ee archive: eesrilanka.wordpress.com
“Before you study the economics, study the economists!”
Who’s Afraid of Wimalasurendra?
e-Con e-News 26 July – 01 August 2020
• Sri Lanka’s Richest Man • Whites print paper – White-Blacks call it Money!
“In a series of speeches made at the State Council, especially during 1933-34, Wimalasurendra identified the broad alliance that worked against the Hydroelectric Scheme. He used different names at times to identify this alliance: ‘Big Business’, ‘Oil and Coal Combine’, ‘Almighty Oil Interests’, ‘Big Business and Alien Combines’, ‘Imperialistic Element’, ‘Big Business Element’, ‘Big Business Party.’ – BD Witharana
• Wimalasurendra came upon the massive waterfall, which he brilliantly named, Laxapana – 100,000 Lamps – and engineered its hydroelectric scheme, but the English erased his name, claimed it as their invention, and screwed it up!
• And who is the “current richest man in Sri Lanka? How did he do it? Is it all about robbing cultivators’ lands, microfinance sponsored by white ‘development’ agencies, and NGOs that can’t speak the word, “Imperialism”?
100,000 Lamps! – ee presents more evidence this week that preventing industrialization and diverting from this urgent priority is an old story and is THE story! So is the story of the rising high cost of credit: The nationalization of all banks, including finance and microfinance, and recapturing the rural home market from multinationals, is the crying need of the hour. How much longer must we wait and what should we do? Will we remain a colony of the USA? Will an election change this imperialist dictation?
ee hears bitter complaints every day of the breakdown of much of the public service, and now the police – blamed on politicians, lazy government workers, etc. Some then fantasize of how English colonial rule was ‘corruption free’.
ee highly recommends this week’s story about “DJ Wimalasurendra, the founder of hydroelectricity in Sri Lanka”. His absolutely fascinating contribution to early industrialization – thwarted and delayed to prevent us creating our own energy sources – appears almost erased. The metanarrative of imperialist suppression and white supremacism continues to this day, to prevent transformation of this colonial import-export plantation farce! (see ee Focus)
• The mask of benevolence has come off microfinance companies: ee readers may be intrigued to learn they are set up by so-called philanthropic ‘development’ agencies – USAID, England’s CDC, Germany’s GTZ, France’s AFD, Swedfund, etc – linked to foreign governments and their banks. While white banks are lending money to their citizens at negative interest rates, that money has been swindling people in Sri Lanka (Asia, Africa) via microfinance schemes, etc. Those demanding high interest rates (which also lowers industrial profits) may not wish to consider such consequences, as landlessness escalates. Whites are printing paper and the white-Blacks call it money!
• So if you are thrilled by such celebrity labels as Sri Lanka’s “current richest man”, meet Ishara Nanayakkara, deputy group chairman of finance company LOLC. How did he get rich? Did it have anything to do with microfinance chicanery? ee looks at LOLC through their own words.
Ishara’s father Rajah, founder of Ishara Traders, began importing used-vehicles from Japan to Sri Lanka in 1973. Son Ishara was appointed an LOLC director, chairman of Browns Investments, and then a director of Seylan Bank. He became “the richest person in Sri Lanka” in 2019, after a Korean bank bought LOLC’s Cambodian microfinance arm; and ethanol importer Harry Jayawardena bought LOLC’s Browns Healthcare. (The link to colonial agency houses is never far away: Brown & Co were set up as agents for English industrialists to sell engines to plantations!)
The flip side of such celebrity status is: LOLC, the “largest agriculture implement financier with over 100,000 customers” in Sri Lanka, is accused of allegedly plundering land and other assets from poor cultivators all over Asia. As LOLC’s own history shows they have been backed by the finance arms of top “development agencies” of Europe and Anglo-North-America (and even set up Shari-ah finance in infamous Kattankudi with USAID funds in 2009!)
Claiming to ‘uplift’ women and impoverished rural areas, these development agencies have beggared them instead, deepening underdevelopment. The Ford Foundation, Soros’ NED and the Europeans (German, Swiss, Norwegian) have then funded NGOs to shift the blame from their profiteering onto local government and villagers themselves. They blame the violence on ‘seizers’, sexual predators, the foibles of the petty lenders and borrowers, rather than examine the bigger picture of rural underdevelopment, involving the destruction and privatization of water resources, and the failure to industrialize…
NGOs make idealistic appeals for our government to “cancel the debt” of microfinance borrowers. Since LOLC, et al, borrow in foreign currency, these non-performing microcredit loans would lead to international threats forcing the government to ultimately bailout and repay out of its own foreign currency reserves. This could cause the rupee to collapse and seriously hamper our ability to get the more important imports we still need.
Other half-baked liberal-leftists advocate using cooperatives to support indebted people in repaying loans, and curiously, toured the north & east with Yahapalana Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera. The entire cooperative system would collapse if it took on the burden of servicing the huge microfinance debt!
All these solutions are a win-win for white capital. A guaranteed return on such investment, plus destruction of the state and co-operative financial sector, will enable even more private plunder. NGO activists apply pressure on the Sri Lankan government but not on their funders, the German, Swiss, Dutch, US governments to ‘forgive’ these debts. Imperialism as a category does not exist for them. (see ee Focus, Richest Man)
• Don’t forget to check out and share: video co-op Miniran Balakaya’s classic: Why Can’t We Make it Here?
A1. Reader Comments
• ee Naming Companies Not Good? • US Repo to Steal Which Assets? • Whining German Ambassador • Microfinance & Euro/US banks • Oil Nationalization Incomplete
A2. Quotes of the Week
• US Repo SL Assets? • Big Pharma vs NMRA • Whitehall Securities & Laxapana
A3. Random Notes
• Foreign Aid & Fake Colombo Flood Control • Evil Eyes on 400 SOEs? • Sardiel & Police • Trader Media Demand More imports & Exports • Embalmers & Editors • Media Euphemisms, Consolidation & Flexibility • Big Pharma & Corporate Feminism• August is NATO Planning Month? • Mass Murder, Trump or Biden • English Nazis • Sunday Times & Chris Patten
B. ee Focus
B1. The Censored Story of DJ Wimalasurendra: Imagining the Industrial Nation of Ceylon – BD Witharana (Part 1)
B2. The Richest Man, Microfinance Robbery & a History of LOLC
B3. Sovereignty & Finance II – Garvin Karunaratne (Part 2)
C. News Index
A1. Reader Comments
ee thanks Readers who send articles of interest. Please excerpt or summarize what is important about any article sent, or your comments, with the e-link at the end. It’s better to send them as email.
• “It’s good ee is naming companies, though do be careful!”
• “So what is the link to the expected election landslide, the sudden resignation of the Swiss Ambassador to Sri Lanka, and the arrest of former CID Director Shani Abeysekera?”
• “The opposition claims the government ‘repo’ deal with the US is illegal, and involves the pledging on Sri Lanka’s assets to the US government. Which assets are they talking about?” (see ee Finance)
• “So good of ee – brilliant insights – ee’s comments should come as a section at the start. They can be repeated if necessary under the complicated headings. The whining German Ambassador and others who support the ruling cabal’s moves, as implemented by the tamed US, do not realize that Europe too is one of the targets. Its fruits were to be plucked after getting its support to control the rest of the world. But they have run out of time and decided to take pickings from Europe too, right away. Maybe the EU is beginning to see the light. England will be sucked dry last.”
• “Did ee forget local finance & microfinance companies link to European banks, Dutch, Swedish, German, English, US, through their so-called ‘development agencies’ and NGOS?” (see ee Focus)
• “Re: the 1963 nationalization of US and English-owned petroleum installations. ‘Nationalization’ did not involve wholesale takeover of foreign operations, but were limited to 108 Caltex, Esso and Shell filling stations near Colombo, some storage facilities and a pipeline. Only 20% of Caltex and Esso installations were affected (NYT, 12 Jan 1963). Yet, Caltex and Esso claimed this represented ~50% of the worth of the US-owned facilities, due to the proximity of their filling stations to downtown Colombo traffic.”
A2. Quotes of the Week_
• “How does a country with foreign-exchange shortfall of US$7billion repay more than $1bn to recover the pledged US [Repo] securities? In such a scenario the possibility of a default is extremely high, with the country facing the likelihood of losing ownership of the assets pledged in this agreement. The government must clarify this situation as well. Under our Constitution, Parliament is vested with the control of public finances and the monetary law does not make specific arrangements for this repurchase agreement.” (see ee Economy)
• “What is the use of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority Act passed by Parliament if importers can arbitrarily decide on pricing? …Only a few countries have a unique piece of legislation on these lines, which deal not only with safety, quality and efficacy but also on affordability of drugs… We investigated consumer complaints on arbitrary price increases: eg, it was found that the price of a certain medicine sold at Rs700 in Jan this year was pushed up to Rs960 by July – within just 6 months… When the unauthorized price revisions were taken up with the importers, a letter was received saying, more or less, ‘it’s none of our business’, the NMRA chief added.” (see ee Industry)
• “What was uppermost in his mind was the harnessing of the Laxapana waters to produce hydroelectricity and to supply ‘lakhs of lights’ as the name Laxapana implies. Nine long years later, a project based on the original proposals of Wimalasurendra but ill-advisedly modified by the European engineers, was started by the British Government. Three years later it had to be abandoned after spending nearly 3.5 million rupees. Had Wimalasurendra been entrusted with the task it would have been a success. Undaunted, Wimalasurendra pressed the government of the day to resume the project, fearing that it would be shelved forever or passed onto a foreign combine. With this in view, he briefed DS Senanayake of the proposed sale of a vital section to Whitehall Securities Corporation. When DS exposed this fact in the Legislative Council, the European rulers gave 24 hours notice to Wimalasurendra, to retire…” (see ee Industry)
• “The revolutionary character of a national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement, the existence of a revolutionary or a republican program of the movement, the existence of a democratic basis of the movement. The struggle that the Emir of Afghanistan is waging for the independence of Afghanistan is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the monarchist views of the Emir and his associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism… For the same reasons, the struggle that the Egyptians merchants and bourgeois intellectuals are waging for the independence of Egypt is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the bourgeois origin and bourgeois title of the leaders of Egyptian national movement, despite the fact that they are opposed to socialism; whereas the struggle that the British “Labour” Government is waging to preserve Egypt’s dependent position is for the same reason a reactionary struggle, despite the proletarian origin and the proletarian title of the members of the government, despite the fact that they are ‘for’ socialism.” – JV Stalin, The Foundations of Leninism
A3. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_
• Foreign ‘aid’ is provided not to ‘develop’ but to postpone development through bribery until we beg for foreigners to rule us directly.It is evident in the fiasco of contracts (to England, Japan, Singapore) provided for Colombo’s flood control. We get the same funder/loan-giver giving funds to several agencies for sections of the same river, eg, sometimes with one activity negating what the other activity of the next organization/agency is faithfully carrying out. ee believes ye olde English colonial ‘corruption’ is now merely democratized and multilateralized and broadbased. (see ee Agriculture). If you wish more evidence of English colonial corruption, read WMDD Andradi’s, unfortunately titled, Sri Lankan Subordinates of the British (SSA, 2011), about all the games played in the early public service, legal, medical, survey, & religious departments.
Yet not a day goes by without the word ‘corruption’ flung around, and this is most evident in the calls for the privatization of the 400 SOEs. But what the pandemic Xray exposed is, if not for the public health system and our Sinhala Buddhist culture of compassion for all sentient beings, we would have ended up like the US and India are today.
