China welcomes Sabry’s rebuttal of ‘Debt-Trap’

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian has welcomed Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry’s strong rebuttal to the narrative about the so-called Chinese “debt trap” in Sri Lanka.

Speaking to reporters on Monday (28), he reiterated that China’s assistance to Sri Lanka is never attached with any political strings, and it never seeks any selfish political gains in China’s investment and financing in Sri Lanka.

China fully relates to the difficulties and challenges faced by Sri Lanka and supports relevant financial institutions in discussing with Sri Lanka and properly resolving them. We have all along provided support to Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic development as long as our ability permits,: he added.

“This year marks the 65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations, and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. It is of great significance of building on past achievements and working for fresh progress. China will work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the traditional friendship, cement strategic mutual trust, deepen and expand practical cooperation, and consolidate and expand China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership to better deliver benefits to the two countries and the two peoples,” he also noted.

Source: News 1st

TNA says Tamils allowed to commemorate war dead

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says President Ranil Wickremesinghe did not obstruct Tamils who commemorated the victims of the war.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa Governments have often blocked such attempts.

However, TNA MP and TELO Leader Selvam Adaikalanathan told Parliament today that several events were held yesterday to commemorate the victims of the war.

However, he said that apart from a few incidents, most events were held without any obstructions.

The MP hailed President Ranil Wickremesinghe for allowing the events to take place and give reconciliation a chance.

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Easter attacks suspect murdered in Colombo

The suspect linked to the Easter Sunday attacks, who was out on bail, was murdered in Colombo, in broad daylight, today.

The 38-year-old man was stabbed by unknown individuals in Mattakkuliya this morning.

According to the Police, the assailants had arrived in a car and carried out the crime.

The victim was rushed to the Colombo National Hospital but was pronounced dead in hospital.

Source: Colombo Gazette

Stalin writes to Jaishankar after Sri Lanka arrests more fishermen

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has written to Indian External Affairs S. Jaishankar seeking his intervention after the Sri Lanka Navy arrested another 24 Indian fishermen.

The Sri Lanka Navy said that the Navy and Sri Lanka Coast Guard conducted a special operation in the Northern waters to chase away Indian trawlers from Sri Lanka’s waters last evening.

The operation led to the seizure of 05 Indian trawlers with 24 Indian fishermen, poaching in the island’s waters off the Kovilan Lighthouse, Kareinagar, Jaffna, the Navy said in a statement.

The trawlers and the 24 Indian fishermen were brought to the Kankesanthurai Harbour and were handed over to the Mailadi Fisheries Inspector for onward legal proceedings.

The Navy said it has detained 35 Indian trawlers and arrested 252 Indian fishermen during operations conducted so far this year.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin wrote to Indian External Affairs S. Jaishankar and requested him to urge the Sri Lanka Navy not to arrest Indian fishermen

Stalin also sought the early release of all the Indian fishermen and the release of the boats in Sri Lankan custody.

Source: Colombo Gazette

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Russia is a reliable friend: Prime Minister

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said Russia is a reliable friend who consistently stands for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty at international forums.

Welcoming the new Russian Ambassador Levan S. Dzhagaryan, who called on him at the Prime Minister’s Office, he recalled the Soviet support to industrialisation of Sri Lanka setting up steel factory at Oruwela and tyre factory in Kelaniya decades ago. The Prime Minister also mentioned about the scholarships offered to Sri Lanka at Lumumba and Moscow universities for hundreds of Sri Lankan students who serve the nation now. The Ambassador assured the Prime Minister that Russia would extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka’s economic progress in every field.

They held detailed discussions on potential for Russian large scale investments in Sri Lanka.

Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake was also present at this discussion.


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People in North, East leaving country due to dire economic situation: Ali Sabry

People in the North and East tend to leave the country due to the dire economic situation where some have gone to Tamil Nadu, Vietnam and Ukraine in the last six months.

He told Parliament that some 302 Tamils have fled to Vietnam and seven to Ukraine.

He said 85 of those in Vietnam have agreed to come back and said the Ministry would facilitate their return.

Responding to a remark made by Parliamentarian Selvam Adaikkalanathan, the minister said a publicity mechanism was needed to educate the people in the North and East on the dangers of seeking refugee status and not to get caught to human trafficking.

“We want to inform them, if they go on refugee status or on a wrong passport and get caught to trafficking, they will have to suffer,” he said.

Written by Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera

Sri Lanka exports down 8.8-pct in Oct, apparel falls 13-pct

Sri Lanka’s export earnings in October 2022 drops 8.18 percent to 1,094 million dollars compared to the same period last year due to a decrease in earnings from apparels, eat, rubber, coconuts as the key export market are going high inflation and an energy crisis.

