Mists over Hambantota

Mists over Hambantota

e-con e-news December 15-22 2018

Another weekly compendium of the economic news, rather long…. and unwieldy.

One supportive ee  reader notes: “Thank you for the illuminating compilation. Still feel you should have a ‘first’ section or highlights to direct attention to what you feel are priorities …”

We agree and wholeheartedly apologize for still being unable to do such a prioritization, let alone an easier method of synopsis. We do try to show how many tropes (“balance of payments”, “lack of FDI”, “export development”) and figures are repeated over and over again, with scant regard for accuracy, let alone relevance to our needs.

We will discuss the HA de S Gunasekera Oration (we provide under Economists, a link to Part 2) in an upcoming ee…There were many shortcomings to the attempts at industrialization in the 1970-77 period, but it was definitely not as is stated in the oration. This period continues to be highly distorted in the media.

We recommend in this ee the articles by L. Gunasekera on the myths about Hambantota port, the very important article by Shamindra Fernando on the US military hub set up on Sri Lankan soil (while pointing fingers at China), and the article by Vinod Moonesinghe on education for innovation….

Meanwhile we reiterate our caveats to readers to maintain a healthy scepticism about the various indices like growth rates (GDP, etc.) that are provided in these news items…. These news items are more like paid advertisements than elucidations of the economic situation. We also would like to point out the wrong and repeated media usage of such terms as ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘industry’. Again, when we replay news items showing the ‘charity’ of companies, it is merely to highlight how much of health, etc., has been hijacked by private corporate interests. 

ee Quote of the Week:

“Economists… have oversimplified the nature of the problem by talking only of levels of development, and ignoring the fact that some nations not only lack development but are locked into a stagnant state where development is impossible.” (Ruth C. Young, quoted in SBD de Silva’s The Political Economy of Underdevelopment)

Sovereignty•

The More the Merrier: Cabinet Unlimited

…Under provisions of 46 (4) not withstanding anything contained in paragraph (1) of this Article, where the recognized political party or the independent group which obtains highest number of seats in Parliament, a National Government, the number of Ministers in the Cabinet the number of Ministers who are not Cabinet Ministers and the number of Deputy Ministers shall be determined by Parliament.

This is a dangerous opening for abuse, as a future government can appoint 224 Cabinet Ministers (excluding the Speaker) as provided under 46 (4)…

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196441

• Full list of Cabinet ministers (Note how many ministers are involved in ‘development’ – ee)

2018-12-20

01. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe – Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison reforms, Northern Development, Vocational Training, Skill Development and Youth Affairs.

02.    John Amaratunga – Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs.

03.    Gamini Jayawickrema Perera – Minister of Buddha Sasana & North Western Province Development.

04.    Mangala Samaraweera – Minister of Finances and Media

05.   Lakshman Kiriella- Minister of Public Enterprise Development, Upcountry Heritage and Kandy Development

06.    Rauff Hakeem – Minister of Town Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education [to fire water cannon at the IUSF? – ee]

07.    Tilak Marapana – Minister of Foreign Affairs

08.    Rajitha Senarathne – Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine

09.    Ravi Karunanayake- Minister of Power and Energy and Business Development

10.    Vajira Abeywardhane- Minister of Internal & Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government

11.   Rishad Bathiudeen- Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Resettlement and Cooperative Development

12.   Patali Champika Ranawaka- Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development

13.   Naveen Dissanayake- Minister of Plantation Industries

14.   P. Harrison- Minister of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs and Animal Husbandry Development.

15.   Kabeer Hashim – Minister of Highways and Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development.

16.   Ranjith Maddumabandara – Minister of Public Administration and Disaster Management

17.   Gayantha Karunathilake – Minister of Lands and Parliamentary Reforms

18.   Sajith Premadasa – Minister of Housing, Construction and Cultural affairs.

19.    Arjuna Ranatunga – Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation

20.   Palani Digambaran – Minister of Upcountry New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development

21.   Chandrani Bandara – Minister of Women and Child Affairs and Development of Dry Zones

22.    Thalatha Athukorale – Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms

23.    Akila Viraj Kariyawasam – Minister of Education

24.    Abdul Haleem Mohamed Hashim – Minister of Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs

25.    Sagala Ratnayake – Minister of Ports, Maritime Affairs and Southern Development

26.   Harin Fernando – Minister of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure facilities, Foreign Employment and Sports

27.    Mano Ganeshan – Minister of National Integration, Official Languages, Social Progress and Hindu Religious Affairs

28.    Daya Gamage – Minister of Labour, Trade Union Relations and Social Empowerment

29.   Malik Samarawickrema – Minister of Development Strategies, International Trade, Science, Technology and Research.

 – http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Full-list-of-Cabinet-ministers-160073.html

• Three non-Cabinet, 17 State, seven Deputy Ministers appointed

2018-12-21

Three Non-Cabinet Ministers, 17 State Ministers and seven Deputy Ministers were sworn in before President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat this evening.

     The three Non-Cabinet Ministers are Dr. Harsha de Silva who was sworn in as the Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reform and Public Distribution, Ajith P Perera-Non-Cabinet Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology and MP Sujeewa Senasinghe-Non-Cabinet Minister of Science, Technology and Research.

     The 17 State Ministers are:

MP Ranjan Ramanayake – Highways and Road Development,

J.C Alawathuwala – Home Affairs and Provincial Councils,

Vijayakala Maheswaran – Education,

Ruwan Wijewardene – Defence,

Eran Wickramaratne – Finance,

Champika Premadasa – Power and Renewable Energy,

Ranjith Aluwihare – Tourism Development,

Wasantha Aluwihare – Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Economy,

Lucky Jayawardane – City Planning and Water Supply,

Niroshan Perera – National Policies and Economic Affairs,

Ashoka Abesinghe – Transport and Civil Aviation,

Faizal Kassim – Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine,

H.M.M. Harees – Provincial Council and Local Government,

Ameer Ali – Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Economy,

Dilip Wedaarachchi – Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development,

A.Z.M.Seyed – Social Empowerment and Vadivel Suresh-Plantation Industries.

The Deputy Ministers who were appointed are,

Anoma Gamage – Petroleum Resources Development,

Nalin Bandara Jayamaha – Development Strategies and International Trade,

Edward Gunasekara – Lands and Parliamentary Affairs,

Ajith Mannapperuma – Environment,

Karunarathna Paranawithana – Skills Development and Vocational Training,

Buddika Pathirana – Industry and Commerce

Palitha Thewarapperuma – Social Empowerment Deputy Minister.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Three-non-Cabinet-State-seven-Deputy-Ministers-appointed-160157.html

New secretaries appointed to ministries

2018-12-21 

President Maithripala Sirisena today appointed new Secretaries to some 30 Ministries. Hemasiri Fernando was appointed as the Secretary of Defence Ministry, Ms. S.M.Mohammed was appointed as the Secretary of Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry and V. Shivagnanasothi was appointed as the Secretary of Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison reforms, Northern Development, Vocational Training, Skill Development and Youth Affairs.

     The other secretaries who were appointed are; Padmasiri Jayamanne – Education, R.M.D.B.Meegasmulla – Justice and Prison Reforms, J.J. Rathnasiri – Public Administration and Disaster Management, Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda – Power and Energy and Business Development, L.P. Jayampathi – Transport and Civil Aviation, N. Rupasinghe – Megapolis and Western Development, H. T. Kamal Padmasiri – Internal & Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, J. A. Ranjith – Plantation Industries, A. P. G. Kithsiri – Buddha Sasana & North Western Province Development, L. D. Senanayake – Women and Child Affairs and Development of Dry Zones, D. M. A. R. B. Dissanayake – Mahaweli Development and Environment, P. Suresh – Upcountry New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development and H. M. Gamini Seneviratne – Labour, Trade Union Relations and Social Empowerment.

     K.D.N.R. Asoka – Industry and Commerce and Resettlement and Cooperative Development

K.D.S. Ruwanchandra – Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs and Animal Husbandry Development.

Ravindra Hewavitharana – Public Enterprise Development, Upcountry Heritage and Kandy Development

W.H. Karunarathne – Lands and Parliamentary Reforms

M.Y.S. Deshapriya – National Integration, Official Languages, Social Progress and Hindu Religious Affairs

K.P. Bernard Wasantha Silva – Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs

S.T. Kodikara – Development Strategies, International Trade, Science, Technology and Research.

W.A. Chulananda Perera – Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure Facilities, Foreign Employment and Sports

Wasantha Perera – Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine

M.M.P.K.Mayadunne – Town Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education

Siri Hettiarachchi – Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs.

R.P Ariyasinghe – Foreign Affairs

Parakrama Dissanayake – Ports, Maritime Affairs and Southern Development

Sunil Hettiarachchi – Highways and Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development.

Ranil threatens to expose yellow journalism

December 21, 2018, 11:26 pm

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe condemned the conduct of some print and electronic media which he referred to as “Black Media“. Wickremesinghe said that a debate on these “Black Media” would be held in January in the House. “The names of these Black Media will be listed out from top to bottom. I hope media will give us a live coverage for this debate. Remember, two can play this game.” he said.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196460

• [No date given? – ee]

Elections to all PCs on same day: Minister

2018-12-22

The elections to all nine Provincial Councils (PC) will be held on the same day without further delay, Internal and Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Vajira Abeywardane said yesterday.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Elections-to-all-PCs-on-same-day-Minister-160168.html

• Appointing the Cabinet – I’ll make a statement in Jan: PM

2018-12-22

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, that in January, he would make a statement in Parliament on the appointment of the Cabinet of Ministers.

….The Prime Minister referred to the recent political crisis and said his government could not give concessions to people through the 2019 budget which was to be presented on November 5 because of the turmoil that was set off on October 26. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Appointing-the-Cabinet-I-ll-make-a-statement-in-Jan-PM-160169.html

• President names new Cabinet after final dispute with PM

2018-12-21 

(Colombo) AFP: Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena named a 30-member Cabinet yesterday…but only after a final tussle over who should control the police.

….“The forming of the cabinet was delayed because the President wanted to retain media and the police,” government  spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said as the new Cabinet was announced.

No law and order minister was named in the new Cabinet and Sirisena, who also serves as defence minister, will take responsibility for the police.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/President-names-new-Cabinet-after-final-dispute-with-PM-160111.html

• DEW warns of continuing instability

December 17, 2018, 12:38 pm

Shamindra Ferdinando

General Secretary of the Communist Party D. E. W. Gunasekera yesterday warned of continuation of political instability for want of a stable parliament.

     ….Gunasekera said that President Sirisena had sacked Wickremesinghe on Oct 26 as he could not tolerate the UNP’s destructive neoliberal economic strategy. Gunasekera cited the UNP’s bid to allow Indian take over the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo a case in point. 

     …Gunasekera alleged top SLFP/UPFA and the UNP leadership had not taken action to halt crossovers by including the required provision in the 19th Amendment to constitutionally prohibit defection. Obviously, both parties felt that such a provision would be to their advantage, Gunasekera said. Both parties should accept responsibility for this situation, Gunasekera said. President Sirisena, himself has claimed that Mahinda Rajapaksa failed to muster the required simple majority in parliament as some lawmakers demanded as much as Rs. 500 mn to switch their allegiance.

     ….Gunasekera said that the UNP was seeking a national government of capitalists representing political parties representing parliament. Some key members of the SLMC, the TNA and the SLFP/UPFA backed the UNP project, he added.

     Asserting that those in power had neglected the economy over a period of time, Gunasekera pointed out the latest figures released by the Department of Census and Statistics revealed the real crisis the country was facing. Gunasekera said that top 20 percent of the population enjoyed 54 per cent of the national income whereas the 20 per cent in the bottom shared a paltry 4 per cent of national income.

     The parliament should take a genuine interest in addressing economic issues, Gunasekera said. The former head of the parliamentary committee on public enterprises Gunasekera emphasized that the parliament should take remedial measures. The growing poverty should propel parliament to intervene, the former MP said, the national economy should concern all not just the party in power….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196218

We were up against CIA and MI6, not Karu and Ranil – Gammanpila

December 16, 2018   12:08 am

UPFA MP Udaya Gammanpila claims that the foreign diplomats, who had applauded in elation when the Speaker declared that the government does not have a majority in Parliament, will be able to get a good night’s sleep tonight.

     Speaking at a press conference in Colombo on Saturday, he stated that they were not up against Speaker Karu Jayasuriya or UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

     “We were up against secret intelligence agencies such as America’s CIA and Britain’s MI6,” he claimed.

     Gammanpila further said that they see the end of the government’s two-thirds majority as a massive victory itself and that the biggest victory of them all is the fact that the President is now on their side.

– http://www.adaderana.lk/news/52085/we-were-up-against-cia-and-mi6-not-karu-and-ranil-gammanpila

• Prez tells UNP there is no change in his stand

December 17, 2018, 12:36 pm

* takes up plot to kill him

* flays Constitutional Council

* says yahapalanaya failed

President Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday, told newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other UNP MPs at a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, that he was still of the view that Wickremesinghe should not have been appointed Prime Minister.

     ….”The government kept on delaying amending the anti-bribery laws that would have allowed us to punish the culprits responsible for the Treasury bond scams. The non-allocation of subjects to ministers on a scientific basis, the non-implementation of the recommendations of the presidential commission on the bond scam, antagonising Buddhist monks and the imprisonment of the war heroes created a backlash. I was extremely disappointed and they contributed to my decision.

     “Therefore, history will judge my decisions favourably even if an impeachment motion is brought against me. “Even if I am imprisoned, history will judge me favourably for making the right decision. I would like to work with this government without conflicts.”

     Sirisena added that only a political movement that loved the nation and respected its cultural norms could establish good governance”.

     Meanwhile, according to a televised version of his speech, the President expressed his displeasure at the fact that the names of most senior judges submitted to the Constitutional Council for promotions had not been recommended. He lashed out at the UNP for ignoring the plot to assassinate him. He said the CID had failed to turn up in Courts and when he made inquiries he had been told by the CID that it was sorry about the lapse.

     President said yahapalanaya had failed and the first bond scam had been committed within weeks of the formation of the yahapalana government in 2015. He said experts opined that the loss the country had suffered due to the scam was incalculable.

     The President asked why only the military personnel who had battled the LTTE should be brought to justice over allegations against them while no action was taken against the LTTE cadres, some of whose cadres were living abroad. “If LTTE suspects have to be released, then the military personnel in custody must also be treated similarly.”

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196180

• GSLF tells Mahinda to lead fight against Geneva Resolution

December 21, 2018, 10:55 pm

A delegation of Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) led by Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, yesterday….urged the Opposition Leader to press the government to quit the Geneva process.

     The Opposition Leader has explained that in case they moved a motion against Geneva Resolution in parliament, the government was likely to defeat it thereby resulting in a situation inimical to the armed forces.

     The GSLF told the Opposition Leader the Tamil Diaspora was planning to move separate resolutions in Geneva against individuals, including Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka….

     The GSLF delegation comprised Nuwan Ballanthudawa, Erik Makawitage, Suminda Ranatunga, Yasas Dharmadasa, Jayaraj Palihawadana and Dr Dasarath Jayasuriya. (SF)

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196453

• MR tells Ranil Govt. to be people-friendly

2018-12-21

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa today urged the government to be more people-friendly when taking economic decisions without blindly following the instructions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

     Speaking during the debate on the Vote on Account, he said people were inconvenienced by the high cost of living and the tax burden.

     “There are people who can’t afford to a single meal a day as mentioned by the Cardinal in his Christmas message. The government should be people friendly. Don’t try to do only what the IMF says. Countries fall in trouble by doing so,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.

     He said when they took over the government, the businessmen were in a serious situation where some of them had shut down their industries leading to the loss of jobs.

     “We should be sensitive to the needs of the people when taking decisions. It is not fair to fill the treasury by taxing the people all the time. Industries including the construction sector collapsed when this government took over in January, 2015. More than 500,000 people had lost their jobs during this time,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.

     He said this situation needed to be changed and pointed out that was why they decided to provide relief to the people soon after they took over the government.

     “We reduced fuel prices and the VAT. The fuel prices could have been reduced even earlier. A barrel of crude oil dropped to US$28 in the world market. But the then government had not reduced the fuel prices,” Mr. Rajapaksa said and added that they did not take over the government in a political coup and asked the current government not to be too sure of their position when considering who were in the opposition.

     “We are in the opposition now so don’t be too sure of your seats in the government. We, as the opposition, and the peolle will rise against your anti-people actions at any time,” he said. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/MR-tells-Ranil-Govt-to-be-people-friendly-160167.html

• 20A without repeal of 13A will be disastrous

2018-12-20

‘Stand Alone’ is a term that was used a lot during the discussion on the power of the President to dissolve parliament. The issue was whether the clause preventing dissolution until Parliament completes four and a half years supersedes the surreptitiously inserted clause permitting dissolution. That insertion was pernicious as was the entire 19th Amendment, clearly introduced for partisan purposes by the chief architects, meaning representatives of the United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance (Jayampathy Wickramaratne and M.A. Sumanthiran respectively). That the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) voted for it should be noted and seen as an example of political puerility.   

     …jog the memories of retired leftists who’ve found lucrative positions in the NGO industry, have long since forgotten class struggle, have no qualms about being quiet on capitalism and would love people to believe that the UNP is the vanguard of the democratic revolution. Simply, Maithripala Sirisena is the first President of the country to actually speak up against neoliberalism.   

     ….That said, the 13th is still a part of the Constitution. This is where the 20th Amendment (which proposes to abolish the Executive Presidency) comes into play. The executive president is a key part of the 13th Amendment because it carries the safeguards against moves by provinces to break away.  

     Any move to abolish the executive presidency that does not at the same time address the impact of such an amendment to the operationalising of the 13th is erroneous and irresponsible. Patali Champika Ranawaka’s party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya has consistently reminded lawmakers and others of this danger. What Ranawaka has to say now will indicate to what extent the party (and of course he himself) has dissolved its ideology for political profit.   

malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com 

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/-A-without-repeal-of-A-will-be-disastrous-160037.html 

• Confused and confusing 19-A

December 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha

I have written much about the manner in which the 19th amendment was introduced, but this has been in different places. A coherent narrative looking only at just the amendment may be useful so that if ever there is another attempt at constitutional reform, those responsible will work more effectively.

     The main problem that we now face arose on the first day way back in 2014 on which those tasked with Maithripala Sirisena’s Presidential manifesto met. This was in an upstairs office at Chandrika Kumaratunga’s house, but the whole process was chaotic. At the inception it became clear that the person I thought in charge of the process, Jayampathy Wickremaratne, had his own agenda, or rather was pushing actively for Ranil Wickremesinghe’s agenda. He declared when we began discussions that the first action of the new government, if Sirisena was elected, was to transfer power immediately to the Prime Minister.

     I told him this was both immoral and stupid. 

     ….I did point out the inconsistency of giving veto power in some respects but not all to the Prime Minister, and received the frivolous response from the then Secretary of the SLFP, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, that if those were withheld he would start crying.

     … In the United States the President forms an Executive that is largely from outside Parliament. And there, as in France which often has many Ministers who come from Parliament, they give up their positions in the legislature in order to take up Executive office…..

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196389

• Lankan Tamil party accuses parliament Speaker of having an ethnic bias

December 19, 2018No Comment

Colombo, December 20 (newsin.asia): R.Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentary group and Leader of the opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament, on Wednesday accused Speaker Karu Jayasuriya of violating the constitution and having a bias in favor of the majority Sinhalese community when he appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Leader of Opposition ignoring the fact that Rajapaksa had ceased to be an MP after he  switched parties….

https://newsin.asia/lankan-tamil-party-accuses-parliament-speaker-of-having-an-ethnic-bias/?

Hambantota Port: Some Basic Facts from the Spot Today

Lakshman F. B. Gunasekara

“A = Which Ministry or department is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Port and is there any Chinese participation in this admin/supervision?

     The running of the port’s harbour marine-side operations is by SL Ports Authority, but all logistics (cargo loading/off-loading, ship crew servicing, ship servicing etc etc) is done on contract by a Chinese company which is a subsidiary of the giant, Hong Kong based China Merchants Group (which has similar and more complex operations all round the world). Port security is (in addition to Harbour Police) is maintained by a Navy troops unit while the Navy runs its own small naval base facility on one side of the harbour.

     ALSO SEE – http://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=44680 … dated 9 December 2017 with Ranil Wickremasinghe in lead role

B = What are the economic and other statistical details for (1) costs and (2) incomes and (3) ships that have downloaded goods and/or refueled at the port from say 2009-2017

     Don’t have time to search for data, but the actual port is now doing what it is primarily supposed to do in its first phase:- i.e. receiving car carrier loads of Indian manufactured motor vehicles for quick transhipment out of India to various vehicle markets all over the world.  All motor vehicle transhipment, which was earlier done at Colombo, is now fully done in Hambantota. Refuelling facility just starting up and I don’t think any ships have docked for this yet. But the port services company is already operating feeder vessels that meet cargo/cruise vessels in mid-ocean (offshore) and providing fuelling, other re-supply (food, equipment) and also minor repairs and other technical services that do not need harbour docking.

     The SLPA website has all the shipping statistics.

C = Are there any Chinese officials and/or labourers still attached to the site?

      I visited Hambantota a month ago and interviewed the Chinese CEO and Lankan Chief Ops Manager there. The Chinese CEO said that there were several senior technical officers who were from China living in nearby Corp provided housing. All the rest officers are Lankan – about 20. They also use about 300 other operations personnel who are all Lankan. Along with the Vocational Training Authority, the company runs subsidized technical training courses for locals to provide them with the skills for future employment in Hambantota port and also to be available to any other port venture elsewhere – clearly a CSR programme.                                                                                  

D = Were there any side-benefits arising from the Chinese involvement in the port building ………such as, say. the “sleaze trade” associated with Chinese or Thai or local masseurs/prostitutes?

     I have visited Hambantota Port three times over four years so far, all for reporting purposes (for The Yomiuri Shimbun), and although we moved around and talked to all kinds of people, including those who are hostile to the Chinese operation (and also to the ecological damage incurred), but have yet to hear of anything about sex trade and other sleaze.

E = There have been accusations coming out of KENYA about Chinese racial prejudices etc ….. Any similar encounters of this sort in Hambantota or Colombo port?

     Have heard not direct complaints about this – in Hambantota, there are some complaints that the Chinese there are aloof and not friendly. But no reports at all of outright elitism and racism.

     ….The issues here have, of course, to be linked to investigation of the allegations re the Chinese debt trap”. Such claims are one facet of the TWISTED NEWS and insidious dissimulation mounted by Western news agencies (such as the NY Times and the London Financial Times) servicing the US Department of State — whose primary target is Mahinda Rajapaksa.

     When the Hambantota project was under fire long ago as one aspect of the anti-Rajapaksa campaigns Gerald Peiris (to my mind one of the island’s best economists as a geographer) indicated that the assessment had to be long-term because the shipping companies planned their schedules years ahead. This cautious note seems to be borne out by Lakshman’s data. 

     I was also in favour of the project and the road links being pursued by the governments of that day because the port could serve as  a “growth pole” over the long-run and counterbalance the hegemonic domination of the island by the Colombo metropolitan area.  This hope has been shattered by the further consolidation of Colombo’s hegemony via the Colombo Port expansion (also Chinese in several ways). That stressed, I would underline two sets of economic activity under the period of Rajapaksa rule that deserve recognition: viz, (B) the road and bridge building along the eastern coast plus the Pooneryn bridge; and (C) the expansion and conversion of Oruvil as a trawler port. My thinking here is guided by the long-term impact of road, bridge and railway building in the Central provinces of the island during the British Raj –just read Ananda Wickremeratna’s chapter on the transport network in the UCHC History of Ceylon  edited by KM de Silva (1973).

     To permit a visceral hatred of the Rajapaksas to guide the evaluation of  such issues and to be taken in by the fake-cum-twisted stories in the world press is to fail one’s duty as a Sri Lankan. Nor should my question about the “sleaze trade” be deciphered as a moral evaluation on my part. I see the sleaze trade of prostitutes and masseurs as one line of economic activity. Let Hambantota bloom like Colombo, Bentota and Negombo.

https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/hambantota-port-some-basic-facts-from-the-spot-today/

 • Understanding President Maithripala Sirisena in Three Steps

Excerpts from a January 2015 Daily Mirror article by Sandun Jayasekara

     1. “Even during his school days he has showed skills in leadership and had a knack for politics and social and community service. In order to further his political ambitions and obtaining ideological acumen, Sirisena joined the Communist Party of Ceylon (CPC – Peking) while still a school boy and closely associated with party leader N. Shanmugadasan in party activities.

     Fate did not wait much longer to gift this young student leader for his abilities and ambitions as then SLFP Member of Parliament in Polonnaruwa, Leelaratna Wijesingha chose him as the secretary of the SLFP Youth Organization in Polonnaruwa and he was only 17 years of age. However, the active politics at such young age also had negative impacts and he was arrested and put behind bars at Batticaloa jail during 1971 insurrection.”

     2 “…From 1997…he held several important cabinet portfolios and most significant achievement was his green revolution during the global food crisis that saved Sri Lanka.

     As the Agriculture and Mahaweli Development Minister he was able to motivate farmers to grow enough paddy, vegetables, fruits, grains and other foods locally under the sloga ‘Api Wavamu – Rat Nagamu’ and Sri lanka was able to stand the global food crisis.

     The government decision to give farmers a bag of fertilizer for Rs. 350 was the result of his efforts and saved the Paddy Marketing Board from privatization.

     As the Health Minister he introduced legislations to cover cigarette packets with pictorial warnings and to introduce a National Medicinal Drug Policy based on medicinal drug policy of respected medical personality Dr. Senaka Bibile that would benefit the entire country and he had to fight with many multi national companies and powerful people to this.”

     3. “He has been a prime target of the LTTE and had a narrow shave from a suicide bomber who targeted him at Boralasgamuwa during the ethnic conflict.”

• Ranil returns as PM; crisis nears end

2018-12-17

(Colombo) REUTERS: Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister yesterday

     …Sirisena had repeatedly said he would not reappoint Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister. But he had to change his stance to gain parliamentary approval for a temporary budget that is required by Jan. 1.

     ….[Ranil] later told his supporters at his official residence that he would ensure a “better economic situation, better standard of living” for Sri Lankans after first working to “normalize the country”.

     ….Many foreign [read: white – ee] countries refused to recognise Rajapaksa’s government. Credit rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s downgraded SriLanka, citing refinancing risks and an uncertain policy outlook.

     ….Much of the conflict between the two men centered on a dispute over how much to accommodate Indian interests in the country versus Chinese, government officials and foreign diplomats told Reuters last month. China has been investing heavily in the country though India is the traditional power in the region.

     India welcomed the resolution of the political turmoil in Sri Lanka. “This is a reflection of the maturity demonstrated by all political forces, and also of the resilience of Sri Lankan democracy and its institutions,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Ranil-returns-as-PM-crisis-nears-end-159876.html

 • Colombo, December 17 (newsin.asia)

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena…[spoke] to MPs of Wickremesinghe’s alliance after swearing him in as Prime Minister

… “…There is an allegation among the judges in the judiciary service that I do not give appointments in accordance with seniority.I should clearly state that I have sent every single name of those who level those charges against me, but the Constitutional Council has rejected those names. In that situation, there has been injustice to those who hold seniority in the field of judiciary. Therefore, the question arises as to how impartial the Constitutional Council has been when appointing of Judges.

     As a result of the previous government’s serious misdeeds President Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated, which was the first time a President was defeated, and I was elected as the President by 6,250,000 people voting for me. What was opposed in the previous government was corruption and fraud. But the new people’s government that was elected by the people, plundered the Central Bank within three months. In the two cases reported in 2015, our fight against corruption was destroyed. So, yahapalaya (good governance) political concept has been destroyed. The citizen’s yahapalana (good governance) expectation has been destroyed.

     I spoke to the Central Bank Governor this morning by telephone and asked him as to where was the Forensic Audit, which was a major recommendation made by the Presidential Commission. Until today nothing has been done. As such the total financial loss to the Central Bank robbery cannot be estimated. The Commission Report says this fraud has happened over several years.

     Then, economic experts told me about this last week and told me that this massive robbery had been over Rs 1,000 billion for many years.And, in this issue, Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe clearly knows that I was opposed to the appointment of Mr Arjuna Mahendren. But, I did not want any conflict with Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe and I appointed Mr Arjuna Mahendran because of his strongest demand. Therefore, I too came under the allegation that I should take the responsibility.The fraud that has taken place under Mr Arjuna Mahendran has ignited the country like a wildfire. Mr Arjuna Mahendran is missing today. The plan for his arrest was not implemented properly. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and other officials who assisted the Presidential Commission on Central Bank robbery were threatened. There were pressures and some of the officials came under various investigations.

     On 26th October, I appointed Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. Four days before that an amendment to the Bribery and Corruption Commission Act was presented to Parliament in order to punish the suspects who plundered the Central Bank. This was recommended by the Attorney General’s Department but the proposed Amendment, which was first sent last year was in a cupboard for more than five months. I reminded about this to the Minister of Justice Thalatha Atukorale and Minister Kiriella several times. Finally, with great difficulty, I could get Minister Kiriella to submit it to Parliament. But eventually, the debate on its amendment was postponed indefinitely. Because of this delay, the Act could not be changed. Now it will not happen and the Central Bank robbery that cost billions of rupees for over 15 or 20 years will not be investigated and the guilty are not being punished. Money cannot be recovered. This is a serious issue today.

     …I appointed a Commission on the Singapore trade agreement. I received its recommendations last week. According to that, there are lot of weaknesses. I am not going to explain them in detail at this moment. Particularly, in one paragraph mentions how the agreement has been entered into without concurrence of relevant agencies such as trade, ports, industry and finance.Therefore, the Singapore trade agreement is a major problem today. I suppose is that it should be suspended temporarily by government .I am not sure if this agreements needs to be amended or completely revoked after seeking the opinion of experts.We must be correct in the future.

     ….Within the past four years, in matters of eradicating bribery and corruption, I told, and as I always said there are certain very strong and powerful forces related to religion, customs, language etc. Mostly, It is those cultural forces, than political forces, that make or break governments. I clearly pointed out in the recent past in the matter regarding filing cases against Bikkhus need to be done carefully. There were no elephants for the Perahara from temples or Dewala and that amounted to a huge socio-religious and cultural resistance over this. As such, I asked to study the legality and release the elephants. Over this issue, we lost the whole Bhikku community.

     I must also clearly mention about imprisoning the members of the Tri forces. I asked not to imprison our soldiers who have fought in battles and defeated terrorism; but nobody listened to me.

     Today, they ask us to punish our soldiers, from all over the world…Even today, there are bigger hands of L.T.T.E. freely roaming around in the world. The same international forces point fingers at us, but they are the ones who committed all these wrongdoings. But they still demand conducting enquires against our forces. They accuse us of violating human rights and international laws. But they killed nearly one lakh members of our tri-forces, police, civil security forces as well as a President of this country. So where is a programme to find and bring to justice those who have committed all these gross violations and now hiding in various parts of the world? 

     ….During the recent incidents, your debaters said that I will be dragged and be murdered like Gadafi. Some of your MPs said,I will be also burned in my own house with my family. The NGO operatives who were holding press conferences also said so. Why do they say that? No state leader in this country had been called like this. There were severe issues in the country during the tenure of President J.R. Jayawardena who was considered as a very strict ruler. I was imprisoned since I spoke against J.R. Jayawardhana’s government.

     Even J.R.Jayawardena was not addressed like this; President Premadasa was not called like this. How many misdeeds were committed against Chandrika Bandaranaike? Nobody talked to them like that. Nobody said Mahinda Rajapaksa will be dragged like Gadhafi. I was called like that since I am the only person who would silently watch upon such acts. If the former leaders including J.R. were called upon like that nobody will be able to save their lives. But they know that the house of a man like me could be burnt down and person like me could be dragged liked that.

     ….I am a person who has been nearly killed five to six times in my political career. First, I was almost killed in ’71, when the Principal of my school gave my name to the authorities, even though I have no connection with JVP, they labeled me as Che Guevara follower, and after beating me, they put me in the Batticaloa Prison….

https://newsin.asia/sirisena-says-itll-be-very-hard-to-go-on-a-collective-journey-with-a-corrupt-unp/

• Re-instated Lankan PM and Rajapaksa set to clash over Executive Presidency and devolution of power

December 17, 2018No Comment

Colombo, December 17: The re-instated Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the man he replaced, Mahinda Rajapaksa, are set to clash over two major issues facing Sri Lanka, namely, the continuation of the Executive Presidency and devolution of power to the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern provinces.

     …..Rajapaksa charged that given the shortage of numbers in parliament, Wickremesinghe had to agree to TNA’s demand for an ethnically divisive new Sri Lankan constitution.

     “On 12 December, even before the Supreme Court judgement was delivered, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe spoke in Parliament about bringing in a new Constitution. This new Constitution has already been drafted and published in the newspapers as well. Under the provisions of that draft constitution, this country will be divided into nine semi-independent federal units.”

     ….“The United National Party (UNP) government borrowed US$ 20.7 billion in foreign currency loans alone within a period of three and a half years, and we have no idea as to how much more they will borrow in the coming months.”

     “The UNP brought our economy to the brink of collapse through such foreign currency borrowings. All that money was borrowed for consumption. Burt we borrowed money to develop the country and that development is visible. But the UNP borrowed money only for consumption.”

https://newsin.asia/re-instated-lankan-pm-and-rajapaksa-set-to-clash-over-executive-presidency-and-devolution-of-power/

• The still belligerent Sirisena is not going to make it easy for Premier Wickremesinghe

December 17, 20181

Colombo, December 17 (newsin.asia): …Sri Lankan President  Maithripala Sirisena has not lost his belligerence and sting.

     Speaking to members of the United National Front (UNF) ….Wickremesinghe came under direct attack over the appointment of Arjuna Mahendran as the Central Bank Governor and the subsequent LKR 17 billion bond scam in early 2015.

     ….“This audit is critical to ascertain and recover the actual loss from the bond scam. Certain economists have estimated the loss from the bond scam as LKR 17 billion,” Sirisena said.

     ….Shiral Lakthilaka, a top adviser to Sirisena, said that the President would give a sporting chance to Wickremesinghe and his team to deliver on its election promises.

