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Lanka awaits statement from external creditors



CBSL Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe

By Sanath Nanayakkare

Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said in Colombo on Tuesday that the country would be awaiting an ‘important statement’ from its external creditors following a presentation made to them on Friday, laying out the full extent of the country’s economic crisis and plans for debt restructuring in the run-up to an International Monetary Fund bailout.

Earlier, the Finance Ministry said in a statement that the online call arranged by legal firm Clifford Chance on 23 Sept. would be open to all of Sri Lanka’s external creditors and be ‘an interactive session’ in which participants can ask questions.

“We have to obtain financial assurances collectively from our bilateral and other creditors that they are willing to support Sri Lanka in its debt restructuring process for the IMF Executive Board to start disbursing funds to Sri Lanka,” the Central Bank Governor said.

“That assurance is the next crucial step for us to get from our international creditors, friends and partners for us to be able to demonstrate that they will be supporting Sri Lanka in its debt restructuring plans and its IMF programme,” he said.

“That is what we are going to do from Friday onwards and we will be seeking that important statement from them. All our friendly countries have been helping at this difficult time. However, we need to lay out the restructuring plan in an open and transparent manner so that everyone will clearly see what they and what others are offered in the process. Hopefully they will give us that assurance and the sooner we get it the better. That’s the time-frame. A lot of people ask me how long it would take. I have to say that it depends on our international partners; as soon as they give us necessary financial assurances, the IMF can start disbursing the four-year extended fund facility to Sri Lanka. Then there will be a lot of investors as well as other valued partners such as the World Bank to enhance their support to Sri Lanka from that point onwards.

That I hope will be a crucial turning point for us to stabilize the economy.”

The Governor also pointed out that the people would have to go through a difficult period as the economy has contracted.

“We have had to manage our imports within our export incomes, and we also have to manage through way too high interest rates and slowing down of economic activities. These have to be dealt with while protecting the most affected vulnerable sections of the society, and in this context, others will have to bear some of the pain. That’s why we have had to take some difficult measures while ensuring the pain would not be too substantial. Once we get the assurances from our creditors for the restructuring plan and subsequently the approval from the Executive Board, I am very confident that we can stabilise the economy and we all can gradually get back to normal economic and business activities as we used to do in the past.”

Meanwhile, India said on Tuesday it had started bilateral discussions with Sri Lanka on restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt. The first round was held on Sept. 16 in a cordial atmosphere that showed India’s support for an early conclusion and approval of an International Monetary Fund loan programme for Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile a news report in The Hindu on Sept. 20 titled ‘China keeps Pakistan, Sri Lanka waiting on loan deals’ said: “While Japan and India have been very supportive of the IMF process from the beginning, all eyes are on China as to how it would react to debt restructuring with Sri Lanka”.

However, Beijing in response to Sri Lanka’s IMF agreement had earlier made a statement favorable to Colombo as a ‘traditional friendly neighbour’ of Sri Lanka and a ‘major shareholder’ of the IMF. It said that China has always been encouraging the IMF and other international financial institutions to continue to play a positive role in supporting Sri Lanka’s response to its current difficulties and its efforts to ease debt burden and realise sustainable development.


President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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