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Sri Lanka Original Narrative Summary: 18/03

  1. CB Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe says the LKR could soar past Rs.1,000 per USD if the debt is not properly managed: LKR depreciates by Rs.3.89 (1.1%) from 346.33 to 350.22 against the USD: some banks quote 355.00 per USD: LKR said to be trading in “grey market” at over 380.00 per USD.
  2. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a distinguished old boy of Royal College watches the 2nd day of the 144th Battle of the Blues cricket match between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College: Royal College Principal R M M Rathnayake also joins him.
  3. India’s Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishankar inaugurates world renowned Architect Geoffrey Bawa’s exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi: says “when I think of Sri Lanka, the names, images, associations, Geoffrey Bawa is a figure that very naturally comes to mind”.
  4. CB Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe says “some USD 400 mn is expected as the 1st tranche of the IMF bailout, which is due on 20Mar’23”: also says with that, exporters will receive foreign exchange on a priority basis.
  5. CB data shows 1,127,758 Sri Lankans have left the country in 2022 with a monthly average of about 94,000 while only 27.6% of total departures have left for foreign employment purposes: 911,757 passports issued during the year.
  6. Analysts express alarm over the staggering Rs.121 bn that was “printed” by the Central Bank on 15 Mar 23, even though the Govt and CB has said no money is now being printed after the IMF Staff Level Agreement was reached in end Sept’22.
  7. Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe says some police officers have falsely arrested persons on drug-related offences: alleges the substances they have recovered from the suspects have not been narcotic drugs: asserts “genuine arrests have been less than 1%”.
  8. State Minister Shehan Semasinghe insists the Govt has no intention of laying off state sector employees, yet: asserts the public are concerned about the efficiency of a few workers in the Govt sector: however, analysts claim if the Govt is to achieve the IMF’s fiscal targets, it will inevitably have to reduce the wage & pension bill.
  9. Chinese Embassy in Colombo donates dry rations worth Rs.100 mn to 15,000 families, in line with the upcoming Ramadan and Sinhala & Tamil New Year: provisions distributed to needy families via temples, kovils and mosques.
  10. Govt decides to decommission the Batticaloa International Airport in the Eastern Province as it is not up to international standards, costs approximately Rs.15 mn a month to maintain, and does not earn any significant revenue: the airport was opened on 25 Mar’18.

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