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Lanka Sathosa slashes prices of 09 essential food items

The prices of nine essential food items have been reduced with effect from Wednesday (17 Aug), Lanka Sathosa announced today.

Issuing a release in this regard, the state-owned retail network explained that the decision to revise the prices of nine essential food items was taken in a bid to ease the burden on consumers.

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

• LSL milk powder (400g) – Rs. 970 (reduced by Rs. 29)

• Thai sprats - Rs.1160 per kilogram (reduced by Rs. 15)

• Brown sugar - Rs.350 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.10)

• Soya meat - Rs.625 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.25)

• Potatoes - Rs.325 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.05)

• Basmati rice - Rs.675 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.15)

• Garlic – Rs.630 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.05)

• Red raw rice (Rathu Kekulu) – Rs.147 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.02)

• Chickpeas - Rs.555 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.05)

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'Ready to work with India with a clear plan' - AKD

Sri Lanka's Jathika Jana Balavegaya has expressed its willingness to work with neighbouring India with a clear vision.

It's leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake told constituents in an electorate in the Western Province that, given the fact that Sri Lanka has entered geopolitical discussions related to India, the Jathika Jana Balavegaya is prepared to work with India with a clear and definite vision.

However, he expressed grave concern over the agreements that were recently inked between India and Sri Lanka, during President Ranil Wickremesinghe's meetings with Prime Minister Modi.

Sri Lanka and India reached several agreements during President Ranil Wickremesinghe's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on 21st July 2023.

The documents exchanged were:

– Joint declaration of intent in the field of Animal Husbandry between India and Sri Lanka

– MoU for renewable energy between India and Sri Lanka

– MoU for economic development of projects in the Trincomalee District

– Network to Network to agreement between NIPL and LankaPay for UPI (Unified Payment Interface) application acceptance in Sri Lanka

– Energy permit for the Sampur Solar Power Project handed over to Sri Lanka

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India’s assistance to SL went beyond the call of duty - NSA Ratnayaka

Noting the longstanding relationship between Sri Lanka and India, National Security Advisor Sagala Ratnayaka said that India had stepped up beyond the call of duty to lend Sri Lanka a hand during the recent economic crisis.

He also appreciated the assistance by American and Australian governments during difficult times in the area of maritime security.

NSA Ratnayaka made these remarks during a ceremony held to hand over a successor Donier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka by India that was held at the Sri Lanka Air Force Base in Katunayake today (16).

During the bilateral security discussions that transpired between India and Sri Lanka on January 9, 2018, in New Delhi, the potential acquisition of maritime surveillance aircraft akin to the Dornier type from India was brought to attention. The aim was to bolster Sri Lanka’s capabilities in maritime surveillance.

In response to Sri Lanka’s request, the Indian government took proactive measures during these deliberations. They decided to provide a Donier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft, which was part of the Indian Navy’s fleet, to Sri Lanka free of cost for a span of two years. The formal handover of this aircraft took place at the Sri Lanka Air Force Base Katunayake, with Mr. Baglay officiating.

Upon its delivery, the Donier-228 aircraft was instrumental in performing specialized tasks within Sri Lanka over the past year.

Subsequently, it underwent mandatory annual maintenance services in India. In lieu of the aircraft undergoing maintenance, a replacement Donier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft was assigned to the Sri Lanka Air Force at a ceremony held today in Katunayake.

Since its initial arrival in Sri Lanka, the Donier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft has significantly contributed to numerous operations.

These encompass a spectrum of activities such as monitoring and safeguarding Sri Lanka’s airspace and exclusive economic zone through maritime and coastal surveillance operations, executing search and rescue missions, and monitoring and controlling maritime pollution.

The official handover of the successor aircraft to Sri Lanka was attended by the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay and Secretary to the Ministry of Defence General Kamal Gunaratne (Rtd) and other officials.

