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Sri Lanka should work with India to develop Trincomalee as strategic harbor – President

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the Trincomalee District Strategic Development Plan is not targeting elections, but a project that has been initiated to benefit future generations.

The President said that Sri Lanka values India’s assistance in implementing the Trincomalee district development project, as our closest neighbour.

He made this statement by joining the special discussion on the Trincomalee District Development Plan, held today (14) at the grounds of Trincomalee Orr’s Hill.

He recollected the objections raised when the Trincomalee oil tanks were to be handed over to India, adding that the country would not have faced a fuel crisis if the decision to provide the oil tanks had received the green light to be fully implemented.

Prior to the commencement of the discussion, President Wickremesinghe inspected several places proposed to be developed under the Trincomalee District Development Plan.

The President was able to view the locations proposed under the Trincomalee District Development Plan from the Orr’s Hill vantage point.

Further, following the discussion, the President also inspected the proposed project to develop the beach and recreation facilities near the Trincomalee Gandhi Roundabout, as a tourist attraction.

Meanwhile, the President who also met a group of Trincomalee District regional journalists and had a cordial discussion.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, further commenting in the discussion regarding the Trincomalee District Development Plan said,

“We are not initiating this project targeting the next election, but for the benefit of the next generation. In 2023 we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Independence. There are another 25 years left to complete 100 years of independence. This work must be done before that.

Therefore, let us cut down the 2018-2050 plans and work on achieving them between 2020-2048. We must make significant progress in this Eastern Province during that period. I don’t claim that it is a task that is achievable in the next five years. What we say is that it should commence. We must move on from there.

Back when Polonnaruwa was the capital, the Trincomalee port was a significant port. Back then, we were shown the Bay of Bengal map around Trincomalee. The Bay of Bengal region is still underdeveloped.

It will take another 10-15 years to achieve that development. Thailand’s development has yet to reach the Western Bay of Bengal region. It is yet to kick off in Myanmar. This development has just started in Bangladesh; accordingly, work is being done in Java and Sumatra. It will become a significant port only in the next 10-15 years. Our endeavour is to make Sri Lanka a strategic port.

The eastern port should be transformed into a deep water port. The Eastern Province plays an important role in naval affairs. The Eastern port should be made into a leading strategic port. That means we can carry out our own naval operations. By that time, I think our navy will have much larger vessels. It is important that we work together with India when we plan these activities because India is located much closer to us.

Currently, India is discussing several programs with Sri Lanka. Therefore, we have to continue with the work on the Sampur Power Plant. If there are objections to it, we will have no choice but to taken directly under the government and continue with the work. We inked the Trincomalee Port Agreement in 2003.

Many objections were raised by the unions since 2003 against the provision of the oil tanks to India. Had the Trincomalee oil tank farm been given to India, we would have had fuel; we would have neither had to stay in queues nor to resort to riots. These problems arose because of the shortage of fuel. If we had given the oil tank farm to India back then, there would not have been any problems today.

Such obstacles should not be allowed to transpire again. We should do this on behalf of the people of this area. I will submit this plan to the Parliament and have it endorsed. It should be done because, the governments could change, parliaments could change, but policies should remain the same.

So we are working to move forward without obstacles. We are working with India on renewable energy with the aim of making Trincomalee an energy hub based on the existing relations between Trincomalee and India. With the development of renewable energy, value additions such as green hydrogen and green ammonia. Therefore, we need a port to export green hydrogen. As such the potential in Trincomalee should be taken into consideration.

When considering the North, North Central and Eastern provinces the Trincomalee port should be the central hub. Perhaps, in the future, this would pave a route to Singapore. There is immense potential for such improvement. We should make these developments considering these aspects. We cannot limit the economic activities of this port solely to the Trincomalee District. This should be connected with the cities of Anuradhapura, Vavuniya and Dambulla. The districts of Wanni, Eastern and North Central are responsible for the bulk of agricultural production. If we are to export agricultural produce, this region should be the starting point.

Today we re-export wheat flour but we do not grow it here. Yet, we re-export it, which is done by Prima. Wheat flour is one of our main exports commodities. We import it and re-export it. There are other commodities that could also be exported and we should consider it.

