v2025 (2)

v2025

News

Sri Lanka’s successful restructuring of its foreign debt is a good news for all who care about the country

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that a final agreement was concluded with Sri Lanka’s main official bilateral creditors in Paris, this morning (26), marking the end of debt restructuring negotiations with the Official Creditors’ Committee (OCC). Simultaneously, a final agreement was also reached with China’s Exim Bank in Beijing, along with related formal procedures.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that these developments are good news for all patriots of the country. He underscored his commitment, contrasting those focused on presidential ambitions with his dedication to the nation’s progress, emphasizing that his aspirations lie in advancing the country rather than personal positions.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made this statement delivering a special address today, (26).

The President affirmed that he successfully led Mother Sri Lanka across the perilous vine bridge, fulfilling his commitment to the people. Similar to the tale of the ‘Caucasian chalk circle’ (‘Hunu Wateye Kathawa’), those who hesitated to safeguard the child in challenging times and offered no support are now vying to assert the child’s rights before the journey’s completion. He emphasized his continued dedication to this cause.

The President, who declared it a triumph for a country once deemed bankrupt due to its inability to pay its debts, further noted that no other country in recent history has emerged from such an economic abyss so swiftly.

“The people must determine whether to move forward with me, as I truly comprehend the challenges facing the country, provide practical solutions, and demonstrate tangible results, or align with groups that have yet to grasp the issues and are blindly seeking power,” the President stated.

The President stated that the people have the full right and freedom to make their own decisions, as everyone understands the dangers of taking the wrong path. He emphasized that the decision made by the people will determine the future of the country and its children, not the future of Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The President also remarked that he did not recover a bankrupt and economically devastated country with a parliament controlled by his party, government officials appointed by him, or a cabinet selected by him. Instead, he was able to elevate the country to an alluring and stable level, surprising the world in just two years.

Following is the special statement delivered by the President,

Today marks a significant milestone in the recent history of our country, a special juncture reflecting the hard work and dedication of our efforts. Our country is now reaping the positive results of our persistent endeavours over the past years.

This morning in Paris, Sri Lanka reached a final agreement with our official bilateral creditors. Similarly, we signed another agreement with China’s Exim Bank today in Beijing. This is indeed encouraging news for those who genuinely care about our country’s welfare.

Sri Lanka won….!!

Over the past two years, we have worked diligently to reach agreements with our bilateral creditors, engaging in extensive discussions. The economic progress we have achieved has provided us with considerable strength in these negotiations.

I extend my gratitude to our creditors, including China and Exim Bank of China, India, Japan, and France, who co-chair the Official Creditors Committee. I also thank the other members of the committee and the Paris Club Secretariat for their support in making these negotiations successful.

Additionally, I would like to acknowledge the representatives of Sri Lanka and other countries who participated in these discussions, as well as the officials from Lazard and Clifford Chance for their valuable advice.

With these agreements, we will be able to defer all bilateral loan instalment payments until 2028. Furthermore, we will have the opportunity to repay all the loans on concessional terms, with an extended period until 2043.

In 2023, we successfully completed the restructuring of domestic debt. Now, we have also successfully concluded the bilateral debt restructuring with foreign countries. Our next objective is to reach an agreement with commercial creditors, which includes International Sovereign Bond (ISB) holders. By continuing on our current path, we are confident that we can achieve this agreement, and discussions are on-going.

The agreements we reached today will provide significant relief to our economy. In 2022, we spent 9.2% of our gross domestic product (GDP) on foreign debt payments. With the new agreements, it will pave the way for us to maintain debt payments at less than 4.5% of GDP between 2027 and 2032.

The government’s annual gross fiscal requirement was 34.6% of GDP in 2022. Due to these agreements, this requirement will decrease by more than 13% by the period of 2027-2032.

