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Sunday December 10th, 2023

Sri Lanka opposition NPP member injured at protest dies

ECONOMYNEXT – A local government candidate of Sri Lanka’s opposition National People’s Power (NPP) that was admitted to hospital after police attacked a protest in Colombo has died.

The NPP, an alliance led by the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) staged a protest attended by hundreds of members including NPP/JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, on Sunday February 26 against what the party claimed were attempts by the government to delay the local government elections that were originally scheduled for March 09.

Police fired water canons and tear gas at the protestors thronged at the Lipton Circus in Colombo, a popular protest site, citing a court order against the protest. Party Dissanayake was among those who were at the receiving end of the water canon fire.

JVP general secretary Tilvin Silva told reporters Monday afternoon that Nimal Amarasiri, a 61-year-old NPP candidate for the Nivithigala Pradeshiya Sabha, sustained an eye injury when police attacked the protest. Amarasiri, who was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital passed away Monday afternoon, according to Silva.

“We staged a very peaceful protest exercising our right to free expression. But [President Ranil Wickremesinghe and his government] attacked the protest.

“He was so spooked by the protest that he sought to obtain three court orders against it. Then he obstructed the protest and attacked it,” said Silva.

The JVP secretary said no one in the protest was violent in any way and the police attacked them in spite of it.

“About 28 people who were injured had to be hospitalised. A few have by now been discharged from hospital, but some are still receiving treatment. Two of them were in serious condition, and we were just informed that one of them lost his life,” he said.

“It is a matter of grave concern that a very peaceful protest was attacked this way and human lives were played with. The Wickremesinghe-led government must accept responsibility of the life that was lost,” he added.

Police spokesman SSP Nilah Thalduwa, meanwhile, said the cause of death of the protestor could not be ascertained until a postmortem was completed. (Colombo/Feb27/2023)

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ADB USD200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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Sri Lank in blackout as power grid hit by cascading failure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka suffered a blackout as Saturday evening as the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board grid was hit by a cascading power failure.

The cascading failure is believed to have been triggered by the failure of the Kothmale-Biyagama transmission line.

“The Ceylon Electricity Board wishes to inform our customers that due to the failure of Kotmale – Biyagama main transmission line, an island wide power failure has occurred,” CEB Spokesman Noel Priyantha said.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply.”

With hydro plants running flat out, a outage of the line tends to create a big imbalance in the demand and supply, leading to tripping of more lines and generators.

Lines can trip due to lightening strikes, or equipment failures.

Sri Lanka last suffered a cascading failure in December 2021, due to the failure of the same transmission line.

RelatedSri Lanka power blackout as grid hit by cascading failure

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Sri Lanka to host regional Food and Agriculture Organization conference

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will host the 37th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from February 19-22, 2024 in Colombo.

The Conference will bring together agriculture ministers and officials from 46 countries across the region to discuss challenges in food and agriculture.

“The 37th APRC will provide a vital platform for regional collaboration, benefitting the agricultural landscape, fisheries sector and environment of Sri Lanka,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at a press briefing on Friday (8) to announce the conference.

FAO has had an active presence in Sri Lanka for over 40 years. “FAO has supported the country in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and the development of the fisheries sector for growth and climate resilience,” Vimlendra Sharan, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

“The APRC conference will be an opportunity to highlight the innovative approaches introduced in partnership with the government.”

By hosting APRC, Sri Lanka hopes to demonstrate the country’s dedication to the growth of sustainable agriculture, and showcase its commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

The APRC agenda will include a forum on agritourism, especially requested by the Sri Lankan government.

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