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Eight committees to resolve land issues

The President assured immediate solutions to land, housing, health, irrigation, and agriculture-related issues in the Northern Province.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that eight (8) committees would be appointed at the provincial level to resolve the land issues.

He also pointed out that all the land-related issues in the North and South of the country would be resolved accordingly. President Wickremesinghe made these observations while participating in the District Development Committee meeting held at the Vavuniya District Secretariat this morning (19).

The development committee meeting was called covering Vavuniya, Mannar, and Mullaitivu districts in the Northern Province.

The issues related to the lands, housing, health, irrigation, and agriculture in the province and solutions for them were discussed at length during the meeting.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe assured that all measures would be taken to improve the living conditions of the people by providing prompt solutions to the problems arising in various fields in the Northern Province and said that he expected the supportive hands of the parliamentarians of the Northern Province in this endeavor.

Pointing out that there are many unsolved problems in the North, the President further assured that he would resolve those issues by way of discussions with all parties.

Parliamentarian Charles Nirmalanathan drew the attention of the President to the fact that the Tamil people who settled in the Settikulam area in 1994 have still not been provided with land.

The President instructed the Vavuniya District Secretary to intervene to resolve the land issue in Settikulam within 03 months and added that he would inquire about the matter from the Ministry of Justice as well as the Ministry of Lands.

At the meeting, attention was also drawn to the problems arising due to the acquisition of certain farmlands in the Mullaitivu district by the Department of Archaeology.

Special attention was focused on the housing problem of the people in the Northern Province and the officials pointed out that the housing projects initiated to address the issue in the three districts have reached different stages of construction and an additional sum of Rs. 3000 million is required for its completion.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe pointed out that many housing projects have commenced across the island and he expected to provide quick solutions to the housing problem of the people in the North.

Parliamentarian Selvam Adekkalanathan highlighted the plight and the needs of the people living in the vicinity of Vavuniya Lake and Thirikkulam Lake and drew the attention of the President at the meeting.

The renovation of the tanks in the districts, solving the fertilizer problem, and streamlining the distribution activities also was the focal point at the meeting.

The President instructed the officials to take measures to provide the necessary solutions to the health sector-related problems and the shortage of doctors in the Northern Province paying special attention to them when the issues were raised during the meeting.

Parliamentarian Rishad Bathuideen explained various irregularities that the fishermen in the Mannar district have to face in the supply of kerosene oil and the President instructed the officials to initiate an urgent inquiry into the matter. Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, Urban Development, and Housing State Minister Tenuka Vidanagamage, State Minister for Rural Development Kader Mastan, Northern Province Governor Jeevan Thiagarajah, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake and public officials including district secretaries were present on the occasion. (PMD)

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Biden sees no need for ‘a new Cold War’ with China after three-hour meeting with Xi Jinping

  • U.S. President Joe Biden said there “need not be a new Cold War” between the U.S. and China, following a three-hour summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia.
  • “I don’t think there’s any imminent attempt by China to invade Taiwan,” said Biden, despite escalating rhetoric and aggressive military moves by the People’s Republic of China in the Taiwan Straits.
  • Beijing said the two leaders reached “important common understandings,” and they were prepared now “to take concrete actions to put China-U.S. relations back on the track of steady development.”

    WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden said there “need not be a new Cold War” between the U.S. and China, following a three-hour summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia on Monday.

    Biden also said, “I don’t think there’s any imminent attempt by China to invade Taiwan,” despite escalating rhetoric and aggressive military moves by the People’s Republic of China in the Taiwan Straits.

    Biden and his counterpart held the much-anticipated meeting at the G-20 summit of economically developed nations in Bali.

    Biden said he and Xi spoke frankly, and they agreed to send diplomats and cabinet members from their administrations to meet with one another in person to resolve pressing issues.

    Although they have spoken five times by videoconference, the meeting was the first one Biden and Xi have held face-to-face since the U.S. president was elected in 2020. The personal dynamic between the two men was friendly, with Biden putting an arm around Xi at the outset and saying, “It’s just great to see you.”

    It remains to be seen, however, whether the summit will produce a genuine shift in relations between Washington and Beijing, its biggest strategic competitor and long-term military adversary.

    Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the conversation was “in-depth, candid and constructive” in a statement afterwards.

    The two leaders reached “important common understandings,” the ministry said, and they were prepared now “to take concrete actions to put China-U.S. relations back on the track of steady development.”

    A tense rivalry

    Tensions between the two nations have been slowly escalating for decades, but they skyrocketed after former President Donald Trump launched a protectionist trade war with China.

    Since taking office in 2021, Biden has done little to reverse Trump’s trade policies. Instead, he has added a new layer to U.S.-China hostilities by framing American foreign policy as a zero-sum contest between the American commitment to human rights and free markets, and the creeping spread of authoritarianism around the world, embodied by China’s Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    During their meeting, Biden also brought up “concerns about PRC practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and human rights more broadly,” according to an American readout of the summit.

    Xi rejected Biden’s complaints, and he told the U.S. president that “freedom, democracy and human rights” were “the unwavering pursuit” of China’s Communist Party, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement.

    Biden also raised Beijing’s noncompetitive economic practices, which include widespread state intervention in private markets and laws requiring foreign companies to partner with Chinese firms in order to operate in the country.

    The Biden administration has responded to these policies with an increasingly aggressive series of regulations that limit, and in some instances totally bar, the participation of Chinese firms in parts of the U.S. economy, especially that are critical to national defense.

    Red lines over Taiwan

    Both leaders reiterated each country’s so-called “red lines” on the issue of Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, although Biden also sought to calm global fears of an imminent Chinese military incursion onto the island.

    Beijing is still furious over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei earlier this year, which China responded to at the time by flying jets over the Taiwan Straits in what it claimed were last-minute military exercises. China also later sanctioned Pelosi personally.

    In Bali on Monday, Biden said there had been no change to U.S. policy toward Taiwan. “I made it clear that we want to see cross-strait issues peacefully resolved, and so it never has to come to that. I’m convinced [Xi] understood everything I was saying.”

    A warning on North Korea

    North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and its recent flurry of ballistic missile tests also came up during the talks.

    China continues to exert more influence over the rogue state than any other nation, but Biden said it wasn’t clear how far that influence extends into North Korea’s military testing regimen.

    “It’s difficult to say that I am certain that China can control North Korea,” Biden said. “I’ve made it clear to President Xi Jinping that I thought [China] had an obligation to attempt to make it clear to North Korea that they should not engage in tests.”

    Notably, Biden also said that if China fails to persuade North Korea to halt the barrage of tests, then the United States will have no choice but to “take certain actions that would be more defensive” in order to safeguard allies South Korea and Japan.

    Biden told the reporters in Bali that he sought to reassure Xi that these actions “would not be directed against China, but it would be to send a clear message to North Korea.”

    Still, the subtext was clear: If China cannot rein in North Korea’s aggression, Beijing can expect to see the United States shift more military assets to the Western Pacific and maintain an even greater presence in China’s maritime backyard.

    Russia and Ukraine

    Biden said the two leaders also discussed Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine, a sensitive subject given that China has become Russia’s economic lifeline in the wake of sanctions that cut off Moscow’s trade relations with most of the world’s major democracies, including the United States and EU member states.

    Washington has been adamant that Beijing refrain from selling weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, something China has largely avoided doing.

    “We reaffirmed our shared belief that the threat or the use of nuclear weapons is totally unacceptable,” Biden said at a brief press conference after the meeting.

    Putin has repeatedly suggested that Russia’s use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine would be within its rights, the first time in 70 years that a nuclear power has seriously threatened deploying an atomic weapon to augment conventional warfare.

    The unexpectedly strong performance of Biden’s fellow Democrats in last week’s U.S. midterm elections had strengthened his hand going into the summit, Biden said.

    “I think the election held in the United States ... has sent a very strong message around the world that the United States is ready to play,” said Biden. “The United States is — the Republicans who survived along with the Democrats are — of the view that we’re going to stay fully engaged in the world and that we, in fact, know what we’re about.”

    Following Monday’s summit, Biden will spend the next two days in Bali meeting with G-20 world leaders, where Russia’s war on Ukraine is expected to dominate the conversation.


