Temporary disruptions reported in Passport services
Temporary disruptions have occurred in the issuance of passports due to a system failure, the Department of Immigration and Emigration stated today.
The Immigration and Emigration Department of Sri Lanka further stated, therefore, it has temporarily suspended the issuing of passports islandwide.
The department stated that the process has been suspended due to a system failure and attempts are underway to restore the system.
A technical fault in its internet services had caused the system failure, the department revealed.
It added that measures are being taken to send passports applied under the one-day service via postal service.
Some difficult, unpopular decisions needed to build economy, says president
Some difficult decisions must be made to build the economy, though those decisions could be unpopular, said president Ranil Wickremesinghe.
“We have the ability to make popular decisions. But the country will not develop if only popular decisions are taken,” he said.
The president was speaking at the launch of Hyundai Grand i10 car, assembled for the first time in Sri Lanka at the Colombo City Centre yesterday (10).
The president further said;
"Assembling the Hyundai Grand i10 in Sri Lanka is a tribute to the firm determination of Mrs. Pestanjee. I know how she initiated this journey when the economy was opened up in 1977. I still remember that there was an Abans Showroom on the fifth lane heading towards Galle Road. Thank you very much for having come this far from that point.
I hope that this step will be a good start for the arrival of other investors to Sri Lanka based on the cooperation between South Korea and Sri Lanka as well as the higher investment made by Korea here.
Today, the Hyundai Grand i10 vehicle is introduced to the Sri Lankan market further confirming the trust placed in our country.
I must extend my special thanks to Abans Company and Hyundai Company as well Mrs. Pestanjee for introducing a vehicle to the market, at a crucial time when our economy dropped.
The introduction of this vehicle takes place at a time when Sri Lanka’s economy collapsed. But the initiation was taken with the belief that the economy of the country would recover and I would again extend my heartiest thanks to you all for it.
We stepped into 2023 in the background of the complete collapse of our country’s economy last year. But now the country’s economy is recovering. Accordingly, it has been possible to provide solutions to the shortage of fuel, LP gas, and essential goods. In the same way, we have solved many other problems as well.
We anticipate a good harvest during the Maha Season. Furthermore, we have taken steps to purchase Rs.20 million worth of paddy and distribute it to low-income families.
We have taken numerous steps to strengthen the country’s economy. It has been possible to reach an agreement with the IMF organization. Negotiations with the Paris Club, India, and China are currently underway. We are attempting to reconcile their differences.
As a consequence, there is no doubt that a group of consumers in the country will be able to purchase cars again in the months ahead and there will be more economic progress than today.
A businessman will not invest money if there is no sale and you think the economy has collapsed, and there is a market. But, in this case, such investments are being made as our economy is growing.
Various decisions must be made as we work to build the economy. Among them, some difficult decisions must be made through those decisions could be unpopular.
I am aware of the hardships that people are experiencing as a result of the economic collapse. Also, I am aware of the difficulty caused by the tax increase. After paying taxes and debts, some people have very little money left over. This adversity will only last a short time. We must advance the country. However, if we had not made these decisions, the country would not be in this state today.
Furthermore, I believe that all of our political leaders will commit to considering the country and making decisions in the future. We have the ability to make popular decisions. But the country will not develop if only popular decisions are taken.
Singapore is a good example. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew never made popular decisions. He made decisions on behalf of the country. People accepted his decisions and cooperated with him. The rulers of South Korea also made difficult decisions for the country. In Europe, the situation is similar.
Specifically, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom stated that if the United Kingdom left the European Union, he would be able to gain new markets and improve healthcare services with the money saved. They walked away from the EU. There was no funding for health care. The available market decreased even more.
Then Prime Minister, Liz Truss, worked to lower taxes. The value of the Sterling Pound collapsed. Perhaps the rupee crashed, but the pound crashed more quickly. She resigned as Prime Minister, and a new Prime Minister has been appointed in her place. The country’s current Prime Minister is making wise decisions.
We must make these decisions for the sake of our country’s future and for the sake of creating a good country for the youth. I believe that the country’s economy will be rebuilt before long.
Minister of Plantation Industries Ramesh Pathirana, Korean Ambassador to Sri Lanka Santhush Woonjin Jeong, Chairman of the Board of Investment Dinesh Weerakkody, Directors of Abans Group of Companies Saroshi Dubash and Rusi Pestonjee attended the event.
Govt. to decriminalise same-sex relationships - Foreign Minister
Minister of foreign affairs Ali Sabry said that the Sri Lankan government will decriminalise same-sex relationships.