     “Early signs of good or bad governance will be seen shortly when Wickremesinghe names his cabinet of ministers. If the same corrupt ministers are given the same plum portfolios,  one can conclude that the government is heading for a disaster,” he said.

     However, to stem a serious deterioration, the President will not hesitate to use his powers as Executive President, Lakthilaka said.

https://newsin.asia/the-still-belligerent-sirisena-is-not-going-to-make-it-easy-for-premier-wickremesinghe/

• Wickremesinghe to abolish Executive Presidency and solve Tamil question within a unitary constitution

December 16, 2018

Colombo, December 16 (newsin.asia): The re-appointed Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that he has initiated discussions with a number of political parties for abolishing the Executive Presidency and with  the Tamil National Alliance and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna for bringing about a political solution in which all citizens can live in harmony in a unitary state.

https://newsin.asia/wickremesinghe-to-abolish-executive-presidency-and-solve-tamil-question-within-a-unitary-constitution/

• US says eager to work with PM Wickremesinghe

2018-12-19

The United States has praised the restoration of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and voiced eagerness to work with him, NDTV reported on Tuesday.

     US State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino has said they  were pleased that the leadership in Sri Lanka has resolved the political crisis of the past several weeks in accordance with constitutional norms and the rule of law. 

     “Sri Lanka is a valued partner in the Indo-Pacific….”

     US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz said they would work with this and future Sri Lankan Governments resulting from a constitutionally legitimate process to advance cooperation on bilateral and regional issues.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/US-says-eager-to-work-with-PM-Wickremesinghe-160023.html

• US, Australia welcome political developments in SL

2018-12-17

Australian High Commission in Colombo said as a longstanding friend and Indian Ocean neighbour, Australia welcomed resolution of the political uncertainty in Sri Lanka by constitutional means.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/US-Australia-welcome-political-developments-in-SL-159894.html

UK welcomes resolution of the political situation in Sri Lanka

December 18, 2018

Following the swearing in of Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister by President Sirisena on 16 December, Minister for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field said:

     I welcome progress….The UK is providing Sri Lanka with £8.3 million of Conflict, Stability and Security Fund funding over three years, to include support for police reform and training, reconciliation and peace building, resettlement and demining in the north of the country.”

     India, US and EU recently issued statements appreciating return of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196306

Relieved, India welcomes Ranil’s return

December 17, 2018, 12:39 pm

NEW DELHI, December 16: India today welcomed the resolution of the political situation in Sri Lanka with a sense of relief.

     External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a statement issued here today: “As a close neighbour and true friend, India welcomes the resolution of the political situation in Sri Lanka.”……Ranil Wickremesinghe….were greeted with a huge sense of relief by friends and well-wishers of Sri Lanka across India.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196220

• West, India welcome outcome in Sri Lanka

December 17, 2018, 11:27 pm

Several western nations, including the EU, the United States and Australia, yesterday welcomed the political developments in Sri Lanka.

“As steady friends of Sri Lanka, we welcome the peaceful and democratic resolution….” the Delegation of the European Union said issuing a statement in agreement with the EU Ambassadors and the Norwegian Ambassador resident in Colombo.

     ….On Sunday (16) India welcomed the resolution of the political situation in Sri Lanka with a sense of relief. External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a statement: “As a close neighbour and true friend, India welcomes the resolution of the political situation in Sri Lanka.

     ….”India remains committed to taking forward its people-oriented development projects in Sri Lanka. We are confident that India-Sri Lanka relations will continue to move on an upward trajectory.” India watched uneasily as the unseemly political drama in Sri Lanka dragged on for 51 days…

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196259

• C’wealth, Canada welcome political crisis resolution in SL

2018-12-18 

The Commonwealth Organisation and the Government of Canada had welcomed the resolution of the political crisis in Sri Lanka.

     In a tweet, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said the resolution of the political crisis in Sri Lanka highlights the resilience of Sri Lanka’s institutions,

     …Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Sri Lanka’s judiciary has upheld the rule of law, bringing an end to the unconstitutional actions which undermined Sri Lanka’s democracy.

• EU welcomes peaceful, democratic resolution of Sri Lanka’s political crisis

December 17, 2018

The Delegation of the European Union issued the following statement yesterday in agreement with the EU Ambassadors and the Norwegian Ambassador resident in Colombo.

     “As steady friends of Sri Lanka, we welcome the peaceful and democratic resolution of the political crisis…

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196230

Japan welcomes development towards stability in Sri Lanka

2018-12-20

Japan said, as a long-standing friend

“Japan, in cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka, commits to further strengthening our “Comprehensive Partnership” in order to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in Sri Lanka and the Indo-Pacific region…”

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Japan-welcomes-development-towards-stability-in-Sri-Lanka-160092.html

• Japan welcomes political stability in Sri Lanka

December 21, 2018   07:59 am

Japan has welcomed the recent development toward political stability in Sri Lanka, including the appointment of the new cabinet, through due process in accordance with the law…

– http://www.adaderana.lk/news/52192/japan-welcomes-political-stability-in-sri-lanka

UN chief relieved at resolution of Sri Lanka’s political crisis

December 21, 2018   08:27 am

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday welcomed the resolution of the political crisis in Sri Lanka through peaceful and constitutional means.

     The secretary-general applauded the resilience of the country’s democratic institutions, said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a statement.

– http://www.adaderana.lk/news/52194/un-chief-relieved-at-resolution-of-sri-lankas-political-crisis

• China welcomes resolution of political situation

2018-12-18

The Chinese Government today said China, as a traditional close neighbour and a most important development partner, welcomed the peaceful and proper resolution…

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/China-welcomes-resolution-of-political-situation-159947.html

• Re-positioning Uyangoda et al in the 21st Century Political Dispensation

Vinod Moonesinghe

…The people whom Uyangoda mentions as being “committed to civil liberties”, people who opposed what they called a “constitutional coup,” were voluble in presenting themselves as “acting in the interests of democracy”, not of Ranil Wickramasinghe, in fact only appear to be committed to the civil liberties of the elite.

     None of them raised a murmur when the 19th Amendment was passed, with sections which should have required a referendum being inserted as amendments in the committee stages, an act totally against parliamentary norms. They did not raise a murmur when exactly the same thing was done with the Provincial Council Elections (Amendment) Bill. Nor did they raise a murmur when the Yahapalana Regime refused to hold Local Government elections, putting them off on various pretexts,

     ….totally kept mum over the Central Bank Bond Scams and about the accusation that a Government Minister demanded a 30% bribe from a Chinese company.

     None of these so-called paragons of press freedom said a word when The New York Times published an article – in which it  named Dharisha Bastians, recently appointed Editor of the Sunday Observer by Mangala Samaraweera, as one of the reporters, with background research done, I am told, by Aneesha Guruge of the US NED-funded Verite Institute – which turned out to be an extremely biased account of the Hambantota issue, which perverted the truth (for example by quoting ship traffic figures for 2012, ignoring the subsequent years, in which traffic improved rapidly) and blaming Hambantota for the debt trap – which the Governor of the Central Bank says was due almost entirely to the populist pre-election budget of 2015. (See interview with Indrajit Coomaraswamy in October issue of OSL Magazine)

     ….To call Jayadeva Uyangoda a “Marxist” is, to make an understatement, stretching the facts a little. He said goodbye to any pretence at Marxism long ago. He is the establishment “radical”…

https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/re-positioning-uyangoda-et-al-in-the-21st-century-political-dispensation/

• Price of this Grand Larceny?

December 19, 2018, 12:00 pm

….”I have in mind not the business people (mostly foreign, at least in spirit) or those with politico-social agendas backed by funds mostly acquired in foreign lands or by peddlers of outdated ‘growth’ theories and other such drugs. I seek to bring to your attention those of our middle-middle, lower middle and the poorer classes, whose incomes are taxed by ‘parliamentarians’ to finance their increasingly filthily-rich life styles.  Oh, and such law-makers who can offer a part of that loot to those who may be called upon to defend the laws they make – all in the interests of ‘justice’ or in the name of ‘law and order’. 

….First off, what were the allowances to which Members of Parliament, Ministers, deputy and State Ministers were entitled pre-Yahapalana regime? What other facilities such as fuel, phone, rent, attendance allowances were payable to them? What payments and facilities (such as duty free vehicles) were they and their staff, including security staff, given pre-2015, and when and by how much did such expenditures increased since? All such details should be readily available with the Secretary General of Parliament, the Ministry of Public Administration and the General Treasury….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196344

• The country’s Constitution is not a document to be used or abused according to the whims and fancies of three people – President Maithirpala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem said yesterday.

     ….President Sirisena does not want the Executive Presidency abolished as he wants to cling to this post again while Prime Minister Wickremesinghe wants it removed because he is not used to irrational campaigns when it comes to a presidential election and not used to the emotional aspects of an election. This is because he appeals to the intelligentsia of the country. 

     ….Mr. Hakeem said the interim report of the steering committee of the Constitutional Assembly should be discussed in February next year. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Constitution-not-for-personal-agendas-Hakeem-159952.html

• [This appears to be a dubious article making dubious allegations..but it is inserted for information only – ee]

Sri Lanka won freedom from the British in 1948 largely because of the blood sacrifices of the Japanese soldiers in World War Two

– http://www.sinhalanet.net/sri-lanka-won-freedom-from-the-british-in-1948-largely-because-of-the-blood-sacrifices-of-the-japanese-soldiers-in-world-war-two

• Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour ignited the liberation of Asia from Western domination – Time to express Asia’s Gratitude to Japan

Senaka Weeraratna

November 27, 2018

On November 14, 2018, a meeting was held to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Japan’s Proposal for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, sponsored by Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. More accurately, the Japanese government made this proposal at the Paris Peace Conference, in a committee that would eventually draft the Covenant of the League of Nations, on February 13, 1919. In any event, we are commemorating this monumental event in a number of ways, domestically and internationally, and this meeting was one of them.

     Three speakers made presentations at this meeting: Mr. Senaka Weeraratna, Attorney at Law, from Sri Lanka, Mr. Kase Hideaki, Foreign Affairs commentator and President of the Society, and Dr. Yamashita Eiji, Professor Emeritus, Osaka City University.

URL: – http://www.sdh-fact.com/essay-article/1275/

PDF: – http://www.sdh-fact.com/CL/Senakas-Speech.pdf

• They must be tried to show that Tamil lives are as important – Prof. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

2018-12-21

Prof.  Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, is a member of the Election Commission of  Sri Lanka and was appointed by the President Maithripala Sirisena for a 5-year term in November 2015.  However he successfully challenged President Sirisena’s move to dissolve Parliament before the Supreme Court by filing a fundamental rights petition. 

     …When I told Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, he simply shook my hand without saying anything. I interpreted it as a positive encouragement. My colleague Nalin Abeysekere has consistently maintained that we must never disagree in public even if we all do not agree. He therefore regards my action as unethical. 

     ….The military occupation and colonisation of the little part of the country where we are safe during riots must stop. The merger of the North and East Provinces which can be simply done must be done to afford us a sense of security. The constitutional right to use Tamil in administration must not be denied. I have been to courts in the North several times and found the police prosecuting in Sinhalese in violation of the Constitution.

     ….The delay in repealing the PTA is inexcusable. The attempt to replace it with a law that replicates some of its same draconian features shows the inherent racism of a Government always up to trickery. War criminals and necrophilliacs are not national heroes. They must be tried to show that Tamil lives are as important as those of any other.

        “The merger of the North and East Provinces which can be simply done must be done to afford us a sense of security. The constitutional right to use Tamil in administration must not be denied. I have been to courts in the North several times and found the police prosecuting in Sinhalese”

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/They-must-be-tried-to-show-that-Tamil-lives-are-as-important-Prof-Ratnajeevan-H-Hoole-160099.html

• Professionals to replace politicians

2018-12-20

There remains less than a year until Sri Lanka braces for its next elections… collective of Sri Lankan professionals, activists and artistes gathered at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on December 17 and formed a movement called National People’s Movement (NPM).  

     ….The NPM platform is a collaboration of 17-member organizations including United Professionals Movement, Deshodaya Organization, Vinivida Foundation, Lawyers for Equal Rights, Sri Lankan Engineers Association, Trustees (Gte.) Ltd, Jathika Janatha Commission, Jathika Parisarika Sanvidana Ekamuthuwa, Alliance for Political Conscience , Paramparika Ha Deshiya Waidyawarunge Ekamuthuwa, Jathika Guru Balaya, Udara Sri Lanka Organization, Independent Organization to Protect Depositors, Mihithala Mithuro Environment Development Foundation, Janatha Niyojanaye Purogami Sabhawa, AI Imam Shafi Center for Education & Development and Dambulu Govijana Vyaparaya.  

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Professionals-to-replace-politicians-160040.html

• Mahinda Rajapaksa May Be Down But Is Certainly Not Out Yet

2018-12-22

D.B.S. Jeyaraj 

….There is no doubt that Mahinda Rajapaksa is still the single-most popular mass-figure in the seven Sinhala majority provinces of Sri Lanka. 

     “So what has actually happened here is that the UNP which has a minority of 103 seats, has been taken hostage by the TNA. If they do not adhere to the diktat of the TNA, the UNP minority can lose their parliamentary majority at any moment. The TNA now holds the remote control in Parliament”.   

     ….The battle lines are clearly demarcated now. Mahinda Rajapaksa will spearhead an intensive campaign tinged with racism against the Wickremesinghe Government and its key ally the TNA. By doing so Rajapaksa hopes to boost his support base within the Sinhala Buddhist constituency. 

     … If Ranil Wickremesinghe and his party think that Mahinda Rajapaksa has been politically neutralized, then they are badly mistaken. Underestimating Mahinda and over- estimating Ranil without gauging the ground realities correctly may result in political disaster. The “Medamulana Machiavelli” Mahinda Rajapaksa may be down but he is certainly not out!

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Mahinda-Rajapaksa-May-Be-Down-But-Is-Certainly-Not-Out-Yet-160178.html

• SB says JHU stalwart worth much more than NL slot

Ven. Rathana under UNP fire

December 21, 2018

Shamindra Ferdinando

UPFA MP S.B. Dissanayake on Thursday (Dec 20) alleged that the UNP had conveniently forgotten the high profile role played by Ven. Rathana Thera in defeating Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 2015 presidential election.

     National List MP Dissanayake briefly explained how the then Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) stalwart spearheaded the operation alongside the late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera. The issue came up at a media briefing called by the UPFA at the Punchi Borella residence of MP Tilanga Sumathipala.

     The SLFPer said so when The Island sought UPFA response to Galle District UNP MP Wijepala Hettiarachchi’s criticism of Ven. Rathana over the latter switching allegiance to the Opposition camp. Hettiarachchi told Ven. Rathana in parliament on Wednesday he shouldn’t have betrayed the UNP after having entered parliament on its National List. Dissanayake was flanked by MPs Susil Premjantha and Bandula Gunawardena. Dissanayake recollected how Ven. Rathana influenced the then SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena to quit the UPFA….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196457

•Security•

• US sets up logistic hub in Sri Lanka amidst political chaos

December 18, 2018, 8:59 pm

The US Navy first operated the air logistic hub in late August 2018, before President Sirisena and Premier Wickremasinghe clashed over the latter’s move to form Public Private Partnership (PPP) with US ally, India, to run the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo harbour…

     ….Interestingly, the US, having granted logistic hub status by Sri Lanka in August 2018, warned of the Hambantota port becoming a forward military base for Chinese Navy. No less a person than US Vice President Mike Pence made this assertion.

     ….On behalf of the Sirisena-Rajapaksa government, UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara (Joint Opposition) expressed concern over the latest development in the US-Sri Lanka military relationship. Addressing the media, at Dr. N. M. Perera Centre, Cotta road, Borella, Nanayakkara flayed the ousted UNP-led administration for giving in to the US project. Mahinda Rajapaksa commented on the US-Sri Lanka project soon after giving up premiership to enable Sirisena to reappoint Wickremesinghe.

     The UNP leader, surrounded by key lawmakers, was reappointed PM on Dec 16, 2018. Addressing people at his Tangalle residence, Rajapaksa, on Dec 16, 2018, warned of possible implications to Sri Lanka by giving US access to Trincomalee and getting entangled in superpower rivalry.

     Did the UNP consult President Sirisena regarding the setting up of the US logistic hub in Sri Lanka? Had the issue at hand been discussed at cabinet level and also with relevant parties?

     The US Navy first operated the air logistic hub in late August 2018, before President Sirisena and Premier Wickremasinghe clashed over the latter’s move to form Public Private Partnership (PPP) with US ally, India, to run the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo harbour. The battle over ownership of the ECT and other matters, including an alleged assassination plot to eliminate President Sirisena, led to the sacking of Wickremesinghe.

     President Sirisena, obviously much to the embarrassment of the top UNP leadership, repeated devastating accusations in his address to the nation immediately after swearing in Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister at the Presidential Secretariat (Old Parliament).

• A report from the 7th Fleet

     Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Grant G. Grady, in a report headlined ‘USS John C. Stennis Leverages Logistics Hub in Sri Lanka’ posted on the 7th Fleet website on Dec 06 discussed the new US move to formulate standards for US Navy operating in the Indian Ocean.

     The following is the full text of Grady’s report: INDIAN OCEAN – Taking advantage of a growing naval partnership with Sri Lanka, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) established a logistics hub in Sri Lanka to receive support, supplies and services at sea.

     A C-2 Greyhound carrier on-board delivery aircraft accessed the hub’s strategic location before bringing supplies to John C. Stennis. Established on a temporary basis, in the island nation, the hub provides logistics support, to U.S. Navy ships operating in the Indian Ocean.

     The temporary air logistics hub concept allows for the use of an airstrip and storage facilities to receive large-scale shipments to move out in various directions in smaller shipments, allowing ships to continue operating at sea by receiving the right material at the right place and time. The hub can also be established to provide expeditionary logistics support during humanitarian and disaster relief missions (HADR).

     “The primary purpose of the operation is to provide mission-critical supplies and services to U.S. Navy ships transiting through and operating in the Indian Ocean,” said Lt. Bryan Ortiz, John C. Stennis’ stock control division officer. “The secondary purpose is to demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s ability to establish a temporary logistics hub ashore where no enduring U.S. Navy logistics footprint exists.”

     The air logistics hub was first operated in August when USS Anchorage (LPD 23) visited Trincomalee, Sri Lanka and supported the Essex Amphibious Ready Group as it transited the western boundary of the 7th Fleet area of operations.

     “The log hub is a great opportunity to leverage private industry in Sri Lanka to enhance the U.S. Navy’s operational reach,” said Lt. Austin Gage, 7th Fleet Logistics Readiness Cell chief. “We are generating standard operating procedures to optimize our supply chain to be more agile and mobile and utilize strategic locations in the Indian Ocean.”

     Building the necessary logistical footprint requires cooperation from all sides of the operation.

     “In addition to the deployed team, we have had excellent support from the fantastic professionals at the supporting agencies: Naval Supply Systems Command, Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Embassy staff; this has truly been a global effort,” said Gage. “The Sri Lankan people have been incredibly hospitable hosts as we work on this shared endeavor.”

     John C. Stennis Sailors play a major role in expanding the logistics hub concept. Moving forward, the team hopes to set a logistical standard for U.S. Navy vessels operating in the Indian Ocean.

     “The cumulative efforts of numerous stakeholders to facilitate the logistics hub in Sri Lanka will pay dividends for all future transiting units in addition to make our Navy more sustainable and a more formidable force throughout the Pacific theater,” said Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Espy, Commander Task Force 70 Maintenance, Material, Logistics, Readiness representative.”

• US-Sri Lanka military-to-military relations ‘update’

In spite of compelling Sri Lanka (Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration) to co-sponsor a Resolution against its own armed forces on Oct 1, 2015, the US provided crucial support to eradicate the LTTE. US intelligence output paved Sri Lanka Navy during tenure of Vice Admiral Wasantha Karanngoda to hunt down four LTTE floating arsenals on the high seas. Karannagoda, in his memoirs, ‘Adishtana’, launched on Nov 17, 2014, discussed the circumstances under which the US provided specific intelligence that led to the destruction of four LTTE vessels loaded with arms, ammunition and equipment. ‘Adishtana’ is a must read for all those interested in knowing the role played by the Navy in the conflict.

     The US included Sri Lanka in its military programme at the onset of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga presidency. Over the years, Sri Lanka greatly benefited from US weapons and equipment as well as training. A range of armaments, including 30 mm Bush Master cannon as well as Trinity Marine Fast Attack Craft (FACs) strengthened the military.

     In March 2007, Sri Lanka entered into Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) with the US. The then Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and then US Ambassador Robert Blake signed the ACSA in Colombo. Left parties at the time condemned the ACSA, both in and outside parliament. Vasudeva Nanayakkara was among those who opposed the agreement.

     The agreement, valid for 10 years, is meant to facilitate transfer and exchange of logistics supplies, support and re-fueling services. Although the ACSA hadn’t been officially extended, recent announcement of US setting up of a logistic hub in Sri Lanka meant the US agenda was proceeding.

     Indo-Lanka Defence Forum in its latest edition (Volume 43, Issue 02) dealt with the transformation of Sri Lanka into a global maritime hub. The article attributed to Forum Staff referred to India protesting Chinese submarine Colombo port call in 2014.

     The Rajapaksa government allowed a Chinese submarine and a warship to dock at the Colombo port on Oct 31, 2014, in spite of concerns raised by India. Submarine Changzheng-2 and warship Chang Xing Dao arrived at the port on Friday, seven weeks after another Chinese submarine, a long-range deployment patrol, called at the same port.

     The latest edition also included a Special Supplement that dealt with major forces locations, military exercises and engagements coming under the purview of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) – the oldest and largest military command. Early this year, the Trump administration renamed the Pacific Command as Indo-Pacific Command, in a largely symbolic move to signal India’s importance to the US military in the wake of heightened tensions with China over the militarization of the South China Sea.

     Both India and Sri Lanka are listed as allies in the Special Supplement. Other listed countries are Japan, South Korea, Australia, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Guam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Thailand, Mongolia, Brunei, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Mongolia.

     The US-led grouping is meant to counter China repeatedly accused of allegedly adopting illegitimate means to expand its influence over smaller economies. Sri Lanka has been cited as a case in point by Western powers and a section of the media. In the wake of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat at the January 2015 presidential election, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government adopted an extremely hostile approach towards China with the Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake openly critical of China. The then Chinese Ambassador in Colombo Yi Xianliang hit back hard after Karunanayake accused Beijing of charging exorbitant interests on loans provided to Sri Lanka. The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government went to the extent of stopping the China-funded Colombo port city project in the wake of Rajapaksa’s defeat. The Rajapaksas were repeatedly accused of receiving Chinese assistance. The Rajapaksas never responded to one-time Indian High Commissioner in Colombo (1997-2000) Shivshankar Menon’s accusations in ‘Choices: Inside the making of India’s foreign policy.’ Menon launched his memoirs in Oct 2016. The veteran diplomat indicated that New Delhi had reason to want a change of government in Sri Lanka due to the then President Rajapaksa going back on his pledge in respect of Sri Lanka-China relations.

     Menon accused Rajapaksa of breaking his solemn pledge, in May 2014, five years after the successful conclusion of the conflict. Obviously, the former President had earned the wrath of India for following a path, which New Delhi believed threatened its security interests. Menon’s assertion that Sri Lanka is an aircraft carrier, parked 14 miles off the Indian coast, clearly underscored New Delhi’s serious concerns regarding Sri Lanka being too close to China.

     Menon, who had been India’s National Security Advisor, from January, 2011, to May, 2014, refrained from revealing a specific incident/or incidents which revealed Sri Lanka’s duplicity in May 2014. The incumbent Ajit Doval succeeded Menon. Doval is on record as having told Gotabhaya Rajapaksa the Sri Lanka being a small country does not need big infrastructure projects. Doval had pressed Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to do away with major Chinese funded operations including flagship USD 1.4 bn Colombo Port City project.

     Having commented on the conduct of former President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Menon accused Sri Lanka of reneging on bilateral understanding with India. Menon directly alleged that the former President received Chinese funds for his political campaigns, and projects. The veteran diplomat didn’t indicate when the war-winning President first received Chinese funding.

     The New York Times alleged early this year that the Rajapaksa Campaign, for the January 2015 re-election bid received Chinese funding amounting to USD 7.6 mn. In addition to that the Colombo International Container Terminals Limited (CICT) acknowledged that it made a donation of millions of rupees to a private fund linked to the Rajapaksa family. CICT made an announcement in this regard amid allegations that the Chinese funded the former President’s failed re-election bid. The CICT acknowledged it paid nearly 20 million rupees to the Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation as part of the company’s ‘corporate social responsibility.’

     Recently, Ven Dambara Amila claimed that he received Rs 95,000 monthly payment from government-owned business undertaking, Litro Gas, in terms of that company’s corporate social responsibility. Those who faulted Ven. Amila for receiving government grants in terms of so called corporate social responsibility initiative should examine all such payments, including the one received by Pushpa Rajapaksa.

     Although, massive US funding for Sri Lanka at the time of the last presidential and parliamentary polls in January and August 2015, respectively, had been raised by UPFA MP Shehan Semasinghe (Joint Opposition), the National Election Commission (NEC) remained silent on the contentious issue. Sri Lanka refrained from inquiring into US funding in spite of the then American Secretary of State John Kerry revealing that USD 585 mn were spent on projects in Nigeria, Myanmar and Sri Lanka to restore democracy.

     Having ‘invested’ heavily in Sri Lanka to install an administration free of Chinese influence, the US reacted angrily to President Sirisena’s Oct 26, 2018 move. The US along with its allies strongly opposed Rajapaksa’s re-appointment as Premier. A section of the Colombo-based diplomatic community openly sided with the UNP-led grouping in its battle both in and outside parliament, finally leading to the re-installation of Wickremesinghe.

Prez outburst

Although, some political parties and a section of the media, particularly those representing foreign media organizations, asserted that the political crisis had been resolved by Wickremesinghe’s reappointment, President Sirisena didn’t mince his words when he delivered the strongest criticism of the Wickremesinghe-style of governance. New Delhi, too, appeared to have misconstrued the situation. President Sirisena, in no uncertain terms expressed suspicions whether they could continue their administration due to sharp discrepancy in policies in respect of key issues. Addressing Wickremesinghe and key members of the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) at the Presidential Secretariat, immediately after Wickremesinghe’s swearing in the President lambasted the UNP over handling of the post-war accountability process. Among those present were Mangala Samaraweera (January 2015-May 2017) and Ravi Karunanayake (May 2017 to August 2017) – two UNP seniors who held the foreign ministry portfolio – and Wickremesinghe himself.

     President Sirisena questioned the propriety of armed forces officers having to face accountability process whereas LTTE cadres received freedom and those in prison, too, demanded their release following the end of the conflict. An irate President Sirisena suggested that the government should have sought a consensus on accountability cases involving both parties. However, President Sirisena, too, should accept responsibility for not taking up this issue before his administration finalized the Geneva Resolution in Oct 2015. President Sirisena failed the armed forces by not representing their interests even after the UK House of Commons was told in Oct 2017 that accusations pertaining to the Resolution weren’t true. In spite of President Sirisena assuring the media, at a special meeting at the President’s House, that he would take up the issue at the last UNGA, in September 2018, as well as Geneva UNHRC, the Commander-in-Chief badly let down the armed forces.

     President Sirisena certainly owed an explanation as to why his government never officially requested Geneva to examine the revelations made by Lord Naseby in the House of Commons over a year ago on the basis of wartime British HC dispatches (January 1, 2009, to May, 2009). The war-winning government, too, conviniently refrained from exploiting a declaration made by US Defence Advisor Lt. Col. Lawrence Smith in June 2011 in Colombo on behalf of Sri Lanka. The most important international statement made by the top military official representing the world sole super power over two years after the conclusion of the war cleared the Army of war crimes. Unfortunately, the Rajapaksa administration NEVER made a serious effort to use the US statement to Sri Lanka’s advantage. Instead, the then government pursued a wasteful strategy that caused colossal loss to the national economy by way of massive payments to US public relations firms. The war-winning government too certainly owed an explanation why the armed forces were denied the best possible defence.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196293

Sri Lanka Air Force Seva Vanitha offers scholarships

December 20, 2018, 11:07 pm

The Air Force Scholarship Awards Ceremony was held Tuesday (18 December 2018) at AFHQ Auditorium under the patronage of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy and the Chairperson of the SLAF Seva Vanitha Unit, Anoma Jayampathy. 

     The annual scholarship scheme is intended to support selected students from Grade 5 up to the G.C.E. A/L examination. A total of 46 students of war heroes, service personnel and civilian personnel of the SLAF received scholarships at this ceremony out of 200 selected students. 

     A further twenty two (22) students who obtained nine “A” s in G.C.E. O/L examination 2017 were felicitated and provided with a financial grant by the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Sri Lanka Air Force. 

     The Commander and the Chairperson of the SLAF Seva Vanitha Unit congratulated and expressed their best wishes to students who succeeded in the examination during the ceremony.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196403

Indian survey ship here on hydrographic mission

2018-12-20

The hydrographic survey ship “Jamuna’ of the Indian Navy arrived at the Colombo harbour today to undertake hydrographic surveys in Sri Lankan waters, the Navy said.

     Assistant Defense Attaché to the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, Lieutenant Colonel Ravi Mishra was also present on this occasion.

     Lieutenant Colonel Mishra and Commanding Officer INS Jamuna, Captain HA Hardas met Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne at the Western Naval Command Headquarters and held a cordial discussion, focusing on matters pertinent to the visit, the Navy said.(Darshana Sanjeewa)

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Indian-survey-ship-here-on-hydrographic-mission-160091.html

• 17 Indian fishermen found guilty of unlawful entry into Sri Lanka

December 21, 2018 

The 17 fishermen, who were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in October, were declared guilty of unlawful entry and fishing in Sri Lankan waters, before they returned home last month. 

     Their two-year imprisonment was suspended for five years and eventually they were released, the Indian government has informed the Lok Sabha.

     “In case these Indian fishermen re-enter the Sri Lankan waters and get arrested by Sri Lankan Navy once again, they would have to serve the sentence awarded to them,” Indian Minister V.K. Singh stated, while replying to AIADMK MP P. Venugopal’s query.

     After their arrest off Neduntheevu on October 31 this year, these fishermen were produced before the Kayts Magistrate Court on November 1 and the Consulate General of India in Jaffna had arranged for an attorney to represent these fishermen before the court.

     “During the trial, the judge declared the fishermen guilty and sentenced them to two years rigorous imprisonment for their unlawful entry into Sri Lanka and fishing in Sri Lankan territorial waters. However, their sentence was suspended for five years and they were released,” the Minister stated.

     Soon after their release, the High Commission of India in Colombo issued Emergency Certificates, after which these fishermen were repatriated to India by flight from Colombo to Madurai on November 15.

     As for the three boats detained at Karainagar Naval Station, a claim inquiry by the Kayts Magistrate Court has been scheduled for January 25, 2019. “During the claim inquiry, the owners of these three fishing vessels have to appear in person before the court to prove that these boats did not intentionally cross over to the Sri Lankan territorial waters,” the Minister stated.

     The High Commission of India in Colombo was facilitating an attorney to represent the owners of these three fishing vessels in the Court during the enquiry, he added. Source: The Hindu

– http://www.adaderana.lk/news/52193/17-indian-fishermen-found-guilty-of-unlawful-entry-into-sri-lanka

• Seven Indian trawlers released from SL custody

2018-12-19

Seven Indian fishing trawlers held by the Sri Lanka Navy, while engaging in illegal fishing in Sri Lankan territorial waters, were released from Sri Lankan custody yesterday with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard.

     ….Accordingly, the Fast Attack Craft CG 402 of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard assisted the handing over of seven trawlers to the Indian Coast Guard Ship Ameya at the IMBL north of Kankesanthurei last evening.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Seven-Indian-trawlers-released-from-SL-custody-159985.html

• Russia Pacific Fleet ships due in Colombo

December 18, 2018

The Russian Pacific Fleet’s Slava Class missile cruiser Varyag is scheduled to arrive in Colombo tomorrow (Dec 20). Varyag will be accompanied by large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev and Auxillary vessel Boris Butoma. The vessels are scheduled to leave on Dec 24.

     A senior spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Colombo told The Island that Vladivostok-based vessels were on a four-day friendly visit.

     The vessels participated in a joint bilateral exercise by the Russian and Indian Navies dubbed Indra Navy 18 in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise was concluded on Monday (Dec 17).

     India conducts regular exercises with both Russian and the US. India-US exercise also involves Japanese naval forces (SF)…

• Three Russian ships arrive in Colombo

2018-12-20

Three Russian Naval ships; Varyag, Admiral Panteleev and Boris Butoma arrived at the Colombo port today on a four-day goodwill visit, the Navy said.

     The ship Varyag has a crew of 529 members while the ship Admiral Panteleev is manned by 388 naval personnel.

     The Russian Naval ship Boris Butoma is occupied by 75 officers and sailors.

     Subsequently, the Commander of the Squadron Rear Admiral Eduard Mihailov along with the Commanding Officers of the three ships; Captain Yurievich Ulyanenko, Captain Vitalievich Antsiferov and Captain Alexandrovich Bondar called on Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne at the Western Naval Command Headquarters and held cordial discussions.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Three-Russian-ships-arrive-in-Colombo-160089.html

• Russian Naval squadron arrives in Colombo

December 20, 2018, 11:30 pm

The Russian Naval ships Varyag, Admiral Panteleev and Boris Butoma arrived at the port of Colombo on a goodwill visit yesterday (20). Sri Lanka Navy welcomed the trio of ships in accordance with naval traditions, upon their arrival.

     The ship Varyag is an 187m long platform with a crew of 529. Admiral Panteleev is 162.8m in length and is manned by 388 personnel. The ship Boris Butoma has a complement of 75 officers and sailors and the vessel is 161.1 m long platform.

     Commander of the Squadron Rear Admiral Eduard Mihailov along with the Commanding Officers of the three ships; Captain Yurievich Ulyanenko, Captain Vitalievich Antsiferov and Captain Alexandrovich Bondar called on Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne at the Western Naval Command Headquarters and held cordial discussions. Mementoes were also exchanged to mark the importance of the occasion. A group of officials attached to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Sri Lanka were also present on the occasion. Thereupon, Commander Western Naval Area took time off to visit the ships moored at the Colombo harbour.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196409

US warships in Colombo

December 21, 2018, 10:53 pm

In the wake of the arrival of two Russian warships and an auxiliary vessel, United States Naval ship USS “Rushmore” arrived at the port of Colombo yesterday (21st December), on a goodwill visit. The ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions.