In April 2022, Sri Lanka officially declared its inability to meet its debt obligations. Following this declaration, international business transactions with Sri Lanka came to a halt. No country is willing to engage in financial relations with a nation that is bankrupt and unable to pay its debts. Consequently, we were unable to secure loans or even obtain letters of credit.

Against this backdrop, all projects in our country funded by foreign loans were halted. The countries involved closed their project offices and withdrew. Consequently, development work came to a complete standstill. However, now that we have achieved a crucial milestone in debt restructuring, there are legal opportunities for these countries to resume all projects funded by foreign loans. Projects such as the development of Katunayake Airport, the light railway, and the expressway are set to recommence. Moreover, we can look forward to initiating many new development projects.

International confidence in our country is reaffirmed as bilateral creditors have reached an agreement with us, serving as a kind of international endorsement. The global community, which previously refused to accept our letters of credit, is now prepared to grant us a certificate of confidence.

We are presenting both agreements to Parliament. Our Prime Minister will introduce these agreements in a special parliamentary session on July 02nd. I urge all patriotic members of Parliament to ratify these agreements.

The journey to this point has not been easy. We have travelled a difficult and arduous path. Our ministers and officials have worked tirelessly towards this goal. The majority of our citizens have supported us with patience and resilience, enduring various hardships. Despite the on-going challenges, we have persevered.

A few individuals attempted to disrupt our progress and continue to do so, but they have not succeeded in halting our journey. In the future, these detractors will face the shame of having betrayed their country.

As our economy improves, we have provided concessions in a manner that does not harm our economic stability. This approach will continue. By following the correct path, as our economy strengthens, we can gradually alleviate current difficulties. The burden we carry can now be incrementally reduced. Strikes and threats will not resolve these issues. By uniting to strengthen the economy, we will find solutions and obtain further concessions.

When we assumed responsibility for the country two years ago, I emphasized that we had a very challenging path ahead. I made it clear that these problems could not be resolved within a week, a few months, or even a year. Using the metaphor from the play “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”, I illustrated that we had to navigate a precarious journey across a metaphorical fallen vine bridge over a terrifying, bottomless chasm.

At that time, our country’s economy was in a dire state. Many were hesitant to step forward to help rescue the nation. There was fear and reluctance. Some said, “You need more than just effort to treat this situation.” One faction stated they would take charge only if given control of the entire government. Another group said they would accept if allowed to appoint their own people to the cabinet. Others indicated they would accept the presidency if it were offered to them.

Despite these conditions, I accepted the challenge without any preconditions. I believed in my ability to save our country and its people from the economic abyss. I had a comprehensive work plan and a deep understanding of the strategies that other nations had employed to emerge from similar crises. Furthermore, I had faith that with my planned policies and dedication, the economy could be revitalized.

I was confident that I could garner international support for our recovery efforts.

That was all I had. I had no Members of Parliament. I did not have my own cabinet. I did not have a government to call my own. Despite these challenges, I accepted the daunting task.

At that critical juncture, I recalled a quote from the renowned creator Walt Disney: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Without hesitation, I got down to business.

On August 3, 2022, during the opening address of the parliamentary session, I unveiled to the nation a four-step plan to reconstruct the faltering economy.

  1. Securing extended credit facilities in consultation with the International Monetary Fund and instituting fiscal discipline nationwide.
  2. Collaborating with international financial and legal experts from Lazard and Clifford Chance to formulate a debt stabilization plan and negotiate agreements with creditors.
  3. Implementing policies, regulations, and initiatives to attract foreign investment, bolster the export economy, and promote a digital green economy.
  4. Aiming to transform into a developed nation with a debt-free advanced economy by 2048 through this comprehensive program.

Throughout this process, I consistently presented detailed updates on our strategic roadmap to Parliament, ensuring transparency in every step. The successful advancement of the first three components of our four-pronged program validates the correctness of our approach and strategy.

