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President shares SL’s positive economic outlook & reforms at Business Roundtable in Switzerland

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Addressing the Business Roundtable organized by BOI Sri Lanka and the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce yesterday, during his official tour to Switzerland to attend the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted significant strides in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery and outlined future growth prospects.

President Wickremesinghe began by acknowledging the challenging times the nation faced, noting the adverse effects of the recent crisis on businesses, small enterprises and the overall population. He mentioned a constructive meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where it was surprising to learn that Sri Lanka had over performed despite the difficulties.

One key aspect highlighted by the President was the successful debt restructuring in collaboration with the IMF, emphasizing its necessity for dealing with creditors. He outlined the reforms undertaken in 2022 and 2023, addressing crucial business impediments and resolving supply bottlenecks in fuel and electricity. Additionally, import restrictions were lifted, foreign exchange liquidity was restored and a primary surplus in the balance of payments is anticipated for the first time since 1977.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted positive indicators such as the stabilization of the currency, a significant reduction in inflation, and the reversal of negative economic growth from the third quarter of 2023. The achievement of a primary budget surplus in 2023 marked a notable improvement.

The President went on to discuss the effective progress in debt restructuring, with key creditors agreeing in principle. The IMF’s approval of Sri Lanka’s first program review in December 2023 sets the stage for a shift from stabilization to recovery and growth in 2024.

Looking ahead, President Wickremesinghe emphasized the government’s focus on fostering growth through exports, services and investments, including foreign direct investment (FDI). He announced concluded and upcoming FTAs with Singapore, Thailand, India and China, along with ongoing talks with other South Asian nations. The President highlighted Sri Lanka’s initiatives to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the benefits of GSP Plus for access to European markets.

The address concluded with the President unveiling opportunities for investments in renewable energy, agriculture modernization, tourism, IT and infrastructure development through public-private partnerships. He highlighted forthcoming laws and commissions aimed at enhancing market access, fostering trade and investment and ensuring the competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s economy. President Wickremesinghe reassured foreign investors by mentioning the removal of restrictions and the ongoing commitment to economic reforms.

Meanwhile, sharing his perspective during the roundtable discussion on Sri Lanka’s undertaken reforms, Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, the President’s Senior Advisor on National Security and Presidential Chief of Staff, emphasized a comprehensive approach encompassing both economic and governmental facets.

Mr. Ratnayaka highlighted that alongside economic reforms, the government embarked on an extensive array of changes. This included a proactive engagement in a diagnostics exercise initiated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Notably, the government did not wait for the completion of the IMF diagnostics exercise but initiated various measures beforehand. Initiatives like the establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Office were implemented even before the governance diagnostics report was published.

Subsequent to these initial steps, a comprehensive program was launched to implement diagnostic reforms. Mr. Ratnayaka underscored the significance of introducing critical legislation, such as the anti-corruption law. He explained the process by which the Constitutional Council would recommend commissioners for the Anti-Corruption Commission to the President. Emphasizing a forward-looking approach, Mr. Ratnayaka affirmed that all undertaken actions aim to elevate international standards.

The Senior Advisor highlighted the introduction of a substantial number of pieces of legislation on the governance front, with approximately 20 already completed. Looking ahead, the focus includes labour laws, with a target of 40 or 50 new laws and the consolidation of around 40 to 50 existing legislations into a modern, forward-looking framework. The overarching goal is to create a favourable environment for employers and align Sri Lanka with contemporary global standards.The Business Roundtable provided a platform for Sri Lanka to showcase its economic resilience and commitment to growth, leaving attendees optimistic about the nation’s future prospects.
Representing the Sri Lankan business community at this Business Roundtable were Mr. Krishan Balendra – Chairman John Keels Holdings, Mr. Sanath Manatunge – CEO/MD Commercial Bank PLC, Mr. Dilshan Wirasekara – Chairman Colombo Stock Exchange, Mr. Prakash Schaffter – Deputy Chairman Janashakthi Insurance PLC, Mr. Keith Bernard – Chairman, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena – Joint Deputy Chairman/MD, Aitken Spence PLC, Mr. Sanjeev Gardiner – Chairman Galle Face Group, Mr. Ashok Pathirage – Chairman Sri Lankan Airlines, Mr. Sujeewa Rajapakse – Chairman People’s Bank, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake – Deputy Chairman & Managing Director, Aitken Spence PLC and ⁠ Mr. Supun Weerasinghe – CEO Daialog Axiata.

In addition, Mr. Dinesh Weerakkody – Chairman Board of Investment/Chairman Colombo Port City Economic Commission,  Mr. Revan Wickramasuriya – Chief Operating Officer Colombo Port City Economic Commission, Mr. Prasanjith Wijayatilake – Executive Director Investment Promotion Board of Investment, Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka – Chief of Staff to the President & NSA, Mr. Deshal De Mel – Advisor to the Finance Minister and Mr. Ruwan Wijewardene – Advisor to the President on Climate Change participated in this roundtable discussion. 

(President’s Media Division)

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Additional Health Secy. to Court

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Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Health Dr. Saman Rathnayake who was arrested and remanded over the medicine procurement scandal was escorted to the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court, to provide a confidential or In Camera statement.

Saman Ratnayake, who was interrogated for over seven hours, was arrested at the Criminal Investigation Department last Friday.

He was presented before the Maligakanda court last Saturday.

When the case was called, the magistrate remanded the suspect until March 14, considering the facts presented by the Deputy Solicitor General Lakmini Girihagama.

The suspect thereafter informed court via counsel of his willingness to provide a statement In Camera.

Therefore, the magistrate ordered the suspect to appear before the court on March 4, today, to deliver the confidential statement.

(News 1st)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by News 1st has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Electricity, petroleum supply, declared essential services

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An Extraordinary Gazette has been issued declaring all activities related to the supply of electricity and petroleum products as essential services.

The relevant gazette has been issued by the Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake on Sunday (03) by order of the President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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Fuel price revision likely tonight?

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A fuel price revision is likely to take place tonight (04), as per sources.

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) stated that although the fuel price was slated to be revised at the end of February, the price revision will possibly take place today.

The CPC amends the fuel prices monthly as per the pricing formula. Accordingly, the prices were last revised on January 31, where the prices of octane 92 petrol, octane 95 petrol, super diesel and kerosene were increased.

Against this backdrop, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has issued an Extraordinary Gazette declaring all services connected to the supply of electricity and the supply or distribution of petroleum products and fuel as essential services with effect from 03 March 2024. 

Accordingly, the proclamation states that the services specified have been declared as Essential Public Service considering it necessary that the services provided by any Public Corporation or Government Department or Local Authority or Co-operative Society or any branch thereof being a Department or Corporation or Local Authority or Co-operative Society, which is engaged in provision of the services specified, is essential to the life of the community and is likely to be impeded or interrupted.

In the meantime, the Fuel Distributors’ Association alleges that the CPC has taken steps to incur a usage fee of 35% of the monthly rebate amount received by the fuel distributors. President of the association Shelton Fernando claimed that through this action, it will not be possible for them to even meet the daily expenses for the distribution activities.(adaderana.lk)

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