An Echelon Media Company
Thursday June 8th, 2023

Unprecedented 39 petitions challenge 20th Amendment before Supreme Court

ECONOMYNEXT – The Supreme Court this morning September 29, will begin proceedings to hear Fundamental Rights applications filed by an unprecedented 39 individuals and organisations against the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buveneka Aluwihare, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardana and Vijith Malalgoda are in the bench, the courts have announced.

The initial decision for the Apex Court will be to decide on Leave to Proceed, that is whether the petitions will be heard.

The 20A seeks to remove the Independent Commissions and other checks and balances to the power of the Presidency introduced by the 19th Amendment which was passed during the last government.

Concerns have been raised that the proposal will undermine judicial independence and the Audit Commission.

The 20A seeks to restore power to the Executive to the level that was present in the 1978 Constitution passed by the United National Party government headed by J R Jayewardene.

It proposes to take significant powers away from the Prime Minister and hand it over to the Presidency.

Over the years through the 17th Amendment and the 19th Amendment some of the powers of the Presidency have been whittled down, as successive electoral mandates have been interpreted as being against the powers vested in the Executive.

However, the current government which has won a historic majority in Parliament, as well as the preceding Presidential Elections which saw Gotabaya Rajapaksa garner a million votes plus more than his challenger believes the mandate they have received, calls for a strengthened Presidency.

The petitions have been filed by political parties, Human Rights activists and Watchdog Groups.

Opposition Members protest the 20A in Parliament

Leading the charge against the 20A is the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) which has filed several applications.

Among petitioners is the General Secretary of the SJB Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Member of Parliament Mayantha Dissanayake and youth leaders Attorney Lihini Fernando and Rasika Jayakody.

“We’re correctly aligned for our role in history,” Jayakody posted on Social Media.

The United National Party, a shadow of its former self, has filed two petitions, one by Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene and another by General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) will also make an intervention after the Bar Council, decided on Saturday to intervene, a legal official said amid concerns over judicial independence and absolute immunity for the president as a person, as well as his acts.

The proposed amendment aims to remove room now available to challenge the acts of the President through a fundamental rights application.

Yesterday the Chairman of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) said the 20A is being introduced to ensure that a situation such as the security lapses that led to the Easter Sunday attacks does not recur.

Education Minister Prof G L Peiris told reporters that recent testimony led before the Presidential Commission probing the attacks make it clear that the information about the attacks which had been received by the authorities had not been directed to the right people at the right time.

“This was because of the power struggle between the Prime Minister and the President of that time which had been created by the 19th Amendment.”

The SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa has said that the 20A has been proposed by the President to resolve the power struggle between Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Rajapaksa.
(Colombo, September 29, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

Leave a Comment

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

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

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

Sri Lanka’s shares slip on profit taking and selling pressure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed lower on Wednesday after four consecutive gains in previous sessions spiraled into selling interest and profit taking, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was down 0.28 percent or 24.39 points to 8,722.06, this is the lowest the index has been since May 02, while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was down 0.40 percent or 9.92 points to 2,468.44.

“The market was gaining in the previous sessions and there is selling and profit taking present today, due to continuously being on green,” an analyst said.

In the previous sessions the market was seeing gains, due to lowered policy rates and low inflation stimulating buying interest and driving the sentiment up, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

“There are gradual improvements in the market sentiment, with positive sentiments coming in from lowered policy rates and inflation,” an analyst said.

The market generated foreign inflows of 12 million rupees and received a net foreign inflow of 18 million rupees, due to low share prices and discounted shares followed by a dividend announcement.

The market generated a revenue of 554 million rupees, this is the lowest the turnover has been since May 10, while the daily turnover average was 1 billion rupees. From the total generated revenue, the banking sector contributed 120 million rupees, Diversified Banks contributed 115 million rupees and the Capital Goods Industry generated 78 million rupees.

Top losers during trade were Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and Aitken Spence. (Colombo/June06/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka Treasuries yields plunge, 12-month down 318bp

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields plunged across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 12-month yield falling 318 basis points, in one of the biggest one day falls, data from the state debt office showed.

The 3-month yield fell 244 basis points to 23.21 percent.

The 6-mont yield fell 339 basis points to 21.90 percent, along with the 12 months to 19.10 percent.

The short-term yield curve is inverted.

The central bank last week cut its policy rate 250 basis points in a signaling move but is not printing money to enforce the rate cut.

The debt office sold all 140 billion rupees of offered securities. (Colombo/June07/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka forex reserves rise US$722mn in May 2023

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves grew 722 million US dollars to 3,483 million US dollars in May 2023 from 2,761 million US dollars in April, official data showed as deflationary policy and weak credit reduced ‘above the line’ outflows.

Sri Lanka lost almost all its reserve in over two years as the central bank sold reserves and printed money to keep rates down (sterilized reserves sales) including borrowed dollars from India.

Gross official reserves fell to a low of 1,705 million US dollars in September 2022.

Sri Lanka’s central bank hiked rates in April 2022 to slow credit and also stopped printing money after it ran out of borrowed Asian Clearing Union dollars from India.

Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves are made up of both monetary reserves of the central bank and any balances of the Treasury account from loans or grants it gets.

The central bank’s net foreign reserves are still negative after busting up borrowed reserves to suppress rates. By April (before the collection of reserves in May) the central bank’s net reserves were negative by 3.7 billion US dollars.

In May alone 662 million US dollars were bought from the market, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.


No pre-determined level to stop Sri Lanka rupee appreciation: CB Governor

Borrowing dollars through swaps and busting them up, was invented by the US Federal Reserve as it was printing money and breaking the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s.

Sri Lanka received a 350 million US dollar tranche from the Asian Development Bank and 331 million US dollars from the IMF to the Treasury for budget support.

The loans can be sold to the central bank by the government to generate rupees and spend. However, since credit is weak, not all the inflows go out of the country particularly as the central bank is conducting deflationary open market operations on a net basis.

By allowing the rupee to appreciate unlike in previous episodes of recovery in an IMF program, after a bout of money printing, the central bank is bringing down inflation – in some cases absolute prices – and restoring confidence and easing the ‘pain’ of ‘monetary policy’ or stimulus.


Why is Sri Lanka’s rupee appreciating?

Though exports are falling, tourism revenues are also picking up.

The budget support loans, tourism receipts less the reserve collected will widen the trade deficit. Building foreign reserves involves lending money to the US or other western nations and is similar to repaying foreign debt. (Colombo/June07/2023)

Continue Reading