Achieving such significant progress within two years, from a state of debt inability and near-bankruptcy, marks a remarkable milestone. Historically, countries facing economic crises similar to ours have taken much longer to achieve such positive outcomes. This achievement stands as a testament to our dedication and the effectiveness of our initiatives.

We possessed a clear understanding of the depth of the economic crisis we faced and were equipped with the appropriate solutions guided by vision, determination, and unwavering commitment. As a result of our resolute efforts, it is now evident that we are on course to achieve our fourth objective: transforming into a developed country by 2048.

Reflecting on the state of our nation in 2022, which was grappling with severe economic challenges, what is the present status?

• After six consecutive quarters of economic contraction, our economy began to grow again starting from the third quarter of 2023. • Our foreign reserves, which had plummeted, have rebounded to USD 5500 million by April 2022. The strength of the rupee has increased, and bank interest rates have declined. • Inflation, which had soared to 70 per cent in September 2022, has now been reduced to a manageable 0.9 per cent. • We have achieved a surplus in the primary account balance, and for the first time since 1977, a current account surplus has been achieved in our foreign account balance. These milestones underscore our successful navigation away from bankruptcy through effective economic management.

The recognition and support received from our official creditors for restructuring our debt have reinstated international confidence in our nation. This reaffirms that the path we have charted is not only correct but also endorsed internationally.

On that occasion, I extended an invitation to all political parties and groups to prioritize the national interest and support the program I presented to Parliament. While some political parties have responded positively and joined me in this collective effort, others have chosen to criticize. It is pertinent to address these criticisms.

During President Gotabaya’s tenure, those who previously insisted that the IMF was the only solution are now asserting that the IMF should not be approached. Those who argued that economic improvements were futile amidst public suffering are now promising extravagant benefits upon assuming power.

Certain individuals engage in populist or partisan rhetoric, displaying a limited understanding of economic and political dynamics beyond elementary levels. Despite my consistent efforts to highlight the gravity of our challenges and propose solutions since assuming office, some individuals still fail to grasp the seriousness of our situation.

Since assuming leadership, I have implemented numerous measures to rebuild our nation. It has taken nearly two years for some to acknowledge the wisdom of those decisions. It may require additional time for them to recognize the validity of the current steps I am undertaking.

Nevertheless, those who persist in empty rhetoric will continue to do so. Allow me to clarify an important point: Sri Lanka has sought IMF assistance on sixteen previous occasions, each ending in failure. Why? We consistently failed to meet the conditions set, neglected our commitments, and lacked financial discipline.

This marks the first instance in our nation’s history where an IMF program has been successfully implemented. Previously, in sixteen instances, we approached the IMF not from a position of inability to repay debts, but as a country facing bankruptcy. Leading this successful endeavour to seek assistance fills me with satisfaction.

However, our journey does not end here; this is only a juncture in our journey. We should start anew from here. We have received international assurances and we have once again gained international trust. We should make use of this and forge ahead towards a developed economy. We should achieve complete success, ensuring that our country never again finds itself in need of IMF support. This objective drives our efforts to establish a robust and disciplined advanced economy that can sustain itself independently.

To achieve this, my cabinet, our government, and I are diligently working and demonstrating tangible results. In contrast, some critics from various political groups appear more focused on gaining power. These groups, eyeing future electoral victories, have already envisioned presidential appointments and speculated about cabinet compositions. Reports suggest some individuals are even contemplating familial succession within ministerial positions.

How many among these aspiring leaders have misled the nation with false promises and press conferences? The falsehoods propagated about the accomplishments I highlight today are now exposed for what they are—a fabrication.

Why do they react with such disdain to our nation’s achievements? Why do they view good news for the country as inauspicious? Why do they seek to capitalize politically on every development? Their actions reveal a culture of opportunism, driven solely by ambitions for personal gain and political positioning.

While they vie for presidential positions, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the country’s development and progress. Their dreams revolve around titles and accolades; ours are anchored in advancing the nation.