Police & Thieves – Every Sept 3rd, ‘police day’ is celebrated around the monument near the gate to the Thimbirigasyaya Field Force Headquarters. The monument is a memorial to the colonial Malay Constable Tuan Saban, killed by Utuwankande Sura Saradiel. Saban is still hailed as the first ‘Ceylonese policeman’ to be killed.
Saradiel was hanged in 1864 in the insurgencies consequent to Sri Lanka’s second war of independence against the English in 1848. Both Saradiel and Saban are hailed as heroes by clearly different constituencies.
Recent media criticisms of the police all suggest that the police were much better before the revelations of recent weeks. Yet the parliamentary Hansards, eg, reveal the police were never reformed, even after the English left. They remained a colonial repressive force (tho apparently better than India’s). Philip Gunawardena constantly criticized SWRD Bandaranaike severely for failing to reform the police and military, for which omission SWRD paid the ultimate price.
In villages, police have to play the role of enforcers for merchants, moneylenders and landlords. The JVP’s ability to mobilize their supporters in 1971 to attack copshops, but little else, well indicates the state of affairs.
Yet as long as capitalism dictates, no politicians, police, judges, professors or artists may be considered clean either. Such ‘clean’ folk only exist in Bollywood and Hollywood. Police feel they’re unpopular because “they’re only 8-pass” and considered ‘unschooled’. Yet former DIG Sydney de Soyza, responsible for the murder of SWRD, subsequent coups, as well as the provocations that led to the JVP uprising, was a Royal College and University of Ceylon graduate! It’s surprising Unilever has no soap called Saban-Saban or Fair & Lovely Sydney!
• The media wailing loudly proclaims 1000s of jobs are being lost due to import restrictions: from car importers, of all people, to construction, tourism, etc… The Ceylon Motor Traders Association baldly claim to be a “bridge between Sri Lanka and automotive manufacturers worldwide”!
Despite their constant pointing to China, we’ve remained a colony of the white-settler state of the USA for the last 72 years! Their addiction to the old English import-export plantation game reigns supreme. The other media ploy is to insist on industrial private-public partnerships, even as it’s clear capitalists have no real interest. As this Financial Times editorial “Industry focus” insists: “The way forward has to be with exports and investments.” Yet export markets are closing their doors faster, while investments shift even more to micro-usury and quicker bucks! (see ee Industry)
• Last week, ee superficially examined the role of finance companies. Large-scale foreign industries sell their machinery and industrial goods to us at enormously inflated prices, through ‘local’ finance companies, linked to foreign banks.
This week’s headline “Sri Lanka finance companies to be hard hit by import controls as bad loans top 11%”, complains especially about restrictions on car imports. Sri Lanka is not just a dumping ground – a “cemetery” as a Japanese professor called it – for resurrected used-cars:
“Average monthly volumes that Bajaj exports to Sri Lanka are about 10,000 3wheelers and 12,000 2wheelers”: We’re now a colonized market for not just the US, Japan etc, and industrialized Chennai, India. Take this fake news item: “Germany’s main imports from Sri Lanka are textiles, rubber and tea, and its main exports to SL are machinery, electrical goods, chemical products and motor vehicles. For years already, Germany has recorded a trade deficit with SL.”
Note, the machinery and industrial inputs to produce ‘our’ “textiles, rubber and tea exports” are all not made in Sri Lanka. More importantly, Germany has laws that ensure the capital-intensive inputs for their “machinery, electrical goods, chemical products and motor vehicles” are all made in Germany. Now that’s the real patriotism, that’s the real nationalism!
• The much-publicized celebration of “single mother” Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson being elected SL Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry chief, as a victory for corporate feminism, got a severe drubbing this week when she was exposed trying to hoodwink the state’s laws on drugs during this health crisis, while defending enormous price rises by private companies who control 80% of the market! Which women and mothers does she uphold? (see ee Industry)
• The way newspapers write editorials is somewhat akin to embalmers at funeral homes. They resurrect dead old editorials of 5 years past, take out any time-frozen references, then dab on a few current cosmetic layers, and publish.
EconomyNext is the embodiment of the private capitalists whose rights they love to espouse. Knowing they have a near-monopoly on business/economic news, they throw logic, theory and editors to the wind. Not giving a damn if their history is true, or their words spelled right, since they are assured of the backing of the multinational advertising agencies, led by Unilever. This is why their main cry is to echo the US Treasury (IMF, WB) gospel, of “consolidation” – ripping off public assets!
• Rather than call for directly selling off resources (for a song, and without investing it in modern large-scale industrialization) the media use euphemisms like the IMF’s “revenue-based consolidation strategy” (robbing public assets through privatization of SOEs), the EFC calls for “flexibility” or JKH’s “cost containment initiatives” and “productivity improvement measures” (sacking workers, or reducing their wages and benefits).
• How would you like your mass-murder served in the coming year? Hot or cold? By Trump or Biden? We live in an upside-down world. Watch the Monbiot video, Everything you know about the British Empire is a lie,and realize we know less than 1% of the truth of ourselves. The capitalist media will never tell us, and why should they, even if they call themselves Sri Lankan? (see ee Media)
The German Nazis considered themselves the younger brothers of the white-settlers who ravaged continents. The genocidal settlers, whether in Asia, the Pacific, Africa or the Americas, were successful models for the Nazis. In the video, the role in Kenya of Evelyn Baring, of the Quaker Anglo-German banking family, embodies all the stereotypes of Nazi Generals depicted in English movies. Yet it’s curious how we were trained to differentiate between these sets of mass-murderers, of their horrors d’ouevres. The BBC and NYT wishes us to demonize a Mao or a Stalin who advanced their countries, while sanctifying English or US leaders. We may demonize a Belgian king Leopold (who, by the way, rode the first train to Ambepussa!) for his horrors in Africa, but retain statues for his first cousin Victoria, whose secrets undress even worse horror . Such tales – of 1848 here, 1857 India, opium wars and famines from China to India to Africa and Anglo-North America – are yet to be told.
Meanwhile, our media give pride of place to such imperialists as the Interventionist ICG’s Chris Patten, to pontificate on how despotic us ‘Asiatics’ all are, from Beijing to Moscow! (see ee Sovereignty)
• August is that month in the wintry climes of NATO, where the ruling classes at their summer resorts, chalets and cottages may deign to invite favored, wannabe cream-de-la-crème of academe, the media and the arts, editors, publishers, superstars, CEOs and generals, to parrot their scriptural priorities and lines for the next year, amending previous August resolutions. August is the month when factories and workshops are retooled and repaired and most senior workers get a few weeks off at a stretch, and university curricula are set in stone. For September in the NATO climes is the real industrial new year, when war budgets for mass-murder are announced, universities and schools reopen, and museums, bookfests, galleries and cinemas launch their bestsellers, blockbusters and other mega tax-avoidance schemes… Where the faux-horrors of Halloween and the misgivings of Thanksgiving prepare for new cruelties amidst fresh breaths of winter.
B. Special Focus__
B1. The Censored Story of DJ Wimalasurendra: Imagining the Industrial Nation of Ceylon – BD Witharana (Part 1)
Excerpts from Negotiating Power & Constructing the Nation: Engineering in Sri Lanka:
The streets of Colombo were provided with a few gas lamps in 1872 by the Colombo Gas & Water Co. Electricity was generated using diesel and was first introduced symbolically to the island in 1882 by illuminating the Billiard Room of the Bristol Hotel in the capital Colombo. It was provided on a commercial basis by Boustead Brothers Ltd since 1895 (Phillips 1981). Electricity was generated on a limited scale by generators of 5-122 horsepower scale for the use of plantations even by 1885…
“Aberdeen-Laxapana Hydroelectric Scheme (1900-36) – My main interest is to revisit the idea about the non-emergence of a discourse on developmental nationalism in Sri Lanka, as witnessed in neighbouring India. Why did the demand for an industrially developed independent Ceylon made by Ceylonese leaders such as Marcus Fernando, Anagarika Dharmapala and Cumaratunga Munidasa not evolve into a mature ‘plan’ leading ultimately to the establishment of a Sri Lankan developmental nation? Or was there, in fact, such a ‘plan’ which escaped the gaze of historians for some reason? Exploring Land, Labor, Capital & Sectional Interests in the National Politics of SL, in the first part of the 20th century, a study on the peasantry and agriculture, V Samaraweera (1981) observes… Ceylonese nationalists “began to look towards a realistic program of industrialization for the country” only by the 1940s.
By selecting the first mass-scale hydroelectricity generation scheme, the Aberdeen-Laxapana Scheme as my ‘worksite’, I discuss… how a widespread campaign for a Ceylonese developmental state was, in fact, present. The discourse anchored in the Aberdeen-Laxapana Scheme proposed an alternative future for the island against the romantic peasant agriculture based vision that succeeded…
The hydroelectric scheme that was under discussion for decades during British colonial rule. and began operations in the mid-20th century, was the terrain for a range of important colonial – anti-colonial – and nationalistic ideas and counter-ideas that have largely gone unrecorded in the discourse of Sri Lankan nationalism so far. The biography of DJ Wimalasurendra, the key Ceylonese behind the scheme, opens an avenue for one to visit this hidden past and to observe that a realistic program of industrialization was present long before the 1940s.
Both Marcus Fernando and Cumaratunga Munidasa were influenced by the ideas forwarded by Wimalasurendra. The initial ideas of industrialization presented on a ground of Sinhala nationalism, eg by Dharmapala, seem to have transformed into a clear narrative of developmental nationalism by 1920-30s, thanks to the contributions made by Wimalasurendra.
Anagarika Dharmapala, who had a more radical approach in comparison to most of the political and social elite, loyal to British at the time, was the leading figure who mixed social morality with Buddhist agitation and was hence instrumental in politicizing the movement. Dharmapala contrasted Buddhist values with the moral failings of missionaries, eg meat and alcohol consumption and lack of a norm against killing animals…
DJ Wimalasurendra (1874-1953) dedicated his entire life, from the days of his early career as a District Engineer of the Public Works Dept to his later life as a politician in the first State Council of Ceylon, to seeing the Scheme pushed through, amidst numerous obstacles. In the early 20th century he investigated in detail the possibility of developing the hydro potential of the island, made important contributions to design… The paper he presented in 1918 at the Engineering Association of Ceylon, “Economics of Power Utilization in Ceylon” which linked hydropower with the development infrastructure for industrialization, can be considered as the first draft of a vision for a developmental nation, that evolved further during the following decades. Wimalasurendra who, out of frustration, took early retirement from the Dept of Electrical Undertakings in 1930, tried his best to campaign for the recommencement of construction of the Scheme, as a member of the first State Council 1931-36. Speeches made by Wimalasurendra at the State Council are a testimony to the advanced imagination of a Ceylonese developmental nation underpinned by the industrial potential provided by the Hydroelectric Scheme.
One can argue that this delay of almost half a century in implementing the Laxapana Scheme, which under normal circumstances would have taken just 4 years, could have prevented a possible early industrialization of Ceylon.
Wimalasurendra was born in 1874 as a member of the Navandanna, the caste that historically specialized in ‘engineering’, according to the division of labour defined in the local caste system… His father, Don Juan Wimalasurendra, earned recognition for his master-craftsmanship and was awarded the title ‘Mudaliyar’ by the colonial government. His family tradition can be seen as the original influence on Wimalasurendra’s practical skills. After completing his secondary education at the prominent Sinhala Buddhist school, Ananda College, Wimalasurendra received his initial education in engineering at the Ceylon Technical College. [He became] a Chartered Civil Engineer and Chartered Electrical Engineer, a rare achievement even by today’s standards. In 1924 he was appointed Head of the Electrical Engineering Section of the Public Works Department.
