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Second tranche of IMF loan expected in December – Nimal Siripala



The Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Civil Aviation, Nimal Siripala de Silva, says the disbursement of the second installment of the loan provided under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to be received in December.

The lawmaker emphasized that the budget proposals outlined by President Ranil Wickremesinghe for the fiscal year 2024 mark the commencement of a comprehensive, long-term initiative aimed at the reconstruction of the national economy.

Minister de Silva articulated this perspective during a press briefing convened at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) on Friday (Nov.17), under the theme ‘One Way to a Stable Country’.

In his extended remarks, the minister underscored the significance of the current budget, portraying it as the inception of a protracted initiative aimed at revitalizing the national economy, devoid of immediate profit considerations.

He emphasized that the budget intricately lays out essential programs and policies for this purpose. While some may label it as an election-oriented budget, the Minister clarified that it is not formulated with anticipation of impending elections but rather as a strategic economic framework.

Speaking further, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said:

“Had this budget been crafted with electoral considerations in mind, crucial development-related proposals and policies might have been neglected and the challenging decisions essential for economic stability might have been circumvented. The authorities could have resorted to inflationary measures such as printing more money or offering greater relief to the general populace.

“The recent economic crisis and accompanying public demonstrations have significantly eroded the political and social stability of the country. It is imperative to recognize that a nation lacking political and social stability stands at a disadvantage in terms of securing financial aid, credit facilities and investments. Unfortunately, the current administration has been ineffective in adequately addressing these challenges. Despite extending an invitation to the opposition party to assume responsibility for managing the situation, their acceptance of such responsibility has not materialized.

“During that critical period, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed the challenging responsibility and presented a clear policy direction. He underscored his commitment to implementing projects with a long-term nation-building focus, rather than pursuing short-term, popular initiatives. This approach, as mentioned earlier, may not immediately translate into widespread relief for the populace. However, the President has actively worked to alleviate the hardships faced by marginalized segments of the population.

“Simultaneously, a comprehensive national economic development program has been set in motion. This year’s budget has addressed various impediments that have historically hindered the country’s progress, thereby establishing a foundational framework to propel the nation towards sustainable development.

“While there may be assertions that the people have not tangibly benefited from the 2024 budget, it is crucial to note that significant concessions have indeed been extended to the public. These include salary increments for government employees, augmented allowances for the elderly and disabled, and provisions for education, health, regional development, and granting free land rights. It is imperative to recognize that funding these initiatives necessitates a robust revenue stream for the government. The budgetary allocations and concessions are designed to address the diverse needs of the populace while also ensuring the financial sustainability of these welfare programs.

“It is imperative to align income with expenditure, a foundational principle encapsulated within the concept of a budget. Governments routinely finance the expenses associated with relief programs by leveraging tax revenues collected from the populace.

“Maintaining equilibrium between expenditure and income is imperative. Under the current circumstances, augmenting relief efforts necessitates an increase in taxation. It is crucial for the public to comprehend this fiscal mechanism. Despite salary increments by Rs. 10,000, certain factions persist in rallying for additional raises, a stance that, when examined pragmatically, appears more aligned with anti-government sentiments. It is essential for the citizens of our nation to recognize the practical limitations associated with such demands.

“Critics assert that the preceding government’s substantial tax concessions contributed to the economic downturn. Interestingly, this critique tacitly acknowledges the necessity of tax increases. However, when such measures are proposed, opposing sentiments are vocalized through raised slogans. This dichotomy underscores the existence of conflicting perspectives. It is crucial for the public to discern the complexities of this situation.

“We anticipate the disbursement of the second installment from the IMF by December. Beyond the financial inflow, the paramount significance lies in the trust instilled by other lenders through this transaction. This trust not only facilitates dealings with additional international financial institutions but also serves as a crucial avenue for engagement. It is noteworthy that upon the successful conclusion of our debt restructuring process, we are poised to resume all stalled development activities across the country.

“The ongoing process of restructuring financially unsustainable government institutions is in progress. Additionally, efforts are underway to reorganize institutions facing challenges in revenue collection. This includes initiatives to minimize corruption within entities such as the Customs, Excise Department, and Income Tax Department, transforming them into entities dedicated to the formal collection of funds for the government.