They strategize to divide ministries; we strategize to advance the nation. They traverse Sri Lanka seeking power, visiting schools and traveling the world in relentless pursuit of authority. Meanwhile, I dedicate my days and nights to serving the country, addressing the needs of our people, and launching economic strengthening programs. I engage globally to garner international support for our nation’s development.

Given this context, I pose a crucial question: Will you move forward with me, who comprehended the problem from its inception, offered practical solutions, and delivered results? Or will you align with those grappling in the dark, still struggling to grasp the issues?

Will you stay the course towards a brighter future for yourself and the nation? Or will you opt for a different path?

We are all aware of the perils of veering off course or choosing the wrong path. Therefore, make the right decision. You have the full right and freedom to make that choice.

The future does not merely belong to Ranil Wickremesinghe; it pertains to the country, to your future, and the future of our children. In just two years, without a parliamentary majority, without my appointed government officials or ministers, I successfully elevated our country from bankruptcy and economic turmoil to a position that astonished the world.

Consider this reflection: Two years ago, as we walked down the street, what did we see? Today, as we walk down that same street, what do we see now? I made a promise that day, and I have safely guided the child named Mother Sri Lanka through treacherous waters. What has transpired since then?

Much like the tale of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, those who once hesitated to shield the child during difficult times, those who offered no support, now clamour to claim the child’s rights. Even before we have crossed the perilous vine bridge, they vie to seize the child, tugging in every direction.

Yet, as we know from the Caucasian Chalk Circle, the rightful claim to the child belongs to the true mother. In the words of Grusha from the play: Things should belong to those who do well by them, Wagons to good drivers that they may be well driven…

Therefore, akin to Judge Azdak in Hunuwataya (The Caucasian Chalk Circle) drama, I urge you to make the right decision. Let the deserving receive their due. Let our country stride confidently towards a brighter future.

Thank you.

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SLPP's Viyalendiran Becomes State Minister

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna MP Sathasivam Viyalendiran took oath as the State Minister of Trade and Environment.

The MP took oaths in the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the President's Office in Colombo on Monday (24).

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Mahela resigns as Sri Lanka consultant coach

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) today announced that former captain Mahela Jayawardena, who served as the ‘Consultant Coach’ of the SLC, has tendered his resignation with immediate effect.

Jayawardena, during his tenure, helped implement significant changes to the structure of the national team ecosystem and the High-Performance Center, the SLC said.

“Sri Lanka Cricket takes this opportunity to wish Mahela all the best in his future endeavours and thank him for the services he rendered during his tenure,” the statement said.

Jayawardena had initially joined SLC as a Consultant Coach in September 2022 ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia. He was in charge of the overall cricketing element of the national teams and provided invaluable strategic support for the players and management teams at the High-Performance Center.

Accordingly, Jayawardena worked on coach and player development programs, the strengthening of domestic cricketing structures, and also focused on developing the Under 19, Development, and national teams.

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I Pledge to Rebuild Economy and Transform Farmers’ Lives – President Assures in Batticaloa

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized his commitment to revitalizing the country’s economy while highlighting transformative changes in the lives of farmers. The President made these remarks during the inauguration of a groundnut processing center in Karadiyanaru, which was constructed at a cost of Rs. 55 million under the agricultural modernization program of the Ministry of Agriculture.

During the event held this morning (23), the President participated in traditional Tamil rituals as part of the reception. President Wickremesinghe personally cut the ribbon to inaugurate the processing center and took time to observe its operations firsthand.

In addition to the inauguration of the groundnut processing center, the President distributed laptops to agricultural organizations during a subsequent ceremony.

