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Wednesday February 28th, 2024

Twelve dead, thousands displaced in torrential rains in Sri Lanka

Sinharaja forest/Rainforest Protectors Trust

ECONOMYNEXT – The adverse weather prevailing in Sri Lanka since end of October 29 has claimed eleven lives and affected over 28,000 people, and will likely continue, according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).

Torrential downpours have been reported in many parts of the island, with the Kurunegala, Colombo, Kegalle, Monaragala, Gampaha and Kalutara districts having experienced over 100mm of rain over the past 24 hours from Monday (08) to Tuesday (09).

Though a decrease in rainfall has been observed, the DMC said Tuesday afternoon that heavy rain will continue for the next 24 hours.

The DMC breakdown is as follows:

  • Number of affected districts: 17
  • Number of divisional secretariats affected: 93
  • Death: 12
  • Missing: 00
  • Number injured: 05
  • Total number of relief centers: 13
  • Total number of families in relief centers: 113
  • Total number of persons in relief centers: 445
  • Total number of families in relatives’ homes: 357
  • Total number of persons in relative homes: 1,243
  • Total number of families affected: 7,529
  • Total number of affected people: 28,263
  • Total number of partial damage: 802
  • Total damage number: 13

The Department of Meteorology said very heavy showers above 150mm are likely in parts of the Northern, North Western, Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in the Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy districts. Heavy showers of about 100mm can be expected in parts of Matale, Polonnaruwa, Galle and Matara districts.

A low pressure area is very likely to form over south-east Bay of Bengal (05N-11N, 86E94E) during the next 24 hours, the Met Department said.

“Naval and fishing communities are advised not to venture the aforementioned sea area and southern sea areas of the island until further notice,” the department said in a statement warning the communities to watch out for upcoming weather forecasts.

The Met Department said winds will be westerly to north-westerly at speeds of 30-40 kilometers per hour in the seas around the island. Wind speeds can increase up to 55-65 kilometers per hour at times in the sea areas extending from Puttalam to Potuvil via Colombo, Galle and Hambantota.

Landslide warnings that were issued on Monday will continue to hold until further notice, the DMC said.

The National Building Rresearch Organistion (NBRO) has issued warnings for the following areas.

Level one warning

  • Badulla – Passara and Ella district secretariat divisions
  • Colombo- Seethawaka and Padukka district secretariat divisions
  • Kalutara- Ingiriya, Walallawita, Dodangoda and Horana district secretariat divisions
  • Galle – Nagoda, Neluwa, Yakkamulla, Kadawath sathara and Akmeemana district secretariat divisions
  • Kegalle – Ruwanwella, Yatiyanthota, Galigamuwa, Deraniyagala and Warakapola district secretariat divisions
  • Rathnapura-  Kiriella, Elapatha, Nivitigala and Kuruwita district secretariat divisions
  • Matale – Raththota and Ukuwela district secretariat divisions
  • Kandy – Ganga wata Korale, Udunuwara, Harispattuwa, Yatinuwara, Doluwa, Udapalatha and Pasbage Korale district secretariat divisions
  • Nuwara Eliya – Walapane, Amabagamuwa, Hanguranketha and Kotmale district secretariat divisions
  • Kurunegala – Ridigama, Mawathagama and Mallawapitiya district secretariat divisions

Level two

  • Kalutara – Matugama, Agalawatta, Bulathsinghala and Palindanuwara district secretariat divisions
  • Galle – Baddegama and Alpitiya district secretariat divisions
  • Kegalle – Mawanella, Aranayaka, Bulathkohupitiya, Dehiowita, Rambukkana and Kegalle district secretariat divisions
  • Rathnapura – Uyagama, Rathnapura, Eheliyagoda and Kalawana district secretariat divisions
  • Kandy – Ganga Ihala Korale district secretariat divisions
  • Kurunegala – Narammala district secretariat divisions

Disaster management centre said due to water level increase in Kelani river, residents living in low laying areas in Dehiowita, Ruwanwella, Seethawaka, Dompe, Kaduwela, Biyagama, Kolonnawa, Colombo and Waththala can experience minor floods in the next 6-12 hours.

