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News

New regulations on packing materials gazetted

An Extraordinary Gazette has been issued to importers of pre-packeted goods pertaining to the packaging.

According to the Gazette, the pre-packeted goods must declare the Maximum Retail Price (MRP), name, and the registered address of the importer on the packaging in English at the point of entry to the country.

The pre-packeted goods mentioned in the Gazette are confectionery, including chewing gum, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, and toilet soap.

The Gazette notification is effective from 1st November 2022.

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Speaker endorses certificate on 21st Amendment to the Constitution

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena today (31) endorsed the certificate on the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill which was passed by a special majority in Parliament recently.

The Parliament of Sri Lanka said following the endorsement by the Speaker, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill will come into force as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution from today.

The twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution Bill was presented to the Parliament on August 10, 2022, by Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

According to the Supreme Court’s determination related to the petitions against the bill, amendments were made at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Judicial Affairs and approval was obtained.

The debate on the second reading of the twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution Bill was held in Parliament on the 20th and 21st of October.

At the end of the second reading, 179 MPs voted in favor and 1 voted against the Bill.

Thereafter, in the voting held for the third reading of the bill, 174 votes were in favor and one vote was against.

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Rishad released from Easter Attacks case filed under PTA

Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was ordered by Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage to be released from a case filed under the Prevention of Terrorist Act allegedly assisting the suicide bombers who carried out the 2019 April 21st Terror Attacks.

The Magistrate made the order following the submissions made by the Attorney General who had pointed out that was insufficient evidence to file a case against the Ex-Minister under the PTA.

Rishad Bathiudeen was arrested on the 24th of April and detained for 111 days for investigations and was later released on bail by the Fort Magistrate's Court.

"They fabricated the charges and ruined me and my community. They came to power accusing me and the entire Muslim community for the Easter Attacks. They also won the elections with the Muslim Community. They remanded me for 07 months unjustly under the PTA and thought that they could win the next elections as well. I repeatedly said in Parliament that these are false accusations, and it was proven in court," he told reporters following his release.

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Without President Biden, we will not be having a successful Maha Season - President

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that measures have been taken to strengthen the 74-year-old ties between the United States and Sri Lanka, adding that the support rendered by the United States whenever Sri Lanka was in difficulty would never be forgotten.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made this statement while attending the official opening of the new building of the United States Embassy in Colombo on the 28th.

Expressing his views on the diplomatic relations and mutual understanding between the United States and Sri Lanka during the war, the President also recalled with gratitude the support given by the United States under the leadership of George Bush in 2001 during President Wickremesinghe's tenure as Prime Minister.

The President also recalled the support provided by the US government led by Bill Clinton to help Sri Lanka recover from the Tsunami disaster in 2004 and said that if not for the intervention of the US led by President Joe Biden, Sri Lanka would not have been able to make a success of the Maha Season.

President Wickremesinghe, who further pointed out the 74 years of US-Sri Lanka friendship, partnership and bilateral relations, expressed his appreciation for the support rendered by the United States for the preparation of the first monetary law and the well-drafted legal system for the establishment of the Central Bank.

Having experienced such a long and cordial relationship, Sri Lanka and the United States will work as close friends in the future as well, said the President, adding that the United States and Sri Lanka, as inseparable partners, will forge ahead with respect and confidence in each other to preserve peace and democracy.

Following is the full speech made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe:

“38 years ago, I stood in another building next to this witnessing President Jayawardena opens the new US Chancellor building. The earlier building was housed in the residence, which one time belonged to my great-grandmother, Helena Dep Wijewardhena before the Americans purchase the sea. I think that’s the only private beach in Sri Lanka much and that is the only Embassy which has a private beach, which I am sure will be really the cause of joy for your marine scene.

As the Ambassador mentioned it was 74 years ago that we started our diplomatic relations, so next year when we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our independence we also be celebrating the 75th anniversary of our relations with the US. But our contact with the US goes back far longer than that. Over 200 years ago, when missionaries arrived here in Jaffna to open schools I always wondered how those missionaries got on Jaffna with the British while burning the White House in Washington.