India has agreed to develop industries in this province. Therefore, we should create an industrial zone. I have proposed a joint mechanism between India and Sri Lanka towards this endeavour. Then, the port will also be connected to it and we are planning to establish a joint task force for this purpose.

The President further stated that prior to seeking the opinions of this task force, we need to consider the economic situation. From the economic point of view, we have the tourism industry. In particular, there is the cultural triangle of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla which will attract more tourists to this region.

Although Trincomalee has an airport, it cannot accommodate large aircrafts. Therefore, we would have to upgrade Hingurakgoda or Vavuniya into an international airport. There is an opportunity to develop the tourism industry from Trincomalee to Batticaloa.”

In conclusion, the President highlighted the need to create a complete plan to develop the Eastern and Northern Provinces. Since Trincomalee is located between the north and the east, he also noted that a large part of Anuradhapaura and Polonnaruwa belongs to the Northern Province.

This joint program cannot be completed in 05 years but will take 20-25 years. It took 10 years to complete the Mahaweli Development Project. We hope to have preliminary discussions regarding this and brief the Cabinet prior to proceeding with the development initiatives.

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, State Minister Dilum Amunugama, Senior Presidential Adviser on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President Sagala Ratnayake, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, Eastern Province Governor Mrs. Anuradha Yahampath and Trincomalee District Secretary, Eastern Province Chief Secretary, Governor’s Secretary and officials of line institutions including Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Board of Investment, Urban Development Authority and Principal Planner-Designer of Surbana Jurong , Ketan Kulkarni, who provided advisory contribution in the formulation of the Trincomalee District Development Plan. Senior officials of the Tri- forces and the police of the Eastern Province also participated in this discussion.

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Tiran meets top UK Foreign Office official Ben Mellor

Public security minister Tiran Alles today (11) hosted a meeting at his ministry in Colombo with a top Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK, Ben Mellor.

The director of the India and Indo-Pacific Ocean Directorate was accompanied in the visit by British high commissioner Sarah Hulton.

At the discussion, director Mellor highlighted the importance of no one getting aggrieved when police deal with public gatherings.

Minister Alles noted the police had to act when such meetings are held without obtaining prior permission.

Both UK officials conceded the main responsibility of the police was to maintain law and order.

Together with minister Alles, they also agreed that small children should not be used as a shield during public meetings.

The minister requested the UK's assistance to train the police on how to control gatherings of the public.

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Power cut schedule for 15th, 16th & 17th October

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka approved power cuts of 1 hours and 20 minutes on 15th and 16th and 2 hours and 20 minutes on 17th October.

Accordingly, power cuts will take place as follows;

15th & 16th – Groups ABCDEFGHIJKLPQRSTUVW – 1 hour and 20 minutes during night

17th – Groups ABCDEFGHIJKLPQRSTUVW – 1 hour during daytime and 1 hour and 20 minutes during night.

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Central Bank appoints new deputy governor

The Monetary Board, with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, has promoted Mrs. K M A N Daulagala, Assistant Governor and the Secretary to the Monetary Board, to the post of Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) with effect from 07 October 2022.

K M A N Daulagala has over 31 years of service at CBSL in different capacities in the areas of supervision and regulation of non-bank financial institutions, macroprudential surveillance, finance, international operations, risk management, regional development, human resource management and training and development.

She has served as the Chief Accountant and Director of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions and Financial System Stability and has contributed towards strengthening the legal framework and governance in the non-bank financial institutions sector.

Prior to the appointment as a Deputy Governor, Mrs. Daulagala held the position of Assistant Governor and was in-charge of the Macroprudential Surveillance Department and the Centre for Banking Studies and served as the Secretary to the Monetary Board. She also served as Secretary to the Board Risk Oversight Committee, Monetary Board Advisory Audit Committee and the Ethics Committee.

Further, she was on release to the Ministry of Finance and Planning where she served as the Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises. While holding the position at the Ministry, she served as an Ex-Officio Director of the Bank of Ceylon representing the Treasury and as a member of the Employee’s Trust Fund Board.