“This was mainly due to the decrease in export earnings from Apparel & Textiles, Tea, Rubber based Products, Coconut based Products, Spices & Essential Oils and Fisheries sector. Further, the impact of global crisis also affecting to decrease export earnings of major products,” Exports Development Board said in it’s report.

In the ten months to October, exports were up 9.33 percent to 11 billion US dollars.

“For the next six months, there is a very low number of orders,” a senior official at EDB told Economy Next.

“Hence the currency coming in is a little bit low but based on the trend it is like one billion a month during these last ten months and up to October, we have received over 10 billion of export revenue and first being the apparel.”

Sri Lanka is currently in the worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s soft-pegged central bank with the rupee collapsing from 200 to 360 in a failed attempt to float the currency (suspend convertibility) with a surrender rule in place.

At 370 the surrender rule and dollars sales continue.

Exports of Apparel & Textiles fell 13.19 percent to 441.89 million dollars in October 2022.

Tea exports in October fell 0.76 percent to 108.7 million US dollars.

“We have to be very agile these days because markets are changing and our traditional markets, especially the western markets going forward might be disrupted a little more,” another official at EDB said.

“So we have to now look at alternate markets because there is a global disruption in exports and imports and the only way out is to find other markets.”

Export earnings from Rubber based products have decreased by by 6.10 percent to 86.3 million dollars, EDB said exports of pneumatic & Retreated Rubber Tyres & Tubes did not perform well.

Coconut products fell 7.12 percent to 72.41 million dollars.

Export of Seafood dipped by 20 percent to 19.56 million dollars. Crabs exports have done well, EDB said.

Source: Economy Next

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The Economist : Prediction on Sri Lanka

Elections are likely to be held in Sri Lanka well before the 2024 deadline, the British weekly newspaper, The Economist has predicted.

According to the prediction, Sri Lanka’s economy will contract, but by less than in 2022.

The prediction has been made in The Economist’s new publication, “The World Ahead 2023”.

“President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who assumed the presidency in July 2022, will struggle to confront the public discontent that forced the resignation of his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” the report said.

The report also points out that protesters see Ranil Wickremesinghe as a stooge for the Rajapaksa clan, particularly since he chose Dinesh Gunawardena as the Prime Minister, an ally of the Rajapaksa family.

“Protests and strikes will weigh on the government and elections are likely well before the 2024 deadline” it added.

The Economist’s other predictions include:

GDP growth : – 0.2%

GDP per head : US$ 4,230

Inflation : 66.4%

Budget Balance (%GDP) : – 4.2

Population : 21.7m

Source: Newswire

Rishi Sunak; why SL did not have a Tamil or Muslim as President?

Britain now has a British Asian, Hindu Prime Minister, though Rishi Sunak is whiter than White in his policies and richer than the British Royalty. That would make, at least those who see beyond the colour of the skin, question whether the new Prime minister is a representation of the average British Asian life.

The rise of Rishi Sunak to the helm of the Conservative Party – he dodged a membership vote thanks to Penny Mordaunt’s last-minute withdrawal from the race, which could otherwise have produced quite a different result – has made many ponder as to why Sri Lanka cannot have a Tamil or Muslim prime minister or a president.
Many commentators have blamed the perceived ethno-nationalistic nature of the Sri Lankan state, a yet another perceived act of discrimination at the hand of the state. Though, not being able to get elected as the head of the state through a majority vote is not necessarily a grievance. At best it is an aspiration. Unfulfilled.
But, why didn’t Sri Lanka have an ethnic minority member as the head of the state or the head of the government?
Probably, the issue is not with the structure – or the state, but with the strategy.

One might start looking at how those who succeeded in breaking this glass ceiling did it elsewhere. Rishi Sunak did not contest from the ‘British Indian Party’, but under the Tories. Barak Obama did not run under the Black Panthers, but from the Democratic Party, the mainstream political parties in a duopoly of political systems, that focused on national issues, much less on particular ethnic or religious aspirations.

In contrast, the minority political leaders in Sri Lanka have historically found it more electorally convenient to form race-based political parties. That it was a reaction to the perceived ethno-nationalism of the Sinhalese is the standard argument, with the 1956 electoral victory of SWRD Bandaranaike and subsequent Sinhala-only Act, being described as the watershed events in majoritarian politics.

