Messages from Ranil. Razeen and Rohan

ONE: “A Constituional Court required,” says Ranil ….

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today a separate Constitutional Court should be established to uphold the confidence of the people in the judicial system as politicization of the judiciary in the last decade had led to a loss of public confidence in the judicial system. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe expressed these views while delivering the 12th Sujata Jayawardena memorial oration organised by the Alumni Association of the Colombo University on “Strengthening Democratic Institutions” at the BMICH in Colombo. The Premier said politicization of the judiciary had been an obstacle to enshrining the Constitution as the supreme law and declaring all other laws which are inconsistent with the Constitution as invalid. “When establishing a separate Constitutional Court, we have to consider two issues. The first is the tenure of the Judges. Should it be decreed by an age limit or a time period? The second would be a possible method of ensuring the independence of the Constitutional Court,’ he said.

Ranil at SUja

Mr. Wickremesinghe said a long drawn out terrorist war and the attempts to repress the opposition in recent times had led to the weakening of many of the democratic institutions such as the judiciary, political parties, the clergy, the media and civil society

Referring to the media freedom in Sri Lanka, Mr. Wickremesinghe said unbiased reporting by the State owned media and the upholding of media principles by the private media through an effective media complaints commission and an Independent Broadcasting Commission was a key to restoring media freedom in the country.

TWO: “PM: Media commission crucial for media standards,” = Dhaneshi Yatawara …

Establishing an effective media commission and an Independent Broadcasting Commission is crucial to uphold media principles particularly in the private media sector, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. He emphasised the need for the state-owned media to practice unbiased reporting. “Today, the State media and large media houses pose a threat to media freedom,” the Premier added. “The state must actively promote and strengthen civil society which was subjected to suppression in the last decade,” the Premier said. He emphasised the need to create a culture where democratic institutions flourish.

He was delivering the Sujata Jayawardena memorial oration organised by the Alumni Organisation of the Colombo University on “Strengthening Democratic Institutions”.

Comparing the current situation with the past decade, Premier Wickremesinghe added that the media, being intimidated and eliminated was a striking feature of a totalitarian society said he. Commenting on the political culture that existed in the last decade, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe added that it was the social media which played a huge role in ensuring the right to report when the conventional media failed. He elaborated on safeguarding these democratic organisations by establishing a layer consisting of members selected from civil society who were not affiliated to political parties. This layer should be powered to advise Parliament and the Government and refer Bills back for reconsideration by Parliament. “Similarly, laws must also ensure that civil society should not promote ethnic and religious disharmony or promote violence,” he added

THREE: “PM addresses Sujatha Jayawardena memorial ceremony,” …… Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe says that media freedom was completely curtailed, 44 journalists lost their lives and another group of them fled the country in the recent past. Prime Minister mentioned this while addressing the 12th Sujatha Jayawardena memorial ceremony at the University of Colombo.RANILAT SUJATHA  ORATION

FOUR:Govt urged to put ‘the right people in the right place along with the right system’ = Hiran H. Senewiratne with Professor Razeen Sally, 18 Dec.2018, …

The 2016 budget does not tally with the economic policy statement laid out by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently and the government needs to start putting the “right people in the right place along with the right system,” to genuinely implement reforms to put the country in order, internationally renowned economist Prof. Razeen Sally said. “Sri Lanka’s high exposure to external debt has widened her current account and fiscal deficits, resulting in a weak currency that is vulnerable in a climate where international money is becoming more expensive, Prof Sally said at a forum organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on Thursday under the theme “Global Economy and Sri Lanka – What Can We Expect in 2016?”

RAZEENSally, an Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore said the budget of the previous regime dealt poorly in terms of fiscal and monetary policies. He said as the interest rates continue to rise in the US and other parts of the world the “debt funded growth spree based on consumption and imports and public investment is no longer tenable for Sri Lanka.

“A worsening economic climate is the familiar story for Sri Lanka, which crafts very unbalanced macroeconomic policies and the chances are that this climate is going to get considerably worse in 2016,” he said. Sally also said IMF funds may become necessary as the money flow tightens. But the previous government acted irresponsibly. Expecting to be bailed out by the IMF is an issue for this government, he said. Further, the last budget probably makes it more difficult, as the government clearly lacks credibility in the eyes of the IMF, the Ministry of Finance in particular. “Therefore, an efficient Finance Minister for the country is the need of the hour,Sally said.

“Consider the previous IMF standby agreement, which was clearly political. It was given under easy conditions, the government pretended it was reforming and the IMF pretended this was so. But it postponed the problem. The main message is that the problem has to be resolved at home. You cannot expect the IMF to come and sort out Sri Lanka’s problems, he said.

Prof Sally said that Sri Lanka would benefit from lower fuel prices but at the same time other commodity prices have weakened; non-oil commodity prices have fallen by about 17 percent and that has affected the plantation industry. “So the currency is good from the export side but not so when it comes to foreign debt, especially when denominated in dollars, he added.

Sally also said the country needs a comprehensive tax reform in a fair and transparent way and concurrently expenditure reform, to put government expenditure on a sustainable footing as a first step to reducing debt. “The government needs to get more serious and aside from China and India the really big prize is Europe and US. So the government should consider trade agreements with both, he said. Sri Lanka would benefit from joining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it would bring significant export markets and push the government towards key reforms that are needed anyway, he explained.

Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said that Sri Lanka’s recent revisions on the budget have made it further difficult to bridge the budget deficit. He said that despite all odds Sri Lanka will be able to register a 7 percent plus economic growth in the next year, as the IMF and the Central Bank have predicted.

FIVE: from

rohan pMaking his welcome remarks at the event, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Rohan Perera gave a brief account of the excellent relations that Sri Lanka has been maintaining with the United Nations as an active member of the Organization. He elaborated on the significant role that Sri Lanka has been playing since its admission to the United Nations, including as a member of the Security Council and a leading contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, and how the Organization has, in turn, contributed to the socio-economic development in Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Perera also gave an account of the prominent Sri Lankan diplomats who have held many a high position in the United Nations including that of the Presidency of the General Assembly, the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, as well as the important resolutions that Sri Lanka has successfully proposed and piloted through the General Assembly including on the Indian Ocean Peace Zone, International Year for Shelter for Homeless, the international recognition of the Day of Vesak , and the World Youth Skills Day.


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