Meanwhile, the Irrigation Department has issued a red notice for low laying areas near Maha Oya.

The department said as per the warning issued for the Maha Oya river basin at 10pm on Monday, the river’s water level at the upstream areas have risen extensively. The water level at the Giriulla River gauging station had also risen up to 8.94 meters at 0700 AM on Tuesday.

“It is warned that there is a high possibility a major flood situation occuring in low-lying areas of the Maha Oya valley in Alawwa, Diwulapitiya, Meerigama, Pannala, Wennappuwa, Negambo, Katana, Narammala and Dankotuwa divisional secretariat divisions within the next few hours,” the Irrigation Department said Tuesday morning.

“Residents and an people driving through those areas are requested to pay close attention in order to save valuable lives and public and private property,” the statement said.

According to the Irrigation Department, dam doors in Rajanganaya, Deduru Oya, Lakshapana, Kukule Gangan Thabbowam Polgolla, Kotmale, Victoria, Norton bridge, Angamuwa and Kuruwita reservoirs as well as the Mahawilachchiya wewa (tank) have been opened to control water levels. The department has asked residents nearby to be vigilant over possible water level incensement.

The DMC said, with five deaths recorded over the past 24 hours the death toll from the adverse weather has risen to 11.

“Rambukkana in the Kegalle district recorded three deaths due to a landslide and two deaths were reported from Giriulla, Mallavi areas due to a drowning incident and a landslide,” DMC Deputy Director Pradeep Kodippili told reporters.

According to the DMC, the Rambukkana–Mawanella road is blocked due to a fallen tree and the Puttalam-Colombo road from Palavi area and Puttalam-Kurunegala Road from the Temple Garden 02 mile post are also blocked due floods.

The DMC said the relief teams are in place in every affected district.

So far 7,167 people have been affected in total and 222 people are in relief centers.

As at Tuesday, 796 properties were partially damaged and 14 properties have been completely destroyed.

The DMC requests the public to dial it’s 24-hour hotline 117  for further information. (Colombo/Nov09/2021)

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Sri Lanka confident of “smoother” IMF second review: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s second review for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan would be smoother than the first as the government has implemented many reforms required for the economic recovery, State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

An IMF mission will visit Sri Lanka on March 7 and will engage in the review of second tranche of the $3 billion IMF loan for two weeks, he said.

“The second review will commence on the 7th of March, and we are very confident that will be a smoother review than the first review,” Semasinghe told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Wednesday (28).

He said the the first review was difficult because of hard policy decisions taken by the government in the initial stages.

The global lender completed the first review of the 48-month Extended Fund Facility (EFF) on December 12 before disbursing $337 million to support the island nation’s economic policies and reforms.

The IMF after the first review said Sri Lanka’s performance under the program was satisfactory while “all but one performance criteria and all but one indicative targets were met at end-June”.

Sri Lanka implemented most structural benchmarks due by end-October 2023, though some with delay. (Colombo/Feb 28/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s religious leaders need to cultivate harmony: Prez

ECONOMYNEXT – The responsibility of cultivating harmony rests significantly on the shoulders of religious leaders, Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has said.

“While politicians often pursue power, religious leaders strive to maintain their positions, frequently resorting to the perilous avenues of racism and bigotry. This unfortunate trend has plagued our country since the 1930s, yielding disastrous outcomes,” Wickremesinghe was quoted by his media division as saying at the ‘Religions to Reconcile’ national inter-religious symposium, organized by the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, held today (28) at the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall (BMICH).

“Our nation has endured the bitter consequences of racism and religious extremism, culminating in a devastating conflict.

“With the military conflict resolved, Sri Lanka’s political challenges are now receiving attention, necessitating a renewed focus on coexistence,” Wickremesinghe said, adding that steps are being taken to resolve land disputes, address the issue of missing persons, release certain individuals, and initiate a delimitation of powers.

The President’s speech:

Having acknowledged the intrinsic connection between religion and reconciliation, our nation has endured the bitter consequences of racism and religious extremism, culminating in a devastating conflict. Following the cessation of hostilities, our main objective has been to foster coexistence among all communities.