But I must thank them because they started one of the first hospitals in Sri Lanka. The green hospital, where they did yeoman service in Jaffna during wartime, it was not only a Christian missionary We all know of Col. Alcott, and the services he has done and there are many sons who standing here who comes from the school he started, Ananda College.

It’s not only the field of education or religion; they were in trade actually our graphite trade phosphate, because Americans were some of the main purchases of graphite at that time. These are all parts which written in history. Our relationship was not only in trade, not merely education, not merely religion it was also military. In 1942, General Joseph Silvon, Wnnieger Joe was the deputy commander of the Southeast Asia command which was housed here in Kandy under Admiral Lord B.. of Batton at that time, He control the Chinese troops in India, Burma, and China. So that’s how our military connection began.

And our economic connections after the war when we got the help of Joe Nickson to prepare the first monetary law and to set up the Central Bank, that piece of legislation is one of the most well-drafted legislation that I have seen. The political alliance was also built up, especially in 1951, when the then Secretary of State had to rely on our representative there then finance Minister J.R. Jayawardena to make a speech in support of the Japanese peace treaty when some of the other Asians backed them. So even during significant times, we have been there.

So these are the needed a friendship which continued whenever we needed, going into Galle face to take relief to the flood-affected areas in 1957.

and when I became the Deputy Minister of foreign affairs in 1977, it was an important era when President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Prime Minister Nakasone all gave me the ship to this region together with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and President JR Jayawardena. It was a turning point that contributed to the last geopolitical changes which took place in 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I remember in 1993 when I went to the UK it was because Vice President Al Gore wanted me to sign an agreement bringing Sri Lanka onto the internet just imagining what would happen if I didn’t go and didn’t sign. So that has a long friendship. It is obvious that I must mention here the help that was given to me when I was the Prime Minister in 2001 by President George W. Bush, I must say for the help for to bring around the peace talks and keeping the LTTE in line and again when the cyclone struck us how he gave help and his father, president, George Bush and President Clinton here to be with us. So we have not forgotten. It’s a friendship that has gone on for so long and as the Prime Minister again I had your help when we restored the democratic principles and upheld the rule of law and the freedom of expression.

This is what Sri Lanka committed to we will not move you from that. This is as I say the democracy that we all know and we pride ourselves on the fact that some 1931 we are a practising democracy I can assure you the fights in our house some times better than fighting your house of representatives. Are we to exchange notes on that we can ask the Hon. Speaker?

President Biden, I met when he was a senator and I had to go and meet him and again in 2017 on a unique occasion we were both listening to a speech by President Xi.

I don’t think the end of the beginning. Again, I say being with both of them at the same time, but nevertheless, I must thank President Biden for the help he has given us in this critical moment. We appreciate it and I must say, without your help, we will not be having a successful “Maha Season” Thank you. So, what this building symbolizes, in a way, is the coming together, the brick-and-mortar human relationship which had held us all together. The two countries together it’s wrong, it cannot be broken. But this new building also is, in a way, a symbol of a new era in which the relationship has to develop. When the Indian Ocean is getting more attention, is coming under attention and the world itself is changing we are seeing from last year onwards how fast the geopolitics is changing and in this world that we will have to carry out our new relationships and we have worked together for so long, I have no doubt that we will carry on respecting each other and working closely to each other to uphold the peace and democracy.

Thank you.”

Hon, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardhena, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, the U.S. Department of State’s Under Secretary for Management John Bass, several Ministers, officials and private citizens from both countries attended this occasion.

(PMD)

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Monk arrested over financial fraud linked to Thilini Priyamali

Sri Lankan monk Ven. Borelle Sirisumana Thero has been arrested in connection to the financial fraud linked to businesswoman Thilini Priyamali.

According to Ada Derana, Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the monk was arrested by officials from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) today.

He further said that Ven. Borelle Sirisumana Thero was arrested based on information that was revealed during investigations into the financial frauds committed by Thilini Priyamali.

Priyamali was arrested in early October for financially defrauding several businessmen, politicians, and civil, religious, and political leaders.

