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Lanka Premier League 2022 to start on December 6

Asia Cup, set to begin on August 27, was also shifted from Sri Lanka to the UAE due to similar reasons…reports Asian Lite News

The rescheduled 2022 Lanka Premier League will be held from December 6 to 23, the organisers announced on Tuesday.

The third season of the LPL was initially slated to be held in August, but the economic crisis engulfing the island nation had forced a postponement last month.

“It’s my pleasure to announce that the LPL will be held from 6th to 23rd December,” LPL tournament organiser Samantha Dodanwela told the media. The news was also confirmed by IPG, the LPL’s official promoter, on Twitter.

According to ESPNcricinfo report, the sponsors of LPL felt that organising the tournament in August during the crisis was suboptimal, which led to the official postponement in July. Later, the Asia Cup, set to begin on August 27, was also shifted from Sri Lanka to the UAE due to similar reasons.

Meanwhile, no decision has been taken yet on a potential LPL re-draft. It is understood that the tournament organisers are deciding between two options: either holding a fresh draft, or going ahead with as many of the available players as possible with only the slots taken up by any unavailable foreign players being re-drafted.

As per Sri Lanka’s Future Tours Program, the tournament will likely be sandwiched between a home Test series against West Indies in November and an away ODI series against India in December-January.

The LPL is a five-team competition being held since 2020. Jaffna Kings, formerly the Stallions, have been champions in the two previous seasons while Galle Gladiators have been runners-up in both those editions.The other three teams are Colombo Stars, Kandy Falcons and Dambulla Giants – all three of whom have also gone through changes in ownership since the inaugural edition.

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Row deepens as Lanka defers arrival of Chinese ‘spy vessel’

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin told reporters on Monday that it “is completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called ‘security concerns’ to pressure Sri Lanka”…reports Asian Lite News

Despite pressure from Beijing, Sri Lanka is continuing to defer the arrival of controversial Chinese vessel ‘Yuang Wang’ 5 to its southern port run by China.

On Saturday, following concerns raised by India, Sri Lanka urged China to indefinitely delay the entry for the tracking and survey vessel to the south Indian Ocean island nation.

In a letter written to the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said: “The Ministry wishes to request that the arrival date of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 in
Hambantota to be deferred until further consultation are made on this matter.”

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry stated: “In light of the need for further consultations, the Ministry has communicated to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Colombo to defer the visit of the said vessel to the Hambantota port.”

It said that diplomatic clearance for the Chinese vessel to make a port call at the Hambantota August 11-17 for replenishment purposes was conveyed by the Ministry to the Chinese Embassy on July 12.

However, the Foreign Ministry also reaffirmed the enduring friendship and excellent
relations between Sri Lanka and China and referred to Sri Lanka’s firm commitment to the one-China policy which has been a consistent principle in the country’s foreign policy.

Beijing raised strong protest against the Indian move.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin told reporters on Monday that it “is completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called ‘security concerns’ to pressure Sri Lanka”.

“We urge the relevant parties to see China’s marine scientific research activities in a rational light and stop disrupting normal exchange and cooperation between China and Sri Lanka,” Wang, who didn’t mention the name of India, stated.

“Sri Lanka is a sovereign country. It has the right to develop relations with other countries based on its development interests. To have normal cooperation is the independent choice made by our two countries. It serves the shared interests of both sides and does not target any third party.”

Soon after Sri Lanka announced that the Chinese ship has been asked not to enter its port, Chinese diplomats had rushed to meet President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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Sri Lanka

Over 5.5 mn vehicles registered with Lanka’s fuel quota system

An emergency programme is being set up to help 3.4 million people in Sri Lanka who are most at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition, it added…reports Asian Lite News

Over 5.5 million vehicles have been registered with Sri Lanka’s national fuel pass or QR code system, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera said on Monday.

A total of 1,246 gas stations in the country now follow the QR code system and 4.3 million transactions have been completed, Xinhua news agency quoted Wijesekera as saying.

He said buses engaged in public transport can get extra fuel apart from the standard quota from 107 state-owned bus depots.