Meanwhile, President Wickremesinghe visited the pomegranate farm today (23) situated in Mylampavali Chenkaladi. This farm spans approximately 150 acres and supports around 300 farmers. Notably, these farmers achieved a substantial harvest last year, generating earnings of about Rs. 3.6 million from just half an acre of its cultivation.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the groundnut processing center, President Ranil Wickremesinghe further emphasized:

This program can be considered part of the agricultural modernization program. There is a large amount of uncultivated land in our country that should be utilized for cultivation. Our agriculture needs a transition into an export-oriented sector, focusing on exporting agricultural crops not only to meet our own food needs, but also to cater to the needs of other countries. This approach will enable us to earn significant foreign exchange, reducing our reliance on foreign loans. I assumed leadership of this country to rebuild its economy, which includes ensuring that farmers receive a fair income.

Today, this factory was inaugurated, and laptops were provided to agricultural organizations to enable them to conduct farming activities using modern technology. In India, farmers manage their cultivation activities with mobile phones in hand.

We have initiated the program to provide free land deeds to farmers cultivating government lands. Yesterday, this program was initiated in the Batticaloa district. This grants you rightful ownership of the land, something to take pride in. Additionally, we are commencing an agricultural modernization program across the country. The Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with Provincial Ministries of Agriculture, is implementing this initiative with the goal of transforming all agricultural service centers into modernization hubs by next year. This progressive step aims to enhance farmers’ incomes and foster rural development across the country.

Furthermore, we have planned a comprehensive program for the Batticaloa district, focusing on improving agricultural activities in areas including Mahaweli A and B zones. This initiative is set to bring about complete agricultural development in the area.

Governor of the Eastern Province Senthil Thondaman, State Ministers S. Viyalendran, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka were present on the occasion.

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Sri Lanka Concludes Major Debt Restructuring Agreements, Clearing Path for Economic Recovery

In a significant milestone for Sri Lanka’s economic revitalization efforts, the nation has successfully finalized comprehensive debt restructuring agreements with key bilateral creditors. On June 26, 2024, Sri Lanka concluded negotiations with the Official Creditor Committee (OCC) and China Exim Bank, marking pivotal strides towards stabilizing its financial footing amid recent economic challenges.

The agreements, valued at a combined USD 10 billion, encompass restructuring arrangements with major bilateral lenders under the auspices of the OCC, co-chaired by Japan, India, and France. Notable members of the committee include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Korea, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

During the recent economic downturn, Sri Lanka faced severe foreign exchange constraints, necessitating urgent measures to address its mounting external debt. Failure to restructure would have precluded Sri Lanka from accessing crucial IMF support, essential for economic recovery amidst unsustainable debt levels.

The IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) guided the restructuring process, determining necessary debt relief measures to align with Sri Lanka’s fiscal recovery objectives. Each creditor, including the OCC and China Exim Bank, agreed to extend maturity periods, initiate capital grace periods, and reduce interest rates significantly. These measures collectively alleviate Sri Lanka’s near-term debt service obligations, freeing up resources for essential public expenditures crucial for economic stabilization and growth.

“This restructuring provides up to 92% relief on debt service payments during the IMF program, offering substantial fiscal breathing room crucial for prioritizing public services and stimulating economic growth,” commented a senior government official.

Beyond immediate fiscal benefits, the agreements pave the way for renewed bilateral financing opportunities, essential for resuming critical infrastructure projects. This infusion of foreign investment is anticipated to invigorate sectors such as construction, bolstering job creation and economic resilience.

Moreover, the successful restructuring sets the stage for potential improvements in Sri Lanka’s credit ratings once agreements with commercial bondholders are finalized. Enhanced credit ratings are expected to reduce the cost of foreign financing and facilitate easier access to international capital markets, fostering broader economic stability and growth.

Looking ahead, Sri Lanka remains committed to finalizing agreements with commercial bondholders swiftly, building on the momentum gained from these landmark restructuring deals. The concerted efforts underscore Sri Lanka’s determination to navigate complex financial challenges, positioning the nation for a sustainable and robust economic recovery.

