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Polls won’t impede Indo-Lanka talks on ‘financial measures’ to save SL economy



By Shamindra Ferdinando

The upcoming general election will not impede ongoing talks between India and Sri Lanka on re-scheduling of bilateral debt repayment, according to authoritative sources.

Asked whether a consensus could be reached before the general election, sources answered in the negative. They, however, explained that relevant officials were continuing deliberations in that regard.

Indian and Sri Lankan officials held a video conference on July 22 to discuss re-scheduling of bilateral debt repayment.

 The Indian delegation consisted of senior External Affairs, Finance, and the EXIM Bank officials whereas Sri Lanka was represented by the Department of External Resources.

Talks followed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Finance Minister having telephone conversations with Indian leader Narendra Modi, on May 23 and 27, respectively. Subsequently, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay again took up the matter on May 29 leading to the Indian High Commission in Colombo engaging the government to pave the way for talks on re-scheduling of bilateral debt repayment.

 The next round of technical discussions between the two sides on rescheduling of debt repayment is expected to be held soon though not before the election.

 Earlier President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the economy was in dire straits due to major revenue sources, namely garment exports, foreign remittances and tourism being badly affected as a result of corona epidemic.

 Sources said that in addition to the re-scheduling of debt repayment, Sri Lanka had sought 1.1 billion USD under the SWAP facility to top up the USD 400 million SAARC facility to assist Sri Lanka in overcoming its foreign exchange crisis. Sources said that USD 400 mn facility had been finalized whereas discussions were yet to take place as regards the USD 1.1 bn currency swap facility. Discussions were expected after the general election.

Responding to another query, sources said that once the election was concluded talks on re-scheduling of debt repayment and USD 1.1 bn currency swap facility could take place.

 Asked for the Samagi Jana Balavegaya’s response to ongoing talks with India, SJB Colombo District candidate Dr. Harsha de Silva said: “We will certainly work with all our friends around the world to see how they could help us. We will continue all negotiations and we are confident we could arrive at solutions that would help us tide over the difficulties.”


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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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