     The 185m long vessel which has a displacement of 18,000 tons is manned by 380 officers and sailors and she is commanded by Commander R.C. Tryan. During the visit, the ship’s crew is scheduled to engage in several programmes organized by the Sri Lanka Navy and they are also expected to visit some of the places of tourist interest in the country.

     USS “Rushmore” which is on a six (06) day visit is scheduled to depart on 26th December.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196452

Important that we understand the influence of foreign forces – President

15 Dec, 2018 | 10:52 pm

Colombo (News 1st) – The 93rd passing out ceremony of officers and cadets of the Sri Lanka Military Academy in Diyatalwa was held today (Dec 15).

     The ceremony was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena. Commander of Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake and several other senior officials were present at this occasion. Among the 234 that passed out were 41 female officers and 6 Maldivian nationals.

     The President addressing the event stated that foreign nations look at Sri Lanka from a different perspective now than the way they looked at us back in 1815 when the English invaded our country.

     He stated that security forces, politicians, academics, intellectuals and everyone else should understand these challenges and take the necessary steps to fulfil their duties to our motherland. He noted that despite the political preferences of oneself, everyone has a duty to serve their country.

     He also stated that it is of paramount importance that we understand the influence of foreign forces and act accordingly to protect Sri Lanka.

     The President also declared open the new auditorium at the Diyathalawa Military Academy, built with the support of the Chinese government. The assistance was part of a program to strengthen the friendship between the Sri Lanka Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The relevant documents of the auditorium were handed over to the President by the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Cheng Xueyuan. The donation amounted to Rs 2.752 Billion.

A high profile US delegation visits Port of Colombo

December 16, 2018, 8:50 pm

Chairman of SLPA – Dr.Parakrama Dissanayake presents a special memento to Hon.David Ranz – Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the US delegation. Alaina Teplitz – U.S Ambassador, Capt. .Athula Hewavitharana – Managing Director of SLPA, Mr.Upali De Zoysa – Additional Managing Director of SLPA and Capt.Nirmal Silva – Harbour Master of SLPA are also in the picture.

     A high profile delegation of the United States (US) including David Ranz – Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Alaina Teplitz – U.S Ambassador, Joanna Pichette – Political Officer, U.S Embassy Colombo, Partha Mazumdar – Economic Chief, U.S Embassy Colombo, Eduardo Garcia – Economic Attaché, U.S Embassy Colombo, Jason Evans – Desk Officer for Sri Lanka, SCA/RA, Mr.Jason Briggs – Bureau Planner, SCA/RA and Mr. Marcus Carpenter – Political Officer, U.S Embassy Colombo made a special visit at the Port of Colombo on 13th December. The delegation was welcomed by the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) – Dr.Parakrama Dissanayake.

     Dr.Parakrama Dissanayake – Chairman of SLPA briefed the delegation of the recent developments at the Port of Colombo to become the maritime gateway in the region.

     Capt.Athula Hewavitharana – Managing Director of SLPA, Mr.Upali De Zoysa – Additional Managing Director of SLPA and Capt.Nirmal Silva – Harbour Master of SLPA also attended the occasion.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196197

Nimal Lewke elected as President of RSPOA

December 18, 2018, 11:02 pm

Rtd. Senior Police Officers had their Annual General Meeting on the 8th December 2018 at Bambalapitiya.

     The following officers were elected as office bearers for 2018/2019.

Nimal Lewke – President

Asoka Wijetilleka – Vice President 1

Rohana Abeywardena – Vice President 2

Mark J.A.K – Hon. Secretary

Wijesiri Amarasinghe – Asst. Secretary

Norton de Silva – Hon. Treasurer

Lasantha de Silva – Asst. Treasurer

Mahes Perera – Social Secretary

Tassie Seneviratne – Editor

O.K. Hemachandra – Ex-Co Member

Punya de Silva – Ex-Co Member

Gamini Navaratne – Ex-Co Member

Maxie Procter – Ex-Co Member

C.R. Abeygoonawardena – Ex-Co Member

Eric Perera – Ex-Co Member

K. Satkunarajah – Ex-Co Member

Clarence Motha – Ex-Co Member

Senior DIG Nimal Lewke was unanimously elected as the President with Senior DIG Asoka Wijethilaka and DIG Rohana Abeywardena as Vice Presidents.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196305

• Killings send shudders thru Kilinochchi

By Chris Kamalendran and Asiri Fernando in Kilinochchi

….memories of the war years have been ignited with police and security forces launching a manhunt to unravel the mystery of the killing of two police constables in the sleepy village of Vavunativu, near the centre of Batticaloa.

     …Vavunativu, dotted with small villages and surrounded by the lagoon and waterways, lies few kilometers south of the Batticaloa Police Station. The 30,000 residents of the suburb of Manmunai West, where the incident took place, make their livelihood mainly through paddy cultivation and fishing.

     …The backdrop of the incident was “Maveerar Day” (Great Heroes’ Day) which commemorates the LTTE dead.

     …“We are closely monitoring the police investigation,” said Major-General Vijitha Ravipriya, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 57th Division, when asked about Rasanayagam Sarvendran’s arrest.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/news/killings-send-shudders-thru-kilinochchi-325434.html

• Vision and mission on water management in Sri Lanka!

December 16, 2018, 12:00 pm

Sudath Gunasekera

A recent study on Sri Lanka has identified it as one of the six countries that share one half of the 0.3% drinkable water this planet has. What is even more important and surprising is that ours has been identified as the only country in the world that will have drinking water even if there is going to be a shortage of drinking water in the whole world. This news has made water the biggest asset and the most valuable commodity of Sri Lanka that has put it on the top of the world

     …Sri Lanka’s relative position on the globe in relation to latitude and longitude, its location in the middle of the Indian Ocean extending up to the Antarctic Ocean, the third largest body of water in the world after the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, covering at least 1/5th of the world’s total ocean area open to all sides, being traversed by the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone in relation to the global wind belts, its insularity and its size, the geology and overall topography characterized by a central highland surrounded by a narrow coastal plain in the south-west and south and a broad one in the W, NW, N, East and South-East that has determined the drainage pattern of the Island, the peculiar topography and the nature of alignment of land forms, both vertical and horizontal.

     The central mountains have facilitated the interception of the SW and NE monsoons and even influenced the convectional rain in between the monsoons. The forests cover on the central mountains also has contributed heavily and critically on the volume of rainfall and the perennial flow of streams. The forests, with their canopy and the anchoring root system and the underlying geology have influenced the stability of the central hill country and the total volume of water stored by the Central hills both over ground and underground, converting it into the biggest natural reservoir in the country. It also has guaranteed the perennial flow of all major rivers. Thus, all these factors together have made Sri Lanka the first among countries blessed with this nature’s invaluable gift.

     In sum, the Central Hill Country functions as the Geographical Heartland of the nation that keeps the entire life system, both fauna and flora, and the civilisation of Sri Lanka alive and vibrant. This is why I call it the Hadabima or heartland…..

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196200

China makes one billion rupee friendship gesture in time of need

December 19, 2018, 11:30 pm

China had donated 90 water bowsers worth over one billion rupees to Sri Lanka as a gesture of Sri Lanka-China friendship the President’s media Division said yesterday.

     The documents related to the donation were presented to President Maithripala Sirisena by Chinese Ambassador, Cheng Shu Ann at the Presidential secretariat yesterday (December 19).

     …The President handed over the documents to the Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management before inspecting the bowsers. Secretary to the President Udaya R. Seneviratne and senior officials of the Chinese Embassy also participated in the event.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196358

Ranil cannot sweep the bond scam under the carpet – JVP

15 Dec, 2018

Colombo (News 1st) – The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna organized a rally in Kirulapona today under the theme “The conspiracy has been defeated, let us come together for a true people’s victory.”

     Propaganda Secretary of JVP Vijitha Herath stated that the Ministers who earned in bulk during the past three years think that they can continue their misappropriations during the next one and half years. He added that the JVP is steady and will not allow them to steal.

     He stated that if democracy is rejected they will be the force to topple the government once again. He went on to state that they will not allow Ranil Wickremesinghe to use this temporary satisfaction as an opportunity to sweep the central bank bond scam or the theft committed by his ministers under the carpet.

https://www.newsfirst.lk/2018/12/15/ranil-cannot-sweep-the-bond-scam-under-the-carpet-jvp/

• Public procurement committees reconstituted to streamline the tender process

By Bandula Sirimanna

The new government installed by the President is grappling with a number of key issues from the economy to financial allocations for ministries and state institutions. It is unable to formulate and carry out public services, procurement process as well as development projects following an interim injunction issued by the Appeal Court on the new administration.

     …In this context, Finance Ministry Secretary S.R. Attygalle has issued a public finance circular to all ministry secretaries making several directives in accordance with this cabinet decision.

     In his circular No 07/2018, he directed, ministry secretaries to hand over the ongoing procurements of the ministries which no longer exist due to recent changes in ministerial portfolios and subjects to the appropriate ministries newly appointed by the President….

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/public-procurement-committees-reconstituted-to-streamline-the-tender-process-324960.html

• Institutionalizing ‘Angampora’: Army gives new lease of life to age-old local martial art

December 15, 2018, 8:25 pm

Sri Lanka Army added a new chapter to the field of military sports by establishing the country’s first-ever Angampora Experiment Institute and Training Centre (AEITC) at Panagoda Army Cantonment with state patronage during an induction (Kala Elimangalya) display of Army Angampora players at a ceremony under the leadership of Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake.

     ‘Angampora’, a martial art that dates back to the times of Sri Lankan royalties, has been locally used as a particular self-defensive fighting technique, endowed with different characteristics, such as astrology, meditation, medical methods, sorcery, illusory tricks, etc.

     …The establishment of the special army wing was a result of a proposal by Maj. Gen. Niyshshanka Ranawana, Chairman of the Army Angampora Committee and Director General General Staff (DGGS), after the former Commander of the Army, Gen. Crishanthe De Silva (Retd) initially introduced the concept of reviving the age-old technique of self-defence in the Army in early January 2017.

     A batch of 130 army soldiers under the tutelage of recognized Angampora instructors, whose generations relate their origins to the times of ancient Kings, received a comprehensive training for more than 18 months before they become qualified to enter graduation and pass out.

     Veteran instructors, Ravi Wanakulaarachchi, Anthony Don Wijesinghe and Kala Vibhushana Kala Keerthi Devinda Laksiri Ranasinghe trained the 130 Army Angampora players with enthusiasm and commitment for 18 months….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196139

• Business Times – 11 independent commissions defunct amidst political drama

Sri Lanka’s independent commissions appointed to oversee the public service, judiciary, finance, the police, elections, and human rights, etc have become defunct as at November 19 following the expiry of the 3-year term of office of its chairmen and members.

     President Maithripala Sirisena has to re-appoint them or new members following the approval of the Constitutional Council in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

     The present members of the 11 commissions – the Election Commission, Public Service Commission, National Police Commission, Audit Service Commission, Human Rights Commission, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, Finance Commission, Delimitation Commission, National Procurement Commission, University Grants Commission and Official Languages Commission were appointed on November 19, 2015.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/11-independent-commissions-defunct-amidst-political-drama-325293.html

• Warship Watch. Canada joins largest-ever US-Japanese war exercise

     Japanese people protest against US base in Naha, Okinawa in 2015 | AFP

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan led Japanese destroyers and two Canadian warships in a combat readiness war game that began on October 29 and ended on November 8.

     Japan and the United States reportedly mobilized some 57,000 sailors, marines and members of their air forces for “Keen Sword” – the biggest joint war game in Japanese history. Japan’s contingent in the Keen Sword exercise represented a fifth of the nation’s armed forces. In the 2016 simulated air combat and amphibious landings exercise, the joint military personnel was estimated to be some 11,000 less, Reuters reported.

     Canada’s participation

Keen Sword was joined by two unidentified Canadian warships. Canada’s defence attache in Japan, Captain Hugues Canuel, said that Canadian participation reflects the desire of the Trudeau Liberal government to have a military presence in Asia.

     The war game is noteworthy also because, according to the US Navy, this was the first time Canadian Navy ships took part in the maritime portion of the biannual exercise.

     While a hue and cry is being raised about the danger of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant to the U.S. and its “democratic institutions” and the arrest by Canada in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, its chief financial officer as a matter of “the rule of law,” Canada’s military is effectively subordinate to the U.S. military and U.S. interests, while Canada’s economy is being more and more integrated into the U.S. war machine and even the judiciary is being called on to enforce U.S. legal interpretations of illegal and unilateral U.S. sanctions which provide the justification for the arrest. This agenda is being imposed behind the backs of the Canadian people. In 2013, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced at the Halifax International Security Forum that Canada had signed a still secret protocol to join Obama’s Asia Pivot strategy aimed at China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. [1] Five years later, how the escalation of the U.S. trade war is being accompanied by the escalation of U.S. war games and military-naval deployments in the Pacific can be seen by all.

     Following the U.S. Summit on Korea in January hosted by foreign minister Chrystia Freeland in Vancouver, the HMCS Chicoutimi was deployed to operate off the coast of Korea with the JMSDF and the US Navy during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Meanwhile at home the Canadian monopoly media openly ridiculed the striving of the two Koreas to field a unified delegation as an important symbol of a “peace games” and the historical desire of the people for reunification.

Note:

[1] Participants from Asian military forces in the 2018 U.S.-led Halifax War Conference, the Halifax International Security Forum, held November 16-18 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

     In previous conferences, the U.S. armed forces along with high-ranking Pentagon officers was represented by the commanders of U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Northern Command (NORAD/Homeland Security) and Supreme Allied Command, Europe, etc. The composition of this year’s delegation emphasized the concern of the U.S. and NATO with the naval front; China, the Indo-Pacific and Asia; and Africa. The U.S. military was represented by:

– Richard Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, U.S. Navy

– James Baker, Director of the Office of Net Assessment, U.S. Department of Defense

– Joseph Dunford, Jr., Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff – the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. and an adviser to President Donald Trump

– Philip Davidson, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

– Richard Berry, Special Assistant, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

– Katherine Graef, Logistics Director, Special Operations Command Africa, U.S. Special Operations Command (Africom)

– Karl Schultz, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

– Nirmal Verma, Chief of Naval Operations Distinguished International Fellow, U.S. Naval War College

– Janet Wolfenbarger, (retired) General, U.S. Air Force

Japanese participants:

Yohei Shimizu, International Policy Planning Section (J5), Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, Japan

Tomohiko Madono, Deputy Director General, Defense Plans and Policy Department (J5), Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, Japan

Hideo Suzuki, Director General for International Affairs, Bureau of Defense Policy, Ministry of Defense, Japan

Kansuke Nagaoka, Deputy Assistant Minister, Foreign Policy Bureau and Ambassador in Charge of Policy Planning and International Security Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

Yukinari Hirose, President, National Institute for Defense, Japan

Soo Hyuck Lee, Member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea, Democratic Party

Kimihiro Ishikane, Ambassador of Japan to Canada, Embassy of Japan, Ottawa

Matake Kamiya, Professor of International Relations; Director & Senior Principal Research Fellow, National Defense Academy of Japan; Japan Forum on International Relations

Tetsuo Kotani, Senior Fellow, Japan Institute of International Affairs Xenofon Koukoutas

Kenichiro Sasae, President and Director General, The Japan Institute of International Affairs

Hideshi Tokuchi, Senior Fellow, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan

Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Tokyo, Japan

Noboru Yamaguchi, Advisor; Professor, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation; International University of Japan

Korea

Won-ik Lee, Director-General of International Policy Bureau, Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Korea

Seung-Joo Baek, Member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea, Saenuri

Soo Hyuck Lee, Member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea, Democratic Party

Jaeho Hwang, Dean, Division of International Studies; Director, Global Security Cooperation Center, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Korea

Insun Kang, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, Chosun Ilbo, Korea

Taiwan

Yeh-chung Lu, Associate Professor, Department of Diplomacy; Vice President, National Cheng-chi University; Taiwan Foundation for Democracy

Indonesia

Teuku Faizasyah, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia to Canada

Philippines

Richard Javad Heydarian, Fellow, Stratbase-ADR Institute, Philippine and regional security

India

Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, India

Rita Manchanda, Research Director, South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Nepal

Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada, High Commission of India to Canada

Chaitanya Giri, Gateway House Fellow, Space and Ocean Studies, Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations

Lobsang Sangay, President, Central Tibetan Administration

Singapore

Keng Yong Ong, Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore

Oceania

Jules Adams, Deputy Chief of Staff, Australian Defence Force Headquarters

Andrew Shearer, Deputy Director-General, Office of National Assessments, Australia

Tony Davies, Vice Chief of Defence Force, New Zealand Defence Force

https://tonyseed.wordpress.com/2018/12/15/warship-watch-canada-joins-largest-ever-us-japanese-war-exercise/?

• Huawei chairman speaks out over bans

December 19, 2018, 8:56 pm

Huawei rotating chairman Ken Hu called on governments enacting bans on Chinese equipment to show evidence of the alleged security threats and open up the lines of communication so it can take action, but noted this hasn’t been the case with many countries.

     “When it comes to security, we need to let the facts speak for themselves, Huawei’s record on security is clean.” Over 30 years, the company has never had a serious cyber security issue or seen any evidence showing its equipment is a security threat: “We have a solid track record,” Hu stated during a press conference at its headquarters in Shenzhen.

     …For example, Huawei plans to launch a security centre in Brussels in Q1 2019 as part of a longer-term plan to expand cooperation with other governments around the world, such as Canada and the UK….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196332

• New Zealand’s Rocket Lab shoots 13 satellites into orbit

Reuters     16 Dec, 2018 |

Reuters – Rocket Lab, a Silicon Valley-funded rocket propulsion company, launched a batch of 13 tiny probes from its New Zealand pad into low earth orbit to study space on Sunday (December 16).

     The Electron rocket lifted off from the world’s only private orbital launch pad on the Mahia Peninsula, carrying a payload of 10cm cube-shaped research satellites.

     The tiny satellites are called “CubeSats”, and will collect data on phenomena such as radiation belts or on autonomous movement in space for a group of universities and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The NASA mission has been named the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites or “ELaNa-19”. If this mission is a success then Rocket Lab expects to increase its activity in 2019, with a goal of 16 missions.

     Rocket Lab’s successful launch of a rocket that deployed satellites in January after years of preparation was an important step in the global commercial race to bring down financial and logistical barriers to space. Sunday’s launch was the second commercial launch for the New Zealand firm within two months after it launched a commercial payload of seven satellites on 11 November.

https://www.newsfirst.lk/2018/12/16/new-zealands-rocket-lab-shoots-13-satellites-into-orbit/

• A Russian National Strategy Emerges – Neither West Nor East, a Hub Between Dynamic Asia and Faltering Europe – Letter from Moscow

China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam –  are all gravitating to Russia as it becomes an essential part of their future development.

     …The concept of Greater Eurasia has been discussed at the highest levels of Russian academia and policy-making for some time. This week the policy was presented at the Council of Ministers and looks set to be enshrined, without fanfare, as the main guideline of Russian foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

     President Putin is unconditionally engaged to make it a success. Already at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2016, Putin referred to an emerging “Eurasian partnership”.

     I was privileged over the past week to engage in excellent discussions in Moscow with some of the top Russian analysts and policymakers involved in advancing Greater Eurasia.

     Three particularly stand out: Yaroslav Lissovolik, program director of the Valdai Discussion Club and an expert on the politics and economics of the Global South; Glenn Diesen, author of the seminal Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia; and the legendary Professor Sergey Karaganov, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and honorary chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, who received me in his office for an off-the-record conversation.

hqdefault_63.jpg

     The framework for Great Eurasia has been dissected in detail by the indispensable Valdai Discussion Club, particularly on Rediscovering the Identity, the sixth part of a series called Toward the Great Ocean, published last September, and authored by an academic who’s who on the Russian Far East, led by Leonid Blyakher of the Pacific National University in Khabarovsk and coordinated by Karaganov, director of the project.

     The conceptual heart of Greater Eurasia is Russia’s Turn to the East, or pivot to Asia, home of the economic and technological markets of the future. This implies Greater Eurasia proceeding in symbiosis with China’s New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And yet this advanced stage of the Russia-China strategic partnership does not mean Moscow will neglect its myriad close ties to Europe.

     Russian Far East experts are very much aware of the “Eurocentrism of a considerable portion of Russian elites.” They know how almost the entire economic, demographic and ideological environment in Russia has been closely intertwined with Europe for three centuries. They recognize that Russia has borrowed Europe’s high culture and its system of military organization. But now, they argue, it’s time, as a great Eurasian power, to profit from “an original and self-sustained fusion of many civilizations”; Russia not just as a trade or connectivity point, but as a “civilizational bridge”….

https://russia-insider.com/en/russian-national-strategy-emerges-neither-west-nor-east-hub-between-dynamic-asia-and-faltering?

• Canada Serves the Empire….Again…and Again…

December 17, 2018 

Jim Miles

Once again Canada clearly signals its vassal status in relations with the U.S.  The recent arrest and detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, demonstrates fully Canadian compliance with U.S. desires.  

     Canadian authorities, notably Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and PM Justin Trudeau provide two defenses for Canada’s actions: the first is the tried and not so true “rule of law” axiom; the second is another canard, “there is nothing political” about Canada’s actions. Both are used repetitively on the news cycle and both are completely false.

     International law

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is an agreement between Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K., and Germany in order to limit what nuclear activities are available to Iran. 

     ….After all that preamble (and yes I did read the first sections of the JCPOA and UN2231 and scanned the rest) it is obvious that Canada is not acting according to the rule of law.  

     Of course, their argument will be about the extradition treaty Canada has with the U.S. (and many other countries of the world) while dutifully ignoring that the reason for the arrest – while not clearly defined by U.S.authorities but certainly related to the abrogation of both UNSC 2231 and the JCPOA – is completely unlawful.  

– http://www.palestinechronicle.com/canada-serves-the-empire-again-and-again/?

Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?

By Nino Pagliccia

Global Research, December 18, 2018

At an international media conference last December 12 in Caracas Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro referred emphatically to knowledge, that his government had acquired through its intelligence services, of preparations to destabilize Venezuela.

     That in itself is major news but it is noticeable that his denunciation comes only two days after the well-publicized landing of Russian military aircrafts at Venezuela’s international Simon Bolivar airport of Maiquetía as part of Russia-Venezuela joint military exercises and training. This is not the first occurrence of military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela but this seems to be the first time such news has had enough impact on Washington to prompt a strong and undiplomatic reaction from the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo who referred to the two countries as “two corrupt governments squandering public fund” in a tweet.

     Is Russia putting a major gaping hole into “America’s backyard” with the help of Venezuela? It appears to be so, and certainly Venezuela is quite a wide door in geopolitical terms capable of countering the political reversals of some countries in the region surrendering to neoliberal ideology.

     Russia’s display of support for Venezuela is not totally surprising for two reasons. First, the U.S. government has had a very aggressive policy against Russia by pushing the NATO military coalition to the doorsteps of Russia’s front yard despite the “iron clad guarantee” given by the U.S. administration in February 1990 to the then Soviet president Gorbachev that “NATO will not expand one inch.” 

     …John Bolton is the National Security Advisor of the United States with the reputation of coining the term “troika of tyranny” in reference to the democratically elected, progressive governments of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

     Maduro’s statements are perfectly credible mainly based on specific details he provided. He revealed that a paramilitary group, called the G-8, is being trained in the municipality of Tona, in North Santander, Colombia. The group of 734 mercenaries, including Colombians and Venezuelans, are being prepared to undertake false flag actions.

     Another group of mercenaries is being trained to attack Venezuela at the U.S. military case of Tolemaida in Colombia, one of the 7 bases that the U.S. maintains in that country.

     Maduro also revealed that yet another commando group is located at the Eglin base of the U.S. Air Force in Florida. This “group of special forces is being trained for a surgical aggression against Venezuelan air and military bases. Its objective is to disembark, take and neutralize the Libertador air base at Palo Negro, the Puerto Cabello naval base and the Barcelona air base.”…

https://www.globalresearch.ca/have-russian-military-aircrafts-venezuela-breached-door-americas-backyard/5663260?

British Security Service Infiltration, the Integrity Initiative and the Institute for Statecraft 470

13 Dec, 2018

The British state can maintain its spies’ cover stories for centuries. Look up Eldred Pottinger, who for 180 years appears in scores of British history books – right up to and including William Dalrymple’s Return of the King – as a British officer who chanced to be passing Herat on holiday when it came under siege from a partly Russian-officered Persian army, and helped to organise the defences. In researching Sikunder Burnes, I discovered and published from the British Library incontrovertible and detailed documentary evidence that Pottinger’s entire journey was under the direct instructions of, and reporting to, British spymaster Alexander Burnes. The first historian to publish the untrue “holiday” cover story, Sir John Kaye, knew both Burnes and Pottinger and undoubtedly knew he was publishing lying propaganda. Every other British historian of the First Afghan War (except me and latterly Farrukh Husain) has just followed Kaye’s official propaganda.

     Some things don’t change. I was irresistibly reminded of Eldred Pottinger just passing Herat on holiday, when I learnt how highly improbable left wing firebrand Simon Bracey-Lane just happened to be on holiday in the United States with available cash to fund himself, when he stumbled into the Bernie Sanders campaign.

     Recent university graduate Simon Bracey-Lane took it even further. Originally from Wimbledon in London, he was inspired to rejoin the Labour party in September when Corbyn was elected leader. But by that point, he was already in the US on holiday. So he joined the Sanders campaign, and never left.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

• New Democrats Support Continued And Expanded Canadian Assistance To Ukraine

December 5th, 2018 – 3:00pm

Randall Garrison, NDP National Defence Critic, Hélène Laverdière, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, and Linda Duncan, NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona, issued the following statement:

     “New Democrats reaffirm their commitment to supporting Canada’s assistance to Ukraine in strengthening their democratic institutions and building a lasting peace in the region.

     In the spirit of sustaining peace, we call on the Liberal government to extend Operation UNIFIER. Operation UNIFIER has been instrumental in assisting Ukraine. Since 2014, Canada has provided $16M in non-lethal military aid and currently there are 200 Canadian troops offering training for the Ukrainian military and police forces. The Government of Canada should issue an early announcement on renewing Operation UNIFIER beyond its scheduled end-date of late March 2019 to send a strong statement to Russia that we will not tolerate any actions against the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

     ….New Democrats will continue to call on the Liberal government to place more pressure on Russia…

– http://helenelaverdiere.ndp.ca/new-democrats-support-continued-and-expanded-canadian-assistance-to-ukraine?

• Economists •

• Sri Lanka’s economy at crossroads: The ignored export sector for creating prosperity

17 December 2018 00:00

Prof. H.A. de S. Gunasekara Memorial Oration 2018: Part 2

The Professor H.A. de S. Gunasekara Memorial Oration 2018 was delivered by Dr. W.A. Wijewardena on 4 December at the Senate Room of the University of Peradeniya. Today, Daily FT carries Part 2 of a revised and abridged version of the oration

     ….In the previous part, we noted that Professor H.A. de S. Gunasekara, the first Ceylonese Professor of Economics at the University of Ceylon, was a legend in economics teaching in Sri Lanka. His doctoral thesis to the University of London, From Dependent Currency to Central Banking in Ceylon,’ was a seminal contribution on the development of banking, finance and central banking in colonial Ceylon. 

     “The Five-Year Plan of 1972-76 that was produced under his direction when he was the Secretary to the Ministry of Planning and Employment sought to convert Ceylon, following the policy of the government in power, to a socialist economy. Yet, the diagnosis of economic ailments which Ceylon had been suffering at that time and the prescriptions recommended by him have not been different from what we experience in Sri Lanka today.

     Thus, it was a proof that when it comes to economic analysis, both socialist economics and free market economics follow the same path. The difference is only in the end objectives. The main ailments suffered by Ceylon in the entirety of the post independence period have been the low economic growth coupled with imbalances in the budget, savings-investments and the external sector. The external sector crisis has been compounded by the low priority given to the export sector in national economic policy making.

     We will examine the export sector ailments and the way forward strategy for Sri Lanka in this part…”

– http://www.ft.lk/columns/Sri-Lanka-s-economy-at-crossroads–The-ignored-export-sector-for-creating-prosperity/4-668976

Sanderatne: Recovering from the crisis and rebuilding the economy

It is easy to destroy, difficult to rebuild. This incontrovertible truism is particularly applicable to the current economic situation. Whenever and however this crisis is resolved, restoring political and economic stability and international confidence is enormously a challenging task.

     Three prerequisites

Rejuvenating and rebuilding the economy after the economic consequences of the political crisis is a Herculean task. Three prerequisites for rebuilding the economy are the restoration of international confidence in the country’s political stability, clear cut, certain and sound macroeconomic policies and achieving a reasonable fiscal balance.

     International confidence

Restoring international confidence and stabilising the economy cannot be achieved as fast as it is being destroyed. A precondition is strong indications that there will be political stability.  This is a difficult task owing to the manner in which the political crisis was brought about and it is being prolonged by unruly behaviour. These factors make it difficult to inspire international confidence in the country’s commitment to democracy and constitutional governance. From now onwards, Sri Lanka will, no doubt, be considered a fragile democracy.

     Why international confidence?

Restoring international confidence and trust is crucial for our economy as it affects our trade, aid and tourism, among others. International confidence will play an important role in enabling the flow of foreign assistance and loans that were agreed on before the political crisis. The Japanese and US aid disbursements that are being withheld would also be released. It will improve international ratings that will reduce international borrowing rates and would improve the investment climate.

     IMF loan

The IMF’s tranche of US$ 500 million of a loan of US$ 1.5 billion is vital to restore international confidence and provide balance of payments support. It will assist in improving the ratings of international agencies that would in turn improve the investment climate and reduce international borrowing rates. The release of the loan also requires compliance with agreed conditions that have been flouted…..

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/columns/recovering-from-the-crisis-and-rebuilding-the-economy-325487.html

• Abeyratne: Meal plate and development

…The inadequate nutritional value of our average meal is clear from our health indicators. Sri Lanka has strange and contradictory child health indicators.

     Infant mortality rate is as low as 0.8 per per cent of live births. But child malnutrition-related indicators are high; children with low birth weight is 15.5 per cent; among the children below five years of age, under-weight rate is 20.5 per cent; acute under-nutrition (wasting) rate is 15.1 per cent and, chronic malnutrition (stunting) rate is 17.3 per cent.

     ….Why is our average meal low in quality? There are a variety of reasons for this such as high cost of food, low incomes and, sub-standard food habits.

     ….The first is the small farm size which is little more than 1 acre in Sri Lanka. Small is not beautiful at least in economics, because then the cost of production is high.

     ….The second problem is associated with supply chain issues. In the supply chain of any product, there should be “middlemen” – persons or institutions as wholesale traders and distributors. Neither can the producers keep looking for consumers to sell their products, nor could consumers look for producers of what they want to buy.

     However, there are two issues in the supply chain: One is that the middlemen involvement is too lengthy and too complicated. The second is the undue bargaining power enjoyed by the middlemen due to weak, end points at both producer and consumer sides….

     (The writer is a Professor of Economics at the University of Colombo. He can be reached at sirimal@econ.cmb.ac.lk)

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/meal-plate-and-development-325273.html

• Turbulent Politics

2018-12-17 

“Over the last week, in Sri Lanka as in the United Kingdom, the United States and India, there is much talk of major court rulings, confidence motions, elections, referendum and impeachment. Such intense politics has led to further escalation of political moves and manoeuvres by those in power, but what are the plans of the left and progressive forces?  

     …..is it merely a question of returning a Ranil Wickremesinghe government with little change in their policy direction? Was it not the four year-long failures of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government that strengthened the MR camp as evident from the local government elections in February this year. What would a new Wickremesinghe government do different?   

     There is a common strand between the US, UK, India and Sri Lanka, and for that matter many other countries prior to the rise of authoritarian, populist and conservative regimes. That is the tremendous dispossession with neoliberalism over the decades and the failures of successive governments in these countries to address the economic and social aspirations of their populations. Even with the escalating global economic crisis after 2008, the concerns of the rural, working and marginalised peoples have been forgotten allowing for right wing regimes to mount an offensive.   

     …The impact of that historic shift on the trade union movement are captured in a statement on December 7, 2018 titled, ‘Abolish the Executive Presidency Now!’ signed by T.M.R. Rasseedin, Deputy General Secretary, for the Ceylon Federation of Labour:

     ….But the struggle for such a progressive programme will be met with the divisive politics of ethnic polarisation and nationalist mobilisations as well as dismembering the rural, estate and working class constituencies through political patronage. Therefore, any serious effort at such a progressive programme from the outset has to focus on rebuilding inter-ethnic relations in parallel with solidarity among the marginalised classes….”  

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Turbulent-Politics-159862.html

• Northern development institute launches financial literacy project

Jaffna Correspondent N. Parameswaran

The Northern Institute of Development Initiatives (NIDI) recently launched a major Financial Literacy and Small Enterprises Management project for the Northern province. NIDI Founder Dr. Guy de Fontgalland spoke at the programme.

     Its launch was at the end of a 4-day workshop conducted for 40 candidates from the University of Jaffna and from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Yaarlpaanam, directed by NIDI.

     The 5-year project to train 1000 young graduates and entrepreneurs in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka

     The first phase of the project consisting of the training of 40 candidates was in collaboration with the Faculty of Commerce and Business Studies of the Jaffna University, the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, HNB and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Yaarlpaanam. The Indian Consul General in Jaffna, H. Balachandran sent his greetings to the project and wished it success.

     HNB has offered to advise and assist young entrepreneurs in the North and provide required financial services. NIDI and HNB are planning to work closely to research viable ventures and provide business planning and advisory services to new enterprises which will have a higher rate of success.

