namal, meanwhile, was appointed Youth and Sports Minister, while another nephew Shasheendra Rajapaksa, son of Chamal, was named deputy agriculture minister.

The powerful political dynasty controlled the country through the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) even as the economic crisis turned into a full blown political crisis by early April. Since then, Rajapaksa was forced to remove his family members from key position due to strong protests by the public.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned after his supporters brutally attacked unarmed and peaceful protesters in Colombo on May 9. A court has ordered that he surrender his passport and police has questioned him over a meeting with his supporters held just before the attack. May 09 saw violent clashes, with over 70 ruling party members’ houses and assets either damaged or burnt.

The president later appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister, but analysts say nothing has been done to supply essentials to the public with the crisis now getting worse.

Sri Lankan Twitter users had some choice words for their head of state.

“It’s time to go home”, “What do you know about sportsmanship”, “Devil, we are at fuel queues. It’s better if you go even now”, “Don’t screw up the little happiness the fans enjoy, pls leave”, and “OK, now you resign. Then it’ll be the perfect day” were among the responses that saw much engagement. (Colombo/Jun22/2022)

Comments (4)

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  1. Expat says:

    Politics is different from cricket or any conventional game of play; it is like hitting a volley ball with a cricket bat. Here, the batsman does not hit the ball with a bat, rather he hits the bat with a ball. He does not run but the audience has to run after the batsman. Even if you run you can catch him only once in five years! Miss-catches and run-outs are the faults of the audience! People in developing countries who make comments do not understand the game but lament; why? They play without understanding who the real players are. They think President is the player. When will they understand that he is only a football in cricket!

  2. lanka says:

    Well done Mr president. What some idiots do not understand is that you have the human right as a person to express your own opinion regarding the SLC victory. Some bigots think that everyone must speak according to their views and opinions.

  3. Adrian Deutrom says:

    I agree with the general view of the public comments about the president.
    This present president is a laughing stock of this country and worldwide.
    As for his presidential powers, he is doomed to his powers and has nowhere to turn even to hide his face.
    He and his cohort has sucked the life blood out of this beautiful island with corruption, greed and manipulation and his so-called presidential power
    This man had no experience of how to run a country with twenty two million people.

  4. Malwis says:

    There is a very few percentages of mentally distressed people in the society, who are barking all the time at Hon. president. But main public body knows the president and his vision is to take Sri Lanka to the next level.

View all comments (4)

Comments (4)

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Expat says:

    Politics is different from cricket or any conventional game of play; it is like hitting a volley ball with a cricket bat. Here, the batsman does not hit the ball with a bat, rather he hits the bat with a ball. He does not run but the audience has to run after the batsman. Even if you run you can catch him only once in five years! Miss-catches and run-outs are the faults of the audience! People in developing countries who make comments do not understand the game but lament; why? They play without understanding who the real players are. They think President is the player. When will they understand that he is only a football in cricket!

  2. lanka says:

    Well done Mr president. What some idiots do not understand is that you have the human right as a person to express your own opinion regarding the SLC victory. Some bigots think that everyone must speak according to their views and opinions.

  3. Adrian Deutrom says:

    I agree with the general view of the public comments about the president.
    This present president is a laughing stock of this country and worldwide.
    As for his presidential powers, he is doomed to his powers and has nowhere to turn even to hide his face.
    He and his cohort has sucked the life blood out of this beautiful island with corruption, greed and manipulation and his so-called presidential power
    This man had no experience of how to run a country with twenty two million people.

  4. Malwis says:

    There is a very few percentages of mentally distressed people in the society, who are barking all the time at Hon. president. But main public body knows the president and his vision is to take Sri Lanka to the next level.

Sri Lanka sovereign rating at SD but ISBs downgraded to ‘D’ by S&P

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating remains at Selective Default (SD), but the country’s sovereign bonds were downgraded to ‘D’ after missed interest payments, Standard and Poor’s, a rating agency said.

“The Sri Lanka government remains in default on some foreign currency obligations, including international sovereign bonds (ISBs),” the S&P said.

“We do not expect the government to make the payments within 30 calendar days after their due dates.

“We lowered the ratings on the affected bonds to ‘D’, following missed interest payments due on June 3, June 28, and July 18, and a missed principal payment due July 25.”

