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IGP to probe sexual harassment of parliament staffers

The IGP is to be handed over investigations into the alleged sexual harassment of female parliamentary housekeeping staffers by their superiors.

After inspecting the relevant files, the attorney general had advised that there was adequate evidence that permitted a probe.

A spokesman for parliament said all those files would be handed over to the police chief in a matter of days.

Complaints by more than 20 staffers

The assistant housekeeper and another officer have been suspended following complaints by more than 20 female staffers that they were sexually harassed.

An internal inquiry took place first and several other officers have been mentioned as suspects.

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Vadivel Suresh appointed presidential advisor

SJB MP Vadivel Suresh has been appointed as an advisor to president Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Badulla district MP will advise the president on the full integration of up-country Tamils into society.

Suresh was removed from his position as the SJB’s Passara organiser after he voted in favour of 2024 budget.WhatsApp Image 2023 12 06 at 11.09.54 PM


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Postal workers to go on 48-hour token strike

The postal workers have decided to resort to a 48-hour token strike from 04.00 p.m. today (Dec. 10), the United Postal Trade Unions’ Front says.

The Co-convener of the association Chinthaka Bandara said that more than 27,000 postal workers will join the relevant strike.

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Sri Lanka’s exit from bankruptcy: President expecting statement soon

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is poised to issue a statement in the upcoming weeks, signalling Sri Lanka’s exit from bankruptcy, President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced today (Dec 06).

However, the President underscored that, for sustained economic stability, a departure from outdated economic methods is imperative.

He further cautioned against the implementation of conventional economic strategies, emphasizing that without adopting innovative approaches, the risk of a recurrent economic crisis looms over the nation within the next decade.

The President made the remarks while addressing the centenary celebration of the Government Valuation Department, where he declared the initiation of a ground-breaking economic program. Set to kick off on January 1, this transformative initiative is designed to modernize various sectors and propel the nation towards progress.

The President underscored the imperative nature of adopting new economic reforms, emphasizing that the nation cannot afford to persist with outdated systems. He highlighted that the hardships endured over the past years should not be passed down to the next generation, asserting that the only viable course of action is to embrace the proposed economic changes, urging collective participation.

Reflecting on the recent economic challenges, President Wickremesinghe acknowledged the concerted efforts that rescued the country from financial distress over the past 18 months and commended the heads of public institutions and the workforce for their dedication. He cautioned against complacency, warning that without prudent management of the current economic stability, the nation might face another crisis within the next decade. The President advocated for a shift towards a digital economy, citing the necessity of employing modern economic methodologies.

President Wickremesinghe additionally emphasized that global financial entities have acknowledged Sri Lanka’s remarkable and swift recovery from economic challenges, particularly in comparison to countries facing bankruptcy amid the global economic recession.

Expressing gratitude to the employees of the Government Valuation Department for their dedicated service, the President presented awards and issued a commemorative stamp worth Rs. 25 and a first-day cover to mark the centenary celebration. He unveiled the song and flag of the department and introduced the “e-Valuation” system to digitize its operations.

President Wickremesinghe, in his additional remarks, highlighted the historical evolution of the Valuation Department, tracing its origins back to the Portuguese period and noting significant developments during the British era, including the establishment of the Assessor position in 1923.

Underlining the continued evolution, the President pointed out that the role of the Valuation Department experienced further expansion with the introduction of the land policy in 1972, ushering in a new era.

The President stressed the critical importance of digitization in this context, emphasizing the necessity for a skilled workforce in assessment within the framework of the digital economy. To achieve this, he proposed an increase in university enrolment to nurture future Valuers.

Looking ahead, President Wickremesinghe advocated for a regular property valuation cycle, suggesting that assessments should be conducted every five years. He underscored the vital contribution of the assessment process to the tax collection system, expressing high regard for the initiation of digitalization within the Valuation Department starting from the current year.

Reflecting on the challenges of the past year, during which the nation confronted a significant economic crisis, it is essential to acknowledge the substantial sacrifices made by both government officials and the broader population in steering the country towards recovery. Gratitude is due to all those who played a part in this collective effort, he said.

