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IMF team expected in Colombo next week

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) would evaluate Sri Lanka’s economic progress next week, with a team of officials expected to arrive in the country, the Finance Ministry said.

Finance State Minister Shehan Semasinghe yesterday told Mirror Business that a team from the IMF would be in Colombo and would engage in technical meetings. The team will also meet with President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The visit will be the first for the year 2024. 

While unsure of the duration of their stay in the country, Semasinghe shared that the team would evaluate the progress made thus far in the IMF-backed reform programme. 
“It is not going to be an assessment per say. It is a routine staff visit before the upcoming review,” he said. 

The second review under the 48-month Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement is scheduled to be held in March-April this year and will look at the performance for the July to December 2023 period. 

Following the completion of the first review in December 2023, the IMF stressed the need for Sri Lanka to enter into agreements with its official and private creditors before the second review takes place. 

The finalisation of the first review paved the way for the disbursement of US $ 337 million. This brought the total IMF financial support disbursed to about US $ 670 million. 

Following the executive board discussion in December, the IMF said Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic policy reforms have begun to bear fruit and the economy is showing tentative signs of stabilisation, with rapid disinflation, significant revenue-based fiscal adjustment and reserves build-up.

Noting that the performance under the EFF-supported programme has been satisfactory, the IMF said all quantitative performance criteria for end-June were met, except the one on expenditure arrears. Other than tax revenues, all indicative targets were met as well.

To meet the IMF’s tax revenue requirement, Sri Lanka made several changes to its tax regime, with the major change being in the Value Added Tax (VAT).

The total amount of Sri Lanka’s EFF arrangement is about US $ 3 billion as of the time of programme approval on March 20, 2023. 

The programme supports Sri Lanka’s efforts to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, safeguard financial stability and enhance growth-oriented structural reforms.

(dailymirror.lk)

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Shooting incident ‘targeting’ former MP Uddika was self-orchestrated : Police

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Sri Lanka Police says it has been uncovered that the incident where several gunshots had been fired at the vehicle belonging to former Anuradhapura District parliamentarian Uddika Premaratne, had been orchestrated by the actor-turned-politician himself with the assistance of an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in the area.

Speaking during a press conference held in Colombo today (13), the Police Media Spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa said that the suspects connected to the incident have been identified so far following investigations carried out by the CID.

On September 17, 2023, a group of unidentified gunmen had opened fire at Premaratne’s car soon after he returned to his residence in Anuradhapura at around 10:35 p.m. The parliamentarian had managed to escape unharmed.

The perpetrators, who had arrived in a car, were said to have targeted the parliamentarian who was walking towards the house after parking his vehicle. The left rear door glass of Premaratne’s car was damaged in the shooting incident for which the gunmen were believed to have used a pistol.

Anuradhapura police initiated investigations soon after the incident was reported and Special Task Force (STF) personnel were deployed to beef up the security near the MP’s house. Later, investigations into the matter were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

However, the former MP claimed that the existing system within the country was the reason behind the recent shooting incident targeting him.

Speaking in Parliament in this regard, MP Premaratne said that while he believed the system was the cause behind the recent shooting outside his residence, it is also the reason why the country is in the state it is today.

Later on 27 February 2024, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP resigned as a Member of Parliament, following which S.C. Muthukumarana of SLPP was appointed to fill the vacant MP seat.

However, Premaratne was later reported to have flown to Canada, seeking political asylum, which he refuted, and claimed that he was expecting a work visa in Canada.

In 2020, the popular actor was announced as a candidate for the 2020 parliamentary election from the Anuradhapura District as a member of the Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance, a political alliance led by the SLPP formed in 2019. 

He obtained 133,550 votes and won a seat in the 16th Parliament of Sri Lanka.

(adaderana.lk)

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

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Apple is the world’s first $1 trillion brand: Kantar

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Kantar BrandZ’s Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2024 has named Apple as the world’s first trillion-dollar brand, holding onto pole position for the third consecutive year. 

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon join Apple atop the rankings, with McDonald’s rounding up the top 5.

Demonstrating how effective AI has become for driving brand value, NVIDIA has lept 18 places to crack the top 10 for the first time, holding sixth position with a 178% year-on-year brand value increase. 

Facebook rejoined the Top 10 after a one-year absence, while Oracle joined the Top 10 for the first time. 

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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