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IMF main points to be passed into law – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be presented to Parliament for a vote on whether to support it.

Following this, the key points of the agreement would be enacted into law. The President also indicated that the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Anti-Corruption Bill would be submitted to Parliament by June. He shared these updates with university professors and heads of economic departments as part of a discussion about the IMF program at the Ministry of Finance Auditorium yesterday (02).

During the same discussion, President Ranil Wickremesinghe also urged universities to send ten of their most talented economics students to engage with government officials and provide their opinions on the International Monetary Fund program. He also proposed that a group of students be awarded scholarships to attend recognized foreign universities.

The President highlighted the need for automation in production and services in order for the country to remain competitive with nations like India and Bangladesh. He emphasized that the education system must be reformed to achieve this goal. However, he made it clear that he did not intend to approach the International Monetary Fund for the 18th time.

At the meeting, the President was joined by State Ministers of Finance, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Vice-Chancellors of universities, and lecturers from economic departments. They all shared their thoughts on the IMF program, and their opinions and responses.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said as follows :

First and foremost, it is anticipated that the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be presented to Parliament for a vote on whether or not to support it. We encourage everyone to take a stance on this matter. We propose to support the program, but understand that some may wish to remain neutral. In addition, the main points of the IMF agreement will be enacted into law, and any necessary changes will be presented to Parliament. We aim to present the basic aspects of the agreement in May, with information about the program being disseminated to rural sectors after the New Year.

Secondly, we plan to introduce our programs, including the green economy. However, we first need to assess the response to these programs. The anti-corruption law will be out very soon, maybe by May. There are three important bills that are coming out, Anti-terrorism Bill, Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Anti-Corruption. The Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice has asked that all three bills not be brought together because it is difficult for the Supreme Court to go into it and there will be a shortage of lawyers. Therefore, one bill will come out towards the end of April, followed by the other two and somewhere by June all three bills will come.

The goal of our modernization program is to enhance production while maintaining competitiveness, which will require cooperation from all sectors. To this end, we are exploring the possibility of establishing an Agricultural Technical University by merging government research institutes and other institutions. Post-graduate courses could also be established if deemed necessary. This will strengthen the research process and facilitate the incorporation of technology. Let’s unite all sectors and implement this program together.

The IMF agreement has been thoroughly reviewed, and those present are knowledgeable enough to provide further explanation. However, any proposed solutions must adhere to the framework established by the International Monetary Fund. We have been given six months to work within this framework, and it is crucial that we do so. The majority, including farmers and tourism business owners, believe that this is necessary. While trade unions argue against privatization, if one-third of the money spent on these loss-making institutions was directed towards universities and the education sector, there would be greater progress. Addressing salary issues could also be a part of this effort. Trade unions cannot dictate our policies. We cannot afford to fall behind Afghanistan again; reforms are necessary. Even the opposition acknowledges the need for reform in the country.

Despite bringing a bill and appointing a commission to create industries, we failed to advance industrialization. Our focus was on achieving peace after the war, but we still spent a significant amount of money on war efforts, especially the war from 1983-1987. Instead of industrialization, we pursued programs in the construction sector. If we had prioritized industrialization in 2009, we could have attracted a lot of investments. However, if we set conditions for foreign investors, they may not come. In fact, our local investors who have money in foreign bank accounts will be the first to invest if the situation is favourable.

During President JR Jayawardane’s tenure, the Mahaweli scheme, which was supposed to be completed in 30 years, was finished in 10 years. All institutions involved in the project were brought to Sri Lanka at the same time, which established methods of obtaining money for the people of Sri Lanka. This has led to some groups improving and investing in other projects.

Currently, people are afraid that the economy will collapse and their businesses will fail, so they keep their money in London or Dubai. It’s crucial for them to  bring that money back to Sri Lanka.

We propose to select ten talented final year students studying economics in universities to participate in discussions with officials and ministers. In addition, we aim to provide four talented students with foreign scholarships to renowned universities such as Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, and Stanford.

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Dr. Shelton Premarathne passes away

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Legendary Sri Lankan music composer Dr. Shelton Premarathne has passed away today (May 30) at the age of 94.

He had been living with his son in Sydney, Australia, at the time of his demise.

Dr Premaratne has contributed to Sinhala cinema, theatre and classical Sri Lankan music. 

He was the music composer and director in over 30 stage productions, including Henry Jayasena’s popular theatre production Hunuwataye Kathawa (The Caucasian Chalk Circle), and 21 Sinhala films including films such as Daskon, Romeo Juliet Kathawak and Hithaka Pipunu Mal.

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Indian-owned ship held in Colombo after oil spill; travel ban imposed on captain

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The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) has taken custody of a ship which had caused an oil spill while anchored at the Colombo Port.

A spokesperson of the MEPA stated that legal action has been initiated against the company that owns the ship and the relevant insurance company regarding the oil spill. Under the Marine Environment Protection Authority Act, the MEPA is seeking compensation for the incident, the authority revealed.

The ship, owned by an Indian company, had recently arrived at the Port of Colombo for maintenance activities. A special investigation conducted by MEPA had revealed a leak of hydraulic oil from the ship. The company’s owner has admitted to the incident and agreed to provide compensation, according to the MEPA.

Furthermore, the Colombo Magistrate Court has imposed a travel ban on the captain of the ship preventing him from leaving the country, as per a request made by the Colombo Port Police.

(This story, originally published by adaderana.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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5 companies fined Rs. 1,243 Mn. for illegal gold imports

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State Finance Minister Dr. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said that five companies have been identified for illegally importing gold into Sri Lanka during the past few years, and fines of Rs.1,243 million have been imposed on those companies.

The Minister said that one of the related companies was ordered to pay Rs.179 million as fines.

Emphasising that from now on, all licensed institutions carrying out import of gold goods should avoid these illegal acts, the Minister said that the relevant institutions will also be charged fines for the gold purchased by even third parties considering the production reports.

He said the efforts to stabilise the state revenue of the country are currently being carried out by closing all the loopholes related to the loss of state revenue gradually.

Certain parties who import gold goods have turned this into a big racket and therefore there is a mafia around it.There were various challenges and threats when the government tried to curb this mafia initially.

The Minister further said that there were various levels of threats, pressure and intimidation, and the government did not waver in the face of all these challenges and moved to the second step.

(dailynews.lk)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by dailynews.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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