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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Will forge ahead with new leader – Harin

Former Minister Harin Fernando said today that he and other supporters of presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa hope to face the coming parliamentary election with a new leader under whose guidance they will continue their new political journey.

“We have an idea about who should lead the party in the general elections after Parliament is dissolved in March,” Fernando told reporters this morning.

If the Premadasa faction is not given the space necessary to pick up their campaign from where it left off, Fernando said, they would have to go for “alternate options” or quit politics altogether for the next five years. 

Stressing that he was happy with party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s decision to resign as Prime Minister today, the MP said there cannot be any hidden deal behind the resignation such as a shift to Opposition Leader.

Fernando further said that, looking at the reasons for the UNP’s defeat, though Premadasa’s hands were clean, it was clear that he had to pay the price for the sins of the Yahapalana Government.

However, he said, die-hard UNP supporters were firmly behind Premadasa. But certain parties behind Premadasa’s election campaign did not allow him to focus his campaign on the floating vote.

When Sajith Premadasa came out as the UNP candidate officially after resolving internal issues, said Fernando, rival candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa was already two months into his campaign.

“As a country, we are happy that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is trying to embark on a different path. But I would like to point out his politics and the politics of some others who shared his stage do not go together. They are incompatible,” he said.

Fernando said that a metaphorical bomb will surely explode within the new government and then not even the gods can stop their inevitable division.

“But we need not focus on them. What we need to focus on is organising ourselves as a party in the coming days and figure out how to face the future as a party,” he said.

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Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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