     Professor T. Velnampy from the University of Jaffna, Damian Ranjit and his team from HNB, A.K. Vignesh from the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Yaarlpaanam, Dr. Prabu Nadaraja and Dr. Shribavan Kanesamoorthy from NIDI acted as resource persons. The programme was directed by NIDI founder Dr. Guy de Fontgalland.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/northern-development-institute-launches-financial-literacy-project-324851.html

• Too much Maths, too little History: The problem of Economics”

A recording of the debate hosted by the LSE Economic History Department, in collaboration with the LSESU Economic History Society and the LSESU Economics Society.

     “Banishing history from standard economic curriculum is a symptom of a list of pluralism and imagination in the discipline. Then it’s become complacent and archaic in many many of its intellectual structures.Students now leave university thinking that there is only one way to do economics, the way that being taught in year one, two and three. This lack of diversity leads to intellectual arrogance. Economists treat anyone who doesn’t do economics in their way as somehow inferior. They maybe politely condescending and condescension is undoubtedly there” – Prof Robert Skidelsky (The author of John Meynard Keynes’ biography)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rXBBqMmIP8&

• Workers•

• Education for innovation

16 December, 2018

Vinod Moonesinghe

The root cause of Sri Lanka’s economic woes lies in its inability to produce enough to pay for its imports. We pay the bill for our consumption with the remittances of people working, essentially as domestic labour, in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as by borrowing.

     The country’s economic structure has, over the past 40 years since the adoption of the ‘open economy’, come to be dominated by the services sector, with the agricultural and industrial sectors remaining stagnant or declining. Up to now, governments have tried to stimulate production by very necessary heavy infrastructure spending.

     However, this by itself has proved insufficient. The way in which our economy is shaped makes it difficult to make money by producing things. There are multiple causes for this, but one aspect, innovation, warrants more focus.

     Sri Lanka no longer has the questionable benefit of a low-paid workforce, so a massive increase in productivity is necessary in all parts of the economy.

     For this, meaningfully higher mechanisation of agriculture and automation of industry must take place. Such technological modernisation requires high levels of technical skill and scientific know-how….

– http://sundayobserver.lk/2018/12/16/business/education-innovation?

•  Four arrested over SLTB–Private bus clash in Welimada; one killed

2018-12-19 

A driver of a private passenger bus had been killed following an assault by a driver of an SLTB bus crew in Welimada this afternoon, the Police said. 

     The victim driver was admitted to the Welimada Hospital after the assault but succumbed to injuries at the hospital. 

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Four-arrested-over-SLTB-Private-bus-clash-in-Welimada-one-killed–160030.html

PM moves to pay salaries of Christians early for X’mas

December 20, 2018

Akitha Perera

Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake yesterday requested the government to pay government servants of Christian faith their salaries tomorrow (21).

     The state employees are to be paid on December 24, a day before Christmas and this would greatly inconvenience government servants of the Christian faith, Ekanayake told the Treasury.

     Thus if the Treasury was able to pay the government servants of the Christian faith tomorrow they would have been able to better prepare to celebrate Christmas, Ekanayake said.

     – http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196374

Good news for corporation, state workers

Here is good news for employees of government corporations and fully government-owned companies.

     Despite the current situation of work paralysis in state institutions triggered by the present political impasse, staff of these institutions including loss-making ones will be receiving a year-end bonus ranging from Rs. 3,000 to Rs.15,000 from the government.

     This was revealed in a public administration circular issued by Treasury Secretary S.R. Atygalle to all ministry secretaries, Chairmen of corporations and government-owned companies on December 7.

     Employees of state institutions making profits during the financial year 2017 get Rs.15,000 as annual bonus payment. Public enterprises which have recorded a loss in 2016 and turned around their entities to profit-making ventures are eligible to a payment of Rs.15,000 to its employees.

     This bonus will be confined only to those institutions which are not paying any incentives.

     Employees of corporations and state companies which earned profits in the 2017 financial year, recorded a loss in 2016 and turned around their entities to profit making status in 2017 will be granted Rs.13,500.

     A sum of Rs. 5,000 each will be paid to employees of corporations and state companies which have recorded a loss in the financial year of 2017 but reduced the loss compared to 2016. Employees of state institutions which have made a loss in the financial year 2016 and failed to reduce loss in 2017 will be paid a bonus of Rs. 3,000 on sympathetic grounds, the circular said.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/good-news-for-corporation-state-workers-325291.html

Woman defrauding money promising Canadian jobs, arrested

2018-12-18 

A 46-year-old woman was arrested by the CID in connection with defrauding money by promising employment in Canada, Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera said.

     He said the woman was arrested on Monday night from a house at Nawagamuwa.

     The CID recovered 350 grams of gold worth Rs. 2.6 million and Rs. 50,000 in cash from the suspect’s possession.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Woman-defrauding-money-promising-Canadian-jobs-arrested-159917.html

Sending Sri Lankans and Receiving Chinese Workers: Emerging Trend of Labour Migration in Sri Lanka

18 Dec, 2018

Kamal, a construction labourer living on-site in Colombo, finds it difficult to make ends meet with his daily wage of Rs. 1,500. On the other hand, Hong Chua, a Chinese construction worker in Colombo, who works 10 hours a day, says “we are paid a daily wage of Rs. 1,000 and food. accommodation is provided free of charge. So, we are okay”

     Workers like Kamal are looking for employment opportunities outside Sri Lanka because the job opportunities and working conditions in the country are not attractive enough to retain them, while similar working conditions and wages are attracting foreign workers like Hong Chua to Sri Lanka.

     This is an apparent reality in the local labour market; the Sri Lankan economy is gradually transitioning from a mere labour-sending economy into one that both sends and receives workers. The same employment opportunities, working conditions, and demand and supply conditions that necessitated outmigration of Sri Lankans workers is now attracting foreign workers into Sri Lanka. The only difference here is the relative point of reference of each group. In the eyes of Sri Lankans like Kamal, the local opportunities pale in comparison to those available in destinations such as Saudi Arabia, while from the point of view of Chinese immigrant workers like Hong Chua, the opportunities in Sri Lanka are rosy compared to their opportunities in the country of origin.

     …A recent study identifies three phases of aggregate migration– net emigration (out-migration) phase, transition phase (growth in immigration numbers despite net emigration), and net immigration (in migration is greater than out-migration) phase. Sri Lanka is still a net emigration country. Nevertheless, a new trend is emerging in terms of labour migration. – Bilesha Weeraratne for 3CS

https://www.newsfirst.lk/2018/12/18/sending-sri-lankans-and-receiving-chinese-workers-emerging-trend-of-labour-migration-in-sri-lanka/

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196382 

• Lankan migrant worker granted permanent residency after saving woman in fire

December 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Nimal (center), a migrant worker from Sri Lanka, has been granted permanent residency status after rescuing an elderly woman from a fire….Nimal was severely injured while rescuing the woman. He suffered second degree burns on his neck, head and wrists, along with lung trauma resulting from smoke inhalation. He has been taking medicine for a bad cough for nearly two years now.

     After entering Korea on a non-professional employment visa (E-9) in 2011, Nimal worked at a glass factory and a plating factory. He was trying to make money to pay for cancer treatment for his mother. Even after his legal stay expired in July 2016, he kept working at an apple orchard in Gunwi County, North Gyeongsang Province. Despite being an “illegal alien” who could be deported at any time, he entered the burning house near the orchard and saved the woman’s life.

     Now the government has recognized his heroism by granting him permanent residency. On Dec. 16, the Ministry of Justice announced that its foreigners’ rights and interest protection and promotion board had approved a motion to grant Nimal permanent residency with the unanimous support of the board members who attended the Dec. 13 meeting.

     According to the Enforcement Decree of the Immigration Act, foreigners who have helped protect the life or assets of Korean citizens from crime, disasters or accidents can be granted permanent residency. Nimal is the first person to receive permanent residency under this provision.

     …The Ministry of Justice will be holding a ceremony to grant permanent residency to Nimal at the Daegu immigration office on Dec. 18, which is International Migrants Day.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196275

• Migration: Powerful driver of Economic Growth

2018-12-22

In this destabilized and dangerously uncertain era when the United States President Donald Trump has virtually declared a war on migrants though the country itself was built up by migrants over the past few centuries, the United Nations this week marked International Migrants Day.   

     UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a message says migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding. It allows millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike.   

     ….This year close to 3,400 migrants and refugees already have lost their lives worldwide. That is why Migration with Dignity is the theme.   

     ….According to the UN, the total number of international migrants has increased from an estimated 175 million in 2000 to 244 million in 2015. Nearly two thirds of all international migrants live in Europe (76 million) or Asia (75 million). Migration is now more widely distributed across more countries. Today the top 10 countries of destination receive a smaller share of all migrants than in 2000. One of every ten migrants is under the age of 15. The impact of remittance flows is also significant having reached $436 billion in 2014 – far exceeding official development assistance and, excluding China, foreign direct investment. 

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Migration-Powerful-driver-of-Economic-Growth-160179.html

• Aussie law firm setting up here to provide migration advisory services

Full service Australian law firm to assist Sri Lankans to move downunder

December 15, 2018, 8:28 pm

Australian Presence Legal (APL), an established full-service commercial and immigration law firm based in the central business district of Sydney, Australia,is set to continue the expansion ofits consultancy services to provide face to face consultations in Sri Lanka, to meet the growing need for skilled migrants in Australia. These advisory services will be available in January 2019 for Sri Lankans interested in relocating to Australia.

     As a top migration destination of choice, Australia has received tens of thousands of visa applications in 2017 alone. Owing to the complexities of the laws and procedures surrounding Australian migration, a significant proportion of these applications are requisitioned, or refused….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196142

Private sector companies providing childcare support gain significant business benefits – IFC’s new report

December 15, 2018, 7:13 pm

CEO Roundtable featuring: Imal Fonseka, Group CEO, Fairway Holdings (Pvt) Limited, Nilangani De Silva, General Manager, Group Capability for Brandix Lanka – Holding Company, Ayomi Aluwihare, Precedent Partner, F. J. & G. de Saram, Steven Enderby, Executive Director/CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC, Sarinda Unamboowe, Chief Executive Officer, MAS Active Trading (Private Limited) – MAS Kreeda, Fadhil Jiffry, Chief Financial Officer, London Stock Exchange Group Sri Lanka, Carmen Niethammer, Program Manager, Women in Work, IFC Sri Lanka, Selyna Peiris, Business Development Director, Selyn, Bingumal Thewarathanthri, CEO-designate, Standard Chartered PLC.

     Businesses in Sri Lanka that offer childcare support to their employees can gain a significant positive impact on recruitment, retention and productivity of workers, especially women, according to a new report released by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

     ‘Tackling Childcare: The Business Case of Employer-supported Childcare in Sri Lanka’ is IFC’s first country-specific report, which provides business case evidence and practical guidance on implementing childcare practices.

     The report features onsite and offsite childcare approaches of 10 of Sri Lanka’s leading employers in key sectors such as banking, garments and apparel, information technology, law, and large multinationals with diversified businesses.

     Brandix Lanka, Fairway Holdings (Pvt) Limited, F. J. & G. de Saram, Hemas Holdings PLC, LSEG Technology, MAS Holdings, Selyn, Standard Chartered PLC, Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd., and WSO2 are the companies featured in the report.

     Despite improved educational and health outcomes, only 36 percent of Sri Lankan women participate in paid work. A 2017 World Bank report indicates that having a child under age of five reduces women’s labor force participation. Closing the workforce gender gap can help the country raise its long-term gross domestic product by up to 20 percent.

     “Reliable, affordable, and quality childcare solutions will be important for making progress on women’s employment. When companies support their employees in meeting their childcare needs, they can hire and retain talent and boost profits and productivity,” said Amena Arif, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “This report is a call to action for public and private sector partners to promote childcare solutions because it is good for business, and good for the country’s growth.”

     A recent education sector survey revealed that only half of three-to five-year old children in the country are enrolled in a preschool….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196124

Gender inequality at workplace

2018-12-15

I believe workplace is a great platform to shape societal gender inequalities. This article will bring about reviews of theory and research on gender inequality in organisations; reviews of empirical evidence on gender inequality at work, beginning with studies that explore the cultural, relational and structural mechanisms to reproduce gender inequality in organisations and moving towards discussing research on mechanisms in order to uphold equality. Undoubtedly, more theory and research ought to be focused on the remediation of inequality in terms of discussions on two pathways; the first is an institutional theory of remediation, examining the ways in which institutional environments and actors can weaken gendered organisations; and the second is a political theory focusing on the means and conditions for women to act as agents of organisational change. 

     Dr. Hemamalie Gunatilaka, senior lecturer (Grade 1) attached to the Business Administration University…shared her views

     Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe…even established a centre for gender at the Kelaniya University thereby taking the initiative in gender mainstreaming within the university sector. 

     I started my PhD which was a study for four years and as I said earlier, I was keen in looking into the garment industry. Although prior studies have been conducted into the subject, elements such as gender, religion, age and so fourth had not been researched. Previous studies only focused on welfare, exploitation, unionization and aspects of relativity. The other fact remained to be that previous studies lay within the free trade zone, which urged me to select factories outside such parameters. 

     …When I came down last May, I was made the Directress for Gender Equity and Equality at Sri Jayewardenepura University. 

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Gender-inequality-at-workplace-159839.html

• Social Welfare and the Gem at Panadura

December 15, 2018, 12:00 pm

Upali Salgado

Our population today is about 21 million. Looking back when I was a boy the population stood around seven million people. Having seen the adverse impact of an economic slump in the early thirties and later, the hardships borne by all during World War 2, with rationing of food, clothing & shortages of medicines, are the elders living today (65 years later) adequately cared for by the State? Have they not in their own ways, with knowledge or physical effort contributed for State welfare? How many of them now over 65 years of age pay direct taxes?

     For example an elderly citizen is required to pay VAT and other taxes (sometimes not specified in the bill) for watching at home a Dialog television programme. For many a poor family television programmes are the only forms of entertainment. Have the pundits educated in economics at State expense, and some serving as the peoples’ representatives noisy, unruly Parliament put asunder the Keynsian economic theories of a Welfare State?

     This story with a history of 83 years refers to the enrichment of lives of a great many elders. In distant 1935….the King George V Commemoration Home for Elders [was set up].

– http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196109

Browns Hospitals recognized for dedication to patient care at National Business Excellence Awards 2018

December 19, 2018, 9:03 pm

(From the Left) Dr. Upul Ilangasinghe, Director – Medical Services; Charitha Jayasingha, Chief Operating Officer; Two Officials from the National Chamber of Commerce; Niroshan Prasanna, Head of Finance; and Mrs. Rasika Samarasekara, Head of Quality Assurance and Facilities.

     Brown Hospitals, a fast growing healthcare service provider, was recognized for its steadfast commitment to excellence in healthcare related services at the recently concluded National Business Excellence Awards 2018 which took place at The Hilton Colombo. …hosted by the National Chamber of Commerce, the 15th edition of the National Business Excellence Awards recognizes corporates who have excelled in business during the past year. 

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196337 

Hirdaramani Group partners with Help Age Sri Lanka to conduct eye camps for parents of its associates

December 15, 2018, 8:01 pm

The Hirdaramani Group recently partnered with HelpAge Sri Lanka to provide free healthcare services for parents of its employees. Organised through the Hirdaramani Family Memorial Trust, HelpAge Sri Lanka carried out camps for facilities within both the Knit and Woven cluster. Associates at the facilities were able to bring their parents to the free health camps which consisted of eye and medical check ups and subsequent treatment.

     … Hirdaramani is today a global business with 60,000+ associates and a diversified footprint that spans multiple industry sectors…

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196132

Who funded Ontario’s ruling party? Those who oppose workplace regulation…

We know that Ontario Proud is funded mostly by developers, but what’s fascinating is how clustered their donors are. Here’s the list sorted in alphabetical order.

     Woodbridge, North Toronto, Bay Street and Brampton — these are the centres funding Ontario Proud. Brampton is interesting for a lot of reasons, and unsurprising, if you watch news about workplace health and safety. I wrote this at the start of 2018: Brampton, the deadliest place to work in Ontario…

https://medium.com/@noraloreto/who-funds-ontario-proud-76a56ca92de1?

• Economy•

Dreaded fuel pricing formula back

December 20, 2018, 11:52 pm

The Finance and Media Minister yesterday said that the fuel pricing formula would be reintroduced immediately. Ex-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Finance Minister abolished the fuel pricing formula soon after the change of government. Rajapaksa also slashed petrol and diesel prices and assured further relief. However, Samaraweera, soon after reassuming finance portfolio said that fuel pricing formula would be re-implemented.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196415

• Fuel prices to be reviewed tomorrow: Mangala

2018-12-20

Fuel prices are to be reviewed tomorrow by comparing prices in the world market, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

     “We would compare the fuel price with the global market prices and will do a fresh review tomorrow,” he said.

     While speaking to the media he said that the fuel prices had come down in the world market, so prices should be reduced in Sri Lanka as well.

     “The pricing formula will be active from now on, and any fluctuation in the global market should have an effect here,” he said.

     Earlier, the fuel prices were reviewed based on the pricing formula on the 10th of every month based on global prices.

     Former Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa used to reduce fuel prices based on the world price. 

     “Former Minister gave fuel price concessions with the use of our fuel pricing formula,” he said. “We do not give false reliefs to people as what was done by the former Finance Minister. Those reliefs were worthless,” Minister Samaraweera said. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Fuel-prices-to-be-reviewed-tomorrow-Mangala-160081.html

Fuel prices slashed, petrol reduced by Rs.10

Fuel prices would be reduced with effect from midnight today, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced in parliament a short while ago.

     Accordingly, the price of a litre of petrol (Octane 92 and 95) would be reduced by Rs.10, price of Super Diesel would be reduced by Rs.10 per litre while Auto Diesel would be reduced by Rs.5 per litre.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Fuel-prices-slashed-petrol-reduced-by-Rs–160123.html

Lanka IOC also reduces fuel prices

2018-12-21

Lanka IOC has also reduced prices of fuel with effect from midnight today. Accordingly, the price of a litre of petrol 92 and premium 95 would be reduced by Rs.10.

     Price of Super Diesel would be reduced by Rs.10 per litre and Auto Diesel would be reduced by Rs.5 per litre.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Lanka-IOC-also-reduces-fuel-prices-160173.html

• Fuel prices down

December 21, 2018, 11:26 pm

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday informed Parliament that fuel prices would be reduced. Accordingly, petrol 92 and 95 Octane would be reduced by Rs. 10 per litre, Auto Diesel by Rs. 5 per litre and Super Diesel by Rs. 10 per litre.

     The revised fuel prices will be as follows: petrol Octane 92 – Rs. 125 per litre, Octane 95 – Rs. 149, per lire and Auto Diesel – Rs. 101 per litre and Super Diesel – Rs. 121 per litre.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196459

• Rupee ends weaker as foreign outflows hurt

2018-12-20

(Colombo) REUTERS: The Sri Lankan rupee ended weaker yesterday amid pressure on the currency due to foreign outflows from bonds and stocks as uncertainty from a political crisis dented sentiment.

     …The Sri Lankan rupee strengthened in early trade on Monday, while bond yields dropped as a seven-week political crisis appeared to ebb, but investors took a cautious stance to observe whether Sirisena and Wickremesinghe could work well together.

     Foreigners were net sellers of a net Rs.333.5 million worth of stocks yesterday. They have been net sellers of Rs.11.7 billion since the political crisis began on October 26. The bond market saw outflows of about Rs.56 billion between October 25 and December 14, the Central Bank data showed. The rupee ended at 180.50/70 per dollar, compared with 180.10/30 in the previous session.

     ….This year, there have been Rs. 21.1 billion of outflows from stocks and Rs.148.2 billion from government securities, the latest data from the bourse and the Central Bank showed.

     The rupee had touched a record low of 180.85 to the dollar on November 28. It has weakened about 4.1 percent since the political crisis began. The currency dropped 1.8 percent in November, and has lost 17.5 percent this year. 

     …Five-year government bond yields have risen 55 basis points since the political crisis began, while yields on Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds due in 2022, which have risen around a percentage point to 8.0 percent through Friday, fell 0.35 percent to 7.7 percent yesterday.

     The Colombo stock index ended up 0.06 percent at 6,050.95 yesterday. Turnover was Rs.3.6 billion, highest since November 13 and more than four times of this year’s daily average of Rs.834.1 million.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Rupee-ends-weaker-as-foreign-outflows-hurt-160025.html

• Sri Lanka – growth falls below 3%

December 19, 2018

Aayushi Chaudhary

Sri Lanka’s growth slowed to a two-year low after averaging 3.5% y-o-y for the past four quarters. Statistically, part of the slowdown can be explained by a contraction in Net Indirect Tax (NIT) collections, which pulled down GDP growth by 40bps. Recall, GDP *  GVA + NIT.

     The rest of the weakness in growth numbers can be explained by slower growth in services and continued weakness in the industrial sector.

     In fact, services alone explain 50ppt of the fall in growth from the previous quarter. However, it has had a healthy run so far, growing for six straight months on a sequential basis. We would therefore not read too much into the latest print, awaiting further data to see if it’s just a blip.

     Industry, on the other hand, has been weak for some time now, averaging under 2% y-o-y so far in 2018. Though manufacturing and mining had an unfavourable base this quarter, on a sequential basis, too, growth failed to impress.

     Agriculture continued to grow smartly, led by rice, coconut, cereals, vegetables and rubber cultivation.

     In the October policy meeting, the central bank had increased policy rates by 50-75bps to neutralize the impact of a 150bps cut in Statutory Reserve Ratio. Given low single-digit inflation, a moderation in credit growth and below trend GDP growth, we expect the central bank to keep policy rates unchanged over the foreseeable future.

     Though we expect growth in 2018 to inch up from the lows of 3.3% in 2017, recent political uncertainty is likely to weigh on growth prospects, making 4% growth elusive for longer.

     (HSBC– Global Research) [sic!]

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196325

• Economic growth slumps to 2.9% in 3Q

2018-12-20

Sri Lanka’s economy was estimated to have grown 2.9 percent in the third quarter of this year (3Q18) following the expansion of all three major activities of the economy—agriculture, industry and services, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

     However, this was slower than the 3.2 percent growth rate recorded for the third quarter of last year, 3.6 percent growth rate (revised from 3.7 percent) recorded for the second quarter of this year and 3.2 percent recorded for the first quarter.

     The growth for the nine-month period was estimated at 3.3 percent. Sri Lanka’s economy grew 3.3 percent (revised from 3.1 percent) in 2017. During 3Q18, agricultural activities, which accounted for 7.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices, expanded 3.3 percent compared to a contraction of 3 percent reported for the same period last year.

     The industrial activities, which contributed 27.4 percent to GDP at current prices, recorded a positive growth of 1.9 percent. 

     The services activities, which gave the highest contribution of 56.8 percent to GDP, expanded 3.9 percent compared to 2017.

     Among the sub activities of agriculture, ‘ growing of rice’, which recorded a 32.8 percent negative growth rate in the third quarter of year 2017, has reported a striking positive growth rate of 46.9 percent during the quarter under review.

     The sub activities of ‘fresh water fishing’ and ‘ growing of tea’ have recorded a substantial decline by 19.1 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively in this quarter.

     Under industrial activities, ‘manufacture of textile and wearing apparels’ recorded positive growth rates of 3.7 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively during 3Q18.

     In addition, ‘manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products’ and ‘manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products’ reported significant positive growth rates of 16.7 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

     The ‘construction’ activity, which corresponds to the second highest share of 7.0 percent within the industry sector, grew by 2.5 percent during the quarter under review when compared to the third quarter of 2017.

     The performance of the service activities were strengthened by sub activities of ‘telecommunication services’, ‘financial services’, ‘insurance services’, ‘information technology services’, ‘human health activities’, ‘accommodation, food and beverage services’, ‘wholesale and retail trade’ and ‘other personal services’.

     The telecommunication services activities expanded by 14.8 percent while financial services activities expanded 12.4 percent compared to the third quarter of 2017.

     However, ‘programming and broadcasting’ and ‘transportation’ activities contracted substantially by 9.0 percent and 0.7 percent during the quarter under review, compared to the respective quarter in 2017.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Economic-growth-slumps-to-in-Q-160026.html

• ‘Sri Lanka’s GDP growth slowed due to political instability’

December 21, 2018, 8:51 pm

J.Yogaraj

Sri Lanka is a tiny island in the Indian Ocean with an economy worth 93.45 billion dollars. Small economies face major challenges when there is a political crisis. A strong political base is important for any kind of sustainable development and strong economy. But Sri Lanka lacked this important quality during the last few months. Few selfish power hungry politicians have made the situation worse. The dollar rate has jumped to the 182 rupees mark.

     ….Meanwhile,Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product grew 2.9 percent in the third quarter of 2018 from a year earlier with agriculture growing 3.3 percent compared to a contraction a year earlier, the state statistics office said.The second quarter growth was revised to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent.The 9-month growth was 3.3 percent. But some monetary sources say it is 3.1 percent. Industry grew 1.9 percent and service grew 3.9 percent. Rice output grew 46.9 percent, reversing from a contraction of 32.8 percent a year earlier. In industry, manufacturing had grown 2.2 percent, with apparel up 3.7 percent. Construction was up 2.5 percent.In services telecoms had grown, 14.8 percent, financial services 12.4 percent.  Sri Lanka’s economy has grown despite balance of payments pressure and capital flight being triggered by a non-credible soft-pegged monetary arrangement which is now threatening foreign debt repayments. 

     …Following a real GDP expansion of 3.1% in 2017, the economy is however anticipated to be in the “negative output gap” territory in 2018E and 2019E (i.e. below its potential output of 5.25% – estimated by the IMF)

     “Even though the CBSL tried to adopt a soft monetary policy by early April 2018 to reduce the output gap of the Sri Lankan economy, the chances of the Regulator opting for further policy interest rate cuts seem to be limited at this juncture, given hawkish approach of the FED in the near term (as there could be a potential capital flight from domestic markets as already seen with the domestic fixed income market’s foreign holding). The expected FED rate (at least more than a couple in 2H2018E) hikes are anticipated to continue to reduce foreign participation in the domestic fixed income markets as seen during previous rate hikes of the FED.

     …Another reason why the Sri Lankan (real GDP) output is likely to be low in the near to medium term is low absolute output expected from agriculture and agri-allied manufacturing processes. There was a flood in May 2018 (followed by floods in May 2016 and May 2017), and based on the World Bank’s recent Annual Reports, world climatic change related impact may likely result in annual floods and / or droughts for the South Asian region in the near to medium term (that includes Sri Lanka).

     Sri Lanka’s investment to GDP ratio (average for past five years) hovers ~ 31% which is made up of 24% Private Sector Investment, 5% Public Investment (or Government Capex) and 2% via Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs). For an economy to reach a sustainable productive capacity (or real GDP growth rate) equivalent to 6% – 7%, the investment to GDP ratio has to at least increase to the level of ~34% – 35%, which requires an increase in the said investments level.

     Sri Lanka has an agriculture based economy. Now it is time to promote “Agro-Export Culture” in Sri Lanka. Few important export crops should be identified and promoted without delay.

     With the new government in place, the rulers should make it a point that they cannot play anymore. Country’s economy cannot be bargained under the name of “safeguarding democracy” or any other intangible placards. The rulers should put their heads down and implement some effective programmes to increase local production, reduce imports and to increase exports (especially industrial exports and promotion of agro-export culture). They have to learn a lot from their past mistakes and blunders before it is too late. This is the time to work and not to make talk shows.

     (The writer is a freelance investigative journalist writing articles on a multi-disciplinary platform could be reached by. email:yogaraj35@gmail.com)

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196429

• “Seemingly intractable problems persist on the economic front. The rupee remains weak, and the economy is in the doldrums to all intents and purposes. The UNP’s biggest problem will be that it cannot claim debt servicing as the reason for its inability to grant the public economic relief and carry out development projects. Before Oct. 26, the UNP had the public believe that the Rajapaksas had run away, unable to pay back the loans they had obtained, and it had been burdened with the task of repaying debts. This slogan will no longer be valid in that the Rajapaksas, having formed a government on Oct. 26, undertook to repay the loans. Why didn’t the UNP let them stew in their own juice? The Sirisena-Rajapaksa government also granted some relief to the public by slashing fuel prices and offered tax cuts and subsidies. Whether those relief measures that administration adopted, out of desperation, to win over the public would have been viable in the long run may be in doubt, but the people will expect the new UNP administration to do likewise. Attempts to reintroduce the fuel pricing mechanism and increase taxes will cause the UNP to lose votes.

     The new government will not be able to justify the postponement of the Provincial Council polls further. The SLPP has suffered a political setback due to its undisciplined adventurism, which backfired, and its reunion with President Sirisena and the SLFP rump. But whether the UNP will be able to capitalise on the situation and better its electoral performance remains to be seen…”

 – http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=news-section&page=news-section&code_title=55

• Vote on Account in Parliament tomorrow: FM

2018-12-20

The Vote on Account to cover the expenditures of the first four months of 2019 will be presented in Parliament tomorrow, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said today.

     It was approved by the Cabinet today.

     Minister Samaraweera said in a statement the government’s expenditure for this period would be Rs.1765 billion and Rs.970 [sic!?] would be allocated from it for debt servicing.

     The government has also set aside Rs.480 billion for capital expenditure. He said the government that was appointed on October 26 had terminated development projects such as Gam Peraliya, Enterprise Sri Lanka, etc.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/-Vote-on-Account-in-Parliament-tomorrow-FM-160077.html

• VoA for four months to be presented to House today

December 20, 2018, 11:10 pm

Zacki Jabbar

The UNF government yesterday approved a vote on account, to cover expenses for the first four months of next year. It would be presented in Parliament today…

     The four month VoA would be submitted to Parliament today, he noted ,adding that ‘Gamperaliya’ and ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’, which had brought about development in the villages and throughout the country, but suspended by Mahinda Rajapaksa due to his political agenda, would be resumed forthwith.

     Samaraweera said that the fuel pricing formula would also come into immediate effect.

     The government’s expenditure for the first four month period, he said would be Rs. 1,765 billion, of which Rs. 970 billion would be allocated for debt servicing and Rs.480 billion for capital expenditure.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196408

Can’t support VoA: JVP

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Bimal Ratnayake said in parliament today that they were not in a position to support the Vote on Account (VOA).

     He said the VoA seemed like a mini-budget which was presented to carry out the ‘same old agenda’ of the United National Party rather than a VoA which would pay government workers their salaries. 

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Can-t-support-VoA-JVP–160135.html

• UPFA welcomes Mangala getting finance, promises to back VoA with caveat

December 20, 2018, 12:00 pm

Shamindra Ferdinando

The UPFA yesterday pledged its support to UNP’s Vote on Account (VoA) to obtain provisions for January-April 2019 on the condition that Wickremesinghe’s administration presented in Parliament on Friday (Dec 21) what was approved by cabinet in late November, the media was told yesterday.

     UPFA MPs Susil Premjayantha, S.B. Dissanayake and Bandula Gunawardena said so when The Island sought the UPFA stand on VoA. Asked whether the UPFA had taken up this issue with Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the lawmakers said they expected the government to adopt cabinet approved proposal by former PM and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

     They said that the cabinet had approved an expenditure of Rs. 1,735 billion for the stipulated period. The previous government allocated Rs.760 billion for the Public Service, Rs. 970 billion for the expenditures previously authorised by different laws and Rs. 05 billion for the Government Advances Account.

     When The Island pointed out that the UNP was unlikely to accept their VoA, UPFA spokesmen asserted that a new one couldn’t be presented without cabinet approval. They pointed out that there was no likelihood of the new cabinet meeting soon after yesterday’s swearing in of new ministers.

     The UPFA welcomed the re-appointment of Mangala Samaraweera as the Finance Minister at the expense of Ravi Karunanayake who sought the same portfolio. Both Gunawardena and Dissanayake said that they appreciated Samaraweera regaining the finance portfolio.

     Karunanayake switched ministries with Samaraweera in May 2017. At the time of the cabinet reshuffle, Samaraweera held the foreign affairs portfolio. Karunanayake resigned in August 2017 in the wake of treasury bond scams involving the Central Bank and the Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL).

     Gunawardena reminded Samaraweera of challenges the new administration faced in revising the badly mauled national economy.

     The UPFA asserted that the grouping could play a significant role in parliament. Dissanayake said that they had 101 lawmakers with them before the figure dropped to 97. Perhaps one or two more were likely to switch allegiance though the UPFA was confident of its strength to take on the government.

     Dissanayake said that disciplinary action would be taken against those who switched allegiance to the government. The former minister said that their parliamentary group also urged President Maithripala Sirisena not to grant ministerial portfolios to turncoats.

     Having re-assumed finance portfolio, Samaraweera told the media yesterday the VoA would be presented in parliament on Friday.

     Samaraweera said that their primary objective would be to repair massive damage caused to the national economy as a result of what he called Oct 26 Black Friday.

     Samaraweera said that the Budget 2019 would be presented in January.

     Responding to media query, Samaraweera said that both President Sirisena and the UNP government had separate mandates. The minister said that there was no impediment in working together respecting both mandates.

     Samaraweera pointed out that the President Sirisena sacked the government Sri Lanka Rupee was at Rs 176 to the dollar and by the time UNP regained the government it had depreciated to Rs 180 against the greenback.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196412

• PM opens VoA debate by claiming it to be key step to restoring democracy

December 21, 2018, 11:26 pm

Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that the Vote on Account was presented to Parliament as an important step in restoring democracy in the country.

     …PM Wickremesinghe said that he had instructed the Home Affairs Ministry and Finance Minister to encourage the District and Divisional Secretaries to resume the Imperialism [sic!] programme by next week, which was suspended during the political crisis.

     Wickremesinghe said that if the political stability was not restored, the government servants would have been deprived of their salaries by January 1, 2019.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196458

• Harsha Economic Reform Non-Cabinet Minister

2018-12-21

Dr. Harsha de Silva was sworn in as the Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reform and Public Distribution before President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat a short while ago. 

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Harsha-Economic-Reform-Non-Cabinet-Minister–160155.html

• Sri Lanka new Government to present full budget in January 2019 – Eran Wickramaratne

December, 18, 2018

Sri Lanka’s new government lead by United National Party will present a full year budget to parliament in January 2019 and with the expectation of passing it in February 2019, Eran Wickremeratne told reporters recently.

     “We need 7 days debate and committee stage debate which requires 26 days,” Wickramaratne said adding that there will be a disciplined administration. However he also told reporters that an interim budget will also be presented after a new cabinet of ministers is appointed.

