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Planters decry mob-violence on Park Estate, demands swift legal action against perpetrators

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The Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) condemned what it called the “shocking violence instigated by CWC Member of Parliament M. Rameshwaran at Park Estate in Kandapola on January 17, 2021”, which damaged property and left a Trainee Assistant Superintendent in hospital.

The Association called for an impartial investigation and swift justice following the brutal mob attack which resulted in the Trainee Assistant Superintendent being admitted to the Nuwara Eliya General Hospital. The victim of the assault was reported to have received severe injuries and was undergoing respiratory difficulties as a result of the assault perpetrated against him by a mob that was transported from outside of the region in two buses facilitated by the MP Rameshwaran, the PA claimed in a statement on behalf of all 21 Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) in the country.

The PA also called for further investigations to ascertain the extent of damage done to the Estate Manager’s Bungalow and grounds – all of which are classified as state property of significant historical value.

“The conduct of the MP is utterly disgraceful and totally unacceptable from any citizen, let alone a duly elected representative of the people of Sri Lanka. We call on law enforcement authorities to uphold the rule of law and take swift action to ensure that the perpetrators of the brutal attack are immediately arrested, charged for their violent and illegal actions, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the PA said.

The attack took place following a phone call made by the MP Rameshwaran to the Estate Superintendent wherein he (the MP) demanded an immediate meeting on Sunday, January 17, 2021 around 5.30 pm. The Estate Superintendent had calmly and politely suggested an alternate date, given that he was on leave at the time and was driving to Kandy to urgently purchase essential cancer medication for his father in-law, the statement continued.

Dissatisfied with the response, the MP had launched a crude verbal assault against the Estate Superintendent, who had then hung up. Thereafter, the Rameshwaran coerced workers at the estate to give him the Estate Superintendent’s wife’s number, whom he also verbally abused, which was unbecoming of an MP. This phone call had multiple witnesses, the statement asserted.

Subsequently, MP Rameshwaran, together with the Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman travelled directly to the estate in two buses full of people from outside the region to gather a mob and incite them to violence. At around 5.30 pm, the MP forcibly and unlawfully entered the bungalow premises with the mob., it further said.

A young Trainee Assistant Superintendent in the premises at the time had tried to de-escalate the tense situation, but was brutally assaulted by the mob led by the MP. Following the vicious assault, the MP and his thugs prevented anyone from entering or exiting the premises. Instead they unlawfully detained those present, including the assault victim who was denied any medical attention or assistance for at least five hours after the assault took place, it said.

Following the intervention of the Police Special Task Force and local police, the Trainee Assistant Superintendent was finally removed from the premises under armed escort and immediately transported to the Nuwara Eliya base hospital where he remains hospitalized at present. As a result of the grievous assault, the victim is still recovering from severe contusions and suffering from respiratory distress and other multiple injuries, it added.

Meanwhile, the MP and the mob continued the unauthorized and unlawful occupation of the bungalow premises for over 24 hours, burned rubber tires, damaged building structures, and also compelled workers from the estate, as well as surrounding estates of the company to stage a strike – resulting in loss of wages to workers and revenue to the company, the PA said.

“At a time when RPC’s are making every possible endeavour to keep the industry and the national economy afloat by managing the estates in a manner that safeguard the livelihood of the plantation community, such random violent incidents have undone a lot of our efforts, and will ultimately hurt the workers most”, the PA further noted.

“This is true financially, but in the context of a global pandemic, the foolish actions of MP have also seriously increased the risk of COVID transmission in the very communities he is supposed to represent. While RPCs had taken every possible measure to protect them from these risks, the conduct of the MP may have severely compromised their safety”, it said.

“This is utterly inexcusable, in addition to being totally illegal. He must not be allowed to break the law with impunity. We hope that his standing as a Member of Parliament will not be an impediment to him being brought to justice,” the PA added.

Asked for comment on the incident, Rameshwaran said he was busy at a meeting and to call later.



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Lanka to lend US$2.5bn to US and top-rated borrowers in 2023 under IMF deal: analysis

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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is projected to lend 2,533 million US dollars mainly to the US and Euro areas during an International Monetary Fund deal in 2023 including a mandatory 1.4 billion US dollars collected from exports and remittances, according to official documents.

Sri Lanka is expected to get two tranches of 331.2 million dollar (254 million special drawing rights each) in March and September 2023 from the IMF.In 2023 Sri Lanka has to repay 256.4 million dollars from an earlier IMF loan taken during an earlier currency crisis.

Net inflows from the IMF would be 406.12 million US dollars in 2023 if the first review is completed in September 2023.Sri Lanka has committed to collect at least 1.4 billion US dollars from remittances and exports and lend to the US and other developed nations during 2023 under the IMF deal.

A large volume has already been collected. An ad hoc peg is now operated under the IMF deal to buy dollars and export to the West, as ‘below-the-line outflows. Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves are usually loaned to highly rated sovereign or sovereign linked borrowers, mainly in the US.

But there have been amounts of Euro assets in Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves at times, triggering forex losses when the dollar to Euro parity changed.Under the IMF program there is a performance criterion to increase net international reserves by 1,948 million dollars during 2023.