Sri Lankan pumps started accepting he national fuel pass or QR code system from August 1 as the country is facing a severe fuel shortage amid the worst-ever economic crisis.

The South Asia nation appointed a committee last week to select suitable companies to import, distribute and sell petroleum products in the country.

Food crisis

 The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is concerned about the impact of the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka on food supplies for the country’s poorest.

Nearly 6.3 million people, or three in 10 households, are at risk of food insecurity and need assistance, the WFP said in a statement of thanks for an aid contribution from Norway of the equivalent of about $500,000.

Recent WFP surveys show that 61 per cent of families are either eating less, or eating less nutritious food, or even skipping meals altogether, due to the acute emergency, reports dpa news agency.

An emergency programme is being set up to help 3.4 million people in Sri Lanka who are most at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition, it added.

The island nation, with a population of about 22 million, is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since it gained independence in 1948.

Most recently, the country, which is $51 billion in foreign debt, lacked the money to import essential goods such as fuel, medicines and gas for cooking.

Food prices have risen sharply and inflation is already over 60 per cent, according to official figures.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact of the current economic and political crisis on the people of Sri Lanka,” Norwegian Ambassador Trine Joranli Eskedal was quoted as saying.

Food shortages and rising prices have had a particularly negative impact on women and children in the island nation.

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Alarm bells in Lanka over China’s surveillance ship to Hambantota

The Chinese vessel is all set to arrive in Sri Lanka on August 11. The Sri Lankan government has responded to the concern and said that there is no military motive behind the visit by the vessel…reports Asian Lite News

Yuan Wang 5, the Chinese research and Survey vessel, en route to the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka has sent alarm bells to Colombo as country’s Sri Lanka’s Defence Ministry said that China has informed of “sending ship for surveillance”.

Sri Lanka’s Defence Ministry media spokesman Colonel Nalin Herath also expressed similar sentiments saying that the country will allow the vessel to dock since it is a non-nuclear platform. However, he said that they are aware of India’s concerns, Daily Mirror reported.

 “China informed us that they are sending their ship for surveillance and navigation in the Indian Ocean,” he said.

The Chinese vessel is all set to arrive in Sri Lanka on August 11. The Sri Lankan government has responded to the concern and said that there is no military motive behind the visit by the vessel, Daily Mirror reported.

Notably, the Yuan Wang 5 is a dual-use spy, research and survey vessel which is employed for space and satellite tracking and with specific usage in intercontinental ballistic missile launches, according to reports.

This vessel is in control of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) under its Strategic Support Force (SSF) unit. The SSF focuses on space, cyber, and electronic warfare.

A Sri Lankan consulting firm, the Belt and Road Initiative Sri Lanka, said on its website that the Yuan Wang 5 is likely to leave on August 17 after replenishment.

It further said Yuan Wang 5 would be in Hambantota for a week and “conduct space tracking, satellite control and research tracking in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean region through August and September”.

Designated as a research stroke survey vessel, Yuan Wang 5 was built in 2007 and has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tonnes. The survey vessel departed from Jiangyin, China on July 13 and is currently sailing close to Taiwan where China is conducting live-fire drills as an aggressive posture against Taipei for allowing US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit the self-ruled island.

Since the beginning of 2022, Sri Lanka has experienced an escalating economic crisis and the government has defaulted on its foreign loans. The United Nations warned that 5.7 million people “require immediate humanitarian assistance.”

While Sri Lanka faces its worst economic crisis since independence with food and fuel shortages, China has turned a blind eye to the crisis and shifted the blame to the borrower, a media report said.

Amid the pandemic, the country was trying to rebuild its economy, but the tourism industry was hit badly, an article in the Global Strat View think-tank read. Tourism in Sri Lanka supports 10 to 15 per cent of the economy.

The effect of the COVID-19 crisis, the loss of tourists, high government expenditure and tax cuts depleting state revenues, and the use of money for initiatives with minimal returns have all contributed to Sri Lanka’s economic meltdown.

