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USD 500 mn credit line to procure petroleum products: Govt. wants India to double facility



‘Protests will ruin efforts to attract tourists’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka is trying to have the USD 500 mn Indian Credit Line for fuel increased to USD 1 bn. Janaka Ratnayaka, Chairman of the five-member Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) yesterday told The Island that Sri Lanka was seeking to have the Indian credit line doubled in line with overall efforts to tackle the worsening crises.

Emphasising the importance of doubling the Indian credit line, Ratnayake revealed that another combination of 200 MT of fuel would be delivered within a short period, also under USD 500 million credit line.

Declaring that funds had been made available for what he called anchored diesel shipment, Ratnayake said that sufficient stocks were now available to provide uninterrupted electricity supply for Sinhala and Tamil New Year on 13, 14 and Good Friday (April 15) as well.

Since the finalisation of the USD 500 mn credit line on Feb 02, 2022, for the purchase of petroleum products, India has delivered four shipments on 16, 20, and 23 March, and 02 April.

Eldos Mathew Punnoose, Head – Press, Information and Development Cooperation – since the operation began, 200,000 mt of fuel had been delivered, including a consignment of 40,000 MT by Indian Oil Corporation, outside the line of credit facility, in February 2022.

Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle, who signed for the USD 500 mn credit line on behalf of Sri Lanka, recently resigned after Basil Rajapaksa had lost the finance portfolio. Sri Lanka reached agreement with the Export and Import Bank of India in this regard.

Punnoose said in addition to the USD 500 mn credit line in response to a separate and urgent request from Sri Lanka, New Delhi had swiftly finalised a credit facility of USD 1 billion for the supply of essential items, including food and medicines. The first shipments of rice, under this facility, would be here soon, the official said.

Earlier in January this year, India provided financial assistance to Sri Lanka that included a credit swap of US$ 400 million and deferment of an Asian Clearing Union payment of over USD 515 million. In cumulative terms, Indian support to the people of Sri Lanka, in the first quarter of 2022, is in excess of US$ 2.5 billion, the Indian spokesperson here said.

Referring to travel advisories issued by several countries, PUCSL Chairman Ratnayake emphasised that large scale protests would have a catastrophic impact on efforts to attract tourists. Pointing out those violent incidents outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private residence at Pangiriwatte Road, Mirihana, on March 31, and continuing countrywide protests, including the ongoing campaign opposite the Presidential Secretariat, would undermine efforts to stabilise the situation.

Ratnayake said that the delay on the part of all those concerned at every level to take tangible measures to address issues at hand could increase pressure on the national economy. Responding to queries, Ratnayake said that early stabilisation of the national economy couldn’t be achieved if protests undermined political stability.

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United Republic Front presents ‘A united step for the country’ to the President




Leader of the United Republic Front Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, presented the proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe , at ‘Srikota’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo this morning (24).

Speaking at the event President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda for the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debt.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, responding queries about the scheduling of elections, affirmed that the Presidential Election will proceed as scheduled, with the General Election anticipated to take place early next year.


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Opp. fears govt. discarding SC recommendations on ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill



Prof. G. L. Peiris

Prof. Peiris highlights need for ex post facto judicial review

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, MP, said that Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s refusal to accept that Supreme Court recommendations hadn’t been accommodated in ‘Online Safety Act No 09 of 2024’, would undermine their faith in the committee stage of a particular Bill.

The dissident SLPP MP said so when The Island sought his opinion on the SC determination on the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill.

Against the backdrop of the continuing controversy over the circumstances under which the Parliament enacted the ‘Online Safety Bill’, the Opposition was seriously concerned about the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government adopting the same strategy in passing the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill.

Prof. Peiris emphasised that the Speaker even ignored the Human Rights Commission advice that SC’s recommendations hadn’t been accommodated. The academic, who recently aligned himself with the SJB, said that the genuine Opposition shared his concerns.

Several parties challenged the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill in the SC in terms of Article 121(1) of the Constitution. The determination of the SC as to the Constitutionality of the Bill concluded as—

(a) Clause 3, Clause 42, Clause 53, and Clause 70 of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution and required a special majority to be passed by Parliament.

(b) However, the SC stated that the said inconsistencies can be ceased if the said Clauses are amended as per the Determination of the Court.

(b) Clause 4 has to be suitably amended as per the Supreme Court Determination. Clause 72 (1) is unconstitutional and needs to be passed by a Special Majority and a Referendum. The unconstitutionality will cease if this Clause is amended as per the Determination of the Supreme Court.

(c) Correspondingly, Clause 72(2) must be amended in accordance with the Determination.

(d) Clause 75 (3) infringed the Article 4 (c) read with Article 3 of the Constitution and required 2/3 majority and a Referendum. The invalidity will cease 7 upon the amendments suggested in the Determination.

(f) Clause 83 (7) requires a special majority to be passed into law. It has to be suitably amended as per the Supreme Court Determination.

Further, the Supreme Court has determined that subject to the amendments that have adumbrated to the provisions of the Bill by the Supreme Court, the Bill could be enacted into law with a Simple Majority only if the amendments determined by the Supreme Court are introduced to the provisions.

Prof Peiris said that the crisis highlighted the need for ex post facto judicial review, for which there is at present no provision in Sri Lanka. The position is otherwise in countries like the USA and India where an Act of Parliament can be impugned, even after completion of the legislative process, on the ground of conflict with imperative provisions of the Constitution. Such provision existed in Sri Lanka prior to the First Republican Constitution of 1972.

The former minister said that in the draft Constitution Bill which he presented to Parliament on 3 August 2000 on behalf of the Government of President CBK, appropriate provision in this regard was included. “Unfortunately, the Constitution was burnt in the Chamber of Parliament. This gap in our law should be filled, in my view, when a comprehensive exercise in constitutional reform is undertaken by a new Administration after the conduct of national elections this year.”

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US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma visits Sri Lanka



Deputy Secretary of State of the United States of America Richard Verma visited Sri Lanka from last Thursday to yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.

The visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and delegation had extensive discussions with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on further strengthening bilateral cooperation. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State also paid a courtesy call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe following the discussions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, while appreciating the humanitarian and emergency assistance granted by the U.S. to overcome the economic challenges encountered by Sri Lanka, welcomed the recent US$ 553 million development assistance extended by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to the Colombo West International Terminal Private Limited. He also appreciated the U.S. assistance in securing the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) from the IMF.

Foreign Minister Sabry briefed Deputy Secretary of State Verma on Sri Lanka’s priorities as Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the opportunities to foster collaboration in blue economy and maritime security in the region to promote freedom of navigation for all and for the facilitation of trade and commerce. He also apprised the Deputy Secretary of State of the Government’s efforts to further strengthen governance, democracy, and rule of law, as well as to combat corruption.

Deputy Secretary of State Verma while noting the encouraging progress in Sri Lanka following the economic downturn in the last two years, assured continuous U.S. assistance to the country towards economic prosperity.

The Deputy Secretary of State was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, senior officials from the White House National Security Council, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defence. Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Jauhar and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry were associated with the Foreign Minister at the meeting.

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