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Cabraal gives lesson in finance to Opposition Leader

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By Saman Indrajith

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa’s questions on the management of the government reminded him of a person that drives recklessly knocks down a person and then queries from the latter what happened, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal yesterday told Parliament.

“The Yahapalana government, where the opposition leader was a powerful minister, brought the economy to its knees and is now asking us to rectify the issues they created,” the Minister said.

Minister Cabraal said that the former government obtained USD 6.9 billion in loans and sovereign bonds at an interest of 7.8 percent. “With USD 6.9 billion, six harbours the size of Hambantota harbour could have been built. The funny thing is that many local and foreign institutions kept mum about your reckless loan taking. During the time of our government prior to 2015, we borrowed only USD 5.5 billion for the entire nine year period. The debt was at 91 percent of the GDP when we took the office and we brought it down to 70 per cent of the GDP. During the period of the yahapalana government from 2015 to 2019 it has been increased to 86 percent. So some of the questions are asked from us now, you should have raised them in the cabinet during the time of the yahapalana government. One such question is as to how to bring down those debts.”

Cabraal added that during the previous government very few investment opportunities came in. There was a difference of opinion between the rating institutes such as Fitch and Moodys and the government.

“In my view and in the view of the government, it is surprising to note that the Fitch ratings assessment had ignored several key proposals included in the government budget proposals 2021 with regard to deficit financing in the period ahead. We have set out various ways explaining how the debt deficit would be financed. Obviously they have ignored it and so has the opposition leader. As indicated in the Budget 2021 the government has adopted a novel approach in relation to foreign financing while enhancing the effectiveness of already secured financing channels aimed at reducing the share of foreign financing in the budget deficit over the medium term. In 2014, the total debt, if you break it down into foreign debt and local debt, it was 40 percent foreign debt and the local debt was 60 percent, but by 2019 as a result of the various measures taken by the yahapalana government that ratio had changed to 50 percent foreign and 50 percent local. So we inherited huge risk with regard to foreign debt. That was their making but we will deal with it,” the Minister said.



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CEBEU guns for ex-Chairman Ferdinando

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by Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) Friday  said that they are in the process of collecting evidence against former Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando over the recent statement he made on a proposed power project with India.

A senior engineer said that there is a high possibility that the seasoned civil servant dragged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to disrepute because he didn’t see eye to eye with the President.

Eng. Isuru Kasthuriratne, a committee member of the CEBEU and Project Engineer – Mannar Wind Power Project of the Board said they would never allow former chairman to get away easily.

“There are always controversies about him. We would not let this case go. We are in touch with all bodies,” he said.

Kasthuriratne said that very relevant documents were authored and authorized by the former chairman and “he cannot simply say he is not aware of this and that.”

Ferdinando on June 11, tendered his resignation following the controversy he sparked over the planned 500 MW unsolicited wind power project here by India’s Adani group.

“The Adani group at first proposed to sell power to the CEB at 6.50 US cents per unit,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told journalists recently.

Despite numerous attempts, the former CEB chairman was not available for comment.

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Dilshan Wirasekara, new CSE Chairman

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announced the appointment of Dilshan Wirasekara as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSE with effect from Friday (24).

Wirasekara has served on the Board of the CSE since 21st November 2017 and succeeds Dumith Fernando, who steps down as the Chairman after completing his two-year tenure.

Wirasekara is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading investment banking firms, First Capital Holdings PLC, offering a diverse range of financial services in Government Securities, Corporate Finance and Advisory, Asset Management and Stock Brokering, which he has been part of since 2013.

He currently is the chairman of the Investment Subcommittee of the CSE and also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of the CSE as well as the CSE/SEC joint committees on Digitalization and the Central Counter Party System (CCP).

An Investment banker by profession with a career spanning over 26 years, comprising diversified expertise in financial services, including banking, treasury and investment management, capital market strategy, and corporate finance advisory services.

Wirasekara specializes in Asset and Liability Risk Management, having secured the accolade of leading and representing two Sri Lankan companies in winning the International Bank Asset and Liability competition organized annually by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), German Investment Corporation (DEG), and Proparco – a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Development (AFD).

Wirasekara is an alumnus of INSEAD, having completed his Executive Professional Education at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. He is also an alumnus of AOTS, Tokyo, Japan.

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NCE on Govt’s focus on directing public servants to private sector employment

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National Chamber of Exporters has given the a proposal to the Prime Minister and copied it to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government on providing employment opportunities to government servants in the private sector companies for a specified period.

The Chamber said in a release: Through Media sources we got to know that The Ministry of Public Administration has appointed a committee to look into the possibility of granting five years of leave to government employees to work in the private sector.

Its states that a seven-member committee has been appointed for this purpose and that the said committee is to submit its report to the Cabinet of Ministers within two weeks.

Sri Lankan exporters are proposing to absorb public sector employees for employment in the sector to relieve the burden of wages and related costs on the Government.

The Export Sector has been able to sustain business and has also reached the pre pandemic level of an average of USD.01 billion export revenue during the period January to April 2022. Before the dawn of the pandemic, exporters were facing difficulties with lack of skilled workers. However, during the pandemic, many exporters were compelled to downsize operations and lay off employees which has created a vacuum in crucial areas of operations.

In current scenario, considering the financial burden and the reportedly excessive workforce attached to the public sector, NCE member exporters are proposing following options in reaching a win-win agreement for both government and the export sector. It is to be noted that labour requirements of exporters vary according to the relevant industry, yet in general all categories could be considered.

1. Any government employee in the permanent carder is eligible to apply for employment in the export sector, excluding from following institutions as they are involved in law enforcement in the country which may lead to conflict of interests.

a) Department of Police

b) Department of Inland Revenue

c) Department of Customs

d) Department of Excise

 2.Government to grant unpaid leave up to a maximum of 59 months.

 3.Employer will offer a “Temporary Labour Contract “to such selected individuals which include: –

 a) Period of contract for 59 months (because on completion of the 60th month, the employee will be eligible for Gratuity.)

b) Their employment will be in accordance with the laws and statutes under which the respective private sector company’s  employees of similar cadre is employed.

c) Leave entitlement as per employer’s policy on leave

d) Employment contract can be terminated with either party giving 30 days’ written notice.

e) In case of maternity leave, a number of stipulated days will be available as unpaid leave.

f)  At the end of 59 months, the government to absorb such individuals back to the public sector employment as per pertinent rules and regulations.

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