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Thursday June 20th, 2024

Sri Lanka’s new anti-corruption bill ready to be gazetted: justice minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new anti-corruption bill drafted consequent to a 2.9 billion dollar International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal has been sent in to be gazetted, according to Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

Rajapakshe told reporters on Thursday March 30 that the new bill, once passed in parliament, will empower the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption to investigate suspected corruption charges with or without a complaint.

“Today the people of this country have lost their confidence in the Bribery Commission,” he said, adding that the new law will ensure the independence of the commission with regard to investigations into financial matters.

“We have given more powers to the commission than it currently holds,” said Rajapakshe.

The minister said another objective of the exercise is to ensure that retirees are not appointed to the Bribery Commission as there have been allegations of irresponsible conduct.

The new bill will also compel some public officials that Sri Lanka’s Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law No 1 of 1975, which he said is now outdated, does not cover.

“Those people have also been included in the new act to declare their assets and liabilities. Included in this group are the president, provincial chief ministers, ministers, governors, councilors, commission members, ambassadors, high commissioners, et al,” said the minister.

The IMF has urged Sri Lanka to reduce corruption vulnerabilities by improving fiscal transparency and public financial management, introducing a stronger anti-corruption legal framework. It has also proposed an in-depth governance diagnostic, supported by IMF technical assistance in return for the 2.9 billion dollar extended fund facility (EFF).

Minimising corruption has been a key demand of the protesting youth of Sri Lanka who took to the streets in 2022 to demand the ouster of then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after the island nation was hit by its worst currency crisis since Independence. (Colombo/Mar30/2023)

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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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