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Thursday December 7th, 2023

Sri Lanka contemplating new legislation after revocation of high security zones

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s administration will likely bring in new legislation aimed at “protecting the basic rights of the people”, cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena said after the government revoked a controversial return to war-time high security zones.

President Wickrememsinghe signed a declaration of several high security zones (HSZ) in the capital Colombo on September 24 after months of protests. The legality of the move was widely questioned, after which the decision was revoked on Saturday October 01.

The privately owned The Sunday Times reported the next day that the Ministry of Public Security and the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence had sought the declaration citing possible security threats from some protestors and that the president had signed the documents assuming the officials had ensured their legality.

Minister Gunawardena, speaking at the weekly cabinet press briefing on Tuesday October 04 said the government has a responsibility to uphold the fundamental rights of all citizens including all stakeholders of the constitution, the executive and the judiciary.

“Parliamentarians are also citizens of this country. They too have basic human rights,” he said.

The minister was alluding to the wave of retaliatory mob violence that rocked the country on May 09 after supporters of then prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa launched an unprovoked attack on peaceful protestors. One government MP was killed in the violence that ensued and the residences and offices of several MPs were torched to the ground in a series of arson attacks.

Gunawardena said the government accepts that nonviolent protests must be permitted, but the state has an obligation to intervene when public property is damaged and the rights of others are violated.

The constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to live in their own homes and move freely, and if anything gets in the way of those basic rights, said Gunawardena, the government will act.

“The cabinet of ministers discussed whether new laws should be brought in to protect such rights. In no other part of the world has a country with a parliamentary system of government earned such a black mark through the kind of violence that erupted here,” he said.

The minister also defended the move to declare HSZs, though the president himself revoked them.

“Even when tourists are coming in, some have personally called me and asked whether there will be people outside the airport, will there be unauthorised people checking our passports, will there be fuel, etc. To improve tourism and investments, Sri Lanka should be a place of nonviolence.

“This may have been the reason for the imposition of high security zones,” he said. (Colombo/Oct04/2022)

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COP28 sees new era for climate action with $57 bln pledge; Sri Lanka’s proposals need approval

ECONOMYNEXT – The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) has witnessed governments, businesses, investors, and philanthropies announcing support of over $57 billion across the climate agenda in just the first four days of the global event with eight pledges and declarations receiving historic support.

After a historic deal to operationalize a fund for climate impact response on the first day, announcements have poured in across the entire climate agenda, including on finance, health, food, nature, and energy.

On climate finance, the COP28 host United Arab Emirates launched a $30 billion catalytic fund, ALTÉRRA, with an emphasis on unlocking private finance across the Global South.

The host nation also has announced $200 million for SDRs and $150 million for water scarcity.

The World Bank has announced an increase of $9 billion annually to finance climate-related projects, while the first two days of COP28 saw $725 million in pledges after a historic response to loss and damage was operationalized.

Eight new declarations have been announced which are expected to help transform every major system of the global economy.

These include the first ever declarations on food systems transformation and health, plus declarations on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonize heavy emitting industries.

The eight declarations are:

  • The Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge has been endorsed by 119 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Agriculture, Food, & Climate has received endorsements from 137 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health has been endorsed by 125 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate Relief, Recovery & Peace has been endorsed by 74 countries and 40 organizations.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate Finance has been endorsed by 12 countries.
  • The Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (Champ) Pledge has been endorsed by 64 countries.
  • The Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter has been endorsed by 51 companies, representing 40 percent of global oil production.
  • The Industrial Transition Accelerator has been endorsed by 35 companies and six industry associations, including World Steel Association, International Aluminium Institute, Global Renewable Alliance, Global Cement and Concrete Association, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, International Air Transport Association.

Three additional declarations will be announced in the coming days on hydrogen, cooling, and gender. The number of countries supporting these declarations and pledges is growing and demonstrates an unprecedented level of inclusivity at this COP.

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced three new proposals: Climate Justice Forum (CJF), Tropical Belt Initiative (TBI), and International Climate Change University in Sri Lanka.

However, the proposals are yet to get approval from the general UN body though the island nation’s authorities expect wide support for the moves.

“What we have done is to talk to countries about the initiatives and launch them. Next step is for them to be formally recognized by the main body,” Ruwan Wijewardena, the Senior Advisor to President Wickremesinghe on Climate change, told Economy Next.

Breakdown of financial pledges and contributions so far:

  • Loss and Damage: $725 million
  • Green Climate Fund: $3.5 billion (increasing second replenishment to $12.8 billion)
  • Renewable Energy: $2.5 billion
  • Technology: $568 million
  • Methane: $1.2 billion
  • Climate Finance: Over $30 billion from UAE (plus $200 million in Special Drawing Rights and an increase of $9 billion annually from the World Bank)
  • Food: $2.6 Billion
  • Nature: $2.6 Billion
  • Health: $2.7 billion
  • Water: $150 million
  • Relief, Recovery and Peace: $1.2 billion
  • Local Climate Action: $467 million (Dubai/Dec 6/2023)
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Sri Lanka to start international tourism branding campaign

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will soon start a tourism international marketing campaign under the theme ‘You will come back for more,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said.

“We have not had a branding campaign for 15 years,” Fernando told parliament. “A campaign has been developed by Ogilvy.

“It will help us reach the target of 2.3 million tourists next year.”

This year Sri Lanka is expecting a 1.5 million tourists with close to 1.3 million reached by November.

About 6,000 tourists are now coming each day, at the moment he said.

On December 10, three cruise ships are due. (Colombo/Nov06/2023)

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Sri Lanka 3-month Treasuries yields fall

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasury bill yields eased across maturities with the tree month yield falling 19 basis points to 14.67 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

A total of 185 billion rupees in bills were sold, with sharply lower than offered volumes in 12-months sold.

The debt office offered 55 billion rupees of 3 -month bills and sold 87 billion.

92 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold after offering 60 billion at 14.38 percent down 14 basis points.

Only 5.2 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold after offering 70 billion rupees, at 12.88 percent, down 01 basis point. (Colombo/Dec06/2023)

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