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SLPP to take legal action against social media mudslingers

General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Sagara Kariyawasam says that the party’s leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has advised to take legal action against those slinging mud at the party in social media.

He further said that several individuals have already been identified and have been reported to the party’s lawyers to take further legal actions.

The SLPP General Secretary went on to add that there are organized groups engaged in mud slinging against the leadership of SLPP, with the motive of tarnishing the party’s reputation among the general public, targeting upcoming elections.

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Hirunika granted bail

Ex-Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra and 14 others who were arrested by the Cinnamon Gardens Police on Monday (14) were released on a cash bail of Rs. 10,000/- each, and a personal bail of Rs. 5 Million each on Tuesday (15).

14 women including the former member of parliament, and one male were produced to Colombo Chief Magistrate Nandana Amarasinghe.

They were charged with violating the Police Ordinance and obstructing the duties of police officers.

The 15 suspects were moved to court by the Cinnamon Gardens Police at 9:15 AM, however, it was 11 AM when they were produced to the Magistrate.

When the Chief Magistrate questioned the B Report, the police officers noted that the B Report was taken away by Senior Officers.

Defence Counsel pointed out that there is an attempt to file charges for offences that were not committed by the suspects, by a new B report that could be prepared on the instructions of Senior Police Officers.

Thereafter, Sri Lanka Police produced the B Report to the Court, and ASP Neville De Silva the Director of the Colombo Crimes Division made submissions on behalf of Sri Lanka Police.

He told the court that the group did not inform Sri Lanka Police of their intentions to assemble, and illegally attempted to enter the road leading to the President's House.

He said that Sri Lanka Police is vested with the responsibility of protecting the President, and thus installed roadblocks to prevent the march.

The ASP told the court that Hirunika Premachandra had counter-protested by obstructing the duties of police officers, and as she is a woman she had used it as an advantage in previous instances where she embraced police officers who oppose protests and inconvenienced them.

He said the group that performed the street play were dressed in clothing similar to military attire.

The ASP also noted that 10 female suspects were arrested and moved to the Cinnamon Gardens Police, and thereafter they decided to sit down opposite the police station, once again obstructing the duties of the police officers.

He requested for the suspects to be remanded, as there were other suspects who needed to be arrested.

Counsel appearing for the suspects noted that the street play only depicted the plight of women in Sri Lanka.

Counsel also said that police officers obstructed the duties of the lawyers who appeared for the women, when their statements were being recorded at the Cinnamon Gardens Police.

The counsel appearing for the suspects also noted that the recent conduct of a Police Inspector showed the world how Sri Lanka Police treat women, and noted that the conduct of Sri Lanka Police is far worse than what is witnessed in Mozambique.

A group of lawyers including Rajith Lakmal, Gunaratne Wanninayake, and Athula Ranagala appeared for the suspects.

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NO Tsunami threat to Sri Lanka following Indonesia quake

The earthquake that was reported off the coast of Indonesia on Friday (18) poses NO Tsunami threat to Sri Lanka, confirmed the Met Department of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan authorities said that there is no threat to the people living in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka.

A 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake reported 212 km close to Bengkulu, Indonesia, confirmed the United States Geological Survey.

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Presidential task force to expedite budget proposals for 2023

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said the process of building a new economy suitable for the modern world would be started through the budget proposals for next year.

He proposed the setting up of a presidential task force to carry out monitoring functions to expedite implementation of all these proposals.

Presenting budget 2023 for the second reading in parliament today (14) in his capacity as the minister of finance, the president said, “I request all of you to join and support the journey of bringing positive change in the country through these budget proposals.”

“We are taking these suggestions as background, let's prepare a new economic base. Let's come to a common consensus and create a national economic policy framework. Let’s implement that policy framework for the next 25 years.”

“Every 5 years we can review our progress. Through such a review, we get the opportunity to further develop the policies that can make our journey towards our goal successful.”

“The sectoral committees can play a big role when the budget proposals that I have presented are implemented through government officials. The finance committees can effectively intervene in the exercise of reducing public expenditure.”