The government will amend clauses 365 and 365A of the Penal Code for this purpose, he said.
It comes after the UK, US, Canada and Norway urged Sri Lanka at the universal periodic review of the United Nations to decriminalise sexual relationships with people of the same sex.
Since 1994, these two particular clauses of the Penal Code have been opposed as a violation of the rights of same-sex people.
Another minor tremor reported today
A minor tremor was reported near the Wellawaya Town on Saturday (11) morning.
This follows two minor tremors reported on Friday (10) afternoon in Wellawaya and Buttala.
Saturday's tremor measured a magnitude of 2.3, and was reported at about 03:48 am.
"No threat was reported to the area", Acting Director General of the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau Janaka Ajith Prema said.
A team of geologists was deployed to Buttala to investigate the tremors that were reported.
Surgeries that are not urgent, to be delayed in government hospitals - Health Minister
The Ministry of Health says a decision has been taken to postpone non-essential and non-urgent surgeries at government hospitals.
Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella mentioned that the surgeries that can be postponed on medical recommendation have been advised to be delayed for a short period of time.
However, essential and urgent surgeries will be performed as usual, the Minister said.
Petition challenging LG Election postponed to 23rd February
The petition filed by Retired Sri Lanka Army Colonel W. M. R. Wijesundara seeking an order to suspend all activities related to the Local Government Election was postponed to the 23rd of February for consideration.
President's Counsel Saliya Pieris appearing for the National Election Commission filing a preliminary objection pointed out that the petitioner had failed to properly name the respondents.
In addition, he noted that the petitioner had also failed to produce the necessary documentation to prove that he is a registered voter in the country.
Therefore, the President's Counsel requested the Supreme Court to dismiss the application without taking it up for examination.
Additional Solicitor General Nerin Pulle noted that an affidavit provided by the Finance Secretary notes that the Cabinet of Ministers had decided to allocate funds only for essential matters during an economic crisis.
He was appearing for the Finance Secretary, and the Attorney General and made the submissions.
The Supreme Court noted that the petition in question will be postponed to the 23rd of February for consideration.
Agri Secy urges taxation on imported potatoes
Secretary – Ministry of Agriculture Gunadasa Samarasinghe has written to the Secretary – Ministry of Finance requesting that a tax be imposed on imported potatoes.
However, Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera said despite the fact that the letter was sent, no action has been taken by Finance Ministry officials, and that he will notify the President about this at tomorrow’s (13) Cabinet meeting.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture has begun a programme to discourage the importation of potatoes from other countries during the local potato harvest, with the goal of protecting local potato farmers as well as local potato cultivation.
Supreme Court dismisses HRCSL case against CEB
The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka today dismissed a contempt of court application filed by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) against several state officials of the power sector.
The HRCSL had filed the contempt of court application against the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy and the Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
The application was filed in court for their failure to comply with the settlement to provide uninterrupted electricity for GCE Advanced Level students during the course of the examination, which will conclude on 17th February 2023.
During a discussion between stakeholders of the power sector and the HRCSL, an agreement had been reached to provide an uninterrupted power supply during the examination.
However, the CEB continued with its scheduled power cuts claiming it cannot provide an uninterrupted power supply under the current circumstances, prompting the HRCSL to take legal action.
Jaffna Cultural Center: India’s USD 11 million gift to Sri Lanka inaugurated
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe dedicated the Jaffna Cultural Centre (JCC) to the people. The centre was built under an Indian grant at a cost of 11 million dollars.
Indian Union Minister Dr. L. Murugan participated in the event and said that the centre is an iconic one.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the centre during his visit to Jaffna in 2015. He added that the centre will serve as a lasting symbol of India’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka.
He elaborated on the close ties between the two countries through several projects in the sectors of education, health, agriculture and beyond. He expressed happiness that India stood by Sri Lanka during its economic crisis and extended an assistance of 4 billion dollars.
Dr. Murugan also mentioned that India was the first bilateral creditor to have proactively given financing assurances to the IMF. He expressed hope that both countries will further expand the cooperation. He highlighted the efforts made to improve connectivity between the two countries through resumption of Chennai-Jaffna flights and soon to commence passenger ferry services.
The Minister added that India has started its journey into Amrit Kaal and will achieve the development goals. He said that Sri Lanka has also started the journey towards its century with development in mind and India will continue to support Sri Lanka in its journey.
Noting that JCC is one of the major projects between the two countries, Sri Lankan President said that JCC is a gift to the island nation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He further said that the cultures of India and Sri Lanka are inseparable and shared, which makes it obligatory to develop and preserve it.
