The Day Brief of January 2, 2018

1. While the Australian media has been reporting that the Australian Federal Police is investigating allegations that bribes have been given by Australian firm, Snowy Mountains to a close aide of (then) Irrigation Minister Sirisena, President Sirisena says that he, as the (then) General Secretary of the SLFP had told the Party’s Local Government members “not to plunder” state assets

2. President Sirisena laments that his home District Polonnaruwa has the highest rate of suicides in Sri Lanka, and the second-highest in the world

3. President Sirisena laments that funds required to purchase fertilizer had not been released to the banks until his “intervention”: hints that such lapse had caused the fertilizer shortage

4. SLFP Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera now takes up GSP issue and says US suspension of GSP has minimal impact: UNP Deputy Minister who was the main proponent of the virtues of GSP, now shifts focus away from GSP and says Indian Ambulance service will be expanded, and may use boats and helicopters as well

5. Minister of the UNP-SLFP Unity Government, S B Dissanayake says it is the Joint Opposition that wants to “keep the UNP in power till 2015”

6. President Sirisena who dissolved Parliament one day before the vital COPE Report on the Bond Scam was presented to the Parliament, says he would brief the media on the Bond Scam Commission Report tomorrow: former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the Bond Scams have dealt a fatal blow to the UNP

7. In the wake of UNP-SLFP Unity Government MOU lapsing on 31st December 2017, SLFP General Secretary Minister Duminda Dissanayake says the two Parties will decide on the next step only after the Local Government elections on 10th February 2018

8. External Sector results for first 10 months up to October 2017: Cumulative Trade Deficit rises to USD 7.6 billion from USD 7.0 billion: Remittances down 7.9% to USD 5.5 billion: However, huge increase in foreign currency borrowings leads to Balance of Payments Surplus

9. Dull year 2017 for Colombo Stock Exchange – only two equity introductions: Market capitalization at only Rs.2.9 trillion, still well below market cap of Rs.3.1 trillion by end 2014

10. Sri Lanka’s 45,000 drug addicts consume 4 kilos of Heroin a day, says Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Prof Ravindra Fernando

Have a “drug-free” Tuesday

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