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TMVP Party Leader Pledges Support to President at the Upcoming Presidential Elections

In a significant development, State Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) party, expressed solidarity and confirmed his party’s support for President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the upcoming presidential elections. This declaration came in a meeting held today (22) at the TMVP party headquarters in Batticaloa between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and TMVP party members.

During the meeting, Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan expressed his party’s commitment to support President Wickremesinghe’s agenda for the development of the Eastern Province. He emphasized that backing the President’s plans would provide opportunities for the people of the East, particularly those reliant on agriculture, to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe reciprocated by highlighting his vision to not only bolster the country’s economy but also to address longstanding ethnic issues comprehensively. The President stressed the importance of unity towards achieving these goals and affirmed his commitment to spearhead the holistic development of the Eastern Province over the next five years.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at the meeting, elaborated,

“While focusing on strengthening the country’s economy, it is imperative to find a lasting solution to the ethnic issue and pave the way for a prosperous future for the youth. The Eastern Province, currently less developed, cannot remain so over the next five years. Immediate implementation of development programs is essential to uplift the province, improve the income status of its people and similar efforts are underway for other underdeveloped provinces across the island.

A significant development plan is in place for the Trincomalee district, with collaboration from India and other foreign countries. Efforts are underway to attract new industries and investments to this area. Through the agricultural modernization program, new lands are being cultivated, which will contribute significantly to increasing local incomes.

Furthermore, there is significant potential for tourism in the area and efforts should be focused on its development. The enhancement of Hingurakgoda airport will not only benefit Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and Anuradhapura but also the surrounding areas. Additionally, it is essential to develop the Batticaloa airport.

We must embrace this development challenge and strive to transform the Eastern Province into a developed region. Addressing the ethnic issue promptly and collaboratively is essential, avoiding prolonged conflict and fostering unity for rapid resolution.”

Leader of the TMVP, State Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan:

“Today marks a significant day that will undoubtedly shape the destiny and future development of the Tamil people in the Eastern Province. The economy of the Eastern Province, including the Batticaloa district, relies heavily on agriculture and fishing. To foster its economic growth, we are uniting with President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has a comprehensive plan for the province’s development. We pledge our cooperation with him in this endeavour.

He advocates for empowering the Provincial Council to address the issues faced by the Tamil people effectively. We look forward to the President implementing these solutions in the future. It is our duty to provide the necessary support to ensure these solutions are implemented successfully.

Despite economic challenges, he has taken decisive steps to allocate necessary funds for road development projects in the Batticaloa district, and we extend our gratitude for his commitment.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stands out as the sole leader with the energy, expertise and capability to systematically elevate modern technology across the country’s construction, manufacturing, agricultural modernization, fishing, industry and artificial intelligence sectors. Supporting the people of the Eastern Province, whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, in implementing his development plans will empower them to achieve self-sufficiency. We pledge our fullest support to the President in the upcoming presidential election.” Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka also present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickramasinghe attended a gathering at the residence of State Minister S. Viyalendran, the leader of the MTK. During the meeting, the President conversed amiably with the members of the party and with the family of the State Minister. Governor of the Eastern Province Senthil Thondaman and the President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka were also in attendance.

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Cabinet nod to develop Hingurakgoda Airport

Cabinet approval has been granted for the development of the Hingurakgoda Airport as a complete airport as per the recommendations of the committee appointed to prepare the master plan and other related tasks for the airport.

The government states the Hingurakgoda Airport is currently operated under the management of the Sri Lanka Air Force and the need to develop the airport in accordance with international civil aviation standards has been identified.

Accordingly, a committee consisting of representatives of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority, Airports and Aviation Company (Sri Lanka) (Pvt.) Ltd and Road Development Authority has been appointed for the preparation of the master plan for the airport and other related tasks.

The Cabinet has approved the joint proposal presented by the President, in his capacity as Minister of Defence, and the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation for making preparations to develop Hingurakgoda Airport as a complete airport as per the recommendations of the said committee.