The Criminal Investigation Department also arrested Isuru Bandara, the alleged business partner of Thilini Priyamali, and both have been remanded.

Last week (27), SSP Nihal Thalduwa revealed that investigations into the financial fraud linked to Thilini Priyamali have unveiled that she had allegedly defrauded Rs. 1.28 billion.

He further said that the information had come to light following investigations conducted into 12 complaints that had been filed against Thilini Priyamali.

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‘Even beggars can get on to politcal stages’- Maithripala on SLPP revival

Former President Maithripala Sirisena has commended President Ranil Wickremesinghe for the efforts made thus far in stabilizing crisis-hit Sri Lanka.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Sirisena said that President Wickremesinghe has lifted the country out of the severe crisis it has been facing, to some extent.

He said, however, the President will face some form of pressure from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) which could be an issue.

Responding to questions on the SLPP attempting to revive the party, MP Maithripala Sirisena jokingly questioned how they expect to revive under the current circumstances.

Commenting on SLPP bigwig Mahinda Rajapaksa being instrumental in the party’s revival, the former President said, “anyone can climb on to political stages, even a beggar can do this.”

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Dolawatta’s motion to strengthen a presidential policy on youths

Premnath C. Dolawatta is moving a private member’s motion to strengthen a presidential policy of obtaining contributions of youths to state governance.

The MP met president Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (31) and briefed him on his proposal.

Dolawatta told the president that his policy stance of giving more opportunities to youths at elections for a better democratic representation would be added a constitutional value by his draft bill to amend the local government elections ordinance.

It contains provisions to make a minimum of 25 per cent mandatory representation of youths in the first and second nomination lists at LG polls.

The MP noted that a special commission appointed in 1990 to look into youth unrest had stressed the importance of more opportunities for youths in democratic representation.

Accordingly, an amendment to the LG elections ordinance in that year introduced provisions for a 40 pc representation, but that lost ground when a 25 pc women’s representation requirement was established later on, he said.

The latest motion by him will help obtain active contributions once again from the youths, the lifeblood of the country’s future, the MP believed.

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South Korea searches for answers after Halloween festivities leave 151 dead

South Korea is searching for answers after Halloween celebrations in the capital Seoul turned into one of the country’s worst disasters, with authorities declaring a national mourning period as they investigate how a chaotic crush left at least 151 people dead.

Tens of thousands of costumed partygoers – mostly teenagers and young adults – had poured into the popular nightlife neighborhood Itaewon to enjoy South Korea’s first Halloween celebration since it lifted Covid restrictions such as crowd limits and face mask rules.

But the festivities descended into chaos, with photos and videos on social media showing huge crowds crammed into a narrow alley. Eyewitnesses described partygoers being packed so tightly together it was difficult to move around or even breathe.

Suah Cho, 23, described walking through an alley when “suddenly, some people started pushing each other, and people were screaming.” The screaming went on for 15 minutes, she said, adding: “It was just panic.”

“Some people were going forward and some people were going backward, and then just they were pushing each other,” she added. She was able to escape into a building along the alley, where she watched the disaster unfold. She said some people had told her that “people were climbing the building to survive.”

Authorities are still investigating what caused the incident, but Choi Seong-bum, chief of the Yongsan-gu Fire Department, said it was a “presumed stampede” and that many people fell, injuring at least 82.

The dead included at least 19 foreign nationals, including people from Iran, Norway, China and Uzbekistan, he said. One Thai national is among the dead, the Thai Foreign Ministry said.

The chaos of Saturday turned into shock and grief across the country on Sunday. Many victims’ families have gathered at a nearby center in Itaewon, where officials are compiling the names of the dead and missing as they race to identify bodies.

So far, more than 90% of those killed have been identified, said Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min in a briefing on Sunday. He added that about 10 people can’t be identified because some are under the age of 17 – too young to carry a national ID card – and others are foreigners.

But many remain missing, with families left anxiously calling hospitals and visiting morgues. By 2 p.m. local time on Sunday, Seoul authorities had received more than 3,580 missing persons reports, said the city government.

