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All schools closed tomorrow

The Ministry of Education has decided that all schools across the island will remain closed tomorrow, according to State Minister of Education Aravind Kumar.

He said the decision has been reached in consideration of the prevailing adverse weather conditions across Sri Lanka.

It was previously announced that the Provincial Education Secretaries and Directors have been authorised to make a decision on whether or not to hold schools tomorrow (June 03).

However, it has now been decided to close all government schools islandwide due to the prevailing inclement weather conditions.

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Sri Lanka to amend Anti-Dumping and Safeguard Laws

The Cabinet of Ministers has approved to publish two draft bills on trade remedies. Accordingly, Cabinet approval has been granted to publish the draft bills for Anti – Dumping and Countervailing Duties Act, No. 2 of 2018 and the Safeguard Measures Act No. 3 of 2018 in the Government gazette notification.

Parliamentary approval will be sought for the draft bills subsequently, the Government said.

The Government said that the amendments were deemed necessary during the preparation of the Economic Transformation draft bill, highlighting the need for stronger measures to prevent dumping and counter unfair trade practices.

The Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties Act aims to protect local industries from unfair competition by imposing duties on foreign imports that are priced below fair market value or subsidized by their home countries.

Similarly, the Safeguard Measures Act provides a framework to protect specific domestic industries from serious injury caused by a surge in imports.

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Attorney General Rajaratnam Recommended for 6-Month Extension

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has proposed a 6-month extension of service for Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, according to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

The recommendation has been directed to the Constitutional Council for their approval.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the Constitutional Council will convene next Tuesday to discuss the recommendation.

Further actions will be determined following the Council's decision.

Sanjay Rajaratnam PC was sworn in as the 48th Attorney General on May 26, 2021.

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UNP calls for referendum, wants elections postponed for two years

The United National Party (UNP) has proposed a referendum to postpone both the presidential and parliamentary elections by two years, allowing President Ranil Wickremesinghe to continue implementing economic reforms.

UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara addressing a media briefing on Tuesday said that the President’s term must be extended by at least two years.

“If not five years, the President’s term must be extended by at least two years. The Parliament’s term must also be extended by two years without going for an election at this time,” Bandara said.

He also urged the main opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the National People’s Power (NPP), to support this initiative.

Bandara stressed that postponing the elections would not be undemocratic if the process would involve elected representatives in Parliament passing a motion, which would then be followed by a referendum.

He further emphasized that the current economic crisis necessitates stability and continuity in leadership. “It is futile to waste money with elections at this crucial time. I urge all MPs to consider this,” he said.

Bandara argued that President Wickremesinghe’s ongoing reform efforts have already brought stability and must be allowed to continue until the economy fully recovers.

He added that Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike had also taken a decision to postpone elections in the 1970s, adding that necessary legal amendments can be made if required.

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Cabraal released from 2012 Greek bonds case

Former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal has been released from the case related to the purchase of Treasury Bonds issued by the Government of Greece in 2012.

The Colombo High Court today released former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal and three others from the case.

The case was filed against the accused alleging they had caused a loss of Rs.1.84 billion to the Government of Sri Lanka through the Greek Bond investments.

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) initiated legal action against the five individuals based on a complaint filed by former MP Sujeewa Senasinghe.

In his complaint, Senasinghe claimed that the Central Bank had purchased Treasury Bonds issued by the Government of Greece in 2012 when the southeastern European country was experiencing a severe financial crisis.

Alleging that the Central Bank had made the purchase despite knowledge of the financial crisis faced by Greece, Senasinghe added that it had resulted in a loss of more than Rs. 1.84 billion to the Government of Sri Lanka.

Following investigations into the complaint, the Bribery Commission has filed a case before the Colombo High Court against the five individuals.

Legal action was initiated against Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Kankanamge Gamage Don Dharmasena Deerasinghe, Bendarage Don Wasantha Ananda Silva, Chandrasiri Jayasinghe Panditha Siriwardena and Harankaha Arachchilage Karunaratne.

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Social Security Benefit Introduced for All Workers Over 55

Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara announced that the Cabinet has approved a proposal to provide social security benefits to all workers aged 55 and above across various industries. This initiative includes the preparation of necessary legal provisions, which will be developed alongside the “Garusaru” program.