“Concurrently, the government’s economic programs are advancing successfully. According to the Central Bank, the country’s reserves have reached US$ 3.5 billion as of today, indicating positive momentum in economic stability and financial management.”



Parliament approves suspension of state minister Dinana and SJB MPs Sujith and Rohana




The motion to suspend State Minister Dinana Gamage and two SJB MPs Sujith Sanjaya Perera and Rohana Bandara for a month was approved in Parliament with a majority of 57 votes.

Some 58 MPs voted in favour and one against. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran voted against it. Two government MPs including Minister Vidura Wickramanayake and Mayadunna Chinthaka Amal and Opposition MP. A.H.M Fowzie abstained.

Other Opposition MPs walked out protesting against the decision by the Privileges Committee to change the decision made by the special committee appointed by the Speaker to look into the brawl between State Minister Gamage and two SJB MPs Bandara and Perera.

The motion was put to a vote after heated arguments by MPs of both sides.

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President advocates bold Climate Action at COP28




In a compelling address at the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai, UAE on Friday (Dec.01), President Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged the historical significance of the UN Conference on Human Environment, emphasizing its goal to defend and improve the environment for present and future generations.

He referenced the alarming findings of the UNEP Report of 2023, titled “Broken Promises,” which warns of a 3-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.

Highlighting the challenges faced by developing countries, Wickremesinghe stressed the disproportionate vulnerability and impact due to lower adaptive capacities in Finance, Technology, and Climate investments. He cited the Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance, which underscored the need for at least a USD 1 trillion per annum to combat climate change.

The President commended the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for hosting the crucial event and expressed gratitude for their warm hospitality

Expressing concern about the lack of concrete measures in the Transitional Committee’s report on funding arrangements, Wickremesinghe called for a more transparent approach, particularly addressing issues of global debt relief. He questioned the wisdom of avoiding contentious issues, emphasizing the urgency of the climate crisis.

He advocated for climate justice accessible to all nations and proposed a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum. This forum, agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific, aims to provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements, with the proposal scheduled for the UN Environment Assembly on 6th February 2024.

Underlining the critical nature of the current period, the President urged immediate action to find effective solutions, thinking outside the box and investing in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis. The Tropical Belt, covering 134 countries and 44% of the Earth’s surface, holds rich biodiversity and potential for renewable energy. Wickremesinghe announced plans for a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative, emphasizing its global impact.

As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the Sri Lankan leader linked the health of the Indian Ocean to climate change. He stressed the need for a sustainable Blue Economy to counter the adverse effects of rising sea levels, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and extreme weather patterns.

The President also revealed plans to establish the International Climate Change University (ICCU) for capacity building and advancing research, operationalizing it next year. The ICCU aims to contribute significantly to global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In conclusion, Wickremesinghe’s address at COP28 outlined a comprehensive approach, blending regional initiatives like the Tropical Belt and the Indian Ocean with global measures, reflecting Sri Lanka’s commitment to climate action and leadership on the international stage.

The speech made by the President at the World Leaders Summit of the COP28 is as follows:

“Chairperson, Excellencies, Esteemed Delegates, At the outset let me congratulate his highness and the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting COP28 and extend to you my gratitude for your warm hospitality.

The UNEP Report of 2023 “Broken Promises” warned that we are facing a 3 degree Celcius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century. It is we; the developing countries are both disproportionately vulnerable and disproportionately impacted due to their lower adaptive capacity when it comes to investments in Finance, Technology and Climate.

The Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance highlighted that at least a Trillion USD per annum is required to combat climate change. The Transitional Committee on the Operationalization of Funding Arrangements in its Report of 4th November 2023 only calls for voluntary contributions to the “Loss and Damage fund”. The Report makes no mention of the funds needed or who the contributors are. It is silent on the issue of global debt relief. These are interconnected’

Nevertheless, four days later, the Technical Dialogue of the First Global Stocktake highlighted the requirements of a minimum of US$ trillion per annum. To arrive at a consensus not to take up a contentious issue is not a solution. Who are we fooling?

