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Sri Lanka Original Narrative Summary: 15/08

  1. Former CB Deputy Governor W A Wijewardena expresses serious concern about potential social unrest arising when implementing IMF proposals, leading to “IMF riots”: notes these reforms burden the poor more than the affluent, making it likely that SL could face similar challenges: previously, Wijewardene was an ardent advocate of SL seeking an IMF programme.
  2. UNICEF Report states 3.9 mn Sri Lankans are moderately food insecure: over 10,000 households face severe food insecurity: about 2.9 mn children need humanitarian assistance to access life-saving nutrition, health, education, water & sanitation, protection, and social protection services: 62% of households adopt livelihood-based coping strategies such as withdrawing savings, borrowing money, and buying food on credit to access food.
  3. Former UN Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights Juan Pablo says Sri Lanka’s austerity measures could do more harm than good: also says historical evidence shows that such measures fail to lead to higher growth rates, increased employment, or reduced poverty: stresses need to look at other measures during an economic crisis.
  4. Treasury concedes there has been a “significant shortfall” in revenue performance this year: Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardene instructs Govt institutions to adhere to the stringent expenditure control measures until further notice, as the Govt is still struggling for “various reasons”.
  5. Life-saving surgeries at the Hambantota General Hospital halted as the only anaesthetist at the hospital has gone abroad without permission from the Health Ministry: Government Medical Officers Assn says that during the year ended 31May’23, 274 specialist doctors & 842 graded medical officers have migrated.
  6. JVP-led NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says SL’s sovereignty & national security are in jeopardy as an Indian company will gain access to citizens’ personal data through a project to print digital national identity cards: reveals that arrangements have been made to award the project to the Madras Security Printing Company.
  7. State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya says the proposed Betting & Gaming Levy Bill and the Gambling Regulatory Authority will regulate lotteries, gambling, gaming, horse racing, betting shops and casinos: also says establishing this law cannot be done in a hurry.
  8. Analysts say SL’s Call-Money interest rate and Treasuries’ yields are now determined by the IMF’s Net International Reserve target for SL, not inflation: warn that Forex pressure will emerge quickly leading to the currency falling, if a “reserve collecting” central bank cuts interest rates based on an inflation index number.
  9. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa accuses the Govt of attempting to sell state-owned media channels: asserts such ‘erratic’ decisions must not be made.
  10. Organic fertilizer production at the Welimada Ulugalawatta Organic Solid Fertilizer Processing Center under the National Food Promotion Board, commences: arrangements said to have been made to export 5000 MT of solid organic fertilizer processed at this center, to a cultivation project currently being built in Dubai, every month: at the same time, Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera says the decision to use 100% organic fertilizer in the country has completely destroyed the agricultural sector.

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