A detailed discussion of the evolution of the Hydroelectric Scheme is required to appreciate the nuances of the imagination of a technologically advanced Ceylon – an imagination in which Wimalasurendra takes centre stage…
A closer look at these sources spread over the span of half a century leads one to identify 2 rather incompatible narratives that highlight the important tensions that defined the final shape of developmental nationalism in the first half of the 20th century. The clarity of the ‘facts’ that are relatively clear in retrospect, may not have been so apparent in the heat of the controversies that surrounded this developmental imagination at the time…
Almost all the officials who held high office during the first half of the 20thC were British. Some of the post-independence sources… reflect some features of this first narrative as a result of their dependence on the colonial sources from the first half of the century. The 2nd narrative that contests the 1st colonial-narrative draws mainly from local sources and is interwoven closely with the life story of engineer DJ Wimalasurendra. Information can also be found to strengthen this second narrative in official colonial sources. However, when they are from colonial sources they do not appear in the main text but in the annexes produced by locals. There are also some colonial texts produced by Englishmen that can be used to strengthen the second narrative when they were written especially for the readership of locals (eg motions presented for approval of the Legislative Council, dominated by Ceylonese members).
The important feature that differentiates the 2 narratives from each other is the place reserved for Wimalasurendra. While narratives that use colonial sources underplay the role of Wimalasurendra, the 2nd narrative highlights it. 1910 is given as the date of the origin of the Hydroelectric Scheme in the first narrative: …Nov 1910, that FB Rylands, the Government Electrical Engineer attached to the PWD, reported, sufficient hydropower was available near Laxapana for the total electricity requirement of the government. The 2nd narrative, however, marking an extended history takes the origin of the Hydroelectric Scheme further back to the year 1901, and hence transfers the credit from Rylands to Wimalasurendra and the time when the idea of generating electricity from the Laxapana falls was conceived by Wimalasurendra.
While involved in a government assignment to search for minerals and particularly gold, Wimalasurendra, as an acting District Engineer, is said to have found the new ‘mine of gold’ in 1901 when he saw by chance the falls of Laxapana and realized their potential to generate electricity. It was this thought from 1901 that had led to his investigation of the hydroelectric potential of the island, which he published as a technical paper in 1918. Interestingly some of these important years do not appear as milestones in the colonial narrative on the Scheme…
After being appointed on 22 Aug 1904 as an Acting District Engineer and posted to Diyatalawa, a small town in the central hills, Wimalasurendra was assigned with 2 tasks: to build camps to house the South African Boer prisoners of war, and to search for prospects for minerals in the island. A Boer prisoner Ian Van Geyzel, who was an engineer himself, was selected by the government to accompany him in excursions in search of minerals. Wimalasurendra gives credit to his companion, who had the opportunity of traveling worldwide and experiencing hydroelectric power generation, for suggesting the possibility of tapping Laxapana for electricity generation.
The waterfall which was known till then as Kiriwan Eliya Falls was renamed by Wimalasurendra as Laxapana to mean “100,000 light bulbs”. Arumugam finds this new name as a proof of Wimalasurendra’s engineering genius. Based on the overall water-head (520m) and the installed capacity (100MW) of the present scheme, Arumugam calculates backwards to estimate the possible installed capacity of the water-head (129m) Wimalasurendra must have observed in 1901/4. The figure 11.6MWs Arumugam derives as the installed capacity is, in fact, equivalent to illumination of 116,000 of 100W light bulbs…
Another interesting contrast between the 2 narratives becomes apparent when the reasons for the delay in construction are discussed. The first narrative avoids discussion by just attributing it to ‘various reasons’ without further explanation, or just refers to the ‘unsatisfactory position’ with regard to the status of the Scheme. The 2nd narrative, however, adds clarity to the ‘mystery’. While some describe the delay within a framework of a personal conflict between Rylands and Wimalasurendra or between the white colonial government and Wimalasurendra, others point to a larger picture of institutionalized racism at work in the government service at that time. Wimalasurendra took it even further to position the delay in a discourse on the business and economic interests of the British imperialist project…”
– Continued next week: Ryland boycotts Wimalasurendra
B2. The Richest Man, Microfinance Robbery & a History of LOLC
The fairy tale of Sri Lanka’s “current richest man” trails back to Nobel Peace Prize winner Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus in 2006, which brought his 1970s “microfinance” village policy experiment to global limelight.
Microfinance programs – small-scale lending programs targeting low-income households that don’t access formal lending systems – promised to provide capital ‘to open a street stall, invest in their farmland, or buy materials to make handicrafts’.
Microfinance deployed high-sounding terms as “ethical”, “sustainable” and of course “development”. It was hailed as “a financial magic bullet”, uplifting the world’s impoverished and empowering women. It has not delivered, and ‘development’ never happens…
“2019 saw a historical peak in both the number of borrowers globally, rising to 140 million, and the sum total of all loans owed to microfinance institutions (MFIs), at US$124billion.”
“The average microfinance loan is now more than double GDP per capita, at US$3,804, the world’s highest average microloan debt per borrower.”
“In April 2020, the International Labor Organization estimated 1.6 billion informal workers across the global south could see their livelihoods destroyed.”
Microfinance cannot alleviate this crisis! Microfinance loans are now repaid not through profits from the SMEs they supposedly help, but wages and salaries from precarious jobs and income they did not create. Rather than set up businesses, microfinance loans are used to meet daily health and food expenses.
In Cambodia (which crowned Sri Lanka’s “current richest man”), microfinance loans are often taken out by migrants rural workers pushed out of agriculture into low-paying garment and construction industries in the cities. These borrowers instead use loans to buy needed goods, and repay loans with wage earnings.
When debt become unpayable, they get into debt bondage: work exchanged for repaying microfinance loans. Women, the hardest hit, are then targeted by microcredit schemes.
In Cambodia and India, the microcredit sector is no longer not-for-profit but “a neoliberal model dominated by commercial banks”. Previously loans were given in tightly regulated amounts, interest rates and collateral, protected by states. Now lending involves more unstable borrowers without state protection or relief.
“Returns for microfinance investors are incredibly high, with average portfolio yields in 2017 reported at 19.2%, in comparison with 5-10% for commercial and retail sectors. Microfinance borrowers pay a much higher rate to borrow than wealthier counterparts. In India, debtors are lured to take on unsustainable amounts of debt, with MFI loan officers rewarded for increasing borrower numbers, and then threatening and abusing them to repay.”
In India, while microfinance repayments are on hold due to the pandemic, interest continues to accrue, safeguarding investors while borrowers have no incomes.
Pushing for more microfinance lending to re-stimulate the economy will leave borrowers and women even more impoverished by expensive debt through a period of uncertain employment. The labour crisis blamed on Covid will boom, when starvation results from threats by creditors!
Much of Cambodia’s debt remains hidden, extended either by illegal moneylenders or largely hidden real-estate developers who provide unregulated credit to homebuyers… Cambodia’s microfinance sector, valued at $10bn, will crash as borrowers cannot pay due to a faltering economy… Cambodia’s Microfinance Association insists no MFI has forced borrowers to sell their collateralized land to raise funds for payments. In April, more than 100 NGOs, trade unions and community groups called on MFIs to suspend repayments, which some institutions have done. The US’s Human Rights Watch has also waded in, demanding the Cambodian government freeze debt collection. Many of their largest banks and MFIs are now foreign-owned!
Cambodia’s housing market bubble burst in places last year, land prices have fallen, making collateralized land titles now worth less than when MFI loans were taken out, with fewer speculators looking to buy land, with banks less apt to accept property in lieu of repayments. Meanwhile, there’s apparently no shortage of liquidity within the sector. Their central bank cut liquidity requirements, freeing close to $2bn in new lendable credit among Cambodia’s banks. Also, Prasac Microfinance Institution, the largest MFI in Cambodia by assets, received $150mn from South Korea’s KB Kookmin Bank, who bought LOLC’s assets in Cambodia! In June, Prasac’s gross loans were valued at $2.6bn.
How long can banks & MFIs indefinitely defer payments, hoping the economy recovers, allowing them to begin recollecting loan repayments at the same time as issuing new loans? With our economies made so export-tourist-dependent on Europe and the USA, new lockdowns would directly impact borrowers’ ability to repay.
Evident in the media whining about imports and exports, the financial sector will demand another round of state intervention, with cash subsidies to poor households or direct financial infusions to banks. The central bank also will be unable to decrease liquidity requirements again, while being pushed to pay external debts and reduce budget deficits. Colonized governments will soon be forced to reduce previously promised payments to the unemployed. They will have to announce “austerity” rather than expand budgets, while seeking even more loans from the Asian Development Bank, and other sources.
Cambodia’s $8bn microfinance industry, praised by white aid groups and foreign investors, is crushing families in debt and threatening that country’s economy. This “fast-growing” microfinance sector, with 2.4 million Cambodians as clients, is forcing land sales, debt-driven migration, child labor and cultivators eating less.
NGOS insist the industry’s reported nonperforming loan rate of 1.8% is being kept low by such “human rights abuses”, while highlighting the multimillion-dollar returns made by microcredit institutions and their shareholders. The majority of microcredit debt is collateralized by land titles, with 10,000s of families risking eviction.
Cambodia has the highest average microloan debt per borrower in the world at around $3,370 – a figure more than double the country’s GDP per capita. Next is Peru, at $2,471.
While microfinance increases, expanding by about 30% in 2018, there’s increasing concern about its fragility. In October last year, the IMF warned the “growing systematic importance” of microfinance institutions “pose risks to financial and macroeconomic stability”.
Here’s a familiar story: The EU began “a review” of Cambodia’s preferential trade treatment, as Cambodia got closer to China. The EU threatened withdrawal of duty-free access to the EU market, important for the country’s 700,000-worker textile sector. Many can repay microfinance loans because they have children in Phnom Penh’s garment factories. Any crackdown from Thailand on Cambodian informal workers or a reduction of Chinese investment could precipitate a “microcredit meltdown”.
The National Bank of Cambodia capped annual interest rates, but the MFIs passed on the cost of the cap to borrowers, doubling the percentage of their revenue generated from fees in 2018. In 2017, the country’s 7 largest microcredit institutions made more than $130mn in profit.
One case involves a female borrower from LOLC and Prasac, 2 of Cambodia’s biggest MFIs. “They just told me where to put my thumbprint.” She was also pressured into being a guarantor for a neighbor’s loan. When the neighbor absconded, male credit officers drove her around the village to ask to borrow money from other people. A month earlier, Sri Lanka’s LOLC Holdings, posted a record profit of $65mn for the previous fiscal year.
Cambodia’s Microfinance Association call such cases “isolated”. One microfinancier, Amret, with a loan portfolio of $789mn, is backed by the International Finance Corp, Netherlands Development Finance and Advans Group, a collection of development agencies including the European Investment Bank, the English government-owned CDC group, Agence Francaise de Development, and Germany’s KFW. These European agencies then fund and pressure local NGOs to put pressure on their local governments rather than on the imperialist centres!
