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Milk powder import tax increased

Port and Airport Levy (PAL) on imported milk powder has been increased by 10 percent, says Trade Minister Nalin Fernando.

However, Minister assures that this tax hike would not lead to an increase in the prices of milk powder.

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President meets Facebook (META), discuss two initiatives

President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with Sir Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs for Meta, in New York on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

During their discussions, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the government’s new initiatives to combat online hate speech and the spread of fake news. He emphasized that the proposed bill would allow concerned parties to challenge specific aspects through the Supreme Court and further revisions could be considered during the Parliamentary Committee review.

The President was briefed on Meta’s advancements in Artificial Intelligence, with a particular emphasis on open-source technologies.

Both parties explored potential collaborations between the Sri Lankan Government and Meta in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). One of the proposals discussed was the development of a collaborative program between Meta and Sri Lankan universities aimed at advancing AI technology.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized his two primary areas of focus: fostering the growth of the AI sector in the country, especially in the realm of education and utilizing AI to support data-driven initiatives aimed at addressing climate change. (PMD)

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IMF Chief commends SL's progress during meeting with president

In a crucial meeting held during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, met with President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to discuss vital economic matters.

During the meeting, Ms. Georgieva and President Wickremesinghe delved into the ongoing financial sector reforms and the substantial progress made in debt restructuring initiatives. The IMF Managing Director commended the Sri Lankan government for its effective measures in curbing inflation and nurturing a conducive environment for business growth, as well as the flourishing tourism industry. She expressed her satisfaction with the government’s commitment to enhancing the overall economic landscape.

Notable figures attending this significant meeting included Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Ali Sabry, President’s Secretary Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Ambassodor Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe, UN Permanent Representative Mr. Mohan Peiris and President’s Advisor Mr. Dinesh Weerakkody alongside senior officials representing both Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund.


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President joins business roundtable during 78th UNGA session

In conjunction with the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Ranil Wickremesinghe actively participated in two significant events in New York, the President’s Media Division (PMD) reported.

President Wickremesinghe took part in a high-profile business roundtable discussion titled “Economic Opportunities in Sri Lanka”, jointly organised by the Business Council for International Understanding and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the United States of America, which took place yesterday (18 Sep.).

The business roundtable saw participation from more than 40 U.S. businesses keen on exploring investment and trade prospects in Sri Lanka.

Alongside them were prominent representatives from Sri Lanka’s private sector and a delegation of senior officials from the United States government. This discussion aimed to foster economic opportunities and strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations.

Meanwhile, President Wickremesinghe also participated in the “Conference on Sustainable Development Goals – 2023,” which commenced yesterday at the UN Headquarters, focusing on exploring new strategies to advance progress toward achieving sustainable development goals by 2030.

Ruwan Wijewardena, President’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change, Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the President and Aruni Wijewardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were also present on this occasion.

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2023 GCE A/L exam postponed

The Commissioner General of the Department of Examinations will announce the revised dates for conducting the 2023 G.C.E. Advanced Level Examination next week, Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha says.

The minister made this remark while delivering a special statement in the parliament this morning (21).

Speaking further, Premajayantha emphasized that a large number of students, as well as the MPs of both the ruling party and the opposition in their capacity as public representatives, have requested to postpone the A/L examination citing several issues.

Repercussions of postponing the 2023 Advanced Level exam to 2024 need to be taken into account [when considering the request], the minister said, mentioning that holding the school examinations and releasing the results have continuously been put off due to certain adversities including the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, trade union actions and the economic crisis.

“Schoolchildren and parents were the ones who were affected by all these issues”.

Furthermore, the Education Minister expressed that admission of students to the universities, admission to the courses conducted by higher educational institutes, and admission to foreign universities have been delayed over the past few years, which cost the students the opportunity to apply for the courses at the minimum prescribed age.

He said the ministry hoped to prevent the exam from being delayed year after year and to provide the students the opportunity to face the exams at the minimum prescribed age in order to pursue higher education.

