v2025 (2)



Govt open to alternative proposals for economic growth to be presented to IMF – President

Acknowledging that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the only institution that can support a struggling country like Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he is willing to provide the opportunity to submit any alternative proposals to the government's program to the IMF.

He revealed this during a meeting with businessmen and lawyers in the Kandy district yesterday (20).

While praising the current government's economic program which has helped reduce recent economic difficulties, President Wickremesinghe criticized political parties for playing games and lying to the people without presenting their proposals.

Expressing his views further, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said,

This meeting was convened today aimed at providing clarity on the current economic situation of our country and solicit views and suggestions on the steps to be taken towards recovery. We are currently facing a difficult situation. The collapse of the economy of a home affects the people living in it. The same holds true for the collapse of a business. However, when a country's economy collapses, the effects are felt by the entire population.

We faced this situation eleven months ago. We had no fuel, electricity or medicine. We faced a very difficult situation as a country. The country's economy came to a complete halt.

Upon assuming the presidency, I encountered a challenging situation in the country. However, we devised a sound economic plan and implemented it, which has helped us overcome the difficulties. Additionally, we provided necessary fertilizers to the farmers in a timely manner, resulting in a bountiful harvest this Maha season.

Currently, the issue of fuel queues has been resolved and there is an uninterrupted supply of electricity. As a result, we are making gradual progress towards improving the country's economy beyond its previous state. However, it's important to note that there are still other issues that need to be addressed.

Currently, inflation is high. The interest rates are extremely high. Therefore, we are aware of the challenges the business community is facing. Lawyers also have to face problems in carrying out their work in the field. It must be acknowledged that we have offered solutions to many of the nation's fundamental issues. We also have a lot of other issues to deal with.

When a country goes bankrupt, it has to go to the International Monetary Fund. Apart from that, there is no other organization in the world that provides aid when a country goes bankrupt. Each nation that experienced an economic catastrophe recovered after engaging in negotiations with the IMF. It took Greece 13 years to recover from the collapsed economy. I have no hope of being President for thirteen years.

There is only one way to rebuild this collapsed economy. That is the International Monetary Fund. Different political parties are presenting different stories. I suggested to them to let me know if there is another way to resurrect the collapsed economy.

The International Monetary Fund indicates that our tax revenue should be 15% of the Gross Domestic Product as it was in 2019. So far it has gone down to 09%. They have asked us how we expect to get assistance from money collected from the people of other countries as taxes, while we are giving tax relief to our people.

Therefore, we are prepared to allow those who oppose our policies to meet with the International Monetary Fund and submit proposals. It remains to be seen whether the International Monetary Fund will accept those proposals.

The government started negotiations with the IMF last August. Accordingly, it was possible to agree on the staff level agreement in September. They assigned us fifteen tasks to complete. The IMF gave us until December 31 to implement it. But we couldn't do it on that particular day.

Then we made plans to get time until January 31st. Even at that time, we were unable to complete those 15 points. Finally, the deadline was pushed back to February 15. By 6 pm on February 15, we completed all that was expected of us and sent them to Washington.

Only one of these fifteen issues was being delayed. It is related to the increase in electricity tariffs. The Electricity Board incurs Rs.230 billion each year in losses. According to the IMF, government taxes should not be used to support institutions. It was informed that if this occurs, the International Monetary Fund will not provide assistance.

However, one person in this country opposed the decision to increase the electricity tariff. As a result, receiving assistance from the IMF was delayed by six weeks. Alternatively, we could have completed this by the end of January. All 15 tasks assigned to us have been completed. Now is the up to the International Monetary Fund.

This is being discussed further. The IMF also suggested that everyone should get on one platform and discuss. However as China is a world power, their procedure is different.

On February 23, the Finance Ministers of the G20 countries are scheduled to hold a discussion in Bangalore, India.

During the meeting it is expected to look into how to restructure the debt of countries whose economies have collapsed. There, I hope to discuss the debt restructuring method of Sri Lanka with the Chinese Finance Minister. As per their stand, we have two or three options to implement.

If the IMF does not provide assistance, the people will have to endure a lot of difficulties due to the unavailability of fuel and 12-hour power cuts. Moreover, there will be a shortage of fertilizer for the Yala season.

