Sri Lanka leader proposes plan to rebuild bankrupt economy by 2048

Special Sri Lanka leader proposes plan to rebuild bankrupt economy by 2048
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe along with Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena at a session of Parliament in Colombo, Aug. 3, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 03 August 2022

Sri Lanka leader proposes plan to rebuild bankrupt economy by 2048

Sri Lanka leader proposes plan to rebuild bankrupt economy by 2048
  • Ranil Wickremesinghe gives first policy statement since taking office last month
  • President says Sri Lanka facing ‘unprecedented situation,’ country ‘in great danger’

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s president announced on Wednesday a national policy to rebuild the bankrupt economy by 2048, at a time when rampant food inflation and chronic shortages are making daily life a battle for millions of the country’s citizens.

The south Asian nation is bankrupt and in April suspended repayments on its $51 billion foreign loans, as the inflation rate continued to soar. It surged to a record 60.8 percent in July, with a 90.9 percent climb in food inflation, according to government data.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, 73, announced the plan in his first policy statement since taking office last month, after his predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, fled the country and then quit following mass protests over the worst economic meltdown since the 22 million-populated nation’s independence from Britain 1948.

As he announced his Cabinet’s economic policy, Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka was facing an “unprecedented situation” unlike anything in recent history and was “in great danger.”

“We have examined this situation in depth. As a remedy, we are preparing a national economic policy for the next 25 years,” he told parliament. “If we build the country, the nation, and the economy through the national economic policy, we would be able to become a fully developed country by the year 2048, when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of independence.”

The economic policy, he said, “lays the foundation for a social market economic system, securing development for the poor and underprivileged groups and encouraging small and medium entrepreneurs.

“Our aim is to create a surplus in the primary budget by the year 2025. Our effort is to raise the economic growth rate to a stable stage, in order to establish a solid economic foundation by the year 2026. Currently, public debt is 140 percent of gross domestic product. Our plan is to bring this down to less than 100 percent by the year 2032.”

The plan did not focus on immediate relief to millions of people who since March have been taking to the streets to protest daily power cuts and shortages of basic commodities such as fuel, food, and medicines, as the country had run out of foreign currency reserves, leaving it unable to pay for imports.

Murtaza Jafferjee, economist and chairman of the Colombo-based think tank Advocata Institute, described the president’s 25-year policy as more of an “aspirational plan.”

“The need of the hour is macro stabilization but what he is implying is that we should not look only for short-term fixes but fundamentally change the way the economy works so that it can catalyze a virtual cycle of growth,” Jafferjee told Arab News.

“He did say that they will try to address the most acute shortages but warned not to expect quick results, for example, the availability of fuel. It will take a few years before we get back to normalcy, but things will slowly improve.”

S.A. Azeez, ACMA chartered accountant and management consultant, told Arab News that he was skeptical as to whether any immediate relief would be seen soon.

“I don’t think that people will get any immediate relief with such plans. In the short-term, implementation of such plans will be painful though long term would be beneficial to the country,” he said, adding that any country should have a long-term economic policy framework.

“Though late, it is good even now to initiate such a policy framework and long-term economic plans. The implementations may be very challenging in the present context since the need of the hour is providing necessities to society and keep the economy running.”

The government has been in bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund but has so far reached no agreement as it is still setting out its debt restructuring plan. Wickremesinghe said the plan would be submitted to the IMF “in the near future” with negotiation scheduled for this month.


Japan recognizes ‘right of Palestine to establish an independent state’

Japan recognizes ‘right of Palestine to establish an independent state’
Updated 9 sec ago

Japan recognizes ‘right of Palestine to establish an independent state’

Japan recognizes ‘right of Palestine to establish an independent state’
  • Hayashi stated that Japan recognizes “the right of Palestine to establish an independent state”
  • Japan has continued to provide substantial aid assistance to the Palestinian state

TOKYO: Japan Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa on Friday said Japan “will continue to comprehensively examine whether Palestinian state recognition will contribute to the progress of the peace process.”

In reply to a question from Arab News Japan, Hayashi stated that Japan recognizes “the right of Palestine to establish an independent state” and Japan supports the two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The state of Palestine has “the right to self-determination,” Hayashi said, adding: “We support the Palestinians’ efforts to establish an independent state from the political and economic perspective.”

Meanwhile, Arab News Japan learned that when former Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah, former Prime Minister of Palestine met with Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio last week, he asked for Japan to recognize Palestine as a state.

Japan has continued to provide substantial aid assistance to the Palestinian state.


