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Tuesday June 18th, 2024

INTERVIEW – Sri Lanka President eyes Tropical Belt Initiative, CJF at COP28

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe is looking at key globally important topics of Tropical Belt Initiative and Climate Justice Forum (CFJ) at the upcoming 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai starting on Friday, his advisor on climate change said.

This year’s climate summit will feature a raft of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change, including whether to phase out fossil fuels and how to finance the energy transition in developing countries.

President Wickremesinghe will lead the Sri Lankan delegation which includes private sector corporates which are involved in green initiatives including renewable energy production to the summit and expects to use it as a rallying point to address climate-related disasters in many countries including Sri Lanka.

The President will be speaking in the afternoon session of the first day of the Summit on Friday, November 30

“There are three things he wants to focus on: tropical belt initiative, the climate justice forum, and the climate university. He wants to see how we can link the three together,” Ruwan Wijewardene, Senior Presidential Advisor on climate change, told EconomyNext in an interview.

In the Tropical Belt Initiative, Wickremesinghe is expected to meet the leaders of the countries which are frequently facing disasters related to climate change and start a strong global forum to ask developed nations to help the members.

“All climate scientists say that global warming… is controlled through the tropical belt – through the countries of the tropical belt basically. They are the ones who are most vulnerable as well. Also, the poorest countries are in the tropical belt,” he said.

“So, the initiative is basically asking the global north and the developed countries if you keep up to the climate goals that the whole world is talking about then you have to invest more in the tropical belt countries on renewable energy and green initiatives. That’s the basic premise.”


Tropical belt nations include Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brazil, Philippines, India, Maldives, and Argentina among many others and some of these countries frequently see heavy losses and damage due to natural disasters.

This year’s summit is held as the latest data from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels.

This is critical to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heat waves and rainfall.
COP28 is expected to identify global solutions for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, inform countries’ preparations for revised and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (national climate plans) due by 2025, accelerate the green transition that is already happening and ultimately achieve the delivery of the Paris Agreement goals.
In the last summit, COP27, held in Egypt, the countries decided to establish a dedicated fund for loss and damage due to climate change, committed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, to hold businesses and institutions to be accountable for their actions that contribute for climate change, mobilize more financial support for developing countries, and implementing everything that will prevent a climate crisis.
Under the Climate Justice Forum, President Wickremesinghe is focusing on holding developed countries accountable for the climate-related losses and damages in climate vulnerable nations.
“Climate justice is basically…they (developed countries) have pledged money into the loss and damages, but nobody has done anything about it, Wijewardene said.

“Basically, what we are saying through the climate justice forum is that fine if you can’t put money into the loss and damage and look at us, let out debts and cut off from that which will help us to achieve our climate goals and our sustainable development goals,” he added.

“President is quite keen on keeping it as an international initiative. So, he will probably have some bilateral meetings with some of these countries from Africa and South America and get them on board. It looks like there will be a positive response. Basically, this is to strengthen the economies like us through green initiatives.”

Sri Lanka delegation is going with a record number of proposals for the summit and for the first time, the South Asian nation will have its own pavilion in the Summit, government officials say. (Colombo/Nov 27/2023)

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Sri Lanka telecommunications bill some clauses ruled unconstitutional by SC: Speaker

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has found a number of clauses in a proposed amendment to the Telecom Telecommunications Amendment bill unconstitutional, speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana said.

“Clause No 8, proposed section 9A 2 of the bill is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution, however this inconsistency shall cease if word ‘may’ will be replaced with word ‘shall’ as set out in the determination of the supreme court.”

“Clause No 9 is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution and only can be passed with special majority required under paragraph 2 of the Article 84. However, the inconsistency shall cease if clause is amended as set out in the determination of the supreme court.

Clause No 12, proposed section 17 10 of the bill is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution and can only be passed with special parliament majority required under Article 84 paragraph 2. However, the inconsistency shall cease if clause is amended as set out in the determination of the supreme court.”

Sections of clauses 13, 18, 20, 33 and 35 were also in violation of the constitution, and could only be passed by a special majority of parliament. (Colombo/Jun18/2024)

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Sri Lanka to exempt one house from imputed rent wealth tax: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will exempt one house from a proposed wealth tax outlined in an International Monetary Fund program, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

About 90 percent of the people’s houses are likely to be exempt from the proposed tax, he said.

“[O]ne house will be exempt from this,” President Wickremesinghe told parliament Monday.

“It is going to have a very high threshold and I do not think the vast majority of the people in this country should even be worried about their house

“Don’t worry your house will be safe.”

The IMF program document however did not mention an exempt on one house, but did mention a threshold.

Taxing houses and thrift in general could have detrimental effects on people’s well-being housing stock and their willingness to remain in the country without migrating, critics say.

Related Sri Lanka to tax imaginary rents on houses under IMF deal

The mechanism of imputed rents was used because rates on houses was assigned to provincial councils and courts could strike it down.

Opposition legislator Harsha de Silva said the Samagi Jana Balwegaya welcomed President Wickremesinghe’s statement. (Colombo/June18/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee opens weaker at 304.30/55 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 304.30/55 to the US dollar on Tuesday, while bond yields were broadly stable, and stocks opened 0.02 percent up, dealers said.

The rupee closed at 304.00/15 to the greenback on Friday, before the long weekend.

In equities, Colombo’s All Share Price Index opened 2.06 points higher at 12,312 while the S&P SL20 of more liquid stocks opened down 0.07 percent or 2.63 points to 3,642.

The market turnover was 3.3 million rupees.

In the secondary market, yields were broadly stable, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 was quoted at 10.10/30, up from 10.05/30 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 was quoted at 11.05/30 percent, up from 11.05/20 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 was quoted stable at 11.80/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 was quoted at 11.95/12.10 percent, down from 12.00/10 percent.

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