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New political culture established in the country alongside a new legal framework

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the government has adopted 75 new laws in the past two years, making Sri Lanka the country with the most up-to-date legal framework in South Asia.

The President stated that this new legal system will foster a new political culture in the country.

The President addressed accusations that the government protects wrongdoers, clarifying that the current administration has enacted laws to apprehend thieves. He asserted that this marks the end of using anti-corruption merely as a political slogan.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks during the opening of the new Court Complex in Theldeniya this morning (May 15).

The President emphasized that the stability of a country relies on the effective implementation of the law and that international recognition is achieved through a robust legal system.

The original Magistrate’s Court in Theldeniya was submerged under the Victoria Reservoir, part of the rapid Mahaweli Development Project. The subsequent court building in the new town of Karaliyadda, Theldeniya was demolished for full redevelopment. The new court complex has now been constructed at the same location by the Ministry of Justice.

The new Court Complex, a three-storey building, in Theldeniya accommodates the Magistrate and District Courts along with other essential facilities. It serves the proceedings for the areas covered by the Theldeniya, Rangala, Ududumbara, Pallekele, Menikhinna, Wattegama and Panwila police stations.

Previously, the Theldeniya Court operated at a temporary building complex at the Cooperative Land in the Theldeniya City. The inadequate facilities there caused significant difficulties for the public attending proceedings.

Following the unveiling of the plaque and the official opening, President Ranil Wickremesinghe also conducted an observation tour of the new court complex.

The Bar Association of Theldeniya presented a commemorative gift to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The President engaged in  friendly conversation with the lawyers and joined them for a group photo.

In his address, President Wickremesinghe further stated:

“After almost a century, we have implemented numerous reforms in the field of law. Over the past two years, we have enacted approximately 75 new laws. This is a significant achievement, considering that some parliaments work for even 4 or 5 years without passing this amount of laws. A government’s purpose is to work, and MPs should attend Parliament to fulfil their legislative duties. Accordingly, we have worked to introduce a new legal system by adopting these laws in Parliament.

We have also paid special attention to addressing delays in the legal process. For justice to be realized, the law must be executed in a timely manner. This is a challenge we must confront. Efficient hearings will encourage more cases to be filed, ensuring that justice is served promptly.

The rule of law should be reaffirmed in the country. If people take the law into their own hands and destroy property, there is no law. The stability of a country depends on the rule of law. A country gains recognition only when justice is done; otherwise, there will be no development, and investment cannot be expected. Today, we have established such a legal system in the country.

Furthermore, a new economic transformation is currently underway. We are creating an export-based economy. We have agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement several laws to support this transformation. The first of these, the law for the Central Bank, has been passed, granting the Central Bank independence.

Additionally, we have presented a bill to restructure the Electricity Board. The board’s heavy losses were a major factor in the collapse of our economy. We must therefore establish an efficient electricity board. I assure you that this will not harm the rights of the government.
The government has also presented three more draft bills that are scheduled for cabinet approval next Monday. We have already implemented controls on loans as part of these measures. Previously, there was no national debt control in place. To reduce our debt, we need to implement effective debt management. By 2035-2040, our goal is to control the debt down to 75%. The government must act according to this new debt control law.

Additionally, the government’s monetary control was previously governed by monetary regulations, which could be violated or amended through circulars. As a result, there has been no effective monetary control in the country so far. Currently, no one is fully aware of the government’s assets. Therefore, we have introduced laws for the management of public money. New Zealand pioneered this system, followed by the United Kingdom, Australia and India. We have now presented the latest version of this law.

We must transition from an import-based economy to an export-based economy. To achieve this, a draft of the economic transformation law will be submitted in the future. We have fulfilled all the conditions agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which we are legally bound to adhere to. Sri Lanka has previously been accused of violating IMF agreements, but now, with these agreements enforced by law, such violations are no longer possible.

Moving forward is imperative. Failure to comply will jeopardize the support we expect from the IMF. These laws are expected to be introduced after our June meeting with the IMF.

Subsequent laws will follow after establishing the foundational framework of the economic transformation law. These actions are being undertaken in accordance with agreements reached with the IMF and countries that have provided loans. Discussions with private creditors are also progressing positively.

Some individuals claim that these discussions are unsuccessful, while others are predicting about the dissolution of Parliament. When they made this type of statements the stock market will face a down turn on the following day. Then they are purchasing the shares. Despite government reassurances that no such decisions have been made, they persist in echoing these claims on their platforms. This is not a political issue.

Meanwhile, corruption has arisen as a significant concern in our country. Discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and our lending countries have centred on addressing this issue. We have proposed a comprehensive program to tackle corruption, which has been augmented with amendments. With the agreement formally declared, the implementation of new laws is underway. There are four rules for them.

