Sunday, June 4, 2023

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Sri Lanka Original Narrative Summary: 04/05

1. President Ranil Wickremesinghe leaves for the UK to attend the coronation of King Charles III being held at Westminster Abbey on 6th May.

2. Foreign Minister M U M Ali Sabry asks ADB for a downgrade of Sri Lanka’s status from the currently classified “upper middle income country” status to access “low interest concessionary loans”: SL’s per capita GDP has plunged from USD 3997 in 2021 to USD 3474 by 2022 in the wake of the debt default announcement on 12th April 2022: SL’s per capita GDP was a promising USD 3819 at end 2014.

3. PUC Chairman Janaka Ratnayake warns CEB’s revenue has fallen below the set target due to the massive decline in demand for electricity following 2 sharp upward revisions to the tariff: says demand fell by 20% after the 1st tariff hike in Sept’22, leading to a Rs.15 bn shortfall in revenue from the targeted Rs.60 bn: says the CEB was forced to take a Rs.15 bn loan from a major bank as a result.

4. Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara says the Govt expects to review the expensive electricity prices and revise by Jul’23, in a possible move to calm the public who have protested against exorbitant tariff hikes: analysts says the move also comes as the Govt will have to face elections next year.

5. Secretary General of the Joint Apparel Association Forum Yohan Lawrence says apparel exports in Mar’23 was the lowest in 3 years: expecte USD 1 bn reduction for 2023 from last year’s exports of USD 6 bn: also says it could be 5 to 6 more months before a recovery takes place in global demand: in the 1st quarter, exports to USA, EU and UK dropped by 22%, 13% & 10% respectively: also says the steep 66% power tariff hike in Feb’23 has hit competitiveness.

6. Cabinet approves the Finance Minister to seek Parliamentary approval to issue Rs.6,000 bn worth of Treasury Bills, up from the current limit of Rs.5,000 bn: as at 31 Mar’23, T-Bill maturities amounted to Rs. 4,636 bn: at yesterday’s Rs.160 bn weekly T-Bill auction, CBSL sold only 41% of the 364-day maturity, even with yields increasing for the 3rd consecutive auction.

7. Cabinet Media Spokesman Minister Dr Bandula Gunawardena says that “due to various spurious claims made by people with vested interests, the public had started to rise against the Govt concerning the issue of re-structuring debt”: State Finance Minister Dr Ranjith Siyambalapitiya says the blueprint on re-structuring debt will be announced within this month, thereby pushing back the release of its debt re-structuring plan from April to May.

8. Nestlé Lanka announces its decision to go “private” ending 40 years as Public Listed Company in the Colombo Stock Exchange: majority shareholder Nestle SA owning 91.95% of the stock to purchase the remaining shareholding from those wishing to divest.

9. Colombo High Court grants permission to the Attorney General to amend the indictments filed against Swiss Embassy employee Ganiya Bannister Francis for allegedly making a false claim that she has been abducted and sexually harassed.

10. Minister of Ports and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva says the Ministry is planning to convert the Hingurakgoda Air Force airport into an international airport: key priorities identified as extending the present 2,287m runway to 2,800m, construction of a taxiway, setting up an air navigation system, and building an Air Traffic Control tower & passenger terminal.

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