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Sunday December 3rd, 2023

Sri Lanka COPE meetings suspended amid Chair controversy

ECONOMYNEXT – There will be no meetings of Sri Lanka’s Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) until further notice, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said.

The Speaker told parliament on Friday November 17 that the COPE meeting that was due to be held at 1pm Friday was cancelled.

“The COPE meeting that was to be held at 1pm today, and there will be no further COPE meetings till further notice,” he said.

The Speaker said there will be no more meetings until issues over its chairman have been resolved, and that a final decision will be taken by the committee’s members.

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa had said that the 1pm scheduling of Friday’s meeting would clash with the prayer times’ of two COPE members: S M Marikkar and Rauf Hakeem. Premadasa implied that this was deliberate, claiming that the chair of the committee had called the meeting fully aware that the two MPs in question could not attend.

Chief opposition whip Lakshman Kiriella called on Speaker Abeywardena to resolve the issue without politicising it.

Opposition MPs have called foul on COPE chairman Ranjith Bandara for allegedly gesturing at a representative of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to keep quiet during a COPE hearing.

Bandara, a member of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), has claimed that he was simply attempting crowd-control at an unusually packed COPE meeting. (Colombo/Nov18/2023)

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Sri Lanka UGC wants to boost number of IT-related degrees

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission is of the view to boost the number of Information Technology (IT) related degrees in state universities with an aim to pave the way for a digital economy.

Sri Lanka’shigher education system has been producing more graduates in Arts stream while the degrees in highly demanded IT and other engineering services are being looked at only now.

“We do have a high demand for engineering, science, AI, computer and electronical engineering

studies,” Chairman of University Grants Commission, Sampath Amaratunga, told reporters at aa media briefing on Friday

“However, while avoiding neglecting the humanities, we should develop new IT skills.”

Amaratunga confirmed that a student who studied in any stream could obtain an IT degree, including students who studied in the arts stream.

The UGC data show that out of 18,490 engineering technology stream students who sat for their Advanced Levels (A/L) in 2022, 10634 were eligible for university.

“Even streams like agriculture should be encouraged to use technology,” Amaratunga said. (Colombo/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka leader inaugurates Climate Justice Forum at COP28 in Dubai

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe launched Climate Justice Forum (CJF) at the ongoing 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai in a move to gather support for vulnerable nations hit by climate-change led disasters.

This year’s climate summit held in Dubai’s EXPO2020 features a raft of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change, including whether to phase out fossil fuels and how to finance the energy transition in developing countries.

Wickremesinghe inaugurated the Climate Justice Forum at COP28 on Saturday and emphasized the critical importance of addressing climate issues with a sense of justice and equity.

The President had been in talks with many nations vulnerable to climate change disasters including African and South American countries to get their support for the CJF.

The move is to compel advanced and developed countries to look into the poor nations hit by the climate changes and help them to get over economic and debt burdens by either investing more in green energy initiatives or writing off debts to ease financial pressure.

Sri Lanka, which is now facing an unprecedented economic crisis, has seen increasing losses and damages, both human lives and physical properties due to climate change-led disasters like floods, drought, and earth slips.

In his speech at the COP28 forum, Wickremesinghe on Friday said the Climate Justice Forum will provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. (Dubai/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka IMF review goes to executive board on December 12

ECONOMYNEXT – The first review of Sri Lanka’s International Monetary Fund program is scheduled to go the lender’s Executive Board for consideration on December 12.

Sri Lanka officials were expecting the review to be completed in December as soon as official creditors gave their assurances.

According to the notice Sri Lanka had missed one performance criterion and has requested modifications.

Sri Lanka has outperformed on a number of quantity targets including inflation. In addition to quantity PCs there was also one non-accumulation of arrears.

There would also be re-phasing of access. The review was originally expected around September with another review based on December data, leading to September and March disbursements.

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