One mother, Ahn Yeon-seon, told South Korean news agency Yonhap her 19-year-old daughter had gone out to celebrate with her boyfriend for one of their last dates before he left for mandatory military service.

Several hours after the couple left, her daughter’s boyfriend called crying, saying she had been “under a pile of people for over an hour and that he’d tried to pull her out but couldn’t,” Ahn said, according to Yonhap.

Since then, Ahn has been searching hospitals for her daughter, waiting for confirmation of what happened to her. “I’ll just keep searching,” she told Yonhap.

And, though the government has launched an investigation and promised new measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again, questions are emerging about how such a disaster could have occurred at all.

Cho, the 23-year-old who escaped the crush, said she saw no police or officials trying to control the crowd before the crush began. Even after they arrived later in the night, the sense of confusion and panic continued.

“The police officer was screaming, but we couldn’t really tell that was a real police officer because so many people were wearing costumes,” she said. “People were literally saying, ‘Are you a real police officer?’”

Investigation and recovery

Authorities received the first emergency calls of people being “buried” in crowds at 10:24 p.m. in Seoul (9:24 a.m. ET). As the news broke, Yonhap reported that some people had suffered from “cardiac arrest,” with others reporting “difficulty breathing.”

However, officials said there were no gas leaks or fires on site.

Lee Sang-min, Seoul’s interior and safety minister, said on Sunday that “a considerable number of police and security forces” had been deployed to another part of Seoul on Saturday to deal with protests there.

Meanwhile in Itaewon, the crowd had not been unusually large, he said, so only a “normal” level of security forces had been deployed there.

But as the disaster unfolded, it prompted a massive response. More than 1,700 emergency response forces were dispatched on Saturday night, including 517 firefighters, 1,100 police officials, and about 70 government workers.

Social media videos showed police had taped off an area where people were performing compressions on other partygoers lying on the ground as they waited for medical help. Others showed people dressed in Halloween costumes lying on the street and on stretchers as first responders rendered aid and ambulances lined up to take away the injured.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol convened an emergency meeting in the early hours of Sunday, and later visited the scene to receive briefings from emergency officials.

Addressing the nation, he called a national period of mourning “until the handling of the accident is concluded.” Prime Minister Han Duck-soo later said the period of mourning would end at midnight of November 5.

“A tragedy that should not have happened occurred in the middle of Seoul last night on Halloween,” Yoon said. “I pray for those who died in an unexpected accident and hope that the injured will recover quickly.”

He also said the disaster would be investigated, with measures put into place to ensure similar incidents never happen again.

“We will have relevant ministries such as the Ministry of the Interior and Safety conduct emergency inspections not only for Halloween events but also for local festivals and thoroughly manage them so they are conducted in an orderly and safe manner,” Yoon said, adding that a “multi-purpose emergency system” would support both the injured and the families of the dead.

Foreign nationals among the dead

People fly into Seoul from all over Asia to celebrate Halloween in Itaewon, and this year’s event was seen as a welcome return of festivities after the pandemic. Hotels and ticketed events in the neighborhood had been booked solid ahead and large crowds were expected.

One eyewitness, Sung Sehyun, said the space was like a “jammed subway,” and that he had to push his way through the throng earlier in the night to get clear of the busy streets.

“I was lucky to get through (but an) hour later, I heard people got killed. Because people got stamped on … and people got jammed together,” he said

Juliette Kayyem, a disaster management expert and national security analyst for CNN, said the city’s density – and how common crowds are in Seoul – may have played a role in the tragedy.

(CNN)

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Country's tea industry needs to be modernized – President

PMD - President Ranil Wickremesinghe noted that the government is aiming at an agriculture modernization programme in which tea will have a prominent place. He said that the country has a very competitive tea industry that needs to be developed.

Addressing the 32nd Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners Association in Battaramulla on Sunday (30), he said that the main focus should be on producing quality tea be high-grown or mid-grown.

