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Sunday December 10th, 2023

SL cardinal calls for international probe over Easter attack, suspend cops after new revelation

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s leader of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Malcom Ranjith has called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe for an independent, international investigation into an alleged plot in the Easter Sunday attack and to suspend top police officials who have been found to have neglected their duty.

The Cardinal’s new requests come after the British-based Channel 4 documentary revealed with whistle blowers’ allegations that the Easter Sunday attack on April 21, 2019, was a plot involving the current intelligence chief Suresh Sallay.

In the Channel 4 video, a whistle blower who has already left the country identified as Azad Maulana, a former top aide of current state minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, had spoken of Sallay planning the attacks for about three years to help former leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa come into power.

Riding on a national security threat campaign, Rajapaksa won the presidential poll in November 2019 overwhelmingly. However, he failed to probe into the Easter Sunday attack mastermind as promised during his presidential campaign.

In the video Maulana and another anonymous source say military intelligence had direct contacts with the suicide bombers, and Maulana stated that he arranged a meeting between the current intelligence chief Suresh Sallay and suicide bombers in 2018.

Cardinal Malcom Ranjith, who also backed Rajapaksa in the 2019 poll, has been demanding the truth behind the attack and justice for the victims. At least 269 people including over 40 foreigners were killed in a series of suicide bombings by Islamist extremists targeting three luxury hotels and three churches during Easter Sunday services.

The Cardinal requested to hold a “free, impartial, just, transparent and broad based investigation into what the Channel 4 Television Network revealed in its programme, the alleged plot behind that tragedy and all facts and a study of the persons mentioned in that programme especially with regard to their role in this mass murder”.

“(The) investigations should be carried out on the findings outlined in the various commission reports already presented and recommendations stated there need to be implemented fully,” Cardinal said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“This investigation should take place through an independent international investigation team. That international team should be assisted by all those Sri Lankan officials of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) whose services were originally sought by the government and who were also transferred away from the investigations to other areas and the posts by biased political authorities.”

Rajapaksa transferred key police officials who spearheaded the Easter Sunday attack after he became president.

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ordered former President Maithripala Sirisena, four other officials including then intelligence chief Nilantha Jayawardena to pay compensation totalling 310 million rupees to victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.

The Cardinal in his statement urged Jayawardena, who was fined by the court and another senior officer Deshabandu Tennakoon, who was named for professional negligence in a presidential commission report to be suspended from the service until the new inquiry is over.

Sri Lankan authorities failed to act on warnings issued by an intelligence agency in neighbouring India 17 days before the coordinated suicide bombings, according to several investigations into the attacks.

Accusations of the involvement of Sri Lankan intelligence operatives have already been reported to courts. However, this is the first time Sallay is directly accused of plotting the attacks. (Colombo/September 07/2023)

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  1. Rienzie Wannithantri65616 says:

    Mr. M. Ranjith please stay away from further complications.

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  1. Rienzie Wannithantri65616 says:

    Mr. M. Ranjith please stay away from further complications.

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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