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ADB approves $350 mn loan for economic stabilization

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today approved a $350 million special policy-based loan to provide budget support to Sri Lanka for economic stabilization.

The program is part of a broader package of financial assistance anchored by the International Monetary Fund’s Extended Fund Facility for the country, which aims to stabilize the economy and lay the foundation for economic recovery and sustained growth.
Sri Lanka is facing a severe and unprecedented economic crisis. High inflation has eroded purchasing power, livelihoods have been affected, and past development gains have been reversed.

“ADB is concerned about the deep crisis in the country and its impact on the people of Sri Lanka, especially the poor and the vulnerable, particularly women,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “ADB is committed to standing with Sri Lanka as it addresses its present challenges and strides toward economic stabilization, sustainable recovery, and inclusive growth.”

Sri Lanka has embarked on bold reforms to address the causes of both internal and external imbalances and return to a sustainable debt trajectory. The country faces a long road to recovery and must remain steadfast in the implementation of necessary reforms, which include enhancing tax revenue collection, strengthening public financial management, improving performance of state-owned enterprises, ensuring autonomy and independence of the central bank, safeguarding financial sector stability, and bolstering governance frameworks. As these measures are implemented, it is essential to ensure that adequate social protection is provided. Implementing governance reforms and anticorruption measures will be critical.

Transparency and open communication will be crucial in building agreement around the reforms. ADB will proactively engage with the government, other stakeholders, and development partners to help address structural impediments and plan future support.

ADB has supported Sri Lanka’s response throughout the crisis. In 2022, in close coordination with development partners, ADB provided emergency assistance to support basic services and sustain livelihoods. ADB repurposed $334 million of existing loans as emergency response to support the import of essential items such as fertilizer, medicines, chemicals for water treatment, working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises, and cash transfers to the most poor and vulnerable. Trade finance lines through ADB Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program supported the import of essential items during the crisis.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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SLPP MP temporarily ordained as monk

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SLPP Kandy District MP – Gunatileke Rajapaksa has been temporarily ordained as a Buddhist monk at the historical Isipathanarama Temple in India.

He is now known as Ven. Harispathuwe Dhammarathana Thera.
His son – Sandakelum Rajapaksa, who is an engineer by profession, has also been ordained as Ven. Ampare Dhammaloka Thera.

The MP had reportedly decided to enter into the religious order after the recent death of his wife. He too, was recently hospitalised after falling ill.

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Court delays ruling on Online Safety Act challenge

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The Sri Lankan Supreme Court today indefinitely postponed its decision on whether to hear a fundamental rights petition challenging the Online SafetyAct No. 9 of 2024.

President’s Counsel and Jaffna District Member of Parliament M A Sumanthiran filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court on 14th Feb., challenging the Speaker’s certification of the Online Safety Bill as having been enacted into law.

During the hearing, Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam presented five preliminary objections, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case since the Speaker has already signed the bill into law. 

He further emphasized that the legislature holds the sole authority to pass bills, and the court cannot intervene in that process.

Countering these arguments, Attorney-at-Law Suren Fernando, representing Sumanthiran, asserted that the petition aimed solely at the Speaker’s signing of the Act, which he claimed contravened previous Supreme Court pronouncements on related petitions. 

He emphasized the petitioner’s intention to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

The three-judge bench, comprising Justices Priyantha Jayawardene, Shiran Gunaratne, and Achala Vengappuli, decided to postpone their decision on hearing the petition indefinitely. 

In his Petition, MP Sumanthiran claims that the government was seeking to enact the Bill without fully adhering the Supreme Court Determination, and that he had pointed out that the draft committee stage amendments would not sufficiently rectify the shortcomings, and provided his concerns in writing to the Speaker.

However, the Parliament had voted on the Bill prior to ensuring full compliance with the Determination, according to Sumanthiran.

The Petitioner claims that the Bill could have been passed by simple majority only if all the changes required by the Supreme Court were incorporated. If these were not incorporated, the Bill could only have been enacted if 2/3 of the whole number of MPs voted in favour of the Bill.

MP Sumanthiran states that the Bill was approved only by a simple majority of members present, and that therefore the Bill could not have become law.

Therefore he states that the Speaker, by certifying that the Bill was enacted into law, has violated the public trust and the fundamental rights guaranteed to Sumanthiran and the citizenry.

Sumanthiran also states that according to the Speaker, he had acted in accordance with advise given by the Attorney General, and if so, the Attorney General is also responsible for the violation of fundamental rights occasioned by the purported certification of the Bill.

The Speaker of Parliament and the Attorney General are named as Respondents to the Application.

(News 1st)

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English considered for legal proceedings in selected courts

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English language is to be considered for conducting legal proceedings and maintaining records in certain courts, according to a Cabinet decision.

The Cabinet has noted that particularly in the commerce sphere related to commercial activities are mainly used in the English language and require a considerable cost and time in translating those contents into Sinhala language.

Due to that, an extended period to settle commercial disputes takes place which leads to disadvantage when obtaining entrepreneurs, the cabinet has noted.

This situation also affected the position of Sri Lanka to be in a lower place the Ease of Doing Business ratings which envisage the ability of conducting enterprises in a country.

As a remedy to this, it has been recognized as appropriate to issue an order by the subject Minister of Justice with the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers and in par with the provisions of the statute 24 (4) of the Constitution permitting to use English language in relation to all the activities in recognized courts or legal records and proceedings precisely mentioned thereupon.

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal submitted by the Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms to take necessary actions in this regard.

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