Addressing the press briefing titled “Collective Path to a Stable Country” held at the President Media Centre (PMC) today (28), Minister Nanayakkara highlighted the government’s commitment to social security and labor rights.

The Minister further responded to criticisms about the lack of mental freedom to celebrate festivals, noting that the current government, led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, has restored the environment for celebrating Vesak, Poson, Esala and Christmas.

He challenged critics to present a proper economic plan, emphasizing that the government is actively implementing programs like Aswasuma and Urumaya to provide relief to the people.

Minister Nanayakkara also highlighted significant economic and legal reforms under President Wickremesinghe’s leadership, such as reducing bank interest rates from around 25% to between 12% and 8%, amending the Anti-Corruption Act, the Election Expenses Regulation Act, and the Assets Liabilities Act, and introducing bills on economic transformation and public finance management.

Furthermore, the government has addressed the wages of plantation workers, with a commitment to take back government estates from employers unable to meet the announced salaries and lease them to capable parties. The President has secured Cabinet approval to enact a law to facilitate this process.

Moreover, the cabinet has approved a proposal to provide social security benefits to all workers aged 55 and above, across various industries. The preparation of the legal provisions for this initiative, which is being planned in conjunction with the “Garusaru” work program, has already begun.

Additionally, our government has paid special attention to the wages of plantation workers. Employers who struggle to pay the government-mandated salaries will have their rented government estates reclaimed. These reclaimed estates will then be leased on a long-term basis to parties capable of managing them effectively. The President has secured Cabinet approval to draft a law to facilitate this process.

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Measures to resolve state sector salary anomalies

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that he is actively working to address wage disparities across all sectors of the public sector.

Highlighting the country’s economic recovery, the President acknowledged that while Sri Lanka is beginning to regain its footing, there remains a significant journey ahead. He emphasized the need for the trade union movement to adapt to current changes and contribute to the nation’s progress.

President Wickremesinghe made these remarks during the “Leslie Devendra Sinhavalokanaya” ceremony, held yesterday (29th) at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Deshbandu Leslie Devendra’s career.

During his speech, the President announced the establishment of an “Employee Centre” to facilitate discussions among professionals on advancing the country and preparing a workforce for the future. He committed to allocating government funds annually for this initiative.

Additionally, President Wickremesinghe outlined the government’s plans to bolster the country’s financial institutions, including the banking sector. He noted that to ensure financial stability, the government has been able to defer foreign debt payments until 2027. The President announced that new laws will be introduced to prevent political appointments to the boards of directors of government institutions. He emphasized that the country’s future depends on developing the economy through a proper plan.

The President commended Deshbandu Leslie Devendra for his significant contributions to the trade union movement, noting that he consistently recognized social realities and embraced modernization.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe also presented Deshbandu Leslie Devendra with a commemorative gift in honour of his achievements.

In his address at this event, President Wickremesinghe further noted,

“Mr. Leslie Devendra joined the trade union movement in 1964, a pivotal time when leftist parties united to form the United Left Front. Notable leaders such as N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, S.A. Wickramasinghe, Peter Keuneman, and Colvin R. de Silva participated together in the May Day rally on Galle Road, marking a historic moment with their large, slogan-chanting crowd.

May Day 1964,as a nation was unforgettable. However, just a few months later, another significant incident occurred. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) joined the government with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), leading to the collapse of the Left Trade Union Movement. This marked the end of their collaboration with major trade unions.

During the economic difficulties of 1970-1974, related trade unions also lost membership. A new era began in 1977, marking the peak of government economic control, which lasted until then. Subsequently, a new phase of an open economy emerged, systematically transforming the trade union movement. The Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya became a leading trade union.

In 1972, I had the opportunity to serve as the legal advisor for the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya. Since then, many changes have occurred. Global politics shifted from a competition between socialist and capitalist countries to globalization starting in 1989. The open economy brought various changes, and we adapted to those experiences.

Today, there is little distinction between workers, contractors, and owners, with remote work becoming common, especially during COVID-19. The system has drastically changed in Sri Lanka and globally, and trade unions must evolve accordingly.

Mr. Leslie Devendra recognized this reality and embraced modernization. Business practices have transformed, reflecting the broader changes in the world and our country. Today, we operate within an open economy.

It is imperative that we determine how to navigate our relationships with the evolving global landscape. The approaches and rhetoric of 1964 are no longer applicable to our current context. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all of us to acknowledge reality and prepare for the future. Specifically, we must prioritize advancing both the market economy and social justice in tandem.

