An Echelon Media Company
Thursday March 23rd, 2023

Sri Lanka’s SJB supports devolution but position on full 13A still unclear

SJB general secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), which boycotted a recent all-party conference (APC) on the ethnic issue, says it supports devolution of power, but the party has yet to articulate its position on the full implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution.

SJB general secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara told EconomyNext on Monday January 30 that President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who convened the APC, must first present the government’s proposals on devolution of power.

“We expressed our consent to power sharing at the first meeting. Instead of talking about this every day, present the government’s set of proposals,” said the MP.

Speaking at the APC, President Wickremesinghe said he wished to fully implement the 13th amendment to the constitution, which was aimed at giving more autonomy to provinces in a bid to solve the island nation’s decades-long ethnic conflict.

The solution is backed by India, which has expressed its support for Sri Lanka’s debt re-structuring plans.


Sri Lanka President says will fully implement 13th amendment

Wickremesinghe, flanked by former presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena, told party leaders that, as executive president, he is required to fully implement the amendment.

“If it is not implemented, someone should bring another amendment and abolish it. We cannot stay on the fence saying we will not abolish it and we will not implement it,” he said.

The SJB was conspicuous by its absence at the APC, save for its MP Rajitha Senaratne who had been speculated to join the Wickremesinghe administration but so far remains an opposition legislator. He was heard speaking supportively of the president’s plan to fully implement the 13th amendment.

MP Madduma Bandara, however, insists that the president must present its proposals for devolution.

“We cannot sign a blank document,” he said.

President Wickremesinghe has reiterated his commitment to finding a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s enduring ethnic issue. He recently told a gathering at the National Thai Pongal Festival in Jaffna that the amendment will be fully implemented and a Social Justice Commission will be established to “build a country where everyone can live in harmony, by solving the problems of the people belonging to all sections of the population.”

The 13th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution emerged from the controversial Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 as a purported solution to the worsening ethnic conflict, four years after war broke out. Provincial councils came in the wake of this amendment, though land and police powers have yet to be devolved to the provinces as originally envisioned. Both Sinhalese and Tamil nationalists have historically opposed the amendment, the former claiming it devolved too much, the latter complaining it didn’t devolve enough.

A full implementation of the amendment will see land and police powers devolved to the provinces, a development that is not likely to garner support from Sri Lanka’s more nationalist-oriented parties including sections of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

SLPP MPs Gevindu Kumaratunga and Sarath Weerasekara said at the APC that the president lacke the mandate to go that far, a claim that Wickremesinghe defiantly refuted, arguing that as executive president elected by parliament he has the authority to fully implement the constitution.

However, the president said he does not support federalism, a solution which the opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has indicated that it is open to.


Sri Lanka president pledges full implementation of 13th amendment; TNA sceptical

Federalism has been a highly controversial and politically inflammable idea in Sri Lanka over the years, with many nationalist or even some moderate parties in the south vehemently opposing the very suggestion of it. It is unclear whether this stance has softened over the 13 years since the end of the war, but to date no Sinhalese-dominated party – the SJB and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) included – has come out in support for it.

Asked if the SJB is open to devolving land and police powers, the party’s general secretary reiterated to EconomyNext that the government hasn’t clearly articulated its proposals.

“[President Wickremesinghe says full 13. [Ex president] Mahinda Rajapaksa said 13 Plus. We need to have some kind of note to look at and discuss,” said Madduma Bandara.

“Tell us what will be implemented in the 13th amendment. DIscussions can only take place around those proposals,” he said.

However, he stressed that the party does support devolution of power.

Does it support full devolution, however?

“Let’s see what the government has to say.”

Asked what form devolution of power would take under an SJB government, the opposition legislator said: “If we had a government, we would inform what form it would take.

Madduma Bandara repeated that the government, which holds parliamentary majority and has the president on its side, must release its proposals.

