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Sunday December 10th, 2023

Parliamentary General Election on June 20

Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya announcing the postponement of the elections

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s COVID-hit Parliamentary General Election is to be held on June 20, an official statement issued by the Information Department said.

A gazette announcing the decision is expected to be issued later tonight, April 20.

Representatives of all political parties contesting the upcoming Parliamentary General Elections will be meeting with the members of the National Elections Commission tomorrow to discuss the holding of the elections, officials said.

Two representatives of each political party or alliance will meet with the three member Commission headed by Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya.

Prof Ratnajeevan Hoole who was in Jaffna returned to Colombo and was present at a series of consultations that the Commissioners had today.

Officials said that meetings with the Health Authorities had taken up a considerable amount of time today with meetings stretching into the afternoon.

Towards the end of the day the Commissioners met coordinators, these officials said.

With the newly elected Parliament slated to meet on June 2, the possible last date for the poll to be conducted is May 28.

The government has already said that this will be the date, although it is the responsibility of the EC to fix the date.

In postponing the election Chief Elections Commissioner Deshapriya told reporters that the complete breakdown of the government machinery due to the COVID 19 pandemic had thrown the government machinery into disarray and he could not organize and conduct an election under those conditions.

In fixing the date for the elections the EC would have to certify that conditions are optimal for a free and fair election to be conducted.

He would have to get assurances that the safety conditions for a political campaign where many people gather for rallies are permitted by health regulations.

Also, the EC would need to ensure that the government machinery is working efficiently to make the election happen.

In the meantime, the EC wrote to the President asking him to consult the Supreme Court about making adjustments to the date of the elections because of the threat of the pandemic, but the Secretary to the President dismissed that saying such an opinion was unnecessary.

Only the President is empowered to seek an opinion from the Apex Court for such eventualities. (Colombo, April 20, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana




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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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