Opposition vows to fight domestic debt restructuring plans of govt
ECONOMYNEXT –The main opposition SJB would fight to defeat the government’s plans to restructure domestic debt, opposition leader Sajith Premadas said, offering the opposition’s assistance in sending a strong message to the international community.
Premadasa said at a meeting with representatives of the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union on Thursday May 18 that the opposition is ready to tell the international community to not touch Sri Lanka’s domestic debt.
“We will fight both in and outside parliament and internationally the government’s attempt to restructure domestic debt,” Premadasa said.
The opposition leader claimed the government has changed its position on domestic debt restructuring (DDR). The government had maintained in March that there would be no restructuring of domestic debt, only to sing a different tune after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme was approved.
“In March, not even the president said domestic debt would be restructured,” he said.
“They’re now saying they have to do it. Why did you keep hoodwinking the people?” he asked, adding that DDR was first on the agenda.
“You can’t dance to your own tune, nor can you make the people dance,” said Premadasa. However, the SJB is ready to assist the government in reversing the decision.
“If the government wishes to, even at this last moment, send a message to the international community, with assistance from the opposition, to not touch domestic debt, we’re ready to work together with the government to communicate this to the international community,” said Premadasa.
A top IMF official told reporters on Monday May 15 that the international lender is in constant dialog with Sri Lanka over its DDR plans. The IMF defines a macro framework, ceilings on gross financing needs (annual debt volumes that are issued and re-issued), foreign debt service, and debt stocks on a timeline for a defaulted country to make its debt ‘sustainable’.
In April, President Ranil Wickermesinghe was reported to have told the cabinet of ministers hat a debt restructuring framework to negotiate with creditors would be announced by May.In parallel, discussions will also commence with private creditors. Sri Lanka met private creditors in Washington in April.
Sri Lanka also has to restructure its domestic debt to meet gross financing need (annual financing and debt roll-over totals) ceilings from 2027-2032 to make its debt ‘sustainable’ according to an IMF debt analysis.The central bank has said domestic debt restructuring will be voluntary, but fresh jitters hit the market last week triggering a rise in bond yields.
Several countries which were hit by monetary instability from flexible inflation targeting and flexible exchange rates or similar impossible trinity regimes, which had market access had defaulted in recent years and more are on the brink of default.
External sovereign defaults started in the early 1980s with similar policies in Latin America, which has among the worst central banks in the world and some Eastern European nations.
High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka meets with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament & Secretary-General of Parliament
Michael Appelton, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka, accompanied by Andrew Traveller, Deputy High Commissioner, met with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle MP, and Secretary-General of Parliament, Kushani Rohanadeera, recently.
During the meeting, the Ambassador emphasized that gender equality in politics is vital for the achievement of peaceful societies, the realization of full human potential, and sustainable development. He also stated that they have taken several initiatives to ensure equal women’s participation in the New Zealand Parliament.
Dr. Fernandopulle, MP, shared her concerns regarding the lack of gender sensitivity in Sri Lankan politics. She drew attention to the urgent need for a more inclusive political framework that ensures equal representation and participation for women.
The Secretary-General of Parliament affirmed that Parliament has taken actions to increase youth and women’s representation in committees and is currently working on improving disability access to Parliament.
Climate Change University to be launched next year
At the briefing on the progress of Climate Change and Green Growth held on Wednesday (31) at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and officials of the Climate Change Secretariat led by President’s Adviser on Climate Change Ruwan Wijewardene it was revealed that the Climate Change University would be launched next year and that the University Grants Commission had identified approximately 130 scientists who have gained international recognition for their research on climate change who, together with their international affiliations would be brought together as part of the initiative.
President Wickremesinghe expressing his perspective on the International Climate Change University, emphasized that it should be a post-graduate institution solely focused on research which does not offer undergraduate courses. Any country or organization that contributes to the university becomes a stakeholder and gains membership on the Board of Governance. The Korean Exim Bank has expressed interest in partnering with the university and negotiations between Sri Lanka and the Korea Exim Bank, led by the External Resource Department have concluded successfully. The President said that prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT have also expressed interest in collaboration.
The discussions also revolved around inviting a group of international experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tentatively scheduled for July/August to engage in policy conversations, addressing global issues, and exploring potential research projects that could be derived from these policy dialogues.
President Wickremesinghe emphasized that all future research in the field of climate change should be conducted at this institution.
IUSF threatens showdown
By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon
The university system is facing a grave crisis as around 40 percent of the lecturers have left the state education system, says the Convenor of the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Madushan Chandrajith.
Chandrajith said the ‘exodus’ of top academics would lead to a massive drop in the quality of education as most of those who have left are among the cream of scholars.Chandrajith said that about one-third of students in state universities, eligible for hostel facilities, did not have access to them.He warned that the IUSF will organise massive protests, in the coming weeks, if steps are not taken to resolve the many issues in the University system.
While the Mahapola scholarship has not been increased, the prices of food in the hostels have risen dramatically, he said.
“About 2,500 students in Kelaniya, 4,000 students in Rajarata and 6,000 in Peradeniya do not have hostel accommodation,” he went on to say..According to Chandrajith, a student needs about Rs 20,000 a month to meet basic needs.
“One requires about Rs 12,000 a month for food alone,” he said.
A senior official at the Ministry of Public Administration told The Island that some lecturers and doctors had a 100 percent attendance record but they avoided work.
“They are responsible for the attendance registry and they cook up the books to have full attendance. They take a lot of OT payments by doing this. We are looking at introducing a digital mechanism to mark attendance at universities and hospitals,” he said.
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