“It is useless for us to try to compete with those who are not having the quality. We have an opportunity. Let’s go for it and develop the industry, modernize our factories, look at renewable energy, the biomass, all that is there,” the President emphasized.

Following is the full speech made by the President;

“I was listening to the report by your president about a survey of the tea industry today. He came out with a tale of woes. That is understandable looking at what we have gone through this year. Now, it is my chance to come out with my tale of woes because I have taken over the titanic after it hit the iceberg. So you can just imagine where I have to start. Everything was down.

We have declared ourselves bankrupt. What have we got to do? First is to ensure that people can live and there is enough food to eat, whatever the other difficulties. With the bankruptcy that we have declared, our economy has virtually come to a halt. The inflation, the bankruptcy, and everything else that is happening have brought our economy to a grinding halt.

How do we restart it? That is what we are engaged in. In addition, I thought I’d explain to you the process. Primarily, we have to conserve whatever foreign exchange we have and limit imports so that we could get fuel, fertilizer and medicine.

It has not worked fully initially, but now it’s working much better. Therefore, that is how we started. Then as the revenue dried up, we faced the difficulty of paying our bills or meeting our commitments. We had to keep two things in mind, one is to pay the salaries of government servants, about 1.7 million people and service our debts. Therefore, we have had to work within this scope.

Now that we have declared ourselves bankrupt, the first issue was to ensure that the world would now accept that we have taken sufficient steps to wipe out the label of bankruptcy, which meant that we have to go to the IMF and discuss with them. Every country and organization wanted us to meet with the IMF and devise a plan.

We did have a plan until 2019 when we cancelled the last year. Therefore, we had to start original discussions with the IMF. We had no other option. Our growth rate this year is going to be -8%. Last year too we recorded minus growth. This year is also -8%, and next year it is forecast that it would be -3%.

However, there’s one other factor which worries me. When that forecast was made, everyone thought the global economy will do well. Now, all the indications are that the global economy will fair badly. How will it impact, because the rising inflation in European and other countries will mean that the cost of living will rise? This in turn can somehow affect exports such as less clothing, maybe less tea, and less coffee. We have to understand that.

Therefore, we have to get through this year and then go into next year. Hence, we have to somehow manage two years. Our revenue reduced from 15% to 8.5% and we are expected to get the revenue back to 15%, which I think we have to do.

The timeframe is 2026. I went in for a four-year program. I didn’t think we could bear the burden if we tried to do it in two years and it may not have been possible. I’m happy that we went for four years because 2023 looks to be a bad year globally, not only for Sri Lanka.

So we had to first come to an arrangement which meant raising money. To raise that money, we had to tax everything, which also meant agriculture.

As someone once said, if it moves tax it. We had to come to that level and we had no way out. I wish we could have done it gradually but couldn’t because we needed the money. If you look at the taxes, those who paid taxes up to 2019 got a reduction 2019. Therefore, that’s a loss of revenue. Now what we are trying to do is bring it back first to the 2019 level and add a little bit more. So if you look at up to 2019, your taxation then and today is one figure. However, if you look at 2020 the gap seems much bigger. The fact is that we are suffering, it’s not only tax, but our rupee has also depreciated and interest rates have gone up.

Therefore, it is in this context that we have to operate. Ordinary people are finding it very difficult to live. I mean it’s in that condition that we have to come back. So the first issue is to ensure that we can restructure bankruptcy. We have to start talks with our creditors. I first went to the Paris Club where all the creditors were from the West and Japan.

However, we are in a unique position today where out of our three main creditors, only one belongs to the Paris Club. Japan. The other two are not in the Paris Club. They are India and China. I mean China only started dealing with bankruptcy in Zambia. I think India has it for the first time with Sri Lanka. I have already started discussions with Japan and now with India and China. We get down to a common platform of how we can resolve it while we also have discussions on bilateral issues that affect each other’s countries.

Now, this is the process, we had to move. If we can move and come to an agreement by December, which means coming to an agreement by mid-November, and going up to the IMF Board in mid-December, we will gain a big advantage. However, I don’t know whether we can do it for the simple reason that in China, the focus has started now after the party conference. However, we must aim to have it by January.