The responsibility of cultivating harmony rests significantly on the shoulders of religious leaders. It is imperative that we remain mindful of our intentions. While politicians often pursue power, religious leaders strive to maintain their positions, frequently resorting to the perilous avenues of racism and bigotry. This unfortunate trend has plagued our country since the 1930s, yielding disastrous outcomes that require no further explanation.

Take Singapore, for example, where the absence of racism and bigotry has contributed to its rapid development despite its diverse linguistic landscape. With the military conflict resolved, Sri Lanka’s political challenges are now receiving attention, necessitating a renewed focus on coexistence, a topic also being deliberated in Parliament.

Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, served as the Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Religious Affairs and Co-Existence when he was serving as the Speaker. This committee was established in response to conflicts involving Muslims in March 2018, as well as incidents in Galle in 2017 and Beruwela in 2014. Various proposals were put forth by these committees to address these issues, and consensus was reached on their implementation. It’s crucial that we uphold this agreement and continue working collaboratively to resolve these challenges.

Towards the close of last year, numerous Buddhist monks and Tamil leaders presented the Himalaya Declaration, a document we are currently adhering to. As we move forward, the final phase entails fostering synergy, particularly through discussions with Tamil political parties and MPs, aimed at addressing lingering issues. Steps have been initiated to resolve the matter of missing persons, with further updates forthcoming in the near future. Additionally, arrangements have been made for the release of certain individuals held in connection with these matters.

The primary concern at present revolves around the fate of the missing persons. To address this issue, we’ve presented and successfully passed a bill in Parliament to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Numerous reports from Disappearance Commissions have been reviewed, and one report authored by Judge A.H.M.D.Nawaz was selected.

Following the approval of the draft for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged his support for these initiatives. Similar assistance is being extended by other nations as well, enabling us to advance these critical endeavours.

Addressing the on-going political challenges, our attention is directed towards resolving land disputes, particularly in regions like Jaffna where tensions persist between villagers and the Wildlife Department. Similar conflicts also arise in areas such as Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, and Mahianganaya. We aim to address these issues through inclusive dialogue, involving all concerned parties. Furthermore, I have instructed to proceed in accordance with the 1985 map. Additionally, I anticipate meeting with Tamil MPs in Parliament next week to discuss these matters further. Following consultations with the security forces, agreements have been reached to release more land, providing a pathway forward in our efforts.

Another pressing issue is the delimitation of powers. A key demand is the empowerment of the 3rd list of devolution, with an emphasis on not interfering with police powers at present, leaving them open for future consideration. The Land Act is slated for presentation, and there are no objections to the delegation of other subjects in the 3rd list. However, securing the necessary consensus with other parties in Parliament to achieve a two-thirds majority remains crucial.

Simultaneously, discussions are underway regarding the implementation of the Provincial Board of Education. Proposals have been made to establish provincial professional training institutes in each province. Additionally, plans are underway to appoint provincial-level committees to lead the modernization of agriculture, establish a tourism board, and undertake related initiatives.

Additionally, the work of five provincial ministries is expected to be distributed among twenty ministries. This restructuring cannot simply resemble a general ministry, so officials are currently deliberating on adjusting their structure accordingly.

I eagerly anticipate addressing the final aspect of this matter, the decentralized budget, once all parties have convened. There’s also a call for a secondary board, akin to a Senate, which the government does not oppose. However, such an initiative would need to coincide with the framing of a constitution, potentially requiring a referendum. I also intend to engage in discussions on this topic with other party leaders.

These measures aim to lay the groundwork for a new era in our country. Religious leaders have been entrusted with significant responsibilities in this endeavour. I am confident that further discussions on these matters will yield fruitful outcomes.

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 310.00/15 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 310.00/15 to the US dollar Wednesday, from 310.25/50 on Tuesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.60/80 percent from 10.60/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent up from 11.80/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2028 closed stable at 12.00/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.20/50 percent from 12.25/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed stable at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2031 closed at 12.55/75 percent down from 12.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.50/90 percent down from 12.55/13.00 percent. (Colombo/Feb28/2024)

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