     “There will be no problem in paying salaries or meeting state expenditure in January,” Wickramaratne said adding that No citizen need have any uncertainty about meeting payments.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/sri-lanka-new-government-to-present-full-budget-in-january-2019-eran-wickramaratne/

•  Fully-Fledged budget in February

2018-12-18

The new government will present a fully-fledged budget for 2019 in February after the Cabinet was sworn in, it is learnt.

     Besides, it will present a Vote on Account (VoA) to allocate money from the Consolidated Fund to carry out the government’s functions.

     A UNP MP who is slated to take oath as a Minister said a fully-fledged budget could not be debated and passed in Parliament during the remaining weeks of this month.

     “We will bring a Vote on Account first to find money for a couple of months. Afterwards, we will bring the budget for 2019,” he said.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Fully-Fledged-budget-in-February-159900.html

• UNP-led Kandy MC budget defeated

December 21, 2018, 10:55 pm

By Cyril Wimalasurendre

KANDY – For the first time, in the 104-year history of the Kandy Municipal Council, the annual Budget was defeated yesterday. It was tabled by Mayor Kesara D. Senanayake.

     At the meeting in the Council assembly hall Mayor Kesara D. Senanayake presented the Budget for 2019 with a surplus of Rs. 87,000.

After a debate the mayor Senanayake called for a division. When the voting took place by raising hands the Budget received 20 for and 21 against it.

The UNP members and the single member of the Tamil Progressive Alliance led by Minister Mano Ganeshan voted for the Budget.

The 16 SLPP members 3 SLFP members and the 02 JVP members voted against the Budget.

The vote was taken at 2.30 p.m. after the Leader of the Opposition Sena Dissanayake addressed the meeting.

Deputy Mayor T. Abdeen, (UNP) Ananda Sanath Kumara (SLPP), Wipula Lal Ranasinghe (UNP), Sarath Wijesinghe (SLPP) and Waruna Lasantha Liyanage were among those joined the Budget debate.

After the defeat of his Budget Mayor Senanayake said he would present another Budget for 2019 with amendments, within 14 days.

However, the Mayor told the media that even if his second Budget was defeated there would be no change in the administration of the Municipal Council.

Mayor Senanayake said “The UNP will continue to control the Council.”

Senanayake said that the UNP group had never defeated the annual Budgets tabled by the former Mayor Mahindra Ratwatte.

“We have throughout supported Budgets tabled by Mahidra Ratwatte,” the mayor added.

Leader of the Opposition former mayor Sena Dissanayake told the media that his group could not support any Budget tabled by the UNP mayors under the existing political situation in the country.

The SLPP or the SLFP could not under any circumstances support the endeavours of the UNP at a time when Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had saved the country from terrorism, was being harassed and ridiculed by the UNP.

Two JVP councillors said as a policy the JVP voted against the Budgets of all local bodies.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196454

TNA backs UNP

Govt. mini-budget passed 102 to six

December 21, 2018, 11:30 pm

Saman Indrajith

A motion on a resolution for a Vote on Account presented to Parliament by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera for a sum of Rs 1.76 trillion (1,765,523,026,000) was passed with a majority of 96 votes.

The motion received 102 votes for and six votes against.

The TNA voted with the government while the JVP voted against.

JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that they would agree on the need to bring a Vote on Account but the government had inserted all its plans to defraud public finances in allocating funds for the vote on account therefore they would vote against it.

UPFA MPs were not present in the chamber when the vote was taken. However, UPFA General Secretary MP Mahinda Amaraweera earlier in the day pledged his party’s unconditional support to the progressive moves of the government putting the country before party. The senior MP said that they would support the Vote on Account as the salaries and other payments of the public servants depended on it.  

He said that it was the SLFP which suffered the most from the recent political crisis.

“We do not expect portfolios. We will remain in the Opposition. Our support is to take this country forward. The UNP’s Gamperaliya programme is a good move. Recent political issues created many problems in the country. Tourism sector and investments were badly affected. The country suffered a huge loss during those few days. All condemn the MPs’ misbehaviour in the House.”

Amaraweera regretted the crossover of MP Vijith Wijayamuni Zoysa, and said that they were seniors in the SLFP and the party should have retained them in its fold. “We have to correct our wrongs. We will support the good moves of the government while objecting to what is bad for the country. Take our criticisms in good spirit,” he told the UNP MPs.

The JVP called for a division on the motion.

The motion says: “In terms of paragraph (2) of Article 150 of the Constitution, Parliament resolves that during the period commencing on January 1, 2019 and ending on the day immediately preceding the date of commencement of the Appropriation Act providing for the services of the financial year 2019 or ending on April 30, 2019 which ever date occurs first—

(a) sums not exceeding Rupees Seven Hundred Ninety Billion One Hundred Sixty Million Six Hundred Thirty Four Thousand (Rs. 790,160,634,000) shall be payable out of the Consolidated Fund of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for the services specified in the First Schedule to this Resolution tabled, (being services in respect of which provision for expenditure was made by the Appropriation Act, No. 30 of 2017 and by Supplementary Estimates) and that the said sums may be expended during the aforesaid period, in the manner specified in such schedule; and

(b) sums not exceeding Rupees Nine Hundred Seventy Billion Three Hundred Sixty Three Million One Hundred Ninety Two Thousand (Rs. 970,363,192,000) shall be payable out of the Consolidated Fund of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for the services specified in the Second Schedule to this Resolution tabled (for expenditure pertaining to providing for the services authorized by laws to be charged to the Consolidated Fund) and that the said sums may be expended during the aforesaid period, in the manner specified in such Schedule; and

(c) sums not exceeding Rupees Five Billion (Rs. 5,000,000,000) in the aggregate, shall be payable by way of advances out of the Consolidated Fund of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for the services specified in Column I of the Third Schedule to this Resolution tabled and that the debits incurred in respect of any such services during the aforesaid period, shall not exceed the maximum limits as specified in the corresponding entry in Column II of that Schedule; and

(d) sums not exceeding Rupees Nine Hundred Ninety Billion (Rs. 990,000,000,000) shall be proceeds as loans to be raised in terms of relevant laws whether in or outside Sri Lanka, for and on behalf of the Government, in respect of which provision for expenditure for providing such services mentioned in the schedules to this Resolution tabled and the details of such loans shall be incorporated in the Final Budget Position Report which is required to be tabled in Parliament under Section 13 of the Fiscal Management (Responsibility) Act, No. 3 of 2003.”

Minister Samaraweera said that the budget for the next financial year would be presented to Parliament in January and taken up for debate in February.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196462

Corporate Sri Lanka braces for new budget proposals

December 20, 2018, 8:31 pm

Sanath Nanayakkare

Businesspeople won’t throw up their arms in despair and tell you that they are nervous about what the budget for the year 2019 would bring, but they are anxiously awaiting its details, and are bracing themselves for any impacts of new tax laws and reforms.

This was revealed to The Island Financial Review by Lahiru Pathmalal, co-founder/CEO of Takas (Pvt) Ltd….

Making pretty good sense of his business confidence, Lahiru said, “I think many are relieved that the recent constitutional crisis is over and things are stabilising allowing consumer confidence to bounce back in the festive season. It is still too early to judge how fast things would bounce back, but at last, we can be hopeful”.

“The recent political crisis had a huge impact on the market. It had a significant impact on our company’s top and bottom lines. We experienced lack of consumer confidence during the crisis. It convinced us that when there’s a crisis like that in the country, consumers become wary about their future and don’t spend money on products”, he said.

“Sri Lankan consumer behaviour in buying goods online is still not where it should be. There are many reasons for it. One; online companies like ourselves haven’t spent enough money for brand building. Another reason is Sri Lanka’s telco data costs are higher than in the regional countries. So consumers try to reduce their internet data usage which is not a desirable development for online stores such as ours. Regional countries have cheaper data plans, and so their online stores can spend a lot of money to attract customers to buy products online. For us, this is not possible, especially Sri Lanka being a small market, he said…

 VoA next in agenda: Gayantha

2018-12-17

The cabinet of the UNF government would be sworn in, in the next couple of days and State and Deputy Ministers next week, former Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Gayantha Karunathilaka said today.

He said discussions were underway within the party seniors on how cabinet portfolios were allocated led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, as there were dissenting views among party members on key portfolios like Finance and Planning….

“The budget 2019 will be presented before the Sinhala – Hindu New Year in April,” Mr Karunatilaka said.

He added that former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had almost completed the budget 2019 when the Government was changed suddenly on October 26 after the removal of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe…

Mr Karunathilaka added that the budget 2019 would bring a big package of benefits and relieves to low-income families to bring down the cost of living drastically. (Sandun A Jayasekera)

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/VoA-next-in-agenda-Gayantha-159897.html

Grimaces, smiles and hurdles

Monday 17th December, 2018

…Seemingly intractable problems persist on the economic front. The rupee remains weak, and the economy is in the doldrums to all intents and purposes. The UNP’s biggest problem will be that it cannot claim debt servicing as the reason for its inability to grant the public economic relief and carry out development projects. Before Oct. 26, the UNP had the public believe that the Rajapaksas had run away, unable to pay back the loans they had obtained, and it had been burdened with the task of repaying debts. This slogan will no longer be valid in that the Rajapaksas, having formed a government on Oct. 26, undertook to repay the loans. Why didn’t the UNP let them stew in their own juice? The Sirisena-Rajapaksa government also granted some relief to the public by slashing fuel prices and offered tax cuts and subsidies. Whether those relief measures that administration adopted, out of desperation, to win over the public would have been viable in the long run may be in doubt, but the people will expect the new UNP administration to do likewise. Attempts to reintroduce the fuel pricing mechanism and increase taxes will cause the UNP to lose votes.

The new government will not be able to justify the postponement of the Provincial Council polls further….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=news-section&page=news-section&code_title=55

MR claims Yahapalanaya regime borrowed $ 20.7 b in loans

17 December 2018

MP Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday claimed that the Yahapalanaya Government since assuming office in 2015 had borrowed $ 20.7 billion in foreign currency loans. 

“We have no idea as to how much more they will borrow in the coming months. The UNP brought our economy to the brink of collapse through such foreign currency borrowings. All that money was borrowed for consumption. We borrowed money to develop the country and that development is visible. But the UNP borrowed money only for consumption,” claimed Rajapaksa in his address on Saturday after ending his run as the Prime Minister appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena which lasted less than 50 days. 

– http://www.ft.lk/front-page/MR-claims-Yahapalanaya-regime-borrowed—20-7-b-in-loans/44-669040

Sirisena lashes out at UNP after reappointing PM

17 December 2018

President Maithripala Sirisena spoke at the closed door meeting with representatives of the UNP-led United National Front following the swearing-in ceremony of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister 

Raps Ranil and UNP over appointment of Arjuna Mahendran as CB Chief and bond scam 

  Says forensic audit yet to be done by current CB to find out actual loss; Economists put the figure at Rs. 17 b

    Describes FTA with Singapore as detrimental; wants it to be revisited to decide whether it must be revised or scrapped

“Certain economists have estimated the loss from the bond scam is Rs. 17 billion,” said the President, who also faulted the UNP for delaying the passage of key legislation in Parliament that would have strengthened authorities to take quicker and sterner action against those responsible for the bond scam. 

Charging that the Cabinet had corrupt members, the President also faulted Wickremesinghe and the UNP for rushing the FTA with Singapore without due consultation and advice. He said that the Presidential Commission had made a series of recommendations and stressed that the Sri Lanka-Singapore FTA must be reviewed with proper consultation and advice to determine whether the country should revise it or scrap it altogether. 

– http://www.ft.lk/front-page/Sirisena-lashes-out-at-UNP-after-reappointing-PM/44-669041

RW vows to rectify damage caused to national economy

December 17, 2018, 12:37 pm

Zacki Jabbar

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, after being re-appointed Prime Minister by President Maithripala Sirisena, said yesterday, at Temple Trees, that his focus would be on restoring normalcy, reviving the economy, which had suffered a huge blow due to the political crisis and providing a better future for the country and its people…

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196218

 Ceylon Chamber says it holds MS, RW accountable for choice of ministers

2018-12-21

Sri Lanka’s premier trade chamber Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said it holds President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe responsible and accountable for the choice of ministers appointed yesterday.

….“It’s our fervent hope that political parties will refrain from creating issues that will distract from the focus on serving the people,” the statement said.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Ceylon-Chamber-says-it-holds-MS-RW-accountable-for-choice-of-ministers-160114.html

Statement by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

December 20, 2018, 8:36 pm

… “We have serious challenges to overcome including the challenge of meaningful implementation of the development agenda. We want to see that happen and we want to see the policy makers take action to achieve results. We expect the political leadership to respect the need for integrity in all of their actions and also call on them to provide the space for the public officers to carry out their duties and functions without unwarranted political interference.

It’s our fervent hope that political parties will refrain from creating issues that will distract from the focus on serving the people.”

 – http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196381

Sri Lanka’s 30-year National Physical Plan slides into political crisis

By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka’s revised National Physical Plan for 2018-2050 devised by the Urban Development Authority has been blocked by the President after he sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the cabinet on October 26.

The government was expected to invest US$400 million for initial infrastructure development activities over the 30-year period while attracting over $4 billion foreign investment of some of the mega projects under public private partnership.

President Maithripala Sirisena has still not given his approval to this physical plan which is crucial for the country in the next three decades, a top official of the UDA told the Business Times adding that the country’s infrastructure facilities cannot be improved without approving the plan.

He pointed out that the National Physical Plan for 2011-2030, which was gazetted in 2011 is now outdated as several key national and international developments have taken place since then.

Therefore the government has decided to revise and update the plan, he disclosed.

Main objectives of the plan were to formulate national physical policies, plans and strategies and to ensure and monitor the implementation of such national policies and plans regionally and locally.

The aim is to promote and regulate integrated planning of economic, social, physical and environmental aspects of land and territorial waters of Sri Lanka, he said.

According to the proposed plan, the future development initiatives in the corridor, such as industrial estates, cultural development zones, tourism zones, urban service centres will be concentrated in six major population centres in the corridor.

The corridor consists of Colombo Megapolis, Gampaha Metro Region, Negombo Metro Region, Kurunegala Metro Region, Dambulla Metro Region and Trincomalee Metro Region.

It has been proposed to develop Colombo-Trincomalee as the main economic corridor along with three other sub-corridors, while Anuradhapura and Kandy are also to be developed separately as metropolitan areas, he disclosed.

The National Physical Plan should be approved by the National Physical Planning Council headed by the President as per Section 3(1) of Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act No 49 of 2000.

This plan has been devised by the National Physical Planning Department (NPPD) under the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, with the consultation of various stakeholders, during over one and half years.

The previous cabinet of ministers chaired by the President reviewed the draft plan in December 2017.

The final plan was submitted to the National Physical Planning Council for the President’s approval, but he has not signed it following the change in the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, he disclosed.

The key component of the plan is the proposed Colombo-Trincomalee economic corridor, consisting one-third of the country’s population.

The Asian Development Bank has been conducting a detailed study, which is expected to be released shortly, he added.

The Colombo-Trincomalee economic corridor has been identified as the best area for development activities while attracting a majority of the future investments to Sri Lanka and more export-import activities would take place through the corridor, he opined.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/sri-lankas-30-year-national-physical-plan-slides-into-political-crisis-324897.html

Sale of UL aircraft, insurance claims helped show profits under Emirates management

December 20, 2018

Rathindra Kuruwita 

SriLankan had only managed to stay afloat under the Emirates management thanks to the sale of aircraft and insurance payments, former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of SriLankan SA Chandrasekera told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on irregularities at SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka yesterday.

There had been positive balance sheets under Emirates management due to the sale of aircraft, he said.

“There were also the insurance payments for the planes that were lost due to the 2001 attack on the Bandaranaike International Airport by the LTTE,” he said.

From its inception to 1993 the airline was funded by the government. However, from 1993 to 1998 it had functioned on its own without any state assistance, Chandrasekera said.

SriLankan management was handed over to Emirates in April 1998. 

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196416

Business Sentiment – Index Slides to 114 Month Low

November, 5, 2018

The downward spiral in biz sentiment shows no sign of letting up as fears mount

Trade within South Asia can increase by nearly threefold  from US$ 23 billion to 67 billion dollars provided that trade barriers are overcome, according to a recent World Bank report titled ‘A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia,’ which notes that Sri Lanka has the potential to more than double its exports to South Asia.

The report highlights four obstacles to regional trade – border tax distortions, non-tariff barriers, connectivity costs and trust deficits – and offers options for policy makers to address them.

Moreover, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Dr. Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough says “there is evidence that Sri Lanka will benefit financially, and improve its services sector and human resources, if it removed trade barriers and invested in better connectivity.”

But despite the promise of the aforesaid intra-regional trade opportunities, the situation on the ground as far as the corporate sector is concerned appears to be bleak – if one were to go by the results of the latest LMD-Nielsen Business Confidence Index (BCI) survey.

THE INDEX The BCI slipped further to record a marginal drop of two basis points from the preceding month and register 85 on the unique barometer of biz sentiment in October. It’s now a whopping 20 plus points below its 12 month average and where it stood in October last year.

“While the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) eased to 2.5 percent year on year in August compared to 3.4 percent in July, the six percent depreciation of the rupee in one month and impending fuel price increases are worrying both businesses and consumers,” states Nielsen’s Managing Director Sharang Pant.

He also notes that “[business] leaders feel that certain policies of the authorities are only addressing immediate concerns whereas they expect long-term improvements for the betterment of the country – which are critical for safeguarding current investments and attracting new investments.”

SENSITIVITIES The state of the economy, the depreciation of the rupee and fears of rising inflation are among the key sensitivities, for both business and the nation.

One corporate executive reveals: “Our business has faced many obstacles mainly due to the current economic situation wherein consumers do not have money to purchase goods. And the depreciating rupee has led to substantial increases in the price of imports.”

PROJECTIONS As the free fall of the rupee continues and the global economy faces increasing uncertainty against the backdrop of higher oil prices and a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, the business landscape here at home seems unlikely to show any sign of a reprieve in the weeks ahead.

And then there’s the million dollar question of how the business community perceives Budget 2019, together with what direction the political merry-go-round will spin in the new (election) year – it’s been making loud noises for most of 2018 and that perhaps is likely to continue.

Some may even say it’s in ‘always breakdown’ mode.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/business-sentiment-index-slides-to-114-month-low/

Recent Economic Developments: Highlights of 2018 and Prospects for 2019

October, 30, 2018

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka today released its half yearly publication – “Recent Economic Developments: Highlights of 2018 and Prospects for 2019”.

A summary of the performance of the Sri Lankan economy in 2018 as reflected in this publication is given below:

The Sri Lankan economy faced renewed challenges emanating from global market developments, which disrupted the steady stabilisation path observed up to the first quarter of the year. The economy grew at a moderate pace of 3.6 per cent in the first half of 2018, following relatively low growth of 3.3 per cent recorded during the year 2017. Agricultural activities continued their rebound in the first half of 2018 supported by favourable weather conditions that prevailed during this period. The growth in industrial activities slowed, mainly due to the subdued performance in the construction and mining and quarrying subsectors. The expansion in services activities was broad-based, driven mainly by the growth of financial services, wholesale and retail trade and other personal services activities. Meanwhile, an increase in the unemployment rate was observed during the first half of 2018. Consumer price inflation has remained subdued thus far in 2018, although temporarily edging up in some months, mainly as a result of movements in volatile food prices and upward adjustments to domestic petroleum and other administered prices.

Meanwhile, monetary and credit expansion decelerated gradually, in response to the tight monetary policy stance maintained in the past. The Central Bank maintained a prudent approach in relation to monetary policy and operations, whereby the upper bound of the policy interest rates corridor was revised downwards in April 2018 and the interbank call money market rate was allowed to adjust within the corridor in line with evolving market conditions through appropriate open market operations (OMOs).

In the external sector, the trade deficit widened further as the growth in import expenditure outpaced the rise in earnings from exports, although earnings from services exports, including tourism, and workers’ remittances helped cushion the external current account deficit to some extent. Amidst the widened trade and current account deficits, which was partly due to the increased expenditure on fuel imports and imports of motor vehicles and gold, the balance of payments (BOP) also experienced pressure from the emerging market selloff caused by tightening global financial conditions and the strengthening of the US dollar. These developments resulted in a sharp depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee, and the Central Bank intervened in the market at times to prevent disorderly adjustment of the exchange rate while allowing demand and supply conditions to determine its direction.

In the meantime, the performance was mixed on the fiscal front, with the overall budget balance and the primary balance improving during the first eight months of the year, while the current account balance deteriorated marginally. Nevertheless, the lower than expected revenue collection is likely to challenge the achievement of the targeted budget deficit for 2018, despite the slowdown observed in expenditure.

In the financial sector, the growth momentum continued during the first half of 2018 without major macroprudential concerns, while measures are being taken to address long standing issues with a few distressed financial institutions.

Meanwhile, the programme under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) continued, with the country achieving the Quantitative Performance Criteria (QPC) for June 2018 in relation to the primary fiscal balance and inflation, although missing the target on international reserves due to volatile global conditions. Several notable structural benchmarks were also achieved under this programme including the automatic price formula for fuel.

Going forward, the economy is expected to gather steam gradually responding to the measures taken to facilitate domestic production, merchandise and services exports, as well as domestic and foreign investment. At the macro level, the maintenance of low and stable inflation under the envisaged Flexible Inflation Targeting (FIT) framework, the competitive exchange rate, and the continuation of the government’s fiscal consolidation efforts are expected to ensure macroeconomic stability in the medium term.

In the backdrop of tightening policy spaces in the monetary, fiscal and external fronts amidst subdued economic performance, it is important to facilitate private sector led growth with prudent, consistent and far reaching reforms that support increased productivity in the economy. Recent experience has once again displayed the importance of strengthening the economy through structural transformation, while improving the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals. The postponement of much needed structural reforms will only lead to the Sri Lankan economy lagging behind its regional peers, amidst increased vulnerability to internal and external disturbances. Therefore, it is essential that such reforms are expeditiously implemented within a transparent framework for Sri Lanka to progress as an upper middle income economy where its human and physical resources are fully utilised in a more productive manner.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/recent-economic-developments-highlights-of-2018-and-prospects-for-2019/

Agriculture•

A resilient rice that withstands saline soil University of Wayamba goes a step forward with DNA technology

2018-12-19

A research team comprising undergrads from University of Wayamba has started a project to recognize salt tolerant genes using rice cross. The long-term objective of the project is to compile all salt tolerant genes into a single line using a simple breeding technique. The project also targets developing a salt resistant variety of rice genes that can withstand saline soil. 

Previously, with the assistance of National Science Foundation and International Rice Research Institute, Philippine, they were able to develop a cross between At354, a salt tolerant rice variety and Bg352, a salt susceptible rice variety. This helped to map several regions of the rice genome containing salt tolerant genes. 

Now, National Research Council funds the project. This project is headed by Prof. Nisha Kottearachchi, Biotechnology Department, Faculty of Agriculture and Plant Management of University of Wayamba, together with the support of Dr. D.R Gimhani, Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Agriculture and Plantation Management, University of Wayamba, Dr. Venura Herath, Senior Lecturer of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya and Ms. Buddihini Abeynayake, the PhD student of the project.

The research team has already recognised the salinity tolerant genes. Prof. Kottearachchi commented about the further researches on this project as follows: “At first, we crossed two rice varieties, At354, Bg352. Then we developed F5 generation of this cross by self-pollination. We analyzed F5 population using new DNA marker called “SNP” using Illumina Infinium rice 6K SNP chip sponsored by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. From this investigation we were able to map tentative areas of the genome containing salinity tolerant genes. By now, under the funds of National Research Council, we were able to sequence whole genome of At354, a salinity resistant variety, and Bg352, a salinity susceptible variety using the technique called Next Generation Sequencing. Now, we are in the process of exploring salt tolerant alleles by annotating the DNA sequence corresponding to the previously mapped genomic areas using computer software tools. 

“This project will reveal novel information on the candidate genes of salt tolerance which would be useful to rice breeders in the Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka and to the outside world to develop salt-tolerant resilient rice cultivars. This project improves the human and laboratory capacity in the area of plant molecular breeding which is an undeveloped area in Sri Lanka”.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/A-resilient-rice-that-withstands-saline-soil-University-of-Wayamba-goes-a-step-forward-with-DNA-technology-159958.html

MAS Holdings partners with SL Air Force to launch the nation’s first ever aerial reforestation project

December 21, 2018,

MAS Holdings recently announced that it has launched Sri Lanka’s first ever Aerial Reforestation Project in collaboration with Sri Lanka Air Force. Since June 2018, MAS has experimented on a new tool to curb deforestation, by conserving the country’s rapidly dwindling forest cover and growing its future forests. Seed balls have been used since ancient times as a technique for propagating plants without ploughing the earth with tools.

Philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka and organic farmers in Japan spearheaded the rediscovery and popularisation of seed balls in the contemporary world.

MAS Holdings integrated the seed-balling project into its Sustainability Action Plan in June 2018, with the expertise of the University of Peradeniya. Prof. D.K.N.G. Pushpakumara, the Dean of the Agriculture faculty at Peradeniya University and his teams have been carrying out years of research into the aerial reforestation method,which drops hundreds of seeds wrapped in clay or soil balls across a designated area to encourage the growth of new saplings and vegetation.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196420

Sack Modi, make Nitin Gadkari PM for BJP’s victory in 2019 LS polls”

December 20, 2018, 11:06 pm

B S VENKAT NARAYAN Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, December 18: A prominent Maharashtra farmer leader has asked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to replace Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wishes to win the 2019 general elections.

The demand has come from Kishore Tiwari, Chairman of a Maharashtra government panel called Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) on a day Modi is in Maharashtra to attend a series of events, including laying foundation stones for Metro Rails in Thane and Pune.

The RSS is the parent organisation of the BJP, and wields enormous power and influence over all leaders and BJP workers in the country.

In his letter to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and General Secretary Bhaiyyaji Suresh Joshi, Tiwari said the BJP’s defeat in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is the direct outcome of “arrogant leaders” who implemented devastating decisions like demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax (GST), fuel prices hike and other anti-people measures.

“Leaders who pursue an extremist and dictatorial attitude in the party and government are dangerous for the society and the country… This has been witnessed before, and if history is not to be repeated, hand over the reins to Gadkari for the 2019 polls,” Tiwari said.

Gadkari is a 61-year-old soft-spoken Maharashtrian from Nagpur. He is Modi’s Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. Earlier, he was BJP President during 2010-13. He is widely seen as a leader who possesses persuasive skills and is not a confrontationist hardliner pushing for aggressive Hindutva.

On December 11, the VNSSM chief, who is enjoys ministerial status, had categorically asked the BJP to “get rid of both Modi and BJP Chief Amit Shah” for their anti-farmer and anti-people policies, which led to the party’s stunning defeats in the just-concluded elections.

Accusing Modi and Shah of upturning the good work done by the former BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Tiwari said they (Modi-Shah) seem to be interested “only in grandiose Bullet Trains and Metro Rail projects”.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196402

Industry•

Manufacturing activities slowed down in November

December 16, 2018, 8:35 pm

The slowdown observed in manufacturing activities in November was mainly driven by the slowdown in new orders and production, especially in manufacturing of textiles, wearing apparels, leather and related activities. However, new orders and production in the manufacturing of food and beverages activities has improved with the Christmas season demand. Employment remains unchanged during the period due to the difficulties in recruiting additional employees, especially in manufacturing of furniture activities.

Meanwhile, overall Stock of purchases indicated a slowdown, mainly due to the subdued production of manufacturing of textiles, wearing apparels, leather and related products. Suppliers’ delivery time lengthened at a slower rate which is mainly driven by the reduction of lead time on demand, for supplies related to manufacturing of food and beverages activities to speed up their production. All the sub-indices of PMI Manufacturing recorded values above the neutral 50.0 threshold signalling an overall expansion in November yet at a slower pace compared to October 2018.

Services sector growth eases The Services sector expanded at a slower pace in November 2018, recording the lowest index value since survey began in May 2015. The slowdown in the Services sector was mainly due to the record low index value reported for Expectations for Activity. Further, a notable slowdown was also observed in New Businesses and Employment. The current political situation in the country and uncertainty on future policies weighed on respondents’ Expectations for activity and the growth in New Businesses. However, on a positive note, business activities of wholesale & retail trade and accommodation, food & beverage sub sectors reported a growth due to upcoming festive season and the peak season for tourism.

Prices Charged of the Services sector increased due to depreciation of the local currency. However, some respondents cited that the recent reduction in fuel prices would cause a less than expected increase in their output prices. The expected Labour Cost in the services sector also increased during November due to bonus payments and increments. – CBSL

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196181

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 Sri Lanka set to miss apparel export target by US $ 500mn

2018-12-18

Nishel Fernando 

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry has revised this year’s export target to US $ 5 billion from the earlier target of US $ 5.5 billion, amid the October apparel export earnings declining by marginal one percent year-on-year (YoY) to US $ 403 million.

According to the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association (SLEA), apparel exports during the January- October period have grown 4.4 percent YoY to US $ 4.1 billion with exports to the US market growing 4.5 percent YoY to US $ 1.8 billion and exports to the European Union (EU) growing 4.2 percent YoY to US $ 1.7 billion.  

In October, exports to the US slowed down 6.5 percent YoY to US $ 188 million, which was somewhat offset by the recovering apparel exports to the EU, which recorded a growth of 3.1 percent YoY to US $ 167 million. 

“We can’t be happy with the overall 4.4 percent growth rate. We hope that we will be able to pass the US $ 5 billion magical figure by end of this year. The apparel exports in the November and December period usually climb up,” SLEA Chairman Felix Fernando told Mirror Business. 

He noted that Sri Lanka’s apparel export earnings would average around US $ 450 million in November and December, enabling the industry to cross the US $ 5 billion mark. 

Fernando blamed the sluggish retail markets in the EU and US as well fierce competition among global suppliers for adversely impacting Sri Lanka’s apparel exports. According to him, there’s 4 percent oversupply in the global apparel market. 

He said apart from Bangladesh and Vietnam, some African nations such as Ethiopia are also emerging as major apparel exporters to the US and EU, as they have the capacity to manufacture garments at a lower cost while meeting the necessary sustainability standards demanded by the US and EU retailers.  

He noted that Sri Lanka was not able to fully capitalise on the US-China trade war, as Sri Lankan manufactures didn’t have the capacity to cater to large export orders that China was losing.  

However, he stressed that GSP Plus was crucial in achieving the current growth level of 4.4 percent this year.

“We certainly got the benefits of GSP Plus. Had not been for GSP Plus, our sales would have further gone down,” he said.

Moving forward, Fernando asserted that a lot remains to be done to reach the US $ 8 billion apparel export earnings target set for 2020, which includes diversifying Sri Lanka’s export markets and plugging into sophisticated value chains. 

Commenting on Sri Lanka’s apparel export markets, he pointed out that the industry should attempt to increase its exports to emerging markets such as China, India and Russia as well as unexplored markets such as Japan. 

“The per capita apparel consumption in India and China are growing at double digits. Though there’s growth in per capita consumption of apparel in the US and EU, the growth is minimal,” he said.

However, he suggested that duty-free access would be crucial to increase Sri Lanka’s apparel export share to these markets by plugging into value chains in these countries. 

“If you want to get into some of these Indian and Chinese markets, probably it’s good to partner with local parties. For example, we can get down Chinese fabrics here and process and export back to China. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have duty free access to any of these countries and that’s why our manufactures are not so keen. For example, Bangladesh has duty-free access to the Indian market. But Sri Lanka doesn’t have the same access to India,” he elaborated. 

Ceylon Chamber facilitates efficient document approval process for exporters

December 18, 2018

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) last week, for the certification of export related documents through the electronic Document Attestation System (e-DAS) of the Ministry. The MOU was signed by Ravinath Ariyasinghe, Secretary, MoFA, and Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilake, Secretary General/CEO, of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, on December 12, 2018 at the MoFA.

The MOU provides for the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to use the e-DAS system of the MoFA to upload and submit export documents for certification by the Consular Affairs division of the MoFA and to receive the certified documents electronically for issuance to applicants. Use of the electronic system to for a process which was previously handled manually, will be a boost to businesses. The Chamber guarantees the issuance of commercial documents duly certified by both Organisations, speedily and will obviate the need for exporters to physically visit both Institutions.

The Ceylon Chamber established its Commercial Documents Registration Division in 1925 when the Chamber was granted authority to issue Country of Origin Certificates. Today, this Division offers a wide range of services, and issues a variety of certificates and commercial documents required by Sri Lankan exporters. It is a vital service offered to businesses that are engaged in trading activities.

The use of the e-DAS system marks the introduction of yet another valuable feature to the value-added services offered by the Chamber to the Sri Lankan business community. It will facilitate the convenience with which business will be transacted by expediting the document registration processes and contributing thereby to increased efficiency.

Hayleys Energy Services Commences Sri Lanka’s First Oil & Gas Drillship Lay-Up at Hambantota International Port

December, 16, 2018

Hayleys Energy Services (HES), the pioneer in Oil and Gas support services in Sri Lanka, announced the arrival of the oil and gas drillship “Aban Abraham” for a warm lay-up to the Hambantota International Port, Sri Lanka. Aban Offshore Limited, the company that own the vessel, is India’s largest offshore drilling services provider to oil companies, providing drilling operations, production and exploratory work worldwide.

Hayleys Energy Services, a subsidiary of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Hayleys PLC’s transportation and logistics arm – Hayleys Advantis Limited, had competed with several players from established lay-up service destinations in the region to win the country’s first ever drill ship lay-up project.

….Hayleys Energy Services has set up a permanent office within the Hambantota Port, at the 6th floor of the Sayurupaya Building, the first by an Oil & Gas Services company at this port, in light of this landmark project and the opportunities it is set to bring with it.

Commenting about the initiative taken by Hayleys Energy Services, Saliya Wickramasuriya, Former Director General – Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat (PRDS) said, “Hambantota is an excellent location not just for a vehicle transhipment and break bulk hub, but also for a potential regional service and repair centre for the South Asian Oil & Gas industry. My congratulations to Hayleys Energy Services, long time partners with the PRDS in petroleum exploration and production, for kicking this concept off by bringing the drillship Aban Abraham to the port for long-term lay-up and refurbishment. This new area of business for Sri Lanka will help unlock the port’s full potential and no doubt increase employment and knowledge transfer opportunities for the people of Hambantota in the future.”