In the upcoming weeks, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is poised to issue a statement signalling the country’s exit from bankruptcy. However, President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored that, for sustained economic stability, a departure from outdated economic methods is imperative. He cautioned against the implementation of conventional economic strategies, emphasizing that without adopting innovative approaches, the risk of a recurrent economic crisis looms over the nation within the next decade.

Key measures have already been implemented to reinforce fiscal prudence. The Central Bank has ceased the practice of printing money and loans from state banks earmarked for development, have been halted. President Wickremesinghe emphasized that adherence to these conditions is indispensable for fostering economic growth. The President emphasized the crucial need for financial discipline, asserting that effective management of the economy in alignment with disciplined financial practices will pave the way for providing greater relief to the citizens in the future.

The prevailing economic crisis in the country, stemming from the disparity between imports and exports coupled with a budget deficit, necessitates strategic interventions. To address these challenges, comprehensive plans have been formulated to augment export earnings, curtail government expenditure and enhance government income.

Recognizing the potential of the tourism industry to generate substantial foreign exchange, a targeted initiative has been set in motion with the aim of attracting 2.5 million tourists to Sri Lanka next year. The government is optimistic that by further doubling this figure to 5 million, a rapid alleviation of the country’s economic woes can be achieved.

As part of this year’s budget proposal, a significant allocation of 300,000 acres has been earmarked for cultivation, representing a key component of the economic revitalization strategy.

The Valuation Department is poised to play a pivotal role in realizing this agricultural objective. Acknowledging the importance of efficiency in this process, the digitization of the Valuation Department has been prioritized, foreseeing enhanced effectiveness in its operations.

In addressing the pressing needs of the energy sector, a paradigm shift towards renewable energy is imperative. The emphasis should be placed on harnessing wind and solar power resources, with the potential to generate 35GW and 200GW, respectively. Given that the national consumption requirement is less than 50GW, this surplus capacity positions the energy sector as a potential foreign exchange earner.

In addition to prioritizing renewable energy, due attention must be accorded to the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the energy sector and broader digital economy. The strategic deployment of AI has the potential to rapidly bolster the nation’s economic prowess.

The event was attended by, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, State Minister for Mass Media Shanta Bandara, Chief Government Valuer Pushpa Muthukumarana, Post Master General Ruwan Satkumara and employees of the Government Valuation Department.

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Massive signboard collapsed near BMICH

A massive signboard collapsed on Bauddhaloka Mawatha near BMICH in Colombo today, causing traffic disruptions in both directions.

As a result, traffic congestion is reported in the area as the vehicular movement in both directions of Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07 is disrupted.

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Two Harbin Y-12 IV aircrafts purchased for USD 18 mn

The Sri Lanka Air Force marked a significant chapter in history with the ceremonial induction of two Harbin Y-12 IV aircraft, purchased at a cost of US$ 18 million.

The momentous ceremony held at SLAF Base Ratmalana on Tuesday (Dec 05) was graced by the State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon and the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Qi Zhenhong.

Manufactured by Harbin Aviation Industry Co. Ltd. in China, the acquisition of these state-of-the-art aircraft is expected to play a pivotal role in promoting tourism within Sri Lanka.

Air Force Commander Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa said 70% of the total cost has already been paid and the remaining 30% will be settled in installments over the next two years.

In addition to fulfilling operational, search, and rescue needs, the Air Force Commander highlighted the unique capability of these aircraft to support tourism promotion. Each aircraft has a capacity for 15 passengers.

Sri Lanka Air Force said in a statement that these aircraft will be inducted into the No. 8 “Light Transport” Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force. The No. 8 Tactical Transport Squadron, renowned as “The Cradle of Transport Pilots,” laid the foundation for this historic occasion on 02 April 1996. Originally equipped with eight Y-12 II aircraft (SCL 851 to SCL 859) inducted in 1987, these aircraft played a pivotal role in various air operations during the local theatre of war.

The formal proceedings on Tuesday commenced with the signing of documents symbolizing the transfer of the Harbin Y-12 aircraft to the Sri Lanka Air Force. Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa and Den Ling from China National Aero Technology Import & Export Cooperation presided over this key moment, marking the official handover.