“No point us asking about our proposals now. Ask after we have been given power,” he said. (Colombo/Jan30/2023)

Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Buddhist says:

    The general view of the opposition leader is that he cannot make any decisions. This is an opportunity for him to prove this statement is wrong. He should come out and in detail explain SJB’s stand on the 13th amendment to the citizens of the country.

View all comments (1)

Comments (1)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Buddhist says:

    The general view of the opposition leader is that he cannot make any decisions. This is an opportunity for him to prove this statement is wrong. He should come out and in detail explain SJB’s stand on the 13th amendment to the citizens of the country.

Sri Lanka establishes committee to investigate aircraft incidents

An aircraft lands at the Jaffna International Airport, which was opened in October 2019 and promises to push the tourism frontiers in Jaffna.

ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka’s has established an expert committee under the state-run Civil Aviation Authority to investigate aircraft accidents and to implement precautionary methods in the Sri Lankan airspace, an Official said.

“Even if it is only one flight, there is a chance an accident may occur,” Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General, P. A. Jayakantha said.

“This particular committee is there to investigate aircraft accidents and act as a mechanism to take over if something goes wrong”.

Sri Lanka has encountered around 2,700 minor aircraft accidents and incidents mostly on the ground in the 19 years through 2021, the CAA annual reports showed.

The new committee will analyze the past accidents and take precautionary measures while also conducting investigations and provide independent reports in the future, Jayakantha said.

The team is provided with required training and qualifications by the CAA along with an International organization, free of charge.

“Internationally also it is a requirement to have a team to investigate the aircraft accidents,” Jayakantha added.

“For a long time we have not fulfilled this requirement and that is why we established this team with the cabinet approval. Moreover, recently, Sri Lanka’s two aircrafts, one training aircraft and a commercial aircraft met an accident”

The committee will be on active duty, until the Accident Investigation Act is passed and a proper Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau is established. (Colombo/ Mar23/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka bond yields steady, Rupee 319/325 at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields closed steady on Thursday while rupee closed weaker, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 30.60/31.00 percent on Tuesday, down from 30.25/75 percent on Wednesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 27.80/28.10 percent, steady from 27.90/28.00 percent from Wednesday.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 319/325 against the US dollar depreciating from 318/320 from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March23/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka shares dive to two-week low on local debt restructuring fears

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka market fell for a fourth session to a two-week low on Thursday, led by financials, as worries over domestic debt restructuring continued after the IMF loan was approved earlier this week resulting in investors adopting a wait-and-see approach until further clarity was provided, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 1.38 percent or 131.07 points to 9,395.98, lowest since March 02.

Analysts said, majority of the banks have been on slower investment trends on fears of domestic debt restructuring after the IMF approval and waiting for more clarity on the local debt restructuring.

“The market is on muted sentiments despite the IMF loan being approved and is going through a period of consolidation,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The market saw a net foreign outflow of 298 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.64 percent, or 45.33 points, down at 2,722.94.

The market saw a turnover of 3.4 billion rupees on Thursday, above this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

This is the highest turnover generated since March 08, which is when the market was driven off of positive sentiments from International Monetary Fund deal hope after Chinese assurances.

Top contributors to revenue was Agalawatte Plantations, on off board transactions of a stake change, contributing revenue of 1.6 billion rupees, Ranatunga said.

Top contributors to revenue industry wise was Food and Beverage and Telecommunications.

Sri Lanka Telecom has been seeing positive uptrends as the Secretary to the Treasury has informed the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) and Lanka Hospitals PLC that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval in principle for the divestment of the stakes held by the Treasury Secretary in the two companies.

Top losers were Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank.

Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector and announce them the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

Banks have been witnessing profit taking and selling pressures after continuous uptrends prior to the IMF loan had been approved.

Analysts said, selling pressures is expected to ease as the IMF hopes to reduce inflationary pressures which will in turn lead to reductions in interest rates. (Colombo/Mar23/2023)

Continue Reading