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WB urges GoSL to stay the course on reforms for recovery

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World Bank Managing Director for Operations, Anna Bjerde, concluded her four-day visit to Sri Lanka today, encouraging the Government of Sri Lanka to stay the course on reforms for recovery and sustainable growth. 

She also underscored the World Bank’s continuous commitment to investing in people, strengthening human capital, and creating jobs.

Bjerde met with Sri Lanka’s President and Minister of Finance – Ranil Wickremesinghe, cabinet ministers, representatives of opposition parties, civil society, private sector, development partners, and World Bank project beneficiaries.

She participated in a roundtable hosted by the President with key ministers, private sector representatives, and development partners—including members of the MDB+ platform, which includes Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and bilateral development partners. The platform enables member institutions to coordinate their engagement with Sri Lanka. The roundtable focused on Sri Lanka’s progress on structural reforms, mobilizing private capital for development, supporting job creation, human capital development, and regional cooperation.

As Sri Lanka recovers from a series of unprecedented shocks with devastating impacts, it is crucial to stay the course on sound and timely reforms in order to stabilize the economy while fostering economic growth that can attract investment, generate jobs, protect the poorest and most vulnerable, and build resilience to future crises. But equally important is the need to strengthen governance, citizen engagement, and social cohesion, a must for inclusive growth,” said Bjerde.

Her trip included visits to World Bank-supported projects in the Northern and North Central Provinces related to agriculture, health, climate change, private sector development, and financial inclusion for women.

“During my visit, I heard about the challenges Sri Lankans face. Skilled professionals are leaving the country, farmers are struggling to cope with a changing climate, and entrepreneurs are constrained by a lack of investment and access to credit. But I also saw huge opportunities to scale up climate-smart agriculture, harness renewable energy, boost entrepreneurship, promote competitiveness and regional connectivity,” added Bjerde. “The World Bank will continue to support Sri Lanka on its journey to recovery, connecting farmers to markets, strengthening access to healthcare, boosting innovation, pursuing transformation through infrastructure investments, and creating quality jobs for women and youth.”

The World Bank has been a partner to Sri Lanka for more than 70 years, providing financial and knowledge support to the country.

At the onset of the economic crisis in May 2022, the World Bank moved fast to help protect the people of Sri Lanka—particularly the poor and vulnerable—from the worst impacts by repurposing funds from the existing portfolio. In addition, the World Bank was one of the earliest responders to the crisis and initiated a coordination platform with the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to align emergency assistance to help sustain basic services and commodities.

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Man arrested over selling overpriced Vadai to tourist

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The Tourist Police in Moragolla has arrested a man over selling an overpriced Vadai and tea to a foreign  tourist in Kalutara.

Footage of the incident had sparked public ire after going viral online.

It has been revealed that the suspect is a 60 year old residing in Kalutara and is usually seen loitering near the eatery.

Police say that investigtations have revealed that he had duped foreigners visiting the eatery many times.

He is to be produced before the Kalutara Magistrate Court tomorrow (April 19).

It is also reported that officials of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) and the Moragolla Tourist police have also arrived at the eatery, and sternly advised the owner after questioning him.

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NPP’s 7-point statement on Easter attacks, presented to the Cardinal

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The National People’s Power (NPP) today (April 18) presented to Archbishop of Colombo – Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, their 7-point statement pledging to mete out justice to the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks.

The statement included key points such as implementing law against those responsible for the attacks so as to mete out justice to those who lost lives in the attacks and family members of the victims and to take action against those who were directly or indirectly involved in the attacks.

NPP members Professor Krishantha Abeysinghe, Attorney-at-Law Sunil Watagala, President’s Counsel Upul Kumarapperuma, Rohan Fernando and Aruna Shantha Nonis participated in the occasion.

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IMF ready to support Sri Lanka’s discussions with bondholders

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stands ready to support Sri Lanka’s discussions with international bondholders and will provide a formal assessment after the parties reach a tentative agreement-in-principle, an IMF spokesperson said on Thursday.

“We hope an agreement consistent with the parameters of the IMF-supported program and official creditors’ Comparability of Treatment requirements can be reached soon, ahead of completing the second review under the program,” the spokesperson said.

Sri Lanka said it failed to reach an agreement with bondholders to restructure about $12 billion debt earlier this week, raising concerns there could be a delay in the island nation receiving a third tranche of its $2.9 billion IMF program in June.

The government said one of the main stumbling blocks had been that the “baseline parameters” of the bondholders’ plan had not matched those embedded in its IMF program.

“We encourage both parties to continue their discussions swiftly,” the IMF statement added.

Sri Lanka will consult with the IMF to assess if the latest proposals discussed with bondholders were within the parameters of its bailout program.
The island nation defaulted on its foreign debt in May 2022 and kicked off negotiations with bilateral creditors several months later, eventually securing an agreement in principle with China, India and the Paris Club last November.

Sri Lanka plunged into its worst financial crisis since independence from the British in 1948 after its foreign exchange reserves fell to record lows in early 2022, leaving it unable to pay for essentials including fuel, cooking gas, and medicine.

(Reuters) 

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