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Philippine and Chinese boats collide in South China Sea
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中新社约翰内斯堡3月5日电(记者 王曦)针对日益频繁的校园暴力犯罪事件，南非高等教育、科学与创新部部长布莱德·恩齐曼迪5日在接受记者采访时回应称，这一趋势表明南非社会治安不断恶化，政府必须采取有效措施，杜绝类似事件再次发生。Read more
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China sets ambitious economic target for 2024
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中新社旧金山3月4日电 当地时间4日，4名推特(已更名为“X”)前高管起诉美国企业家马斯克，要求其支付逾1.28亿美元遣散费。Read more
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Bondholder agreement delay unlikely to affect IMF review: Coomaraswamy
Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy
- Expresses confidence in reaching AIP with bondholders soon
- Says in case of a delay, IMF is likely to provide breathing space
- Acknowledges SL has made good progress in stabilising economy
By Nishel Fernando
A potential delay in securing an agreement-in-principle (AIP) with Sri Lanka’s private bondholders is unlikely to impact the second review of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, former Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.
Rothschild, the financial advisor to the bondholder group, is currently studying the proposal and consequently, will present the proposal to the bondholder group with its recommendations, said the senior economist, addressing an informative forum organised by CA Sri Lanka in Colombo yesterday.
While this process could take some time, he was confident that the bondholders, based on the recommendations of their advisors, would soon come onboard to reach an AIP with the government, possibly within the second review of the IMF programme.
In a case of a delay, Dr. Coomaraswamy shared that the IMF would provide breathing space to the country, given that the negotiations are progressing on a ‘genuine and good faith’ basis.
He acknowledged that the country has made significant strides in stabilising the economy, in line with the IMF criteria, ahead of the second review, which is set to start this week (March 7).
“I think one can safely say that we have done very well. In the sense that when the IMF conducted its review in December, they actually upgraded the macroeconomic framework. Growth recovered to the positive territory in the third quarter of last year,” Dr. Coomaraswamy told the forum.
The progress in meeting the key commitments under the IMF-backed programme is set to be formally assessed in the context of the second review of the Extended Fund Facility arrangement, alongside the forthcoming 2024 Article IV consultation assessing Sri Lanka’s economic health.
In addition, the IMF expects Sri Lanka to reach the final agreements with the official creditors as well as reaching in-principle agreements with the external private creditors (bondholders) on the external debt restructuring, ahead of the second review.
The government earlier last month submitted an ‘enhanced’ proposal through its advisor Lazard, countering the bondholder group’s previous offer from October last year. The bondholders had proposed a 20 percent haircut and the issuance of macro-linked bonds.
Without divulging the details of the ‘enhanced’ proposal, Dr. Coomaraswamy noted that the government is not against the idea of linking debt restructuring with macroeconomic performances in principle.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s official (bilateral) creditors are only expected to finalise agreements on external debt restructuring after studying the AIP reached with the private bondholders.
Therefore, Dr. Coomaraswamy asserted that the AIP with the private bondholders needs to be aligned with the in-principal agreements that were reached with the country’s bilateral creditors late last year. Otherwise, he cautioned that the bilateral creditors could walk back from in-principal agreements, triggering back and forth negotiations with the two groups, as happened in the case of Zambia.
Although Zambia defaulted on its debt in 2020, the country is expected to complete the external debt restructuring only in the first half of this year.
Sri Lanka reached the AIP with the Official Creditor Committee, representing the bilateral creditors and China, late last year.
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Eight Sri Lankans rescued from illegal cyber center camp in Myanmar
March 04 (Daily Mirror) - Eight Sri Lankan nationals who were forcibly detained at an illegal cyber center camp in Myanmar have been rescued, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Myanmar, Janak Bandara confirmed.
The rescue operation was conducted under the intervention of the Myanmar government.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Ambassador Janak Bandara said the detainees are currently held at the Myawaddy Central Police Station in Myanmar.
“Steps are being taken to repatriate the rescued individuals,” he added.Read more
Parents urged to cease pressure on primary school children
The pressure exerted by parents on their children during primary education from Grades 1to 5 should be stopped and the necessary environment will be prepared to reduce its competitiveness, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said.
However, the Grade Five scholarship examination will be held in the future, he assured.
In order to evaluate students, measures are taken to evaluate their good skills by recognizing the skills displayed by children for activities outside the classroom, the Minister added.Read more
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First ever semi-transparent solar PV pilot project commissioned
Colombo, March (Daily Mirror) - Sri Lanka’s first ever semi-transparent solar PV-powered agrivoltaic pilot project was commissioned at Hanthana in Kandy.
Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the project was funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
He said the pilot project will assist the Plantation Industries Ministry, Power & Energy Ministry, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Tea Small Holders Development Authority and Sustainable Energy Authority to study the development of renewable energy in tea plantations in the country.Read more
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WNPS vows tough action against Adani wind power project
Colombo, Feb 28 (Daily Mirror) - Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) vowed stern legal action against the Adani-sponsored wind power project in Mannar if the proposed environmental concerns on the EIA is not heeded by the Central Environment Authority (CEA), saying over one million birds will be affected annually if the project came into being.
Senior biodiversity scientist Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda said yesterday the proposals on serious environmental concerns about the Mannar wind power generation project will be submitted to the CEA before the given deadline on March 6th.
Addressing a media briefing held in Colombo yesterday Dr. Pethiyagoda said if the proposals on the environment impact assessment (EIA) submitted by them were rejected by the CEA, they would seek legal action against the project.
He said even the concerned citizens could comment on the EIA, while it is open for public comments until March 6th addressed to Director General, CEA through [email protected]
Prof Sampath Seneviratne explaining about the situation said Sri Lanka is annually visited by 15 million migratory birds of 250 species from 30 countries as the southernmost destination of the Central Asian Flyway (CAF).
Out of this, over one million migratory birds of 150 species are visiting the Mannar corridor, which functions as a critical over-wintering ground providing breeding habitats for another 26 species of threatened birds.
Prof. Seneviratne said with the oncoming proposed 50 turbine wind power project on the Mannar corridor all those birds will be affected or destroyed. “The proposed 250MW will pose significant risks to both ecological and economic balance,” he said.
Environmental Lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said the EIA on the Mannar project has been conducted based on incomplete Terms of Reference, violating Sri Lankan laws, lack of consultation with key stakeholders and oversight of the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s expertise.Read more
Locals outraged as Israeli and Ukrainian tourists operate businesses in South
By Kamanthi Wickramasinghe
Following the Daily Mirror’s expose on Russian tourists engaging in illegal businesses in several areas in the south, it has now come to light that many Israeli and Ukrainian tourists are also engaged in running similar businesses in the south, hampering local businesses and causing much concern among industry stakeholders.
The Daily Mirror visited these areas along the southern coastal belt and learnt that business operations run by Israeli and Ukrainian tourists include boutique hotels, restaurants and cafes.
However, local tour operators claim that most Ukrainian tourists have even reached the extent of organizing excursions which they claim is illegal as tourists don’t have a license to operate as inbound tour guides.
Local nationals in the south claim that if an immediate monitoring process is not enforced, tourists and locals are likely to clash as the tourists are attempting to hinder local businesses and hinder their livelihoods.
During a visit on ground, the Daily Mirror also learnt that Israeli nationals have purchased lands to set up their businesses. Local sources told the Daily Mirror that some Israeli nationals have purchased lands on a 99-year lease basis. As a result, the demand for land and property has skyrocketed in these areas.
The tourism sector stakeholders on Monday confirmed that Sri Lanka is witnessing an increasing trend of international visitors engaging in business activities and warned that the industry, in certain parts of the country, is impacted as a result.
Officials from the industry said they had alerted the relevant authorities regarding a section of tourists arriving in the country for long stays, carrying out business activities, without proper registrations and a majority of these tourist-run businesses started off small but have grown considerably over time.
“We have been talking about this to the authorities as early as 2022. We saw this situation brewing in the South but now it has spread to other areas as well," SLAITO President Nishard Wijetunge said.
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando had over the weekend said his Ministry had held discussions with the Immigration Department following several complaints from local businesses and following raids conducted by the authorities, several of these foreign run businesses were not registered with the SLTDA and neither were they paying taxes.Read more
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Central Bank of Sri Lanka clarifies reports on salary hike
Colombo, Feb 25 - The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has responded to recent media reports surrounding comments made by Members of Parliament regarding the latest revision of remuneration for CBSL employees.
In a statement released today, the CBSL emphasized its commitment to transparency and accountability in its operations.
The Governing Board of the CBSL, at a meeting held on 21.02.2024, directed the Governor to formally request an opportunity to address Members of Parliament through an appropriate parliamentary committee.
This request, made in accordance with Section 80 (2) (b) of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Act No. 16 of 2023, aims to provide clarity on the process and rationale behind the recent remuneration revision, which was approved under the triennial Collective Agreement with Trade Unions covering the period 2024-2026.
On 22.02.2024, the Governor of CBSL submitted a written request to the President, who also serves as the Minister of Finance and acts as the conduit through which CBSL communicates with Parliament.
The request seeks an opportunity to apprise Members of Parliament of the factors driving the remuneration adjustment for CBSL staff.
CBSL also reiterated its willingness to provide explanations and insights into the decision-making process behind the remuneration revision either upon being granted the requested opportunity or upon receiving a formal request for information.