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President Inspects Restoration Work of Zion Church in Batticaloa

President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the Zion Church in Batticaloa this morning (22) to inspect the on-going restoration work after it was damaged in the Easter Sunday bombing. During his visit, the President engaged in a discussion with the Senior Pastor at Zion Church, Rev. Roshan Mahesan.

The President inquired about the delays in the renovation work and instructed officials to provide an immediate report on the matter.

President Wickremesinghe directed Senior Advisor on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, to ensure that the repairs are promptly completed using provisions from the Presidential Secretariat.

Additionally, the President instructed the Army Commander to provide the support of the Sri Lanka Army for the renovations. Governor of the Eastern Province Senthil Thondaman and State Minister S. Viyalendran were also present on this occasion.

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Don’t create bogies, Ravi K. asks opposition

National Secretary of the United National Party (UNP) Ravi Karunanayake has accused the opposition of creating bogies and misleading the public at a time when the country was progressing economically.

The opposition is without any programme and is opportunistic and power-hungry, he charged.

Karunanayake told journalists yesterday (23) the people would not be deceived again by these opposition conspiracies.

He said the claim by SJB’s Harsha de Silva that every property is going to be taxed is completely wrong.

De Silva is lying without knowing the truth, said Karunanayake, and asked that untruths be not spread in society to serve their political agendas.

He went onto say this particular tax has been introduced for the tax defaulters who lead luxurious lives.

What the opposition wants to do is to sow seeds of hatred among the people and sabotage the country’s progress, which is a national crime.

Karunanayake added that the expectation is to prevent another collapse of the economy due to such acts.

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Heavy Showers Above 100mm Forecasted

The Department of Meteorology says that heavy showers of about 100 mm may occur in some places in Western, Sabaragamuwa provinces and Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Puttalam districts.

The department adds that slight showers may also occur in Matale, Anuradhapura and Mannar districts.

The Department of Meteorology also says that strong winds of around 40 or 50 kilometers per hour may occur in the western slopes of the central hills, and in the northern, north-central and northwestern provinces as well as in the Trincomalee, Hambantota and Monaragala districts.

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Sports Minister pledges to resign if allegations against Sri Lankan T20 World Cup cricket team are proven

Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs Harin Fernando, stated that he will resign from his ministerial position if allegations of indiscipline within the Sri Lankan cricket team, currently participating in the 2024 T20 World Cup, are proven.

He highlighted the government’s significant investment in athletes’ welfare, noting that 60 athletes who have achieved international recognition receive a monthly allowance of Rs.50, 000, while an additional 850 athletes receive an allowance of Rs.10, 000 per month.

The Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs expressed these views while joining the press briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre today (24) under the theme “Collective Path to a stable country”.

Minister Harin Fernando also noted that the government has implemented measures to provide insurance coverage for school rugby players.

The minister who further commented said:

In the 75-year history of independent Sri Lanka, the “Urumaya” freehold land deeds program marks the first initiative by a president to provide freehold land deeds to the public. The program, launched in February, has already issued freehold land deeds to over 50,000 people. It aims to distribute 02 million freehold land deeds through the “Urumaya” program.

However, there seems to be a lack of public understanding about the program, causing delays in the submission of offer papers to the Divisional Secretariat for conversion into freehold deeds. To address this, a mobile service will start this week to inform the public, and buses will be used to expedite the distribution process by raising awareness at the divisional secretariat level. Additionally, activities to provide 12,000 freehold land deeds for the North-West Province and another 12,000 for the Matara district are nearing completion.

When we talk about the tourism sector, over 990,000 tourists have visited the country this year. The committee’s report on the process of granting free visas will soon be presented to the Cabinet. Following this, the implementation of free visa issuance is anticipated, which could significantly boost tourism industry growth. Currently, five global promotional campaigns have been executed to attract tourists, with specific programs planned for China, Japan, India, and Europe. Additionally, there’s a “must visit” initiative aimed at enhancing Sri Lanka’s appeal among tourists.

