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India imposes 40% export duty on onions to calm rising prices

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India will impose with immediate effect a 40% export duty on onions up to Dec. 31 in an attempt to improve domestic availability of the vegetable, the ministry of finance said in a notification on Saturday.

The duty imposed by the world’s biggest exporter of onions will help New Delhi dampen local prices ahead of key state elections later this year but will force Asian buyers to shell out more, as other regional exporters have limited supplies.

“The export duty will make Indian onions more expensive than those from Pakistan, China, and Egypt. This will naturally lead to lower exports and aid in reducing local prices,” said Ajit Shah, an exporter based in Mumbai.

Average wholesale onion price in key markets has jumped nearly 20% from July to August, to 2,400 rupees ($28.87) per 100 kg on concerns that erratic rainfall would lead to lower yields.

India is heading for its driest August in more than a century, with scant rainfall likely to persist across large areas, partly because of the El Niño weather pattern, two weather department officials told Reuters on Friday.

“Onions harvested during the summer months are rotting quickly, and the new supplies are being delayed. This situation has prompted the government to take precautionary measures,” said another Mumbai-based exporter.

India’s onion exports in the first half of 2023 jumped 63% from a year ago to 1.46 million metric tons.

Countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka rely on Indian shipments.

Onions are used as the base for traditional dishes across Asia such as biryani in Pakistan and India, belacan in Malaysia and fish curry in Bangladesh.

“The Indian duty would prompt China and Pakistan to raise prices, as they have a limited surplus for exports,” said the second exporter.

India’s annual retail inflation (INCPIY=ECI) in July rose to its highest in 15 months as vegetable and cereals prices skyrocketed, putting pressure on the government to take action to bring down prices.

India surprised buyers last month by imposing a ban on widely consumed non-basmati white rice sales to dampen price rises.

Source: Reuters

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Presidential poll will be held first as scheduled: President affirms

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe affirmed that the Presidential election will be held as scheduled with the General Elections anticipated to be held early next year, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

The President gave this assurance during a meeting with the representatives of the United Republic Front headed by by its leader Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka at Sirikotha today.

The United Republic Front presented a proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning (24), at ‘Srikotha’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo.

After engaging in discussions with the President, the leader of the United Republic Front, Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, along with his delegation, presented this proposal to the President.

Speaking at the event, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. 

Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda on behalf of the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by MP Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debts.

United National Party Deputy Leader and President’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change, Ruwan Wijewardena, along with Secretary General of the United National Party Palitha Range Bandara were also in attendance at the event. 

Representing the United Republic Front were Karu Paranavithana, Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe and Attorney-at-Law, Shiral Lakthilaka.

(dailymirror.lk)

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Dedicated SLBFE office to be established in Kegalle district

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In response to a joint request from the Kegalle Migrant Workers Committee and the Kegalle District political authority, Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara has assured the establishment of a dedicated Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) office in Kegalle District.

The request was presented during the Jayagamu Sri Lanka program organized by the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment in Kegalle. 

The Committee emphasized the need for an SLBFE office in the district, which has the highest number of migrant workers in Sabaragamuwa Province.

Commending the Minister for his prompt action in establishing a new SLBFE office in Nuwara Eliya District following a similar request, the Committee expressed confidence in his swift response to their current appeal. 

Minister Nanayakkara pledged immediate steps to open an SLBFE office in Kegalle and instructed officials from the Ministry and SLBFE to take the necessary actions for its swift establishment. 

This move aims to enhance support and services for migrant workers in the district.

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Parliamentary committee demands CBSL report on salary hike amid criticism

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Amidst growing criticism over the substantial salary hike for Central Bank employees, a key parliamentary committee has taken action, demanding a report from the Central Bank regarding the legal basis for such an increment without parliamentary approval.

Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis, MP Gamini Waleboda, disclosed that the issue was raised during a committee meeting where Central Bank officials were present.

The Central Bank is now expected to submit a comprehensive report on the salary increment in the coming week. Following the submission, the Sectoral Oversight Committee intends to summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board for further examination.

MP Waleboda highlighted that the committee expressed strong criticism of the 70% salary increase for Central Bank employees, especially given the ongoing economic crisis, deeming it an immoral act.

“We instructed the Central Bank to provide a report by next week to justify the salary increase. They will need to provide the legal provisions that empower them to effect such an increment. We will summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board after receiving the report,” stated MP Waleboda.

Both government and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have voiced objections to the Central Bank’s decision to raise the salary scales by 70%, with Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella asserting that the Central Bank Act lacks provisions for such salary increases without parliamentary approval, deeming it illegal.

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