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Geneva resolution: Karu warns of dire consequences



Rulers of the country had not grasped the seriousness of the problem the country faces internationally, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice, Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday in Colombo.

Jayasuriya told the media that his outfit had conducted an in-depth study of the possible consequences of the Geneva resolution passed on Sri Lanka.

“When we look at this issue, we can very clearly say that our leaders have completely failed us. They have displayed their inability not only within the country but also internationally as well. If things continue at this rate at the Geneva Human Rights Council, our country could face serious difficulties. No matter what anyone says, it is the truth. In the end, the innocent people of our country will suffer,” Jayasuriya said.

In recent times Sri Lanka has lost the support of many friendly states. These countries respected Sri Lanka as a country that pursued non-aligned policies. But many of those countries have voted against or abstained from voting this time.

“We have an understanding of what happened. Therefore, what we should do today is not to deceive the people of this country. We must understand the reality and acting accordingly. In the modern world, no country can stand alone. We must always stand hand in hand with our traditional allies,” he said.

Jayasuriya added that the 20th Amendment played a main role in weakening our country both nationally and internationally. With the 20A, every institution has become a puppet of the President.

“This is why politicians in this country today have been able to shut down certain police units and transfer senior police officers at will. There is no point in running a police commission in such a background. Can free and fair elections be expected in such a country ?” he asked.

He said that, according to social surveys conducted, 81% of the people in this country do not approve of the 20th Amendment. Therefore, the 20th Amendment must be repealed for Sri Lanka to be re-energized and democratized.

Given below are excerpts from the press conference:

Another unfortunate incident reported this week was the discovery of toxic coconut oil. The people of this country became aware of this thanks to the media. It does not appear that the law is being enforced against the responsible persons. Re-exporting coconut oil containing this toxin is not the only solution. The law should be enforced against those who tried to destroy the innocent people of this country by bringing in such poisonous food as well as those who tried to consolidate their wealth in it. Such items cannot be brought into the country without the support of the politicians and officials who run the country. These are great national crimes.

There are various reports of large scale corruption and fraud, including the sugar scam. In particular, the COPE Committee, the Finance Committee and the Treasury have acknowledged that irregularities have taken place in the importation of sugar. Therefore, a full force investigation should be carried out on this. We have suggested that to the President on several occasions. In fact, the sugar fraud is bigger than the central bank fraud. At least the money in the bank accounts of the accused in the Central Bank fraud has been confiscated by the state and the money will not go to anyone. But the money that has been embezzled from the sugar fraud is already in the pockets of the fraudsters. The total annual sugar requirement of the whole country is only 650,000 tons. About 50,000 tons of it is produced locally. Today the international price of a ton is around $ 465. Accordingly a kilo of sugar should be around Rs. 96. If our requirement is 50,000 tons per month, why did we import hundreds of thousands of tons and waste our foreign exchange during this difficult time? These are matters that need the attention of the Treasury.



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SJB: Excise, FM officials all out to pocket Rs 1 bn



By Saman Indrajith

Matara District SJB MP Buddhika Pathirana yesterday told Parliament that the Finance Ministry and Excise Department officials had misled Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal in order to obtain billion rupees, fraudulently.

The officials had got a contract for printing stickers or barcodes to be displayed on bottles of liquor awarded to an Indian company.

“The project would result in one-billion-rupee loss to the government coffers annually,” the MP said, adding that the money being taken from the public purse would end up in the pockets of corrupt officials.

Pathirana said that the Excise Department had commenced a project to paste stickers on bottles of liquor to differentiate them from the fake and counterfeit bottles in the market.

“As per this project’s requirements, 32 million stickers would be needed per month. The stickers are to be purchased from Madras Security Printers company of India. This method was proposed in 2016 but it failed and the officials thereafter decided to introduce a barcode system.

