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Monday February 6th, 2023

Sri Lanka’s protestors told to obtain police permission six hours ahead

ECONOMYNEXT – Police permission must be obtained six hours ahead of any protest-marches and demonstrations, Sri Lanka’s Acting Minister of Defence said, defending a controversial return to war-time high security zones (HSZs) in the capital Colombo.

State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon told reporters Monday September 26 morning that the security establishment will take legal measures to stop or prevent illegal demonstrations that inconvenience and obstruct everyday life and create a sense of chaos in the country.

He stressed, however, that the government accepts and respects the people’s right to protest.

“But no protest should cause obstruction to everyday life or to the economy,” he said.

On Saturday September 24, Sri Lanka police arrested 84 people including three monks and four women during an “illegal” protest in Colombo organised “without permission”, a day after President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared several HSZs.

Related:

Sri Lanka police arrest 84 for “illegal” protest after president’s high security zone declaration 

“As per the law of the country, prior approval must be obtained from the security establishment a few hours prior to a protest march or demonstration. None of the protests currently being held is in accordance to that law,” said Tennakoon.

“The police must be informed about any protest six hours ahead and if permission is obtained, there will be no issues,” he said.

The state minister was speaking at a press conference held at the government information department with the participation of Defence Ministry Secretary Gen Kamal Gunaratne and police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa.

The government came under harsh criticism from some opposition lawmakers and activists for what they claimed is the most recent episode in a heavy-handed crackdown on anti-government protests.

Youth-led protests against the government of ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that erupted islandwide from March onward, amid Sri Lanka’s worst currency crisis in decades, saw thousands of ordinary citizens take to the streets demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation. Following his exit in July and the appointment of Wickremesinghe as his successor, the authorities have followed a tougher line on anti-government protests, though analysts say there was an organic and gradual decline in the public’s appetite for protests after July 09.

Government ministers and others claim that some opposition parties, particularly those on the left, have hijacked the people’s protest since at least May and that Saturday’s protests – held demanding the release of some protest leaders affiliated with those parties who are currently detained – was a politically motivated attempt at disrupting Sri Lanka’s recovery efforts.

The organisers vehemently deny the allegations and claim that the Wickremesinghe government is attempting to violently suppress dissent. The use of provisions in the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) has also drawn much criticism. The latest series of arrests has also been met with condemnation. Amnesty International South Asia said the Sri Lankan authorities have “reaffirmed its intolerance towards dissent”.

Tennakoon said no party or group can be allowed to act irresponsibly and break any law that exists to maintain the peace.

“The government acts with great responsibility in this regard,” he said.

Otherwise, he said, a “frightful anarchic” situation will be inevitable with a return to violence. He was ostensibly referring to incidents of May 09 that saw a wave of retaliatory mob violence around the country after supporters of the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa launched an unprovoked attack on peaceful anti-government protestors. Houses and offices belonging to various government MPs were burnt and several people were killed in the aftermath, including one MP.

“We cannot allow such a situation to recur in this country. As State Minister of Defence, I reiterate that the government will take legal measures to stop all illegal attempts by those groups to meet their objectives,” said Tennakoon.

“The president imposed High Security Zones to ensure national security. [It is what] the people expect from a responsible government. Anyone can function as usual in those areas. It will only be a problem to those who engage in illegal acts,” he said. (Colombo/Sep26/2022)

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  1. emilyjoack says:

    Is sri-lanka a military government ?

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  1. emilyjoack says:

    Is sri-lanka a military government ?

Sri Lanka to address SME tax problems at first opportunity: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Problems faced by Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprises from recent tax changes will be addressed at the first opportunity, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

Business chambers had raised questions about hikes in Value Added Tax, Corporate Income Tax and the Social Security Contribution Levy (SSCL) that’s been imposed.

It should be explored on how to amend the Inland Revenue Act, Siyamabalapitiya said, adding that the future months should be considered as a period where the country is being stabilized.

Both the VAT and SSCL are effectively paid by customers, but the SSCL is a cascading tax that makes running businesses difficult.

In Sri Lanka SMEs make up a large part of the economy, accounting for 80 per cent of all businesses according to according to the island’s National Human Resources and Employment Policy.

(Colombo/ Feb 05/2023)

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Sri Lanka revenues Rs158.7bn in Jan 2023 up 51-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government revenues were 158.7 billion rupees in January 2023 but expenditure and debt service remained high, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

In January 2022 total revenues were Rs104.5 billion according to central bank data.

Sri Lanka’s tax revenues have risen sharply amid an inflationary blow off which had boosted nominal GDP while President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also raised taxes.

Departing from a previous strategy advocated by the IMF expanding the state and not cutting expenses, called revenue based fiscal consolidation, he is attempting to do classical fiscal consolidation with spending restraint.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has presented a note to cabinet requesting state expenditure to be controlled, Gunawardana told reporters.

State Salaries cost 87.4 billion rupees.

Pensions and income supplements (Samurdhi program) were29.5 billion rupees.

Other expenses were 10.8 billion rupees.

Capital spending was   21 billion rupees.

Debt service was 377.6 billion rupees for January which has to be done with borrowings from Treasury bills, bonds and a central bank provisional advance of 100 billion rupees, Gunawardana said.

Interest costs were not separately given. (Colombo/Feb05/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices down for second week

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices fell for the second week at an auction on January 31, with teas from all elevations seeing a decline, data showed.

“In retrospect, the decline in prices would be a price correction owing to the overall product quality and less interest from some key importers due to the arrival of cargo at destinations ahead of schedule,” Forbes and Walker tea brokers said.

The weekly sale average fell from 1475.79 rupees to 1465.40 rupees from a week ago, according to data from Ceylon Tea Brokers.

The tea prices are down for two weeks in a row.

High Growns

The High Grown sale average was down by 20.90 rupees to 1380.23 rupees, Ceylon Tea Brokers said.

High grown BOP and BOPF was down about 100 rupees.

“Ex-Estate offerings which totalled 0.75 M/Kg saw a slight decline in quality over the previous week” Forbes and Walker said.

OP/OPA’s in general were steady to marginally down.

Low Growns

In Low Grown Teas, FBOP 1 was down by 100 rupees and FBOP was down by 50 rupees while PEK was up by 150 rupees.

The Low Growns sale average was down by 8.55 rupees to 1547.93 rupees.

A few select Best BOP1s along with Below Best varieties maintained.

OP1                     Select Best OP1’s were steady, whilst improved/clean Below Best varieties maintained.   Others and poorer sorts were easier.

PEKOE                 Well- made PEK/PEK1s in general were steady, whilst others and poorer sorts were down.

Leafy and Semi Leafy catalogues met with fair demand,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“However, the Small Leaf and Premium catalogues continued to decline.

“Shippers to Iran were very selective, whilst shippers to Türkiye and Russia were fairly active.”

This week  2.2 million Kilograms of Low Growns were sold.

Medium Growns

Medium Grown BOP and BOPF fell by around 100 rupees

The Medium Growns sale average was down by 33.40 rupees to 1199.4 rupees.

“Medium CTC teas in the higher price bracket witnessed a similar trend, whilst teas at the lower end were somewhat maintained subject to quality,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“Improved activity from the local trade and perhaps South Africa helped to stabilize prices to some extent.”

OP/OPA grades were steady while PEKOE/PEKOE1 were firm, while some gained 50-100 rupees at times.

Well-made FBOP/FBOPF1’s were down by 50-100 rupees per kg and more at times.

(Colombo/Feb 5/2023)

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