Meanwhile, Chas Charles, Director / Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hayleys Energy Services said, “Having offered an extensive range of end-to-end logistics services for the Oil and Gas industry for over 10 years, we are excited to enter the lay-up services domain with this project, the first for a Sri Lankan company. This is indeed a proud moment for the entire Sri Lankan shipping industry.”

The Aban Abraham had called on the Hambantota International Port recently after completing a long drilling assignment in India. The almost 160 meters long vessel is capable of drilling at depths of up to 6,600 feet and has a drilling depth capacity of up to 24,600 feet. It is to be docked at the Port for a minimum of six months, during which lay-up support services and vessel preservation, husbandry, bunkering, crew management and several other marine services will be provided by Hayleys Energy Services.

“We are delighted to have been chosen for this project and would like to thank the management of Aban Offshore Ltd for placing their trust in us. This is indeed a reflection of our team’s knowledge, expertise and service commitment in the Oil & Gas domain. Having delivered complex integrated logistics services for several Oil and Gas projects, we look forward to completing a safe and efficient project by assisting Aban in their lay-up and preservation of the drillship Aban Abraham at Hambantota International Port, Sri Lanka” said Ricky Barnett, General Manager, Hayleys Energy Services. “We would also like to express our sincere appreciation to all stakeholders including the port’s managers – Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG / HIPS), Sri Lanka Immigration & Emigration Department, Sri Lanka Customs, Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Ports Authority for their continued support in making this historic project possible.”

Earlier this year, the company successfully completed two projects at the Trincomalee Port Anchorage – the offloading of the Semi-Submersible oil rig, Olinda Star and provision of agency services to the heavy lift carrier “GPO Grace” dry towing the Semi-Submersible oil rig “Louisiana” and they also went on to provide offshore ship to ship supplies/logistics services for Transocean Drillship “Dhirubhai Deepwater KG1” at the Colombo Port Anchorage.

Hayleys Energy Services is a subsidiary of Hayleys Advantis Limited, the transportation and logistics arm of Hayleys PLC. Through the wider logistics offering of Hayleys Advantis Limited, the Group caters to diverse logistics needs of its clientele. The company has provided logistics & support services for several projects in the Oil & Gas sector both locally and internationally including supply base management services, seismic and metocean surveys, exploratory drilling, rig repairs & servicing, duty free storage of drill rigs & transportation, and loading, offloading, towing and lay-up services for Oil & Gas rigs and marine assets.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/hayleys-energy-services-commences-sri-lankas-first-oil-gas-drillship-lay-up-at-hambantota-international-port/

Building luxury yachts through social empowerment

MIRISSA – On any day during the tourist season (October to April), there is a traffic jam at around 6 am in the southern town of Mirissa. The scramble is not because of vehicular office traffic but tourists and locals driving to the nearby harbour where around 50 boats prepare for a daily, whale watching adventure ride.

All this is partly due to the efforts of Pierre Pringiers, a 74 year-old Belgium national and entrepreneur who has lived in Sri Lanka since 1980 and once was the Consul General for Belgium, and who was alerted by a tourist who went on a fishing trip.

“This visitor said he didn’t catch any fish but had seen whales off the Mirissa coast. That’s when whale watching began,” he recalls, adding at that time – when he first arrived in 1980 -, everyone said there were blue whales only in Trincomalee.

A long-standing friend of Sri Lanka, he has built a reputation of helping unemployed youth in the south, training to build and operate catamarans … and is now setting his sights on creating an industry for luxury yachts.

Along with that, Mr. Pringiers is preparing to launch his super luxury, 10-room floating boutique hotel – the Ocean Diamond – by end 2019, which will herald a new era in Sri Lanka tourism.

Mr. Pringiers is Chairman of Sail Lanka Yatching Group which comprises BAFF (Building a Future Foundation) Polymech Pvt Ltd (building catamarans), Solar Impulse Pvt Ltd (building rigid inflatables and sails) and Sail Lanka Charter Pvt Ltd (which owns and operates yachts).

In a recent interview in Colombo, he said the company has eight yachts – three are day charters and five are multi day, residential charters which stay at sea for three to six days with all supplies.

Sails

While his day and multi-day charter vessels are doing well, he is banking on the Ocean Diamond heralding a new era of luxury yachts in Sri Lanka and says he can create a manufacturing industry that could produce hundreds of these boats while providing a new adventure in tourism.

At every point of the interview he reflects on the social benefits including employment and social empowerment through building yachts, from the south to the north.

Big business

Sailing on luxury yachts is a big business in Asia. Thailand for example with just a handful of yachts in 2004, today has 2,200 yachts. Mr. Pringiers believes Sri Lanka is ideally suited to build a yacht manufacturing and operating industry, because the blue ocean and blue skies offers 260 days of opportunity – Northeast or Southwest which you cannot find in many other places in the world. “Another advantage is that there are no yachts as yet here; so there is a great opportunity for the government to work with us and make it a socio economic success.”

At the moment, the pioneering yacht builder is seeking partners’ vis-à-vis hotels, travel companies and destination marketing firms to rent the Ocean Diamond for long periods, since “I can build yachts but I’m not a hotelier or tour operator”.

His message to the hotel industry: “Tourism is growing at a rapid rate and while we understand that they have to give priority to their hotels, this market (yachting) will anyway grow … and thus there is a benefit for them to step in. We are looking for a kind of synergy with the local hotel industry.”

The origin of the catamaran building project came in the aftermath of the tsunami with the emergence of a few boats involved in water-based activity like snorkeling, until the shift to whale watching in around 2007.

Crew

“We had a boat with a carrying capacity of 16 people and I told our trainees to fill this and take people on a whale watching trip. At that time the price of a whale watching trip was Rs. 22,000 (in 2007). It cost a fortune; this boat was given by the foundation to the boys from the beginning and from that moment onwards – after two years they paid the cost of the boat to the foundation after becoming commercially viable. Their company was Mirissa Water Sports and they then also purchased a second boat from us, paying the full sum after 18 months.”

After 5-6 years, this company had three boats and went to the bank to buy more boats and after a while many fishing boats also started to convert their boats for this purpose. That was the origin of the whale watching industry. “This is a good example of a social business/entrepreneurship as grassroots involvement – run by local people – and not big companies. I was happy to see this growing.”

No interest from European builders

Initially Mr. Pringiers, after inheriting a local boatyard that went bust, approached several European boat builders as investment partners to build and export. No one was interested.

He then decided to run the boatyard with 40-50 workers and develop the market in Sri Lanka. So far the company has built seven yachts with engine cum sails which are operated by Sail Lanka, each with a 4-man crew including a chef.

The group operates day charter and 3-4 day tours from the south to the north including visits to Delft island. Mr. Pringiers is also the founder (along with the Jinasena Group) of Loadstar, the world’s largest solid tyre manufacturer based in Sri Lanka, now named CAMSO.

Ruby

He reckons the yacht building industry will also follow in his footsteps (like the success) of Loadstar which led to many foreign investors setting up solid tyre plants in Sri Lanka.

In long discussions he has had with government authorities, Mr. Pringiers is urging the Export Development Board and others to provide incentives to build yachts here.

There was good news on the day this interview was conducted (November 30). “Great news! I sold my first yacht to a Sri Lankan investor today,” he says, happily.

Mr. Pringiers says his business is manufacturing and running the boats. “We have the DNA to manufacture and operate but not find clients. My crew and captains are fantastic and better than foreign captains. The local boys are careful coming from fisher families,” he said, adding: “They are people who understand the sea.”

Riding the Ruby            

The nicest part of the overnight stay on the Ruby, Sail Lanka’s 43-foot luxury yacht which has three air conditioned, double cabins with attached bathrooms, was that the boat rocked us to sleep. The movement of the waves was like the gentle rocking of a cot and putting a baby to sleep.

Awake the next morning by dawn, we had a nice breakfast of fruit, bread and eggs and then set off on a whale watching expedition.

Earlier on the previous day, we arrived at the Mirissa harbour and boarded the Ruby at around 4 pm. After sailing for a few hours, we set anchor a few metres off the Weligama beach and while having a sumptuous dinner prepared by chef Madushan, watch a fireworks display from the nearby Marriot hotel by a wedding party.

It was the perfect start to a day, ahead, where we were lucky to see 3-5 whales at close quarters. The Ruby and three Ceycat catamarans (with 4 double cabins and bathrooms) are hired out for 3-4 day voyages in the north, east and south while three other yachts are hired for day trips with one able to carry 40 people.

Our crew comprising skipper Samitha, IP and Chamal were constantly busy steering, setting up sails or bringing them down or helping the chef in the kitchen. The chef in turn helped in boat operations while the crew was at hand to answer any questions about the sea, whales and the coastal scenery. “That’s a navy hotel,” points out Samitha as we glide through waters.

The next morning, after breakfast we head to near the shipping lanes, about 15 km off shore where the whales are present. After going at 6 knots per hour and followed by other whale watching boats, Samitha spots some activity at a distance in the water and steers the boat to that location. Other boats also converge just in time to see a blue whale rising for fresh air and diving into the ocean. There is excitement for myself, photographer Ishanka and Ranjit Perera, Sail Lanka’s affable PR consultant, as we craned forward to get a better view. Not so for Samitha who has seen dozens of whales since sailing for the past 14 years.

After spending another two hours, waiting and eventually seeing three to four whales, we return to shore having lunch en route and spending almost 24 hours offshore. There are many things to do during these trips like snorkeling, swimming and fishing.

Boatyard           

At the BAFF Polymech Pvt Ltd boatyard at the free trade zone at Koggala (near Mirissa), there are no workers as November 20 is a public holiday. However Production Manager Chaminda Sanjeewa accompanied by Margaux Detry, Sail Lanka’s Marketing Executive and PR, explains to us the giant moulds being made to build yachts. The company has three orders from Thailand and New Zealand. Other than the fibre glass and engine which are imported, the rest of the boat is made from local material and according to international specifications. The 86-foot Ocean Diamond is also under construction with a model cabin already constructed for viewing by companies who may be interested in long term hire of the luxury sailing craft. Whenever a boat is built, the Galle Road has to be closed till the boat, which is generally the width of the entire road, is transported to the harbour.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/building-luxury-yachts-through-social-empowerment-324940.html

Goodwill luxury cruise between Sri Lanka and India

A goodwill cruise between Sri Lanka’s northwest Talaimannar port and India’s southern Rameswaram port is an ambition that the country’s top luxury yacht builder is working towards – to achieve by end 2019.

Pierre Pringiers

Pierre Pringiers, 74 years, a long-standing Sri Lanka resident from Belgium and Chairman of Sail Lanka Yachting Group, made this promise during a long- ranging interview with the Business Times, where he spoke at length on his vision to create an industry which has the capacity to build 500 to 600 super luxury yachts.

“I want to re-establish the link between Talaimannar and Rameswaram and have the first luxury cruise between Sri Lanka and India. I am aiming for end of 2019 after getting the necessary government permits. But first I want to have a goodwill cruise with important people in the industry and get permission for that first,” he said, speaking excitedly about future plans.

After building a reputation in the south in which his efforts in 2007 signalled the roaring demand for whale watching and a super luxury boat building industry, Mr. Pringiers is now setting his sights on helping the development of the North which he says is virgin territory and not attracting, as of now, many tourists.

“This is a new kid on the block and I want to set up firstly a training centre in Poonakari to train people in boat building skills and thereafter manufacturing facilities,” he said, reflecting on how his southern operation at Mirissa was similarly begun – training centre followed by manufacturing facilities.

A new area for Sri Lanka, Mr. Pringiers says there is scope for several hundred super yachts to ply on Sri Lankan waters and thereby attract more tourists. He is in the process of building a super luxury, 10-room French-designed floating boutique hotel with an exclusive deck for each room called Ocean Diamond which would be ready by end 2019. “If I really get going I can build two or three boats like the Ocean Diamond which can go from East coast to the West coast – up and down.”

The cabins, with a private deck each, offers luxurious comfort. The suites, designed like any hotel room, provides a private bathroom, wifi, safe and storage space.

He said the government should encourage building of super luxury yachts which would cost here around less than US$ 3 million to build for 10 rooms compared to $10 to $30 million for five rooms, to import one. “The less-cost option would attract many foreign investors.”

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/goodwill-luxury-cruise-between-sri-lanka-and-india-325282.html

SAGT breaks through 2mn TEUs in 2018

2018-12-20 

From left: SAGT Commercial and Marketing Manager Dhashma Karunaratne, ONE Lanka Product and Network General Manager Lohitha Hettiarachchi, ONE Lanka Manager and Operations Head Nalaka Alwis, ONE Lanka Commercial and Marketing and Product and Network Senior General Manager Ayesh Perera, One Lanka Managing Director Vishvanath Daluwatte, SAGT Chief Executive Officer Romesh David, SAGT Chairman Susantha Ratnayake, SAGT General Manager Operations Upul Jinadasa, SAGT Operations Manager Senaka Ranasinghe, SAGT Planning Manager Prasanga Silva and SAGT  Chief Commercial Officer Ted Muttiah 

South Asia Gateway Terminals (Pvt.) Ltd (SAGT), Sri Lanka’s first public-private partnership, a flagship venture of the Board of Investment, today achieved an impressive two million 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in a calendar year, for the first time.   

SAGT commenced operations in 1999 and along its 19-year journey, has consistently established groundbreaking benchmarks, securing several global and regional awards in recognition of its operational high performance, productivity and efficiency.  

However, the achievement of two million TEUs in a single year is a first for the company and particularly significant, considering the terminal’s original design capacity being assessed at just 1.1 million TEUs. 

Over the last five years, SAGT has averaged around 1.7 million TEUs per annum. Its previous highest volume was 1.9 million TEUs achieved in 2009 and 2010.  

SAGT Chairman Susantha Ratnayake was all praise for Team SAGT saying, “This is an outstanding outcome as a result of sound planning, management and operational execution. This is Sri Lankan talent showcasing local expertise and world-class competencies in a global business. It is a proud day for Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans.”  

Commenting on the occasion of discharging the momentous two millionth TEU, SAGT CEO Romesh David said, “Team SAGT is delighted to have once again risen to the occasion. The continued narrowing of the supply and demand for terminal capacity in the port means this achievement enables additional capacity in support of the Port of Colombo’s growth aspirations.”   

“Furthermore, this is an excellent example of team work within the SAGT family and with multiple industry stakeholders and service partners whose collective commitment to be the best, realize a new horizon of excellence. We appreciate the support of our loyal customers and acknowledge the leadership of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), harbour master and port pilots, who provide vital ancillary services, making these outcomes possible,” he added.   

SAGT’s achievement of two million TEUs generated over a 940-metre quay length provides the best operational yield per metre of quay length in the Port of Colombo and indeed in the South Asia region.  

General Manager Operations Upul Jinadasa, who has been with the company from the inception, said, “SAGT continues to evolve driving innovation and safety at the heart of its operational efficiency. This is an inspiring turning point for our operations. We are excited at the prospect of making this the new normal at SAGT.”   

SAGT is the first public-private partnership container terminal in Sri Lanka with approximately 60 percent Sri Lankan shareholding and commenced operations in 1999, launching the Port of Colombo as global trade’s preeminent gateway hub to South Asia. 

Today, the terminal is one of three operators in the Port of Colombo and continues to offer the international container shipping community a competitive best in class service. 

SAGT is a Board of Investment flagship company, whose shareholders include John Keells Holdings, Maersk/APM Terminals, the SLPA and Evergreen Marine Corporation.   

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/SAGT-breaks-through-mn-TEUs-in–160027.html

 Hayleys Advantis unveils Sri Lanka’s largest distribution hub

2018-12-20 

Hayleys Advantis Limited ceremonially unveiled Sri Lanka’s largest distribution hub – Advantis 3PL Plus Logistics City – in Kotugoda, Ja-Ela recently. 

This is part of the company’s strategic capacity-building and expansion efforts aimed at serving its clients better through greater efficiencies and economies of scale. 

The move bodes well for the nation’s vision of establishing Sri Lanka as a key logistics hub in the South Asian region.

With the first phase of development now complete, this new facility adds 335,000 square feet of space with 38,000 pallet positions and a holding capacity of up to 55,000 cubic metres to the company’s warehousing footprint. 

The soon to commence second phase of development at the site will see this expand to approximately 500,000 square feet.

“Hayleys, with its 140-year history, has always been a proud contributor to Sri Lanka’s economic growth.

Our newly unveiled 3PL Logistics City will help the nation move yet another step closer towards realizing its goal of emerging as a key logistics hub in the South Asian region,” Hayleys PLC Chairman and Chief Executive Mohan Pandithage said.

The facility is designed to cater to diverse industry verticals and serve as a distribution hub capable of meeting the fast-changing needs of brands and retailers across the globe. It will be equipped with best-in-class technologies and product management systems with a focus on automation and digitization.

Located in close proximity to the main sea and air ports in the country, it is also well connected to the road network, with easy access to major highways and expressways.

“It is with great pride that we unveil the Advantis 3PL Plus Logistics City to our prestigious clients, many of whom have stood by us as true sources of encouragement in our journey for well over a decade,” Hayleys Advantis Limited Managing Director Ruwan Waidyaratne said.

“Advantis has taken many bold steps in the recent past with the aim of uplifting Sri Lanka’s logistics industry in preparation for Asia’s trade and commerce boom. This new facility will allow us to consolidate most of our operations at a single location and deliver greater operational efficiencies and cost benefits to our clients,” he added.

Advantis 3PL Plus Director Sheran Abeyesundere said the new facility is fully equipped to cater to the supply chain requirements of the rapidly evolving business requirements of their clients.

Advantis 3PL Plus has nearly two decades of experience in the field of warehousing and distribution management and has taken its expertise to multiple countries in the region within the last decade. 

The company currently operates distribution centres in India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Bangladesh with the newly opened facility in Sri Lanka being the largest amongst them.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Hayleys-Advantis-unveils-Sri-Lanka-s-largest-distribution-hub-160028.html

Linking business studies to the needs of the industry is vital today

By Jayampathy Jayasinghe

Although business education has lasted for a long period in the country very little has changed in terms of the components of business. There is a divide between business education and what the industry needs today, said Prof. Lalith P. Samarakoon, Secretary General of the National Economic Council making the keynote address at the launch of the Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC)’s Business School logo at the Trace City, Colombo 10 last week. Chancellor of the Moratuwa University – Prof. K.K.W.W. Perera; Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), Kumarasiri Sirisena and SLTC President/CEO Ranjith Rubasinghe among others participated at the event. The SLTC is part of the SLT group.

Prof. Samarakoon said following the recession in 2008 in the US universities it was difficult to enroll students in business education. There is competition among many business studies in Sri Lanka at present. “Today employers look at the value the employees are going to bring to the company. Entrepreneurship and innovation have become the most important elements today.” SLTC President /CEO Mr. Rubasinghe said there are more than 700 students with 20 full-time PhD’s and 22 Masters and 45 other graduates at the SLTC university. The engineering faculty has more than 100 full-time students following courses. He said that SLTC has 19 degree programmes and SLT is providing all resources to run the university independently. “Of the 300,000 students who want to pursue university education in Sri Lanka we only cater to about 20,000-25,000 students at this university. We are a research-led university.” he said. The SLTC is based at Padukka, near Avissawella and is a large university providing many facilities to its students. “We have plans for future development of the university to build a bigger one in this scenic 40 acres of land at Padukka. The SLTC is located in an ideal surrounding at Padukka which is not close and not so far from Colombo,” Mr. Rubasinghe said.

Referring to the background of the university, he said the campus has had a short history having started on 2015 but have done a vast deal during that short period of time.

He said the old Satellite building at Padukka was converted into making the present SLTC by adding more buildings to accommodate students.

The university is equipped with a Tissue Culture Laboratory and a Fibre Optic Laboratory in addition to other facilities. The SLTC is also linked to Microsoft and other international universities in the world such as those in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam. SLTC’s portfolio programmes include Electronics and Software Engineering, Bio Tech and Management, and Tourism and Hospitality. The newest programme at the university is the Business School. ”This is a residential university and we encourage students to come and stay with us.” he said.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/linking-business-studies-to-the-needs-of-the-industry-is-vital-today-324936.html

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ISB seminar on “Shaping Local Economy Through Lessons Learnt”

The Kurunegala-based Industrial Services Bureau (ISB) successfully conducted a national level “Experience Sharing Forum on Local Economic Development in Practice” under the theme of “Shaping Local Economy Through Lessons Learnt” on November 28 at the Centre for Banking Studies, Central Bank, Rajagiriya.

The Central Bank Governor speaking at the event.

The objective of this forum was to create an opportunity for various development agencies and individual experts to share their experience on four important themes of local economic development.

K.C. Logeswaran, Governor, North Western Province was the Chief Guest while Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Governor of the Central Bank delivered the keynote address as the Guest of Honour. In his address, Dr. Coomaraswamy discussed the current status of the national economy and showed how the performance of the national economy affects the local economic development, the ISB said in a media release.

The forum consisted of four technical sessions and each session consisted of a paper presentation for about 30 – 45 minutes and a panel discussion for about 45 – 60 minutes. A group of nationally recognised experts in local economic development joined in the panel discussions.

The panel comprised representatives from academia, policy makers, Ministry Secretaries, INOs/NGOs, development agencies, public and private sector.

More than 100 participants representing various government organisations, bilateral and multinational development agencies, UN agencies, local NGOs, government and private banks, private sector organisations, government projects, embassies, etc. participated in this event.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/isb-seminar-on-shaping-local-economy-through-lessons-learnt-324928.html

The Southern Railway Extension: a reflection

December 15, 2018, 12:00 pm

Bernard W. Dissanayake

The Southern railway extension from Matara to Hambantota, that is being built, is a kind of dream coming true to this writer as well as for thousands who live down there. This extension is scheduled to be completed up to Beliatta in December and its extension thereafter to Hambantota where the new port operates. The potential development outcome of these two projects, the railway and the new port together with Mattala airport would indeed be immense in terms of industry and trade development in the immediate region and its hinterland. The expected growth in industry and trade linking global markets via the new port in Hambantota and Mattala airport complex is bound to change the pace and pattern of development in Sri Lanka. The region expected to benefit from this mega project had been neglected and marginalised for well over 100 years, depriving the people the opportunities and socio economic progress, despite their enterprise and willingness for hard work and dedication. It is a fact that Southerners, had to wait so long, perhaps in despair for good things in life, and what is called progress in life and work.

….This is because Hambantota lies close to one of the biggest trade routes in the world, the east/ west main trade flow in the Indian Ocean. This writer having spent some years in Malaysia and Singapore had the impression that what we lost Singapore gained and even Dubai today. Lack of visionary political leadership in the past had cost our country immensely in this respect. However the advent of a strong and visionary leadership with the election of Mahinda Rajapaksa as president in 2005 had finally brought the change much urged by the Southern communities over the years. The construction of Hambantota new harbour and the railway extension to it, is a major project, capable of lifting this region to higher economic status through trade and industry development, that would facilitate a host of significant activities for the people living there. This would indeed spell a new phase of development in the region as well as other adjacent areas, perhaps changing the pattern of development in the country’s economy.

….The lost opportunities could be immense. What Sri Lanka lost over the years, because of this stupid Colombo biased strategy, Singapore and Dubai gained, while we are too slow in changing and moving ahead from the colonised mind set for development,

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196120

SLIIT and IFS collaboration continues to empower students through unique Scholarship Scheme

Monday, 10th of December 2018

….SLIIT and IFS hosted foreign media personnel at SLIIT recently to further explain how students have truly benefitted from its continued scholarship programme and internships.

During the tour, the visiting media were provided with in-depth views from both IFS and SLIIT senior teams to better understand how SLIIT is working proactively with the industry together with the scholarship programme in nurturing aspiring future leaders and building a sustainable talent pipeline to support Sri Lanka’s key strategic growth sector. “

…To-date, IFS has awarded over 70 scholarships to SLIIT students. This year alone over a dozen of scholarships have been awarded.

… IFS also offers 9-months to one-year internships to SLIIT undergraduates. Currently there are over 30 SLIIT undergraduates working as interns. 

….65% of the IT professionals in Sri Lanka have gained their education and training from SLIIT. Further, 93% of SLIIT students who aspire to get into the profession have the ability to secure employments in the field through various internship and apprenticeship programmes, at the time of the graduation. With several in-house internships, industry partners, collaborators and special industry programmes, facilities and qualified staff, SLIIT stands testament as an institution of higher learning and immense contribution towards shaping the IT landscape in Sri Lanka.

– http://edu.dailymirror.lk/articles/news/645

Ideal Motors offer genuine Mahindra spare parts — Snr. Manager

December 15, 2018

Ideal Motors….brand new spare parts store at Panchikawatte has also contributed towards enhancing value for the customers.

“There are around 60,000 vehicles now in the country under the Mahindra brand name. Despite being established only in 2009, to have reached this milestone, prior to a decade of operations, is a triumphant achievement. We have accomplished this objective during this short span by winning the trust and confidence of our esteemed customer base”, says Samantha Jayawickrama, Senior Manager – Spare Parts, Ideal Motors.

…As a distributor of Mahindra Motors, Ideal Motors is also authorized to import genuine spares.

“However, we have witnessed a surfeit of low quality, poorly manufactured spare parts in the marketplace. This is a prevalent issue faced by many customers, who seek details in sourcing genuine spare parts. Due to these issues, Ideal Motors has decided to come to the forefront to help customers and offer a solution in their quest for securing genuine spare parts”, he said.

At present, Ideal Motors has over 370 authorized dealers’ island-wide. In addition, the company has 30 branches spread across the country. While the main office branch is situated at Ratmalana, the newest brand new spare parts store was ceremoniously opened recently at Panchikawatte.

Ideal Motors is looking at opening new branches in the key towns of Matara, Matugama, Awissawella, Ampara, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Tissamaharama, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Yakkala and Negombo shortly.

Moreover, Ideal Motors is also in the process of overseeing ongoing arrangements to open a new spare parts and service center in Jaffna in the near future.

“We are ideally placed and recognized in the marketplace as dealers in Mahindra Motors spare parts. As a percentage, Ideal Motors can claim 55% of the retail market in spare parts for Mahindra Motor vehicles. We aim to increase this to over 70% in the near future”, Jayawickrama said…..

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196126

Sri Lankan Engineering Society of Bahrain conducts i1nternational seminar on ‘Strategic Negotiations’

December 19, 2018

Ambassador Dr. Mendis conducting the technical seminar on Strategic Negotiations at the Sri Lankan Engineering Society at the auditorium of Bahrain Society of Engineers

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr. A. Saj U. Mendis, was invited by the Sri Lankan Engineering Society of Bahrain to conduct a three-hour technical seminar on “International Strategic Negotiations”, last week, at the Head Office of Bahrain Society of Engineers in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Sri Lankan engineering Society (SLES), which has a membership of well over 100 Sri Lankan engineers, IT experts, quantity surveyors, project managers, senior managers in technical and manufacturing sectors and other engineering related disciplines, employed in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, organized this seminar as a prerequisite of the Kingdom of Bahrain to have a minimum number of hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to engineers, quantity surveyors and related disciplines.

The president of Sri Lanka Engineering Society of Bahrain, Eng. Wasantha Kahaduwa, presenting a memento to ambassador Dr. Mendis after the technical seminar on International Strategic Negotiations

The Technical Seminar titled “International Strategic Negotiations” conducted by Ambassador Dr. A. Saj U. Mendis under the auspices of SLES of Bahrain Society of Engineers was attended by well over 120 carefully chosen participants. Over half of the participants were non-Sri Lankans and foreign expatriates namely from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, UK, Europe and Bahrain, among others. The president of the SLES, Eng. Wasantha Kahaduwa, a Senior Chartered Engineer and Head of Design of Ministry of Works, Municipality Affairs and Urban Planning of Bahrain, stated in his opening remarks that today, negotiation skills, whether it is bilateral, trilateral or multilateral or national or international, have become an integral and intrinsic attribute and skill for advancement, promotions and marketability as well as value addition to an entity or organization, not only for engineers and technical experts but also for corporate captains, CEOs/presidents of large corporates, entrepreneurs, diplomats & political leaders and other officials in disciplines and trades ranging from finance & banking, manufacturing, services, education, shipping & aviation to IT & ITES, among others. Ambassador Dr. Mendis, in his technical address on “International Strategic Negotiations”, touched upon and broached a myriad of negotiations including international negotiations such as Leverage Buy-Outs (LBO), Hostile Takeovers, negotiations with unions, contract negotiations and negotiations of salary, promotions & emoluments as well as negotiation process & progression, strategies & techniques of negotiations and a number of factual examples on negotiations, among others. Dr. Mendis, also, quoted a number of examples of globally renowned and expert negotiators and the manner in which they negotiate including their respective strategies, techniques and tactics, thus fructifying and realizing the respective objectives and goals. One of the paramount and principal factors that ambassador Dr. Mendis accentuated and underscored to the audience, during the technical lecture on negotiations, was none other than the fact of conducting extensive research and analysis, before commencement of any given negotiation. He also added that most negotiators including some of the well trained and judicious negotiators do not, necessarily, conduct a sufficient quantum of research and analysis before commencing negotiations. Dr. Mendis also highlighted and pronounced a number of mistakes, fallacies and miscalculations people make during negotiations, including some of the most critical and telling negotiations, and how to identify and discern them.

The members of the SLES of Bahrain Society of Engineers and other selected participants were pleased by the technical address of ambassador Dr. Mendis and the floor was opened for question and answer session. There were a number of questions from the members of SLES and other participants regarding the negotiations that they were already engaged or were intending to be engaged.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196334

‘Marketing plays a key role to build sustainable entrepreneurs’

December 21, 2018

Creating more and better jobs is an emerging challenge for the Sri Lankan economy. Indeed, it is an issue that concerns a diverse group of stakeholders in the country. For several years now a debate has been raging as to why Sri Lanka does not have as many entrepreneurs as most of its regional counterparts.

Statistics from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce suggests that 75% of all enterprises fall in the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) category, contributing to 52 percent of the country’s GDP and 45 percent of employment. The statistics indicate that Sri Lanka needs a five-fold increase in entrepreneurs and SMEs to fuel economic growth…

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196426

IBM appoints Riza Wadood Country General Manager

December 21, 2018, 8:47 pm

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced the appointment of Riza Wadood as the new Country General Manager for Sri Lanka. This leadership announcement further demonstrates IBM’s commitment in the region….Under his leadership, IBM Sri Lanka has significantly improved GBS’ presence in some of our large clients.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196423

___ 

Finance•  

Decision taken to expedite forensic audit into bond scam

2018-12-21 

At a meeting held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena today, a decision had been taken to expedite a forensic audit into the Central Bank bond scam, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

…“No charge sheet had been submitted against the suspects who had been remanded over the scam. When relevant Acts were being reformed to finalise legal action within a fixed time frame, the sectoral committee in parliament had obstructed the move. Though the bond commission had recommended to conduct a forensic audit, it has not been conducted. Accordingly, it was decided to file court cases within a fixed time frame, to conduct a forensic audit immediately and to discuss the progress of the investigations on a monthly basis,” the statement said.

Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, Bribery Commission Director General Sarath Jayamanna, Senior DIG Ravi Senaviratne of the CID, acting Governor of Central Bank Nandalal Weerasinghe and other officials also attended the meeting.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Decision-taken-to-expedite-forensic-audit-into-bond-scam-160165.html

•  

Bond scams: Parliament sabotaged probe – Prez Office

* Forensic Audit not launched yet

* Courts not moved against those who lied before PCoI

December 21, 2018,

The Presidential Secretariat yesterday alleged that a parliamentary Sectoral Committee had deliberately undermined the process to amend laws required to handle Treasury bond scams in 2015 and 2016. The alleged scams involved the Central Bank and the Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL).

The Presidential Secretariat also alleged though the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PcoI) that probed Treasury bond scams had recommended a forensic audit on January 18, 2018, it had not been launched.

The media was briefed on the ongoing probe following a meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday (Dec 21). Among those present were Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, Director General, CIABOC, Sarath Jayamanne, PC, Senior DIG of the CID, Ravi Seneviratne and Senior Deputy Governor of the CBSL Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe.

….It was also revealed that Singapore hadn’t taken action yet to extradite Singaporean Arjuna Mahendran wanted in connection with the investigation.

– http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196455

Decision taken to expedite forensic audit into bond scam

2018-12-21

At a meeting held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena today, a decision had been taken to expedite a forensic audit into the Central Bank bond scam, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

…“No charge sheet had been submitted against the suspects who had been remanded over the scam. When relevant Acts were being reformed to finalise legal action within a fixed time frame, the sectoral committee in parliament had obstructed the move. Though the bond commission had recommended to conduct a forensic audit, it has not been conducted. Accordingly, it was decided to file court cases within a fixed time frame, to conduct a forensic audit immediately and to discuss the progress of the investigations on a monthly basis,” the statement said.

Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, Bribery Commission Director General Sarath Jayamanna, Senior DIG Ravi Senaviratne of the CID, acting Governor of Central Bank Nandalal Weerasinghe and other officials also attended the meeting.

 – http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Decision-taken-to-expedite-forensic-audit-into-bond-scam-160165.html

 •

 Rupee hits record low on foreign outflows

2018-12-21

(Colombo) REUTERS: The Sri Lankan rupee touched a record low in early trade yesterday and ended weaker amid pressure on the currency due to foreign outflows from bonds and stocks as uncertainty from a political crisis dented sentiment.

…The Sri Lankan rupee strengthened in early trade on Monday, while bond yields dropped as a seven-week political crisis appeared to ebb, but investors took a cautious stance to observe whether Sirisena and Wickremesinghe could work well together.

Foreigners were net sellers of a net Rs.1.8 billion (US$9.96 million) worth of stocks yesterday. They have been net sellers of Rs.13.5 billion since the political crisis began on Oct. 26. The bond market saw outflows of about Rs.56 billion between Oct. 25 and Dec. 14, Central Bank data showed. 

The rupee ended at 181.10/20 per dollar, compared with 180.50/70 in the previous session.

