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Tuesday May 30th, 2023

Sri Lanka main opposition SJB unfazed by SLPP-UNP alliance

ECONOMYNEXT – The newly announced alliance between the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the United National Party (UNP) is no threat to the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya, according to an SJB spokesman.

SJB national list MP Tissa Attanayake told reporters on Monday January 10 that the SLPP and the UNP have joined forces because neither party enjoys enough support to contest alone.

“The UNP-SLPP alliance is in no way a challenge to the SJB,” said Attanayake.

The MP said the SJB expects to contest the polls together with all parties and organisations affiliated with the party.

The nationalist SLPP and its former rival the centre-right UNP, the party headed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, will join forces to contest the local government elections that may or may not take place in March this year.

UNP general secretary Palitha Range Bandara told reporters following a discussion between the president and SLPP representatives on Monday that the two parties will contest the election together under the SLPP’s Pohottuwa (lotus bud) symbol for some of the local bodies, the UNP’s elephant symbol for some and a common symbol for the others.


Sri Lanka’s ruling SLPP, president’s UNP team up for local govt elections

However, it is unclear whether the local government elections will take place at all. Despite the election commission announcing January 18 to 21 as dates for accepting nominations for the local polls, there is a cloud of uncertainty over the widely anticipated election. Opposition parties continue to accuse the government of resorting to various underhand tactics to delay the election while the election commission itself is reportedly divided on whether it should go ahead with the polls.

A number of government ministers have said the cash-strapped country cannot afford to hold elections at present, while some analysts warn that an election at this juncture could derail or at least slow down Sri Lanka’s recovery process. President Wickremesinghe, though he has said he will not participate in the UNP’s election campaign, is also reportedly decidedly not in favour of an election at present, choosing instead to prioritise his mandate to bring Sri Lanka out of its worst currency crisis in decades. (Colombo/Jan10/2023)

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  1. mohamed Sulaiman says:

    RANIL RAJAPAKASHA and the Bloody RAJAPAKSHAS know their FATE if they do have an ELECTION, RANIL should BE MAN enough to face the challenge.

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  1. mohamed Sulaiman says:

    RANIL RAJAPAKASHA and the Bloody RAJAPAKSHAS know their FATE if they do have an ELECTION, RANIL should BE MAN enough to face the challenge.

India extends under utilized $1 bln credit facility to Sri Lanka by one year 

ECONOMYNEXT – India has extended a $1 billion credit facility to Sri Lanka by another year after the loan that was given to help the crisis-hit island nation to continue import of essentials was not fully utilized in the 12 month period originally agreed, officials said.

Sri Lanka faced with a looming sovereign default signed the credit facility in March 2022 for one year through March 2024. However, the full $1 billion had not been utilized yet.

The Facility has been used for urgent procurement of fuel, medicines, food items and industrial raw materials, as per the requirements and priorities of Sri Lanka.

“The initial agreement was signed in 2022 March and out of the 1000 million US dollars allocated materials were imported for $576.75 mil,” Shehan Semasinghe, State Finance Minister said in his official twitter platform.

“The agreement is extended for the remaining $423.25 mil. We will prioritize the import of essential medicines till March 2024.”

Indian High Commission in Colombo said the State Bank of India (SBI) has extended the tenure of the $1 billion Credit Facility provided to Sri Lanka in response to a request from the Government of Sri Lanka.  (Colombo/May 30/2023)

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Sri Lanka President cleared to discuss cancelled LRT after soured Japan relations

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe discuss resuming a Japan funded. Light Rail Transit (LRT) project cabinet spokesman said, as the island nation is in the process of mending ties with Tokyo.

However, any such deals are likely to take place after the debt restructuring and Sri Lanka starts to repay its foreign loans to come out of default, analysts say.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa unilaterally cancelled the 1.5 billion US dollar LRT and East Container Terminal (ECT) projects in 2021. Japan agreed to fund the LRT project while it was one of the tripartite members of the ECT project along with India and Sri Lanka.

The abrupt cancellation hit the diplomatic ties between the two countries and Sri Lankan government officials have said Japan had given the project to Sri Lanka at a very lower financing cost.

President Wickremesinghe returned from Japan late last week after having met top officials of the Japanese government including its prime minister.

“In recent history, due to the stopping of several agreements and proposals suddenly, President Wickremesinghe went to Japan after creating the background to clear some of the worries we have,” Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told the weekly media briefing.

“Before he went, he got the approval from the cabinet to resume the discussion on the light railway project. He got the approval from the cabinet to get parliament approval for bilateral agreements signed or any other investments project. Any change or cancellation of a project could be done only with the approval of the parliament.”

Japan has backed Sri Lanka under Wickremesinghe’s presidency after the island nation declared sovereign debt default. (Colombo/May 30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to tighten grip on television with broadcast law

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has formulated a broadcast authority law to regulate electronic media which will be made public soon, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

“The draft prepared by a cabinet subcommittee under Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa has discussed with various parties will be given to all media institutions and broadcast media,” Gunawardana said.

“We do not have to hide or force anyone. A legal framework that can be acceptable to all for all sectors.”

“In a week or two Minister Wijedasa will discuss with state and private stakeholders.”

At the moment Sri Lanka has issued frequencies without conforming to an “international procedures”, he said.

In Sri Lanka television frequencies are issued under a state television act.

Successive administrations in Sri Lanka has since around 1980 mis-used state television duopoly which including for conducting elections according to critics.

Private television as well a raio emerged around the 1990s and has since over shadowed state media.

There have been calls by ruling party politicians from time to time to control private media. There is now calls to control social media.

At a Committee on Public Accounts meeting of the Department of Government Information, ruling coalition legislators called for regulation of television content. (Colombo/May30/2023)

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