We introduced the 21st amendment as our initial step, leading to the establishment of the related commission. Additionally, the Anti-Corruption Act was enacted in 2023 and amended it in 2024.

Also, actions have also taken to curb corruption in spending money on administrative tasks. It is a more essentially advanced system than the law provides for. Although the development of such a system poses a challenge due to a lack of expertise, the government has drafted a report on public administration investigations, subject to amendments as per the proposal made to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Furthermore, work is underway to draft the Proceeds of Crime Act. According to that Sri Lanka has the latest laws in South Asia, indicating a shift in politics. Previously, corruption had been merely a political slogan, with promises to arrested offenders within a short timeframe upon assuming power proving elusive.

Some accuse the government of protecting thieves. However, illogically, this same government, accused of protecting thieves, has introduced legislation to arrest them. Yet, effective implementation of these laws requires practical experience, requiring comprehensive training programs. The Ministry of Justice has undertaken the responsibility for this initiative, with support assured by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the United States of America.

Consequently, over the past two years, we have achieved three significant milestones under this administration. Firstly, we have strengthened the administration of justice and the rule of law. Secondly, legislation has been enacted to foster an export-oriented economy. Finally, efforts to adopt anti-corruption measures are underway. I request to everyone for their assistance in these endeavours.

Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe;

Today marks a historic milestone for the people of Theldeniya. Back in 2015, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe endeavoured to bring new court facilities to this area, grappling with land allocation challenges. It is now a source of pride to witness the completion of a new court complex, replacing the old building.

Our engineers made a remarkable dedication to conclude this project speedily. Under the current administration, several such modern court complexes have been inaugurated. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has dedicated himself to advancing the judiciary, recognizing its paramount importance for the progress of the country.

Amidst economic turmoil and widespread hardship, President Ranil Wickremesinghe courageously embraced the task of rebuilding the country. The current government has played a significant role in this revival of country.

Efforts have been made towards both economic development and the establishment of the rule of law, as the latter is vital for development of a country. Over the past two years, significant steps have been made in strengthening the rule of law in our country. Moreover, measures are underway to fortify the judicial system and enact new laws aimed at prevent fraud, corruption and crime in the future.

State Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Anuradha Jayaratne;

Today is a very special day for the residents of Theldeniya. This region has long grappled with various challenges and deficiencies. However, today, we have successfully addressed these issues by providing essential facilities to the area.

Previously, judicial proceedings were constrained by limited space. Therefore, the inauguration of a comprehensive court complex here stands as a significant achievement. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has played a pivotal role in steering the country away from past challenges and restoring normalcy.  In that regard, we all should all give him our respect.

Prominent religious leaders led by Maha Sangharatna, State Minister Dilum Maunugama, MP Udayana Kirindigoda, Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms N.M. Ranasinghe, Central Province Governor Lalith U. Gamage,   Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Attorney General Sanjaya Rajaratnam, Chairman of Theldeniya Bar Association Sunil Amarathunga, High court judges, lawyers, government officials, and other guests were present at this event.

(President’s Media Division)

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SL – Indonesia pledge stronger bilateral ties

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In a significant bilateral meeting during the 10th World Water Summit, President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the longstanding relationship between their nations. The discussions, which covered a wide range of regional and international issues, underscored the importance of collaboration in addressing global challenges.

President Wickremesinghe, in his opening remarks, highlighted the historical ties between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, dating back to their joint participation in the 1956 Bandung Conference. He expressed appreciation for President Widodo’s leadership in regional, international, and bilateral matters, noting the importance of such summits in fostering global cooperation.

A major topic of discussion was the critical issue of water management. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of the World Water Summit and expressed Sri Lanka’s willingness to participate in the Global Blended Financial Alliance, an initiative aimed at addressing common financial challenges faced by countries in managing water resources. He commended Indonesia for establishing a Secretariat for the Alliance, recognizing its significance for Sri Lanka.

President Widodo, in his remarks, focused on the economic cooperation between the two countries. He stressed the need to finalize the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by the first quarter of 2025 to enhance economic ties. Additionally, he highlighted Indonesia’s interest in entering the Sri Lankan vaccine market through Indonesian pharmaceutical companies, and called for the lifting of import restrictions on Indonesian palm oil and related products.

The Indonesian President also showcased Indonesia’s advancements in renewable energy, specifically the country’s largest floating solar power project. He emphasized the importance of hydro diplomacy and political leadership in achieving sustainable water management and development goals. Furthermore, he welcomed Sri Lanka’s leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and its aspirations to become a sectoral dialogue partner.