…This year, there have been Rs.22.9 billion of outflows from stocks and Rs.148.2 billion from government securities, the latest data from the bourse and Central Bank showed.

The rupee had touched a record low of 181.00 to the dollar in the early trade yesterday. It has weakened about 4.1 percent since the political crisis began. The currency dropped 1.8 percent in November, and has lost 17.8 percent this year. 

…Five-year government bond yields have risen 45 basis points since the political crisis began, while yields on Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds due in 2022, which have risen around a percentage point to 8.0 percent through Friday, fell 0.30 percent to 7.7 percent on Thursday.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.57 percent weaker at 6,016.36 yesterday. Turnover was Rs.3.3 billion, four times this year’s daily average of Rs.844.7 million.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Rupee-hits-record-low-on-foreign-outflows-160112.html

Sri Lanka Government revenue up 7% to Rs. 1.4 Trillion, up to September 2018

December, 18, 2018

Sri Lankan Government revenue and grants during the first nine months of this year ended September reached Rs 1,422.4 billion (Over Rs. 1.42 trillion), representing nearly 64% of the target for this year, the latest data shows. It is an increase of 7% compared to Rs 1,330.6 billion a year ago. The Government had received Rs 5.5 billion as grants during the first nine months of 2018, up 130% compared to Rs 2.4 billion received during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, tax revenue during the first nine months of this year amounted to Rs 1,278.2 billion, representing 63% of the target for this year, up 3% compared to Rs 1,240 billion last year, data released by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka highlights. On the other hand Non-tax revenue of the Government reached Rs 138.7 billion during the period under consideration, representing 75% of the target, up 57% compared to Rs. 88.2 billion a year ago.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/sri-lanka-government-revenue-up-7-to-rs-1-4-trillion-up-to-september-2018/

 •

 RW’s reinstatement calms markets; cabinet in focus

2018-12-18

(Colombo) REUTERS: The Sri Lankan rupee strengthened yesterday while bond yields dropped as a seven-week political crisis appeared to ebb after President Maithripala Sirisena reinstated the premier he had initially sacked in a widely criticised move.

….Yields on Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds due in 2022, which had risen more than one percent since the crisis started in October, fell 40 basis points to 7.6 percent. The rupee edged up to 179.60 per dollar from Friday’s close of 179.90/180.10.

“The market has taken Wickremesinghe’s appointment positively. But investors will have to wait and watch whether the president and prime minister will get along with each other,” a currency dealer said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

….The vote on account has become mandatory after parliament approval for the budget for 2019 (January-December) was derailed following Wickremesinghe’s ouster in October.

Sri Lanka’s stock market index held steady at 0800 GMT, while analysts said cautious investors were buying risky assets before the cabinet appointments are announced.

______________________________________

Rupee ends steady as political crisis nears end

(Colombo) REUTERS: The Sri Lankan rupee ended steady yesterday as political crisis in the South Asian island nation showed signs of easing after President Maithripala Sirisena reinstated the premier he had initially sacked in a widely criticised move, but foreign outflows from stocks weighed on sentiment.

…The Sri Lankan rupee strengthened in early trade yesterday, while bond yields dropped as a seven-week political crisis appeared to ebb, but investors took a cautious stance to observe whether Sirisena and Wickremesinghe could work together.

….If a budget is not approved by the parliament this month, the government might face a shutdown, government officials told Reuters.

Foreigners were net sellers of a net Rs.18.1 million worth of stocks yesterday. They have been net sellers of Rs.10.6 billion since the political crisis began on October 26. The bond market saw outflows of about Rs.56 billion between October 25 and December 14, the Central Bank data showed.

The rupee which traded slightly firmer in the early trade ended steady at 179.90/180.00 per dollar, compared with 179.90/180.10 the previous session. 

….This year, there have been Rs.20 billion of outflows from stocks and Rs.148.2 billion from government securities, the latest data from the bourse and the Central Bank showed.

The rupee hit a record low of 180.85 to the dollar on November 28. It has weakened about 3.8 percent since the political crisis began. The currency dropped 1.8 percent in November and has lost 17.1 percent this year. 

…Five-year government bond yields have risen 60 basis points since the political crisis began, while yields on Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds due in 2022 have risen around a percentage point to 8.0 percent through Friday, fell 0.5 percent to 7.5 percent yesterday.

The Colombo stock index ended up 0.08 percent at 6,067.63 yesterday. Turnover was Rs.133.8 million, well below this year’s daily average of Rs.821.6 million.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/RW-s-reinstatement-calms-markets-cabinet-in-focus-159922.html

Sri Lankan rupee ends steady as political crisis nears end

December, 18, 2018

Reuters

The Sri Lankan rupee ended steady on Monday as political crisis in the South Asian island nation showed signs of easing after President Maithripala Sirisena reinstated the premier he had initially sacked in a widely criticised move, but foreign outflows from stocks weighed on sentiment. 

….Foreigners were net sellers of a net 18.1 million rupees ($100,723) worth of stocks on Monday. They have been net sellers of 10.6 billion rupees since the political crisis began on Oct. 26. The bond market saw outflows of about 56 billion rupees between Oct. 25 and Dec. 14, central bank data showed. ** The rupee which traded slightly firmer in the early trade ended steady at 179.90/180.00 per dollar, compared with 179.90/180.10 the previous session.

** This year, there have been 20 billion rupees of outflows from stocks and 148.2 billion rupees from government securities, the latest data from the bourse and central bank showed.

** The rupee hit a record low of 180.85 to the dollar on Nov. 28. It has weakened about 3.8 percent since the political crisis began. The currency dropped 1.8 percent in November, and has lost 17.1 percent this year. ** Moody’s downgraded Sri Lanka on Nov. 20 for the first time since it started rating the country in 2010, blaming the political turmoil for aggravating its already problematic finances.

** Five-year government bond yields have risen 60 basis points since the political crisis began, while yields on Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds due in 2022 have risen around a percentage point to 8.0 percent through Friday, fell 0.5 percent to 7.5 percent on Monday.

** The Colombo stock index ended up 0.08 percent at 6,067.63 on Monday. Turnover was 133.8 million rupees, well below this year’s daily average of 821.6 million rupees.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/sri-lankan-rupee-ends-steady-as-political-crisis-nears-end/

Rupee plummets to record low as investor sentiment fails to pick-up

December 21, 2018, 8:42 pm

Hiran H.Senewiratne

The Sri Lankan rupee fell to a record low against the dollar yesterday  amid pressure on the currency due to foreign outflows from bonds and stocks as continuing political uncertainty tended to dent investor sentiment, CSE analysts said.

The rupee hit a record low of 181.00 against the U.S. dollar, according to market sources, surpassing its previous low of 180.85 to the dollar on November 28.

‘Retail investors are sluggish and institutional investors inactive in the CSE ahead of the vacation and festive season. Therefore, most of foreign and local institutional investors will be inactive until new year, market sources said.

Both CSE indices moved downwards yesterday, ie, All Share Price Index by 10.71 points and  S and P SL20 by 1.92 points. The day’s turnover stood at Rs. 494 million with an arranged transaction or crossing. That crossing came from, Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC),which crossed142,600 shares to the tune of Rs. 203 million, per share value Rs. 1422.50.

In the retail market, companies that mainly contributed to the day’s turnover were: JKH Rs. 146.1 million (930,000 shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 101 million (428,000 shares traded), Chevron Lubricants Rs. 11.7 million (165,800 shares traded), Valibel One Rs. 4.1 million (248,000 shares traded) and Commercial Bank Rs. 3.1 million (26500 shares changed hands). During the day 4.3 million share volumes changed hands in 1781 transactions.

The rupee had touched a record low  to the dollar on Nov. 28. It has weakened about 4.1 percent since the political crisis began. The currency dropped 1.8 percent in November, and has lost 17.5 percent this year.

Moody’s downgraded Sri Lanka on Nov. 20 for the first time since it started rating the country in 2010, blaming the political turmoil for aggravating its already problematic finances.

Meanwhile, JKSB adds –

ASPI: 6,005.65 (-10.71 pts; -0.18%); Val T/O: Rs. 494mn (US$2.74mn); Vol T/O: 4.2mn; Trades: 1,781

Advance/decline ratio: 85/58; Top gainer: RENU.N (+12.19%) ; Top loser: TESS.X (-20.00%)

Highlights:

=The ASPI ended lower amid subdued turnover levels. CTC, JKH, and SAMP led market activity including crossings with trading in CTC amounting to 41% of total turnover.

=Beverage, Food, & Tobacco was the most actively traded sector (+0.00%)

=Power & Energy was the best performing sector (+0.71%)

=Information Technology was the worst performing sector (-2.15%)

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196419

ISB yields plummet, indicating confidence in Ranil‘s govt. – Harsha

December 17, 2018, 11:28 pm

Zacki Jabbar

On the first of trading on the Colombo Stock Exchange after Ranil Wickremesinghe was re-appointed Prime Minister, International Sovereign Bond (ISB) rates plummeted, indicating global confidence in Sri Lanka, says UNP MP Harsha de Silva.

He said that within minutes of the market opening yesterday, ISB rates which had gone through the ceiling, after Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed Prime Minister on October 26, had fallen, indicating worldwide investor confidence.

“We expect prices on all outstanding paper to increase, to reflect the fundamental strength of our economy, that was built up under the leadership of our legitimate Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The October 26 coup, caused a huge set back to our economy. Thankfully, with the re-installation of Wickremesinghe as Premier, global confidence has been restored for the good of all Sri Lankans.”

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196260

Revised capital market qualification framework 2018

December 20, 2018, 8:35 pm

Issuing a directive on the above subject under section 13 C of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka Act No 36 of 1987 (as amended) to the Colombo Stock Exchange and to all licensed stock brokers, SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunawardane said:

In May 2008, the Capital Market Education and Training Division (CMET) of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) developed and formally introduced a Qualification Framework (QF) for capital market professionals, with the intention of strengthening professional standards In the securities industry. This framework has been successfully implemented to date.

Considering the changes that has taken place in the Sri Lankan capital market, CMET conducted a comprehensive revision of this QF. The revised QF provides for the certification of aptitude in each asset class, be it equity, debt, derivatives or unit trusts. Under the revised QF, the existing Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) qualification has been enhanced to a apex qualification in the securities industry.

The Certificate In Capital Markets (CCM) of the revised QF, which will take effect from January 2019 onwards, consists of seven course modules…

 – http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196379

Interest on 61.5% of China’s loans to Lanka is far below market rate, says Chinese scholar

December 17, 20181 Comment

Colombo, December 17 (newsin.asia): The interest on 61.5% of China’s loans to Sri Lanka is far below the international market rate, according to Prof. Huang Yunsong, Associate Dean at the China Center for South Asian Studies in Sichuan University.

Huang told the Colombo Shangri-La Colloquium 2018 held here on Sunday, that as of December 2017, Sri Lanka owed China US$ 5.5 billion which was about 10.6% of the island nation’s total foreign debt of US$ 51.8 billion.

Of the US$ 5.5 billion, US$ 3.8 billion (61.5 % of the total loan) was provided “at a rate far below the international market rate.”

“Thus, the major part of China’s loan was taken at a concessionary rate,” Huang emphasized.

“More importantly, US$ 1 billion had been taken at a concessionary rate of 2% which means that the interest on the major part of the loan was not excessive at all,” he added.

On the issues of Sri Lanka’s taking US$ 307 million at the London Interbank Offered Rate plus 0.75% pushing up the interest rate to 6.3%, Huang said that the commercial loan interest rate was based on a mutual agreement between Sri Lanka and China “as per established principles of the international market.”

Misinterpretation of 99 Year Lease

Referring to the description of China’s taking over the Sri Lankan port at Hambantota as “neo-colonialism”, Huang said that if one were to Google “port 99 year lease”, the first result one would get is a 99-year lease on the Port of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, a deal worth Australian Dollar 506 million with a Chinese company.

“Besides, port terminals in New York and Long Beach are managed by Chinese companies. But people do not term Darwin and Long Beach as China’s colonies!” Huang remarked.

The China Merchant Holdings now holds a 70% stake in Hambantota port for 99 years, with the remaining shares in the hands of Sri Lanka. But the lease agreement provides for the purchase of shares held by China if Sri Lanka so decides at a future date, the Chinese scholar pointed out.

Huang described the charge that China is trying militarize Sri Lanka’s ports, as “baseless speculation”.

He pointed out that between 2009 and May 2018, 422 warships had arrived in Lanka’s ports for operational, training and formal visits.  These ships belonged to 27 navies in the world.

“Being a neighbor and having close ties with Sri Lanka, India tops the list with 83 visits . Japanese naval ships undertook 69 visits. China is at the distant third place with 33 visits followed by Bangladesh with 29 visits. Russia and Pakistan come next with 27 and 24 visits respectively. All these naval vessels have followed the same procedure of applying for logistic and operational requirements, which proves that China’s dual-use of ports for both military and economic purposes is baseless speculation,” the Chinese scholar said.

He pointed out that according to the latest paper of a prominent US think tank, it is unlikely that the Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar and the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka will become dual use ports. This is due to political and legal restrictions in Myanmar and Indian pressure on Sri Lanka, the think tank had said.

Furthermore, the agreement between China and Sri Lanka on Hambantota port contains a clause that “strictly prohibits” the Chinese from using the port for military purposes.

It also states that the security of the port shall be with the Sri Lankan navy, Huang pointed out.

Reacting to a remark made by a former Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon that ports might begin as commercial ventures but ultimately end up as military bases also, Huang said that he is certain that at least in the short and medium terms, China has no plan to put the ports it is building overseas to military use.

Prof. Swaran Singh, Senior Fellow at the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL), said that while India and China have differences on many maters, their navies are cooperating at the operation level on the high seas.

Anti-piracy operations off the Somalia coast  have brought the Indian and Chinese navies together, Singh said narrating an incident in which an Indian naval helicopter escorted a Chinese naval ship to help its crew board a pirate vessel.

India and China discussed bilateral maritime security in September 2014 during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, but US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015 and the development of an Indo-US strategic alliance put paid to the China-India maritime security dialogue, Singh said.

The Indian scholar said that India should recognize the asymmetry between India and China, and instead of stressing the negatives, build on the positives as in the case of combating piracy.

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Director General of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL) described Asia as a “geopolitical hotspot” with increasing militarization following the rise of China as an economic and naval power. He pointed out that China’s naval growth has outstripped that of all major powers. The arms build up in the region has been unprecedented in history, he added.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s had foreseen the present scenario and had proposed that the Indian Ocean be declared a Zone of Peace.

The region is currently divided into the Chinese and the US camps. To complicate matters, there are new threats from terrorism, piracy, gun running, human smuggling and illegal fishing. Globalization is taking place at a time when there are “transformational changes” taking place in the region, Abeyagoonasekera noted.

He wondered if in the midst of all these transformational changes, a new security architecture can be created. He quoted India’s former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon to say that it would be illogical to impose stability in a changing environment.

Earlier, inaugurating the Colloquium , Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando stressed the need for “high quality independent research” into national, regional and international security issues.

Given the strategic geographical positioning of Sri Lanka, the island nation should play a pivotal role in ensuring the security of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) he said, and called for international cooperation.

“Sri Lanka should maintain friendly relations and cooperate with all nations but without compromising its territorial integrity,” he said.

(Photo Credit: Tang Lu)

https://newsin.asia/interest-on-61-5-of-chinas-loans-to-lanka-is-far-below-market-rate-says-chinese-scholar/

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India gives Maldives US$ 1.4 billion as financial aid

December 17, 2018

New Delhi, December 17 (Mihaaru): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced financial assistance of USD 1.4 billion in the form of budgetary support, currency swap and concessional lines of credit to fulfill socio-economic development programmes in the Maldives.

Modi declared the decision following the meeting with Maldives’ President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, currently on his first diplomatic mission since his inauguration.

He said that the USD 800 million allocated for government projects is a Line of Credit arrangement, to be loaned by the Export-Import Bank of India at an interest rate of 1.5 percent. He added that Maldives Monetary Authority can use the remaining USD 400 million of India’s financial assistance as a currency swap instrument.

The new government of recently elected President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has commenced great efforts to strengthen the ties with India which had soured during the previous administration. The South Asian neighbor had notably granted free aid of USD 25 million (MVR 385.5 million) to Maldives last week.

Minister Ameer assured that the government will utilize the loans and credit facility granted by India such that it does not increase the national debt. He expressed his belief that the USD 150 million granted as treasury bond, which is to be repaid over the next two years, will also become free aid.

Agreements Signed:

– Agreement on the Facilitation of Visa Arrangements

– Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation

– Memorandum of Understanding for establishing Mutual Cooperation to Improve the Ecosystem for Agribusiness

– Joint Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in the field of Information, and Communications Technology and Electronics

This is President Solih’s first state visit to another country since his inauguration on November 17.

The Indian government facilitated private air transport for the couple and their entourage, comprising of Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of National Planning and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula, and Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail.

Solih on Importance of Maldives-India ties 

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Sunday, stated that it is important to maintain Maldives-Indian ties for regional security.

President Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed departed to India on Sunday for a three-day state visit. During a meeting held with Maldivians living in New Delhi, the President stated that while the number of locals visiting India for various reasons is increasing, it is fundamental to strengthen the bilateral ties of the two countries.

According to President Solih, the protection of a small state such as Maldives require the assistance of international bodies. Additionally, he noted that in terms of foreign policy, Maldives places its highest goals to protect the sovereignty and national security of the country, adding that the nation will reinforce diplomatic ties without jeopardizing foreign policy.

“Increasing Maldives’ economic prosperity is Maldivian foreign policy’s second mandate. We have always recognized and thanked the countries who provided economic assistance”, said the President.

Furthermore, President Solih stated that India was the first country to develop ties with Maldives and that India is the closest and most well-wishing friend of the Maldives. President Solih guaranteed that his administration will strengthen the soured diplomatic relations the two countries faced during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s rule.

President Solih revealed the details surrounding the new VISA agreements between the two countries.

Benefits from the new VISA agreement:

– A 90-day visa will be issued for Maldivians traveling to India for medical, leisure or business related purposes. Such visas will be issued once per every 6-month period.

– If an individual visiting India on a tourist visa requires medical treatment, they can attain a medical visa without having to travel back to Maldives. In such cases, family members can apply for medical attendant visas.

– For long-term medical treatment in India, the Indian embassy located in Maldives, may issue visas valid up to a one-year period. In such cases, two caretakers will be issued medical attendant visas.

– Multiple entry student visas will be issued to students for the duration of their chosen courses.

– Parents can qualify for multiple entry visas to visit their underage children studying in India.

– Dependent visas and elderly dependent visas will be issued to underage children or elderly parents of Maldivian students in India.

– In addition to elderly dependent visas, students carrying out research or pursuing higher education in India will be allowed to bring spouses on family visas.

“We believe that this is not about a financial gain for India but rather a generous gift. On behalf of all Maldivians, I extend a very heartfelt appreciation for the current administration, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, said President Solih.

Maldives’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid stated that the impending visa agreement will be among the most lenient visa policies India has ever opted for and that it will ease difficulties faced by Maldivians travelling to India.

The agreement will be signed by the two countries on Tuesday.

The President has pledged to establish free healthcare for those residing in neighbouring countries through the national healthcare scheme ‘Aasandha’. Additionally, the President plans to extend Aasandha coverage to more areas of the world.

The incumbent has pledged to introduce a low-interest loan scheme in his ‘100-day’ pledges. The President also plans to implement a mechanism to ease the repayment of student loans.

(Visiting Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih being greeted in New Delhi by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi)   

https://newsin.asia/india-gives-maldives-us-1-4-billion-as-financial-aid/

Sri Lankan rupee ends lower on foreign sell-off ahead of key ruling

December, 14, 2018

Reuters 

The Sri Lankan rupee ended a tad weaker on Thursday in dull trade amid pressure on the currency due to foreign outflows from bonds and stocks as a lingering political crisis weighed on sentiment ahead of a key ruling by the island nation’s Supreme Court.

** After the markets closed, the Supreme Court ruled that Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve parliament ahead of its term is unconstitutional, in a setback for the embattled leader in his dispute with an ousted prime minister.

** Foreigners sold a net 351.2 million rupees ($1.96 million) worth of stocks on Thursday, and they have been net sellers of 10.6 billion rupees since the political crisis began on Oct. 26. The bond market saw outflows of about 51.2 billion rupees between Oct. 25 and Dec. 5, central bank data showed. ** The rupee ended at 179.55/75 per dollar on Thursday, compared with 179.50/60 in the previous session. ** Credit rating agencies Fitch and S&P downgraded Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating last week, citing refinancing risks and an uncertain policy outlook, after Sirisena’s sacking of his prime minister in October triggered the political crisis.

** This year, there have been 20 billion rupees of outflows from stocks and 143.4 billion rupees from government securities, the latest data from the bourse and central bank data showed.

** The rupee hit a record low of 180.85 per dollar on Nov. 28. It has weakened about 3.6 percent since the political crisis began. The currency fell 1.8 percent in November and dived 17 percent so far this year. ** Moody’s downgraded Sri Lanka on Nov. 20 for the first time since it started rating the country in 2010, blaming the political turmoil for aggravating its already problematic finances. ** The political paralysis remains the main concern for investors since Sirisena sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe as the prime minister and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was later voted out twice in parliament through confidence votes. A court has barred Rajapaksa and his cabinet from functioning in their positions after they refused to step down despite being ousted via two confidence votes.

** Five-year government bond yields have risen 60 basis points since the political crisis began on Oct. 26, while yields on Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds due in 2022 have risen around a percentage point to 8.21 percent since then.

** The Colombo stock index ended 0.41 percent higher at 6,060.20 on Wednesday. The turnover was 675.4 million rupees, less than this year’s daily average of 826.9 million rupees.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/sri-lankan-rupee-ends-lower-on-foreign-sell-off-ahead-of-key-ruling/

CSE to launch multi-currency board

December 16, 2018, 8:34 pm

Hiran H.Senewiratne

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) will launch a Multi-Currency Board some time next year which will enable overseas companies to list here and raise capital in US dollars, a CSE official said.

….’At present, the market has subsided due to lack of local investor participation; it is the foreigners who have been active even during the last year and even up to now. It is very important that our local institutions, the private sector, high net worth investors and retailers get active in the market now, to sustain market growth.’

Commercial Bank to raise Rs. 7.5 billion through new debenture as CTC suffers share price dip

December 20, 2018, 8:34 pm

Hiran H.Senewiratne

Commercial Bank of Ceylon said it plans to raise Rs. 7.5 billion through a new debenture issue with an option to double the amount in the event of an over-subscription, Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) sources said.

The bank will issue 75 million listed, unsecured, rated, redeemable subordinated Basel III compliant debentures at 100 rupees each with a non-viability conversion feature, making them hybrid instruments convertible into equity..The debentures, which will have a minimum tenure of five years and maximum tenure of 10 years, are subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, sources said.However, yesterday  both CSE indices moved downwards owing to the depreciation of the share value of Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) stocks. CSE turnover touched Rs. 3.3 billion mainly because of a JKH crossing and retail market trading activities, market sources said.

JKH being the second largest listing company in the CSE, crossed 14.5 million shares to the tune of Rs. 2.3 million with a per share value of Rs. 160. But All Share Price Index dropped by 34.6 points and  S and P SL20 by 8.18 points.

Apart from JKH crossing, there were another three crossings that took place and those were: NDB 2.4 million shares crossed for Rs. 252 million, per share value Rs. 105, Sampath Bank 958,000 shares crossed for Rs. 226.3 million, per share value Rs. 236.50 and CTC 36.3 million shares crossed for Rs. 51.6 million, per share value Rs. 1422.50.

In  the retail market, companies that mainly contributed to the day’s turnover were: JKH Rs. 257.7 million (1.6 million shares traded), Richard Pieris Rs. 42 million (four million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 30 million (125,000 shares traded), HNB Rs. 28 million (133,000 shares traded) and NDB Rs. 26.6 million (255,600 shares traded).

The market was down yesterday  due to the decline of CTC share prices, which have a very big weightage on both indices, being the largest listed company in the market. Its per share value started at Rs. 1496.70 and at the end of day’s trading its share price declined by 4.9 percent or Rs. 72.70, market analysts said.     

Further, Sri Lankan rupee ended weaker on the previous day amid pressure on the currency due to foreign outflows from bonds and stocks as political uncertainty dented sentiment.

The political crisis was expected to ease after President Maithripala Sirisena reinstated Ranil Wickremesinghe, whom he had ousted in October. The country plunged into a 51-day crisis following the ouster. However, delay in appointing Cabinet ministers dented sentiment, dealers said.

The Sri Lankan rupee strengthened in early trade on Monday, while bond yields dropped as a seven-week political crisis appeared to ebb, but investors took a cautious stance to observe whether Sirisena and Wickremesinghe could work well together.

This year, there have been Rs. 21.1 billion  of outflows from stocks and Rs. 148.2 billion  from government securities, the latest data from the bourse and central bank showed.

Five-year government bond yields have risen 55 basis points since the political crisis began, while yields on Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds due in 2022, which have risen around a percentage point to 8.0 percent through Friday, fell 0.35 percent to 7.7 percent on Wednesday.

ADB Funding for DFCC to Improve Access to Finance for MSMEs in Sri Lanka

December, 18, 2018

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and DFCC Bank PLC (DFCC), a leading commercial bank in Sri Lanka, announced that a $35 million loan agreement signed recently between the two organizations would improve access to finance for the country’s micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

“MSMEs are an important part of the Sri Lankan economy, and to further boost their contributions to growth and development, it is crucial that they have sufficient access to finance,” said ADB Director of Private Sector Financial Institutions Ms. Christine Engstrom. “ADB’s loan to DFCC will open up these financing opportunities to MSMEs in Sri Lanka, providing more jobs and economic opportunities.”

“DFCC Bank is

…The agreement was signed by Mr. Silva  and ADB Senior Investment Specialist Mr. Biao Huang at a ceremony in Colombo. The event was also attended by DFCC Senior Vice President, Treasury and Resource Mobilisation, Mr. Kapila Nanayakkara and Assistant Vice President, Treasury and Resource Mobilisation, Mr. Channa Dayaratne.

Nearly all enterprises in Sri Lanka are MSMEs, contributing a significant share of employment and gross domestic product. Access to finance for MSMEs, however, remains constrained, which stunts their growth and development. This is compounded by financial reporting quality issues of many MSMEs and a risk-averse culture among financial institutions.

…DFCC Bank PLC is a fully-fledged commercial bank offering the full range of commercial and development banking services. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the International Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ICCSL) has announced DFCC Bank as one of the ten “most admired companies” in Sri Lanka for 2018. Fitch Ratings Lanka Limited has rated DFCC AA- (lka).

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.

From left to right: DFCC Assistant Vice President, Treasury and Resource Mobilisation, Mr. Channa Dayaratne; ADB Senior Investment Specialist Mr. Biao Huang; DFCC Chief Executive Officer Mr. Lakshman Silva; and DFCC Senior Vice President, Treasury and Resource Mobilisation, Mr. Kapila Nanayakkara.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/adb-funding-for-dfcc-to-improve-access-to-finance-for-msmes-in-sri-lanka/

HNB continues to dominate Sri Lanka’s corporate cash management business

Asiamoney names HNB the ‘Best Cash Management Bank in Sri Lanka’

December 18, 2018, 8:45 pm

Confirming its market leadership position as the best payments and cash management solution bank in the country, HNB PLC has been awarded for the second consecutive year by Asiamoney with awards for the Best Cash Management Bank by Services and the Best Cash Management Bank by Technology Provisions for the year 2018.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196283

China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation and CDS Sri Lanka to pursue mutual development

December 18, 2018, 8:36 pm

Sri Lanka’s Central Depository Systems (Pvt) Ltd (CDS) and China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation Limited (CSDC) recently committed towards pursuing a cooperative relationship in the areas of securities clearing and depository. This commitment was formalized with the signing of a MoU between the two depositories during a visit by CSDC officials to Sri Lankan recently.

CSDC is a non-profit-oriented corporation with Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange as its shareholders, each holding 50% equities.

…CSDC is the Central Securities Depository (CSD), Securities Settlement System (SSS) and Central Counterparty (CCP) of the Chinese exchange market. It provides registration, depository, clearing and settlement services to equities, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETF) and other derivatives listed and traded on Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) and National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), and plays a key role in cross-border linkage programmes including Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect and the Mutual Recognition of Funds between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong markets.

Korean depository to collaborate with Lankan counterpart-CDS

December 16, 2018, 8:39 pm

CSE & CDS Chairman Ray Abeywardena (left) signs the agreement while KSD Chairman & CEO Dr. Lee Byungrhae (right) signs the agreement.

Central Depository Systems (Pvt) Ltd (CDS), a fully owned subsidiary of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), signed a MoU with Korea Securities Depository (KSD) on the sidelines of the 22nd Annual General Meeting of the Asia‐Pacific Central Securities Depository Group (ACG) hosted in Colombo. The MoU aims to strengthen the relationship between the depositories and will pave the way for cooperation focused on knowledge sharing and mutual development. CDS Sri Lanka has previously signed agreements with depositories in India and Pakistan and formalizing efforts for cooperation with KSD further strengthens regional ties of the Sri Lankan depository.

….KSD is the world class securities service provider of Korea, providing custody and settlement services for the Korean securities market. KSD has a constantly evolving business portfolio which includes investment fund services, collateral management services, repo market services and securities lending and borrowing services. KSD also offers a stable and efficient financial investment infrastructure to diverse capital market participants. In addition, as a core institution of the capital market in Korea, KSD promotes the development of the financial industry.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196186

Foreign selling pressure on principal blue chip shares

December 18, 2018

 Hiran H.Senwiratne

The price decline in two blue chip companies, namely John Keells Holdings (JKH) and Dialog, due to foreign selling pressure  put both main indices on an incline at the CSE yesterday, stock market analysts said.

The All Share Price Index went down by 20.15 points and S and P SL20 by 14.02 points. Due to heavy foreign selling pressure JKH’s per share price  dropped by 90 cents or 0.6 percent, which initially started trading at Rs. 160.90 but at the end of the day it moved down to Rs. 160. Further, per share price of Dialog depreciated by 40 cents or 3.9 percent. It started trading at Rs. 10.40 and at the end of the day it had declined to Rs. 10.

The day’s turnover stood at Rs. 979.3 million with two major crossings. Those crossings came from JKH, which crossed four million shares to the tune of Rs. 640 million, per share price Rs. 160 and Dialog two million shares crossed for Rs. 20 million, per share price Rs. 10.

In the retail market, companies that mainly contributed to the day’s turnover were: Dialog Rs. 103 million (10.3 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 64.1 million (400,000 shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 54.6 million (230,000 shares traded), HNB Rs. 29.3 million (140,000 shares traded) and AIA Insurance Rs. 6.8 million (3808 shares traded). During the day 21.3 million shares changed hands in 2607 transactions. 

JKSB adds-

ASPI: 6,047.48 (-20.15 pts; -0.33%); Val T/O: Rs. 979mn (US$5.45mn); Vol T/O: 21.2mn; Trades: 2,607

Advance/decline ratio: 62/62; Top gainer: TSML.N (+13.04%) ; Top loser: MAL.N (-8.86%)

Highlights:

*The ASPI ended lower amid improved market turnover predominantly due to active trading in JKH. The market also saw activity in DIAL and SAMP.

*Diversified Holdings was the most actively traded sector (-0.51%)

*Land & Property was the best performing sector (+0.45%), supported by gains on EAST.N (+3.08%)

*Footwear & Textiles was the worst performing sector (-3.50%), dragged down by declines on ODEL.N (-4.08%)

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196279

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LSEG Technology successfully implements Settlement and Depository Solution

December 21, 2018, 8:54 pm

LSEG Technology has successfully implemented Settlement and Central Securities Depository functionality for Singapore Exchange (SGX). In live operation from December 10, this was a whole market implementation, involving brokers, custodian banks, settlement banks, registrars and retail investors. 


….LSEG Technology delivers robust, scalable, high-performance technology including broker, exchange, market data, risk management, surveillance, clearing and settlement products to customers around the world. LSEG Technology’s market-leading trading and post-trade products, empowered with key patented technology, helps improve operational efficiencies for over 40 financial market infrastructure and financial services firms, which include London Stock Exchange Group markets (London Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana, Turquoise), HKEX, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange, Toronto Stock Exchange, TP-ICAP and other markets worldwide.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196432

China remains largest foreign buyer of U.S. Treasury bonds in Oct.

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-18

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) — China’s holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds in October hit the lowest in a year, but the country remained the largest foreign buyer of U.S. government debt, statistics released Monday by U.S. Treasury Department showed.

China’s holdings of U.S. Treasuries totaled 1.139 trillion U.S. dollars in October, down by 12.5 billion dollars from the previous month.

The statistics also showed that Japan, the second largest foreign buyer, is a net seller of U.S. Treasuries in October, with its holdings slipping to a one-year low of 1.019 trillion dollars, down by 9.5 billion dollars from the previous month.

The two countries together still accounted for about a third of the total foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds, which saw a net foreign outflow of 25.6 billion dollars in October.

Washington has increased the issuance of its government bonds since the massive corporate tax cut was enacted last December. Business insiders have warned of imbalance between demand and supply.

– http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-12/18/c_137681746.htm?

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Asia shares round out rough week with fresh losses

2018-12-22

Markets sank across the world even as the Fed predicted two interest rate increases next year down from three with the bank trimming its forecast for US growth and inflation

 HONG KONG (AFP) – Fresh political turbulence in Washington and renewed fears over US-China relations pushed Asian markets lower yesterday, as a global slump sparked by unease over Fed policy showed no signs of easing.

The resignation of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis seen as a moderating force on an often impulsive president and the looming threat of a federal government shutdown alarmed investors as concern grows over weakening global growth.

US stocks endured a torrid session, the latest losses in a bruising December that has set up Wall Street for its worst year since the 2007 financial crisis, with the Nasdaq now almost 20 percent off its 2018 peak.

Shares turned sharply lower after President Donald Trump hardened his demand Congress fund a US-Mexico border wall, plunging Washington into chaos and leaving the US government on the verge of a Christmas shutdown with less than 24 hours before a midnight Friday deadline to reach agreement.

Rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies also unnerved markets, with China hitting back at the US after the Justice Department indicted two alleged Chinese hackers accused of having ties to Beijing’s security services.