Therefore, this is what we are aiming at, and it means that we have to show that we have the revenue and we can go ahead. We start from there. Then how do we go ahead to ensure next year is better? In the meantime, we have started receiving assistance from many organizations and countries. Some countries have helped us through different organizations.

So thanks to the World Bank, ADB and others, we are having FAO, and we are having enough fertilizer. Even countries like the US have assisted us. So the fertilizer issue is solved. No one will give us money for fuel. Hence, we have to use the savings on fertilizer with local foreign exchange to buy fuel.

The next issue though, is that the price of fuel has dropped now and everyone expects the price of fuel to increase in December/January due to the Ukraine war and winter. Hence, that’s the next issue that we have to face. But since we have received fertilizer, the first thing was to revive agriculture, starting with Paddy and then getting on to tea and other crops.

Therefore, this is one part where if we get a good Maha crop by March/April next year, that will help to stabilize the economy. Meanwhile, once we get the agreement, the countries will come to help us. However, it takes time to get loans from bilateral loans again. Meanwhile, the World Bank and the ADB are willing to come up with bridging finance and the whole process will start.

Therefore, we have to thirdly go all out to improve our tourism. I think if we can aim for good tourist numbers by December next year as it grows progressively, then it will start working. Finally, we need foreign exchange reserves. There is no way in which you can raise it now. The only way in which we can raise foreign exchange reserves is by selling off some of our enterprises for dollars so that we can at least put $ 3-4 billion into the reserve, strengthening the rupee further. It will make life that much more affordable if you are moving to a complete market economy and a high-growth economy. This is the only step that we can take because so far having a vast state sector did not enable the economy to grow that fast.

I know the problems you have and I know many of you in the tea sector. Factory owners as much as in the rubber, coconut sector construction sector and the hotel sector are having problems with your banks, servicing your loans etc. So that’s why we are hoping first to bring the rate of interest down gradually.

The Governor of the Central Bank has informed us that our inflation is peaking. So by about February or March, we can see the reduction of interest rates, if not earlier. If we take all these measures by mid-year, we’ll be able to give relief on the interest rates. It’s difficult when the rupee has depreciated and the interest rates rise. But you have to remember that in two years we printed Rs 2.5 trillion worth of notes. So it has to run through the system.

There is no shortcut and the only way is by getting production up again. So here it’s a question about how we could help you in the tea industry. We have got the fertilizer. I know there are deficiencies in other areas. One of the main things that I asked is that we pay the fertilizer suppliers. We have decided to pay them, but the money hasn’t gone yet. I hope that with the new taxes and the collection that is coming in November-December we will be able to pay them off. We also have to pay the contractors. The whole industry has come down. So there’s a long list of people with debts which the government has to honour. So that’s the process. But we want the tea industry to develop. And I must assure you, the honourable minister and the State Minister have been spending a lot of their time looking at how to help you in this circumstance.

Because helping the tea industry helps us bring in foreign exchange and save rubber and additional agriculture production. Next year we have to come through with agriculture production. That is what we have to do as we add the rupee stabilizes. Certainly, people will start sending back the exchange, the foreign employment and the money will come up. But also we can’t run on this economic model anymore.

We have to pay our debts. We have to take some more debt. We are to work completely on an export-oriented economy, and that’s what we are working on. We’ll come back to you, but you have a lot of things to do too. We know you need fertilizer. Most of the major issues are that we need replanting. We are suffering because we have not replanted. As a result, our crop per hectare is coming down. Vietnam is overtaking us. Whoever thought that Vietnam will be growing tea. That’s the position. So we are looking at an agriculture modernization programme in which tea will have a big place.

We have a very competitive tea industry that we have to develop. And I think we have to go for quality tea, whether it be high-grown or mid-grown. It is useless for us to keep competing with those who are not having the quality.