• A History of LOLC
In 2019, LOLC claimed 85% of their profits before tax were derived from investments in Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. Let us look at their history, linked to the European banks of so-called ‘Development Agencies’:
In 1999, LOLC ‘strategically allied’ with US Dunn & Bradstreet Corporation that provided “commercial data, analytics, and insights”. That year, Dunn and Bradstreet spun off Moody’s Investors Service into a separate publicly traded company. Moody’s (aka ICRA) has provided happy ratings for LOLC, while it has robbed cultivators throughout Asia in the last 21 years.
In 2003, LOLC got the first US$ long-term Loan from the OPEC Fund (to set up Shari’ah finance banks?), and became “the first leasing company to be recognized as a Participating Financial Institution for the Indian Line of Credit.”
In 2005, LOLC got a long-term Rupee loan from FMO, the Netherlands Development Finance Co, and a long-term US$ Loan from Proparco, a “Development Financial Institution” owned by French Development Agency.
In 2006, it got a long-term US$ Loan from Germany’s DEG, a “Development Finance Institution” and a subsidiary of German state-owned development bank KFW Group, based in Frankfurt. It also expanded to Cambodia.
In 2007, LOLC partnered with German development agency GTZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation) to develop “a microbanking system”. It also received a Sri Lankan Cabinet subcommittee approval for “OffShore Sand Mining, Washing, Sieving and Grading to supply construction and related industries”, and then entered into a joint venture with Agri Tec to manufacture precipitated silica and allied products using rice husk ash.
In 2008, it launched Western Union Money transfer services at LOLC branches. US-based WU, the top money transfer business, grabs massive commissions from migrant worker remittances.
In 2009, LOLC received a US$5mn guarantee facility from USAID. It opened the first dedicated Shari’ah finance branches in Kathankudi, Oddamavadi and Kalmunai. LOLC Micro Credit Ltd (LOMC) received a total of $14mn from Switzerland’s Symbiotics, and Dutch Bank 3 Triodos Funds “to expand Microfinance Operations in Sri Lanka.” Lanka ORIX Finance Co Ltd started to transact in international financial markets via SWIFT.
In 2009, LOLC invested in United Dendro Energy for a gliricidia-wood-fired power plant to link to the national power grid in late 2011, also investing in 14 mini-hydro plants to be built in Maturata and Pussellawa plantations, through its unit, Browns Investments Ltd.
In 2010, LOLC invested in Sierra Holdings, Sierra Constructions and AgStar Fertilizers, and got long-term loans from Symbiotics, Triple Jump and New York’s Minlam (investing in ‘emerging markets’), France’s Proparco and Triodos. LOLC also won an award from the US Open Compliance & Ethics Group.
In 2011, became one of the largest deposit base holders in the Registered Finance Company sector. LOLC Micro Credit became the largest agriculture implement financier in Sri Lanka with over 100,000 customers, getting “the largest micro finance syndicated loan” of $55.5mn. It also formed LOLC Motors and became authorized distributors for FIAT.
In 2015, LOLC announced record-breaking production at Hingurana Sugar Factory.
In 2016-7, LOLC got the “Largest Syndicated Loan in History of SL’s NBFI Sector” – $247mn from 3 financial institutions including the Asian Development Bank. A $153.1mn loan was granted to Commercial Leasing & Finance (CLC), through Dutch Development Bank FMO and 11 funding partners for CLC. The 11 CLC partners: OPEC fund for International Development; Finnfund, the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation; Proparco – a subsidiary of the AgenceFrançaise de Développement; BIO – the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries; DEG – the German Investment and Development Corporation; Austrian Development Bank OeEB; Swiss responsAbility Investments AG, Blue Orchard Finance & Symbiotics; Dutch Oikocredit. Dutch ACTIAM also provided $5mn via FMO’s fund structure. Dutch FMO was the “Mandated Lead Arranger and Facility Agent”.
LOLC Finance received a $69million loan, from the ADB and major Middle Eastern banks: Emirates NBD Bank, Bank Muscat, First Gulf Bank, National Bank of Oman and Rakbank. ADB was the Lender of Record, with Bank Muscat and First Gulf Bank as the Mandated Lead Arrangers for Tranche B, while Dubai Based Investment Bank Alpen Capital ME acted as financial advisor.
LOLC Micro Credit, “the largest microfinance company in the country” also received a $25mn senior loan from the ADB.
In 2018-9, LOLC Insurance made a Bancassurance Agreement with Commercial Bank of Ceylon, and LOLC’s iPay partnered with PickMe.
And this week (July 2020), the SL ambassador in US-occupied Korea stated, ‘The largest Commercial Bank in the ROK, KB Financial Group of Kookmin Bank, committed a mega investment in highly reputed and diversified “Blue Chip” Corporate of LOLC Group of Sri Lanka….’
The question remains: Who has sold what and to whom?
B3. Sovereignty & Finance II – Garvin Karunaratne (cont’d from last week)
In 1977 the IMF allowed us loans if we adhered to the Structural Adjustment Program and that was why we had to liberalize the use of foreign exchange, allow dollars for foreign travel, for overseas studies, foreign holidays, etc, and also relax foreign imports. In case we did not have sufficient dollars to do this spending spree, then the IMF recommendation was for us to sell off, privatize government entities and feed the funds collected to enable this expenditure. If that was not sufficient then we were asked to obtain loans. The IMF itself gave us loans with grace periods so that the leaders who accepted the loan will be out of office when it comes to repayment. It is by going on this path that our Rupee lost its value from Rs15.50 in Nov 1977 to over Rs240 to the UK pound to the US$185 today. It was this process, instead of controlling foreign-exchange disbursement by import controls etc that led us to create a massive foreign-exchange debt.
The necessity of some authority to study carefully what is happening to our foreign exchange is absolutely necessary because currently we have had to impose draconian import controls as we do not have sufficient dollars. We cry out aloud but do not look into what is happening. This is very strange. Let us address the following points:
What happens to the foreign exchange collected at the banks? – private and State. This collection does not get collected to our Treasury, which is how that foreign bank had hoarded the foreign exchange it had collected and finally bid its price upwards gaining a massive profit.
What happens to the foreign exchange that is accepted by moneychangers? I’m certain the authorized moneychangers collect far more – around 10 times more – than what all banks collect. Are these amounts credited to the Treasury? Why are we running in circles finding loans from abroad and getting more and more into foreign debt while allowing this foreign exchange that legitimately comes into Sri Lanka to be frittered away by the private dealers?
Further, the banks today make small payments of foreign exchange. Even local credit cards can be used abroad and the payments get paid from our reserves.
There’s a further development re hotel bookings made by internet booking agencies: all foreign multinationals who do publicity, fix hotel rates (all of which should be done by local tourist authority). The payments are made to hotels in local Rupees, but the internet booking multinational sends to the hotelier an invoice for 15% of the amount paid which gets paid in foreign currency ie, from our reserves. In other words, internet hotel bookings eat into our foreign exchange. With internet bookings being the major sales mode today, tourism actually eats into our foreign reserves. Our economic sleuths fail to even understand how our foreign reserves are being depleted through tourism. Tourism as happening today only creates employment in hotels and sales outlets.
It’s also important to note, through FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) many investors bring in small amounts at the initial stage but get involved in local sales in the Rupee, importing sales goods through our dollar reserves and thereafter repatriate profits in dollars from our reserves. Recently our Government has decided to not allow the repatriation of profits. However, the manner in which foreign multinationals continue to trade in rupees today perhaps indicate they’re somehow entitled to take away profits in dollars. To add to this is Uber Eats, Pickme and such who also trade in rupees. All take away profits from our reserves. Our country is the net loser. Though our Central Bank mandarins have decided this is not their domain, I beg to disagree and am dead certain that the Central Banks of other countries do handle their foreign-exchange collections. Actually their main task is to guard foreign exchange.
These are all critically important matters that have to be looked into.
We must guard our foreign exchange, otherwise as a sovereign country we’re dead. An immediate decision has to be made, in case of all internet hotel bookings, the payment is required in hard currency that has to get deposited at a State bank, and it’s out of this deposit that the 15% has to be paid to the internet booking multinational.
It may also be prudent to make an order that all foreigners staying at hotels should pay in hard currency which should be deposited in a State bank by the hotelier. My foreign travel some 2 years ago, was always payment to hotels in hard currency and never in local currency. Hard currency collected by all banks and moneychangers should be collected by the State Treasury. As it happens today it’s an absurd situation to allow the hard currency that comes in to be allowed to dissipate, and for the Government to seek foreign loans to meet expenses that require hard currency. It is very sad that we have a Central Bank that lives in slumber.
I hope these facts get to the notice of our leaders.
C. News Index______________________________________________
• ee News Index provides headlines and links to gain a sense of the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’ mainly to expose the backwardness of a multinationally controlled ‘local media’:
(ee is pro-politics, pro-politician, pro-nation-state, anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)
ee Sovereignty news emphasizes sovereignty as economic sovereignty – a strong nation is built on modern industrialization fueled by a producer culture.
• Trade unions begin hunger fast over East Container Terminal
“If the East Container Terminal goes to India, all our jobs would be gone,” Chandrasiri Mahagamage the secretary of the All Ceylon Port General Workers’ Union remarked.
• Trade unions cripple Colombo Port
‘Coalition of 23 trade unions protest demanding ECT be handed over to SLPA…Pledge to continue strike until assured ECT will be removed from India’
• Polls won’t impede Indo-Lanka talks on ‘financial measures’ to save SL economy
• RSS infiltrating Sri Lanka – Senthivel, NDML
‘The hegemony and influence of India’s ruling factions have been present in Tamil politics in covert ways. Through this, Hindutva politics is trying to infiltrate Tamil politics.’
• Swiss Business Circle bids farewell to Controversial outgoing Swiss Ambassador
• Sri Lanka’s Choice: Deed E-Land Register or MCC/Bim Saviya E-Land Register?
• Will Gota sign MCC?
‘After all, Gota was a US citizen too till recently. The engine of the Rajapaksa juggernaut, Basil opted to retain US citizenship than contest the elections which he could have won from any district. Would this affect judgement? Hope not. If Gota signs the MCC unaltered it would be an act of ultimate betrayal and he would surely follow the Maithri path of sunset. Worse still, it may be the end of Sri Lanka, as we know. Gota-sir, please don’t let the country down!”
• SLPP candidates contradict over MCC agreement
• Terrorists and their invisible handlers
‘Balasingham, a former employee of the British High Commission in Colombo, played no role in producing LTTE suicide bombers. He was the LTTE spokesman cum negotiator. It is his wife, Adele, who produced suicide bombers; she was instrumental in brainwashing female Tiger combatants and turning them into ‘the children of fire’, as Prabhakaran used to call his suicide cadres. She wore the LTTE uniform and presented her trainees with cyanide capsules when they completed their training. She is currently living in London as a free woman while the British government is campaigning against war crimes.’
• Concerns over Adele Balasingham & TGTE at House of Lords
• New York Times Specifically Named SWRD Bandaranaike As Target of CIA Assassination Plot
• LSSP Leader NM Perera Accused US Of Using PL 480 Funds to Interfere in Local Politics
• Focus on Tamil politics – First general election under Gotabaya presidency:
‘The TULF boycotted parliament for several reasons. This Indian-sponsored terrorist groups ordered them not to continue in parliament beyond the normal six-year term et al.’
