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Finance Ministry & CBSL hold virtual meeting with creditors

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The Sri Lankan authorities held a virtual meeting with Sri Lanka’s official creditors today (03).

The meeting was chaired by the Secretary to the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance, Mr. K M Mahinda Siriwardana, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Dr. P. Nandalal Weerasinghe.

Sri Lanka remains fully committed to advancing engagements with all its creditors in an equitable and transparent way. The meeting represented another important step towards securing International Monetary Fund (IMF) Board approval for Sri Lanka’s IMF program, a media release by the President Media Division said.

The State Minister of Finance, Mr. Shehan Semasinghe, has said:

“Sri Lanka is at a critical stage, and we are seeking IMF program approval as soon as possible so that we can restore macroeconomic stability. We are grateful to our bilateral partners for their continued engagement and support during this process. The IMF program and our ambitious economic reforms will restore public debt sustainability, help protect the most vulnerable and restart our growth engine. This government is focused on re-establishing social and economic prosperity, and ensuring our citizens have access to critical public services.”

The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Dr. P. Nandalal Weerasinghe, has said:

“The IMF program and economic reform agenda will reconstitute Sri Lanka’s financial buffers. I thank the official creditors for joining this productive meeting where we were able to discuss Sri Lanka’s current financial position and progress on reforms.”

Sri Lanka reached a Staff-Level Agreement with the IMF on a four-year program supported by the Extended Fund Facility on 1st September 2022. The program, amounting to USD 2.9bn, is expected to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability while protecting the vulnerable and safeguarding Sri Lanka’s financial system. This agreement remains subject to IMF Executive Board approval.

The IMF program has been centred around Sri Lanka’s ambitious reform program. The government’s reform agenda is based on four pillars:

  1. The first pillar is fiscal reform. The program foresees the implementation of ambitious revenue-based fiscal consolidation measures, combined with revenue administration reforms and the introduction of fuel and electricity pricing mechanisms to minimize fiscal risks stemming from SOEs. It also includes the enhancement of existing social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable;
  2. The second pillar will be to restore public debt sustainability. Sri Lanka’s debt situation has been deemed unsustainable by the IMF and will need to be addressed by a comprehensive debt treatment;
  3. Thirdly, the program will aim to restore price stability and rebuild external buffers. The government is committed to refraining from any monetary financing and the Cabinet will soon approve the Central Bank Act that will strengthen the Bank’s independence and modernise its policy framework;
  4. The fourth pillar of the program is the safeguarding of financial system stability, a key condition to Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. This will be achieved by ensuring that Sri Lanka’s banking system is adequately capitalised and by strengthening the resilience and governance of its state-owned banks.
  5. In addition to these pillars, the government will introduce a series of anti-corruption reforms that will align Sri Lanka’s legal framework with international standards and will implement broader structural reforms to unlock Sri Lanka’s growth potential.

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Increasing beedi prices result of hidden pact!

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Increasing the tax on beedis instead of tax on cigarettes when there is an opportunity to earn more income from cigarettes is the result of an agreement between the heads of the tobacco company and the government, the Sri Lanka Mirror learns.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said in the 2023 Budget speech that the government would impose a tax of Rs.2 on a beedi.

“I suggest a tax of Rs.2 per beedi to streamline the beedi industry and to discourage people from using beedis. Apart from this, the fees to be paid for obtaining certificates and licenses will also be increased,” he said.

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Highest income recorded from gem exports after 12 years

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The highest income from gem exports since 2010 has been recorded this year, National Gem and Jewellery Authority of Sri Lanka Director General Pradeep Thenuwara said.

He said more than 380 million USDs have been earned this year from the export of gems, including sapphires.

The National Gems and Jewellery Authority said that in the last 11 months, it has earned a record income more than the previous year.

Accordingly, it is reported that the 355 million USD income that was targeted to be earned from gem exports this year has already been exceeded.

Mr. Thenuwara said that sapphires found in Sri Lanka are popular in the world market and the largest amount of exported gems are sapphires.

Most gems have been exported to China, the US, Britain, Malaysia, Hong Kong while Israel has bought diamonds.

An income of 500 million USDs has been targeted from gem exports for 2023, and the Authority said it will provide facilities including new technology to the miners to achieve this target.

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Minister Tiran’s intelligence team ahead of IGP

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Public Security Minister Tiran Alles has launched an investigation into the sudden death of seven horses of the Police Mounted Division due to lack of proper food this year.

The minister has asked Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramarate about the incident but it was reported that he was not aware of these incidents until the minister had questioned him.

Each horse has been brought to the Police Mounted Division at a cost of 35,000 USDs.

As soon as the information was received that seven horses had died from malnutrition, the minister has launched an investigation.

The minister has inquired about these deaths from SDIG Priyantha Weerasuriya who is responsible for supervising the welfare of the horses.

It has been revealed that the company that supplies horses’ feed has not provided proper feed.

It has also been reported that 23 healthy young horses have been transported to several special celebrations held in the recent past, but their health condition has not been considered whey they are being transported.

The investigations have revealed that the responsibility of monitoring the health of the horses lies with the veterinarian who also monitors the health of the police dogs and that the senior police officers have not paid special attention to the issue.

Meanwhile, it was reported that 38 horses have died in previous years.

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