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Economic bankruptcy: President highlights risk factors

President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored the imperative to fortify the nation’s economy, ensuring that forthcoming generations are spared from enduring the unfortunate period that both the country and its people have weathered in the past two years. These remarks were made during his participation in the 150th Anniversary celebration of St. Thomas College in Matale today (13).

Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted that resolving the country’s economic challenges goes beyond the success of the debt optimization program. He emphasized the need to promptly initiate an economy-building strategy guided by sound decisions. He cautioned that failure to proactively adopt a new program would inevitably result in the country facing another economic hurdle within a decade.

The President expressed his vision of propelling the country forward through comprehensive modernization. To achieve this, he announced the establishment of the Technology Promotion Council and the Digital Transformation Commission, aimed at accelerating the nation’s digital evolution.

In an unprecedented event, President Wickremesinghe visited St. Thomas College in Matale, unveiling a commemorative plaque that marked the institution’s 150th Anniversary. He also graciously posed for a group photograph with the Alumni Association.

During the same occasion, the President also conferred certificates upon students who secured the top position in the district during the general education certificate examination.

Following is the speech delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe at this event;

It has been a century and a half since the inception of St. Thomas College in Matale. During its establishment, the country relied on a plantation-based economy with a significant focus on coffee cultivation. However, within a few years, the coffee industry collapsed, causing a severe economic downturn and depriving the government of its revenue stream. The economy struggled until the introduction of tea and rubber cultivation, which revitalized the nation’s financial standing.

As the 150th Anniversary of St. Thomas College in Matale is commemorated today, the country finds itself grappling with an ongoing economic crisis. The previous year’s economic turmoil left deep impacts on the nation’s economic, social, and political landscapes. During that period, the prospect of recovery seemed bleak. A poignant example of this was the lack of volunteers to assume the role of Prime Minister after Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation. Typically, such vacancies are eagerly pursued, but in this case, no one stepped forward.

Taking up the mantle of the presidency, I assumed responsibility, formed a cabinet, and embarked on finding both short-term and long-term solutions to address the economic crisis. Through decisive actions, we managed to eliminate the prevalent queues that had become emblematic of the nation’s struggles. The outcomes of our government’s decisions in September, January, and April of the previous year have been embraced positively by the populace.

As this year draws to a close, we hold the belief that our nation can overcome bankruptcy by successfully executing the credit appreciation program. Achieving this necessitates stringent control over public expenditures and a shift toward a more productive economy. We have already begun implementing these measures. However, it is essential to recognize that while our current endeavours may alleviate the “bankrupt” label unless further steps are taken promptly, we risk facing the same fate within a decade.

Consequently, the government’s course must be charted anew, underpinned by a revamped system. Sound financial discipline should guide our governance approach, extracting maximal benefits from each government institution. Initiatives to trim superfluous expenses within ministries are in the pipeline. Moreover, an inventory of government-owned land, buildings, and vehicles is being compiled under the Prime Minister’s Secretary’s leadership, with expectations of its completion by year-end.

The proposed measures for domestic debt optimization have been successfully passed in the Parliament, despite attempts to hinder the process through legal channels.

The EPF has introduced a draft law aimed at providing a 9% interest rate to all members, and this initiative is currently in progress. Consequently, there are no grounds to impede the advancement of this program. As stipulated in Article 04 of the Constitution, financial authority rests with the Parliament, thereby vesting it with the responsibility and competence to execute these actions. All legal cases related to this matter have been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Upon the completion of the debt optimization endeavour, our focus should shift to the effective implementation of the subsequent economic program. Presently, there is a significant exodus of individuals from our nation. The departure of skilled experts and professionals has created a substantial void that cannot be easily filled. It is essential to reaffirm our commitment to establishing a robust economic foundation conducive to the well-being of all citizens.

Challenges confront our country today, primarily driven by insufficient government revenue and a trade imbalance skewed towards higher import costs relative to exports. A reliance on daily credit is not a sustainable solution. Once the debt consolidation process concludes, the same question emerges anew. We must proactively address this concern by bolstering our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at a rapid pace, as an increased GDP directly translates to heightened national income.

