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Consumer Sentiment Index down

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Institute for Health Policy’s (IHP) Index of Consumer Sentiment fell three points to five, in April, with all indices down since March.

IHP’s Dr Ravi Rannan Eliya said that IHP’s Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS), a measure of how the public views their personal economic situation and the wider national economy, had fallen by three points in April to 5, closer to its floor of zero, and reaching its lowest level since IHP began tracking it.

The current declining trend started in mid-February with the start of power cuts and increasing impact of foreign exchange shortages, plateaued from mid-March, before consumer sentiment started to decline again from early April, around the time of the resignation of the Cabinet, he said.

The Index of Current Conditions (ICC), a broad measure of perceptions about current conditions, fell three points to 7. The Index of Consumer Expectations (ICE), a measure of perceptions about the future, fell a further four points to reach 4.

Consumer pessimism is now universal, across all segments, the IHP has said in a press release. Until February 2022, consumer confidence had been higher in the youth (ages 18–29 years) than older adults, largely because the youth continued to be significantly less pessimistic about the future (tracked by the ICE which looks at future expectations), but this future optimism of the youth has now collapsed, with consumer sentiment similar across all age groups.

Dr Rannan-Eliya, the lead investigator for the survey, said that the public is resigned to the likelihood that the situation will get worse in the coming months and years.

“The public appears resigned to the likelihood that economic conditions will worsen. All three forward looking measures (household situation in next 12 months, country situation in next 12 months and in five years) are now below 10, and worse than the measures tracking current and recent conditions. With the measure tracking public views of the country’s situation in five years’ time at a new low of 3, he added that more than 95% of Sri Lankans think the country’s economy will be in worse condition five years’ time than now,” he said.

Adapting standard questions used globally to track consumer sentiment, Sri Lanka Opinion Tracker Survey (SLOTS) has been tracking consumer sentiment daily since September 2021, he said.

“Three separate indices are currently tracked on a weekly and daily basis, covering views about current conditions, expectations about future conditions, and views about buying major household items. Data are obtained from phone interviews of a national sample of respondents, with the results adjusted to ensure they are representative of the Sri Lankan population in all provinces and at all income levels,” he said. (RK)



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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