However, progenitors of ethnic Tamil Nationalist politics, All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) – founded in 1944, and Illangai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (Federal Party) in 1949, were in politics long before Bandaranaike defected from the UNP and formed the SLFP in 1951. GG Ponnambalam, the ACTC leader, campaigned for guarantees of 50-50 representation for minorities under the Soulbury Constitution. The ACTC then joined DS Senanayake’s UNP-led government, but his detractors within ACTC, led by SJV Chelvanayagam detested the collaboration with the Sinhalese political parties and parted ways to form the Federal Party in 1949.

Ethnic Tamil politics in the early stage was not a reaction to Sinhala Buddhist majoritarianism, as it is often alleged, it is in-built into the Dravidian social-political exceptionalism, they adopted as the governing ideology. That effectively set off a race to the bottom as the competitors for the Tamil vote schemed to present themselves as more nationalistic than the other, until three decades down the line, the LTTE prevailed as the sole representatives of the Tamils.

Also, the ethnic minority politics at that stage was a reaction to the demographic reality as the minority elites feared being submerged by a numerically large Sinhalese Buddhist majority in the newly independent state. The state building also entailed the rearrangement of the state for all its people to benefit from it, which itself had its toll over time, especially on the disproportionate representation of Northern Tamils in various aspects of the state, ranging from bureaucracy to standardization of the university admission. Though the latter has been cited as ethnically motivated, Sri Lanka is not the only country to opt for affirmative action to provide more equitable opportunities in education.

The British tradition of divide and rule might also have its effect. A small group of elites who thrived in that system, rather than assimilating to the new state, thought to perpetuate the old model by other means. Thus their unfilled aspirations were masqueraded as grievances and the indifference of the majority Sinhala-dominated parties to these demands hardened their struggle, finally leading to the Vattukkottai resolution, a separatist campaign and finally the LTTE terrorism. None of that makes you a palatable candidate for the majority if you stand for the dissection of the state.

That is not to say, minorities have not succeeded in politics. From Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s influential education minister Badiuddin Mahmood to a host of UNP stalwarts, ranging from ACS Hameed, and Bakeer Marker to MH Mohammed were influential within their parties and in national politics. Colombo Municipal Council has had more ethnic minority mayors, long before Sadiq Khan became the London Mayor in 2016.

Also, it is disingenuous to dismiss the two main political parties, especially the UNP or the SJB, as ethno-majoritarian, though any political party worth its salt should be mindful of the demographic reality of its electorate. Until the breakup of the UNP, Kabir Hashim, a Muslim was the General secretary of the UNP.

Then there is another problem. Ethnic minority members who managed to rise above the ethnic lines and were adopted by the Sinhalese mainstream have often been discredited and delegitimized by some of the most articulate quarters of minorities, the type of people foreign embassy staff consult to have a grasp of Sri Lankan politics.

Consider Lakshman Kadirgamar or even Muttiah Muralitharan – or now Ali Sabri, the latter, though one could detest his political party of choice – Pohottuwa – is a true Sri Lankan patriot than most Sri Lankans. The problem with the ethnic minority political project is that Sri Lankan patriotism is made subordinate to ethnic allegiance.
There is an interesting element in the British Asian upstaters of the Conservative Party. Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman and Priti Patel are more anti-immigrant Brexiters and devotees of British colonial legacy than average White British. That might be a political survival instinct or an engrained trait of the colonial experience, where some ethnic minorities in the British Colonies were more than happy to play the second fiddle to the White Europeans, as long as they are above the majority. This illustrious list includes young Mohandas Gandhi in South Africa, who in a series of letters to the colonial administration ranted at the ‘mixing of Indians with native savages.’
Recently, Aragalaya offered an example of non-racial political activism. A few, except an extreme bigot, cared about the race or religion of Aragalaya activists, indeed, much less than their long hair and uncut beards. Many of the prominent and vocal members in Aragalaya were Muslims and Tamils and were accepted as leaders for their commitment to the cause, much less for their race.

That non-racial inclusivity and activism could be the model if Sri Lanka is to have a minority prime minister or a president.

Written by Ranga Jayasuriya

Sri Lanka to send delegates to IMF & WB Annual meeting

Sri Lanka has decided to send a delegation for the annual summit of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The 2022 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) will take place in person from Monday, October 10, through Sunday, October 16 in the IMF and World Bank Group headquarters, in Washington DC.

Sri Lanka’s delegation will be led by Acting Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe.

He said the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the Finance Secretary and several others will accompany him.

The Acting Finance Minister said that the 2022 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) will be of paramount importance for Sri Lanka to restrucutre its debt, and also obtain financial assistance from the IMF.

Source: News 1st

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