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Sunday December 4th, 2022

Sri Lanka’s prestige battle: Ananda passes the baton of blame

ECONOMYNEXT – The ascension to power of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and school-time buddy Dinesh Gunawardena is cheered and widely celebrated by an unlikely group, the distinguished old boys of Ananda College, one of the top public schools in the island.

After being at the receiving end of popular public scorn over old boy Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s efficient mismanagement of the economy, old Anandians were jubilant when the honour now passes to two alumni of Royal.

“We have hereby handed the opportunity to receive public insults to Royalists – sent by Anandians,” read a post widely shared among former students of the Colombo 10 (Maria Kade) school that was attended by Gotabaya and treasury secretary Sajith Attygalle who also fell from grace.

A Facebook page entitled: Anandians for Gotabaya” changed its name to “Anandians for nation” when Gotabaya escaped through a backdoor and fled when tens of thousands overran his palace on July 9. A spokesman for an old Anandian WhatsApp group said the traffic on their smart phones had declined sharply and members were already seeing considerable savings on their internet data bills.

They were also relieved when Dullas Alahapperuma, an Ananda alumnus, lost to old Royalist Ranil in the parliamentary election on July 19. “It was a good battle to loose,” a senior Ananda OBA spokesman said adding that he was fed up explaining to friends that he cannot recall a Rajapaksa in his class.

It is reliably learnt that there was no maroon-and-gold tie wearing old boys at the Changi Terminal 3 when Rajapaksa arrived in Singapore on July 14 aboard a Saudia Boeing 787 Dreamliner ending the nightmare of many Sri Lankans.

In less that 24 hours at the job, Wickremesinghe received more international traction than Gotabaya in his entire 32-month presidency for his Yankee-style shock-and-awe crackdown on the Galle Face protestors. The US, EU, UN and the core group on Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council also issued statements regarding the South Asian nation.

US ambassador Julie Chung led the pack with: “This is not the time to crack down on citizens, but instead to look ahead at the immediate and tangible steps the Government can take to regain the trust of the people, restore stability, and rebuild the economy.”

A remarkable achievement considering it took Gotabaya one full week to receive similar missives from foreign governments. That was after the abduction of a Swiss embassy local employee.

The Ranil-Dinesh combo has been close friends since 1952 when they were both 3 years old. They are from what is known as the “Group of 60,” the Form 1 batch of Royal College Colombo. Two other politicians from the same batch are the late Anura Bandaranaike and former minister Malik Samarawickrema.

Prime minister Sirima Bandaranaike had her son Anura’s classmate, Jayantha Jayasinghe, as her PSO, Personal Security Officer.

But, the most honourable in the Group of 60 is possibly brigadier Vipul Boteju who quit the army after refusing to take orders from then state minister of defence Ranjan Wijeratne to bump off JVP suspects in his custody. Vipul quit his post as a commanding officer in the deep south after explaining to Wijeratne in unprintable language that he would not carry out illegal orders. (COLOMBO/ July24/2022)

Read the most recent column by our tongue-in-cheek correspondent Namal Suvendra below:

Sri Lanka worst crisis could be biggest blessing

Click hear to read more Namal Suvendra columns.

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Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium on Sri Lanka debt, 15 years of debt restructuring

ECONOMYNEXT — The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis, India’s The Hindustan Times reported.

While the Paris Club has yet to formally reach out to India and China, Colombo has yet to initiate a formal dialogue with the Xi Jinping regime, the newspaper reported on Saturday December 03, inferring that the chances of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approving its 2.9 billion dollar extended fund facility for Sri Lanka in December now ranges from very low to nonexistent.

“This means that Sri Lanka will have to wait for the March IMF meeting of the IMF before any aid is extended by the Bretton Woods institution,” the newspaper reported.

“Fact is that for Sri Lanka to revive, creditors will have to take a huge hair cut with Paris Club clearly hinting that global south should also take the same cut as global north notwithstanding the inequitable distribution of wealth. In the meantime, as Colombo is still to get its act together and initiate a dialogue and debt reconciliation with China, it will need bridge funding to sustain the next three month before the IMF executive board meeting in March 2023. Clearly, things will get much worse for Sri Lanka before they get any better—both economically and politically,” the report said. (Colombo/Dec04/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea prices up amid low volumes

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka tea prices picked up at the last auction in November amid low volumes, brokers said.