“Is the long-term development of a country based on popular decisions? Or the right decisions? In many cases, popular decisions were taken instead of correct decisions in our country. Even today many people make popular decisions.”

The president also said, “These young people hope for a better day. Hope for a good country. A new approach, a new program that goes beyond traditional political methods such as agitations, struggles and strikes is expected.”

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Attorney Nuwan Bopage bailed

Attorney Nuwan Bopage who was named as a suspect for illegally entering the President's Office appeared in court on Thursday (17), and was released on bail.

Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage ordered to release the suspects on a personal bail of Rs. 500,000/-.

He was named as the 59th suspects in the case filed for illegally entering the President's Office on the 9th of June 2022.

He was named as a suspect in the case several days ago, and appeared in court on Thursday (17) as per instructions from fellow counsel.

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Hirunika Premachandra arrested

Former MP and the national organizer of the Samagi Vanitha Balavegaya (SVB), Hirunika Premachandra has been arrested following a protest in Colombo.

The Samagi Vanitha Balawegaya had engaged in a demonstration calling to end violence against women in view of “the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” which is commemorated in November.

Speaking to the media, former MP Hirunika Premachandra said that a stage play-based demonstration had been organized to be conducted in front of the UN Office in Colombo today to highlight incidents of violence against women in Sri Lanka.

She said, however, the Police had blocked their protest march, which commenced from Independence Square, near the President’s private residence in Colombo 07.

The Police had also arrested two of the demonstrators, which had resulted in a tense situation.

Thereafter, the remaining protesters, including Hirunika Premachandra, launched a fresh protest in front of the Cinnamon Gardens Police, calling on all the protesters to be arrested together.

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Sri Lanka increases passport charges

Sri Lanka has decided to increase the fees levied on passports with effect from Thursday (17).

Accordingly, it will now cost Rs. 20,000/- to obtain a passport under the One-Day Service.

The cost for a passport under the normal services has been increased to Rs. 5,000/- from Rs. 3,500/-.

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Activist Nirmanli Liyanage has passed away

Young activist Nirmanli Liyanage has passed away.

She has reportedly died due to a sudden heart attack in a private hospital in Colombo.

Nirmanli Liyanage was in her mid thirties when she passed away shockingly.

She had also participated in a citizen talk discussion which was posted on her Facebook page yesterday

Nirmanli Liyanage played a key role in establishing the Citizens Forum at the historic GotaGoGama protest site and worked tirelessly to educate Citizens about their rights and the democratic processes earlier this year.

Many activists had posted on social media expressing their condolences over the sudden death of a young talented activist.

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Construction sector cannot depend on govt-funded projects - CBSL Governor

Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe told a forum organized by the Ceylon Institute of Builders that the country's construction sector boomed due to government-funded projects, but the same model will not apply in the future.

"After the end of the war mega-infrastructure development projects took place, largely are government-funded projects, either borrowed-money or taxpayers money," he said, adding that when the Sri Lankan government was finding it difficult to finance a comfort letter was given to the private commercial banks, where funding can be obtained from the banks for the government project and the money will be paid later.

"That was a trap," revealed the Central Bank Governor.

He said that the country's construction sector developed to its present state was mainly due to government-funded projects, and going forward the sector cannot rely on government-sponsored projects.

"If we are going forward with the same model, we will see another round of restructuring, and debt sustainability issues. That can never happen again. If that happens, we will be repeating the same cycle of crises," warned the Governor.

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The 2023 budget aimed at long-term, stable economic growth to be presented to Parliament tomorrow

The 2023 budget aimed at long-term, stable economic growth to be presented to Parliament tomorrow

President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister of Finance will present the 2023 budget to Parliament tomorrow (14) aimed at creating long-term, stable economic growth.

The 2023 budget has given special attention to the sectors of capital market, export market, labour market and digital economy and it is expected to achieve the budget targets through the social market economy.

This year’s budget will focus more on providing social welfare benefits to the people who need them most and creating a policy environment to build the private sector as the driving force of the country’s economy.

Through the 2023 budget, the process of building a new economy tailored for the new world has been initiated aimed at creating a program to ensure a decent country for the youth.

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