An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday May 30th, 2023

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

ECONOMYNEXT – The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the formerly rival centre-right United National Party (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 UNP and SLPP representatives Monday January 10 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.

Consensus has already been reached to contest the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), traditionally a UNP stronghold, the Kandy Municipal Council and the Puttalam Urban Council under the elephant symbol, the former parliamentarian said.

District leaders of both parties had taken part in Monday’s discussion, and agreement had reached for five districts – Kandy, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Kalutara and Ratnapura – on which symbol to contest for which local authority and how to divide up nominations. Discussions for other districts will continue in due course, said Bandara.

The two parties have yet to work out a common symbol which will be decided later upon further discussion, he added.

Asked if the local government election will go ahead as announced, Bandara said the chairman of the election commission has been summoned for a discussion and he will work accordingly.

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.


Sri Lanka’s LG polls may derail President’s reform agenda, delay IMF loan – analysts

Asked if the government has the funds for an election, Range Bandara said: “Both you and I know the economic situation of the country, but if there is an election we will face it. However, the economy is in dire straits.”

The SLPP is allied with 13 other parties, while 54 parties and organisations are affiliated with the UNP, despite the latter’s unprecedented electoral misfortunes at the 2020 parliamentary polls. The UNP general secretary said all allies of the party have agreed to work together.

The party stalwart scoffed at suggestions by reporters that newly formed or forming alliances such as the Uttara Lanka Sabhagaya pose a challenge to the UNP.

“The only challenge at the moment is the economy. Nothing else is a challenge.”

He is also unconcerned about the threat posed by the main opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), which will likely do well in if not sweep the polls if they’re held at a time when the government’s popularity is once again at a low in light of increased taxes and cost-reflective utility tariffs.

“[The SJB] may prove a challenge in a bus race, but not in an election,” said Bandara, in an apparent swipe at the SJB leader who was recently recorded driving a bus at an SJB event. (Colombo/Jan10/2023)

Comments (1)

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

  1. sacre blieu says:

    From the frying pan into the fire. That is what our politics and politicians are taking us. Quo vadis?

View all comments (1)

Comments (1)

Cancel reply

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

  1. sacre blieu says:

    From the frying pan into the fire. That is what our politics and politicians are taking us. Quo vadis?

Sri Lanka food producers on countdown; 6-months to reduce trans fat content

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan food manufacturers only have another six months to reduce the amount of trans fat in food items as the government plans to ban high trans-fat food from January 2024 onwards, an official said.

“A six-month grace period has been given to existing manufacturers, sellers and distributors whose products contain trans-fat,” an official of the Ministry of Health told EconomyNext requesting anonymity.

According to a Ministry of Health gazette issued on… a person shall not sell, offer for sale, expose or keep for sale or advertise for sale, any packaged food product containing trans-fat unless the total amount of trans-fat of such food product per 100 grams or 100 milliliters of the food product is declared on the label of such packaged food product.

However, these regulations will not be applicable for export oriented food products.

Trans-fat is a type of fat that has certain chemical properties and is usually found in processed foods such as baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, shortening, margarine, and certain vegetable oils.

Eating trans-fat increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Sri Lanka for enacting a legislation on trans-fat to protect health and prevent premature deaths from coronary heart disease, a statement from the WHO said.

“Eliminating trans-fats from food supplies is a cost-effective measure with enormous health benefits,” the statement quoting Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia said.

“By enacting legislation on trans-fat, Sri Lanka has once again demonstrated its resolve to protect and promote the health of its people”.

The regulations are coming into effect as Sri Lanka is struggling with food insecurity as the country recovers from its worst economic crisis.

However, an improvement in food security across all provinces has been recorded, according to an assessment by a Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) of two UN agencies. (Colombo/ May 30/2023)

Continue Reading

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)

Continue Reading

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)

Continue Reading