Different nations employ various strategies. The Scandinavian model, as seen in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan, is one example. China also adopts similar economic principles. As a nation, we have reached a similar juncture.

Presently, our country is emerging from a challenging period. Our economy faced collapse. While observing how our people celebrate events like the Sinhala New Year and Vesak festival, it is evident that the country is gradually returning to normalcy. However, this progress is not sufficient. We are merely beginning to recover and progress. There is still a considerable distance to cover, and it is crucial to keep this in mind.

We have made the strategic decision to defer debt payments until 2027, focusing on renegotiating repayment terms to extend until 2042. Our aim is to safeguard the country’s economy from collapse under the weight of debt burdens. However, reliance on imports may necessitate further borrowing, prompting us to prioritize strategies for repayment.

Moreover, we have opted to restrict domestic borrowing, affecting the availability of funds from institutions like the Employee Provident Fund. This prompts considerations on whether to invest domestically or internationally, sparking discussions within the trade union movement.

Recognizing the pivotal role of the financial sector in economic progress, we are committed to fortifying key institutions such as the People’s Bank, the Bank of Ceylon, and the National Savings Bank while maintaining government ownership. Additionally, we aim to secure government influence in limited and private banks to bolster the financial sector and propel economic growth.

Furthermore, we intend to introduce legislation to depoliticize board appointments across government institutions, fostering a conducive environment for national development. It is imperative to re-evaluate our developmental trajectory, as the future of Sri Lanka hinges on economic advancement.

Acknowledging the plight of our citizens, we are mindful of the escalating poverty rate, which has surged from 15% in 2019 to 26% presently. Addressing this challenge requires concerted efforts to provide livelihood opportunities and enhance access to education for all segments of society.

Accordingly, we have agreed to reduce it to 10% by 2032, as stipulated in the loan conditions set by the International Monetary Fund. Therefore, we must persist with this program.

To address widespread poverty, we implemented initiatives such as granting inheritance rights and providing land ownership. Additionally, we are working to transfer ownership of Colombo flats to their current residents, ensuring asset provision for those without. We must adopt new thinking in this regard.

Economically, we have just begun to recover and must now progress further. This year, we have arranged a stipend of Rs.10,000 for government employees and made efforts to increase wages in the private sector.

Although our economic capacity to provide additional concessions this year is limited, we have decided to appoint a committee to address wage disparities across all public sector areas. This committee aims to offer some concessions to public servants next year. We are currently in the process of appointing suitable members to this committee.

This journey is challenging. The common people have borne the brunt of the recent economic crisis, and we must undertake this journey together.

Specifically, we will establish an employee centre to focus on the formation of new trade unions, securing employee rights, and determining effective methods. To sustain this work, the government will allocate an annual budget. We will continue to discuss these matters in greater detail.

It is about moving the trade union movement forward and the relationship between politics and the trade union movement and working independently in the future. Today our country has reached an important milestone. Expressing my gratitude to Mr. Leslie Devendra for his service during this period, stating that we are ready to create an employee centre to present everyone’s views and reach an agreement, and to provide money from the government for that purpose.”

Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara,

“Mr. Leslie Devendra liberated workers from the perpetual struggle of ‘want’ and introduced the concept of “a prosperous organization and a satisfied workforce” to the trade unions. Instead of leading unions to spend countless hours protesting in the streets, he sought to resolve professional issues at the negotiating table. His efforts to elevate trade unions to a new dimension and foster a satisfied employee community are highly commendable.

Mr. Devendra can be described as a forward-thinking union leader. With a modernist mindset, he guided workers in a manner that benefited the country’s economy. His work in protecting institutions and the economy stands in stark contrast to some union leaders who advocate for closing factories and disrupting the economy. We should all commend Mr. Leslie Devendra for his significant contributions.”

Deshabandu Leslie Devendra

“My journey into becoming a trade union leader began unexpectedly. However, after about six months, I found a deep sense of fulfilment in assisting others, prompting me to step forward willingly. The joy derived from helping people is invaluable and cannot be quantified monetarily.

