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Tuesday April 16th, 2024

Sri Lanka starts surveying drug addicts as authorities seek public help

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has started a survey on drug addicts in order to reduce the demand of drugs through awareness while the local authorities request more public participation in eradicating drug menace in the society, officials said.

There is no official data on drug addicts in Sri Lanka, but rough estimation shows there are around 5 million people are connected to one or the other drug including tobacco and alcohol drinks, officials at National Dangerous Drugs Control Board say.

The estimation includes up to 100,000 of heroin addicts, up to 350,000 cannabis users, 50,000 ICE (Methamphetamine) users, around 3 million tobacco users, and 2.5 million alcoholic users, they said.

“There is no proper survey on the drug addicts,” Shakya Nanayakkara, Chairman at the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Wednesday (03).

“But now we along with UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) and a number of scientific organizations are doing a survey.”

He said many think the supply reduction could help reduce the drug usage, but the sustainable method is to reduce the demand of drugs through awareness.

The new move comes along with the government move to arrest drug suppliers across the country under a national programme titled “Yukthiya” which has already arrested tens of thousands of people in daily police raids.


“We need to care more on demand reduction for sustainable control,” Nanayakkara said, adding that the authorities need the public assistance and people’s participation to carry out demand reduction programme.

Analysts say Sri Lanka has become a transit hub for drugs as the island nation is situated along major drug trafficking routes in the Indian Ocean, making it vulnerable to the smuggling of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and synthetic drugs.

Trafficking networks often exploit the country’s strategic location for transit purposes, they say.

Heroin abuse has been a significant concern in Sri Lanka. The country has experienced an increase in the smuggling and distribution of heroin in recent years, leading to a rise in addiction rates and associated health problems.

Cannabis (commonly known as ganja or marijuana) is also prevalent in Sri Lanka. While it’s illegal to possess, cultivate, or sell cannabis in the country, it is widely used, particularly in rural areas.

The use of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine (locally known as “ice” or “crystal meth”) has been on the rise in Sri Lanka. These drugs are often manufactured in clandestine laboratories and distributed through illicit channels.

Successive Sri Lankan government has implemented various measures to combat drug abuse and trafficking, including law enforcement efforts, drug prevention programs, and rehabilitation initiatives.

However, challenges remain in addressing the root causes of drug abuse and dismantling sophisticated trafficking networks.

Drug abuse has significant social implications in Sri Lanka, including health problems, family breakdowns, crime, and economic burdens. Vulnerable populations, such as youth and marginalized communities, are particularly affected by drug-related issues.

The island nation’s latest drug-busting Yukthiya has been widely criticized by local and international rights groups citing it was violating the human rights of suspected drug users.

The United Nations in January expressed alarm at the heavy security-driven Yukthiya approach and called on authorities to immediately suspend and focus on policies based on health and human rights. (Colombo/April 03/2024)

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IMF urged Sri Lanka to preserve “hard earned gains” after economic crisis: State FinMin

ECONOMYNEXT – The International Monetary Fund has urged Sri Lanka to preserve the hard earned gains after an unprecedented economic crisis under the global lender’s programme, State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

The Sri Lankan delegation led by Shehan Semasinghe met Kenji Okamura, the Deputy Managjng Director of the IMF on the first day of the IMF and  World Bank Spring meeting.

“Mr. Okamura commended the Sri Lankan authorities on strong programme implementation and excellent reform progress. He emphasised the need to preserve the hard earned gains Sri Lanka has experienced since the beginning of the IMF programme and continue strong ownership,” the State Minister said in his X (Twitter) platform.

He said the Sri Lankan delegation including Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and Secretary to the Treasury Mahinda Siriwardana explained the recent socio-economic developments to Okamura.

He also affirmed the IMF top official on the authorities’ commitment to ensuring continuity and consistency of macroeconomic policies and reforms undertaken under the programme. (Colombo/April 16/2024)

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Sri Lanka State FinMin meets BCIU in US; discusses post-crisis investment prospects 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe met Business Council for International Understanding( BCIU) in Washington on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings late on Monday and discussed investment prospects in the island nation which is gradually recovering from an unprecedented economic crisis.
“Our discussion centered on the potential that Sri Lanka offers for international investors. Explored various sectors, including education, tourism, renewable energy, agriculture and technology, where strategic investments can drive sustainable economic growth and development,” Semasinghe said in his X (Twitter) platform. 
“We reviewed the current macro-economic landscape of Sri Lanka, including recent reforms that have transformed to results. Glad to concluded the forum by marking constructive dialogue and a shared commitment to support the economic development of Sri Lanka.” 
“We thank participants, stakeholders holders and global partners for the significant interest shown in unlocking the full potential of the Sri Lankan economy and fostering greater international understanding and cooperation.” (Colombo/April 16/2024) 
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India allows Sri Lanka to import 10,000MT of onions

ECONOMYNEXT – India has relaxed an export ban allowing 10,000 metric tonnes of onions to be shipped to Sri Lanka, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

“The exemption for Sri Lanka reiterated India’s Neighbourhood First policy, adding to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities here,” the statement said.

Onion prices went up in Sri Lanka after India and Pakistan banned exports.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has issued a notice allowing National Co-operative Exports Limited to ship 10,000 MT of onions.

The UAE has also been allowed to import 10,000MT of onions on top of 24,400MT already permitted.

A large Indian and South Asian expat community lives in the UAE. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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