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India – China agree to ‘de-escalate’ border tensions

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India and China have agreed to de-escalate tensions along their disputed border after a conversation between its leaders, a senior Indian official said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping spoke on the sidelines of the Brics summit in South Africa on Wednesday.

Beijing said the meeting was held at Mr Modi’s request.

Relations between India and China have been worsening for more than three years.

The two world powers are facing off against each other along their ill-defined 3,440km (2,100-mile)-long border – known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – in the Himalayan region.

Mr Xi and Mr Modi met on the sidelines of the Brics summit in Johannesburg. The Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are often seen as a counterweight to the Western-led world.

On Thursday, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that both sides had agreed to step up efforts for the disengagement of troops along the LAC.

“The Prime Minister underlined that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalisation of the India-China relationship,” Mr Kwatra said.

“In this regard, the two leaders agreed to direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation,” he added.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two leaders had “a candid and in-depth exchange of views on current China-India relations and other questions of shared interest”.

“President Xi stressed that improving China-India relations serves the common interests of the two countries and peoples, and is also conducive to peace, stability and development of the world and the region,” the statement said.

It also added: “The two sides should bear in mind the overall interests of their bilateral relations and handle properly the border issue so as to jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border region.”

According to The Indian Express newspaper, no interpreters or note-takers were around when the two leaders spoke to each other.

Mr Xi and Mr Modi last spoke on the sidelines of the G20 summit in 2022.

Mr Xi is expected to arrive in India for the G20 summit hosted by Delhi on 9 and 10 September.

(BBC News)

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Lanka to take up bottom trawling

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When Indian Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visits Colombo next week, the government is to take up the issue of Indian fishermen entering Sri Lanka’s northern territorial waters three days a week and engaging in illegal bottom trawling, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda said.

The Indian fishermen are expected to be back in Sri Lankan waters after a two-month-long annual breeding ban was lifted on Friday.

When President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited New Delhi last Sunday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the matter was raised at a meeting with Minister Dr. Jaishnakar.

“As a nation, we have to protect our resources, interests, and the livelihood of our fisherfolks. I hope to raise the issue in the next Cabinet meeting (June 19) as well,” Minister Devananda said.

Days before the Indian authorities lifted the annual breeding ban, a group of fishermen’s unions based in the North handed over a petition on Tuesday to officials at the Indian consulate office in Jaffna requesting India to take immediate steps to prevent Indian fishermen from coming into Sri Lankan waters at the expense of their livelihood.

The fishermen’s unions, which formed a collective called the Northern Fishermen’s Alliance, requested President Wickremesinghe

in a petition to urge Indian authorities to “expedite their maximum efforts to monitoring and preventing the daily incursion of thousands of Tamil Nadu trawlers every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evenings.”

The two-month-long ban, which came into effect on April 14 and was lifted on Friday, is enforced to facilitate the breeding of fish banks in the ocean and maintain the equilibrium of marine sources for sustainability.

Currently, Indian fishermen who engage in fishing in Sri Lankan territorial waters are arrested by the Navy and Coast Guard and subjected to legal action after their trawlers are seized.

Following the legal action in which the magistrate courts hand in a suspended sentence of eighteen months for engaging in fishing without a licence, fishermen are released and repatriated with the assistance of Indian diplomatic missions.

(sundaytimes.lk)

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

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Sri Lankan Youth to Be Freed from Cyber Camps in Myanmar

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasooriya said on his visit to Myanmar, he came to know that more than 100,000 youth from different countries are forcibly housed in the cyber camps in Myanmar, and 53,000 of them are Chinese nationals.

He was speaking to reporters at the Bandaranaike International Airport yesterday after completing an official visit to Myanmar and Thailand.

State Minister Balasooriya said, “We are confident that the 49 Sri Lankans who are forcibly held in cyber camps in Myanmar will be freed in the near future.” In addition to his visit to Myanmar, the State Minister also visited Thailand and discussed bilateral issues with the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, as well as several Non-Governmental Organisations. They also discussed the forcible holding of youth from different countries in the cyber camps in Myanmar. They agreed that regional Governments should work together to secure their release.

(sundayobserver.lk)

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

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IMF proposes new imputed rental income tax for Sri Lanka

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed the introduction of an imputed rental income tax on owner-occupied and vacant residential properties in Sri Lanka, to be implemented by April 1, 2025. 

This recommendation comes as part of the IMF’s latest report on Sri Lanka, highlighting the need for sustained revenue mobilization efforts amid institutional challenges that hindered the initially planned property tax for 2025.

The IMF report emphasizes the importance of establishing a comprehensive property valuation database by August 2024, which will include assessed values, the latest assessment dates, and property types for all municipal councils. 

This database is a crucial step towards the effective implementation of the new tax.

Additionally, the report calls for the full operationalization of a nationwide digital Sales Price and Rents Register (SPRR) by the end of March 2025. 

This register will be accessible by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), the valuation department, the land registry, and the public, serving as a key resource for assessing property values and the imputed rental income tax.

The IMF recognizes ongoing vulnerabilities and uncertainties in Sri Lanka, particularly concerning debt restructuring and the upcoming elections. 

The IMF directors have urged Sri Lankan authorities to continue strengthening macroeconomic policies to restore economic stability and debt sustainability while maintaining the momentum of reforms to promote long-term inclusive growth.

In support of Sri Lanka’s economic policies and reforms, the IMF Executive Board has completed the 2024 Article IV Consultation and Second Review under the 48-month Extended Fund Facility. 

This completion provides Sri Lanka with immediate access to SDR 254 million (approximately USD 336 million).

Moreover, the IMF has highlighted the importance of enacting the Asset Recovery Bill, following necessary public consultations, by November 2024. This bill is expected to play a significant role in enhancing fiscal responsibility and transparency within the country.

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