At present Mrs. Daulagala serves as the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board.

Mrs. Daulagala holds a Master of Science Degree in Financial and Business Economics from the University of Essex, United Kingdom, and a Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She is a Fellow member of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, United Kingdom

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Wholesale price of wheat flour reduced

The wholesale price of wheat flour has been reduced by Rs. 85, the Essential Food Commodity Importers & Traders Association announced today (14).

The Association said the wholesale price of wheat flour has been reduced from Rs.375 per kilo to Rs.290 per kilo.

The price reduction will come into effect from midnight today, it added.

However, Sri Lanka’s primary wheat flour suppliers are yet to announce price revisions to their wheat flour products.

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Overseas travel ban issued on three accused including Johnston

Former Minister Johnston Fernando and two other defendants were again served indictments today at Colombo High Court today (Oct 11) for allegedly incurring a loss to the government by using the employees of Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (Sathosa) for political activities while serving as the Minister of Cooperatives and Internal Trade.

The indictments filed by the Bribery Commission were handed over to former Minister Johnston Fernando, former Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) chairman Eraj Fernando and former CWE Working Director Mohamed Shakeer, when the relevant case was taken up today before Colombo High Court Judge Amal Ranaraja.

Later, the High Court judge, who ordered the defendants to be released on two cash bails each worth Rs. 50,000 and two personal bails each valued at Rs. 500,000, also called for a report on their fingerprint analysis.

Further, he ordered to impose an overseas travel ban on the three defendants including former Minister Johnston Fernando and to take up the case again on November 29.

During the administration of the former government, the Bribery Commission had lodged the case before Colombo Magistrate’s Court against Johnston Fernando and the other two accused for allegedly using 153 employees of Lanka Sathosa in political activities while serving as a minister between 2010 and 2014 and incurring a loss to the tune of Rs 40 million to the government.

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Erik Solheim gets a new job in Sri Lanka

Erik Solheim, Norway’s former Climate and Environment Minister, has been appointed as Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s International Climate Adviser.

Erik Solheim arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday (10), and met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (11).

In response to the meeting, Solheim announced his appointment as the President’s International Climate Adviser, alongside Maldivian Parliament Speaker, Mohamed Nasheed.

Erik Solheim further said President Ranil Wickremesinghe has a great vision for green economic recovery and for Sri Lankan climate leadership.

Earlier, Solheim served as the mediator between the Government and the LTTE during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

He served as the mediator during the period when Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister and the tenure of Mahinda Rajapaksa as President.

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Laugfs reduces LP gas prices

Laugfs Gas PLC has also slashed the prices of liquefied petroleum (LP) gas cylinders.

Accordingly, the price of a 12.5kg cylinder has been reduced by Rs. 500. The revised price will be Rs. 5,300.

Meanwhile, the price of a 5kg cylinder has been reduced by Rs. 200 to Rs. 2,120.

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President says participation of children at protests must be prohibited

President Ranil Wickremesinghe says the participation of children at public protests must be prohibited.

Stating that the laws of the country seek to protect children, he said, however, parents are bringing children to protests for vengeance, similar to what late LTTE Leader Prabhakaran did during the war.

“In the event, children are brought to protests, then the Police will have to be informed to prohibit such acts as this might result in even university students bringing children for their protests,” he said.

Reading excerpts from the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the President pointed out that, “the state shall promote with special care the interest of children and youth so as to ensure their full development physical, mental, moral, religious, and social, and to protect them from exploitation and discrimination.”

President Wickremesinghe further said the Attorney General’s advice must be obtained in this regard, if not it will result in an issue.

Questioning the delay in introducing a Child Rights Act, he further said that apart from the prohibition of children at public protests, stringent laws must also be introduced to prevent the sexual abuse of children in Sri Lanka.

The President made the observation during a special discussion on the protection of the Fundamental Rights of children, that was held at the Presidential Secretariat today (12).

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President calls for stable national policy to develop SL

Sri Lanka needs a stable national policy that does not change with every change in government, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.

He made the statement during the opening of a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Katunayake.

