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Three more Lankan athletes go missing in Europe amid currency crisis

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ECONOMYNEXT –Three more Lankan athletes – this time, wrestlers attending the Under 23 World Wrestling Championship in Spain – have gone missing, sports officials said.Two members of the all-male six-member team had disappeared on October 22, followed by the third sportsman the next day, an official for Sri Lanka Wrestling Federation said, requesting anonymity.

This is the latest in a series of disappearing acts pulled by Sri Lankan athletes in Europe. Previously, nine athletes and one official went missing during the Commonwealth Games 2022 in early August.In an interesting twist, however, this time, the Spanish authorities appeared largely unconcerned about the missing Sri Lankans, according to the wrestling official.

Sri Lanka is going through its worst currency crisis in decades, and runaway inflation and a host of other issues are compelling young Sri Lankan men and women to find better prospects abroad, legally or otherwise.Investigations into this Spanish vanishing act are underway, regardless, and Sri Lankan officials plan to talk to the families of the missing wrestlers in the coming days in the hope of establishing contact and making sure that they are still in Spain.

Wrestling Federation officials that went to Spain with the team had alerted Spanish authorities the moment they went missing.

“They had visas till October 25, 2022,” the official said.

Passports of two of the players are still with the officials, who customarily hold onto athletes’ passports, but the other athlete’s passport is nowhere to be found.

“We suspect the passport was taken from the official personnel bag before deserting the team,” the official said.

Athletes are permitted to carry their passport on their person into the stadium for any legal clearance that may be needed when athletes are weighed before a tournament.Spanish authorities did not show much interest in finding the deserters, the official claimed.

“We informed the police immediately, but they said the missing players can take refuge in the country and may be able to find jobs as long as they are not involved in any criminal activity,” the official said.

“The players sign a bond before they’re to tournaments abroad. If they are unable to contact us through their parents or families, legal action can be taken against them.”

“When permission is given to these athletes we get the recommendations from a few places, such as the federation of the relevant sport, the Sports Selection Committee and the Sports Council,” I P Wijeratne, Director of Sports, Sport Development Department, told EconomyNext on Thursday October 27.

“I think a thorough background check must be done even when selecting the players in order to minimise this issue,” he said. Since the disappearance of the three wrestlers, the Sports Ministry has stopped all outbound sports tours for the time being.

“More attention should be given to this matter by the committees,” said Wijeratne, adding that recently it was discovered that that powerlifters had been selected for an upcoming sumo wrestling tournament, which was later cancelled.

“These sort of issues can harm the selection process, and it can cost an opportunity to athletes that genuinely represent the country and want to win.”

Asked about the progress into investigations over the athletes that went missing at the Commonwealth Games, Wijeratne said the Sport Development Department has yet to receive any information on the whereabouts of the missing athletes.

“The Sports Offences Prevention Unit has been tasked with compiling a report on the matter,” he said.



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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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The 75th Anniversary of National Independence celebrated under the patronage of President, PM

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(picture Presidents Media)

The 75th National Independence Day celebration was held under the theme “Namo Namo Mata – A Step towards the Century”, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Saturday morning (04) at Galle Face Green.

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Lanka sovereign bond holders write to the IMF

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s bondholders have written to the International Monetary Fund expressing their willingness to engage in debt re-structuring talks but also raising matters related to the domestic debt re-structuring and economic assumptions and forecasts.

The group, styling itself as the “Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the Bondholder Group) has written last week to the IMF Managing Director from New York said inter alia that the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

The letter concluded with the paragraph: Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

Following is the text of the letter:

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2023

Dear Managing Director Georgieva,The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the “Bondholder Group”) acknowledges the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledges that such engagement has recently resulted in the Government of India (in its letter to the IMF, dated January 16, 2023 (the “India Letter”)) delivering letters of financing assurances, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement (the “IMF Programme”) and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India Letter.

Similarly, the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as

(i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032,

(ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and

(iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA.

We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability.

Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

While we recognize that the determination of the economic assumptions underpinning the IMF Programme Targets is ultimately the responsibility of the IMF and that the overall design of the IMF Programme is one that is negotiated between the IMF and Sri Lanka, it is nevertheless important that the Bondholder Group has the opportunity to express its views on both the economic assumptions underpinning these IMF Programme Targets and the adequacy and feasibility of the adjustment efforts contemplated under the IMF Programme.

When considering any restructuring proposal that is made to the Bondholder Group, it is the Bondholder Group’s intention to take into consideration the extent to which the economic assumptions and the adjustment efforts are consistent with these views.

Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

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