Addressing the gathering, the Commander of the Air Force, expressed gratitude for the strategic partnership and elaborated on the significance of the new additions to the Sri Lanka Air Force’s fleet. He emphasized the continued commitment to strengthening international collaborations, highlighting the value of the Harbin Y-12 IV aircraft in enhancing the Air Force’s operational capabilities.

In a gesture of appreciation, a memento was presented to the Chief Guest, State Minister Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, to commemorate the historical milestone. Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa extended his gratitude to the State Minister of Defence, acknowledging the untiring support in advancing the capabilities of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

State Minister Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, expressed pride in witnessing this significant occasion and reiterated the government’s commitment, guided by the Chief of the Armed Forces and President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremasinghe, to ensuring regional security and stability.

This significant occasion was attended by Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff, Sagala Ratnayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd), Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Chief of Staff of the SLAF, Members of the Air Force Board of Management, officials of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka, Members of the CATIC from China and representatives of CATIC Sri Lanka, senior officers of the SLAF and other officials.

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President engages in historic talks with Global Tamil Forum, Buddhist Monastics

In a significant diplomatic encounter, President Ranil Wickremesinghe engaged in discussions with a diverse delegation representing the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and esteemed Buddhist monks.

The meeting took place at a pivotal juncture, where the Joint Himalayan Declaration was formally presented to the President.

The Joint Himalayan Declaration, a collaborative effort between the Global Tamil Forum and the Buddhist delegation, advocates for a pluralistic Sri Lanka that actively promotes the well-being of all its communities. Emphasizing the importance of learning from the nation’s historical missteps, the declaration underscores the necessity for implementing measures that ensure accountability.

The joint delegation comprised esteemed Buddhist monks, including Ven. Dr. Madampagama Assaji Tissa Thero, Anu Nayaka of Ambagahapitiya Chapter, Amarapura Nikya, Ven. Siyambalagaswewa Wimalasara Thero, Chief Sanganayaka of Northern & Eastern Provinces, Malwatta Chapter of Siam Nikaya, Ven. Kithalagama Hemasara Nayaka Thero, General Secretary, Siri Dharmarakshitha Chapter, and Chief Sanga Nayaka of Western Province, Ven. Prof. Pallekande Rathnasara Thero, Acting Mahanayaka of Vajirawansa Chapter of Amarapura Nikaya, Ven. Kalupahana Piyaratana Thero, Former Member of SL Human Rights Council 2023, Chairperson of Human Development Edification Centre, Ven. Narampanawe Dhammaloka Thero, Chief Sanganayaka of Pathathumbara of Central Province, Asgiriya Chapter of Siam Nikaya and Ven. Wadduwe Dhammawansa Thero, Deputy General Secretary, Ramagngna Nikaya.

Additionally, the delegation included international representatives Suren Surendiran – (UK), Dr. Kannappar Mukunthan (Australia), Bhavan Bhavaguhan (UK), Prakash Rajasundram (Australia), Velupillai Kuhanendran (UK), Raj Thavaratnasingham (Canada) and Dr. Elias Joseph Jeyarajah (USA).

The handover of the Joint Himalayan Declaration marks a significant step towards fostering dialogue and collaboration for a harmonious and inclusive Sri Lanka.

The President expressed his appreciation for the initiative and committed to considering the recommendations outlined in the declaration. The diplomatic discourse sets the stage for continued efforts towards national reconciliation and progress.

IMG 20231208 WA0007


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Sri Lanka issues its first digitized national birth certificate Sri Lanka issues its first digitized national birth certificate

Under the e-population documentation program, Sri Lanka issued its first-ever digitized national birth certificate with a barcode on Tuesday (Dec.05).

The launch event was held under the patronage of State Minister of Home Affairs, Ashoka Priyantha at the Kalutara District Secretariat.

Addressing the event, the state minister said the initiative is expected to be expanded beyond Kalutara to other districts soon.

As per the international standards, the number included in this National Birth Certificate will be converted into National Identity Card (NIC) numbers later.

E-population program was introduced to achieve objectives of issuing a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN) at birth for all citizens.

It expects to build a consolidated set of basic information of every citizen of Sri Lanka and create an efficient and reliable life events registration system, increasing the information sharing with government institutions using the population register.

