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World Bank set to approve $700 mn. for SL next week?

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The World Bank is likely to approve $700 million in budgetary and welfare support for Sri Lanka at its next board meeting on June 28, sources told Reuters, the biggest funding tranche for the crisis-hit island nation since an IMF deal in March.

The economy of the country of 22 million is expected to shrink 2% this year before returning to growth next year, the government estimates, following last year’s record contraction of 7.8% after foreign exchange reserves hit record lows.

The International Monetary Fund approved a bailout of nearly $3 billion in March, which Sri Lanka expects will bring additional funding of up to $4 billion from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other multilateral agencies.

Of the proposed World Bank funding, $500 million will be for budgetary support and is likely to come in two tranches of $250 million each, one of the sources, from the World Bank, said.

All four sources, from the World Bank and the Sri Lankan finance ministry, sought anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to the media.

The first tranche is likely to be disbursed immediately after board approval with the next possibly in October, as the bank watches the progress of Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring and the first review of the IMF programme, due in September, the World Bank source added.

The remaining $200 million will be earmarked for programmes to assist the poor, whose numbers have doubled to 25% of the population since the onset of the Indian Ocean nation’s worst economic crisis early last year, another World Bank source said.

“Households that have registered for support will be ranked … and the lowest 2 million will be eligible for support,” the source added.

The World Bank and the finance ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reuters)

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

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SL gets new Chief of Staff

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Ranil Wickremesinghe, the President and Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka appointed Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake as the Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Navy effective from 16th January 2024. Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera formally handed over the letter of appointment in this regard to Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake at the Navy Headquarters today (Feb. 21) and expressed his best wishes

Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake is a distinguished past pupil of St. Thomas’ College, Matale. He joined the Sri Lanka Navy in 1987 as an Officer Cadet of 17th intake, in the Executive branch. On successful completion of his basic training from the Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee, he was commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant in 1989. The senior officer completed his Sub Lieutenant Technical Course at the Naval and Maritime Academy in 1992 and specialized in Marine Navigation from the Indian Navy in 1997. Advancing steadily in his professional journey, the senior officer reached the rank of Rear Admiral on 01st July 2021.

He followed his Staff Course at the prestigious US Naval War College in 2005 and obtained his Master’s Degree in Maritime Policy from the University of Wollongong, Australia in 2017. In addition, he followed the National Defence Course (NDC) in Military Science and Security Studies at the National Defence University of China and was conferred an MSc. Further, he followed the Regional Maritime Security Course at the Naval War College Goa, India in 2016.

In recognition of his noble service rendered to the motherland, Rear Admiral Rathnayake has been awarded Rana Wickrama Padakkama as well as Rana Sura Padakkama twice for his gallantry. Moreover, he has also been awarded the Uththama Sewa Padakkama (USP), for his unblemished character and devotion to the duty. Rear Admiral Rathnayake has been issued 04 Letters of Commendation by Commanders of the Navy for outstanding performance of the duty and exceptional contributions to the naval service.

Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake has had the privilege of commanding various Fast Attack Craft, Ships and Establishments in the Sri Lanka Navy. Among some of the other appointments he held; Commodore Sea Training and Principal Merchant Marine Training School, Director Naval Policy and Plan, Commander Southeastern Naval Area, Commander North Central Naval Area and Director General Operations stood prominent.

Prior to being appointed as Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Navy, he was discharging duties as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Navy Headquarters. Further, the senior officer is a talented sportsman in Squash and a level 1 coach and an international referee in Squash as well.

(Source: Sri Lanka Navy)

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SL to stop sending women overseas as housemaids

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The Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara has urged the management of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment and the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies to submit a set of proposals to completely stop sending Sri Lankan women overseas to work as housemaids.

He has said this yesterday (Feb. 20).

The Minister has emphasized the importance of halting the usual practice of sending women for overseas employment as domestic workers and sending them for foreign jobs in high paying skilled categories instead.

The Minister has said that the proposals should include views and suggestions of all stakeholders in the sector.

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Special commodity levy on several items, upped

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A government notification has been issued, increasing the special commodity levy imposed on several items including black grams, green grams and cowpeas.

As such, the special commodity levy on black grams (skinned, either split or not) has been increased to Rs. 300 per kilogram. 

Meanwhile, the tax on green grams, cowpeas, Kurakkan (seeds), Kurakkan (other), millet (seeds) and millet (other) has been raised from Rs. 70 to Rs. 300.

In addition, a special commodity levy of Rs. 25 is in place on maize.

The communiqué, issued by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance Minister, says the order is valid from February 20, 2024 through December 31, 2024.

It also notes that importation of maize, black grams, green grams, and Kurakkan is allowed on the recommendation of the Agriculture Ministry.

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