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India eases pressure on SLPP govt. by delivering 40,000MT of diesel

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The government yesterday (03) announced that it could substantially reduce the duration of power cuts after Sri Lanka received a consignment of 40,000 MT of diesel, under the Indian Line of Credit of US$500 million, on Saturday.

Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay handed over the consignment to Energy Minister Gamini Lokuge in Colombo. The Indian High Commission spokesperson issued the following statement in this connection: “This is the fourth consignment, under the fuel Line of Credit, with previous deliveries on 16 March, 20 March and 23 March respectively. With today’s consignment, the total fuel delivered to the people of Sri Lanka, over the last 50 days, amounts to nearly 200,000 MT including a consignment of 40,000 MT, by Indian Oil Corporation, outside the line of credit facility, in February 2022.

Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Gopal Baglay characterized the fuel deliveries as a concrete manifestation of India’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka in the current circumstances, in line with the Neighbourhood First Policy. Energy Minister Gamini Lokuge thanked the Government of India for the fuel consignments. Earlier, on 23 March, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the recent Indian economic development assistance and credit facilities to Sri Lanka and said he expected the Indian Government would pay special attention to Sri Lanka’s development in the future as well.

It may be recalled that the Export Import Bank of India and the Government of Sri Lanka signed a US$ 500 million Line of Credit Agreement for purchase of petroleum products on 2 February 2022. The Agreement was signed by Treasury Secretary, Mr. S.R. Attygalle, from the Sri Lankan side, and Chief General Manager of EXIM Bank, Mr. Gaurav Bhandari, from the Indian side.

Further, in response to a separate and urgent request from the Government of Sri Lanka, extension of a credit facility of USD 1 billion for supply of essential items, including food and medicines, has been finalised and the first shipments of rice, under this facility, is expected to reach Sri Lanka soon. Earlier in January this year, India had provided financial assistance to Sri Lanka that included a credit swap of US$ 400 million and deferment of an Asian Clearing Union payment of over US$ 515 million. In cumulative terms, Indian support to the people of Sri Lanka, in the first quarter of 2022, is in excess of US$ 2.5 billion.

In view of the urgent nature of Sri Lanka’s requirement, India worked overtime to expeditiously finalise and start implementing both the lines of credit, within weeks.

The Government of India also continues to encourage efforts towards medium to long term capacity creation through enhanced Indian investment in Sri Lanka in key sectors that include ports, renewable energy, manufacturing, etc.”



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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