“The cost of a sticker at 25 cents and the new barcode system will cost of two rupees a piece. This is a dubious deal. It seems that the Finance Ministry officials and the Excise Department heads have ganged up to give the contract to the Indian company and get commissions. There are many unanswered questions. First, the contract of printing the barcode too has been given to the MSP company, which could not secure the first contract. I want to know whether the proper procurement process has been followed. The second question is whether the barcodes would be up to the standards listed in the tender. Third question is who had selected the MSP company which is black-listed in India after being found guilty of frauds with Indian liquor companies in providing stickers to them. MSP has been blacklisted in many other countries. The company has been banned in Sudan and Liberia for supplying the stickers to private companies. The last question is whether this fraud is being committed with the knowledge of ministers of this government.”

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Reserves fall to lowest since 2009, rupee strengthening to be short-lived: report



by Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lanka’s Foreign reserves had dropped to USD 4.1bn in March 2021, the lowest since August 2009, on the back of over US$ 4bn outstanding debt payment during April-December 2021 period, a report issued by First Capital Research yesterday said.

According to the report, rupee appreciation is likely to be short-lived considering Sri Lanka’s depleting foreign reserve position, high foreign currency debt repayment requirement and limited funding sources available in the market are expected to further increase depreciation pressure on the currency during 2Q and 3Q.

“We maintain our exchange rate target for 1H2021 at Rs. 196-202 with 2021 year-end target at Rs. 205-215 as mentioned in our ‘Investment Strategy 2021 – January 2021,” the report recalls.

“Sri Lankan rupee appreciated 5% against the US dollar over the last 2 market days reversing the continuous accelerated depreciation witnessed in January-April 2021. On 12th April, Sri Lankan rupee recorded a historical low of Rs. 201:1 US$. Ministry of Finance (MoF) reported on the same day that the government of Sri Lanka entered into a loan agreement with the China Development Bank (CDB) for US$ 500mn and MoF expected the funds to be disbursed during the same week. Following the announcement, the market registered a steep appreciation with mid-rate recording at Rs. 190.9 on April 19,” it says.

The total foreign debt repayment (capital and interest) for 2021 is US$ 6 bn, according to the report.

Meanwhile FC Research believes that the temporary appreciation in USD-LKR, may adversely impact earnings of export companies such as Hayleys, Haycarb, Dipped Products, MGT Knitting Mills, Teejay Lanka, Expolanka Holdings etc. in the short term.

“However, considering the potential future currency pressure, we expect an overall depreciation of approximately 12% for the rupee providing a significant gain for companies with foreign currency revenue”, FC research predicts.

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Govt. asks Opposition not to propagate lies



By Saman Indrajith

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday accused the Opposition MPs of abusing parliamentary privileges to mislead the public by propagating lies about the Easter Sunday terror attacks. 

Addressing Parliament, Minister Fernando said: “The Opposition MPs level wild allegations in the House knowing that they have the cover of parliamentary privilege. If they have anything substantial or any knowledge of the perpetrators of the Easter attacks still not in custody they can go to the CID and lodge complaints so that such complaints could be investigated.”  

Fernando said so after SJB Galle District MP Manusha Nanayakkara had told the House that he possessed evidence of those who carried out the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Nanayakkara also said that the facts that he had were not in the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday carnage.

“You are making various statements regarding the Easter Sunday terror attacks in the Chamber without any proof because you know that you have Parliamentary privilege. You even quoted some statements which are not included in the PCoI report. How did you obtain such information? Why didn’t you complain about this to the CID in the first place? Your action is aimed at misleading the public,” the Minister said. 

Minister Fernando said that the Opposition should stop insulting Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith by misinterpreting the latter’s statements. 

“When you are in the Government you never said that this is a Buddhist country. Now you are insulting the Cardinal too. You should not do that,” the Minister said. 

“The former Government should be responsible for the terror attack. Now we are trying to punish those who are responsible for it. We will take action against everyone who is responsible. You should support us, not try to obstruct the on-going investigations,” Minister Fernando said.

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