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President makes special statement in Parliament

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In a special statement in parliament today (09), President Ranil Wickremesinghe said he assumed leadership of the country without any conditions, despite being a sole member of Parliament.
He cited his well-thought-out plan, extensive experience, & international relationships as reasons for his confidence in the country’s recovery from its challenges.

For the reconstruction of the fallen country, economic stabilization and recovery programs were formally implemented. As a result, the President said that the journey of economic growth has started from the middle of 2023.

The President noted that economic growth is projected to be around 3% this year, with several local and international financial institutions offering similar forecasts.

Currently, the country’s inflation has dropped to 1.5%, and the primary account balance, which had been in deficit for many years, has turned into a surplus of 0.6% of GDP in 2023.

Additionally, after many decades, there’s a surplus in the current account of the balance of payments in 2023 & interest rates have decreased to between 10% & 13% over the year.

By the first quarter of 2024, we were able to reach the US$ exchange rate below Rs. 300. Highlighting an increase in foreign exchange reserves surpassing US$ 5 billion, the President attributed this success to navigating a challenging yet correct path.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe outlined key objectives regarding debt restructuring in Sri Lanka. By 2032, the aim is to decrease the nation’s total debt to 95% of GDP, maintain the government’s gross financial requirement at 13% annually & ensure foreign debt servicing remains below 4.5% annually.

The President also emphasized the necessity of ensuring debt sustainability for long-term economic progress. To address this, an anti-corruption program based on the Governance Diagnostic Report, with support from the IMF has been initiated, he said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced a substantial increase in funding for relief programs targeting impoverished communities, surpassing three times the Samurdhi subsidy. The allocation of Rs.205 billion for these programs in 2024 represents the largest amount ever dedicated to supporting the impoverished, he added.

The President noted that the strengthening of the Rupee has led to lower prices for imported goods such as gas, fuel & milk powder. Additionally, he mentioned that decreased interest rates have positively impacted the entrepreneurial sector.

The President further announced that public sector salaries may be reconsidered in 2025, citing the anticipated economic growth & increased government revenue in 2024.

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India in talks with Sri Lanka to acquire graphite mines

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India is in talks with Sri Lanka to acquire graphite mines in the island nation.

The demand for graphite is steadily increasing, as it is the most common material used for anodes in lithium-ion and other batteries.

The Indian government had discussions with the government of Sri Lanka on acquiring graphite mines there, sources said.

(PTI)

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Karapitiya Hospital to be a National Hospital

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The Cabinet has approved the proposal to develop the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital as a National Hospital.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet briefing that took place today (May 23), Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane said that this will be the third National Hospital in addition to the two National Hospitals in Colombo and Kandy.

The relevant Cabinet paper had been presented by Health Minister Ramesh Pathirana.

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36,900 power breakdowns due to inclement weather

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The Ceylon Electricity Board has reported over 36,900 breakdowns resulting in power interruptions to more than 300,000 consumers in the last 3 days due to inclement weather, says Power and Energy Minister – Kanchana Wijesekera.

Taking to X, the minister notes that additional service staff has been assigned to attend the breakdowns and the CEB management & service staff are working 24 hours to restore power to the affected consumers.

If consumers are unable to repot power interruptions through the CEB hotline 1987, they can use the SMS option to 1987 with BD and the electricity consumer number to follow, use the CEB Care app or through http://cebcare.ceb.lk, he adds.

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