Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Sri Lanka Original Narrative Summary: 02/05

  1. President Wickremesinghe addresses the UNP May Day rally in Colombo, urging unity to safeguard economic stability and support the IMF agreement: The rally, themed “A Proud Nation that will Never Fall Again,” drew a significant turnout, with cross-party support noted, including from SLPP MP Dr. Navanandana: outlines plans for economic revitalisation, emphasising job creation and youth empowerment: calls for bipartisan cooperation to advance these goals and ensure progress: highlights the UNP’s historical role and resilience, urging national unity for Sri Lanka’s prosperity and development.
  2. At its May Day rally, the SJB unveils electoral commitments covering various areas such as constitutional reforms, agriculture, investment, employment, and education: Notably, SJB leader Sajith Premadasa pledges to address the Easter Sunday attacks, revoke liquor licenses, and uphold integrity among party members.
  3. NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake urges SJB to set a date for an economic policy debate before May 20 during what he described as the NPP’s ‘final May Day rally’ under ‘corrupt governance’: Despite ongoing dialogue, Dissanayake expresses frustration over SJB’s unavailability for the debate: The NPP’s rally advocated for worker rights and economic justice, emphasising fair wages, worker protections, economic equality, and solidarity among workers and social movements.
  4. Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe will attend the ADB’s annual meetings in Tbilisi, Georgia, from May 2 to 5: As a founding member, Sri Lanka has actively collaborated with the ADB to address developmental challenges and foster sustainable progress: The meetings provide an opportunity for networking and discussions on key developmental issues and regional cooperation strategies.
  5. The government is considering removing the recently reintroduced Minimum Room Rate (MRR) for Colombo hotels within two months, pending an evaluation of its effectiveness: This aligns with Tourism Minister Harin Fernando’s statements, indicating a possible review: The MRR was reinstated in September 2023 after appeals from hoteliers: However, its reintroduction sparked debate, with support from the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) but reservations from the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO): Fernando highlighted concerns about unfair practices by destination management companies: Despite interest from other regions like Kandy, he stressed the importance of market forces determining future prices based on the MRR’s foundation: Ongoing litigation against MRR raises the need for careful consideration before revoking it, with the government weighing various factors for informed decisions.
  6. Sri Lanka’s exports surge to $1.139 bn in March, the highest since August 2022, with a 9.8% increase from last year: The textile and garment sector led the growth, reaching $444.9 mn, the highest since December 2022: Petroleum product exports also surge by 134.6%: Despite challenges like the rupee’s appreciation, exports continue to rise: However, imports increase by 4.0%, driven by fuel imports, leading to a trade deficit of $369 mn: Nevertheless, robust inflows from remittances, tourism, IT/BPO services, and freight services balanced the deficit, providing stability to the economy.
  7. Renowned economic news agency ‘Economy Next’ reports negotiations for Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring are on hold pending clarity on how the IMF assesses securities linked to economic performance: adds an initial proposal from private investors involving macro-linked bonds was deemed inconsistent with the IMF’s framework: A new proposal submitted in April awaits assessment: While discussions have resumed, there’s a need for a better understanding of how the IMF’s framework applies to these bonds: This clarity could expedite negotiations and lead to a resolution.
  8. Central Bank says Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves reached US$ 5 bn by March 2024, up from US$ 4.4 bn in 2023: The growth is attributed to substantial foreign exchange purchases and support from a swap facility with China: The trade deficit narrows to US$ 369 mn, driven by increased exports, particularly in industrial goods like petroleum products and textiles: However, imports also rose, especially for fuel and consumer goods: Despite challenges, earnings from tourism and remittances remained steady.
  9. The Examinations Department aims to release the results of the 2023 GCE Advanced Level Examination by the final week of May: Over 346,000 candidates participated, including both school and private applicants.
  10. Sri Lanka’s women cricket team clinches their third consecutive victory, defeating Uganda by 67 runs in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifying T20 match in Abu Dhabi: Opener Vishmi Gunaratne’s unbeaten 73 powered Sri Lanka to a challenging total of 154/4: In response, Uganda struggled, managing only 87 all out: Gunaratne was named Player of the Match: Sri Lanka will face the USA next.

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