Sri Lanka is also expected to repay a 200 million US dollar swap to Bangladesh during 2023, which will also raise the NIR.At the moment Sri Lanka’s central bank is in debt after borrowing from India, Bangladesh, India including on Asian Clearing Union dues as well as the IMF. Year end net international reserves would still be negative.

Sri Lanka’s gross reserves are expected to rise by 2.5 billion US dollars to 4.4 billion US dollars in 2023 indicating that the country will lend 2.5 billion US dollars to the US and other highly rated borrowers. It may include re-invested interest coupons.

Sri Lanka is also expected to get 650 million dollars from the Asian Development Bank and 250 million dollars from the World Bank as part of partner support for the IMF deal. Outside of core monetary reserves linked to reserve money, balances in Treasury accounts are also counted as forex reserves.

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BASL writes to IGP over protest against Saliya Peiris

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The BAR Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has condemned a protest staged outside the Law of Chamber of BASL President Saliya Pieris, PC on Friday.The protest was staged against the representation of Saliya Pieris, PC for notorious Sri Lankan drug kingpin Nadun Chinthaka alias “Harak Kata”.

Condemning the protest, BASL said in a statement that Saliya Pieris, PC was only conducting his professional duties with regard to a particular client.

“We are of the view the said protest seriously hinders his right to represent a client, a professional right which has been safeguarded by law,” it pointed out.

The BASL called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take action to ensure that Saliya Peiris’s professional duties as an Attorney-at-law, are not hindered and to ensure his safety.

Full text of the letter: ” We write with reference to an organized protest outside the chamber of Mr Saliya Pieris, President of the \Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

We have been made aware the said protest relates to Mr. Pieris conducting his professional duties with regard to a particular client. We are of the view the said protest seriously hinders his right to represent a client, a professional right which has been safeguarded by law.In the case of Wijesundara Mudiyanselage Naveen Nayantha Bandara Wijesundara v Sirwardena and Others (SCFR 13/2019), the Supreme Court observed that:

“The first piece of legislation passed by the Parliament soon after the promulgation of the 1978 Constitution was the Judicature Act No. 02 of 1978. As the administration of justice in any civilized society cannot be effectively implemented without lawyers, the legislature in its wisdom, through the Judicature Act, established the legal profession.

Thus, there is no dispute that the legal profession is a sine qua non for the due administration of justice in this country and for that matter in any civilized society. The said profession is essential for the maintenance of the Rule of Law and maintenance of law and order and its due existence is of paramount importance to the organized functioning of the society which is primarily the basis for the smooth functioning of the country as a whole.”

Further, Section 41 of the Judicature Act which has clearly set out the right of representation, and, has further shed light on the above mechanism established for implementing the administration of justice in the country.

It is as follows; Section 41 of the Judicature Act (Right of Representation)

(1) Every attorney-at-law shall be entitled to assist and advise clients and to appear, plead or act in every court or other institution established by law for the administration of justice and every person who is a party to or has or claims to have the right to be heard in any proceeding in any such court or other such institution shall be entitled to be represented by an attorney-at-law.

(2) Every person who is a party to any proceeding before any person or tribunal exercising quasi-judicial powers and every person who has or claims to have the right to be heard before any such person or tribunal shall unless otherwise”

Therefore, we strongly demand that you take action to ensure that Mr. Peiris’s professional duties as an Attorney-at-law, are not hindered and to ensure his safety.”

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State need not do business, says Ranil, seven SOEs to be divested

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ECONOMYNEXT – The State need not engage in business as its mandate is to provide services such as education and maintain law and order, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said Thursday defending plans to divest government-held shares of seven state owned enterprises (SOEs).

At a discussion at the presidential secretariat on Thursday morning, Wickremesinghe responding to a question about the decision said that Sri Lanka must no longer hold on to corporations and enterprises owned by the government.

Sri Lanka has been spending more on the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) than it has on education, he said.The following seven SOEs will undergo the divestment of state-held shares: Sri Lankan Airlines Ltd including Sri Lankan Catering Ltd, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation Ltd,

Canwill Holdings Pvt. Ltd., (Grand Hyatt Hotel), Hotel Developers Lanka Ltd., (Hilton Hotel Colombo), Litro Gas Lanka Ltd., including Litro Gas Terminals (Pvt) Ltd., (LPG retailing), and Lanka Hospital Corporation PLC

The State Owned Enterprises Restructuring Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies will oversee the process, a statement said.

“Not all of them are loss making. But we do have to repay debt. You can’t keep these and pay back loans.

“If we can’t pay off our loans, we might have to sell something in the house and pay it,” said Wickremesnghe.

Asked why Sri Lanka should sell SOEs that aren’t making losses, he responded: “Why is the state engaged in business? That’s not our mandate. The state has no business engaging in business.”

“In what country is there a law that these (businesses) should be (held by the state)?” he added.

Noting that the crisis-hit nation is trying to embark on a path of recovery and rapid development, the president said Sri Lanka must follow India’s example.

“India is selling their airports, profit making ones. India has come to that stage. We have to go there too.”

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