President Wickremesinghe reiterated the importance of completing the PTA by early 2025, noting Sri Lanka’s existing free trade agreements with India, Singapore, and ongoing negotiations with Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. He emphasized the potential benefits of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), suggesting that Sri Lanka’s inclusion could encourage other South Asian countries to follow suit. 

He also mentioned the ongoing removal of import restrictions and assured that Sri Lankan health authorities would address the entry of Indonesian pharmaceuticals into the market.

The discussion also touched upon regional security and economic cooperation in the Indian Ocean. President Wickremesinghe supported ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific outlook and stressed the need for closer bilateral and regional cooperation regarding Indian Ocean affairs. He proposed more frequent meetings between heads of government and a specific bilateral agreement with Indonesia to enhance commercial collaboration in the region.

President Widodo thanked Sri Lanka for co-sponsoring the Global Blended Financial Alliance, emphasizing its role in achieving sustainable development goals. He called for continued collaboration between relevant ministries from both countries to support this initiative. Looking ahead, President Widodo mentioned the upcoming presidential transition in Indonesia and expressed hope that the new administration would continue to strengthen ties with Sri Lanka.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe expressed his eagerness to work with Indonesia’s new leadership and extended a personal invitation to President Widodo to visit Sri Lanka after his term ends in October. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations and addressing shared global challenges through continued cooperation.

(President’s Media Division)

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Sri Lanka declares tomorrow a day of mourning

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Sri Lanka has declared tomorrow (May 21) as a day of mourning in view of the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The national flag will fly at half mast at all government institutions.

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2 crucial Bills to Parliament on May 22

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Acting Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe announced plans to introduce two significant bills to Parliament on May 22, aimed at bolstering the country’s economy. 

These bills, the “Economic Transformation Bill” and the “Public Financial Management Bill,” are designed to enhance the management of public finances, thereby safeguarding against future economic downturns. 

Minister Semasinghe made this announcement during a press conference at the Presidential Media Centre today, themed ‘Collective path to a stable country’.

Acting Finance Minister  Shehan Semasinghe, further stated : 

‘The government has scheduled the submission of two significant bills crucial for the country’s economy on May 22. One of these bills is the “Economic Transformation Law,” aimed at preventing future economic collapses. Notably, this legislation stems from the vision of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, rather than being proposed by the International Monetary Fund. The recent stabilization of the economy following previous downturns underscores the importance of preserving this stability going forward.

Additionally, it is necessary to maintain optimal levels of public financial management to avert future economic crises. The “Public Finance Management Bill” is set to be presented to Parliament on the same day, with a focus on enhancing accountability in managing public finances. This legislative initiative aligns with recommendations from a collaborative program with the International Monetary Fund and holds significant importance for the country’s future financial management.

It’s important to underscore the critical significance of both these bills for the country’s future. These drafts contain numerous technical intricacies aimed at bolstering confidence in the economy and maintaining the trajectory of the new economic direction implemented thus far.

Further elaborating on the Economic Transformation Bill, it holds paramount importance for the country’s economic growth. Despite experiencing economic contraction in the second and third quarters of 2023, a notable growth rate of 4.5% was achieved in the fourth quarter. Consequently, the benefits of this economic upturn have started permeating to the grassroots level within the country.

Furthermore, it is imperative to enhance the economic competitiveness of the nation and adapt the economy to confront global challenges while fostering international cooperation and growth. Additionally, this bill addresses necessary changes in various sectors.

Specifically, the legislation encompasses reforms essential for international trade, trade agreements, and climate change mitigation efforts. 

The establishment of a new Economic Commission in Sri Lanka, aimed at attracting investments to enhance competitiveness, fostering a conducive environment for investors, expanding international trade, establishing the National Productivity Commission, and developing export-related institutions, is also outlined in this bill.

Recently, Parliament endorsed the decisions made, particularly regarding economic transformation. In 2022, the public debt ratio stood at 128%, a figure slated to be reduced to less than 95% by 2032. 

Similarly, the fiscal requirement, which was 34.6% of the gross domestic product in 2022, aims to be lowered to below 13% by 2032.

Effective debt servicing is paramount, with efforts focused on establishing Sri Lanka as a debt-sustainable nation capable of meeting its obligations. The aim is to reduce the debt payment ratio from 9.4% in 2022 to below 4.5% by 2027.

A proposed bill will outline specific national goals and actions taken to address economic challenges, providing a roadmap for sustainable economic growth, debt management, agricultural modernization, import-export regulation, and economic governance.

Additionally, considerable attention has been given to the Public Finance Management Bill, aimed at identifying weaknesses in the current legislation and proposing a robust legal framework to meet future needs.

(President’s Media Division)

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