Sri Lanka is still paying senior creditors with money coming from deferred payments from the Asian Clearing Union.

Sri Lanka started to borrow heavily in foreign bond markets from 2015 after battering its currency peg with extraordinary liquidity injections under ‘flexible inflation targeting and the country lost the ability to roll-over maturing rupee bonds at gross financing level.

From 2015 to 2019, the country had monetary stability only in 2017 and 2019 as the pegged exchange rate regime was shattered with liquidity injections to target an ‘output gap’.

However the targeting the output gap led to currency crises (balance of payment deficit) and growth fell as stabilization measures were slammed.

From 2020 to 2022 even more aggressive liquidity injections were made and taxes were also cut saying there was a ‘persistent output gap’ until all foreign reserves including borrowed reserves were lost and the the country defaulted in peacetime.

The International Monetary Fund gave technical assistance to Sri Lanka to calculate the output gap and also endorsed ‘flexible inflation targeting’, with overnight repo injections, term repo injections, outright purchase of bond, despite having a reserve collecting peg.

On April 12, 2022 Sri Lanka defaulted despite being at peace.

The full statement is reproduced below:

Sri Lanka Bonds Downgraded To ‘D’ After Missed Payments; Sovereign Ratings Affirmed

Overview

The Sri Lanka government remains in default on some foreign currency obligations, including international sovereign bonds (ISBs).

We do not expect the government to make the payments within 30 calendar days after their due dates.

We lowered the ratings on the affected bonds to ‘D’, following missed interest payments due on June 3, June 28, and July 18, and a missed principal payment due July 25.

We affirmed our ‘SD/SD’ foreign currency and ‘CCC-/C’ local currency ratings on Sri Lanka. The outlook on the long-term local currency rating is negative.

Rating Action

On Aug. 15, 2022, S&P Global Ratings affirmed its ‘SD’ long-term and ‘SD’ short-term foreign currency sovereign ratings on Sri Lanka. At the same time, we affirmed our ‘CCC-‘ long-term and ‘C’ short-term local currency sovereign ratings. The outlook on the long-term local currency rating remains negative.

In addition, we lowered to ‘D’ from ‘CC’ the issue ratings on the following bonds with missed coupon or principal payments:

US$650 million, 6.125% bonds due June 3, 2025.

US$1.0 billion, 6.825% bonds due July 18, 2026.

US$1.0 billion, 5.875% bonds due July 25, 2022.

US$500 million, 6.35% bonds due June 28, 2024.

Our transfer and convertibility assessment at ‘CC’ is unchanged.

Outlook

Our foreign currency rating on Sri Lanka is ‘SD’ (selective default). We do not assign outlooks to ‘SD’ ratings because they express a condition and not a forward-looking opinion of default probability.

The negative outlook on the local currency rating reflects the high risk to commercial debt repayments over the next 12 months in the context of Sri Lanka’s economic, external, and fiscal pressures.

Downside scenario

We could lower the local currency ratings if there are indications of nonpayment or restructuring of Sri Lankan rupee-denominated obligations.

Upside scenario

We could revise the outlook to stable or raise the local currency ratings if we perceive that the likelihood of the government’s local currency debt being excluded from any debt restructuring has increased. This could be the case if, for example, the government receives significant donor funding, which gives it some time to implement immediate and transformative reforms.

We would raise our long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating upon completion of the government’s bond restructuring. The rating would reflect Sri Lanka’s post-restructuring creditworthiness. Our post-restructuring ratings tend to be in the ‘CCC’ or low ‘B’ categories, depending on the sovereign’s new debt structure and capacity to support that debt.

Rationale

Sri Lanka’s external public debt moratorium prevents payment of interest and principal obligations due on the government’s ISBs. As such, interest payments due June 3, June 28, and July 18 on its ISBs maturing 2024, 2025, and 2026, and the principal payment on its July 25, 2022, ISB, would have been affected. Following the missed payments, and given our expectation that payment will not be made within 30 calendar days of the due date, we have lowered the issue ratings on these bonds to ‘D’ (default).

Overdue payments now include the following bonds:

US$1.0 billion, 5.875% bonds due 2022.

US$1.25 billion, 5.75% bonds due 2023.

