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Minister urges to delay LG polls until stability returns 



ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka should avoid the Local Government polls and put more effort in to carry on necessary reforms and bring the country to a stable state, State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage said.

Most of the ruling coalition members as well as President Ranil Wickremesinghe are not in favour of elections amid speculations over possible defeat which could hit the ongoing reform process.

“Nobody in the World would go for an election at a time like this. Who really wants an election in the country when the general public has not asked for an election?,” Gamage told the parliament on Thursday.

“Does the general public need an election right now, when the country is undergoing a massive economic crisis and when we can’t give any relief to these people”.

The opposition is worried that the election spending bill passed on Thursday could be used to delay the Local Government polls.The Bill seeks to regulate election campaign financing.

Since being elected as the President through the parliament vote, Wickremesinghe has raised taxes and announced some reforms including slashing government spending. The moves have already hit the average household amid over 57 percent inflation.

Sources close to Wickremesinghe have said the President has not been in favour of “any elections” this year as the tough reforms are expected to be implemented along with a $2.9 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

Many political analysts see a possible defeat to both Wickremesinghe’s center-right United National Party (UNP) and ruling nationalist Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Such defeat could slow the reforms and IMF loan, they say.

Questioning the development done by Local Governments bodies in the past five years, Gamage said the state will lose another 12.6 billion rupees for the election and salaries.

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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration




It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives



Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”



Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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