Parallelly, we must intensify our efforts in the realm of exports. A comprehensive strategy for this endeavour should be formulated within the next decade.

In the current landscape, conventional political slogans have lost their relevance, even within both ruling and opposition parties. Instead, it is imperative to assess the country’s challenges and forge ahead with practical solutions. If the proposed solutions fail to gain traction, alternatives should be presented to address the issues at hand.

To propel the nation’s economic development, an annual influx of at least one billion dollars in foreign exchange is essential. The initial step toward achieving this goal involves augmenting foreign exchange inflows from existing sectors.

Our primary income sources are foreign employment and export earnings. Unfortunately, the economic situation in countries like Europe and America, particularly affecting the garment industry, has shown regression. Consequently, we shouldn’t anticipate substantial revenue from these sectors this year. Thus, our attention must pivot to tourism. Accordingly, we have devised comprehensive plans to significantly enhance our country’s tourism sector throughout this year and the following year.

Additionally, there is a pressing need to double our export revenue. To achieve this, attracting investors and providing them with the requisite facilities is essential. New initiatives such as the development of the port city have been set in motion. Furthermore, advancing rapidly over the next decade with technologies like artificial intelligence is paramount; our success or failure hinges on our ability to maintain this momentum.

In line with these objectives, plans are underway to establish several government and private universities. A subsidized loan program for students entering these institutions is also on the horizon. Our aim is to annually produce a minimum of 10,000 engineers and 7,500 doctors from Sri Lankan universities. The demand for IT expertise is also substantial, necessitating consistent efforts to meet these requirements.

Our aspiration is to construct a prosperous future for generations to come. It is our collective responsibility to fortify the economy to prevent a recurrence of last year’s adversities.

The government has undertaken numerous novel measures in pursuit of this goal. However, anticipated outcomes from the Board of Investment and the Export Board have fallen short. To address this, we have established an economic commission tasked with centralizing relevant powers. This will streamline the investment approval process, eliminating the need to navigate various ministries for clearance, and consolidating all procedures in one location.

Drawing inspiration from Mr. J.R. Jayawardena’s establishment of the Greater Colombo Economic Commission in 1978, we also aim to create a dedicated board to provide the necessary infrastructure for investments.

In tandem, we aspire to double the annual influx of tourists to our country from 2.5 million to 5 million. The Matale district possesses immense potential to contribute significantly to the burgeoning tourism industry.

Within the next two months, we intend to unveil an agricultural modernization program. Our current agricultural output, whether in terms of rice or other crops, falls short. It is imperative to promote the cultivation of these products.

Furthermore, we are in the process of establishing a Technology Promotion Council with the aim of acquiring the necessary technical expertise for our nation. Concurrently, a Digital Transformation Commission will be formed to propel digitization across the country. Envisioning comprehensive modernization across all sectors, our objective is to shape a developed Sri Lanka by the year 2048.

The event was attended by a multitude of individuals, including Education Minister Dr. Susil Premajayantha, Prime Minister’s Secretary Mr. Anura Dissanayake, Central Province Governor Mr. Lalith Y. Gamage, Ministry of Education Secretary Mr. Nihal Ranasinghe, former judge and Chairman of the Human Rights Commission Mr. M.P.B. Dehideniya, Professor Chaminda Ratnayake, Vice Chancellor of NSBM Green University, General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Staff of the Tri forces, Mr. Kaushalya Navaratne, President of the Sri Lanka Bar Association Mr. Dhammika Hewawasam, Principal of St. Thomas College in Matale, and a substantial gathering of faculty members, parents, and alumni.

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Harin & Manusha challenge SJB decision in SC

Parliamentarians of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Manusha Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando have filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition against the SJB’s decision pertaining to their party memberships.

The two Ministers have filed the FR petition before the Supreme Court seeking an order which nullifies the decision taken by the SJB to suspend their party membership and unseat them from the Parliament.