US$500 million, 6.35% bonds due 2024.

US$1.5 billion, 6.85% bonds due 2025.

US$650 million, 6.125% bonds due 2025.

US$1.0 billion, 6.825% bonds due 2026.

US$1.5 billion, 6.20% bonds due 2027.

US$1.25 billion, 6.75% bonds due 2028.

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Sri Lanka rupee guidance peg edges up; market sees dull trade in govt securities 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee guidance peg on interbank spot trading strengthened by seven cents while yields on Treasury bills and bonds remained dull on Monday (15) with only a handful of maturities quoted ahead of the central bank’s monetary policy rates later this week, dealers said.

“There was nothing in the market. It was dull today,” a market dealer said.

The central bank will announce its latest key monetary policy rates on Thursday, August 18.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at at 27.50/28.50 percent on Monday, slightly down from 27.30/28.30 percent on Friday.

The three-month T-bill closed flat at 26.00/27.00 percent on Monday.

Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions strengthened by 7 cents to 360.92 rupees against the US dollar on Monday from 360.85 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 369.70 and 370.00 for small transactions. (Colombo/ Aug 15/2022)

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Sri Lanka stocks rally continues for 12th straight session on political stability hopes 

The main index fell for the 4th consecutive session

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks gained for the 12th consecutive session on Monday (15) ending at their highest in more than four months pushed by retail shares amid signs of political stability after months of protests, dealers said.

The market generated 5.8 billion rupees in turnover, nearly twice of this year’s average daily turnover of 3.11 billion rupees.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) rose 1.82% or 164.04 points to 9,191.52, its highest since March 30. The index has risen 19.6% in the last 12 sessions.

“We are seeing a lot of volatility in the market today due to profit taking in the key shares that gained in the last 11 sessions,” a market analyst said.

“Profit-taking also returned after the CSE (Colombo Stock Exchange) published the last set of June reports that showed some counters having done very while some not so much, therefore, there is a significant reaction for that.”

In the last few sessions, the market was mostly driven by Lanka IOC and the plantation sector.

However, ahead of the fuel price revision, LIOC moved to red.

“There was a bit of profit taking on anticipation of price cuts. However, unless fuel prices are cut sharply, LIOC will continue to move,” the analyst said.

At the start of the month, CPC cut fuel prices by 10 rupees based on the price formula.

Globally, crude oil prices have dropped hence there is strong speculation that fuel prices will be cut further.

Last week, Sri Lanka announced a 75 percent electricity tariff hike.

Investors previously feared the move would drag the market down due to possible higher costs for manufacturing firms.

However, the political stability after four months of protest is seen as the catalyst for the market gain, dealers said.

The government also tabled an interim budget last week, revising the budget presented last year as the country is going through an unprecedented economic crisis amid plans on a four-year IMF loan programme, debt restructuring, fiscal reforms, and dealing with loss-making state-owned enterprises.

Sri Lanka already declared sovereign debt default on April 12 this year and failed to pay its first sovereign debt in May amid a deepening economic crisis which later turned into a political crisis and led to a change in the president, cabinet, and government.

The more liquid S&P SL20 index moved up, closing at 0.82% or 25.28 points stronger at 3,097.30.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst fuel and economic crisis in its post-independence era and the economy is expected to contract 7 percent this year.

The main ASPI gained 18.8 percent in August so far after gaining 5.3 percent in July. It lost 9.3 percent in June, 23 percent in April, and 14.5 percent in March.

The market index has lost 24.8 percent so far this year after being one of the world’s best stock markets with an 80 percent return last year when large volumes of money were printed.

Sri Lanka’s sovereign debt default on April 12 has already led the country to be rated with restricted/selective default rating by rating agencies, which has weighed on investor sentiment.

Net foreign outflow was 117 million rupees on Monday while the total net foreign outflow so far this year is 1.3 billion rupees.

Investors are also concerned over the steep fall of the rupee from 203 to 370 levels so far in 2022.

Ceylinco Insurance which pushed the ASPI, closed 11.9 percent up at 2,143.2 rupees a share. Browns Investment closed 8.5 percent up at 8.9 rupees a share, and John Keells Holdings gained 2.5 percent to 129.7 rupees. (Colombo/Aug15/2022)

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