We have an opportunity. Let’s go for it and develop the industry, modernize our factories, and look at renewable energy, biomass, and all that is there. So we need a modern industry and certainly, I think it’s good that you have got Price Waterhouse and Cooper. Because you can utilize their report together with the ADB report on the regional plantation companies. Some of you are doing quite well. Others are a disgrace. So let’s see how we can restructure, how we can get your help and go ahead. I thought I described this to you. I haven’t got the best picture possible, but at least I am trying to take the Titanic off the iceberg and once we do that, we’ll go ahead. Thank you very much for inviting me”.

  • End of speech

Plantation Industries Minister Ramesh Pathirana, Chief Executive Officer of A. Baur and Company (Pvt) ltd Rolf Blazer and President of Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners’ Association Lionel Herath also addressed at the occasion.

State Minister Lohan Rathwatte, UNP leader and Parliamentarian Wajira Abeywardena, Plantation Ministry Secretary B. L. A. J. Amarakeerthi, Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Niraj de Mel and office bearers and the members of the Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners’ Association participated in the event.

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Petition seeking ruling against Inland Revenue Amendment Bill submitted

A petition has been filed at the Supreme Court on Friday (28) seeking a ruling that the Inland Revenue Amendment Bill is in violation of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

The petition has been filed by Chartered Accountant Prasad Dassanayake.

Dassanayake has pointed out in the petition that some of the clauses contained in the draft will damage the business sector, especially the import and export sector, and by imposing a heavy tax burden, the relevant sector may collapse entirely.

The petitioner further requests that its articles be passed by a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament or via a referendum.

Earlier, three parties filed petitions at the Supreme Court against the Inland Revenue Amendment Bill submitted by the government to Parliament on 21st October.

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Ex-finance minister's criticism of tax revisions

Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has spoken out in support of a practical, attainable, fair, and equitable taxing system in Sri Lanka towards implementing a sustainable growth plan for the island nation.

Ravi Karunanayake states he has been observing from the sidelines the current discussions and debates being held in wake of the drastic tax measures being implemented to improve the government’s financial standing is impractical and not sustainable.

“The approach should be to achieve a financial target of how much money we need to collect, rather than stipulate various tax brackets and taxing those beyond their ability to pay” the former minister observed.

Sri Lanka is struggling to stand back on its feet after a series of bad decisions and a subsequent economic crisis which left the island reeling in wake of record high inflation rates, and a severe shortage of essential supplies.

Ravi Karunanayake in his former office as the Minister of Finance secured an IMF bailout to avoid a balance of payments crisis, replenish reserves and rebuild confidence among international investors. Government revenue grew from 8.4% of GDP to revenue to 15% in less than 33 months, this increase was achieved by revenue targets and not on percentage on taxes effectively broad basing the taxpayer’s net.

Karunanayake called for more hands-on experience and a professionally prepared approach in tackling the deficit in government revenues, highlighting that the "biggest challenge is that Sri Lankans feel their tax payments are not being justified, but rather wasted and exploited by government servants and politicians alike."

“It is necessary to inculcate into the minds of the people that every rupee earned by the government is being spent wisely,” the former minister observed, “We are nearing 75 years of independence, but have we truly obtained economic independence?”

“At a time when Sri Lanka’s economy is virtually in the doldrums, positively looking at bringing it back to normalcy is the commitment of all of us, every Sri Lankan must passionately work towards resurrecting the country, and bringing in revenue,” said Karunanayake.

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Crucial talks on debt restructuring between Sri Lanka's creditors next week

Debt restructuring talks between Sri Lanka's creditors will take place next week, the President's Media Division said today.

Accordingly, crucial discussions between the creditor nations are scheduled to be held on November 03.

President's Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor on National Security Sagala Ratnayaka met a delegation from the International Monetary Fund including outgoing IMF Resident Representative for Sri Lanka Tubagus Feridhanusetyawan and his successor Sarwat Jahan at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (27) ahead of the talks between the creditor nations.

The three-member IMF team met with Sagala Ratnayaka to exchange views on prior action and debt restructuring with the latter assuring the delegation that he would brief President Ranil Wickremesinghe on the matters that were discussed at this meeting and convey his response to them.

President’s Senior Adviser on Economic Affairs Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga also joined the discussion.

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