Suspected deaths of patients at Kurunegala Hospital raise concern
Feb 24, (Daily Mirror) - The Health Ministry has launched an investigation and appointed a committee to look into the incident surrounding the suspected deaths at the dialysis unit of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital.
Speaking of the matter, Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr. Palitha Mahipala said the at least five deaths have occurred since January at the dialysis unit.
Accordingly, a five-member committee headed by Chief Epidemiologist Dr Samitha Ginige has been appointed to look into the matter.
According to sources, the incident may have occurred due to the entry of certain unidentified pathogens into the blood dialysis unit.
However, the Health Ministry is investigating the entire scenario to ascertain the actual cause of the deaths.
In light of the situation, the health authorities have taken prompt measures to shut down the unit and direct the kidney patients to other nearest units.Read more
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Court prevents removal of Sarath Fonseka from SJB’s positions
Colombo, Feb 19 (Daily Mirror) - The Colombo District Court today issued an enjoining order preventing the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) from removing Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka from the party positions.
The District Court made this order pursuant to a plaint filed by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka against SJB office bearers.
This order will be effective till March 4.
Sri Lanka fall behind in blacklisting corrupt contractors: Verité Research
Colombo, Feb 18 (Daily Mirror) - Sri Lanka has the worst record among South Asian countries in blacklisting corrupt contractors in public procurement, according to a new report by Verité Research.
The report shows that Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia that 1) does not recognise engaging in corrupt and fraudulent activities during procurement as a valid reason for blacklisting 2) has not blacklisted contractors that have defaulted on contractual obligations despite having the provisions to do so.
The first issue can be attributed to gaps in the procurement guidelines of 2006, which govern almost all public procurement in Sri Lanka — except in a few instances such as pharmaceutical procurement.
The report emphasises the importance of urgently fixing these gaps to combat corruption and restore fiscal governance.
The second issue – not blacklisting defaulting contractors – shows a lack of compliance with existing regulations. Sri Lanka has provisions not only to blacklist defaulting contractors, but also to publish their names on a public, online database.
However, this database, maintained by the Department of Public Finance, is empty. By contrast, as of July 2023, Nepal had 629 entries on its online database and Bangladesh had 510.
High levels of corruption in procurement and the importance of fixing then have also been highlighted in the civil society governance diagnostic and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) governance diagnostic on Sri Lanka. In fact, one of the key IMF recommendations is to enact a public procurement law in Sri Lanka that reflects international best practices by December 2024.
The report by Verité Research, titled “Backwards in Blacklisting: Gaps in Sri Lanka’s Procurement Framework Enable Corruption”, is available on the Verité Research website – https://www.veriteresearch.org/publication/sri-lanka-procurement-corruptiongaps/Read more
Sri Lanka busts oil spill using satellite surveillance for first time
Colombo, Feb 17 (Daily Mirror) - Following the initiative with the French government to detect oil spills in Sri Lankan waters using satellite surveillance, Sri Lanka has detected the first such incident and fined Rs. 15 million to the responsible company, the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said.
According to the MEPA, on February 5, the CLS analysts (The French Company) reported the detection of significant oil pollution off their coasts, by an illegal discharge of the Global Crest, a 120-metre tanker cruising from Malaysia to the UAE.
Action was taken immediately against the vessel and an onboard inspection was conducted, which revealed clear evidence of the illegal discharge. The ship was detained until the owner admitted the offence and acknowledged the maximum fine of Rs. 15 million pursuant to national regulations.
Lying at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka is strategically located to become a key stage along the main Indian Ocean shipping routes. However, it is exposed to the increasing risk of pollution from both accidental spills and illegal discharges.
In the frame of the OSDS initiative funded by the French Government, Sri Lanka recently entrusted CLS with the delivery of a service to detect oil pollution and identify polluters from space. This proven detection system has already been successfully deployed in other regions around the world, like in Europe, where the Cleanseanet service operated by the European Maritime Safety Authority (EMSA) has had a clear deterrent effect, halving the number of pollution incidents detected in European waters in 10 years.
Since September 2023, CLS has been delivering more than 100 detection reports to MEPA with the aim of demonstrating the effectiveness of satellite technologies in reducing marine pollution and mitigating their environmental impact.
This case is considered a real success by the OSDS stakeholders, proving the relevance and efficiency of the initiative. It paves the way towards developing a sovereign, fully operational local capability to meet the challenges that lie ahead.Read more
Forensic audit reveals frauds at Ceylon Petroleum Corporation
Colombo, Feb 16 (Daily Mirror) - KPMG's forensic audit into discrepancies at Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals (CPSTL) has revealed substantial losses attributed to alterations and deletions in SAP data related to stock holdings.