The President further pointed out the need to work under a common national policy irrespective of party differences in order to rebuild the country.

“A strong economic policy and political stabilization are essential to improve Sri Lanka’s economy and place it in the international sphere,” he said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe further said discussions on a strong national policy can take place using the National Council as the platform.

The President vowed to form a national policy using competitive and new technology, and one that strengthens export earnings.

IMG 20221010 WA0057

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‘Leave No One Behind’ program receives 2.3 million applications

The Welfare Benefit Fast Track Program ‘Leave No One Behind’ targeting low-income families, which was initiated as per the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, has so far received 2.3 million applications, according to the Welfare Benefit Board.

The applications are being promptly entered into the system through Welfare Benefit Information Units established in 341 Divisional Secretariats throughout the country and as of today (12), 624,714 applications have been entered into the system.

It is expected that the 600,000 families that have been downgraded to the low-income category, in the face of the second COVID-19 wave and the economic crisis faced by the country, as reported by the United Nations Development Program, are also eligible to apply for this Welfare Benefit Fast Track Program.

This is in addition to the 3.3 million families that are currently receiving welfare benefits or those who are already on the waiting list.

Accordingly, it is estimated that 3.9 million families would apply for this social welfare program. Hence, 3.9 million low-income families are to be benefitted from this program.

The Welfare Benefit Board says that the program would be implemented under six phases and the second phase is also implemented concurrently with the first phase. It also says the next step is to collect data through a door-to-door campaign.

Those who are already receiving Samurdhi, Elderly, disabled and kidney patients’ welfare benefits as well as those who are seeking new welfare benefits should register under this program.

The registration application forms were published on August 30, 2022, and the number of applications entered into the data system stood at 100,000 by September 29, 2022.

The Welfare Benefit Board said that the publicity given by the President Media Division recently has also helped to increase the number of applicants.

The closing date for applications has been set as October 15.

It further stated that the pilot project conducted in this regard was a resounding success and the list of qualified applicants would be announced at the Divisional Secretariat level by December 15.

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Japan & Sri Lanka sign MOC on Low Carbon Growth Partnership

Japan and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) for Low Carbon Growth Partnership on Monday (10) at the Presidential Secretariat.

The Memorandum of Cooperation on the JCM was signed by Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, and Misukoshi Hideki, Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

The President’s Media Division (PMD) said that thereafter, the Japanese Ambassador met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and engaged in a cordial discussion.

After its withdrawal from the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol, Japan introduced the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) in 2013 to contribute to the global effort of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This mechanism has been developed to reduce GHG emissions jointly with developing countries and share the greenhouse gas emissions reduced as the percentage between Japan and the agreed party country.

Japan introduced this mechanism as agreed at the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change to adopt the Paris Agreement to achieve the commitments of the Nationally Determined Contributions.

Japan is currently implementing projects under the JCM mechanism in 17 countries such as Mongolia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Maldives, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Palau, Cambodia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Through implementing the proposed projects under this mechanism the benefits such as introducing new technologies and technical expertise, capacity building, generation of green jobs and new infrastructure development could be achieved.

The Government of Japan and its private sector will provide technical assistance and part of the capital investment to implement this mechanism in developing countries. Under this mechanism, projects in energy, industry, transport, waste, forestry and agriculture sectors for reducing GHG emissions are expected to be implemented.

Moreover, Sri Lanka ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 21st September 2016. Sri Lanka also has submitted its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Therefore, the implementation of the Joint Crediting Mechanism in Sri Lanka will support achieving the GHG emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement and contribute to the global effort of reaching the global temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

Approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General’s Department has been obtained for the implementation of the Joint Carbon Crediting Mechanism between Japan and Sri Lanka. Further, Cabinet approval has been received on 05 September 2022 for the implementation of the mechanism in Sri Lanka.

The PMD said that when implementing this mechanism in Sri Lanka, a Joint Committee co-chaired by the Governments of Japan and Sri Lanka and representatives of both countries will be established to approve the projects.

Minister of Environment Naseer Ahmed, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake, Presidential Adviser on Climate Change Ruwan Wijewardana, and others attended the event.

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