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Sri Lanka Original Narrative Summary: 04/06

1. Central Bank says it’s gross official reserves have risen to around USD 3 bn: Analysts point out that is because of approximately USD 500 mn of “hot-money” inflows by investors who are making phenomenal returns on the back of the LKR appreciation and over 25% interest rates for T-Bills & Bonds: analysts also say the CBSL Forex Reserve now basically consists of Central Bank SWAPs of USD 2,150 mn + IMF loan tranche of USD 333 mn + “hot money” investments of USD 500 mn.

2. President Ranil Wickremesinghe says although all political parties in Parliament are united, none of them currently possess a 50% voter base: emphasizes the need for unity among the parties to steer the country towards recovery from the ongoing economic crisis: asserts the majority of people have lost faith in elections and politics.

3. Japanese embassy in Colombo says resumption of loan projects will depend on the progress of the SL debt restructuring process: statement seems to be in response to the Cabinet’s approval to proceed with the resumption of the USD 2.2bn LRT project to be financed by JICA.

4. IMF Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura says the Sri Lankan economy is showing tentative signs of improvement, in part due to the implementation of critical policy actions: warns economic recovery remains challenging: also says it is essential to continue the reform momentum under strong ownership by both the authorities and the Sri Lankan people.

5. Minister of Justice Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe reveals the Office of Missing Persons has concluded inquiries into 3,170 complaints: also says the OMP’s initial productivity was unsatisfactory, but steps have been taken to improve the process.

6. Former Governor of the Northern Province and TMTK MP CV Wigneswaran, says he will seek support from Hindu religious organisations in India to counter the systematic Buddhistisation activities in the North & East.

7. Tea Board Chairman Niraj de Mel claims the tourism sector has not adequately pushed local tea to tourists: says the hotel industry lacks knowledge about the 157-year-old Ceylon Tea, a beverage known around the world.

8. CEB proposes tariff reduction of 28% for over 1.7 mn domestic electricity consumers who consume less than 30 units per month: the present electricity bill of these low consumption consumers is around Rs.751: following the proposed revision on 1st July, the bill is expected to reduce to around Rs.543: prior to the tariff hikes, it was Rs.105.

9. Civil rights activists raise concerns over the recent arrest of controversial female stand-up comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya, over an alleged defamatory comment made by her related to Buddhism, under the Int’l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) legislation.

10. Pakistan Cricket Board is said to be upset at the Sri Lankan Cricket Board expressing its desire to host the entire Asia Cup tournament: declines offer to play an ODI bilateral series in Sri Lanka.

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