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Sunday December 10th, 2023

Cardinal: Easter attackers “spritually forgiven” but plotters must be punished

Police and Ambulances outside the Shrine of St Anthony in Kochchikade after the Easter Sunday attacks

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church is ready to “spiritually forgive” the plotters and the perpetrators of last year’s suicide bomb attacks on three churches and three hotels.

“But they must be brought to justice under the law,” the country’s leading Catholic Prelate Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith told reporters in Colombo yesterday.

The Cardinal who drew kudos for his peaceful response to the horrific attacks that left more than 260 dead and around 200 others with life-long injuries said the government has to take the responsibility to find out who planned the attacks and what their motive was.

“Otherwise more such attacks will be planned and executed in the future,” he said.

He added that he and other church leaders also want to know who knew of the attacks beforehand and why they were not informed in time.

“Otherwise we could have saved the lives of all these people,” he said.

A Parliamentary Select Committee that investigated the attacks found that the then Director of the State Intelligence Service, Nilantha Jayawardena, “bears the greatest responsibility” in the failure to prevent or mitigate the effects of the Easter Sunday attacks.

While Jayawardena was the pivotal figure, the CPSC also faulted the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujith Jayasundera, Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis and the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

The Committee confirmed that information had been received by Jayawardena on April 4, from what they called is a “friendly country.” We now know that the intelligence was shared by India which was monitoring the extremists. “But there were delays from his end to share it with the relevant intelligence and security personnel,” the report said.

The Chairman of the PSC Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said that “since Churches were to be attacked if this information was shared with Church leaders, particularly the Cardinal (Malcolm Ranjith) we could have prevented the attacks or reduced the harm.”

Both Jayasundera and the then Defense Secretary Fernando have been charged with negligence of duty and cases against them are before the court. They are currently out on bail.

The DIG Jayewardena routinely used to brief President Maithripala Sirisena on intelligence matters every day, the same committee was told.

Several ex-Members of Parliament including Palitha Range Bandara have said that President Sirisena would have been informed and as the then Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Law and Order he was primarily responsible and should be charged.

Jayewardena has not been charged.

Ranjith also said he is “very satisfied” with the progress being made by the current Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the attack as well as the CID investigation.

This is the third investigation into the attack commissioned by the present and previous government.

In the lead up to the anniversary a number of high-profile arrests have been carried out by the CID in their investigation.

The Cardinal also said that the families of those who were affected continue to receive assistance from funds that were collected after the attacks. He did not say how much was collected and what the disbursements were. (Colombo 17, April, 2020)


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ADB USD200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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Sri Lank in blackout as power grid hit by cascading failure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka suffered a blackout as Saturday evening as the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board grid was hit by a cascading power failure.

The cascading failure is believed to have been triggered by the failure of the Kothmale-Biyagama transmission line.

“The Ceylon Electricity Board wishes to inform our customers that due to the failure of Kotmale – Biyagama main transmission line, an island wide power failure has occurred,” CEB Spokesman Noel Priyantha said.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply.”

With hydro plants running flat out, a outage of the line tends to create a big imbalance in the demand and supply, leading to tripping of more lines and generators.

Lines can trip due to lightening strikes, or equipment failures.

Sri Lanka last suffered a cascading failure in December 2021, due to the failure of the same transmission line.

RelatedSri Lanka power blackout as grid hit by cascading failure

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Sri Lanka to host regional Food and Agriculture Organization conference

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will host the 37th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from February 19-22, 2024 in Colombo.

The Conference will bring together agriculture ministers and officials from 46 countries across the region to discuss challenges in food and agriculture.

“The 37th APRC will provide a vital platform for regional collaboration, benefitting the agricultural landscape, fisheries sector and environment of Sri Lanka,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at a press briefing on Friday (8) to announce the conference.

FAO has had an active presence in Sri Lanka for over 40 years. “FAO has supported the country in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and the development of the fisheries sector for growth and climate resilience,” Vimlendra Sharan, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

“The APRC conference will be an opportunity to highlight the innovative approaches introduced in partnership with the government.”

By hosting APRC, Sri Lanka hopes to demonstrate the country’s dedication to the growth of sustainable agriculture, and showcase its commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

The APRC agenda will include a forum on agritourism, especially requested by the Sri Lankan government.

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