Foreigners still net sellers of Sri Lanka stocks

Sri Lanka’s main stock index rose 3% on Thursday – as foreigner investors sold a net $2 million worth. See Reuters’ report here . Sri Lanka’s stock market has soared since the end of the island’s war, driven by proxy government buying through state-owned funds. At the same time, there has been a net foreign outflow. Whilst foreigners buy tactically, especially when stocks fall, they sell when the market rises. Thus far in 2011, foreigners have net sold over $9 million – having sold a record $240 million in 2010. Despite the war ending that year, 2009 ended with a net foreign outflow of $103...

Diaspora assistance and the Tamil homeland

“ The Tamil Diaspora will only remit funds through channels which ensure [these] are not financing the decimation of their own land, heritage and culture. The Diaspora is not going to send its money to an outfit run by the Sri Lankan military , which would use this money to sustain and develop its own infrastructure in the Tamil region, further subjugating the Tamils. “ The Diaspora will continue to work with international and local agencies to reach their kith and kin, despite the obstacles thrown at them by the Sinhala state. ” - British Tamil Forum (BTF) . See further comments on Sri Lanka...

Speculations as drilling begins in Mannar

Cairn Lanka, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cairn India, has begun drilling in one of eight blocks in the Mannar Basin off the island’s north-western coast. Sri Lanka’s government claims that seismic data shows potential for more than 1 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mannar. By way of comparison, Sudan’s proven oil reserves of 6 billion barrels (0.5% of world reserves). Of the eight blocks, two have been granted to China and India. Russia’s largest oil company, Gazprom, has also indicated an interest, as has Malaysia’s Petronas. Economic development minister Basil Rajapakse says that if oil is found, Sri Lanka would no longer be dependent on imports from other countries. Bizarrely, he also warned that some western countries may pose a threat to Sri Lanka, like they have done in the Middle East, if Sri Lanka is successful. Perhaps he’s forgotten that Cairn Energy, which owns half of spin off Cairn India, is a British company, which has been trying for over year to off load Cairn India to the Indian company metals and mining giant Vendanta . Both Cairn Energy and Vendata are in the FTSE-100 index of the London Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Cairn Lanka has been exempted from taxes and import duties until 2016. The decision was introduced by Basil Rajapakse and passed in parliament with 58 votes against four. Exemptions on taxes include all capital goods imported by Cairn Lanka and its sub-contractors, including equipment, machinery and required supplies and consumables. Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader Anura Dissanayake claims that the exceptions mean that if oil is found, Sri Lanka would only receive 10% of the profit, compared to the 38% without the concessions.

Too much, even for The Hindu

Long supportive of Sri Lanka’s war against the Liberation Tigers, The Hindu newspaper has rarely been critical of Colombo governments. Not even when Colombo repeatedly, and pointedly, ignored Delhi’s explicit, if softly phrased, requests such as for a political settlement with the Tamils, or to implement the Indian-brokered 13th amendment (in 2006 President Mahinda Rajapaksa rescinded the 1987 merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces. See the justification here and India's plea here ). Indeed, President Rajapaksa, an ultra Sinhala nationalist whose regime has been accused of widespread...

Chinese firm to develop Colombo port amid sweeteners for Hambantota

Sri Lanka has signed a 35 year build-operate-transfer deal with a joint venture between a Chinese state-run firm (which owns 55%) and a local partner. The deal was signed during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to China last week. See LBO’s report here , and China Daily's here . Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) is a venture between China Merchants Holdings International, the Hong Kong listed Chinese state-run firm, and local firm Aitken Spence (which owns 30%). The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) owns 15%. “The project will further anchor the Port of Colombo’s position as a...

TYO-UK remembers 5th anniversary of Sencholai bombings

TYO-UK remembers the 5th anniversary of the attack on Sencholai orphanage and the children who lost their lives in the air raid. On the 14th of August 2006, sixteen bombs were dropped by Sri Lankan Air Force jets killing 53 female students and injuring many more. The students had been attending a first aid course in an orphanage. Only a short-while before the bombings, the coordinates of the orphanage had been given to the ICRC who in turn had informed the Sri Lankan state. Though the Sri Lankan government predictably accused the young girls of being LTTE cadres and the orphanage of being a...

What we said five years ago …

Extracts from our editorial of August 23, 2006 (see full text here ): “Despite its Buddhist pretensions, the Sinhala state invariably and swiftly resorts to a strategy of collective punishment when faced with what- in moments of forgetful sincerity - it calls ‘Tamil terrorism.’ Embargos on entire districts, bombardments of whole villages and towns, massacres of entire neighborhoods, pogroms. These are the tools Sri Lanka’s state intuitively deploys against the Tamils. “The massive forced displacements of the past month, and the earlier waves that began in April, have all been directed to...

India’s opposition parties unite behind Eelam Tamils

With India’s opposition parties, including the BJP and CPI(M), now united in demanding justice and autonomy for Eelam Tamils, the ruling Congress party’s continued silence is striking. Adding to demands for India to take a tougher, more decisive role in on Sri Lanka's war crimes and genocide, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha pledged his party’s commitment to Eelam Tamils and determination to ensure justice is done. Speaking at a protest rally organised by MDMK chief Vaiko in New Delhi, Sinha mocked the Congress government for cowering before China for fear of losing regional influence. “ This shows mere helplessness that we have lost all our clout and friends and that we have to surrender ourselves to China. It is a matter of shame for our country and it is [a] matter of great shame for the government” said Sinha. His remarks echo those of fellow BJP senior member Jaswant Singh, who asked if India's geopolitical concerns justified inaction over Sri Lanka's warcrimes, said: “ I am always extremely chary of this catchall phrase, ‘geopolitical’ . I tend to be very suspicious about the use this phrase because it is a coverall phrase which can mean anything and everything . “ I don’t think a great country like India can determine its policies and practice its policies in apprehension of the activities of any other country. ” See here for CPI’s call for autonomy.

Boycotts and Sri Lanka's ire

Realisation that economic sanctions and international isolation will be needed to compell the recalcitrant Sri Lankan regime to ensure an independent, international investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity is growing. The calls for such decisive action are most vocal in India and particularly Tamil Nadu where the chief minister J. Jayalalitha is calling for India to impose economic sanctions, following a unanimous resolution condemning Sri Lanka passed in the state assembly. Little wonder these developments have triggered a furious tirade from Colombo. Defence secretary...

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