• General election: Global Tamil Forum discourages voters from backing major parties…
• Is Sinhala the Official Language of Sri Lanka? – I
‘The people in the country, including the people in the North and the East, the politicians and the political parties in the South may believe that Sinhala is the Official Language of Sri Lanka applicable throughout the country. But the Tamil political parties in the North and the East and the Muslim political parties know that it is not the case. It is they who got this done extending support to Ranasinghe Premadasa to win the 1988 Presidential Election against Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike’
• How Premadasa turned the Official Language Policy upside down
‘On a comparison of the provisions in JR’s 1978 Constitution and Ranasinghe Premadasa’s 16th Amendment one can clearly see how the Official Language Policy of Sri Lanka has been turned upside down through this Amendment.’
• Indian Airports Authority reportedly out of a joint venture to develop Mattala: Report
• TNA: Same Manifesto since 1977, calls for Remerger….
• TNA’s call for self-determination
‘What they are trying to do is whip up a communal frenzy among a new generation of youth’
• British Tamil Forum winds up in shame
• Attempts to revamp LTTE futile under GR government: KP
• Invoke the 6th Amendment Against TNA
• The Indo-Lanka Accord and the Sri Lankan Tamils – David Jeyaraj
‘The opposition to the Indo-Lanka Accord is because it recognises the multi-ethnic, multi-religious nature of Sri Lankan society and because it decrees the north and east as historic areas of habitation of Tamils and Muslims. The neo-fascists want a mono-ethnic state. So the accord must go. Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to remember them again bitterly.’
• Lord Naseby raps Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam in House of Lords
‘”I remember Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Assad, all of whose communities we interfered in at huge human cost to those communities.”’
• SJB manifesto sidesteps constitutional reform
‘President R.Premadasa made the same mistake of bartering constitutional reform for votes when he reduced the district cut off point in the proportional representation system from 12.5% to 5% in order to obtain the support of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress at the presidential election of 1988.’
• New birth certificate issue: Much ado about nothing
‘ Registrar General says removing race from the “national birth certificate” was never on the cards’
• Ignorance causes fuss over format of birth certificates
• Implement original decision to remove ethnicity, race and religion from birth certificate –
Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka (CEMSL)
• Malay Confederation remains neutral at election
‘”The then Indonesian Ambassador Sufri Yusuf facilitated the establishment of the Sri Lanka Malay Confederation. Little over 200 members from 16 Malay organizations attended the inaugural meeting held at the Ambassador’s residence on May 18, 1984.”’
• Hakeem launches ‘We Are a part, not apart: demystifying myths against Muslims of Sri Lanka’
• The mosque and the market in Muslim politics
‘Muslims arrived in this country as traders, and Islam came along with them. Although it was the Arab traders who first introduced Islam into this country, it was the Indian Muslim traders who during the 16th century and after spread that faith vigorously, so much so that until the infiltration of Wahhabism in the 1980s, Islam in Sri Lanka was sealed with an Indian stamp.’
• Murder by court martial : Judicial assasination of Edward Henry Pedris
• Kumar David Agnostic on MCC
‘The third point is my prediction that the government will sign MCD; committees and endless Cabinet reviews are smokescreens.’
• Let’s wish Yasmin Sooka truth and justice (for a change)
• Country requires strong Executive Presidency to navigate Post-Covid world says Moragoda
• A future written in the past? – Tisaranee Gunasekara
‘Blaming Tamil businesses for Sinhala poverty and Tamil professionals for Sinhala unemployment was not limited to rank racists such as Cyril Mathew. Even relative moderates like Ronnie de Mel saw a use value in racism. “The Tamils have dominated the commanding heights of everything good in Sri Lanka,” the then Finance Minister opined in the immediate aftermath of Black July. The solution was to “restore the rights of the Sinhala majority”’
• China poised for diplomatic windfall in Sri Lanka elections
‘Beijing backs politicians and influential Buddhist leaders, expert says’
• China only watching, will not get involved in Sri Lankan election
‘Lakshmana Saparamadu, who translated the book said special thanks was due to the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, without which, the project would not have been possible. He also thanked the SL Cooperation Studies Centre of the Pathfinder Foundation, Shanghai Scientific & Technical Publishers and the Chinese Embassy in Colombo.’
• Will Sri Lanka end up as a stratocracy like Myanmar? – Gamini Weerakoon
• National Peace Council reiterates need for equality 37 years after Black July
• Strengthening presidency is the dominant campaign theme – USAID NPC’s Perera
‘The unconscionable failure of the previous government to heed repeated Indian warnings about the Easter Sunday attack was described being the result of an international conspiracy. The MCC grant from the United States was projected as another part of this conspiracy…’
• Bangladesh signals shift towards China, Pakistan: report
• Emerging power contours of South Asia
‘The news that some 200 Chinese investment proposals are awaiting India’s approval indicate that it’s ‘business as usual’ in the India-China relationship but there is very much more than meets the eye in this often strained tie.’
• Oppose New US Cold War with China
• An international online conference organized to oppose the new cold war against China includes presentations by Vijay Prashad, Margaret Kimberly, Max Blumenthal, and the Qiao Collective’
• Democracy and decency – Chris Patten
“We have long been dangerously slow to recognise, let alone resist, the undermining of liberal democracies by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s post-KGB thugocracy and China’s more economically successful version of aggressive Leninism.”
• Vietnam records 2nd Coronavirus death, cracks down on China illegals to block Covid-19 entry
• Why is a monument commemorating a Nazi SS division still standing outside Toronto?
‘The cenotaph at the St. Volodymyr Cemetery in Oakville honours members of the 14th Waffen G
– canadiandimension.com/articles/view/why-is-a-monument-commemorating-a-nazi-ss-division-still-standing-outside-of-toronto renadier Division’
C2. Security (the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of legitimate violence)
ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of legitimate violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance as the basis of a truly independent nation.
• Criminalisation of politics
‘It was during the second JVP insurrection that the phenomenon of hybridisation of politicians and criminals originated in Sri Lanka. The politicians of the ruling party were allowed to maintain private armies for their protection when they faced death threats by insurgents. The private armies thus formed often consisted of notable criminals in the respective areas where the politicians resided. They were provided training by government security forces and equipped with weapons they needed.’
• Tracking LTTE
‘The LTTE rump is still floating around abroad, bribing some western politicians, to restart another killing spree in Sri Lanka. It is most desirable that the Govt set up a separate Ministry, to track down these murderers and traitors, to bring them to trial.’
• Ex-spy chief says SIS noticed something unusual about Law College admissions
‘State Intelligence Service (SIS) in 2015 had reported that there was an unnatural increase in the number of Muslim students admitted to the Law College in 2012…’
• Ranil receives call from Mahendran
‘UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe recently admitted receiving a telephone call from fugitive former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran…. Sri Lanka’s efforts to convince Singapore to hand over Mahendran have not been successful.’
• Excise supports artificial toddy racket; Govt. losing Rs. 50 b annually, NSR charges
• CEA drags its feet: 240 British toxic waste containers still sitting in Colombo Port
• Most Wanted, yet Most Despised: the Police
‘During the war period there were indiscriminate intakes to the Reserve Police without any concern for qualifications or suitability. During the latter stages they were taken mainly on political considerations.. in 2006 on an order from the Executive President all Reservists were absorbed to the Regular Force in the ranks they held in the Reserve Police. This was much to the detriment of Regulars especially in regard to their seniority in service, creating immense frustration. These Reservists were not only totally unfit to join the Police, they had also not received proper training, and are undisciplined & inefficient’
• Indian High Commission official’s residence burgled
• Lonely death of Miss Ceylon 1962
• Five French Rafale fighter jets bought by India
‘In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition with 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE)… The ISEs include Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, infra-red search and tracking systems…’
C3. Economists (Study the Economists before you study the Economics)
ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefinitions, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.
• Decline in global poverty is a farce perpetuated by World Bank’s poverty line
‘There is much self-congratulatory back-slapping among governments, World Bank officials and many economists about the “decline in poverty” that is supposed to have occurred between 1990 and the onset of the recent pandemic…. The fall in world poverty even by this criterion, is largely because of China….And, finally, there are very few countries which have such elaborate nationwide sample surveys as India has–where there is a large-sample survey every five years and a small-sample survey every year, in addition to the infirmities of the IPL. Therefore there are added infirmities of the basic information about the respondents.’ – mronline.org/2020/07/24/decline-in-global-poverty-is-a-farce-perpetuated-by-world-banks-poverty-line/
• CB denies media reports on macroeconomic projection updates
• Former Central Bank Governor made Private Chairman of LYNEAR Wealth Management
• Other members of the Board are Dr. Kemal De Zoysa, Zaffar Jeevunjee and Shamindra Perera….He was a Non-Executive Independent Director of John Keells Holdings and currently serves as a Non-Executive Independent Director of Tokyo Cement.
• Futility of monetary policy and Humpty Dumpty back on the wall – Usvatte-aratchi
‘For policymakers, the question is what can revive economies with least losses. It is evident that monetary policy cannot help. The solution is in reducing the rate of reproduction of infections as close to zero as possible. There is little point in giving money to Humpty Dumpty, broken down on the ground. Humpty Dumpty must be put back on the wall to resume productive activity. Then employment, income and demand will rise. And economies revive.’
• Electing “patriots” without solutions to socio-economic crisis
‘In simple terms, the average number of 80,000 to 90,000 House maids from rural society that left annually to the Middle East will not have employment in same numbers as migrant workers hereafter.’
• Reductio Ad Abeyratnum wants more exports and lesss import controls
‘How is it possible for some countries to maintain low interest rates and as low as even zero per cent, without controlling imports? In fact, it is the fundamental issue here. A strong export base is critical in order to maintain a low interest regime as well as a stable exchange rate; it is exactly what Sri Lanka is lacking. And the Central Bank has little to do with this issue’
• Election promises and economic reality – Sanderatne
‘Three serious problems that threaten the economy are difficult to resolve. They are the country’s external financial vulnerability, large fiscal deficit and low output of goods and services, high unemployment and increased poverty.’
• Can CBSL initiate a V-shaped quick recovery by printing money and lending to businesses? – Wijewardena
‘MMTs argue that there is nothing wrong in a central bank producing money for attaining prosperity. Those arguments are sweet music to the politicians who have no foresight of the imminent danger’
• Out-of-the-box thinking is the need of the moment – Ajith Nivard Cabraal
• Sunday Times Business Club discussion on ‘Challenges of the new government’
‘…on Thursday July 30 at 7.30 pm. The speakers are Jehan Perera, a political affairs analyst, and Shiran Fernando, an economist…’
• Organisation of Professional Associations & Chartered Financial Analysts webinar on low interest rates
‘The keynote speaker for the webinar will be Ravi Abeysuriya, CFA, CEO/Director, Candor Equities Ltd and Advocacy Chair, CFA Society Sri Lanka…. followed by a panel discussion with the participation of experts – W. A. Wijewardena, Former Deputy Governor Central Bank; Chanakya Dissanayake CFA, Senior Director, Country Head and Global Head of Investment Research, Acuity Knowledge Partners; and Naomal Goonewardene CFA, Partner, Nithya Partners.
• SL Government debt surpasses Rs.14,000 billion
• SL’s debt like a pyramid scheme
‘it must borrow more to service the past debt, effectively a pyramid scheme…Even though politically unpopular, Sri Lanka must make sacrifices in key areas of public spending to service these debts.’
• Money is laundered through financial institutions as well as non-financial institutions’
‘For example, money launderers tend to purchase luxury goods, lands/properties and invest in various types of businesses, such as night clubs, food stores, hotels etc.’
• Launderers include gem merchants, casions, lawyers, accountants, notaries etc.
