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Ranasinghe says his life in danger



Roshan and Ranil

“… if anything untoward happens to me, the President and his Chief of Staff should be held responsible”

By Saman Indrajith

President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday removed Sports Youth Affairs and Irrigation Minister Roshan Ranasinghe from all posts in the government.

Ranasinghe told the media that he had received a letter from President Ranil Wickremesinghe informing him that he had been removed from all his ministerial portfolios and positions with immediate effect.

Delivering a special statement in Parliament yesterday morning (27) prior to his removal, Ranasinghe said that his life was at risk, and that in the event anything should happen to him, the President and his Chief of Presidential Staff would have to take responsibility.

“I may be killed on the road. I am not sure when it will happen. The President and Sagala Ratnayake should be held responsible for that. I fought against corruption and now I have to fight for my life. I demand my right to live for the sake of my wife and children. I am not ready to migrate to another country on a refugee visa. I have no intention of seeking asylum abroad,” the Minister said, making a special statement.

“I request the Chair not to expunge my speech from Hansard. I was among 134 who voted for the appointment the incumbent President. Is this what we get in return for voting for him,” the Minister queried.

Minister Ranasinghe said that if the crisis in Sri Lanka Cricket could not be sorted out under the present regime, it would be resolved somehow after the next Presidential election.

“I want to see this crisis come to an end. I want to send the corrupt who have been identified by the audit reports home. I need to hold those corrupt responsible for ruining the game of cricket in this country. Even if we fail to do it now, we will do it after the next presidential election,” he said.

Ranasinghe said that President Wickremesinghe had stated at the UN General Assembly that corruption should be eliminated. “If so, then why is he acting against me who is trying to eliminate corruption in Sri Lanka Cricket? I regret the way the executive powers are used to intimidate me. Now, I seek only my right to live. Who is Sagala Ratnayake? How come Cabinet orders are issued at his behest? Even some Cabinet Ministers are not aware of the fact that the Cabinet is being used to protect the corrupt. The Sports Law contains provisions vesting powers on the Minister of Sports to act against corruption. I call upon everybody to read the audit reports. See how many corrupt deals have taken place at the SLC. We are not here to protect thieves. The Cabinet powers are used to override the Sports Minister’s powers. Now, an order has been issued against the Sports Minister appointing interim committees to run SLC.”


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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ADB country chief hopes Lanka could sustain policy reforms despite elections



Takafumi Kadono

ECONOMYNEXT –The Asian Development Bank (ADB) expects Sri Lanka not to reverse its International Monetary Fund-led policy reforms despite elections soon, the ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono said.

The island nation has witnessed repeated reversals of policy reforms in the past due to greedy politicians who misled  the people to vote for them by sowing the seeds of subsidy mentality with unsustainable debts at expensive borrowing costs, economists say.

That led the country into an unprecedented economic crisis in 2022 with a sovereign debt default. Sri Lanka is still struggling to come out of the crisis.

The IMF has strictly placed some reforms including in state sector enterprises, fiscal and monetary sectors.

Sri Lanka has implemented the painful IMF reforms so far including higher personal income taxes, but economists have raised concerns over the sustainability of the current reforms due to possible changes in the policies in the event of a new president or government comes to power after democratic elections.

“If that kind of reversal happens, we also cannot justify our support,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono told EconomyNext on late on Wednesday.

“We do expect these policy reforms to be sustained. So that is our expectation. That is the premise which we are providing our budget support. If they reverse, the whole premise will be collapsed. That kind of policy reversal cannot happen.”

The island nation had sought IMF bailout package for 17 times including the ongoing support. However, the authorities have failed to complete most of the past IMF loan disbursements due to politically motivated contradiction with the global lender’s tight fiscal policies.

Sri Lanka has shown some signs of recovery in the third quarter of 2023 with the economic growth turned to positive from contraction for the first time in seven quarters.

However, opposition political parties have promised to revisit the IMF deal if they come to power.

Higher taxes, soaring cost of living, and lack of salary hike have made President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government unpopulour among the public, analysts say.

Wickremesinghe has said the country will hold both presidential and parliamentary election by 2025.

Some government politicians have told EconomyNext that the higher taxes would be eased from April and the authorities will try their best to meet the IMF conditions for the third disbursement in June this year.

The presidential polls should be held by October this year, but opposition parties have said President Wickremesinghe is in the process to delay the poll.

However, Wickremesinghe’s office last week said Presidential Election will be held “within the mandated period”, without giving an exact time.It also said the General Election will be held next year, “according to the current timeline”.

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