In July, the SJB’s Working Committee decided to expel Ministers Manusha Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando from the party after the duo joined President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government.

Thereafter, in August, the Working Committee of the United National Party (UNP), President Wickremesinghe’s party, decided to lift the suspension that was previously imposed on Harin Fernando and Manusha Nanayakkara.

The UNP had previously suspended Fernando and Nanayakkara from the party after they had crossed over to the SJB.

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Death of veteran writer Anula de Silva at 82

Anula de Silva, veteran writer, translator and journalist, passed away today (12) at the age of 82.

Born on 27 January 1941, in Ambalangoda, Anula completed her postgraduate diploma in journalism in creative writing at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

She published her first novel ‘Unmanthakayo’ in 1964.

Anula also contributed to youth development at the National Youth Services Council.

She wrote more than 125 books including novels, translations and children’s books.

Remains will lie at Jayaratne Florists with the funeral due to take place at Borella Cemetery on 14 August.

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Gazette issued relaxing import restrictions on several types of vehicles

A Gazette notification has been issued relaxing restrictions on importing certain vehicles utilized for public transportation.

As per the Gazette, import restrictions have been relaxed for buses, lorries, tankers/ bowsers, and trucks.

The Gazette notification has been issued by the Ministry of Finance.

Earlier, commenting on the easing of import restrictions on certain vehicles, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said the imports of other vehicles will be further delayed.

The State Minister of Finance said that financial analysts say the imports of other vehicles will be further delayed considering the current foreign exchange reserves.

He added that the financial analysts also emphasized that the value of the dollar can rise again through the increase in vehicle imports.

The government imposed a ban on several items as a part of its prolonged stringent import restrictions from March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ban on imports continued due to the economic crisis until as recently as November last year after which the government took measures to relax import restrictions on several items in batches.

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SC dismisses petition against DDO program for EPF

The Supreme Court on Friday (11) dismissed the petition that was filed, stating that the fundamental rights of employees were violated after it was decided to reduce the interest awarded to EPF members following the Domestic Debt Optimization program.

Under Sri Lanka's Domestic Debt Optimization program, it was decided to reduce the annual interest rate awarded for EPF investments in government securities.

Under the DDO, the maturity of treasury bonds held by superannuation funds were extended from 2027 to 2038 with a step-down coupon structure of 12 percent until 2025 and 9 percent until maturity.

Financial Analyst Chathuranga Abeysinghe, an Executive Member of the Jathika Jana Balavegaya and a member of the EPF filed the application with the Supreme Court, stating that the aforementioned decision violated the fundamental rights of the workers.

However, upon considering the facts, Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Gamini Amarasekera, and Janak De Silva decided to dismiss the petition.

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President announces plans to develop Mannar as an energy hub

President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced plans to transform the district of Mannar into an energy hub.

He also revealed that an inter-city express train service between Talaimannar and Colombo will commence on September 15 aiming at enhancing connectivity and facilitating smoother travel between the two cities.

President Wickremesinghe made these remarks while participating at the annual festival of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Mannar today (15).

It is also noteworthy that President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in the morning service of the feast this year.

Subsequent to the main ceremony, a revered statue of Lady Madhu was respectfully carried in procession throughout the church grounds to pay homage to the devoted attendees.

A significant number of devotees from various parts of the island gathered for the annual feast. The year 2024 marks the completion of 100 years since the enshrinement of the revered statue of Lady Madhu. The church management board has decided to hold services throughout the year to commemorate this occasion.

Most Rev. Dr. Brian Udaigwe, the The Vatican Apostolic Nuncio of Sri Lanka, who attended the main service, commended President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament regarding National Peace and Reconciliation. He mentioned that this statement has received the blessings of the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

Most Rev. Dr. Brian Udaigwe emphasized that religious leaders have a crucial role in maintaining peace and harmony in the country. He also stressed that whether a religious figure divides or unites the country is determined by their own actions.