• National Chamber workshop on ‘Import Procedures’ on July 30
• Webinar on New Zealand current business and education environment and opportunities
‘The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in association with the Sri Lanka – Australia – New Zealand Business Council and the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) will be organizing a Webinar on “New Zealand – Current Business and Education Environment, Trends and Opportunities for Joint Collaborations” on 29th July, 2020 at 11.00 a.m. Sri Lanka time.
• Egypt’s international bonds performed better than Sri Lanka, but…
‘But analysts say the inflow of “hot money” — or investments made for short periods — does not translate into new jobs in the real economy & might disappear if the currency slips. Barring its energy sector, Egypt had been struggling to attract FDI, a predicament blamed by analysts on bureaucracy & expansion of army-owned firms in sectors from food production to cement….’
C4. Economy (Usually reported in monetary terms)
ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, etc.
• Warning against trade lockdown: Sri Lanka needs bridges not walls to prosper
‘Ranjith Bandara, an economics professor with the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Party said it was not the policy of the party to follow the 1970s policies followed by the then United Front administration. “There is no long term plan to control imports,” Bandara said. “The SLPP has clearly indentified that there will be no return to the 1970-77 controls. But as a short term solution to encourage production of items domestically we have given space.’
• Banks take mighty bite at arrears, leaving borrowers beggared
‘Customers who had taken personal loans from banks and financial institutions found to their horror last month that their entire pay was deducted from their bank accounts, leaving them with a pittance on which to live….One major problem is that during the COVID-19 lockdown, several businesses closed and others cut staff salaries while the self-employed were deprived of their livelihood. These include three-wheeler owners: although the government suspended lease instalments for six months on three-wheelers, some owners are in deep trouble, having sold their vehicles to settle loans. A six-month moratorium on pawned jewellery was also announced. While banks and reputed financial institutions are toeing the line, some mushroom brokers are insisting on customers paying up the quarterly interest. Some pawn shops said they would review each case and grant time for repayment. With the gold price skyrocketing, extending the period is not a problem, one shop owner said. The moratorium also covers a six-month grace period for three-wheelers. This ends in September – the month in which many concessions lapse.
• July inflation (non-food) increases to 4.2%
• Sri Lanka rupee ends marginally strong, gilt yields gain
• SL GDP could contract 4-pct in 2020, import controls may drive deficit to 11-pct: analysts
‘Analysts said Sri Lanka will have to do hard reforms under an expected International Monetary Fund program to get economic activity moving and avoid external sovereign default.’
• Sri Lanka private credit negative for second month in June 2020
‘The deficit went up partly due to a so-called ‘stimulus’ involving a sudden reversal of tax policy in the earlier three years under an International Monetary Fund program by slashing value added tax. The IMF program however did not contain limits on central bank credit, leading to a collapse of the currency in 2018 within the program.’
• Accessing external funding appears more precarious
‘Sri Lanka’s 3-year External Funding Facility with the IMF expired in early June, after going off track late last year, when the new government’s tax cuts went against the programme’s revenue-based consolidation strategy.’
• Sri Lanka Development Bonds sold at yields of up to 6.80-pct
• Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) fines five firms Rs. 6 m for failure on customer due diligence
• SL’s income tax revenue falls by nearly 22% in Jan.-Apr .‘20
• Rs.39.5 billion Treasury bills to be issued today. Rs.110 billion Treasury Bond auction tomorrow (July 29)
• Sri Lanka banks to zero-weight discounted contractor bills for Basel III, count as liquid assets
• CB justifies $1bn repo facility with US Fed
• Central Bank: No decision yet to draw US Federal Reserve funds
• UNP labels Govt. move to obtain Repo from US Fed ‘illegal’
‘EN’s economic analyst Bellwether says the overnight repos effectively extends Fed’s overnight monetary operations beyond the borders of the US.’
• Parliament approval vital to proceed with Repo
• India-Sri Lanka hold technical discussion on rescheduling bilateral debt repayment
• Reserve Bank of India inks $ 400mn currency swap deal for Sri Lanka plus further talks
• WB granted US$130.3 Mn; used US$57 Mn so far: Dr. Bandara
‘…or the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project…’
• Chinese President to address 2020 Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Annual (July 28)
‘Participants include: former Nigerian Finance Minister, former World Bank Managing Director and Member of the AIIB International Advisory Panel Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Sinovation Ventures Chairman and CEO Kai-Fu Lee; Keppel Asia Infrastructure Fund CEO Christina Tan; and London School of Economics IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government and member of the AIIB International Advisory Panel Nicholas Stern.’
• China warns India against ‘forced decoupling’ of their economies
• Asian markets sink as dour US data reinforces worries over virus
C5. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)
ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power
• Pro-rate wages pact likely to be further extended: EFC
‘Warns institutional weaknesses may discourage resilience, flexibility, and adaptability of the labour force on supply side… Employers, who have not been able to meet the terms of the agreement, have sent sections of their workforce on mandatory no-pay leave until further notice. As Sri Lanka’s existing labour laws do not provide for pandemic-like situations, it is unclear if employees sent on mandatory leave would be called back to work.’
• Inland Revenue Department protest against IMF move to restructure services
‘Employees of the Inland Revenue Department protested outside the Department building in Colombo on Monday against attempts to restructure services of the Department on conditions made by the IMF’
• 300,000 Private Sector Workers to Lose Jobs Soon
‘The Labour Department survey, COVID-19 and Beyond – The Impact on the Labour Market Sri Lanka says, “As this corresponds to the formal sector employment, it can be estimated that around 300,000 employees will be terminated in the formal private sector in the short term if the status of businesses continues in the same manner. As under representation of the future plans can be expected in the survey responses this number can increase further. In this context, it is inevitable that the current rate of unemployment in Sri Lanka would increase significantly in this context.”
• Highest COVID-19 job losses in export firms, says EFC
‘About 21% in export sector category of workers are likely to lose jobs… about 14,000 would lose jobs that is likely to increase to 25,000’
• Business people maintain sense of positive about economy as they open for biz
‘The majority (82%) of respondents suggest that they will maintain their employee count- although a tenth of the sample warn of the likelihood of staff retrenchments in the six months ahead.’
• How the construction and leisure sectors can repay the moratorium loan
‘The construction industry employs directly and indirectly approximately 1 million people and, as of 2014, contributed 9.6% to the GDP (Statistics by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, 2014). The Sri Lankan construction industry is one of the sectors in the group that generates the second highest employment opportunities in the economy (Department of Census and Statistics, 2018). The tourism and leisure industry is the third largest foreign exchange earner in the Sri Lankan economy, according to an article by CNN Travel, bringing in about $ 4.4 billion annually. An estimated half a million Sri Lankans depend on tourism directly, while 2 million rely on it indirectly.’
• JKH cuts workers?
‘JKH cost containment initiatives such as reduction in executive staff remuneration and productivity improvement measures’
• Who Shall Steal From Whom?
‘The lockdown has led to youth who held lower category jobs in restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, and some companies to return to their homes. They are now unemployed adding to the burdens on the chief householder. It has also enhanced the numbers unemployed together with those who have returned mostly from West Asian countries and others. In the Badulla district, a senior Police official, who did not wish to be named, said that developments after the post-lockdown period in their area of responsibility have spawned newer security threats. Thefts were rising and, in some households, there was only one main meal, a lunch or a dinner. “If there is no remedial action, things could get worse,” he warned.’
• Interest paid to Employees Trust Fund members reduced
• PHIs on the Front line
‘The PHIs whose duties run the gamut from control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, to waste disposal, rabies control and school health safety work have been the frontline preventive force in the COVID-19 battle, being heavily involved in contact tracing, identifying possible areas of infection and also placing people in quarantine and checking on those in home quarantine’
• PHIs call off trade union action
‘The trade union action was launched due to the PHIs not having powers as inspectors under the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance No. 03 of 1897.’
• JVP says today health workers have to fight on two fronts
• No More Free Health Care
‘There’s no more free health in Sri Lanka. Now people have to spend much more than what the government spend on health. As per the grand statistic, out of the total health expenditure of the country the government’s share is only 44%, when people spend 56% out of pocket or through insurance etc….Although government claims the country’s forest cover as 24% of the total land area, this is highly disputed. Some claim it to be around 16%.’
• No housing for 36,000 landless people in North – Senthivel, NDML
• Nearly 10,000 SL migrant workers lost their jobs due to COVID-19
• Jordanian Security Forces Use Tear Gas On Sri Lankan Migrant Workers
• Jordanian Hostages fed Sri Lanklan Food
‘A Facebook video posted by Jaburewela Chandrarathna Thero shows how the three staff members of the embassy were held hostage by the women migrant workers. The video showed the women trying to feed the hostages the food they have been eating for the past five months
• Wage theft of migrant workers
‘Another 30,000 or more migrant workers are awaiting repatriation…“Wage theft is a kind of denial of wages or giving less wages than the contracted amount owed to an employee,” …It is estimated that globally there would be a 20 per cent drop in remittances from overseas migrant workers with last year’s figure of US$554 billion in remittances falling by about $109 billion in 2020, largely also due to wage theft….The SLBFE has said that it will pay a compensation of Rs. 500,000 only to those migrant workers who had registered with the Bureau prior to their departure.’
• Scammers who duped expatriate workers arrested
• Global drop in remittances raises growth and external risks in major recipient countries
‘As indicated by their respective external vulnerability indicators (EVI),6 many affected sovereigns such as Tajikistan (293% in 2020), Ukraine (204%), Sri Lanka (201%) and Pakistan (181%)7 already exhibited significant external vulnerability before the coronavirus outbreak. For these sovereigns, lower remittances will exacerbate their already weak external positions.…sources of global remittances are highly concentrated, with 25 countries providing nearly 85% of global migrant remittance outflows, and the top-10 countries including many of the largest G-20 economies. The damage done to labor markets in these source countries, wage subsidies favouring resident employment, and travel restrictions could continue to weigh on migrant labor for some time.. Meanwhile, remittance-receiving countries are largely net oil importers and will benefit from the large drop in oil prices since the start of 2020.’
• Philip Gunawardena’s journey into socialism in America
‘It is interesting to recall that the USA does have a long history of left-wing politics and that one of Sri Lanka’s own political giants got his socialist feet wet right here, just about a hundred years ago.’
• What is holding back Sri Lankan Women from entering politics: Lihini Fernando decodes
‘About 40 women are running for this year’s election and out which 20 are from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) –led National People’s Power, only the female politicians who volunteered are contesting’
• Jayantha Amarasinghe elected Chartered Institute of Personnel Management president
‘CIPM is the nation’s leader in human resource management…He is Deputy General Manager-Human Resources at Seylan Bank…Singer Sri Lanka to Nations Trust Bank to Doha Bank in Qatar where he oversaw the HR function of 4 UAE countries…while managing a multicultural and diverse workforce representing 21 nationalities…’
• EFC offers employers customized virtual solutions and training
‘”We also offer advice on restructuring of work, minimizing lay-offs and maximizing productivity as well as Work/Motion Studies for re-engineering of the business processes,”’
• Supplemental US unemployment benefits scheduled to expire this week
‘…putting pressure on Washington to come up with a replacement for funds that have helped blunt the economic carnage from the shutdowns so far’
C6. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)
ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.
