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Lanka’s exports to China up by 111.2% so far this year



Sri Lanka’s exports to China is up by 111.2% so far this year, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong said yesterday in a statement. He said that the two nations have been standing together and helping each other in the fighting against the pandemic.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka’s GDP achieved growth of 8% in the first half of this year, Zhenhong said the cooperation between two countries in trade, investment, finance, etc., also bore fruitful results, with the value of bilateral trade in goods up by 54.7% year on year for the first three quarters

“Major cooperation projects especially the Hambantota Port and Port City Colombo becoming new magnets to attract foreign investment. China looks forward to joining hands with Sri Lanka in defeating the Pandemic and promoting bilateral pragmatic cooperation to achieve new breakthroughs in the days to come; China is also willing to share development opportunities and draw up a blueprint for development with countries around the world to achieve greater and better development,” he said.

Zhenhong said that the Chinese economy is thriving despite the threat of the pandemic and that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached 82.31 trillion yuan in the first three quarters of 2021. This is a 9.8% increase over the same period last year at comparable prices, with an average two-year growth of 5.2%.

“Despite the continuous impact of COVID-19 worldwide, China’s economy was growing steadily. Its optimised and upgraded economy showed extraordinary resilience to pressure, contributed significantly to the stabilisation and restoration of the global supply chain, and injected much-needed confidence and impetus into the current world economy with uncertainty,” he said.

The Ambassador said that Sri Lanka can benefit from this thriving economy by increasing exports to identified areas. Admittedly, the Chinese economy is also faced with some challenges, including the unbalanced and inadequate development, factors restricting investment and consumer demand, structural contradiction of employment, uncertainty caused by the pandemic situation globally, and international commodity prices running high, etc., he said. However, these do not take from the indicators that the coming years would be good for the Chinese economy.

“China is striving to build a new development pattern with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and the domestic and international cycles reinforcing each other. The economic fundamentals that will sustain stable and long-term growth remain unchanged: major macro indicators have stayed within a reasonable range and the national economy maintains the trend of recovery; the economic structure has been adjusted and optimized and the quality and efficiency of development are improved; the deepening of reform and opening-up is advancing and economic development is getting stronger momentum; residents’ income continues to grow and people’s livelihood gets powerful and effective support.” he said.

Given below are excerpts from the statement: “First, the consumer price index (CPI) was at a relatively low level (up by 0.6% year on year). Prices of daily necessities were stable with a slight decline and food prices have dropped by 1.6%. Second, employment was generally stable. 10.45 million new jobs were created in urban areas, achieving 95% of this year’s target; surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5.2%. Third, steady progress was witnessed in the development of industries. The total output of summer grain and early rice increased by 3.69 million tons compared to last year and the sown area for autumn grain also expanded. The value added of high-tech manufacturing industry increased by 20.1% year on year with an average two-year growth of 12.8%. Fourth, foreign trade and investment grew rapidly. The trade value of goods increased by 22.7% year on year in the first three quarters, with widened trade surplus and optimized trade structure. Paid-in foreign investment continued to increase (up by 22.3% for the first eight months) and foreign exchange reserves remained stable, maintaining above USD 3.2 trillion for five consecutive months. Fifth, there was sustained recovery of domestic demand. Investment in the manufacturing industry and private investment achieved average two-year growth of 3.3% and 3.7% respectively. The per capita disposable income rose by 9.7% year on year, basically in line with GDP growth. Sixth, innovation and entrepreneurship gained sound momentum. China has moved up and ranks the 12th in WIPO’s “Global Innovation Index 2021″. Market entities have increased rapidly, with a total number of nearly 150 million and the overall level of activity around 70%. Seventh, the development vitality of enterprises was stimulated. For the first eight months, the value added of medium-sized industrial enterprises and micro and small ones above designated size increased by 16.3% and 14.1% year on year respectively and the total profit of industrial enterprises above designated size recorded an average two-year growth of 19.5%. Eighth, financing cost in general has been steadily decreasing. From January to August, the corporate loan interest rate was 4.63%, down by 0.13% over the same period of last year.”

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Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.

Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.

“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.

Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.

The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.

“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.

About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.

Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.

“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.

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JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party



By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.

“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.

He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.

“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.

Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.

“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.

When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.

He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.

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Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code



by Ifham Nizam

Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.

The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.

It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.

The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.

However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.

Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.

The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.

The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.

PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.

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