When I initially ventured into trade unions, many advocated for the destruction of the capitalist class. However, I disagreed with this approach. Observing how socialist regimes, upon assuming power, furthered the capitalist economic system, I recognized the necessity of positioning workers within a capitalist framework. Thus, I diverged from the rhetoric of dismantling capitalism and instead championed the idea that “a prosperous company is a satisfied group of employees.”

This shift enabled us to secure rights for employees and foster productive institutions, contributing positively to the country’s economy.”

The event was attended by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Members of Parliament Gamini Lokuge, Dullas Alahapperuma, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Presidential Trade Union Director General Saman Rathnapriya, and other political representatives, trade union leaders, and distinguished guests.

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President Orders Ongoing Relief for Those Affected by Adverse Weather

President Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed officials to provide immediate relief to those affected by the recent inclement weather and to continue these efforts until the situation improves.

According to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), eight deaths have been reported across the island as of yesterday (27). Seven people died in accidents caused by strong winds, and one person died in a boat capsizing.

The President also directed that compensation be provided to the families of the deceased. The Disaster Management Centre will provide Rs. 250,000 for each victim, with an advance payment of Rs. 25,000 already arranged.

As of yesterday (27), 42,640 people belonging to 11,326 families have been affected by the inclement weather.

The President instructed the Disaster Management Centre to ensure all necessary facilities are provided, with special attention to health and hygiene.

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It is Range Bandara’s opinion, not UNP’s, says Ravi K.

The United National Party's (UNP) stand is different to the call by its general secretary Palitha Range Bandara that both the president and the current parliament should get their terms extended by two years, said UNP leader for Colombo Ravi Karunanayake.

The presidential polls will take place as scheduled and incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe is certain to contest as a nonpartisan candidate, Karunanayake insisted.

He is responding to a call by Range Bandara yesterday (28) to hold a referendum to extend the terms “to save the nation.”

That is essential to realize the economic reforms pacts signed by the government with the IMF, World Bank and other creditors, he said.

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Teaching appointments to 375 teachers in the Jaffna District

President Ranil Wickremesinghe praised the historical “Jaffna Teaching Tradition” during a speech at the Jaffna District Teacher Appointment Ceremony yesterday (25). He highlighted the importance of restoring this tradition and emphasized the need for teachers to serve as exemplary figures in society.

He cautioned against teachers engaging in protests that may undermine their professional image and urged them to uphold their dignity.

The ceremony, which took place at the Jaffna Thanthai Selva Auditorium, saw the appointment of 375 teachers in the Northern Province.

Governor of the Northern Province Mrs. P.S.M. Mrs. Charles also presented a commemorative gift to President Wickremesinghe during the event.

Addressing the ceremony President Ranil Wickremesinghe further said;

“To all of you receiving teacher appointments today, you are embarking on a significant responsibility. You are entrusted with shaping the future of children within classrooms comprising 35-40 students. The trajectory of these children’s lives is heavily influenced by your guidance. Failure to uphold this responsibility renders one unsuitable for the teaching profession.

Jaffna teachers have historically been in demand both nationally and internationally. They have demonstrated unwavering commitment to fulfilling their duties. Even at prestigious institutions like Royal College, Colombo, where I myself received my education, Jaffna teachers were recognized for their exceptional dedication. Their legacy continues to resonate in society, underscoring their exemplary practices that serve as a benchmark for educators nationwide.

The development of Jaffna owes much to its steadfast commitment to education, with certain schools garnering global renown. For instance, Hartley College students have showcased their talents on prestigious platforms like Oxford University, underscoring the calibre of education in the region.

I urge you to embrace this noble profession with the same fervour and dedication. Joining the ranks of Jaffna’s esteemed educators is not merely a career choice but a commitment to shaping lives and contributing to the broader landscape of education.

As educators, it is imperative that you serve as exemplary figures within the teaching profession. Engaging in public demonstrations or shouting slogans on the streets may compromise your credibility in the eyes of students. Therefore, it is essential that you fulfill your responsibilities with diligence and professionalism.

Reflecting on the past, Jaffna boasted a commendable school system. Notably, former speaker Mr. K.B. Ratnayake received his education at Hartley College, exemplifying the quality of education prevalent at the time. However, the onset of war led to the departure of many teachers, resulting in a decline in the standards of education within the region. It is incumbent upon us to strive towards reinstating Jaffna’s education system to its former glory and beyond, aiming for international standards of excellence.

