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Sri Lanka seeks loan repayment moratorium in ongoing debt restructuring talks

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Sri Lanka is seeking a loan repayment moratorium for its US$ 12 billion bilateral debts until 2028 during the ongoing talks in London with bondholders on debt restructuring as the country still grapples to emerge from the economic crisis, a Finance Ministry top official divulged.

A bondholders steering committee is expected to reach an agreement or sign a memorandum of understanding considering a proposal from the government to rework the overseas debt that has been in default since 2022.

The government is asking lenders to accept a plan to defer payments for five years and then pay down the debts from the beginning of 2028 through 2042, the top official said.

China has expressed willingness to continue supporting its financial institutions to actively negotiate with Sri Lanka, maintain close communication with other creditors in the International Monetary Fund, and assist Sri Lanka in financial relief, China’s foreign ministry said in a joint bilateral statement (with Sri Lanka) on Friday.

This statement was issued following the conclusion of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena’s visit to China, where he discussed finalising a debt restructuring deal on the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The two countries also signed nine new agreements amid Sri Lanka’s efforts to restructure and revive its economy.

Finance State Minister Shehan Semasinghe, who accompanied the Prime Minister, noted that Sri Lanka reached an agreement in principle with the EXIM Bank of China, and it could be extended further this year.

China’s Exim Bank had agreed to extend the US$4.5 billion debt servicing for two years starting in 2022 as an immediate contingency measure based on Sri Lanka’s request.

Sri Lanka’s largest bilateral debtors, China with $4.6 billion and India with $1.37 billion, are outside of the Paris Club.

India has already decided to go along with the Paris Club, but China does not want to get onto that platform.

China has given loans to several other countries in the world amounting to around $600 billion, and therefore it cannot consider Sri Lanka for preferential debt treatment, officials said.

Chinese authorities have already informed the government to resume the debt repayment from April 2024, and thereafter they can consider extending some relief.

Sri Lanka’s external debt stock stood at US$ 37.3 billion as of December 2023, bilateral debt at US$ 10.8 billion, multilateral debt at US$ 10.84 billion, and commercial loans at US$ 14.74 billion.

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by sundaytimes.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Shooting incident ‘targeting’ former MP Uddika was self-orchestrated : Police

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Sri Lanka Police says it has been uncovered that the incident where several gunshots had been fired at the vehicle belonging to former Anuradhapura District parliamentarian Uddika Premaratne, had been orchestrated by the actor-turned-politician himself with the assistance of an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in the area.

Speaking during a press conference held in Colombo today (13), the Police Media Spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa said that the suspects connected to the incident have been identified so far following investigations carried out by the CID.

On September 17, 2023, a group of unidentified gunmen had opened fire at Premaratne’s car soon after he returned to his residence in Anuradhapura at around 10:35 p.m. The parliamentarian had managed to escape unharmed.

The perpetrators, who had arrived in a car, were said to have targeted the parliamentarian who was walking towards the house after parking his vehicle. The left rear door glass of Premaratne’s car was damaged in the shooting incident for which the gunmen were believed to have used a pistol.

Anuradhapura police initiated investigations soon after the incident was reported and Special Task Force (STF) personnel were deployed to beef up the security near the MP’s house. Later, investigations into the matter were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

However, the former MP claimed that the existing system within the country was the reason behind the recent shooting incident targeting him.

Speaking in Parliament in this regard, MP Premaratne said that while he believed the system was the cause behind the recent shooting outside his residence, it is also the reason why the country is in the state it is today.

Later on 27 February 2024, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP resigned as a Member of Parliament, following which S.C. Muthukumarana of SLPP was appointed to fill the vacant MP seat.

However, Premaratne was later reported to have flown to Canada, seeking political asylum, which he refuted, and claimed that he was expecting a work visa in Canada.

In 2020, the popular actor was announced as a candidate for the 2020 parliamentary election from the Anuradhapura District as a member of the Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance, a political alliance led by the SLPP formed in 2019. 

He obtained 133,550 votes and won a seat in the 16th Parliament of Sri Lanka.

(adaderana.lk)

(This story, originally published by adaderana.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Apple is the world’s first $1 trillion brand: Kantar

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Kantar BrandZ’s Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2024 has named Apple as the world’s first trillion-dollar brand, holding onto pole position for the third consecutive year. 

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon join Apple atop the rankings, with McDonald’s rounding up the top 5.

Demonstrating how effective AI has become for driving brand value, NVIDIA has lept 18 places to crack the top 10 for the first time, holding sixth position with a 178% year-on-year brand value increase. 

Facebook rejoined the Top 10 after a one-year absence, while Oracle joined the Top 10 for the first time. 

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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