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Sunday December 10th, 2023

President says no desire to reconvene previous parliament under any circumstance

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

ECONOMYNEXT – Noting that he has no power to convene parliament in the absence of an election after June 2, President Gotabaya Rajapaska said he has no desire to reconvene the previous legislature.

“Under no circumstance do I wish to reconvene the previous parliament,” he told senior advisor Lalith Weeratunga in a televised discussion last evening.

The people of Sri Lanka have the opportunity to recognise those attempting to create a constitutional crisis where there is none, he added, referring to comments made by opposition politicians opposed to the idea of holding elections until the COVID-19 crisis has been fully resolved.

Rajapaksa said the National Election Commission (NEC) has total authority to hold a free and fair election and to decide a date to hold it on.

The NEC announced last evening that Sri Lanka’s next parliamentary elections will be held on June 20. The announcement came amid uncertainty and anxiety over a premature election, against a backdrop of increasing coronavirus cases.

“Mine and the NEC’s responsibility is to respect the people’s rights and ensure sovereign rights of the people. But under the present circumstances, the NEC had to postpone the election. Constitutionally, a new parliament must convene within three months after the previous parliament is dissolved. The date must be decided by the independent EC which changed the previous date,” he said.

“If the NEC wants, they can even take a few days for the election. It has the power. I do not wish to influence an independent election commission over the election date,” he added.

Insisting that he has done everything constitutionally, Rajapaksa said: “The law does not expect me to do the impossible.”

Commenting on the relaxation of the COVID-19 curfew – which has since been reimposed – Rajapaksa said 50% of the country’s economy is centred around the Western Province, adding that economists had warned him if the lockdown were to continue, the country’s economy would take a massive hit.

“I too would like it if we can keep the country in total lockdown for one more month. But imagine the impact,” he said.

Rajapaksa further said the ongoing outbreak is a good opportunity for the country economically.

With the foreign-exchange generating industries now on hold, Rajapaksa said an opportunity has arisen for Sri Lanka to adopt a more home-grown economic plan.

While ensuring food security, he said, the time was right to expand exports as well as develop agriculture.“We always talked about increasing farmer income. This is the best opportunity for that,” he said. (Colombo/Apr21/2020)

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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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