I propose that the governor engage in comprehensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders, including representatives from northern councils and universities, to devise a plan aimed at restoring Jaffna’s school system to its former international standards. It is imperative to recognize that providing education solely in Tamil and Sinhala is insufficient; English proficiency must also be prioritized for children. To achieve this, the recruitment of qualified teachers is essential. Although this endeavour may span a period of 10-15 years, proactive measures must commence without delay.

On behalf of those appointed today, I extend my heartfelt congratulations and urge them to wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to the noble task of serving the children of the north while upholding the dignity of the teaching profession.”

In attendance at this event were Minister Douglas Devananda, Members of Parliament Dharmalingam Siddharthan, M.A. Sumanthiran, Charles Nirmalanathan, and Kulasingham Dileepan. Also present were Northern Province Governor Mrs. P.S.M. Charles, Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council C.V.K. Sivagnanam, former State Minister Mrs. Vijayakala Maheswaran, political representatives from the province, and officials from the Northern Province, including the Northern Province Provincial Education Secretary.

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No candidate vying for the presidency has announced plans to abolish executive powers

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that none of the candidates aspiring to run in the presidential election have announced their intention to abolish the executive powers associated with the position.

The President highlighted the dual nature of the executive presidential system, noting its advantages and disadvantages. He emphasized that the executive power vested in the presidency played a pivotal role in the economic development of Sri Lanka and the resolution of the 30-year war.

President Wickremesinghe made these remarks while participating in the “What’s New” dialogue on legal reforms with young legal professionals at a workshop held yesterday (28) at the Presidential Secretariat.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of enacting laws that render the President accountable to Parliament. He noted the decentralization of certain executive powers to Provincial Councils and Parliamentary Oversight Committees, highlighting forthcoming divisions in this regard.

Moreover, President Wickremesinghe affirmed the inevitability of future Presidential elections, stating that financial provisions for this purpose have already been allocated.

The President further stated,

Sri Lanka boasts multiple governance systems. One resembles the English model, epitomized by the cabinet, while the other adopts the executive presidential system, where the President wields executive authority. The legislature holds legislative powers. Notably, the President and the legislature may hail from different political parties. Examining the Swiss parliamentary setup, parliament appoints seven individuals to the federal committee, granting executive authority to the Federal Council.

In adherence to a customary practice, the two primary parties receive two seats each, while the remaining parties are allocated one seat each. Subsequently, these councillors convene to discuss the distribution of responsibilities among institutions, collectively exercising executive authority. Additionally, the Prime Minister holds the authority to appoint and dismiss ministers within the cabinet. Annually, one of the seven councillors ascends to the Chairmanship.

Alternatively, the Donoughmore system, once employed in Sri Lanka, involved dividing the executive structure into seven components. Among these, one served as the speaker, while another was elected as the chairman, simultaneously assuming the role of minister. Further, a minister was designated as the Leader of the House. The governor appointed three additional secretaries, resulting in a council of ministers comprised of ten individuals. Among these, the chief secretary chaired the council, where decisions were deliberated and finalized.

Following the previous systems, the French model emerged, where the executive president is elected via popular vote and members of Parliament are chosen by the electorate. This approach is predominantly adopted in Sri Lanka, possessing both advantages and disadvantages. During President J. R. Jayawardena’s tenure as Executive President, significant strides were made for the country, marked by the implementation of major projects such as Mahaveli, Samanala wewa, and Lunugamvehera. Additionally, Kotte was elevated to the status of a capital city, and two trading zones were established. Notably, these developmental endeavours were executed amidst an eleven-year-long war.

Similarly, President Premadasa initiated the establishment of around two hundred garment factories. The presence of the executive presidency was pivotal in Sri Lanka’s victory in the war, thwarting foreign hopes of inducing crisis and government collapse. The ability to apply executive power, exemplified by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, facilitated the deployment of the military and eventual triumph in the conflict.

During the tenure of the good governance government, there was a notable disconnect between the Executive President and the rest of the government. The presence of executive powers was crucial in maintaining stability during the ‘Aragalaya’. This was evident when there was no clear successor for the premiership. On a particular occasion, when the President departed for Trincomalee, some individuals urged me to resign from my position as Prime Minister.

However, I asserted that I could only resign if there was a parliamentary majority, and even then, the resignation letter would need to be submitted to the President. Resigning under external pressure or due to personal reasons, such as threats to my residence, would risk the ascension of someone outside the democratic process to power.

