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Tuesday September 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka confident of no immediate withdrawal of EU’s GSP+: Foreign Secretary

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is confident that the European Union will not withdraw the lucrative GSP Plus trade concession immediately as it has already addressed some concerns raised by the block on human rights, Foreign Ministry Secretary Jayanath Colombage said.

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus – an annual trade concession worth over 500 million US dollars – has boosted Sri Lanka’s exports to EU member states. Sri Lanka lost access to GSP Plus in 2010 due to alleged human rights violations but regained it in 2016 after pledging to implement 27 international conventions.

However, Sri Lanka has failed to implement several commitments it had made to the EU and the bloc has warned that the concession could be withdrawn if the island nation fails to implement a few key demands including the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the release of long detained suspects under the PTA.

“We are fairly confident that the GSP Plus will not be withdrawn immediately because we have provided very credible, genuine answers to the queries made by the EU Commission,” Colombage told a media conference ahead of his visit to face United Nations Human Rights Council sessions starting on Monday (28) in Geneva.

“One of the main focuses of the EU was the PTA. Now we have done the amendment and it is before the parliament. Hopefully, on the 8th or 9th of the next month, it will become the law of the country. So that is the concrete positive step we have taken.”

“They were also very concerned about long term returnees. Eighty-one detainees are already released and we will release more. Because this is all Sri Lankans languishing in a jail somewhere and it is not fair to keep them any longer.”

A loss of GSP+ will be a huge blow to cash-strapped Sri Lanka which is facing an unprecedented economic and debt crisis. The concession has helped Sri Lanka earn more US dollars at a time the island nation cannot borrow from international capital markets due to a series of rating downgrades by global rating agencies.

Foreign Minister G L Peiris has tabled the amendment in parliament though a debate has yet to be scheduled. Though government critics say the move was to hoodwink the international community ahead of the next week UNHRC session and prevent the loss of GSP+, some government officials say the amendment will dilute the power of authorities to detain suspects for a long period.

“So we are confident that we will have the GSP Plus for a while. But it does not mean that we should take it lightly. We have to work very hard. We have to address the concerns and issues so that we will continue to derive the GSP Plus continuously.”

Colampage said the GSP+ has really helped fishermen, garment factories, and farmers more than the government.

“And if it is withdrawn, these will be the worst affected categories,” he said. (Colombo/Feb25/2022)



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Sri Lanka cabinet okays appropriation bill for 2024 budget

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers had approved a draft Appropriation Act for 2024, the state information office said.

The Finance Minister’s proposal to gazette the bill and table it in parliament was approved by the cabinet.

Presenting the appropriation bill is the first stage of presenting a budget for 2024,

The appropriation bills set outs the expenditure plans for each ministry.

The budget proposals, made in November is called the second reading of the Appropriation Act. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s MEPA to get 28.5 mn rupees from Singaporean AEPW, for beach clean up

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) is to receive 5.7 million rupees a year, for five years, from Singapore-based marine waste solutions provider, Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), to maintain 8 beach cleaner machines.

The donation is meant to support MEPA clean coastal areas across Sri Lanka, using BeachTech Hydro Sweepy beach cleaner machines, previously donated by the organisation.

The oil industry-founded non-governmental organisation donated the 8 beach cleaners worth about US$180,000 to MEPA in the wake of the 2021 MV X-press Pearl ship disaster.

The machines manufactured by Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG, a German company, are effective at cleaning up plastic nurdles and other types of potentially harmful non-biodegradable waste, minimising human contact with hazardous materials.

As a significant amount of money is spent for the deployment of these machines for beach cleaning activities, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste has agreed to provide the funds for the upkeep of the machines for a period of five years.

With this financial donation, the Maritime Environment Protection Authority will be able to continue using these machines without interruption to clean identified beaches in the future. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s SEC makes four new appointments

ECONOMYNEXT – The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) made four new additions from diverse backgrounds to its leadership.

These appointments are expected to increase the effectiveness of the SEC secretariat in the respective operating areas, the SEC said.

Manuri Weerasinghe, with over 20 years of experience in accounting, financial management, financial reporting and auditing, was appointed Director, Corporate Affairs.

She is a Fellow Member of CA Sri Lanka, member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a member of the Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia.

Her academic credentials include a Master of Business Administration and a BSc (Hons) in Accountancy and Financial Management (Special).

Prior to joining the SEC, she served in several financial management positions in Bermuda and Sweden.

Madura P R Wanigasekara was appointed Chief Digital Officer. He has over 20 years delivering and managing IT solutions, and has held several senior management positions in the public and private sectors.

His academic qualifications include a Master of Science in Information Technology from the University of Colombo and a Bachelor of Information Technology from the Curtin University of Technology.

He is also a member of the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

Sharmila Panditaratne was appointed Assistant Director, Legal and Enforcement.

She is an Attorney-at-Law with over 21 years of experience as a securities market regulator.

She holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Houston, Texas and has worked at two law firms in the USA prior to joining the SEC.

Riyaz Bary, Deputy Solicitor General at the Attorney General’s Department was appointed a Director on secondment basis. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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