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“A friend in need is a friend indeed”: Sri Lanka’s praise for India

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India had helped Sri Lanka more than any other country, especially, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said during Raisina Dialogue ‘Ideas Pod.’

While the Indian government took some bold decisions to help Sri Lanka face its economic crisis, even the Indian public came forward to support Sri Lanka, the country’s foreign minister said in the podcast released on Tuesday.

Sabry said, “Your real friends are tested when bad times come. India has stood by us, a friend in need and a friend indeed that they say. So we are very grateful to India, for what it has done for us.”The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister also stated that the Indian government took some

very bold, decisive actions by providing the island nation with about 3.9 billion worth of bilateral credit and accreditation. He further stated that it is the line which gave Sri Lanka the lifeline to fight the battle for another day, which probably saved the bankrupt country from oblivion.

Recalling India’s effort in saving Sri Lanka from drowning in the debt, Sabry said that India comes at the very beginning. He further stated that India’s intervention was higher than the others countries.

India sent financing assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), becoming the first of Sri Lanka’s creditors to officially back the crisis-hit island nation’s debt restructuring programme.

“This takes Sri Lanka one step closer to getting a crucial USD 2.9-billion package from the IMF, made contingent on “receiving financing assurances from Sri Lanka’s official creditors and making a good faith effort to reach a collaborative agreement with private creditors,” Sabry said.

Sri Lankan foreign affairs minister was on an official visit to New Delhi to attend Raisina Dialogue – 2023, India’s premier conference on geopolitics and geo-economics, jointly hosted by the Observer Research Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs of India from March 2-4.

Notably, China, Japan, and India are Sri Lanka’s three largest bilateral lenders.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in January visited Sri Lanka and said that India is committed to increasing investment flows to Sri Lanka to hasten its economic recovery.

Talking regarding the IMF bailout package at Raisina Dialogue ‘Ideas Pod’, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister said, ” Yeah, I think it will help out in the sense when it comes to IMF bailing out of a country which has been declared bankrupt or otherwise, it had been declared as unsustainable of paying the debt. There are two components.

“One is you have to get debt assurances from the bilaterals which is not challenging. And as far as the IMF pre-actions that we need to take in terms of the staff level agreement we have taken all those things of 15 of them for example cost, reflective pricing, more revenue basis and then independent central bank. So many of those things we have done,” Sabry said.

“I think those things we could have done or should have done with or without IMF, which is good for the country, though it is not very popular. But the problem is how to sell these reforms to the people because it will directly affect them. All these files, what we have done is used printing machine to print the money and then inflation resulted in that giving hope to people,” he added.

He further stated that IMF will bring a lot of confidence to the country. It will probably give the island nation access back to the financial market as well as it will also open up an investment which was ceased last year or so.

Sri Lanka sank into a financial crisis after the COVID-19 pandemic affected tourism and remittances from citizens working abroad fell. The war in Ukraine escalated the crisis as prices for imports, particularly fuel, rose sharply due to soaring inflation.

With worsening fuel and medicine shortages, thousands of protestors took to streets and stormed government buildings leading to President Gotabaye Rajapakse to flee the country and send in his resignation from abroad in July last year.

Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected President of the island country on July after defeating his main rival, Dullus Alahapperuma, with 134 votes to 82 in a parliamentary vote. Source – NDTV



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High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka meets with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament & Secretary-General of Parliament

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Michael Appelton, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka, accompanied by Andrew Traveller, Deputy High Commissioner, met with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle MP, and Secretary-General of Parliament, Kushani Rohanadeera, recently.

During the meeting, the Ambassador emphasized that gender equality in politics is vital for the achievement of peaceful societies, the realization of full human potential, and sustainable development. He also stated that they have taken several initiatives to ensure equal women’s participation in the New Zealand Parliament.

Dr. Fernandopulle, MP, shared her concerns regarding the lack of gender sensitivity in Sri Lankan politics. She drew attention to the urgent need for a more inclusive political framework that ensures equal representation and participation for women.

The Secretary-General of Parliament affirmed that Parliament has taken actions to increase youth and women’s representation in committees and is currently working on improving disability access to Parliament.

 

 

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Climate Change University to be launched next year

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At the briefing on the progress of Climate Change and Green Growth held on Wednesday (31) at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and officials of the Climate Change Secretariat led by President’s Adviser on Climate Change  Ruwan Wijewardene it was revealed that the Climate Change University would be launched next year and that the University Grants Commission had  identified approximately 130 scientists who have gained international recognition for their research on climate change who, together with their international affiliations would be brought together as part of the initiative.

President Wickremesinghe expressing  his perspective on the International Climate Change University, emphasized that it should be a post-graduate institution solely focused on research which does not offer undergraduate courses. Any country or organization that contributes to the university becomes a stakeholder and gains membership on the Board of Governance. The Korean Exim Bank has expressed interest in partnering with the university and  negotiations between Sri Lanka and the Korea Exim Bank, led by the External Resource Department have concluded successfully. The President said that prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT have also expressed interest in collaboration.

The discussions also revolved around inviting a group of international experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tentatively scheduled for July/August to engage in policy conversations, addressing global issues, and exploring potential research projects that could be derived from these policy dialogues.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized that all future research in the field of climate change should be conducted at this institution.

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IUSF threatens showdown

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By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

The university system is facing a grave crisis as around 40 percent of the lecturers have left the state education system, says the Convenor of the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Madushan Chandrajith.

Chandrajith said the ‘exodus’ of top academics would lead to a massive drop in the quality of education as most of those who have left are among the cream of scholars.Chandrajith said that about one-third of students in state universities, eligible for hostel facilities, did not have access to them.He warned that the IUSF will organise massive protests, in the coming weeks, if steps are not taken to resolve the many issues in the University system.

While the Mahapola scholarship has not been increased, the prices of food in the hostels have risen dramatically, he said.

“About 2,500 students in Kelaniya, 4,000 students in Rajarata and 6,000 in Peradeniya do not have hostel accommodation,” he went on to say..According to Chandrajith, a student needs about Rs 20,000 a month to meet basic needs.

“One requires about Rs 12,000 a month for food alone,” he said.

A senior official at the Ministry of Public Administration told The Island that some lecturers and doctors had a 100 percent attendance record but they avoided work.

“They are responsible for the attendance registry and they cook up the books to have full attendance. They take a lot of OT payments by doing this. We are looking at introducing a digital mechanism to mark attendance at universities and hospitals,” he said.

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