Russia is the third largest market for Sri Lanka’s tea exports. As a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia was blocked from the SWIFT global payments system making the country unable to pay Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka turned to China for help and asked for USD 1 billion loan to meet repayments, and a USD 1.5 billion credit line to buy Chinese goods, however, no progress was attained even after months of negotiations. (ANI)

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WFP worried about food security in Lanka

An emergency programme is being set up to help 3.4 million people in Sri Lanka who are most at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition…reports Asian Lite News

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is concerned about the impact of the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka on food supplies for the country’s poorest.

Nearly 6.3 million people, or three in 10 households, are at risk of food insecurity and need assistance, the WFP said in a statement of thanks for an aid contribution from Norway of the equivalent of about $500,000.

Recent WFP surveys show that 61 per cent of families are either eating less, or eating less nutritious food, or even skipping meals altogether, due to the acute emergency, reports dpa news agency.

An emergency programme is being set up to help 3.4 million people in Sri Lanka who are most at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition, it added.

The island nation, with a population of about 22 million, is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since it gained independence in 1948.

Most recently, the country, which is $51 billion in foreign debt, lacked the money to import essential goods such as fuel, medicines and gas for cooking.

Food prices have risen sharply and inflation is already over 60 per cent, according to official figures.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact of the current economic and political crisis on the people of Sri Lanka,” Norwegian Ambassador Trine Joranli Eskedal was quoted as saying.

Food shortages and rising prices have had a particularly negative impact on women and children in the island nation.

ALSO READ: Lanka blocks Chinese ‘spy’ ship after pressure from India

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Lanka blocks Chinese ‘spy’ ship after pressure from India

According to a bilateral agreement signed in 1987, no Sri Lankan port can be allowed to be used for military purposes by any country in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests…reports Susitha Fernando

Amid pressure from its immediate neighbour India, Sri Lanka has urged China to delay the entry of controversial Chinese ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ into the Chinese controlled port in Southern Hambantota.

In a letter to the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka stated, “The Ministry wishes to request that the arrival date of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 in Hambantota to be deferred until further consultation is made on this matter.”



Referring to the permission given on July 12 allowing the Chinese ship to enter the Hambantota Port, the Foreign Ministry said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka presents its compliments to the Embassy of People’s Republic of China in Colombo and has the honour to refer to the Ministry’s Note No. PR/0640/2022 dated July 12, 2022 conveying the clearances for the visit of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 to enter the Port of Hambantota for replenishment purposes.”

Weeks ahead of the visit of the Chinese ‘spy’ ship, India had expressed its concern with the government of Sri Lanka. India had cautioned that it monitors closely all the developments with regard to her security, in the backdrop of the arrival of Chinese ‘research’ vessel which was planned to reach Hambantota on August 11.

According to a bilateral agreement signed in 1987, no Sri Lankan port can be allowed to be used for military purposes by any country in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests.

In response to India’s concern, Sri Lanka had earlier stated that the visit of the Chinese ship was only for “refuelling and replenishing of other facilities and provisions”.

“The ship or members of its crew will not involve in any internal affairs or business in Sri Lanka. China and India have always helped Sri Lanka domestically and in the international fora as true friends,” Cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Bandula Gunawarndena had stated.

“Sri Lanka would not do anything to harm the good understanding and trust existing between the two countries for millennia. Under no circumstances would Sri Lanka act detrimental to the interests of India or China as both nations have been Sri Lanka’s friends-in-need and have stood alongside Sri Lanka at all times,” he had said.

ALSO READ-Lanka mulls crackdown on forex violations

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BRI grapples with mounting debt crisis

The mounting financial pressure has also raised concerns that the country may have to hand over lucrative assets if it fails to meet its repayment obligations…reports Asian Lite News

Like Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan also has a swelling state debt and took on billions worth of loans over the last decade from China’s Export-Import Bank for a series of infrastructure plans under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature policy, which he once dubbed “the project of the century”, media reports said.

Kyrgyzstan’s debt currently sits north of $5.1 billion, according to the Foreign Ministry, 42 per cent of which is owed to Beijing. But Bishkek is struggling to cope with a contracting economy and has so far failed to yield a commercial return on the projects backed by its huge Chinese loans. This has prompted fears the country will be unable to pay off its loans or even meet interest payments. The mounting financial pressure has also raised concerns that the country may have to hand over lucrative assets if it fails to meet its repayment obligations.

