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GL highlights need for WB ‘debt forgiveness’ in current emergency situation

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G 20 Interfaith Forum:

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has the countries struggling to cope with immense difficulties due to the raging Covid-19 epidemic could receive huge relief if the World Bank agreed to a policy of debt forgiveness.

Prof. Peiris was speaking at the Ministerial Sessions on ‘Foreign Policy and Religion’ at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Bologna, Italy.

The Minister said: “Today, reference was made to COVID-19 and the responses to that. Look at the Bretton Woods institutions. The Bretton Woods institutions were also fashioned in a certain political context that is the end of the Second World War but the world has changed a great deal since then. But those institutions remain largely as they were. Now the developing world in particular, if the World Bank, for example, were to agree to a policy of debt forgiveness in the excruciatingly difficult circumstances that we have today, then countries that are developing would be able to use their own scarce resources for projects connected with the welfare of their populations. Now take my own country Sri Lanka. We normally earn 4.2 billion dollars a year from tourism. That has come almost to a complete stop. Then our trade relations have been affected. Money coming into the Sri Lankan Treasury from the efforts of our expatriates working abroad in countries like Italy has been affected. So in that situation, if the World Bank were to agree to a policy of debt forgiveness, I think that would greatly accelerate and facilitate the economic development of our countries.”

Questioning the status of the UN system, Prof. Peiris asked whether the world body is functioning today in the manner that was envisaged by the founding fathers. “If you look at the seminal documents of the United Nations system- the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration of Human Rights- are we really behaving in the manner that was envisioned by these sacrosanct instruments? I don’t think one could sincerely answer that question in the affirmative.”

Prof. Peiris added: “Then look at the composition of the Security Council. Does that in any way reflect the reality of the modern world? It does not. It reflects a certain balance of powers that was only realistic at the conclusion of the Second World War. But today there are other emerging powers. I won’t name countries but the entire organisation needs to be basically overhauled to bring it in line with contemporary realities. The Economic and Social Council needs to be strengthened. Again, there has to be an emphasis on equality, on human dignity. The whole world, not a section of the world. It is not one section – affluent, powerful, dominating the rest of the world and using the United Nations system as an instrument for their domination. That is what creates a certain lack of confidence in the organs and the structures associated with the United Nations system. So I think these are some of the critical issues, imperative issues that we need to address at this time.”



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Two-year reconciliation project spurns Lord Naseby’s disclosure

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EU, Germany funded scheme costs Rs. 8 mn

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Peace Council (NPC) says war-related matters hadn’t been discussed at the nearly two-year-long reconciliation project that brought together students from Eastern, Jaffna, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa Universities.

More than 160 students have participated in the project that culminated with a conference on the theme of ‘Plural Sri Lanka: Paths to reconciliation.’ Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris delivered the closing address and responded to questions from the audience.

Pointing out that post-war reconciliation efforts had been badly hampered by allegations that the Sri Lankan military killed over 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front, The Island sought clarification as regards measures taken by the NPC to improve relations among the communities, and the following questions were raised:

The Island:

During your two-year long project did participants discuss specific war crimes allegations and disclosure made in the House of Lords in Oct 2017 that contradicted unsubstantiated accusations pertaining to 40,000 civilian deaths.

Executive Director NPC Dr. Jehan Perera:

“No, we did not discuss these war-related matters. The project was titled “Creative Youth Engagement for Pluralism” and it focused on the nature of Sri Lanka as a plural society and the value framework that should guide it.  The research papers highlighted the diversity within Sri Lankan society that goes beyond ethnicity and religion.  They included topics such as “Attitudes of Society on Education and Transsexuality: A Comparative Study on the Ideologies of a Community with Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Education,” and “Pluralism and University Subculture: An Ethnological Study on Young Behavior towards Social Cohesion,” and “An Investigative Study of the Challenges Posed by the Changes in the Aboriginal Society.”

The Island:

What is the total cost of the project?

The NPC

: Rs 8 million was spent to train and mentor the writers of the 30 research publications in four universities, translate, review and publish their findings in book form and for the conference which brought the students to Colombo.

Question 3:

What is the GoSL’s contribution?

The NPC:

There was no direct financial support by the government. Four state universities supported through their faculty members and students.

The Island: What is the NPC’s stand on accountability resolution and announcement made in Geneva that the Sri Lankan military would be subjected to a fresh inquiry?

The NPC:

In order to get out of these allegations, there is a need for a credible and independent investigation. Our preference is for a national mechanism that is acceptable to all sides.  Accountability will need to be a part of the reconciliation process.  NPC favours the restorative justice approach which focuses on ensuring justice to victims. This includes an acknowledgement of wrongs done and reparations and institutional reform to ensure that there is non-recurrence. 

 The Island: Are you also engaged in post-war reconciliation projects funded by Norway?

The NPC:

NPC hasn’t obtained funds from Norway for the past five years.

The recently concluded project has been funded by a project called Strengthening Reconciliation Process here jointly funded by the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by Deutsche Gesellsschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the British Council in partnership with the Sri Lankan Government.

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Speaker promises to appoint bi-partisan committee to look into incidents in Parliament

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced in Parliament yesterday (06) that a committee consisting of senior members from the Government and Opposition would be appointed within the week to look into the incidents that took place in Parliament last Friday and Saturday and submit a report.

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High Court Trial-at-Bar orders release of several accused from 11 charges in CB bond auction case

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By AJA Abeynayake

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday ordered the release of several accused, including former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke and former Central Bank former Governor Arjuna Mahendra, from 11 charges out of 22 in connection with the Central Bank bond auction held on 31 March, 2016.

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar held that public property charges against the accused could not be maintained. Indictments had been filed against Perpetual Treasuries Private Ltd (PTL), former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke, CBSL former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) beneficiary owner Arjun Aloysius, PTL Chief dealer Kasun Palisena, Chairman of PTL Jeffrey Joseph Aloysius, Chitta Ranjan Hulugalle, Muthuraja Surendran, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa and Badugoda Hewa Indika Saman Kumara in connection with bond auction held on March 31, 2016.

The case against seventh accused Ranjan Hulugalle was dismissed on preliminary objections raised.

President’s Counsel Anil Silva, Counsel Asela Serasinghe, Hafeel Farisz, Sahan Kulatunga and Vishwaka Peiris appeared for the seventh accused.

The Attorney General’s stance regarding the future cause of action to be informed on 26 Jan. 2022.

The Attorney General had alleged that the PTL had been using the Central Bank’s important undisclosed information to alter the final outcome of the Treasury bond auction and it had a huge impact on the overall national economy as a result of the subtle; the systematic conduct of the offences related to the fraud and had caused injustice to other primary sellers in the bond market, and the PTL had acted cunningly and made a huge profit and conspired to cause a huge loss to the government.

The case was postponed until 26 Jan. 2022.

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