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Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Sri Lanka’s “forward-looking” 2024 budget will instill fiscal discipline: MR

ECONOMYNEXT – President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s 2024 budget, while not without its shortcomings, is a forward-looking budget that aims to ensure fiscal discipline and put Sri Lanka on the path to recovery, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

Rajapaksa, who leads the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), told parliament on Tuesday November 21, the last of the ongoing budget debate, that his party will support the budget, which he said contains strategies to avoid increased burdens on the public.

“The budget presented by President Wickremesinghe is a future-oriented budget. We are always on the path of the people. So we will fully support any budget that won’t see the people put in difficulty and is of use to them,” said Rajapaksa.

“We’re doing this not because the budget doesn’t have its shortcomings or things that need to be corrected. We believe that, along with the people, this country’s economy must rise again quickly. We will always support a programme that will create the backdrop for that,” he said.

The former president said the 2024 budget contains much to ensure fiscal discipline.

“Fiscal discipline is essential for a country,” he said.

“What the people want is for the country to be lifted up from where it is; not to cling to allegations and fall from the pan to the fire,” he added.

The SLPP leader was ostensibly referring to a recent Supreme Court ruling holding him, two of his brothers and several officials affiliated with the previous SLPP-led government responsible for Sri Lanka’s worst currency crisis in decades. Rajapaksa has said he does not accept the ruling.

“Historically, those who are critical always maintained that they alone were good. But when given something to do, they were unable to do it properly, especially at a time when it was most needed,” Rajapaksa said in his speech to parliament.

The SLPP is aware of the high cost of living, he said, adding that the party does not wish to see people suffer more and more economic burdens.

“The president showed in his budget speech that the government has a plan to avoid this situation. We believe such a plan is what the country needs now,” he said.

“In this house, a great allegation was levelled at us about the economy. We reject every one of those allegations. Those who now talk about taking away people’s civic rights, we remember what they did back then,” he added. (Colombo/Nov21/2023)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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Gov minister highlights abortion rights, sex-ed for children, and Sri Lanka men killing their women

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s legislators have politicized the topics of rape and violence without addressing the elephant in the room, Jeevan Thondaman, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development said in parliament on Monday (4).

“All the members here are talking about rape. What happens after that? We must talk about abortion rights. That is not something anyone wants to touch on, and that is why we are in this place right now,” Thondaman said.

“Despite alarming statistics on rape and violence, women are often blamed and punished for it. The criminalisation of abortion is a major example of this.”

Sri Lanka has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. According to a 2016 estimate by the Health Ministry, he said, approximately 658 abortions take place a day, and close to 250,000 a year.

“That’s 250,000 women whose lives you are endangering.”

He added that what was needed at this point in time was comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for children and young people.

“Only through CSE in schools will children and young people develop, accurate, age appropriate knowledge attitude and skills; positive values such as respect for human rights, gender equality, diversity and attitude and skills that contribute to a safe, healthy and positive relationship.”

Thondaman pointed out that CSE plays a pivotal role in preparing young people for a world where HIV, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and sexual and gender based violence still pose a risk to their well-being.

“CSE basically empowers children take control and make informed decisions freely and responsibly.”

Thondaman also highlighted the findings of a 2021 study (Fatalities_20211109_UNFPA) by the UNFPA and the University of Kelaniya that showed that a majority of women killed in Sri Lanka were murdered by those close to them.

“62 percent of homicides of Sri Lankan women are committed by either an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member. 84 percent are killed in their own homes by someone they know.”

Police and the judiciary have failed Sri Lanka’s women, the minister pointed out.

“Only 5 percent of these cases, between 2013-2017, were ever concluded. Men claim they were provoked, or are of unsound mind or have mental illness: These have been successful defenses. And the Police often express sympathy to this narrative as opposed to the victim’s.”

“We have a history of protecting oppressors.”

It takes 7-10 years for a child rape case to conclude, he pointed out.

Establishment of child courts are needed, he said, as well as several legislative amendments. “The government is working on a new law to reform the domestic violence act, reform of marriage and divorce laws to ensure there is an easier path to divorce: no one should be forced to remain in a marriage that is either abusive or not healthy.” (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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