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SL to secure likely 6-yr. moratorium on debt owed to India, Paris Club

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Sri Lanka is close to finalising a debt treatment plan with India and the Paris Club, sources familiar with the negotiations said, pointing to a likely moratorium of upto six years and a reduced interest rate during the repayment period.

“The discussions are at an advanced stage. A formal agreement on the terms can be expected very soon,” the Colombo-based source told The Hindu on Thursday, after a recent discussion among members of the Official Creditor Committee [OCC].

As many as 17 countries that have extended loans to Sri Lanka formed the Committee last year for ease of debt restructuring negotiations. China opted to stay out of the platform, but has been attending its meetings as an observer. Meanwhile, Colombo has repeatedly assured the OCC that it would negotiate repayment of Chinese loans on comparable terms.

Finalising agreements with the official creditors and reaching “in principle” agreements with the key private creditors would be “critical next steps” in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery plan, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday. After defaulting on its nearly $ 50 billion external debt in April 2022, Sri Lanka has been engaging with its diverse lenders to work out a debt treatment plan that is compatible with its pace of recovery. While Colombo is said to have made considerable progress in negotiating a deal with its bilateral creditors, private creditors holding the largest chunk of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt continue to pose a challenge.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka got a step closer to receiving the next instalment of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) assistance, as part of the $3 billion package it obtained last year, to recover from the unprecedented financial crash witnessed in the island nation in 2022. Authorities reached a staff-level agreement with the Fund on the second review of its four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement. Upon completion of the IMF Executive Board’s review, Sri Lanka would have access to about US$337 million, taking IMF assistance it has received so far to $1 billion, the Fund said in a statement.

Commending Sri Lankan authorities for “making good progress” in implementing an “ambitious” reform agenda, IMF officials told a media gathering in Colombo that the government had shown “commendable outcomes”, in curtailing inflation, ensuring reserve accumulation, and strengthening public finances.

(The Hindu)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by ‘The Hindu’, has not been edited by SLM staff)

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IMF approves Sri Lanka program review

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The International Monetary Fund has approved a review of Sri Lanka’s program, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry has said.

On a X post, he has said, “This achievement is a testament to our dedication to driving forward economic reforms and securing a prosperous future for all Sri Lankans.”

According to the State Minister of Finance – Shehan Semasinghe, “a favorable outcome from the review is expected to unlock the 3rd tranche of approximately USD 330 million”.

The IMF had earlier said Sri Lanka had made “sufficient progress” on debt restructuring for a review on June 12, despite final deals pending with bilateral creditors and private creditors.

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Another probe related to Easter Sunday attacks

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the actions taken by the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Chief of National Intelligence (CNI), and other relevant authorities concerning prior intelligence received about the bomb attacks on April 21, 2019. This decision follows the findings of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry, dated January 31, 2021, which highlighted that Indian Intelligence agencies and other sources had provided advance warnings about the impending attacks.

The Committee of Inquiry will be chaired by Ms. A.N.J. De Alwis, Retired Judge of the High Court. Other esteemed members of the committee include SLAS special grade Officer Ms. K.N.K. Somaratne and Senior Lawyer Mr. W.M.A.N. Nishane, AAL. 

The committee’s mandate includes examining whether actions or measures were taken by the SIS, CNI, and other relevant authorities based on the prior information or intelligence on an impending attack on April 21, 2019 by Indian intelligence agencies and any other sources and if so, adequacy of the actions and measure taken by the SIS, CNI and other relevant authorities. 

Additionally, the committee will investigate the circumstances surrounding the Directorate of Military Intelligence’s (DMI) and Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) initial belief that the Vavunathivu killing of two police officers on November 30, 2018, was connected to the LTTE. This belief was held for four months before suspects with alleged links to the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) were identified.

A compact disk containing the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Bomb Attacks of April 21, 2019, has been provided to the committee. The President has authorized the committee to inquire relevant officials and examine pertinent documents to thoroughly investigate these matters.

Ms. Sarathanjali Manoharan, Senior Assistant Secretary to the President, will serve as the Secretary to the Committee of Inquiry. The committee is expected to submit its report, including findings and recommendations, to the President by September 15, 2024.

(President’s Media Division)

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New, free train ride for pilgrims visiting Mihintale (Video)

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Cabinet Spokesman Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena has said that a new short train ride between Anuradhapura and Mihintale will be arranged for pilgrims during the Poson season.

He said this at the Cabinet briefing held today (June 12) at the Government Information Department.

Since work on the Northern railway line have been delayed, 400 special buses will be deployed to Anuradhapura instead during the Poson season, he added.

Noting that a special railway line from Anuradhapura to Mihintale has been reconstructed,  the minister said that Sri Lanka Railways has been directed to arrange special, free train rides on this line for pilgrims.

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