That warning comes as sovereign-debt distress spreads in several countries along the BRI, prompting China’s first overseas debt crisis as it grapples with a mounting pile of non-performing loans and increased scrutiny of how Chinese lending has exacerbated economic pressures on vulnerable governments, RFE/RL reported.

“There’s no doubt that the Chinese Ministry of Finance and central bank are looking at their dashboards and their red lights are going off right now,” Bradley Parks, Executive Director of the AidData Lab at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, told RFE/RL.

The globe-spanning scale of BRI, which was launched in 2013 by Beijing as the largest infrastructure program undertaken by a single country, has left it with a list of risky debtors around the world — including Argentina, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Zambia, and Iran — that hoped to take advantage of the surge in Chinese overseas lending but now find themselves struggling with a debt crisis the World Bank has warned could trigger a series of defaults not seen since the 1980s.

“China is growing more concerned about it not being able to get paid back, so we have seen a pullback in lending that is set to accelerate,” Alicia Garcia-Herrero, the chief economist for Asia-Pacific at the investment bank Natixis, told RFE/RL. “China is also under growing economic pressure at home now and is becoming more hesitant to lend to risky countries. (This) has (opened) a new phase of the BRI.”

The BRI has helped make China the world’s largest bilateral lender and seen it give out loans totaling $932 billion since it was established eight years ago, according to data collected by the Green Finance and Development Center at Fudan University in Shanghai, RFE/RL reported.

Loans issued in recent years are turning bad at an unprecedented rate, with research by Rhodium Group, a New York-based research consultancy, showing that the value of Chinese loans that required negotiation soared to $52 billion in 2020 and 2021, a threefold increase from the previous two years.

Data compiled by William and Mary’s AidData Lab, which maintains one of the most comprehensive datasets on Chinese development finance, also shows the current scale of the debt crisis, with its research indicating 60 per cent of Chinese loans are to countries in financial distress, compared to only 5 per cent in 2010 before the BRI was launched. Other research by AidData shows that 35 per cent of the BRI infrastructure projects currently face major implementation problems.

In the face of such pressures, Beijing has begun to issue so-called “rescue loans” to starve off defaults, with AidData showing that tens of billions of dollars have been issued by Chinese state institutions to countries such as Pakistan, Belarus, Egypt, Mongolia, Turkey, and Sri Lanka, to help service their loans and avoid default, RFE/RL reported.

“We are at a major pivot point right now. The scale of this widespread debt pressure is something that China has never faced before and it is having to reinvent BRI on the fly,” Matthew Mingey, senior research analyst at Rhodium Group, told RFE/RL.

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Lanka mulls crackdown on forex violations

Given these developments and in the best interests of the nation, the CBSL warned all stakeholders of the economy that all efforts would be made to strictly monitor and ensure compliance…reports Asian Lite News

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has warned that companies and individuals that do not comply with all regulations on foreign exchange transactions will be punished sternly, local media reported on Monday.

The CBSL said that a major factor contributing to the current crisis in the country is the lack of foreign exchange liquidity in the banking system, reports Xinhua news agency.

To ensure adequate foreign exchange liquidity in the banking system, the central bank had to impose surrender requirements on export earnings.

The success of these regulatory measures and the ability to achieve the intended outcomes depend on the support and cooperation from the trading community and the banking system, the bank said.

“However, it has been brought to the notice of the CBSL that certain market players are not being fully compliant with these regulations,” it said.

“Such practice, if continued, would deprive the people of the support expected from the government in difficult times, while undermining the moral obligation of ‘equal burden sharing’ that is expected of all stakeholders under difficult and extraordinary circumstances.”

Given these developments and in the best interests of the nation, the CBSL warned all stakeholders of the economy that all efforts would be made to strictly monitor and ensure compliance with all regulations on foreign exchange transactions.

“Any instances of non-compliance will be dealt with stern action within the provisions of all applicable laws,” it said.