The primary issue facing the country is its economic problem, and addressing it should be a top priority. Ignoring this problem will only result in it becoming more visible and challenging to overcome. Therefore, efforts should be made to work towards resolving the economic problem.

The upcoming election is not a means to change the government. The court is expected to make a decision on the date for the Local Government election.

However, the country's economic problem is not something that can be resolved through legal action, even if all judges, including the Chief Justice, are involved. The Parliament is responsible for addressing and improving the state of the economy. Therefore, it is essential for all 225 members of Parliament to come together and work towards a resolution that will help to recover the economy.

If required, even proposals put forth by political parties such as the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna, Samagi Balawegaya, Iran, and Harsha could be submitted to the IMF for assistance. Support could also be provided to facilitate this process. However, some political parties choose not to submit proposals and instead play political games by misleading the people on this matter.

The future of the country's youth is of utmost importance, and we cannot afford to take any chances with it. It is our responsibility to take all necessary action to build a stable and prosperous economy.

If anyone has alternative proposals that could help achieve this goal, I am open to discuss them and explore every possibility. In fact, I would like to offer the opportunity for these proposals to be presented to the heads of the IMF in Washington for further discussion and potential support. Together, we can work towards a better future for the country and its people.

I took over this country when nobody else was willing to step up. Despite the inevitable criticisms, I am committed to taking all necessary action to rebuild our economy. Our goal is to provide some relief to the people by the end of this year and begin our economic development plan at the start of next year. With a focused and sustained effort, we can build a strong and prosperous economy that benefits all citizens of our country.

The people have lost their trust in the 225 members of Parliament, irrespective of their political affiliation or whether they belong to the government or the opposition. It is crucial to make concerted efforts to regain the trust of the people, and this should be a top priority.

We are currently implementing a plan to recover from the economic crisis, and we are counting on your leadership in this regard. We are hopeful that, with collective effort, we can make significant progress and steer the country towards development again by 2024."

Meanwhile, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka informed the business community in attendance that the Cabinet has approved the disbursement of payments related to the construction sector, and a survey of these payments is expected to be conducted shortly.

"Once the survey is completed, any outstanding payments owed to builders will be promptly made. Payment methods will vary, with cash being used for some payments while others will be issued in bonds," he added.

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“Why does everyone shout in parliament?” : President responds to youth questions

President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with a group of youth to discuss his policy statement and the government’s plans for the country’s future. The group of young people expressed their views on the government’s policies in a newspaper article and the President had invited them over for a follow-up discussion along with the two young journalists, Anoushka Jayasuriya and Shannon Salgadoe who had written the article. During the discussion, they had expressed what they expect from the government, and discussed a range of issues with the President.

One of the major topics discussed was the shortcomings in the education sector, with the youth group highlighting the need for proper mental health education at the school level and a proper education mechanism for the inclusion of the differently abled. They asked, “Will your government get some real mental health education in Sri Lanka, in schools especially?”

The President agreed that attention paid to mental health in schools was insufficient and acknowledged that much needs to be done with regard to those with mental health issues and those who are differently abled. He noted, however, that one of the main issues facing the country is the lack of trained personnel in this field.

The youth group also brought up the issue of taxes, adding that while taxes are not a novel concept in many other countries, it is not so in Sri Lanka.

The President explained that the government budget can be examined by the Parliament to ensure they are adhering to it. He noted that there are many committees to examine the budget, such as the Committee on Public Enterprises, Committee on Public Accounts, and Public Finance Committee. He added that they are also bringing in the Parliamentary Budget Office Bill to strengthen the process further.

They questioned, “Transparency is a big question with the new taxes. People are feeling it because suddenly they are forced to pay a huge portion of their salary.”

“The transparency is there because in a big budget we have line items. If you read it, you can never say what it is. It’s in any budget, it’s the parliament that ensures the money is spent wisely, and it takes 2 to 3 years. So the parliament must exercise the powers now. Last time, I think the Opposition didn’t fill their quota of Chairman in the oversight committees. So all that went by board, even this time for selection, they hadn’t come to Parliament to the selection committee. But I think the remaining people just got some opposition names into it. So that is where the transparency comes in and nowhere else. You can ask them as to why you spend and all,” the President explained.