As a result of promotional campaigns carried out by the Ministry of Tourism’s, Sri Lanka has successfully entered the top ten lists of global tourist destinations. A notable 33% of tourists revisit Sri Lanka, indicating a positive trend for the tourism industry. Efforts are underway to enhance maritime tourism, particularly focusing on transforming Trincomalee and Arugam Bay into hubs for maritime activities.

Additionally, plans are in motion to launch domestic flight services aimed at further developing the tourism sector.

Furthermore, the new Sports Act is set to be presented for Cabinet approval. Sri Lanka boasts 73 different sports, and the new legislation will encompass all of them, including cricket. Some groups are employing various advertisements to address players’ mental conditions in cricket. Allegations of misconduct have surfaced against Sri Lankan players during this year’s T20 World Cup, and I am prepared to resign from my ministerial post if these accusations are substantiated.

Efforts have been on-going to depoliticize sports, a goal further reinforced by the new Sports Act, which bars even local councillors from holding office in sports associations. The Ceylon Premier League Cricket Tournament is overseen by the International Cricket Council (ICC), and we do not interfere in its affairs. There are plans to secure funding from the ICC to construct an additional stadium capable of hosting day-night matches. For a country to host a tournament like the World Cup, it requires at least five international-standard stadiums capable of day-night matches. By building this additional stadium, Sri Lanka aims to meet this requirement and potentially host the 2026 Cricket World Cup alone.

Similarly, 400 school rugby players have been insured, and a new program has been initiated to support these children. The government has also introduced a nutritional allowance of Rs.10, 000 per month for 850 athletes selected through the sports strength program. Furthermore, the government has allocated monthly stipends of Rs.50, 000 to sixty high-performing athletes.

Attention has also been directed towards renovating the Sugathadasa Stadium. To facilitate this, the Khettarama Stadium is expected to be transferred to the Cricket Institute, along with a funding allocation of one billion rupees for the renovation works. Additionally, there are plans to enact legislation in the future to bring sports complexes across the island under the management of Sugathadasa. Moreover, the Sports Ministry is organizing a sports festival scheduled for next August.

The rescue of the country from bankruptcy and its subsequent progress to a stable position has been achieved through various initiatives. President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership has played a pivotal role in this transformation. Economic stability has significantly benefited from initiatives aimed at enhancing cultural heritage, boosting tourism, and supporting sports. As a result, future elections are inevitable. It is crucial to note that if citizens exercise their voting rights wisely, the upcoming decade can be hailed as the decade of the citizen.

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Indian Foreign Minister’s Visit Marks Milestone in Indo-Sri Lankan Relations

Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar, commenced his official visit to Sri Lanka with a significant meeting with President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the President House in Colombo this morning (20).

This visit marks the first diplomatic exchange between India and Sri Lanka following the inauguration of the new government. Upon arrival, Minister Jaishankar was warmly received by Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, Senior Advisor to President on National Security and Chief of Staff. Subsequently, President Wickremesinghe held bilateral discussions with Minister Jaishankar to review the progress of ongoing development projects between the two nations.

During the meeting, President Wickremesinghe and Minister Jaishankar jointly unveiled a digital plaque commemorating the inauguration of 106 houses constructed under the Indian Housing Project in Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Matale districts. Additionally, they handed over 24 houses from model villages in Colombo and Trincomalee to their respective beneficiaries.

The highlight of the event was the formal commissioning of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), comprising a main centre at the Colombo Naval Headquarters, a sub-centre in Hambantota, and unmanned installations in strategic locations across Sri Lanka’s coastline. This initiative underscores the deepening maritime security cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.

The meeting was attended by a distinguished delegation including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ali Sabry PC, President’s Senior Advisor on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, President’s Secretary Mr. Saman Ekanayake, and Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr. Santosh Jha.

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://english.newstube.lk/news?start=60#sigProId4e182a4378

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