Sri Lanka has been going through a severe economic crisis and the lack of foreign reserves is preventing imports of essential items.

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SL Prez, US envoy discuss economic crisis

 Underlining the 70 years of partnership between the two countries, the US ambassador noted the importance of good governance and respect for human rights…reports Asian Lite News

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung met Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday and discussed the ongoing economic and political crisis and ways to work together to navigate toward a brighter future.

“Met with President @RW_UNP at the Presidential Secretariat today. He takes office at a time when Sri Lanka stands at a crossroads. We discussed how it arrived at this point of economic & political crisis, and how we can work together to navigate toward a brighter future for all,” Ambassador Julie Chung tweeted.

 Underlining the 70 years of partnership between the two countries, the US ambassador noted the importance of good governance and respect for human rights.

“Our countries and our people have been friends and partners for more than 70 years, relationships that will flourish in a Sri Lanka that embraces good governance, respects human rights and listens to the aspirations of its people,” she said in another tweet.

Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President of Sri Lanka last week after he was elected as president in an election held in Parliament. During last week’s vote, Wickremesinghe received 134 votes following the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the presidency last week amid severe economic turmoil in the country.

Shortly after Wickremesinghe took the oath, incidents of violence were reported at the protest site in Galle Face in Colombo. The military operation began within 24 hours of Wickremesinghe being sworn in as the President of Sri Lanka and just before a new cabinet was appointed.

Subsequently, US Ambassador to Colombo had asked for restraint by authorities and immediate access to medical attention for those injured. “Deeply concerned about actions taken against protestors at Galle Face in the middle of the night. We urge restraint by authorities and immediate access to medical attention for those injured,” Ambassador Chung said in a tweet last week.

The European Union (EU) also stressed the importance of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Sri Lanka’s economy is bracing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80 per cent depreciation of the currency since March 2022, coupled with a lack of foreign reserves, and the country’s failure to meet its international debt obligations.

Hundreds of Sri Lankans continue to queue up at petrol pumps across the debt-ridden country every day amid fuel shortage, and a large number of people are ditching their cars and motorcycles for bicycles for their daily commute.

The economic crisis which is the worst in Sri Lanka’s history has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like fuel. (ANI)

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World Bank has no plan for new financing to crisis-hit Lanka

Regarding the ongoing crisis, the World Bank Group said it is deeply concerned about the dire economic situation and its impact on the people of Sri Lanka…reports Asian Lite News

The World Bank has no plan to offer new financing to Sri Lanka until an adequate macroeconomic policy framework is in place in the island country, which is facing its worst crisis.

The international financial institution in a statement said deep structural reforms are needed.

 Reforms must focus on economic stabilization, and also on addressing the root structural causes that created this crisis to ensure that Sri Lanka’s future recovery and development is resilient and inclusive.

Regarding the ongoing crisis, the World Bank Group said it is deeply concerned about the dire economic situation and its impact on the people of Sri Lanka.

“To help alleviate severe shortages of essential items such as medicines, cooking gas, fertilizer, meals for school children, and cash transfers for poor and vulnerable households, we are repurposing resources under existing loans in our portfolio. To date, about USD 160 million of these funds have been disbursed to meet urgent needs,” the statement said.

In addition, other ongoing projects continue to support basic services, the delivery of medicine and medical supplies, school meals and tuition waivers.

“We are working closely with implementing agencies to establish robust controls and fiduciary oversight to ensure these resources reach the poorest and most vulnerable. We will continue to monitor this closely,” it added.

We are also coordinating closely with other development partners to maximize the impact of our support for the people of Sri Lanka.

For the record, Sri Lanka has experienced an escalating economic crisis and the government has defaulted on its foreign loans. The United Nations warned that 5.7 million people “require immediate humanitarian assistance.”

With many Sri Lankans experiencing extreme shortages of essentials including food and fuel, peaceful protests began in March. The protests led then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign on May 9, and his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee the country on July 13 and resign the following day.

Ranil Wickremesinghe became acting President and parliament elected him as the new president on July 20 with the support of the Rajapaksas’ political party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. (ANI)

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