The President also discussed the country’s economic situation and the challenges the government faces, noting that Sri Lanka was in an abnormal economic situation and had to restructure debts to get out of it. He added that the government had to cut down on some expenditure and find money in other areas, such as raising the electricity tariff. The President acknowledged that it is not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

“Sri Lanka was in a very abnormal economic situation, and we had to get out of it. But to get out of it, we have to restructure debts. To restructure the debts we had to cut down our expenditure or find money for it. In some areas we have cut down, but for other areas, we have to find money. Like yesterday we had to raise the electricity tariff, but then there is a Rs. 230 billion loss. So if you don’t raise it, you won’t have power. We are all paying for the past sins. This is how we get out of it fast and this is what we have to do. I don’t think there’s any other way out.

It’s not a job, that anyone would like to do, but someone has to do it.”

The youth group also raised the issue of individual accountability and suggested that parliamentarians should have some degree of education. The President agreed but noted that it will take some time for this to happen. He explained that many younger people either have a degree or business experience and it is up to the voters to choose the type of member they want to elect.

“When the individual accountability is concerned, the members of Parliament, well you have a system where you can give a preference. If you don’t want any of them, you vote for the party and you can choose whom you want. However, it’s a very expensive procedure. So I want to appoint Committee to look into how we can have a better system of elections without spending all the money that we spend.

In a parliamentary election, the bulk of the money is spent by the individual candidates, not by the parties.”

The youth also asked the President “Why does everyone shout in parliament? Do you think they shout to avoid responding to questions posed to them?”

In response, the President said that it is done to get media attention and is not appropriate. He noted that he has seen similar behaviour in other countries and that it is not unique to Sri Lanka.

“That is bad. Now it’s done to get media attention. There are people when they argue, may shout at each other. But, not like this, they just keep shouting. Now, it’s bad and setting a bad example to the country. There is a price. When we look at the UK, it is not so. There are times when people cheer but this is just being done. I think we have to bring some control over it,” he added.

Overall, the meeting was an opportunity for the President to hear the views of the youth and discuss the government’s plans for the future. The youth group expressed their concerns and ideas, and the President listened and responded to their questions and comments.

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YouTuber Sepal Amarasinghe tenders unconditional apology

YouTuber Sepal Amarasinghe today (21) tendered an apology in open court over his disrespectful remarks on the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

After Amarasinghe apologized to the Mahanayake Theras, Buddhist community and complainant, Ven. Aguruwelle Jinananda Thera of the Buddhist Information Centre and others, Colombo chief magistrate Prasanna Alwis concluded the case.

Earlier, additional solicitor general Dileepa Peris, who appeared on behalf of the attorney general, said the case could be ended if the defendant Amarasinghe tendered an unconditional apology.

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Election duties halted in view of postal voting postponement

Election officials have been told in writing about a change to their duties in view of the indefinite postponement of the postal voting for the local government polls.

The commissioner general of elections has instructed that normal duty hours will apply for the staff from Monday and overtime payments for election duties suspended.

All election offices will be kept closed at weekends and on public holidays.

The services of casual workers and those recalled from retirement as well as vehicle rentals are on hold since yesterday (18) as well.

However, police protection will continue for the offices until further notice.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Council is in the process of selecting members for independent commissions.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has told ‘Deshaya’ the CC’s three civil society members will recommend the qualified applicants without interviews being held.

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UN peacekeepers salute remains of late Lance Corporal M.G.L Deshapriya

Peacekeeping troops of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on Thursday (16) formally presented a military salute and bid farewell to the late Lance Corporal M.G.L Deshapriya (42) of the 6 Sri Lanka Army Service Corps who had passed away on February 11 following a sudden cardiac arrest upon admission to the MINUSMA Bamako Level - 3 Hospital.

In conformity with UN traditions, MINUSMA troops presented a salute lowering flags and honoured their comrade during the formal military parade before floral tributes were made to the coffin, draped in the UN flag by Daniela Kroslak, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and Deputy Chief of MINUSMA Operations in the presence of a gathering of MINUSMA Officers and Other Ranks, including the Commanding Officer of the Sri Lankan Combat Convoy Company (CCC) of the MINUSMA.

