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FM highlights importance of adequate funding for developing countries to overcome challenges to achieving SDGs

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Sri Lanka has reiterated the call of the Group of 77 for adequate funding for development initiatives, enabling the developing countries to overcome the multifaceted challenges that hinder the achievement of the SDGs amidst the current global situation due to the pandemic.

Issuing a statement for the 44th Annual Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena noted that the unprecedented consequences arising from the current health crisis has spilled over to economies, as reflected globally by exacerbating the vulnerabilities in trade, tourism, investment, and employment, and Especially, developing countries are facing an additional burden.

In this context, the Minister recalled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s call to the international community at the Financing for Development Conference, for debt relief and to adopt fiscal policies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

The Forty-Fourth Annual Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 was held virtually on Thursday (12 November), chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

The interactive dialogue was held on the theme “Major priority issues and the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the obstacles it poses to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and achievement of the SDGs”.

In a video statement, Minister Gunawardena highlighted the strong mandate given by the people of Sri Lanka to the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa both at the presidential election and the general election, for his Vision for Prosperity and Splendor that gives confidence to Sri Lanka to commit further to the goals of the G-77.

He noted that Sri Lanka’s commitment to achieve the SDGs was reflected in the appointment of a Working Group to study the current status of Sri Lanka’s implementation and progress of the SDGs.

Sri Lanka’s Presidential Task Force in charge of Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication operates with the objective of creating a production economy promoting local industries. The Government has granted financial relief to over six million families and vulnerable groups and established a COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund. We underscore the priority of making available a vaccine for COVID-19 to all.

The Foreign Minister further underscored the platform provided by the Group to developing countries in articulating and promoting collective interests on all major international economic issues within the UN system and in promoting South-South cooperation for development.

“Poverty remains a great obstacle for the development of the Members States and we share the commitment of this Group to eradicate poverty in all its forms,” he said.

He also recalled the original contribution of Sri Lanka’s Economists, led by Dr. Gamani Corea, former Secretary General of UNCTAD, in mobilizing support for South-South cooperation.

Minister Gunawardena congratulated the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, of Guyana for his stewardship of the Group, who made the key note address. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations also addressed the Meeting.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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