“Auction offerings continued to record a further decline and totalled 4.2 million Kilograms, of which Ex-Estate offerings comprised of 0.6 million Kilograms. There was good demand,” Forbes and Walker Tea brokers said.

“In the Ex-Estate catalogues, overall quality of teas showed no appreciable change. Here again, there was good demand in the backdrop of extremely low volumes.”

High Growns

BOP Best Westerns were firm to 50 rupees per kg dearer. Below best and plainer types were Rs.50/- per kg easier on last.

Nuwara Eliya’s were firm.

BOPF Best Westerns were firm to selectively dearer. Below best and plainer teas declined by 50 rupees per kg.

Uva/Uda Pussellawas’ were generally firm and price variances were often reflective of quality with the exception of Select Best Uva BOPF’s which were firm and up to 50 rupees per kilogram dearer.

CTC teas, in general, were mostly firm.

“Most regular buyers were active, with perhaps a slightly more forceful trend from the local trade,” brokers said.

Corresponding OP1’s met with improved demand. Well-made OP/OPA’s in general were fully firm, whilst the Below Best varieties and poorer sorts met with improved demand. PEK/PEK1’s, in general, were fully firm to selectively dearer.

In the Tippy catalogues, well-made FBOP/FF1’s sold around last levels, whilst the cleaner Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated. Balance too were dearer to a lesser extent.

In the Premium catalogues, very Tippy teas continued to attract good demand. Best were firm to selectively dearer, whilst the Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated

Low Growns

Low Growns comprised 1.8 million Kilograms. Market met with improved demand, in general.

In the Leafy & Semi Leafy catalogues, select Best BOP1/OP1’s were fully firm, whilst the Below Best/bolder BOP1’s were barely steady.

Low-grown teas, farmed mainly by smallholders and exported to the Middle East and Central Asia, are the most sought-after and expensive Ceylon Teas.

Low-grown CTC prices have gained this week to 982.80 per kilogram this week from 934.76 per kilogram last week.

Few Select best BOP1s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower. Poorer types maintained.

BOPF’s in general, firm market.

FBOPF/FBOPF1’s select best and best increased in value, whilst the below best and bottom held firm.

Selected best BOP1’s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower.Poorer types maintained.

OP1’s selects best together with best and below best were firm to dearer. Poorer sorts were fully firm.

Medium Growns

BOPF’s, select best gained by 50 rupees per kilogram. Others maintained.

BOP1’s select best dearer by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others moved up by 50 rupees per kg.

OP1: select best gained by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others dearer by 100 rupees per kg.

OP/OPA’s in general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg whilst the poorer sorts were firm.

PEK’s Select best gained by 50 rupees per kg whilst all others maintained. PEK1: In general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg. (Colombo/Dec 04/2022)



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Sri Lanka Ports Authority East Terminal contractor paid: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Authority had paid a deposit for a gantry crane and made the required payment for the contractor to complete building the East Container Terminal, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said.

The East Container Terminal, a part of which is already built is being completed as a fully SLPA owned terminal at a cost of 480 million dollars Ports and Shipping Minister de Silva said.

“ECT we are funding with money available in the ports authority,” he said.

“Up to now we have paid an advance for the gantry crane. And for the construction we have paid all the money agreed with the contractor. So that is going on well.”

Sri Lanka is undergoing the worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s soft-pegged (flexible exchange rate) central bank which has created difficulties in funding the project.

“Every penny we collect as dollars we are keeping them separately and utilizing that for the Eastern Terminal work,” Minister de Silva said.

“We are confident that the ECT will be completed within the envisaged time. It is a difficult task in view of the dollar problem.

Banks were also not releasing the dollar deposits of the SLPA earlier but are now doing so, he said.

“Our deposits in banks they have utilized for urgent other national purposes,” he said.

“So they are releasing that money slowly. I am happy that they are releasing that money little by little. So with that we will be able to manage that.”

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