• Several paddy fields in Pallama affected
‘Several paddy fields in the Pallama area have been affected owing to a monopoly in using a water tank which is being refurbished using state funds’
• National program to be prepared for the renovation of tanks
• Monaragala Issues
• The President was informed of a number of issues, including inadequate storage facilities in Sevanagala Sugar factory, issues relating to land deeds, lands adjacent to Kirindioya, shortcomings in the Ethiliwewa Middle school, unsatisfactory power supply in the area, by the local residents.’
• Sri Lanka state agencies to buy 200,000 tonnes of rice in Yala
‘During an ongoing election campaign, famers [sic!] in some areas have called for extra water saying only 50% of the land could be cultivated with the water issued. During the Maha, main cultivation season, usually 3.5 million tonnes of paddy is harvested’
• Sri Lanka expects 42,000MT maize crop in Yala season
• Sugar cane farmers stage protest urging govt not to lift ban on ethanol imports
• CIC’s Ajith Weerasinghe appointed new Governor of Rotary – Sri Lanka & Maldives
‘..he is the CEO/Director for four companies – CIC Feeds, CIC Vetcare, CIC Poultry Farms, and CIC Bio Security Breeder Farms…President of the Veterinary Pharmaceutical Importers’ Association,’
• Singapore, Sri Lanka affirm diplomatic ties with webinar on agri-businesses and digitalisation
‘Singapore was Sri Lanka’s fifth largest investor… About 100 Singaporean businesses were operating in Sri Lanka…Total bilateral trade last year was valued at US$883 million (S$1.21 billion) with Sri Lankan exports valued at US$115 million, according to the Sri Lanka High Commission. –
• Navy nabs 15 persons over illegal fishing in East
‘search operations conducted in Trincomalee, Kinniya, Mullaitivu and Nilaveli sea areas…’
• Japan donates large shipment of canned fish to Lanka
• Iraq emerges to be No. 1 buyer of Lankan Tea in 2020 first half
‘Iraq has emerged as the largest export destination, followed by Turkey, Russia and Iran.’
• Plantation workers turn cultivators
‘Plantation workers are clearing uncultivated areas to grow vegetables that bring them more money for their sustenance.’
• Tea promoting officer in hot water!
‘Sri Lanka Tea Board, the promoter of Pure Ceylon Tea around the globe, has entrusted global tea promotional activities of the world’s renowned brand to an officer alleged to have been involved in misappropriating SLTB funds a few years ago.’
• Sri Lanka para-taxes Maldive fish at Rs102, turmeric imports at Rs360kg
• South Indian smugglers go for turmeric instead of ganja
• Suspect busted for turmeric racket in Mannar
• India-Sri Lanka cooperation in the areas of indigenous medicine
• Land dispute in Nittambuwa leads to startling revelations
‘There is an attempt to take away this land by force by a group led by Andrew Samarakoon and he is threatening us with death. He entered our property with a group from a security firm named Sentryco Security and claimed they work for Chanuka Ratwatte”, said Thilanga Bandara, the landowner’s son…According to the occupants of the property, the group that attempted to enter had brought with them a banner, similar to the one which is seen on the outer wall of a luxury mansion located in Colombo 03.’
• Technical collaboration between India & Sri Lanka in Agriculture & Animal Husbandry
‘Work Plan for the years 2017-19 between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Sri Lanka Council of Agricultural Research Policy (SLCARP) signed under the MOU on cooperation in the field of Agricultural Research and Education has been extended till December 2020.’
• Veracity AI partners with Australian AgTech company ‘GoMicro’ to transform Sri Lanka’s agriculture industry
• Colombo’s Flood Protection — a response
‘Study the Sri Lanka’s River Basin Map, showing the 103 river basins of our country. He will then realize that Colombo is in River Basin No 1, while the adjoining basin, named as Bolgoda, appears as basin No 2…. two different River Basins have got mixed up and several independent catchments, too, have gone the same way, not to mention the mix up of proposals of three foreign consultants, under GCFC&EIP by Atkins (British), JICA & Nippon Koe (Japan) and Western Region Proposal consultants, from Singapore, possibly working under three different TORR…’
• Natural enemies of pests missing; farmers and scientists concerned
• A 450-year-old Baobab park on Mannar Island
‘The only concentration of Baobab trees, numbering over 40 trees, are found as a clump on the northern face of Mannar island, including a few others scattered on the island and one near the Manthai fortress, now occupied by a temple.’
• NZ allows Maori Ganja growers & Gangs to Destroy Communities?
C7. Industry (False definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)
ee Industry section notes the ignorance about industrialization, the buying of foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound.
• NMRA boss says prices of all medicines regulated under the law
‘What is the use of the NMRA Act passed by Parliament if importers can arbitrarily decide on pricing?’
• Breathing new life into domestic production: BCC’s plan for the next hundred years
‘Currently, Sri Lanka has over 400 SOEs, employing over a million employees, however, running on an aggregate annual loss of US$27 billion. SOEs are seen by ordinary citizens as employment- not service providers that consume an extraordinary amount of public resources and assets. Political interference, corruption, inefficient recruitment and management practices, low productivity and the lack of autonomy in decision-making have long been identified as constraints to developing SOEs. Like BCC, the Valachchenai paper mill and the Paranthan chemical factory also seem to have risen from the ashes given the renewed interest in strengthening domestic industrial production.’
• Manufacturers oppose lifting of temporary ban on footwear imports
‘In the latest gazette notification not only shoe uppers and uppers attached to inner soles have been lifted but also all footwear and components under HS code 64 were completely removed. Hence now anyone can import even finished footwear, he said adding that lifting the ban on import of footwear (under HS 64) will create an adverse impact on the industry and it is against the President’s strategy to strengthen the local industries.’
• Auto industry and thousands of jobs in Peril, says CMTA
‘The CMTA, affiliated to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, consists of all the franchise holders of global automotive brands that import and market cars, commercial vehicles, 2-wheelers and 3-wheelers, as well as tyres and lubricants, with substantial investments into island-wide infrastructure to providing direct & indirect employment to over 20,000 individuals across the island.’
• Curbs on auto imports put thousands of jobs in peril, says Ceylon Motor Traders Association
‘CMTA plays a significant role in the transportation sector by acting as the bridge between Sri Lanka and automotive manufacturers worldwide… At the moment, only about 30% of vehicle imports are through authorized importers.’
• Industry focus – Financial Times Editorial
‘The way forward has to be with exports and investments’
• Graphite will be Sri Lanka’s ticket to success: Harsha De Silva
• D.J. Wimalasurendra the founding father of hydroelectricity in Sri Lanka
• CEB Finance Manager given not one, but two brand new SUVs
‘CEB Finance Manager Tissa Kumara Liyanage said he was using a project vehicle and declined to reveal the value of it.’
• Trinco tank farm: Towering stupidity
‘Power and Energy Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has recently made an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim 25 out of 99 Trincomalee oil storage tanks leased out to the Indian Oil Co.… It is hoped that the next government to be elected will learn from the disastrous Trinco oil tank farm deal and refrain from committing the country irrevocably to such agreements in the future. It must not make the mistake of signing the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact. If foreign powers are allowed to acquire land here, on lease or otherwise, they will never leave, and this country will become a playground for them. It is not possible that India, having gained a foothold in Trincomalee, through IOC, will go away, leaving the tank farm, when the lease expires. The same is true of China, which has got a port and thousands of acres of land around it, in Hambantota.
• Govt. to talk to India on reclaiming 25 tanks
• Govt. to build 25 new oil tanks in H’tota
‘India had been informed of Sri Lanka’s need to take back 25 fuel storage tanks from the Trincomalee complex given to the IOC on a 30-year lease agreement signed in 1993 by the then government at a rental of US$100,000 a year.“The question now is how many of the tanks built in the 1930s on a 850 acre extent of land are usable. Besides, the 30-year lease agreement signed with the IOC is due to expire in 2023. Under these circumstances it is best to build a new tank complex with modern facilities,” the minister said.’
• CID probes oil refinery project
‘The Criminal Investigation Department has started a probe on the Yahapalana administration’s controversial US$ 3.85bn (nearly Rs 700bn) oil refinery project in Hambantota. It was announced in March last year that the Omani Ministry of Oil and Gas would have a 30% stake in this project. But it later emerged that Oman had no shareholding in the project which was mooted by a Singapore-registered entity called Silver Park International. Silver Park’s four directors were…the son, daughter and wife of controversial Indian Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) politician S. Jagathrakshakan’
• Is SLT a state institution or a private company?
‘Is Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), a state owned company or a private institution? A fresh dispute has arisen over the status of SLT after the Ministry of Information and Mass Media decreed that, the legal status of SLT is an institution which functions as an entirely private company….The two main shareholders of SLT are the Government of Sri Lanka which hold 49.5 per cent stake in SLT through the Secretary to the Treasury and Malaysia’s Global Telecommunication Holdings (GTH N.V.) which owns a stake of 44.98 per cent….SLT trade unions allege that the proper management of the company has been affected by interference of politically-appointed chairmen and board members severely disrupting business management, administration and industrial peace.’
• SLT enters into agreement with Sri Lanka Port Authority to provide communication services
• Lanka’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to wipe out dark spots
‘The regulator has found more than 2,000 dark spots which have weak signals….TRC has observed that 80% of the 152 Grama Niladari Divisions don’t have broadband coverage. Most of the voice drop calls is due to interference…’
• People’s Bank and UGC tie-up to provide laptop loans to undergraduates
• Citra Lab design thinking approaches for Presidential Task Force
• Germany allocates additional ‘technical’ grant of 2.05 million Euros
• SLT, Just in Time, Huawei link up for digital court proceedings
• Lanka IOC posts Rs.795.45 million loss in June 2020 quarter
‘Lanka IOC is the only other distributor of gasoline and other fuels in the country after state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. The company is also into bunkering, bitumen and petrochemicals and is the second largest lubricant marketer in the country. The company reported a net loss of Rs.1.49 a share or Rs.795.5 million for the quarter, significantly expanding from the net loss of Rs.239.2 million in the comparable quarter, last year. Indian Oil Corporation has a 75.12% stake in Lanka IOC.’
– dailymirror.lk/business-news/Lanka-IOC-deep-in-red-as-lockdowns-hurt/273-192774– bizenglish.adaderana.lk/lanka-ioc-plc-posts-rs-795-45-million-loss-in-june-2020-quarter/
• SLPP to expedite exploration of natural gas, identified in three zones of the geological survey
• Sri Lanka reinvigorates renewable energy with Indian assistance
‘India has offered US$ 100 million concessional financing for undertaking solar projects in SL and the local private sector should exploit this for the benefit of rural poor. … India has been working on improving the energy infrastructure in SL. Petronet LNG Ltd had earlier announced its plans of setting up a liquefied natural gas terminal in Trincomalee changing its original decision of setting up a US $500 coal power plant at the same site.’
• Delay causes huge losses to CEB
‘Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority and CEB, proposed to establish 60 solar power plants of 01 MW under phase I and another 90 solar power plant projects under phase II…SLSEA, however, took nearly two years to come out with a firm development plan for building these solar panel systems.’
• United States works with Sri Lankan Apparel Industry to increase PPE exports
‘In partnership with the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), the programme included two webinars for over 100 industry participants that prepared them to break into the U.S. market. The project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development and is implemented by Deloitte Consulting… Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is an important sector of the economy, generating substantial foreign exchange and livelihoods for almost one million workers’
• SL apparel exports fall by over 50%
• HNB extends partnership with DIMO
‘SL’s leading private sector bank HNB, announced the extension of its long- standing partnership with Diesel & Motor Engineering (DIMO) to offer customers convenient leasing solutions inclusive of attractive benefits for TATA vehicles and DIMO Agri-machinery range of vehicles’
• Aussie investor’s long struggle ends
‘After nearly 5 years, an Australian company has finally secured approval to set up two waste recycling plants in Katunayake and Bingiriya with both set to provide at least 20 megawatts of electricity plus organic fertiliser.’
