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*A Daily Brief will not be published on Monday 12th, and Tuesday 13th December due to the local public holidays.
World Bank approves USD 75 million to strengthen welfare programmes
The World Bank has approved the release of USD 75 million credit from the International Development Association to develop welfare programmes in Sri Lanka. The project will be implemented through the Ministry of Finance, in partnership with the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Social Empowerment and Welfare, and the Information and Communication Technology Agency.
The Country Director of the World Bank for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, stated that the move will ensure ‘that targeted households receive the full benefit’ of welfare programmes.
President to sign bilateral MoUs during visit to Malaysia
President Maithripala Sirisena will sign several memoranda of understanding with the government of Malaysia during a three-day official visit to Kuala Lumpur, commencing on 15 December.
The acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Harsha de Silva, proposed the MoUs to the Cabinet, which approved them on 6 December. The MoUs concern development in several sectors, including education, agriculture, and tourism.
Tourist arrivals rise by 16% in November
Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka increased by 16% in November, compared to the number of arrivals in November 2015. Data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority indicates that the largest number of tourists arrived from India, China and Western Europe.
Vietnam dredges disputed reef in South China Sea
Vietnam has begun dredging work on the disputed Ladd Reef, in the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea. Satellite images show vessels in a newly dug channel between the lagoon and the open sea.
Ladd Reef, which is currently occupied by Vietnam, is also claimed by China and Taiwan.
South Korea votes to impeach incumbent President
The Parliament of South Korea has voted to impeach the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, in light of charges of corruption against her.
President Park’s powers will be suspended, and South Korea’s Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, will assume leadership until the country’s Constitutional Court decides on whether to remove President Park permanently from office.
Iran negotiates deals with global oil companies
Iran has been negotiating several significant oil agreements with international energy companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and Schlumberger. Iran is also negotiating deals with Chinese, Norwegian, Polish and Thai companies.
The deals are expected to facilitate the transfer of expertise and foreign investment to Iran, and offset the repercussions of any action taken against Iran by the Trump administration in the United States next year.