Meanwhile, the minister pointed out that if the 2023 A/L examination is pushed to January 2024, the 2023 G.C.E. Ordinary Level examination, which is currently planned to be conducted in the months of March and April 2024, will have to be postponed to May or June.

He also explained that as a result, the authorities will be compelled to postpone exams time and time again.

“When the school examination calendar becomes irregular, the school term calendar will also be delayed.”

“This will also cause delays in admission of students to Grade 01”, he stressed.

The minister further warned that this will lead to the loss of opportunities for students to apply for foreign universities and scholarships.

“In addition, recruitments to several government vacancies will face delays, as the delays in releasing examination results will cause the postponement of various corporate examinations”, he added.

Premajayantha asserted that however, the attention of the Examinations Department has been drawn to revise the dates for conducting the 2023 A/L examination, in a manner that does not affect the school term calendar.

The minister highlighted that the decision was arrived at in consideration of the injustice to a considerable number of students who have applied for the examination, following the release of 2022 A/L results.

“Compared to previous years, 18,473 more applications were received for the examination after the results were released”, he added.

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Sri Lanka & South Korean leaders discuss key issues

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged his support for President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s economic recovery plan for Sri Lanka.

He praised President Wickremesinghe’s program aimed at alleviating the severe economic crisis in the country and commended his dedication.

Additionally, President Yoon Suk Yeol mentioned the potential for expanding the scope for job opportunities in South Korea for Sri Lankan youth in the future.

The South Korean leader lauded President Wickremesinghe’s efforts to address Climate Change issues based on the COP 27 agenda and proposed for Sri Lanka and Korea to enter into a Bilateral Climate Change Agreement. He further proposed the need to expedite the conclusion of a Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement with a view to facilitating more Korean investment bringing in new technology to Sri Lanka.

The official meeting between Presidents Wickremesinghe and President Yoon Suk Yeol occurred alongside the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the South Korean Permanent Resident Mission to the United Nations in New York. The leaders discussed the strengthening of diplomatic relations that began in 1978 and explored opportunities for further expansion.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of expeditiously finalizing a trade agreement between the two nations. Both leaders prioritized enhancing trade and investment relations between Sri Lanka and South Korea. Additionally, President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed gratitude for the valuable contributions of Sri Lankan youths working in South Korea to the country’s economy.

Furthermore, the South Korean President highlighted that Sri Lankan workers who have gained skills in South Korea will return to contribute to Sri Lanka’s economy positively. He also applauded the commitment of the Sri Lankan President to address climate change.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized Sri Lanka’s digitalization efforts, while the South Korean President noted that Sri Lanka can draw valuable lessons from South Korea’s remarkable achievements in digitization.

In a friendly gesture, President Yoon Suk Yeol extended an invitation to President Ranil Wickremesinghe for an official visit to South Korea in the near future.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane and other senior officials from Sri Lanka and Korea participated in the meeting. (PMD)

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USAID will continue to support Sri Lanka’s recovery, Samantha Power assures President

President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with USAID Administrator, Samantha Power, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

During the discussions the President expressed his appreciation for the support extended by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to Sri Lanka during the financial crisis.

The President presented a short briefing on the progress with the IMF program, while highlighting the Government’s commitment to its successful conclusion, the statement said.

The efforts made by the Sri Lankan Government in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the welfare programs through the introduction of the ‘Aswesuma’ initiative were illustrated during the meeting.

Samantha Power stated that USAID would continue to support Sri Lanka’s recovery efforts, while also making available necessary expertise.

Regarding the developments following the enactment of the anti-corruption legislation, President Ranil Wickremesinghe noted that the Anti-Corruption Commission is currently grappling with the task of recruiting staff with formal training.

Given this circumstance, it is anticipated that it will require an additional year to realize the anticipated outcomes of the anti-corruption law adoption, making the timeline for achievement approximately two years.

The President stated that the entire government machinery of his government has been fully adapted to the implementation of the anti-corruption policy, and requested for the necessary support to be provided for the completion of these activities as soon as possible.


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Three key sectors declared as essential services

A Gazette notification has been issued declaring the electricity, petroleum, and health sectors as essential services in Sri Lanka.