He named the centre as Saraswati Mahal which will serve to protect the cultural ties.
The President said that discussions are underway for economic development of Jaffna and Trincommalee Port. He added that discussions are also going on to strengthen energy sector. Mr. Wickremesinghe reiterated the need for Sri Lanka to embark on a new journey and reconciliation of all communities. He said that his policy is reconciliation, development and culture. He added that Sri Lankan culture has been nurtured by Tamil culture in Jaffna which is inspired by Southern states in India.
EU, FAO to provide fertilizers and training to most vulnerable paddy farmers
The European Union (EU) has allocated 4 million Euro (approximately Rs. 1.5 billion) in grants for fertilizers, seeds, and training to the most vulnerable farmers, as a response to the agriculture and food security crisis in Sri Lanka.
These funds will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Sri Lanka. The action has been officially launched today in Colombo.
The recent economic crisis severely impacted all farmers in the country, especially smallholder farmers cultivating lands of up to 0,5 ha. These farmers have suffered immensely due to a major crop failure over the previous two harvesting seasons due to a lack of fertilizers and other inputs. This has led to reduced income and impacted their ability to provide for their essential needs, including food.
European Union Ambassador, H.E. Denis Chaibi said: “I am very pleased to announce this new action today. We teamed up with FAO to help bring Sri Lankan agriculture back on track to prevent food shortages and to increase farmer’s incomes. Together we will provide highly essential inputs such as fertilizers and seeds. We will also train farmers and extension officers on how to shift to less resource intensive paddy cultivation practices. I hope this new support will contribute towards an organized transition to a more sustainable, resilient, and productive agriculture sector in Sri Lanka.”
“We are appreciative of this generous assistance from the European Union, which will not only provide essential inputs to boost production but also reduce the agriculture sector’s reliance on chemical fertilizer by increasing the efficiency of the fertilizer used while increasing yield.” said FAO Representative in Sri Lanka, Vimlendra Sharan adding, “As FAO we will work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Irrigation to ensure the success of this project which will make a strong case for adopting sustainable practice across the country.”
The project will support 41,000 smallholder farmers cultivating land holdings of up to 0.5 Ha in the districts of Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Ampara, and Hambantota.They will each receive a 50 kg bag of urea for the 2023 Yala cropping season.
In addition to that, targeted capacity building will be provided to those farmers as well as extension workers on how to use fertilizer efficiently, reduce actual needs for chemical fertilizer, enhance the use of organic fertilizer and improve long-term soil fertility.
To strengthen the seed paddy production system in Sri Lanka to meet current demand, the project will also support farmers to grow quality paddy seeds and strengthen government owned farms in growing and processing certified paddy seeds.
Pod of 14 whales found on Kalpitiya beach
A group of 14 pilot whales were found washed ashore on the beaches of Kalpitiya early this morning (11 Feb.).
Although a joint operation was launched by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Wildlife Department, together with area residents, to get the whales back into the sea, three of the whales had reportedly died.
Meanwhile, a fishing vessel collided with a whale in seas near the Dodanduwa Harbour yesterday (10 Feb.), injuring an individual.
While the vessel in question was also badly damaged, the injured person was later admitted to hospital for treatment.
Sri Lanka ready to support Search and Rescue in Turkiye
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC said that the country is ready to deploy a contingent of 300 military personnel for relief efforts in Turkiye.
The contingent will include personnel from the Sri Lanka Engineers Corps and the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps.
Minister Ali Sabry said that on the instructions of the President he contacted the Foreign Minister of Turkiye and offered assistance for search & rescue
"We recall when the Tsunami struck us in 2004,Türkiye provided immediate humanitarian assistance & built a housing complex for those who lost their houses," tweeted the Minister.
The Sri Lankan Embassy in Turkiye said that it has not been able to access information with regard to the Sri Lankan woman who was reported missing following the devastating earthquakes.
A Senior Officer attached to the mission said that the mobile device of the Sri Lankan woman was traced.
The Officer also noted that earlier it was reported that the building in which was living had collapsed, however, reports later suggested that she had vacated the premises before the earthquakes.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC said that a contingent of 300 military personnel are ready to be deployed to Turkiye, as soon as a request for help is made.
The contingent will include Sri Lanka Army Engineers and personnel from the Medical Corps.
On Monday (6) Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said 9 Sri Lankans were residing in the region. 8 people have been contacted. Authorities have failed to contact 1 Sri Lankan.
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