Further, it aims to provide more extensive analytical capability in relation to demographics and health statistics and increasing in coverage of recording life events.

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Pettah bus stands to be shifted near Fort railway station

The main bus stands in Colombo Pettah are to be shifted to a single location near the Fort railway station.

Transport ministry secretary M.M.P.K. Mayadunne said talks are underway with the Urban Development Authority to develop the proposed facility as a multi-purpose transport hub, similar to the one already in operation at Makumbura.

At present, SLTB buses are parked at three different locations at Pettah and the private buses at Bastian Mawatha and Gunasinghepura.

The land thus vacated will be utilized for commercial purposes under the plan to beautify Colombo city.

This plan and the Beira Lake development were elaborated on at a meeting chaired by president's chief of staff Sagala Ratnayaka at the Presidential Secretarait on 04 December.

The meeting focused on various aspects, including the development of identified land around Beira Lake for public activities in collaboration with the private sector.

The discussion also addressed on-going efforts to prevent sewage pipes from being diverted into the Beira Lake, aiming to reduce the percentage of bacteria and algae in the lake.

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Customs seize drugs worth over Rs. 40 mn at Central Mail Exchange

The officers of Narcotics Control Unit of Sri Lanka Customs have seized a variety of drugs with an estimated street value of around Rs. 43 million during the inspection of several suspicious parcels at the Central Mail Exchange.

During the inspection duties carried out by the relevant officers at the Central Mail Exchange, a total of 25 parcels suspected to contain narcotics were opened for inspection, Sri Lanka Customs said.

Subsequently, approximately 2,193 ecstasy pills (methamphetamine), 1 kilogram and 740 grams of ‘Kush’ Cannabis and 29 grams of Amphetamine were found within the parcels upon inspecting them, according to Sri Lanka Customs.

The parcels in question have been sent from UK and Germany to different addresses in Colombo, Maharagama, Battaramulla, Boralesgamuwa, Panadura, Moratuwa and Kandy. However, the officials have confirmed following investigations that the addresses mentioned in the parcels were fake.

The seized drugs, with an estimated total street value of Rs. 43 million, will be handed over to Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) for onward legal proceedings, the Sri Lanka Customs said.

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President facilitates allocation of land for Law College

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that government-owned land would be allocated for enhancing facilities of Sri Lanka Law College. He made the announcement during a deliberation held at the parliamentary complex yesterday (06).

Sri Lanka Law College celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2024.

Highlighting the historical significance of Sri Lanka Law College, president Wickremesinghe emphasized its noteworthy contribution, having produced three presidents.

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said a plot of land owned by the Urban Development Authority will be provided to Sri Lanka Law College in accordance with the presidential directive.

President Wickremesinghe directed the relevant authorities to promptly formulate plans for the immediate enhancement of the Law College’s facilities.

In the initial phase, a 40-perch plot will be allocated, with the remainder to be provided as per the requirements outlined in the comprehensive plan, following consultations with the Ministry of Justice.

Dr. Atula Pathinayake, the Principal of the Law College, expressed gratitude during the event.

He noted that in the school’s 150-year history, no land had been allocated to improve student facilities.

He thanked president Wickremesinghe for the special attention given to this matter.

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Kelaniya University closed indefinitely

The University of Kelaniya, excluding the Faculty of Medicine, has been closed until further notice.

Accordingly, all hostels of the university excluding the Medical Faculty’s hostels, will remain closed while all students have been instructed to vacate their respective hostels before 8.00 a.m. on Tuesday (Dec. 05).

The decision has been reached at by the university administration owing to an alleged incident of a security officer of the university being abducted and assaulted while he was sleeping in the break room at night. Later, he had reportedly been tied to the entrance gate at the Student Centre.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya stated that this decision was taken since the peaceful atmosphere which hitherto prevailed among the students and the non-academic staff has been challenged and that therefore disciplinary action will be taken against those responsible in order to re-establish the peace within the university.

Accordingly, he also announced that all the premises related to the University of Kelaniya including the university premises in Dalugama and all other internal and external hostels of the university are hereby forbidden areas for the students, except for the medical faculty students, until further notice.

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