The Gazette has been issued by the Acting Secretary to the President dated September 17, 2023.

As per the Gazette notification, all services related to the supply of electricity, the supply or distribution of petroleum products and fuel, and all services, work, or labour required for the maintenance, care, feeding, and treatment of patients in hospitals, nursing homes, dispensaries, and similar healthcare institutions are now declared as essential services.

Gazette : http://documents.gov.lk/files/egz/2023/9/2349-44_E.pdf

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Bangladesh did not expect Sri Lanka to pay back the loan so fast

In a significant diplomatic meeting, President Ranil Wickremesinghe held a fruitful meeting with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, in New York yesterday (19).

The meeting cantered on various aspects of bilateral relations and cooperation between the two South Asian nations.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina informed President Wickremesinghe that she was pleased with Sri Lanka’s speedy recovery from the financial crisis, adding that she had not expected Sri Lanka to pay back the loan so fast.

During the discussions, President Wickremesinghe extended his heartfelt gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the people of Bangladesh for their unwavering support and assistance to Sri Lanka during challenging times.

He acknowledged the assistance received by Sri Lanka and expressed his profound appreciation for Bangladesh’s generosity. President Wickremesinghe, in a gracious gesture, also apologized for not being able to visit Bangladesh in the past due to various commitments and circumstances. He affirmed his desire to strengthen the ties between the two countries and proposed the possibility of visiting Bangladesh in November or December, aligning with the convenience of the Bangladeshi government.

In a more personal exchange, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shared the tragic history of her family, recounting the devastating assassinations that had befallen her loved ones. The cordial conversation between the two leaders allowed for a deeper understanding of each other’s experiences and aspirations. (PMD)

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President has support of around 200 MPs – Ravi K.

Set aside politics and unite in order to solve issues of the people, UNP Colombo district leader Ravi Karunanayake has stressed to all.

What should actually happen is not to introduce anti-corruption or any other acts, but proof by deed, he said, highlighting that no act would be meaningless without being practical.

Karunanayake was addressing as chief guest a beach cleaning effort at Crow Island in Mattakkuliya to mark international coastal cleanup day, organized by Lion’s Club International, Navy, police and schoolchildren.

Speaking further, he said foreign media channels need not explain anything to Sri Lanka, and that none of these issues would have arisen had the investigations so far into the Easter Sunday attacks been conducted properly.

Instead of leveling accusations against president Ranil Wickremesinghe, the opposition should extend him support for the sake of the country and the people, he said.

None of those accusers came forward to accept the responsibility for the country at the difficult moment, he said.

“Time has come to halt the politics of deception. There is talk only with no proof by deed anywhere.”

Around 200 out of the 225 MPs are with the president, and the opposition is left with about 25 MPs, Karunanayake claimed.

It is not the politicians, but the people who face problems, which needs action by all, including the media, for their resolution, he added.

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Lanka Sathosa reduces prices of 06 essential food items

Lanka Sathosa, on Wednesday (20 Sep.), reduced the prices of six essential food items.

Issuing a release, the state-owned corporation stated that the relevant price reduction will be in effect from today.

Accordingly, the prices of the following goods have been reduced:

• Soya meat - Rs.580 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.45)

• Local Potatoes - Rs.290 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.40)

• Thai sprats - Rs.1,100 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.30)

• Garlic – Rs.620 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.30)

• Big onions – Rs.195 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.15)

• Red lentils – Rs. 299 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.06)

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President arrives in New York for UNGA

Following his participation in the “G77 and China” Summit in Cuba, President Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived in New York earlier today, to attend the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in the United States of America.

This session, themed “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all” is scheduled to take place from September 18 to 21.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe is slated to address the session on September 21, where he will deliver a special speech. Furthermore, the President will actively participate in the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Summit, where global leaders will outline strategies for transformative and accelerated actions towards 2030.

Additionally, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has been invited to deliver the keynote speech at the Indo-Pacific Island Dialogue for Maritime Nations. In parallel, he has scheduled bilateral discussions with several state leaders participating in the conference.

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