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Sunday September 24th, 2023

Sri Lanka former president claims “zero” national security, criticises militarisation

Former President Maithripala Sirisena (file photo)

ECONOMYNEXT – The ‘national security’ candidates of Sri Lanka’s last election cycle don’t seem to have delivered on that front and the government is not ready to correct the mistakes of appointing retired military men to key civil administration positions, former President Maithripala Sirisena said.

Addressing a press conference on Friday July 01, Sirisena said the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led government has mismanaged the country politically, economically and socially.

“National security was the foremost slogan of the last election. Today, there is zero national security,” he said.

The former president did not elaborate or offer specific examples of national security purportedly deteriorating since the election of the SLPP government. However, the past few weeks have seen an apparent increase in shooting incidents, though it is unclear whether this is due to an increase in media reports of such incidents or an actual statistical increase thereof.

There was, however, cases of retaliatory mob violence and arson attacks around the island on May 09 after government supporters launched an unprovoked and widely condemned attack on peaceful anti-government protestors. Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis since Independence, leading to high inflation and crippling shortages which have in turn triggered a wave of nationwide protests that sometimes turn violent.

Sirisena recalled how he was accused of compromising on national security following the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings which killed 269 Sri Lankans and foreign tourists and injured over 500. The attack, officially attributed to Islamic fundamentalists, happened on his watch, and then Prime Minister and incumbent PM Ranil Wickremesinghe complained of being excluded from Security Council meetings due to political differences between the two leaders.

“They made me the accused, claiming there was no national security, and asked for a mandate promising to end that. I would like to ask the leaders of that campaign, what has  happened today to this promised national security? Is there national security now?” he said.

“It wasn’t suitable people who were appointed to those positions [in civil administration]. The appointment of military figures to many institutes was severely criticised both locally and internationally. The government is still not ready to correct these mistakes,” he added.


Mangala accuses govt of militarising Sri Lanka amid harsh economic woes


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Sri Lanka India industrial zone around Trinco, maritime links mooted

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had highlighted the desire of both the Governments to work closely to develop the industrial zone at Trincomalee, after accepting an invitation to participate in a maritime summit.

The Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) will be held in India from October 17-19, 2023 at Mumbai where Sri Lanka has been invited at a partner country.

At a curtain raiser event on September 22, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay had said both countries were working on enhancing sea connectivity according to a vision document launched during a recent visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India.

Minister de Silva will lead a delegation from Sri Lanka to the summit.

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, T K Ramachandran said the Global Maritime India Summit aims strengthen the Indian maritime economy by promoting global and regional partnerships and facilitating investments.

The event will give an opportunity to the Government of Sri Lanka to attracting greater investment from India in development of its maritime infrastructure, Ramachandran said.

It will also facilitate greater business to business interactions. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka brings back import para tariff on milk

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has brought back an import para tariff called the Ports and Airports Levy, to several grades of milk powder.

Milk powder has been removed from a list of PAL exemptions, making them liable for a 10 percent tax.

The PAL para tariffs are also a contentious issue in terms of export competitiveness, and the government has previously given undertakings that they will be eliminated.

Trade freedoms of the poor figure in an IMF/World bank reform program with the governments.

Milk is a protein rich food, in a country where children of poor families are facing stunting and malnutrition.

Economic nationalism is seen at high levels in food, with several businessmen are pushing for trade protection, amid an overall autarkist (self-sufficiency) ideology, going directly against policies followed in East Asia, which the same as hold up as examples.

Sri Lanka keeps dairy product prices up ostensibly to bring profits to a domestic dairy company and farmers.

Sri Lanka also keeps maize prices up, ostensibly to give profits to farmers and collectors. (Colombo/Sept22/2023)

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Sri Lanka govt warns liquor manufacturers: pay defaulted tax or lose licence

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government which is struggling to raise the state revenue despite   higher taxes, has warned liquor manufacturers to pay defaulted taxes or lose their licence.

The government is now getting tough with past tax defaulters amid concerns over falling short of this year’s revenue target agreed with the International Monetary Fun (IMF).

“Liquor manufacturing firms owe us 660 crore rupees (6.6 billion rupees),” Siyambalapitiya told  reporters on Thursday (21).

“Most of this or around a third is the only excise tax amount to be paid. The rest is penalty. If a liquor manufacturer does not pay on time, we impose a penalty of 3 percent per month This means 36 percent (penalty) per annum,” he said.

“We have given them deadline to repay the basic excise taxes. If they don’t pay, we will cancel their licence.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government committed an ambitious revenue target among many other reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return to a $3 billion loan package.

However, the revenue could face a short fall of 100 billion rupees, State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said.

A new Central Bank Act also has legally prevented the government of printing money at its discretion as  in the past.  (Colombo/September 24/2023)

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