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LSSP leaders to pay floral tribute to Dr. N. M. Perera’s statue on August 14

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The 68th anniversary of the Great Hartal and the 42nd death anniversary of Dr. N. M. Perera falls on the 12th and the 14th of August respectively.

These are historic dates in the politics of Sri Lanka. The leaders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) will place a floral tribute at the statue of Dr. N. M. Perera at 9.30 am on August 14 this year and follow it up with a felicitation meeting at the LSSP headquarters on the same day. Other left leaders will be invited to participate.

Dr.N . M. Perera was a founder leader of the LSSP in 1935 and remained its leader right up to his death in 1979. He completed his studies in the London School of Economics where he obtain a PhD and D.Sc. He was known as the favorite pupil of Prof. Harold Laski who was a chief adviser to the British Labour Party. While in London, he together with the other founder leaders of the LSSP, Dr.Colvin R.de Silva, Leslie Gunawardana, Dr.S.A.Wickremasinghe and Philip Gunawardena (who did his post graduate studies in the USA) changed from Social Democratic to Marxist politics. They returned to Sri Lanka which was under cruel British imperialist rule and formed the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, as a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party. The suffering of the people during the Malaria epidemic led them to shift their focus to the rural poor, while developing the Trade Union Movement in the urban and plantation areas. They faced opposition from the local capitalist class which later became the United National Party (UNP) as well as the British rulers and their agents in Sri Lanka. In the General Election of 1936 the plantation workers supported the LSSP and the UNP retaliated by disenfranchising the plantation workers. The outcome was that large sections of the Tamil voters also supported the LSSP.

The LSSP fought for complete independence for Sri Lanka while the UNP was content for Sri Lanka to remain a semi colony of Britain under dominion status. The LSSP wanted to do away with exploitation by the British and the local capitalist class and establish an “equal society” (a Sama Samajaya), and build a truly Sri Lankan Society free from any type of discrimination based on race, religion or cast.

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 resulted in the formation of the Communist Party (CP) from within the LSSP, which chose to support the British war effort. But the LSSP chose to continue the struggle for independence and as a result the LSSP was banned (it had to go underground) and its leaders were imprisoned by the British rulers. The LSSP leaders escaped from jail and joined the independence struggle in India led by Nehru and Gandhi. They were caught and imprisoned while in India and finally released in 1945 with the end of the war.

The LSSP leaders who returned to Sri Lanka became politically active on behalf of the people. The workers were organized into a powerful Trade Union Movement and carried out several mass protest and strikes to win their rights and improve their working and living conditions. The struggle for complete independence was intensified and on the 4thof February 1948 (after India won independence in 1947) the British conceded independence to Sri Lanka.

In the General Election held at that time UNP became the ruling party and allowed the British to continue to exploit our country. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who was then a Minister in the UNP Government, broke away in 1951 and formed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). This was not enough to end UNP rule. The people remained frightened and servile.

The Great Hartal

With the onset of an economic crisis the UNP decided to pass the burden of the emerging crisis on to the people rather than the rich capitalist class. The price of rice was increased from 25 cents a measure to 70 cents and the UNP also raised price of sugar and other essentials. The LSSP took the lead in protesting on behalf of the people, organizing mass actions in the work places and the villages. It was supported in this by the SLFP and the CP. The mass protests spread throughout the country, but mainly in the Western, Southern and Central provinces. The main demand was that the increase in prices should be reversed. The LSSP promoted strikes in the work places and there were also protests in the rural areas. The fear that the people had over the rule by the UNP supported by the British had to be overcome if a significant change in the policies of the UNP were to be made.

The LSSP with the support of the other opposition parties decided to have a day of struggle on the 12th of August 1953. The people responded and besides protest meetings and wide spread undress led to interference with public transport and communications by cutting trees across the roads and telephone posts.

The mass response to this one day struggle, the Great Hartal, led to an emergency meeting of the Cabinet in a British warship in the Colombo Harbour. The British and the local capitalist class prevailed on the Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake, to resign, and replaced him with a strong man with a military background, Sir John Kotelawala, as the Prime Minister. The UNP Government pacified the people by reducing the prices of the essential commodities. With backing given to Sir John by the British Government and because a General Election was due in 1956, where the people could defeat the UNP, the LSSP took the decision, along with the other left parties, to save the people from the danger of a massacre by not extending the Hartal.

History has proved that this decision was correct by the fact that S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike was able to lead the SLFP to power with the support of the left. Philip Gunawardena joined the Government and became a Minister along with his with VLSSP Party. At that time LSSP wanted Tamil also made an official language, in addition to Sinhala, if it was to join the SLFP led Government. But later in 1964 the LSSP also joined the SLFP led Government.

The outcome has been historic, because the SLFP and the LSSP have come together with the other progressive parties. This has made it possible to formed successive progressive Governments which has led to Sri Lanka becoming a completely independent, sovereign nation, not subservient to imperialism. Further it has enabled Sri Lanka to be able to develop a NATIONAL ECONOMY to satisfy the needs of all its people. The LSSP calls upon all progressive people and political parties to join us in celebrating these historic events.

– Prof Tissa Vitarana



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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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The 75th Anniversary of National Independence celebrated under the patronage of President, PM

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(picture Presidents Media)

The 75th National Independence Day celebration was held under the theme “Namo Namo Mata – A Step towards the Century”, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Saturday morning (04) at Galle Face Green.

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Lanka sovereign bond holders write to the IMF

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s bondholders have written to the International Monetary Fund expressing their willingness to engage in debt re-structuring talks but also raising matters related to the domestic debt re-structuring and economic assumptions and forecasts.

The group, styling itself as the “Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the Bondholder Group) has written last week to the IMF Managing Director from New York said inter alia that the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

The letter concluded with the paragraph: Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

Following is the text of the letter:

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2023

Dear Managing Director Georgieva,The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the “Bondholder Group”) acknowledges the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledges that such engagement has recently resulted in the Government of India (in its letter to the IMF, dated January 16, 2023 (the “India Letter”)) delivering letters of financing assurances, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement (the “IMF Programme”) and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India Letter.

Similarly, the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as

(i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032,

(ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and

(iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA.

We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability.

Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

While we recognize that the determination of the economic assumptions underpinning the IMF Programme Targets is ultimately the responsibility of the IMF and that the overall design of the IMF Programme is one that is negotiated between the IMF and Sri Lanka, it is nevertheless important that the Bondholder Group has the opportunity to express its views on both the economic assumptions underpinning these IMF Programme Targets and the adequacy and feasibility of the adjustment efforts contemplated under the IMF Programme.

When considering any restructuring proposal that is made to the Bondholder Group, it is the Bondholder Group’s intention to take into consideration the extent to which the economic assumptions and the adjustment efforts are consistent with these views.

Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

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