In the future, we will hold the presidential election. None of the candidates vying for the position have announced plans to abolish its executive authority. It’s imperative that we develop a program geared towards reinforcing the parliament’s role and capabilities.

Currently, some executive powers have been delegated to the Provincial Council, while others have been assigned to various commissions. Furthermore, parliamentary oversight committees are operational. As more bills are introduced and debated in parliament, there will be a gradual shift of presidential powers to the Parliament, the legislative body.

Enacting laws that render the President accountable to Parliament is imperative. The government’s agenda for the next four years should be outlined through the newly introduced Economic Transformation Act. Progress on implemented programs each year ought to be reported to Parliament annually. Mr. Karu Jayasuriya’s proposed Jana Sabha system appears highly feasible. Additionally, it’s worth noting the practicality of the forthcoming gender equality law.

The queries posed here and the responses provided by President Ranil Wickremesinghe are delineated below.

Q: In your experience, what factors contribute to the failure of national action plans?

A: The core issue lies in the absence of comprehensive policies among many governments. This deficiency has persisted for seventy-seven years. Until 2015, the prevalence of war overshadowed policymaking efforts, resulting in the lack of adequate preparation. Consequently, our economic structure remained stagnant, leading to significant challenges in recent years.

The impact of the war on the economy was profound. Economic collapse ensued in 2001, followed by the devastating tsunami. Despite the war’s end, there was a conspicuous absence of post-war strategies.

Upon assuming office as Prime Minister in 2015, I prioritized rectifying this situation. Efforts were made to achieve budgetary surplus and limit dependence on imports. However, our economy remains reliant on imports.

There was a notable absence of agricultural policies in place. Despite our historical success in exporting commodities like cinnamon, tea, rubber, and coconut since the Anuradhapura era, there was a failure to formulate a comprehensive agricultural policy post-1948. Although initiatives like the Mahaweli and Gal-oya land development projects were launched, a cohesive agricultural strategy was lacking. As a result, it’s clear that modernizing agriculture and fostering an export-oriented economy are imperative for our nation’s development.

Until 1977, our focus was on attracting investments and establishing free trade zones. However, after that period, our interest in these endeavours waned. Consequently, countries that were once behind us surged ahead. Thailand, which was once on par with us, progressed significantly. Similarly, nations like Malaysia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh surpassed us. Hence, it’s imperative that our political attention shifts towards policy studies to rectify this.

Additionally, reforms are essential in the education sector to provide our youth with opportunities to attain degrees locally, reducing their reliance on expensive foreign education.

Furthermore, it’s crucial that we embrace modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to propel us forward. Drawing from my extensive 75 years of life experience, I emphasize the importance of this to the younger generation, who belong to Generation Z. It’s imperative that you excel in this rapidly evolving landscape and consider your future prospects. Our goal must be to construct a developed nation capable of competing on a global scale.

Q: I truly admire your focus on climate change and your compassion towards animals. I would like to know your opinion on the proposed animal welfare bill and if you can expect it to be passed or enacted anytime soon.

A: The discussion on the Animal Welfare Act is currently underway in the Oversight Committee. However, it’s uncertain whether it will be adopted in this session due to the numerous bills slated for passage by August. Consequently, its consideration may be deferred to next year. We have prioritized the enactment of several new laws aimed at safeguarding women, followed by amendments to the Penal Code and the introduction of the Economic Transformation Act.

Additionally, the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act is likely. The Anti-Corruption Act has already been passed, along with the presentation of the Proceeds of the Crime Bill. The remaining legislative agenda is expected to be addressed after the presidential election, indicating a heightened workload for the legislature.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Oversight Committee is examining the Animal Welfare Act, primarily due to concerns regarding crop destruction by peacocks, wild boars and deer. Consequently, efforts are directed towards finding a balanced approach to address this issue.

The event was attended by Member of Parliament Premanath .C. Dolawatta PC, former Parliamentary Secretary General Dr. Priyani Wijesinghe, Presidential Director of Youth Affairs and Sustainable Development Mr. Randula Abeyweera and others.

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Veteran musician Ananda Perera passes away

Veteran singer and musician Ananda Perera has passed away at the age of 67.

He had passed away while receiving treatment at a hospital in Kandy, family sources confirmed.

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