Fans mourn victims of Indonesian stadium stampede at Friday prayers

Fans mourn victims of Indonesian stadium stampede at Friday prayers
Updated 19 min 19 sec ago

Fans mourn victims of Indonesian stadium stampede at Friday prayers

Fans mourn victims of Indonesian stadium stampede at Friday prayers
MALANG: Indonesians gathered for Friday prayers mourned 131 people killed in a soccer stampede six days ago, amid calls for a prompt investigation into one of the world’s most deadly stadium disasters to enable its victims to rest in peace.
Most of those killed after the match in the town of Malang, in East Java province, died of asphyxiation, caught in a panicked crush as they tried to flee after police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse a rowdy crowd.
At Al Fatih Mosque near Malang an Islamic preacher led a tearful recital of tahlilan, or special prayers for the dead.
“Many of the supporters demand the case be immediately resolved so the souls of those who died can rest in peace,” said 53-year-old soccer fan Widodo after joining the prayer.
Widodo, who like many Indonesians uses one name, had been at Saturday’s match but left early fearing things could turn bad.
Police have named six suspects in an investigation into the stampede, including match organizers and three officers who were present.
The deadly incident has fueled accusations of heavy-handed policing in the soccer-mad Southeast Asian nation, with the use of tear gas inside the stadium — prohibited by world soccer body FIFA — widely criticized.
Messages and posters have been plastered on the stadium’s doors and walls, some demanding an end to “police brutality,” and Amnesty International Indonesia said on Friday that the tragedy “shows what can happen when excessive use of force by security forces is allowed to go on with impunity.”

Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize

Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize
Updated 07 October 2022

Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize

Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize

OSLA: Jailed Belarusian activist Ales Byalyatski, Russian organization Memorial and Ukrainian group Center for Civil Liberties won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, highlighting the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honor three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence in the neighbor countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine,” said Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen.
She called on Belarus to release Byalyatski from prison.
The prize will be seen by many as a condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is celebrating his 70th birthday on Friday, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, making it one of the most politically contentious in decades.
The award was not an anti-Putin prize, however, Reiss-Andersen said.
“We always give the prize for something and to something and not against someone,” she told reporters.
Belarusian security police in July last year raided offices and homes of lawyers and human rights activists, detaining Byalyatski and others in a new crackdown on opponents of Lukashenko.
Authorities had moved to shut down non-state media outlets and human right groups after mass protests the previous August against a presidential election the opposition said was rigged.
“The (Nobel) Committee is sending a message that political freedoms, human rights and active civil society are part of peace,” Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told Reuters.
The prize will boost morale for Byalyatski and strengthen the hand of the Center for Civil Liberties, an independent Ukrainian human rights organization, which is also focused on fighting corruption, he said.
“Although Memorial has been closed in Russia, it lives on as an idea that it’s right to criticize power and that facts and history matter,” Smith added.
The award is recognition for the whole Belarusian people in standing up to Lukashenko, opposition spokesman Franak Viacorka said.
He told Reuters that Byalyatski was jailed in inhuman conditions and he hoped the prize, shared with Russian and Ukrainian human rights organizations, would lead to his release.
“That’s a huge sign of recognition for the Belarusian people, because the Belarusian people deserves it for their bravery in countering the tyranny of Lukashenko .... they deserve all the prizes in the world,” said Viacorka, chief of staff to exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who is a close friend of Byalyatski.
The Nobel Peace Prize, worth 10 million Swedish crowns, or about $900,000, will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.
“The Peace Prize laureates represent civil society in their home countries. They have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its citation.
“They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.”


UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup

UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup
Updated 07 October 2022

UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup

UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup
  • The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government last year

YANGON: More than one million people have been displaced in Myanmar since the military coup last year, the United Nations children’s agency has said.
The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government last year, sparking widespread armed resistance.
The junta has responded with a crackdown that rights groups say includes razing villages, mass extrajudicial killings and airstrikes on civilians.
Since the coup and as of last month, 1,017,000 people have been internally displaced, UNICEF said in a statement on Thursday.
It added that more than half of those forced to flee are in the country’s northwest Sagaing region, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting.
There were “significant challenges” to delivering humanitarian assistance in the region, UNICEF said.
Sagaing is crisscrossed by junta troops, pro-military militias and anti-coup fighters and where authorities regularly cut Internet access.
More than 12,000 civilian properties were thought to have been burned or destroyed across Myanmar since the coup, the UN humanitarian agency UNOCHA said in May.
Last month, at least 11 schoolchildren died in an airstrike and firing on a village in Sagaing, an attack the junta said targeted rebels hiding in the area.
Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis are moribund.
A “consensus” brokered last year by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aimed at facilitating dialogue between the military and its opponents and the delivery of humanitarian aid has been largely ignored by the junta.


Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’

Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’
Updated 07 October 2022

Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’

Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’
  • Russia launched its ‘special military operation’ to demilitarize and ‘denazify’ its neighbor

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggesting NATO should launch preventive strikes on Russia confirmed the need for what it calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.
“By doing so, (he) essentially presented the world with further evidence of the threats posed by the Kyiv regime,” Lavrov said. “This is why a special military operation was launched to neutralize them.”
In a discussion with an Australian think tank on Thursday, Zelensky said he believed strikes were necessary to preclude any use of nuclear weapons.
He did not go into detail about what kind of strikes he meant, and made no reference to any need for nuclear strikes.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced Zelensky’s comments as “an appeal to start yet another world war with unpredictable, monstrous consequences,” according to RIA news agency.
Russia launched its “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for invasion.