Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry chaired the first diplomatic briefing for Colombo-based diplomatic corps for the New Year at the Ministry on 10 January 2023.
Minister Sabry at the outset highlighted that Sri Lanka is looking towards 2023 as a year of socio-economic stabilization, reconciliation and recovery and outlined several areas of progress made in the country towards recovery and initiatives taken amidst challenges which has led to a greater degree of stability for the people.
Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms, Wijayedasa Rajapaksa, Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Dr. P. Nandalal Weerasinghe, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane and Director General of the Department of National Planning of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies R.H.W.A. Kumarasiri also contributed to the briefing.
With regard to reconciliation, Minister Sabry provided an update regarding the key measures undertaken by the Government in the recent months, including the All-Party Conference (APC) convened by the President in December 2022 with the participation of all political parties, functioning of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Reconciliation and the establishment of a Special Unit on solving issues of people in the Northern Province under the Presidential Secretariat. He also indicated that the Government has made serious efforts towards setting up a Truth and Reconciliation mechanism and the operationalization of the Office of Overseas Sri Lankan Affairs.
The Minister of Justice explained the progress that has been initiated in drafting a comprehensive legislation on counter terrorism to replace the PTA, update on anti-corruption law, progress on matters related to reconciliation processes coming under the purview of the Ministry of Justice, including the progress made by the Office on Missing Persons (OMP), Office for Reparations (OR) and Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR).
The Minister of Tourism highlighted that in order to encourage increased tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2023, measures have been put in place to provide all essential facilities for tourists including steps taken to ensure supply of fuel for foreign visitors i.e fuel pass and exempting identified tourism zones from power cuts. Minister also encouraged countries to reflect the current situation of the country, especially with regard to revising adverse travel advisories.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka made a presentation on the current economic situation and the envisaged way forward. Director General of the Department of National Planning provided a briefing on the social protection measures that have been adopted for vulnerable groups.
Foreign Secretary Wijewardane stated that Sri Lanka has submitted its national report under the 4th Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is a voluntary review process of the Human Rights Council. Secretary Wijewardane highlighted that in the process of preparing the National Report, the Government undertook broad consultations with local stakeholders including civil society organizations (CSOs) and that Sri Lanka looks forward to a constructive engagement with the United Nations as well as the international community in a spirit of cooperation and constructive dialogue.
During the discussion that followed the presentations, the members of the diplomatic corps expressed appreciation for the fruitful and useful briefing provided on the current situation and the steps taken towards recovery and stabilization.