Climate justice must be available to all the people and all the countries. In this background, Sri Lanka will propose a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum which was agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific to be moved at the UN Environment Assembly of 6th February 2024.

The Climate Justice Forum will provide us a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. The Secretary General of the UN highlighted, “The era of global boiling has arrived”. The enemy is at the gates. We are still procrastinating. We are still forming our battalions to take the fight to the enemy. Therefore, this fortnight is critical.

It will determine whether we are capable of providing a leadership. Let us prove we can do so by action and delivery.

Sri Lanka is committed to the 1.5 degree Celcius limit. We are facing a drastic situation to await the disaster. We must think outside of the box. We must Invest in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis.

The Tropical Belt constitutes 134 countries covering 44% of earth’s surface, and will by 2030s be home to roughly 50% of world’s population. Most of the world’s remaining primary forests are tropical, along with its coral reef systems. The rich biodiversity of the Tropical Belt enhances biological carbon sequestration and can shield the world from instabilities in weather.

Furthermore, the energy generation potential from solar, wind and biomass are significantly higher in the tropics than that of other areas on the earth. Yet, anthropogenic activities in the Tropical Belt can easily lead to an imbalance in the equilibrium of this region.

So much so that some scientists predict that the Tropical Rain Belt could shift away from the Equator by the 22nd Century. Large scale investments in Renewable Energy, Pollution Control and Nature-based Solutions will lead to significant transformative changes in the entire world by enhancing carbon sequestration.

Therefore, Sri Lanka and other concerned countries will convene a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative. A multi sector plan distributed not only among the whole tropical region but the whole world. As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Sri Lanka is focusing on the interdependence between the Indian Ocean and climate change.

A healthy ocean generates oxygen and absorbs the carbon and heat produced from global warming. Mangroves and sea grasses sink more carbon than land forests. However, the rapid climate change is altering the marine environment with rising sea levels and temperatures, Ocean acidification, coral bleaching, habitat destruction and extreme weather patterns. These phenomenon have a direct impact on human lives by disrupting ocean biodiversity, the Ocean dependent food patterns, and coastal livelihoods. Member states and partners of IORA will work towards ensuring a sustainable, Indian Ocean for future generations.

The Tropical Belt initiative and the Indian Ocean IORA program combined will form the largest global sink for carbon sequestration. Addressing the climate change need, up to date scientific knowledge, and the effective use of these findings

Therefore, at COP27, I proposed to establish an International Climate Change University (ICCU) for capacity building and advancing research, necessary to contribute to the crucial efforts to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We will be operationalizing the International Climate Change University (ICCU) next year.

Ministers Mr. Ali Sabry, Mr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Mr. Kanchana Wijesekera, and Member of Parliament Mr. Madhura Withana represented the government, while Members of Parliament Mr. Champika Ranawaka and Mr. Ajith Mannapperuma represented the Opposition. Additionally, Senior Adviser to the President on Climate Change Mr. Ruwan Wijewardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Director of International Affairs Mr. Dinouk Colomboge, Adviser to the Ministry of Finance Mr. Deshal De Mel, and President’s Private Secretary Ms. Sandra Perera were also present on this occasion.

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Depression in south-west bay of Bengal expected to develop into cyclonic storm




The National Meteorological Centre’s forecasting division has reported that the depression over the South-West Bay of Bengal is set to intensify, evolving into a deep depression within the next 12 hours and further progressing into a cyclonic storm by tomorrow (December 3).

As of the latest update, the depression is situated approximately 490 kilometers North-East of Trincomalee. 

The system is anticipated to move in a West-North-Westward direction, tracking near the North coast of Sri Lanka and progressing towards the North Tamil Nadu coast of India by Tuesday (December 5).

In light of this development, cloudy skies are expected over most parts of the island. 

Showers exceeding 100 mm are forecasted in the Northern, North-Central, Eastern, and North-Western Provinces, as well as other regions of the island after 1:00 p.m.

Strong winds, reaching approximately 50 kmph, are likely over the Northern, North-Central, North-Western, and Southern Provinces, including the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts. 

The public is urged to take necessary precautions to minimize potential damages caused by temporary localized strong winds and lightning during thundershowers. 

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