The remains of late Lance Corporal M.G.L Deshapriya (42), a father of two children, resident in Medawachchiya is to be brought to Sri Lanka shortly for final funeral arrangements.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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President vows to prioritize economic recovery, maintain law & order

President Ranil Wickremesinghe today pledged to prioritize the country’s economic recovery while ensuring that law and order is maintained to prevent anarchy.

He made a commitment to restore the country’s economy and establish a functioning democratic society before the end of this year.

Speaking at the ‘Imagine’ 32nd Rotary District Conference in Colombo this morning (Feb 18), the President emphasized the importance of economic recovery and improving citizens’ quality of life. He affirmed that all government decisions would be based on these priorities.

In his address, President Wickremesinghe stated that democracy depends on the maintenance of public order which requires law and order. He underscored that without these essential components, democracy would be replaced by anarchy. He assured the audience that he would do his utmost to prevent such a scenario from occurring.

The President lauded the Rotary District 3220 for its invaluable assistance during past crises, such as the anti-polio campaign, tsunami, and medicine shortages.

He also stated that following the country’s economic recovery, next year it would be in a position to decide on the future it wants, with the use of the ballot.

Several distinguished figures were in attendance at the ‘Imagine’ 32nd Rotary District Conference, including the Conference Chairman and Past President Anisha Dharmadasa, the District Governor of Sri Lanka and Maldives Pubudu de Zoysa, and the District Advisor on Public Image and Past President Pradeep Amirthanayagam.

All of these individuals provided their valuable perspectives on the conference’s theme and emphasized the importance of community service.

Additionally, the event was graced by the presence of Ms. Valarie Wafer, who represented Rotary International President Jennifer Jones.


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Army and police personnel deployed around Govt Press

Army and police personnel have been deployed around the premises of the Department of Government Printing (Government Press) in Borella to provide special security.

Accordingly, a special battalion consisting of nearly 100 army personnel and nearly 50 police personnel has been deployed around the premises.

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IMF said to discuss Sri Lanka loan approval even as China stalls

The International Monetary Fund is considering approving Sri Lanka’s bailout even without the formal assurance of debt-restructuring support from China, the nation’s biggest bilateral creditor, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Under a rarely used policy on lending into official arrears, the IMF may consider approving Sri Lanka’s loan because China’s assurance is the only prerequisite missing, according to the people who declined to be identified because the information isn’t public.

This provision is aimed at preventing a creditor from blocking assistance to a country in dire need of financing and has shown commitment to meet loan conditions.

An IMF spokesperson said that it’s premature to discuss the precise IMF policies that could be applied to lending to Sri Lanka, and that the nation’s authorities continue to seek financing assurances so that the fund’s executive board can consider their request for a loan. IMF staff also continue to engage with the Sri Lankan authorities who are working on completing upfront policy measures, the spokesperson said.

IMF Policy

The IMF can use the policy on lending into official arrears if it deems prompt financial support is essential and sees the country pursuing appropriate policies and making good-faith efforts to reach an agreement with creditors, according to an explanation on the fund’s website.

Moving forward with loan approval would be a shift from its position earlier this month, when it said the approval of Sri Lanka’s $2.9 billion Extended Fund Facility will depend on whether the nation can secure assurances from all bilateral creditors.

The development comes as World Bank President David Malpass said Thursday that long extensions of debt are among the options that G-20 nations and others are considering to help ease the burden for poor countries.

The IMF, World Bank and Group of 20 nations chair India separately held virtual discussions Friday on global sovereign debt ahead of the finance ministers and central bank governors’ meeting in Bangalore next week.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan count on IMF loans to provide immediate relief by shoring up their foreign-currency reserves and unlocking more funding.

Pending China’s creditor assurance, Sri Lanka is trying to meet other reform conditions set by the IMF, including increasing electricity tariffs and clearing a new monetary law for parliament approval. The government may also loosen its grip on a currency band to meet the fund’s requirements.

The Paris Club — an informal group of rich, mostly western creditors — and India have provided formal support to Sri Lanka’s loan recast, leaving China as a holdout.