• Freight rates spike seen cooling off
‘During last month the ocean freight charges to the USA showed a week-on-week increase. With regard to the inbound ocean freight, the government-imposed import restriction has led to a sharp drop in volumes coming into the country….despite the current increase in freighter flights across the world, the reduction in passenger flights is causing a 31% decrease in the global air cargo capacity’
• Women in Management endows micro, small and medium entrepreneurs with digital marketing platform
‘Palmyra Development Board and BCC Lanka Ltd., endorsed partnerships with WIM to sell their own products on http://www.mangoparrot.store’
• Collaboration between Sri Lanka and Israel on combating the COVID–19 pandemic
‘… collaboration between the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) of Sri Lanka and the Sheba Medical Center (SMC) of Israel…Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, Consultant Physician of NIID and Professor Eyal Leshen, Director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases of the SMC’
• Leasing “white elephant” Hambantota Port helped ease debt burden: Ranil
• Young engineer who helped save ancient Maduru Oya sluice: Saravanamuttu Sivarasa (Siva)
• Where do math symbols come from?
• Robotics: Background, Influence on Everyday Life and Future
C8. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)
ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, pointing to the curious role of ratings agencies, again false indices, etc.
• Banks shouldn’t hurt Senior Citizens
‘In addition to the drastic reduction in interest paid for their Fixed Deposits, some private banks are not sending their monthly bank statements and renewal notices by post…’
• Sri Lanka finance companies to be hard hit by import controls as bad loans top 11-pct
‘Whenever pro-cyclical rate cuts and liquidity injections triggered currency pressure in earlier years, vehicles have been among the first imports to be controlled in Sri Lanka’
• Dissent forces fresh Extraordinary General Meeting at Colombo Stock Exchange
‘At the AGM of the CSE held recently, two long-serving Board Members came up for re-election by rotation…former CSE Chairman Ray Abeywardena and…veteran broker Murtaza Jafferjee. Whilst Ray was re-elected unanimously, the CSE members had called for a vote on Murtaza. The poll result was 8 votes against and 2 for. Two votes were rejected for having the wrong proxy whilst few abstained or were absent at the AGM. The CSE Board includes five elected Directors and the existing four are Chairman Dumith Fernando, Ray Abeywardena, Dimuthu Abeyesekera and Dilshan Wirasekara…The appointed Directors of the CSE Board are C.J.P. Siriwardena, Arjuna Herath, Jayantha Fernando and Suren De Silva.’
• Reserve Bank of India’s $ 400 million currency swap boosts CSE
• CSE de-lists PC Pharma and Entrust Securities shares
• Stock market gains ending three days of negative run (August 1)
• Strong majority govt. extremely beneficial for stock market – First Capital Research Head
‘”In relation to the bond market at the moment, since rates have dipped significantly there could be a selling pressure if a strong majority is not obtained’
• MPCS bond scam: Relief for depositors
• People’s Leasing Group records Rs. 3.6 bn profit
‘People’s Leasing today owns the largest deposit base in the industry of Rs. 106.70 billion.. People’s Leasing & Finance was incorporated in 1995 as a private limited liability company fully owned by People’s Bank, the second largest state owned bank in Sri Lanka.’
• People’s Bank’s Rs. 20 billion Debenture Issue oversubscribed
‘People’s Bank accounts for 16% of the Banking industry’s assets and deposits and is thereby the second largest bank in the country.’
• Harsha Amarasekera appointed to Sampath Bank Board
‘He also the chairman of CIC Agri-Business (Private) and Swisstek Aluminium. Amarasekera was also a director at Amana Bank since its inception until his retirement in February of this year.’
• Seylan Bank June earnings flat; impairments sharply up
‘LOLC Investments and Brown & Co. collectively own over 23% of the bank while Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation has 15% stake. The Employees’ Provident Fund also owns 9.86% of the issued voting shares of the bank.’
• Seylan Bank records a Rs. 1.6Bn Profit after Tax (PAT) for the first half of 2020
• Seylan Bank to raise Rs. 10 b via debenture issue
• NDB Wealth, top wealth management company in Sri Lanka
‘…it manages over Rs. 140 billion in unit trust and private portfolio…servicing a fast growing clientele of over 15,500 unique accounts’
• Fitch Rates National Development Bank’s Basel III Sub Debt ‘A-(lka)(EXP)’
• ComBank summons EGM to obtain shareholder approval
‘US$50 million private placement deal with WB’s IFC’
• Vallibel Finance records Rs. 2.4 b pre-tax profit amidst challenging market conditions
• Sanasa Development Bank to raise Rs. 1.5 b via Rights
• Third largest conglomerate in South Korea eager to commit investments in Sri Lanka
‘The SK Group has a stellar global reputation in businesses such as chemical, petroleum, energy, wireless mobile services, financial services, telecommunication, construction, shipping and semiconductors, amongst others…. the largest Commercial Bank in the Republic of Korea, KB Financial Group of Kookmin Bank, committed a mega investment in highly reputed and diversified “Blue Chip” Corporate of LOLC Group of Sri Lanka.
• Sri Lanka’s AIA Insurance strongly capitalized amid Covid-19
‘AIA Sri Lanka reported the industry’s highest capital adequacy ratio…State-run Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation reported the second-highest…Life insurers, especially those more exposed to the middle-to-low income segments, should see a spike in surrenders given the loss of income…’
• ICRA Lanka reaffirms National Savings Bank’s ratings, Outlook Stable
• Further amendments to Trust Deed
‘Kotagala Plantations meets debenture-holders over default’
• Nations Trust Bank American Express ties up with PickMe
• Webinar on financial sector resilence
‘… in the local financial system will commence at 4.00 PM on August 1… streamed via FB of CIMA, FT, ICCSL, AAT and CA moderated by Dinesh Weerakkody ICC Chair and Global Economist Samantha Amerasinghe . The panel will include Dr. Indrajit Coomarsamy – former Governor CBSL.
• APAC banks race to adapt: Moody’s
‘Banks’ return on assets (ROA) already declined in 12 out of 17 APAC banking systems between 2014 and 2019, and is likely to remain weak at least through 2020-21.’
C9. Business (Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)
ee Business aka ee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, making money from unproductive land selling, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’
• Govt. unveils tax breaks for Colombo International Financial Centre
‘Unskilled labour requirement to be sourced 75% locally…Skilled labour requirement to be sourced 65% locally…White collar workers to be sourced 75% locally, and to be paid in foreign currency, if the project company is permitted to do so…’
• East West Properties transaction bolsters bourse
‘East West Properties is owned by Anika Wijesuriya’s father Nahil Wijesuriya. This transaction contributed more than 20% to the CSE’s turnover yesterday’
• Sri Lanka Institute of Directors international network to enrich future corporate directors
‘Fabrice Cavallin Managing Director of Nestle Lanka illustrating his presentation with a video clip explained how Nestle Lanka dealt with the challenges…’
• Rupee depreciation to have significant impact on operations – Lanka Hospitals Chairman
• Browns Investments shareholders approve hefty rights issue
‘Browns Hotels and Resorts Ltd. a fully owned subsidiary of Browns Investments, is a public limited company incorporated in 2010 that has invested in several leisure projects in Sri Lanka and Maldives’
• Commercial High Court order against CEB for violating PPA with Hayleys-led wind power firm
• Under Armour enforces IP Rights Against Cool Planet in Sri Lanka
• Tokyo Cement’ gets injunction against ‘Tokyo Elevators’
• Global trade hit by restrictions during COVID-19 crisis: WTO
‘The WTO said last month that estimates for the second quarter of 2020 indicated a year-on-year drop in world trade of about 18%’
C10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)
ee Politics points to the constant media diversions and the mercantile and financial forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.
• Ranil-Sajith rift nothing but a drama: Gammanpila
‘He said the division has been made so that the SJB can attract voters who are disappointed with the UNP over the Central Bank bond scam’
• Wimal Weerawansa’s Jathika Nidahas Peramuna to Play Major Role
• EC Prevents Officials but allows CC member’s controversial stand
• Over 1.2 million new votes registered for Sri Lanka’s upcoming polls
• Funding Election: Whose money is it?
‘Unregulated campaign finances have led to an uneven playing field for candidates and also created a new risk of foreign and domestic interference in the elections and even in the governance after the elections.’
• The EC’s Election Dispute Resolution Unit: the lynchpin in clean elections
• Why 2/3rds Majority is Crucial Now for Sri Lanka
• Role of Viyathmaga
• 16 Viyath Maga activists in the fray under SLPP’s ‘Pohottuwa’ symbol
• ‘Funding political parties amounts to buying favours’ – USAID’s Saravanamuttu
• Looters, thieves don’t worry about the people – Handunnetti
‘the Ceylon Electricity Board has been mired in corruption due to the electricity mafia’
• SJB is a separate party contesting to the detriment of UNP: Court of Appeal
• Patali Champika Ranawaka: future, tense
‘… seems to be and is indeed happy to be right-hand man of Sajith Premadasa in the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB)…. Ranawaka modernized the Invention Commission and created a market place for inventors and business community. Vidatha — introduced by Tissa Vitarana — was expanded and over 65,000 were trained in technology in rural and cottage industry.’
• Rajapaksas are a neo-liberal and ultra-capitalist lot – Patali Champika Ranawaka
‘SJB discards Federalism…’
• Tactical voting can thwart the two-thirds threat – Jayatilleka
‘If the goal is to avert a two-thirds tyranny, then, from a pragmatic ‘tactical voting’ perspective rather than those of habit, congruency or comfort, the best bet would be Sajith’s SJB.’
• Shan Centennial II and the Election Countdown
“N. Sanmugathasan belonged to a generation of Left leaders who took upon themselves to be agents for change and for emancipation. In the site he occupied, Shan played a unique role as a Tamil, Sri Lankan, and Marxist.”
• The Friday Forum questions the call to hand over more powers to the President
C11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)
ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.
• Strict guidelines on use of children for reality shows
• Parties collectively spent Rs514mn; SJB leading with Rs185mn.
• Campaign goes virtual: Millions spent on social media ads
‘…SL political candidates have spent up to US$ 234,692 (more than Rs 43.5mn) on 15,860 election-related publicity on Facebook: SL’s best-known social media site with 6.2 million active users, candidates pay around US$ 100 (Rs 18,500) to simply boost their own pages or around US$ 400 (Rs 74,200) to target users in a specific geographical location of the country with tailored advertisements.’
• Why EC needs to come clean on its working arrangement with FB
• An object lesson in archaeological conservation
‘There are those who are ever ready to attack the recorded history of the Sinhala in their unique homeland as mere fiction. But knowledgeable local and foreign scholars, from colonial times to the present, have increasingly accepted it as something well authenticated….’
• The King Ravana and Lost Heritage of Aviation Dominance
• Aviation History
‘The Hindu Colombo correspondent Meera Srinivasan started by saying “Sri Lanka’s aviation authority has said it will lead a research project to study the mythological character Ravana’s “aviation routes”’
• The Ramayana provides rallying points for opposing nationalisms
• Maldives: IFJ critical of inaction on Journalist sexual harassment case
• Everything you know about the British Empire is a lie | George Monbiot
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