The forensic audit was initiated in response to a complaint filed by the Power and Energy Minister with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in August 2022.
The major findings of the forensic audit conducted by KPMG on the sales and distribution of petroleum products from the CPSTL was briefed to Minister Kanchana Wijesekera last afternoon.
Accordingly, the KPMG and CPSTL audit investigation officials have found that more than 1.3 million entries on SAP data have been changed or deleted since 2010 and most have occurred in 2022 during the height of the fuel crisis.
After the complaint was lodged in August 2022 the number had significantly reduced in 2023.
Massive losses have been recorded from stock holding in 2022 amounting to Rs. 28 billion & after the complaint was lodged it had come down to Rs. 4 billion in 2023.
Use of outdated circulars and procedures and no adequate data have been available or kept to determine certain irregularities.
Accordingly, the full report on the major findings of the forensic audit conducted by KPMG will be handed over next week by KPMG and the Minister will handover the complete report to the CID for further investigations and appropriate legal steps.
The report will also be shared with the members of the Cabinet, Parliament, the Auditor General and the Attorney General's Department to pursue the next steps.Read more
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Silicon Valley Bank collapse renews calls to address disparities impacting entrepreneurs of color
When customers at Silicon Valley Bank rushed to withdraw billions of dollars last month, venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton stepped in to help some of the founders of color who panicked about losing access to payroll funds.Read more
'I was up to my waist down a hippo's throat.' He survived, and here's his advice
Paul Templer was living his best life.Read more
Michael Jordan's 1998 NBA Finals sneakers sell for a record $2.2 million
In 1998, Michael Jordan laced up a pair of his iconic black and red Air Jordan 13s to bring home a Bulls victory during Game 2 of his final NBA championship — and now they are the most expensive sneakers ever to sell at auction. The game-winning sneakers sold for $2.2 million at Sotheby's in New York on Tuesday, smashing the sneaker auction record of $1.47 million, set in 2021 by a pair of Nike Air Ships that Jordan wore earlier in his career.Read more
How Playboy cut ties with Hugh Hefner to create a post-MeToo brand
Hugh Hefner launched Playboy Magazine 70 years ago this year. The first issue included a nude photograph of Marilyn Monroe, which he had purchased and published without her knowledge or consent.Read more
They bought an abandoned 'ghost house' in the Japanese countryside
He'd spent years backpacking around the world, and Japanese traveler Daisuke Kajiyama was finally ready to return home to pursue his long-held dream of opening up a guesthouse.Read more
Here's the real reason to turn on airplane mode when you fly
We all know the routine by heart: "Please ensure your seats are in the upright position, tray tables stowed, window shades are up, laptops are stored in the overhead bins and electronic devices are set to flight mode."Read more
'A definitive backslide.' Inside fashion's worrying runway trend
Now that the Fall-Winter 2023 catwalks have been disassembled, it's clear one trend was more pervasive than any collective penchant for ruffles, pleated skirts or tailored coats.Read more
Relaxed entry rules make it easier than ever to visit this stunning Asian nation
Due to its remoteness and short summer season, Mongolia has long been a destination overlooked by travelers.Read more
Scientists identify secret ingredient in Leonardo da Vinci paintings
"Old Masters" such as Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli and Rembrandt may have used proteins, especially egg yolk, in their oil paintings, according to a new study.Read more
The surreal facades of America's strip clubs
Some people travel the world in search of adventure, while others seek out natural wonders, cultural landmarks or culinary experiences. But French photographer François Prost was looking for something altogether different during his recent road trip across America: strip clubs.Read more
Nelly Cheboi, who creates computer labs for Kenyan schoolchildren, is CNN's Hero of the Year
Celebrities and musicians are coming together tonight to honor everyday people making the world a better place.Read more
CNN Heroes: Sharing the SpotlightRead more
These were the best and worst places for air quality in 2021, new report shows
Air pollution spiked to unhealthy levels around the world in 2021, according to a new report.Read more
Not only is Lake Powell's water level plummeting because of drought, its total capacity is shrinking, too
Lake Powell, the second-largest human-made reservoir in the US, has lost nearly 7% of its potential storage capacity since 1963, when Glen Canyon Dam was built, a new report shows.Read more
Big-box stores could help slash emissions and save millions by putting solar panels on roofs. Why aren't more of them doing it?
As the US attempts to wean itself off its heavy reliance on fossil fuels and shift to cleaner energy sources, many experts are eyeing a promising solution: your neighborhood big-box stores and shopping malls.Read more
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Donate now to a Top 10 CNN Hero
Anderson Cooper explains how you can easily donate to any of the 2021 Top 10 CNN Heroes.Read more
Want Cash Out of Your Home? Here Are Your Best OptionsRead more
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