China, which accounts for about 52% of the bankrupt nation’s bilateral debt, has instead offered term extensions via the state-owned Export-Import Bank.

Debt negotiations have dragged since Sri Lanka defaulted in May, causing severe supply shortage, depleting its foreign-currency reserves, sending inflation and borrowing costs soaring and pushing the economy into a recession.

While the nation has repurposed some funds to ease the shortage and damp price pressures, it would need IMF’s bailout and other funding to turn the situation around.

Source: Bloomberg

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Minipe Left Bank Canal Rehabilitation Project : New order from President

President instructs to finish the Minipe Left Bank Canal Rehabilitation Project (MLBCRP) work before the upcoming Maha Season

President Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed the officials to speed up the Minipe Left Bank Canal Rehabilitation Project (MLBCRP), which has been delayed for over three years owing to various reasons, and to provide its benefits to the farmers before the next Maha Season.

The President provided these instructions yesterday afternoon (19) while joining an observation tour of the Minipe Anicut construction site.

President Wickremesinghe, after inspecting the plan of the project, also inquired from the engineers about the operation of the project.

In response to the President, Site Manager Kasun Gunawardena made an introduction about the project.

The President also pointed out the possibility of obtaining the support of the students of engineering faculties in Sri Lanka for the future work of the project.

The existing anicut is not sufficient to release water to the left and right bank canals when water is released twice a day from the Rantambe Hydro Power Plant during peak demand for electricity. Due to this, in order to provide more reliable and continuous water supply to Minipe agricultural lands, the Minipe Dam was raised by 3.5 meters and the renovation of the 74 kilometers-long main canal on the left bank of Minipe, was commenced.

After the reconstruction of the Minipe Anicut, constant water supply to farmers will be ensured and the cultivation land on both sides of the left bank of Minipe could be cultivated without obstruction in the Yala-Maha Seasons while providing benefits to 15,000 farmer families.

The cost of the project is Rs. 3,000 million and the construction work is carried out by China Gexhouba Group Company Limited (CGGC).

Minipe Anicut, which was built in 1948, was last renovated in 1980. The specialty is that the renovation work is happening again after a lapse of 40 years.

Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff of the President Sagala Ratnayake, Director of Minipe Left Bank Canal Rehabilitation Project (MLBCRP) Management Division Engineer D.B. Wijeratne, Project Director Indika Valisundara and other officials attended this event.

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IMF Extended Fund Facility expected in March – President

President Ranil Wickremesinghe says that the IMF Extended Fund Facility is expected in March.

He added that the reduction of bank interest rates is being considered in relation to the gradual decline of inflation.

The President made this statement during a discussion with S&M Scale Rice Mill Owners.

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Sri Lankan professor named to US National Academy of Inventors

Sri Lankan professor Gomika Udugamasooriya has been named to the National Academy of Inventors in the United States.

He is among 95 academic inventors from institutions around the US chosen as rising leaders in their fields with “success in patents, licensing and commercialization” and for producing “technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.”

Udugamasooriya is the associate professor of medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Houston.

He has developed a novel drug discovery technology, and identified patented peptoid drug-lead compounds that have both therapeutic and diagnostic applications in cancer, COVID-19, rheumatoid arthritis, sepsis and macular degeneration.

The University of Houston now has 35 faculty members in the National Academy of Inventors.


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There are difficulties in providing funds for the election -Finance Ministry

The Finance Secretary has officially communicated to the National Election Commission that there are serious issues with regard to providing funds for the Local Government Election, given the economic crisis in the country.

Chairman of the National Election Commission Attorney Nimal Punchihewa told News 1st that the official communication was made when the Finance Secretary and other high ranking officials from the Finance Ministry were summoned to the NEC for talks on Friday (17).

The Finance Ministry officials had noted that as per the circular issued to cut down on government expenditure, funds can only be allocated for essential requirements in the country.

They had also noted that another circular has been issued noting that the approval of the Finance Minister is necessary for all non-essential expenses.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe is also the Finance Minister of the country.

The Finance Secretary had told the National Election Commission that there are issues in providing funds for the Local Government Election, given the current situation.

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