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Wednesday February 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka’s ex-defence secretary indicted over Rs 11.4 billion arms scandal

ECONOMYNEXT, Sri Lanka’s anti-graft panel on Wednesday charged former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and seven others, including three ex-navy commanders, for illegally allowing a private floating armoury.

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) filed action against Rajapaksa and six others for allowing private Avant Garde Maritime Services to operate the armoury and provide sea marshal services.

"The former defence secretary had no authority to grant such permission," a spokesman for CIABOC told reporters. "By doing so, he caused Avant Garde to illegally earn Rs11.4 billion  in revenue."

Former additional secretary to the defence ministry Damayanthi Jayaratne, who has since fled the country; former defence ministry military liaison officer retired general Palitha Fernando; retired general K. B. Egodawela; and former navy commanders Somathilaka Dissanayake, Jayanath Colombage and Jayantha Perera were charged before the Colombo chief magistrate.

The head of Avant Garde, retired major Nissanka Senadhipathi is also being charged under tough bribery and corruption laws.

After months of delay in carrying out investigations, President Maithripala Sirisena in November last year ordered that weapons aboard two floating armouries at the Galle harbour be taken over by the navy.

The business that was initially done by the navy had been handed over to Avant Garde by Rajapaksa.

It was an operation previously carried out by the navy that was subsequently handed over to Avant Garde through a defence ministry-established private security arm known as Rakna Araksha Lanka Limited (RALL).

The vessel Avant Garde, which shares the same name of the company, was seized by the navy on October 5 outside the Galle harbour following several discrepancies about its lethal cargo, the crew, and their route and final destination.

Former Law and Order minister Tilak Marapana, who defended Avant Garde and eventually resigned after allegations of conflict of interest, had claimed ignorance of weapons whose serial numbers had been erased or changed while onboard the Avant Garde vessel.
(COLOMBO, August 31, 2016)

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Sri Lanka bond yields down at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were down at close following a bond auction on Wednesday, dealers said while a guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged.

“The rates were steady at the auction,” a dealer said.

“This can be a signal to the market saying the rates will go down in the future.”

A bond maturing on 01.07.2025 closed at 32.40/60 percent, down from yesterday’s 32.60/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2027 closed at 29.10/35 marginally down from yesterday’s 29.20/75 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions remained unchanged at 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 371.38 rupees on Friday, data showed. (Colombo/Feb 01/2022)

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Sri Lanka bill auction hits pothole after 2025 bond spike

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka sold only 45 billion rupees in Treasury bills at Wednesday’s auction after offering 120 billion rupees, data from the state debt office showed, amid market confusion over a spike in a two year bond at an earlier action.

30.1 billion rupees of 3-month bills were sold at 29.91 percent, unchanged from a week earlier after offering 60 billion rupees for auction.

5.1 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold at 28.72 percent, flat after offering 30 billion.

10.3 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold at 27.72 percent after offering 30 billion.

Phase II subscriptions have been opened.

The market was foxed after the 2025 bonds were accepted at sharply higher yield than market on January 30, dealer said.

There was further confusion as the there was an outright purchase of 2025 at around 29 percent earlier in January.

Some investors speculated that the authorities were trying to drive more buyers towards short end bonds as bill volumes were getting larger. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)

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Sri Lanka services exports down 5.9-pct in 2022

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s services exports were estimated to have fallen 5.9 percent to 1,876.3 million US dollars, the island’s Export Development Board said.

Services exports estimated is made up of ICT/BPM, construction, financial services, transport and logistics.

There are more than 500 ICT companies, the EDB said.

Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports were up 4.6 percent to US dollars 13.1 billion dollars in 2022 from 2021.

Sri Lanka’s goods exports are slowing amid lower growth in Western markets. (Colombo/ Feb 01/2023)

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