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



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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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign



… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds



Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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