US officials said the indictment showed President Xi Jinping had not fulfilled his pledge to stop cybercrime, but it drew a furious response from Beijing, which accused Washington of “fabricating facts”.

The row erupted as the two sides prepare for talks next month to resolve their trade conflict. “A potential US government shutdown and US accusations of Chinese hacking fuelled existing market concerns about economic growth,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking. Crude added to anxiety on financial markets, with both WTI and Brent paring gains earlier yesterday.

Analysts said OPEC moves to cut production would likely have little effect. “There’s nothing OPEC can do about that predicament,” Sam Margolin, a Wolfe Research LLC analyst, said.  “The solution lies only in market confidence around global growth, the US-China trade war, and the pace of Fed rate hikes.” 

Japanese stocks again bore the brunt of Asian losses yesterday, with the Nikkei falling further into bear market territory to hit a fresh 15-month low and regional shares on course for the worst week since October.

Nissan slipped 2.04 percent after its former chairman Carlos Ghosn faced a fresh criminal allegation that could keep him in jail well into 2019.

Shanghai retreated 0.8 percent, capping a difficult year for Chinese equities, with nearly $3 trillion wiped off the value of the country’s stock market since the end of January.

Sydney also lost ground while Hong Kong recovered earlier losses to chalk up a 0.5 percent gain.

The greenback struggled as investors shunned risk, wallowing near the 111-yen mark and adding to downward pressure on the Nikkei.

“The dollar is expected to continue facing downside pressure against major currencies,” said Minori Uchida, head of Tokyo global markets research at MUFG Bank.

Currency traders had a case of “irritable Powell syndrome”, quipped Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA, after Fed chairman Jerome Powell unnerved equities and the US dollar Wednesday when he said the bank would not change course on reducing its balance sheet.

Markets sank across the world even as the Fed predicted two interest rate increases next year down from three with the bank trimming its forecast for US growth and inflation.

“The risks are that this weakness that we’re seeing will continue into next year,” Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors, told Bloomberg TV.

“The Fed should come out and say, if need be, we can adjust the rate at which we undertake quantitative tightening. That would go a long way to help settle markets.”

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wall Street’s response to the Fed’s move went too far but European equities also closed lower Thursday.

Eurozone stock markets fell further at the open yesterday with Frankfurt and Paris down 0.4 percent, while London was flat.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Asia-shares-round-out-rough-week-with-fresh-losses-160158.html

Business•

ICCSL urges govt. to focus on development agenda

2018-12-22

The International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ICCSL) is grateful to the President, Prime Minister, Speaker and leaders of political leaders for restoring normalcy and urges all parties concerned to work towards a common development agenda. 

…Dinesh Weerakkody Chairman of ICC Sri Lanka said, “The government should focus on creating a stable policy and business environment that will promote a credible investment atmosphere while benefitting all Sri Lankans at every level.” 

 …The International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ICCSL) is the domestic chapter of the Paris based international business organisation, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). It has a global network of over 6 million members in more than 100 countries.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/ICCSL-urges-govt-to-focus-on-development-agenda-160159.html

 •

 US-based LeapFrog invests US $ 12mn in Softlogic Life

2018-12-20

LeapFrog Investments, a US-based private investment firm that invests in high-growth financial services and healthcare companies in emerging markets, yesterday bought a 19 percent stake in Sri Lanka’s Softlogic Life Insurance PLC, investing US $ 12 million (Rs.2.2 billion).

The seller of the shares was FMO, the Dutch Development Bank, which has been an investor in Softlogic Life since December 2012.The shares were traded on the market in two blocks—35,625,000 shares at Rs.30.80 and 35,620,517 at Rs.30.70—about Rs.8 below the market price. The Softlogic Life book value as at September 30, 2018 was Rs.17.92.

The purchase was executed through LeapFrog Investments subsidiary, Dalvik Inclusion Private Limited, a Mauritius-based company.

….The company leads the market in customer-centric product innovation including tailor-made products such as a worldwide cashless hospital settlement product integrating more than 60 local hospitals, doorstep doctor visits and medical testing…

Mobile insurance products significantly open up access to the emerging consumer demographic—people living under US $10 a day. 

…LeapFrog was founded in January 2007 by Kuper and officially launched in 2008 by former US President Bill Clinton, who endorsed the firm for opening new frontiers for alternative investments.

The firm’s investments have an annual growth rate of more than 40 percent and its companies reach over 157 million people across 149 countries with healthcare and financial services primarily in Africa and Asia. 

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/US-based-LeapFrog-invests-US-mn-in-Softlogic-Life-160024.html

Softlogic Life Insurance deal boosts CSE turnover above Rs. 3 billion mark

December 19, 2018, 8:49 pm

Hiran H. Senewiratne

It is said that a 19-percent stake in Softlogic Life Insurance had been sold by the Netherland’s FMO to Leapfrog Investments group. This transaction boosted the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) turnover level to Rs. 3.6 billion, market sources said.

The stake changed hands in two blocks yesterday, one of 35.6 million shares at Rs. 30.80 rupees each and the other of 35.6 million shares at Rs. 30.70  each, down 19-20 percent from the previous, opening trade. The total value of the 71.2 million shares traded was Rs. 2.18 billion. The transaction amounted to a 19 percent stake in Softlogic Life Insurance, formerly Asian Alliance.  Amid those developments both indices indicated mixed reactions, ie, All Share Price Index moved up by 3.47 points and S and P SL20 was down by 0.37 points. 

Owing to this deal, market turnover was boosted and stood at Rs. 3.6 billion with five crossings. Those crossings were; Sampath Bank 2.8 million shares crossed for Rs. 688 million, per share value Rs. 245, JKH 1.6 million shares crossed for Rs. 257 million, per share value Rs. 160.80, Commercial Bank 835,000 shares crossed for Rs. 96 million, per share value Rs. 115, Union Bank four million shares crossed for Rs. 44 million, per share value Rs11 and HNB 100,000 shares crossed for Rs. 21 million.

In the retail market, companies that mainly contributed to the day’s turnover, apart from Softlogic Life, were:  JKH Rs. 116,5 million (726,000 shares traded), Distilleries Rs. 26.1 million (1.6 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 24 million (101,000 shares traded) and Janashakthi Insurance Rs. 14.4 million (495,500 shares traded). During the day, 89.4 million share volume changed hands in 2259 transactions.   This year, there have been Rs. 20 billion of outflows from stocks and Rs. 148.2 billion from government securities, the latest data from the bourse and Central Bank sources reported. 

The rupee hit a record low of 180.85 to the dollar on Nov. 28. It has weakened about 3.8 percent since the political crisis began. The currency dropped 1.8 percent in November, and has lost 17.1 percent this year. 

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196326

 Colombo on the way to become Tuk capital of Uber universe: official

2018-12-21

Prabhjeet Singh

Colombo becomes 11th most important city in South Asia for Uber

Colombo has become the fastest growing market for UberTuk product and is on the way to become the Tuk capital of Uber universe, a top Uber official said.

 Prabhjeet Singh…was speaking at an event organised by Uber in Colombo this week to mark the three-year anniversary of Uber’s entry to the Sri Lankan market. 

Singh also revealed that Colombo has become the 11th most important city in South Asia for Uber where it has seen over 25,000 driver partners joining the Uber platform in the three-year period.

Prior to the launch of UberTuk, Uber officials revealed that around 60,000 riders were using Uber on a monthly basis in Sri Lanka.  Since Uber’s exit from Southeast Asia, India and South Asia has become the most important market for the company in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Singh, Uber has completed over 10 billion trips since its launch, and South Asia has contributed to over a billion trips. 

Speaking of future prospects, Singh noted that Uber plans to multiply the number of driver partners over the next couple of years in Sri Lanka, particularly female drivers from the current 35 plus driver partners, to cater to the even increasing demand….

Uber has launched six products in Sri Lanka—UberZip, Premier, Intercity, Hire, UBerTUK and UberGo.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Colombo-on-the-way-to-become-Tuk-capital-of-Uber-universe-official-160108.html

Condo sales hit by politics, falling rupee and high financing cost

2018-12-17

Developers say sales dropped from 8-9 units a month to 1-2

    KPMG expects market to recover ahead of 15% VAT coming into effect in April

    Say prolonged disruption in sales could affect condo prices

Sales in Sri Lanka’s residential condominium sector have experienced a slowdown due to the general uncertainty in the country, devaluation of the rupee and high cost of financing. 

Speaking to Mirror Business, KPMG Principal Deal Advisory Shiluka Goonawaradene said the volumes of sales have dropped partly due to the uncertainty, cost of funds and lack of funds availability. 

Several real estate developers Mirror Business spoke to said their monthly sales have dropped in recent months. Some of the developers have seen their monthly sales declining sharply to 1-2 condominiums in recent months from 8-9 on average.

As pre-sales rates are not available in the public domain, it remains difficult to calculate the actual drop in sales during the past few months. 

….KPMG expects that once the VAT on condominium sales would come into force, the prices of condominiums would rise by 8-10 percent. 

Goonawaradene highlighted that the rupee deprecation has been one of the major reasons for the slowdown in high-end luxury condominium sales. 

“Some of the high-end apartments are priced in US$, hence the cost for local buyers has climbed by around 20 percent,” he added.

….According to Research Intelligence Unit (RIU), the semi-luxury and luxury apartment stock is expected to reach 14,000 units by 2020 when calculating the number of developments that have been approved or are currently under construction, which is significantly high compared to the mere 4,000 units in 2016.

However, the commercial real estate market, particularly the ‘Grade A’ office spaces, remains undersupplied   due to tight margins. 

The global real estate consultancy Jones Lang La Salle (JLL) earlier this year said that there is a shortage of as much as 200 percent in the supply of the grade ‘A’ sector in Colombo.

“The construction cost has gone up, because of currency devaluation and higher affiliated costs. 

…Goonewardene noted that the typical yield of an office building is not sufficient to cover the high interest cost, at least in the short-term. Investment in office spaces is a long-term investment which may take up to 20-30 years, unlike condominiums where the developers can get their Return on Investments  within 3-5 years.

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Condo-sales-hit-by-politics-falling-rupee-and-high-financing-cost–159881.html

 •

ASPI remains at over 6,000 as foreign sell-off continues

December 15, 2018, 8:29 pm

Sri Lankan equity market performance continued to remain mixed last week as investors awaited the outcome of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the President’s sudden dissolution of Parliament on November 9, Acuity Stockbrokers said in their Stock Market Weekly.

“The main-share ASPI lost ~43 points at the start of the week ahead of the court ruling, but gained ~36 points during the rest of the week as the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Gazette issued by the President dissolving Parliament was unconstitutional and that the Parliament cannot be dissolved until four and a half years of its five-year term is completed,” the report said.

” The week’s mixed performance resulted in the ASPI closing the week ~ 0.1% W-o-W ( or 7 points) lower, but staunchly above the key psychological mark of 6,000-points (at 6062.55 points). Activity levels on the market meanwhile remained in line with that of the previous week, with average daily turnover at Rs.0.6Bn(relative to 0.6Bn a week earlier), but 22% lower than the YTD average of Rs.0.8Bn.”

Acuity reported that local institutions and high net worth investors accounted for ~38% of total market activity last week (against ~42% so far this year), with buying interests focused mainly on Odel (~38% of total crossings), Commercial Bank (~29% of total crossings) and HNB (~11% of total crossings).

Foreign investors meanwhile, continued to sell-off Sri Lankan equities with net selling for the week amounting to Rs.963Mn (cf. Rs.929Mn last week). Although foreign individual investors have recorded a net purchase of Rs.5.4Bn between Jan-Nov’18, foreign institutional investors have off-loaded Sri Lankan equities to the tune of Rs.24.0Bn to bring the total net foreign outflow from domestic equities to Rs.18.5Bn (by Nov’18), the report said.

Foreign investors sold a further Rs.1.9Bn in the first two weeks of December, dragging the Colombo bourse’s year-to-date net foreign selling position to ~Rs.20.4Bn relative to net foreign purchases of 17.7Bn last year.

Markets in the week ahead are likely to remain influenced by domestic political developments especially the President’s decision on the new cabinet and prime minister.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196143

CSE on “naughty” list

In a bid to make listed firms accountable, the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) will be communicating the reasons as to why a company is on their “naughty list” or Watch List.

Firms are now transferred to this list, but it doesn’t show as to why they are in it. “We will be introducing a new column on the CSE website to inform the reasons for the transfer to the Watch List,” Head of Trading, Market Surveillance and Corporate Affairs Nilupa Perera told a group of media professionals at a CSE workshop recently. She said with this latest addition, investors will be better advised when buying shares of such firms.

It was noted that companies are now more regimented after the CSE introduced new rules on incorporate governance. “Most of them accept the rules now unlike earlier.” This also means now there are better listed firms with more accountability. Analysts say that corporate governance rules can elevate the legal and regulatory norms for governance, allow companies to differentiate themselves in the market, and increase their access to capital.

Renuke Wijayawardhane, Chief Operating Officer CSE noted that now most listed firms are prompt with their disclosures.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/cse-on-naughty-list-325289.html

Research paper says possible accounting fraud by some firms

A research paper written by university students has shown possible accounting manipulations of some listed firms over three financial years.

The Research Journal of the CA Sri Lanka published in connection with the second Research Conference of CA Sri Lanka held recently published research paper appearing on pages 106-121 titled “Using Beneish M Score Model to Detect Red Flags of Corporate Financial Statement Fraud in Sri Lanka” by three undergraduates from the University of Kelaniya and University of Sri Jayewardenepura – Mudith Sujeewa, M. D. Pubudu Kawshalya, Athula Manawaduge” has attempted to identify certain red flags of financial statement fraud in public limited companies listed in Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in Sri Lanka.

It says those seven companies in the manufacturing sector, one company in the healthcare sector, and one company in the trading sector were likely manipulators in the financial year 2016/2017. It identified eight companies in manufacturing sector, one company in construction sector, one company in service sector and one company in trading sector as likely to be manipulators for the financial year 2015/2016.

Four companies in manufacturing sector, one company in healthcare sector one company in service sector and two companies in the trading sector, were identified as likely to be manipulators for the financial year 2014/2015. Ten companies in manufacturing sector, two companies in construction sector, two companies in healthcare sector one company in service sector and two companies in the trading sector were being identified as likely to be manipulators for the financial year 2013/2014. This research’s associated observations show that top level management, auditors, forensic accountants, regulatory authorities and other stakeholders can use the Benish M Score model to detect the red flags of financial statement frauds in Sri Lankan context. It says that findings of this study need to be interpreted in light of its limitations, although most of these are common to this type of study. It adds that while the period for analysis is short it would be of interest to extend the time horizon.

The sample of companies selected is limited and care needs to be taken when generalising results to other countries and cross-contextual comparison is also not facilitated through this study, it said. This research was sent to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the CSE.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/research-paper-says-possible-accounting-fraud-by-some-firms-324909.html

Tourism industry facing multiple issues

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is facing multiple issues with the latest being a Presidential order to ban state functions in tourist hotels.

The new rule by President Sirisena banning state organisations from holding events in hotels, to cut costs, is hurting the MICE industry, according to Ziyan Ameen, President of the Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition & Event Organisers.

“This is in addition to multiple issues that we are facing. In the MICE market, while bookings have not been cancelled, some however have been postponed and there are no new bookings and inquiries,” he said. MICE refers to Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events.

The December 6 directive came on the back of a likely boycott of the state tourism awards show by industry officials in which the President was to attend as the chief guest. Fearing a boycott by key personalities as a mark of protest over his recent executive actions, President Sirisena skipped the event and instead directed his chief of staff to attend. There was no boycott after industry associations urged members to attend.

Another official said that MICE business makes up about 25-30 per cent of the hotel business. “We organize many programmes in hotels involving government bodies and this ban would affect hotels,” he said.

The constitutional cum political crisis has also led to delays in the launch of the new “SO Sri Lanka” destination marketing campaign.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/tourism-industry-facing-multiple-issues-325286.html

The tourism conundrum

“The impact is expected to be more long term – three to six months down the line – instead of short term. For example, November’s tourist arrivals registered an increase, though they were expected to drop.

November arrivals rose by 16.8 per cent to 195,582 guests against the same 2017 month. According to official data, arrivals from India, Sri Lanka’s main market, rose by 21.4 per cent while other key markets like the UK (up sharply by 61.1 per cent – partly due to the presence of the ‘Barmy Army’, a popular group of British nationals who travel the world backing the England cricket team) and Germany (sharply up by 89.6 per cent) also performed well except for China which recorded a 1.8 per cent drop.

The industry is also facing multiple problems adding to the gloomy sentiment. Forward bookings, according to some hotel managers, have dropped while the depreciation of the rupee, by 18 per cent against the US dollar so far this year, is also causing some issues owing to an import content that goes into tourism, though on one hand it makes Sri Lanka a cheaper destination.

There has been a drop in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) bookings and inquiries, which represents 15 per cent and over of the tourism industry. The issue was further aggravated after an angry President, concerned that a tourism event that he was expected to attend as chief guest would be boycotted by hoteliers and travel agents in protest over his recent moves, issued an order banning state functions in tourist hotels.

While tourism associations quickly issued a statement saying members will attend the state tourism awards function on December 6, the President sent his chief of staff as his replacement. The same evening, Sirisena ordered a ban on state events in hotels saying that such events should be held in state-owned facilities, reasoning that this is a measure to cut costs. The industry, however, perceived the move as a stinging rebuke and a knee-jerk reaction – like many of the President’s recent moves — to a likely boycott of the awards in a show of protest against Sirisena.

Industry officials said MICE represents 25-30 per cent of the business of any hotel and such a ban would adversely affect hotels and the industry

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/the-tourism-conundrum-325279.html

‘SL’s tourism sector badly dented by political crisis’

December 18, 2018, 8:40 pm

Harishchandra Gunarathna

‘The current political crisis in the country has made a severe dent in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka and as a result the winter season had failed to live up to expectations with a large number of cancellations said Ravi Dias Jayasinha, the Head of ‘Gateway’, a leading tour operator specialising on the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Europe, based in Milan.

The tragedy struck close on the heels of the higly respected international brand on travel information “Lonely Planet” ranking Sri Lanka as top country for travel in 2019.

….The veteran tour operator singlehandedly carried out a campaign during the war years to counter adverse propaganda against Sri Lanka and immensely helped to boost the country as a tourist destination.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196281

Travel Indonesia 101

December 18, 2018, 9:19 pm

Sajitha Prematunge

In 2017, 35,000 Sri Lankans visited Indonesia, and 20,000 Indonesians visited Sri Lanka. And the numbers are rising, says the Embassy of Indonesia in Colombo. But why Indonesia and not Singapore or Thailand? Because you can buy a Prada bag for 2,400 LKR. Who cares if it’s a factory reject as long as you can’t find the reason for rejection.

As a metropolitan city, Jakarta has lots of modern shopping centers, Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, Plaza Indonesia, Plaza Senayan, Pacific Place, Pondok Indah Mall, to name a few. Factory outlets, in both Jakarta and Bandung, that sell factory overruns, are very popular among tourists as well as locals. Brands sold in Indonesian factory outlets include Nike, Reebok, Hugo Boss, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Armani, Crocodile, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria’s Secret, Versache, Adidas, Puma, Elle, Alfred Dunhill, The Gap, Polo, Ann Taylor, D&G, Zara and Sears.

… With over 17,000 islands scattered across Pacific and Indian Oceans, where more than 200 ethnic groups speak over 300 languages,

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196295

JLL comments on the Western Region Megapolis Masterplan’s sustainability and progress

November, 6, 2018

In its monthly Compass bulletin, real estate consultancy Jones Lang Lasalle examined the relevance of the Western Region Megapolis Masterplan to Sri Lanka’s ambitions of improving citizen wealth and rapid economic growth. 

The Western Megapolis Development Plan was first conceptualized in 1998 by the newly established Urban Development Authority, leading to a first version in 2002. …This ambitious plan sets targets of tripling per-capita income in the western region to USD 12,000 by 2020, creating 500,000 jobs, and making the western region one of the 10 most liveable cities in Asia to reverse current brain drain trends.

….JLL is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients in more than 80 countries worldwide. The Fortune 500 Company operates from 280 corporate offices with a global workforce of 70,000 providing management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 4 billion square feet. JLL entered the Sri Lankan real estate market in 2011.

– http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/jll-comments-on-the-western-region-megapolis-masterplans-sustainability-and-progress/

Affluent Indians drinking expensive booze, to give 10% boost to  $33-billion spirits market!

December 21, 2018,

S VENKAT NARAYAN

t

NEW DELHI, December 18: Affluent Indians are spending a whopping $33 billion an year on premium branded spirits. They will drive growth of as much as 10 per cent a year in the booming spirits market, according to one of the nation’s oldest distillers.

After three years of stagnation when the industry faced sales restrictions, Indians are drinking more and spending on premium alcohol, said Abhishek Khaitan, the managing director of Radico Khaitan Ltd., a market leader in vodka with its Magic Moments brand.

The trend will likely continue as urban dual-income families in this country of 1.35 billion people follow their peers in the U.S. and Singapore when it comes to eating and drinking out, he said.

India’s spirit sector — which includes whiskey, brandy, rum and vodka — is estimated to expand 25 percent to INR2.92 trillion rupees ($41 billion) by 2022, according to Euromonitor International….

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196467

Trade•

GMOA asks govt. follow recommendations of committee on SLSFTA

December 18, 2018, 12:00 pm

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), yesterday, urged the Ranil Wickremesinghe administration to follow the recommendations by a committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena on the proposed free trade agreement with Singapore.

“Before doing anything about the free trade agreement with Singapore the government must formulate a national trade policy. The government should also listen to President Sirisena,” the GMOA said issuing a press release.

The GMOA also requested the government to amend the state tax policy, formulated according to the demands of the IMF, that has adversely affected the people. “We also want it to roll back the new anti terrorism laws, which would affect trade union action and other proposed draconian laws. We also demand the government to formulate policies that will create an environment that will help us to retain professionals. there were some policies aimed in that direction in the past but even those policies were dismantled because of some actions of the previous Wickremesinghe administration,” the GMOA said.

The GMOA also demanded the government to amend the salary structures of the government that would address the various salary anomalies in the country. “For this it is necessary to follow the recommendations of the committee appointed by President Sirisena,” the GMOA said adding that it also wanted higher transport and other allowances.

The doctors also demanded the issue of a gazette abolishing the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) as per the provisions of the University Act. “We expect to discuss these matters with all relevant officials including the President,” he said.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196270

With stability re-established, three SL business delegations off to Germany in 2019

December 17, 2018, 9:06 pm

Sanath Nanayakkare

In January 2019, AHK Sri Lanka will organize three business delegation to major trade fairs in Germany : IMM -the world’s leading fair for furniture, BAU -the world’s leading fair for construction and architecture and Green Week-the world’s leading trade fair for Agriculture, Andreas Hergenröther, chief delegate of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (AHK Sri Lanka) said issuing a news letter yesterday.

The Delegation of German Industry and Commerce (AHK Sri Lanka) was officially inaugurated on 27tth of March 2018, due to the significant increase of bilateral trade and incoming investments.

…..AHK Sri Lanka) had earlier signed an MoU with Messe Düsseldorf to represent the major trade fairs in Sri Lanka. As the official representative, AHK Sri Lanka will provide support for renting exhibition space and setting up stands, organizing ticketing as well as accompanying the Sri Lankan companies during their fair visits. Messe Düsseldorf is one of the largest trade fair organizers in the world with organizing more than 40 trade shows. Among these,23 fairs are world‘s leading trade fairs. It operates 17 exhibition halls with the space of 248,580 square meters and 43,000 square meters of outdoor space. In addition, Messe Düsseldorf maintains an underwater landscape, outdoor park and a high-end technology playground within the area.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196227

China-Sri Lanka Cooperation Studies Centre inaugurated

Senior Chinese official here for launch of Pathfinder initiative

December 15, 2018, 7:55 pm

Delegation from the Development Research Center of the State Council of China and Officials of the Chinese Embassy welcome by Milinda Moragoda founder, Pathfinder Foundation at ‘Riverpoint, MMBL – Pathfinder Headquarters, Peliyagoda.

Vice President, Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Dr. Long Guoqiang declared open the new office of Pathfinder Foundation’s ‘China-Sri Lanka Cooperation studies Centre’ (CSLCSC) located at the ‘Riverpoint’ complex of MMBL-Pathfinder group at Peliyagoda on Friday (Dec. 14).

The event was witnessed by a high-level delegation from the DRC and senior officials of the Embassy of China. The Chinese delegation was warmly welcomed by Milinda Moragoda, Founder and senior members of PF.

Pathfinder Foundation, an advocacy and research think-tank functioning since 2006 has three Centres focusing on China-Sri Lanka relations, India-Sri Lanka relations and Law of the Sea. While the China and the India centres focus on developing relations with those two countries, Centre for Law of the Sea will give its attention to issues relating to the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and ‘Blue Economy’.

The visiting delegation had substantive discussions with the Founder of PF and its senior staff members on the broader theme ‘Cooperation between China & Sri Lanka in developing production capacity within the framework of BRI’. Both sides exchanged views on promoting and facilitating Chinese investment, establishing and operating industrial parks and formulating policies for strengthening future bilateral cooperation.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196127

Pakistan awards scholarships to SL students in medicine

December 15, 2018, 8:24 pm

The Government of Pakistan, through its High Commission in Sri Lanka, has awarded higher education scholarships to nine Sri Lankan students in the field of Medicine in top Pakistani institutions under Pakistan Technical Assistance Program (PTAP).

The High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, Dr. Shahid Ahmad Hashmat met the students at the High Commission of Pakistan and congratulated them on their selection for higher education in Pakistan.

The High Commissioner emphasized the importance of collaboration between the two friendly countries for the upliftment of people.

He further said that these scholarships are offered with the objective to support Sri Lankan students to continue their higher studies, create new professional relationship and bilateral communication between the institutions of the two countries.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196137

China-Sri Lanka Cooperation Studies Centre inaugurated

December 17, 2018, 9:14 pm

Discussion on ‘Cooperation between China and Sri Lanka in developing production capacity within the framework of BRI’.

Vice President, Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Dr. Long Guoqiang declared open the new office of Pathfinder Foundation’s ‘China-Sri Lanka Cooperation studies Centre’ (CSLCSC) located at the ‘Riverpoint’ complex of MMBL-Pathfinder group at Peliyagoda on Friday 14, December.

The event was witnessed by a high-level delegation from the DRC and senior officials of the Embassy of China. The Chinese delegation was warmly welcomed by Milinda Moragoda, Founder and senior members of PF.

Pathfinder Foundation, an advocacy and research think-tank functioning since 2006 has three Centres focusing on China-Sri Lanka relations, India-Sri Lanka relations and Law of the Sea. While the China and the India centres focus on developing relations with those two countries, Centre for Law of the Sea will give its attention to issues relating to the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and ‘Blue Economy’.

The visiting delegation had substantive discussions with the Founder of PF and its senior staff members on the broader theme ‘Cooperation between China & Sri Lanka in developing production capacity within the framework of BRI’. Both sides exchanged views on promoting and facilitating Chinese investment, establishing and operating industrial parks and formulating policies for strengthening future bilateral cooperation…

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196235

Business Council welcomes new Malaysian High Commissioner

December 20, 2018, 8:41 pm

The Sri Lanka – Malaysia Business Council (SLMBC) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce organized an evening of dinner and networking on December 6 to welcome the new High Commissioner of Malaysia Tan Yang Thai to Sri Lanka. The function took place at Taj Samudra Hotel with the presence of the members of the SLMBC.

Iqram Cuttilan, president of the SLMBC welcomed the new High Commissioner and said, “Malaysia and Sri Lanka share a very long history and excellent relations. Malaysia has been one of Sri Lanka’s largest investors and we have seen numerous Malaysian companies showing interest in investing in Sri Lanka. Likewise, we have seen numerous Sri Lankans too expanding their business interest into Malaysia. I am sure that your excellency will be able to extend and expand the level of cooperation between the two countries. We looked forward to maintaining a very close relationship with your excellency the High Commissioner and the High Commission staff to work together to promote business, trade and tourism between our two countries.”

The SLMBC was inaugurated on February 23, 1994 under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka. The main objective of this Council is to promote joint ventures in trade, tourism and services between Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196384

Technology, Science & Art•

[Ananda Coomaraswamy was an Indo-phile, which is cool, but then it stretched to him denying that Sri Lanka has a more continuous, contiguous, centripetal history than India! – ee]

“In Sri Lanka, as well as in England, he lamented the growth of industrialisation, because of its destruction of local arts and crafts. “He was particularly influenced by the artist and social reformer, William Morris, who felt that the poor quality of manufactured goods was eroding popular taste and reducing the lives of craftsmen to production-line workers,” Leoshko said. As automation and mechanised machinery made production faster and more efficient, the influence of the craftsman was no longer seen in their creations. He believed the new values and patterns of urbanisation and industrialisation were disfiguring the human spirit and he protested vehemently against the conditions in which many were forced to carry out their daily work and living. “

https://roar.media/english/life/in-the-know/ananda-coomaraswamy-100-years/

Pera holds international conference on humanities

Wednesday, 5th of December 2018 Views – 1697

The Peradeniya University recently held a two-day international conference on humanities and social sciences under the theme ‘Development, Diversity and Harmony through Knowledge and Innovation’. The fourth edition of the event organised by the university’s arts faculty saw academics, researchers, governmental officers, professionals, administrators and graduates share their knowledge and expertise. The purpose of the conference, held on November 22 and 23, was to discuss current social issues and to introduce research findings related to the humanities and social sciences. Professor Emeritus Jayadeva Uyangoda delivered the keynote speech. A multitude of research papers covering a range of disciplines were discussed. Some of the subject areas covered were: Language and Literacy studies, Religious and Cultural Studies, Buddhist and Pali Studies, Economic Research, History, Anthropology, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Art, Tamillogy, Philosophy, Greek and Roman Studies, and Education and Pedagogy.

– http://edu.dailymirror.lk/articles/news/641

Mural found in Uzbekistan gives fresh glimpse of early Buddhism

December 21, 2018, 9:01 pm

Part of the mural unearthed at the Kara Tepe archaeological site in Uzbekistan in 2016 (Provided by the Rissho University Uzbekistan Academic Research Group)

A brightly colored mural unearthed in Uzbekistan likely dates from the second to third centuries and sheds intriguing light on the spread of Buddhist art along the Silk Road, researchers say.

It was discovered in 2016 during excavations at Kara Tepe, an archaeological site in suburban Termez, southern Uzbekistan, by local researchers and partners from Tokyo’s Rissho University….

Kara Tepe is located at the “crossroads of civilizations” on the Silk Road. Greek- and Roman-style human figures have been unearthed there, as well as a statue of the head of a large legendary bird in India called Garuda. Those finds also likely date from the second to third centuries.

…”Depicting faces at an angle, along with shading and highlighting to create the impression of depth and solidity, are art techniques from Greece and Rome,” Miyaji said. “The flexible brushing and coloring style is a characteristic of art older than the Bamiyan Buddhist murals.

“There are also strong influences from the Hellenistic painting tradition, along with elements from India and Persia.”

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196435

From the Dutch to the British: A Legacy in Education

2018-12-18

The British viewed Ceylon less as a Crown Colony than as a buffer colony

    They took a decidedly ambivalent attitude towards educational activities

In 1766, the Dutch Governor of Ceylon Wilhelm Falk signed an agreement with King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe. According to the terms of the agreement, known today as the Treaty of Batticaloa or the Hanguranketha Treaty, the Kandyan Kingdom had to pay five million florins to the Dutch as reparations and the King had to acknowledge the imperial authority of the Dutch “four miles from the coast to the countryside.” The Kandyans considered the terms onerous, and they began to search for a foreign power that could help them expel the imperialists. 30 years later, British emissaries ousted the Dutch. In hindsight, though, resorting to the British was a mistake, since Dutch power was waning and Britain was becoming the most powerful industrial nation in the world, a position later confirmed by its victory in the Napoleonic Wars. 

The British administration of Ceylon had to begin from the Maritime Provinces because these were under Dutch rule. What spurred the British more than anything else was the prospect of controlling the Trincomalee Harbour. They viewed Sri Lanka less as a Crown Colony than as a buffer colony with which they could control the sea route in the Indian Ocean. Their main concern was to bring the country under the East India Company. Two years after claiming it from the Dutch, they instituted a system of dual control where the Governor of the country would be responsible for law and order and the Director of the Company took control of all commercial matters. Dual control ended formally in 1802, with the signing of the Amiens Treaty. 

From the beginning, the British took a decidedly ambivalent attitude towards educational activities….

– http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/From-the-Dutch-to-the-British-A-Legacy-in-Education-159908.html

Roar Media raises $1 m funding to fuel expansion across Asia

Roar Media, the Sri Lanka-based new-media platform that publishes content across South Asia, recently announced a US$1 million raise in funding. The round was led by BOV Capital and the Digital Innovation Fund (DIF), who also invested in Roar’s previous round of funding. BOV and DIF are joined by Hyperion Ventures, Striders Corporation, and two angel investors based in Bangladesh and Singapore.

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/roar-media-raises-1-m-funding-to-fuel-expansion-across-asia-324855.html

ISL offers four journalism fellowships

December 18, 2018, 11:03 pm

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), the local chapter of the global movement against corruption is inviting expressions of interest from young journalists for the TISL Journalism Fellowship to Strengthen Accountable Governance in Sri Lanka. The fellowship will include workshops and support for the publishing of news stories focusing on public procurement, accountability, asset declarations, asset recovery and other related topics….

The final date for submission is 31 December 2018.

Modi spent $1 billion on ads, 84 foreign trips

December 17, 2018

S VENKAT NARAYAN

NEW DELHI, December 15: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 84 foreign trips and his government’s advertising blitz over the past four-and-a-half years have cost Indian taxpayers about INR65.90 billion ($920 million).

The globe-trotting prime minister’s 84 foreign trips around the world cost roughly $280 million (about INR20 billion), while the government spent $640 million (about INR45 billion) on promoting Modi’s flagship projects and achievements, according to new government data.

– http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=196169

Published by ee ink.

This site was inspired by the dedicated scholarship and work of S.B.D. de Silva, author of "The Political Economy of Underdevelopment"

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