An Echelon Media Company
Friday December 9th, 2022

Sri Lanka president defends controversial agrochemical ban amid mounting opposition

President Rajapaksa addressing the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaking at a global climate summit in Scotland on Monday (01) defended his government’s controversial decision to ban agrochemicals in the face of mounting opposition by farmers, experts and what he called entrenched lobbies.

“Sri Lanka recently restricted the imports of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weedicides due to public health concerns, water contamination, soil degradation, and biodiversity impacts. Although opposed by entrenched lobbies, this has created opportunities for innovation and investment into organic agriculture that will be healthier and more sustainable in future”, a statement from the President’s Office quoted him as saying at the World Leaders Summit COP26 held in Glasgow.

The Rajapaksa government’s overnight shift to organic fertilizer has been severely criticised by opposition parties, agriculture experts and, not least, hundreds of farmers who have taken to the streets in furious protest.

Critics have said though it is a good idea in theory, the shift to organic fertilizer should be carried out in stages over a number of years.

Professor Buddhi Marambe, a former Dean of Agriculture Faculty at the University of Peradeniya who was recently sacked from all government positions, had been warning in recent newspaper articles that the move could lead to crop declines that in turn cause huge food shortages within months.

Related: Sacked Sri Lanka scientist rejects ad hominem attack as fertilizer warning materialize

Speaking at the COP26 summit, President Rajapaksa further said Sri Lanka is proud to be a co-lead of the “Global Energy Compact for No New Coal Power”.

In September this year, Sri Lanka joined six other countries in pledging a No New Coal Compact, promising to cease the issuance of permits for new unabated coal power plants after the end of the year.

The cabinet office announced on Tuesday (02) that ministers have approved a series of policy guidelines with regard to power generation including a proposal to generate 70 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Other proposals include a decision to forego the construction of new coal power plants and to neutralise net carbon emissions from power generation by 2050.

Related: Sri Lanka cabinet nod for electricity policy guidelines; 70pct renewable by 2030

The COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference is being held at a “critical moment in the fight against climate change” and is attended by around 25,000 people from 197 countries representing a wide range of fields.

“It is essential that the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases fulfil their national commitments and assist developing nations navigate through the climate crisis,” the President’s Office statement quoted Rajapaksa as saying in his address.

Rajapaksa also called on nations to work together in a spirit of true cooperation to overcome the crisis and sustain humanity and the planet.

“Climate change affects all nations, but disproportionately impacts developing island nations. Developing nations that take bold steps towards climate change mitigation and adaptation deserve extensive support,” he said.

“Sri Lanka is deeply aware of the impacts of climate change. Our rich philosophical heritage, shaped by Lord Buddha’s teachings, places great value on environmental integrity,” said Rajapaksa, adding that sustainability is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s national policy framework.

“Sri Lanka’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions aims to reduce emissions towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. It is expected to increase carbon sequestration capacity by 7% by 2030 and steps are being taken to phase out use of fossil fuels,” he said.

In 2019, Sri Lanka spearheaded the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, which seeks to halve Nitrogen waste by 2030, the statement said.

“We look forward to more countries joining this initiative.”

Sri Lanka leads the Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods under the Commonwealth Blue Charter initiative. President Rajapaksa also said Sri Lanka welcomes investments, technology transfers, and climate financing for its “ambitious sustainability efforts, along with broader development assistance to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Colombo/Nov02/2021)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka bond yields end higher, kerb dollar Rs370/371

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bonds yields ended up and the T-bills eased on active trade on Friday, dealers said.

The US dollar was 370/371 rupees in the kerb.

“The bond rates went up, however more interest was seen in the short term bills by the investors” dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.90/32.20 percent on Friday, up from 31.25/70 percent at Thursday’s close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 30.30/31.30 percent steady from 30.30/31.00 percent.

The three-month T-bills closed at 30.75/31.30 percent, down from 32.00/32.25 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar unchanged.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.78 and 372.00 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.78 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Dec 09/2022)

Continue Reading

Foreign minister, US ambassador discuss future assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — In a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung discussed ways in which the United States can continue to support Sri Lanka going forward, the Ambassador said.

Chung tweeted Friday December 09 afternoon that the two officials had reflected on the “twists and turns” of 2022, at the meeting.

Minister Sabry was recently in Washington D.C. where he US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A foreign ministry statement said the two officials held productive discussions at the Department of State on December 02 on further elevating bilateral relations in diverse spheres, including the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations which will be marked in 2023.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka also celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence from the British in 2023, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has given himself and all parties that represent parliament a deadline to find a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

The US has been vocal about Sri Lanka addressing concerns about its human rights record since the end of the civil war in 2009 and was a sponsor of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unlike previous resolutions, this year’s iteration makes specific reference to the country’s prevailing currency crisis and calls for investigations on corruption allegations.

In the lead up to the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Minister Sabry Sri Lanka’s government under then new president Wickremesinghe does not want any confrontation with any international partner but will oppose any anti-constitutional move forced upon the country.

On the eve of the sessions on October 06, Sabry said countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who led the UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka, are greatly influenced by domestic-level lobbying by pressure groups from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

These pronouncements notwithstanding, the Wickremesnghe government has been making inroads to the West as well as India and Japan, eager to obtain their assistance in seeing Sri Lanka through the ongoing crisis.

The island nation has entered into a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended fund facility of 2.9 billion dollars to be disbursed over a period of four years, subject to a successful debt restructure programme and structural reforms.

Much depends on whether or not China agrees to restructure Sri Lanka’s 7.4 billion dollar outstanding debt to the emerging superpower. Beijing’s apparent hesitance to go for a swift restructure prompted Tamil National Alliance MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam to warn of possible “go home, China” protests in Colombo, similar to the wave of protests that forced the exit of former pro-China President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The TNA will be a key player in upcoming talks with the Wickremesinghe government on a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

Continue Reading

India smogs out Sri Lanka’s China tower observers

 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Lotus Tower has halved visitors to its observation deck an official said as dirty air flowing from India triggered air quality warnings and schools in the capital closed.

“Masks are mandatory at the observation deck and roughly around 50 to 60 can go up to the observation deck at a time, time limits have not been altered and still persists at 20 minutes for observation,” the official told EconomyNext.

Prior to the smog, 120 observers were permitted at once to the deck.

However, even after limitations the Lotus Tower has continued to draw visitors, and revenues are coming in, the official said.

The tower built with a Chinese loan by the cash rich Telecom Regulatory Commission has been described by critics as a white elephant that eats the money earned from telecom operators mainly as spectrum fees.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said India air heavily polluted with particulate matter was flowing across the island into a depression in the South West Bengal Bay. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

 

 

Continue Reading