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No objection from CB chief to tabling IMF deal:Speaker

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s central bank chief has informed the speaker of parliament that he has no objections to presenting the country’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) though doing so is a decision up to the minister of finance.Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena informed parliament Friday September 09 morning that Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe had communicated this to him in a discussion the two had held on the matter.

“He said he has no objections about presenting it, and he is prepared to present the report anytime, but it is a decision that ultimately rests with the minister of finance. The reason for this is that there are certain sensitive proposals including those with regard to taxation that cannot be revealed beforehand.

“He asked me to take it up with [President and Finance Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe] and then reach a decision,” said Abeywardena.

The speaker was responding to Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella who had reiterated a request by the main opposition the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) to table Sri Lanka’s agreement with the IMF in parliament.

“The government’s agreement with the IMF must be on our tables in parliament. How else can we discuss it? We must have something on the table,” said Kiriella.

“[IMF-recommended reforms] cannot be carried out without the support of the parliament and the people of the country, as you know,” he added.However, the central bank governor had previously said that Sri Lanka had no practice of revealing IMF programmes to parliament early and tax changes can only be revealed to the parliament at the time of implementation.

Kiriella further said: “No one can say that [the agreement] contains things that cannot be revealed to parliament. People will oppose any reforms that they feel are being carried out in secrecy.”

SJB MP Hesha Withanage requested that provisions in the agreement that can be revealed should be presented to parliament.

“With the exception of the contents that cannot be publicised, the rest must be presented. This is a non issue. We as the opposition has no intention of using this against the government. I ask you to intervene to ensure transparency, or else there will be more allegations that both sides in parliament are teaming up and making deals.”

Speaker Abeywardena responded that he would bring the matter to the attention of the finance minister.Meanwhile, Leader of the House and Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said: “There is no such agreement yet. Only an understanding. A final agreement will only be reached upon IMF board approval.”



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Businesses can collapse due to electricity tariff increase next year– Patali

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Patali Champika Ranawaka

The Cabinet has approved increase in electricity tariffs in two stages in January and June 2023.

The disclosure was made on Tuesday (29) at a meeting of the Sub Committee on Identifying the Short & Medium-Term Programmes, related to Economic Stabilisation of the National Council.

The government increased power tariffs in August this year.

Parliament announced that although the electricity tariffs had been increased in the recent past, the CEB was still running at a loss.

The representatives of the government and private institutions related to the power sector were called before the Committee to obtain proposals for the purpose of solving the issues in the power sector.

In order to cover the current losses of the CEB, electricity tariffs had to be increased by about 70%, the statement issued by Parliament quoted CEB representatives as having said.

The statement quoted Chairman of the Committee, Patali Champika Ranawaka, as having said that if electricity tariffs were increased to cover CEB’s losses, businesses could collapse as a result.

It was also disclosed that the CEB currently owed nearly 650 billion rupees as outstanding debt to various parties including banks and electricity suppliers. The Electricity Board representative stated that out of the amount to be paid, nearly Rs. 35 billion were to be paid to the organisations that supplied renewable energy, and 75 billion rupees are to be paid to Thermal power suppliers. Thus, it expects to pay at least part of what it owes the suppliers from the 50-billion-rupee loan to be received. (SF)

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PMD claims President’s response misinterpreted

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe denied recent media reports stating that the Provincial Councils will be replaced with the District Development Committees.

Issuing a press release his media division said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s response in Parliament on Tuesday has been misinterpreted.

Wickremesinghe’s media Division said that in response to a statement by former President Maithripala Sirisena, the President stated that the District Development Committees (DDCs) would be established within the Provincial Councils.

The DDCs would provide a platform for coordination between thegovernment, the Provincial Councils and the Local Government bodies for all executive decisions, the Media Division said.

“This will ensure the process is not duplicated and will reduce financial wastage. Apart from that, the president has not made any statement about the dissolution of provincial councils.”

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Kumudesh: Top bureaucrat demands service extension from Minister’s daughter to approve shady deal

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A senior official of the Ministry of Health has asked the daughter of a Cabinet Minister to help him obtain a service extension in return for approving a controversial tender for medical supplies, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) Ravi Kumudesh says.

Kumudesh told The Island yesterday that the Minister’s daughter was working for a company that supplied oxygen generators.

“The official told the Minister’s daughter that he would grant the tender to a company of his choice to ensure a comfortable retirement and if her company wanted to secure the contract he should be given an extension in service.”

Kumudesh said the money for the medical equipment was to be paid through the grants from the Global Fund. The World Bank is a major contributor to the Global Fund.

“Officials can grant these tenders to companies of their choice by changing criteria. They make small technical specifications to ensure that only one company qualifies. These officials are a law unto themselves.”

Health Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

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