The event was attended by Bishops led by Bishop of Mannar Dr. Emmanuel Fernando, clergy including President of the Christian Development Foundation of Sri Lanka Dr. Chandru Fernando, Minister of Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayake, National Security Advisor Sagala Ratnayaka and a large number of devotees.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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Agricultural Modernization Task Force, soon

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has unveiled an ambitious plan aimed at revolutionizing Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector.

The proposed initiative involves the establishing of an Agricultural Modernization Task Force, which is set to encompass all crops and sectors within the industry. Addressing the critical need for collaboration between the government and the private sector, the task force is anticipated to pave the way for comprehensive agricultural reforms.

President Wickremesinghe’s vision extends beyond crop cultivation to encompass animal husbandry in due course. The task force will include representatives from relevant government departments and select private sector entities, reflecting the need for a multifaceted approach.

In the pursuit of this ambitious agricultural modernization program, the President highlighted the critical importance of modernizing the Agricultural Support System as a foundational step. Speaking with determination, the President underscored that to achieve the envisioned transformation in the agricultural sector, a comprehensive overhaul of the support mechanisms is imperative.

The President’s call for modernization extends to various facets of the agricultural support system, including technical expertise, market linkages, and the adoption of advanced technologies. He acknowledged that a reimagined support system will play a pivotal role in empowering farmers to embrace modern practices and technologies, thereby boosting productivity and sustainability

An integral aspect of this initiative is the incorporation of resources and expertise from the Ministries of Agriculture, Plantations, and Irrigation & Mahawelli Development. This consolidation, combined with the participation of nine provincial councils, seeks to address challenges comprehensively with the assistance of the respective Governors. The involvement of the private sector will further diversify expertise and resources. President Wickremesinghe’s plan extends beyond governmental agencies, seeking to integrate universities and research institutions into the modernization endeavour.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of breaking down barriers and forming specialized groups within the task force. The goal is to address specific subjects such as paddy cultivation, Mahaweli development and vegetable production. Expertise from individuals will be instrumental in guiding these efforts.

The President has articulated this sweeping agricultural modernization strategy which aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s farming sector during an agriculture modernisation meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (10).

Moreover, President Wickremesinghe advocated the diversification of efforts across various sectors within agriculture, urging private sector involvement in fields such as paddy and vegetable cultivation. He proposed tailored collaboration to optimize outcomes and promote growth.

In addition, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the need for a revamped paddy purchasing system. He stressed the importance of ensuring value for money and optimal utilization of resources. The President underscored that the funds expended on paddy purchases and related endeavours could have been redirected to provide essential sustenance to the population.

A key focus of the President’s discussion was on revamping Sri Lanka’s paddy purchasing system. President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of prudent resource allocation and optimal utilization of funds. He highlighted potential partnerships with established companies in agriculture and emphasized the need for a unified approach.

To ensure successful implementation of the modernization strategy, President Wickremesinghe urged active private sector participation. He underscored the potential for substantial gains in both productivity and sustainability by involving private enterprises. He hinted at potential collaborations with international partners, like Thailand, to bolster the modernization drive and underlines the commitment to sourcing innovative solutions from around the globe.

President Wickremesinghe’s vision emphasizes the need for rapid modernization that not only elevates agricultural productivity but also addresses pressing concerns related to climate change. President Wickremesinghe’s call to consider climate change targets in the process of modernization reflects a forward-thinking approach that seeks not only to enhance productivity but also to safeguard the delicate balance of our ecosystem. His vision encapsulates the urgency of addressing climate challenges while concurrently modernizing agricultural practices.

In addition, President Wickremesinghe signalled a transformation of the 567 agrarian service centres island–wide into comprehensive farmer service hubs. He proposed the hiring of machinery from these centres to aid smallholder farmers who lack access to modern equipment. President Wickremesinghe underscored the importance of balancing regulations and private sector engagement in this endeavour.

Wrapping up his speech, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to supporting agriculture as a potent avenue for national development. He called for coordinated efforts, innovative strategies and a unified approach to ensure the success of the modernization drive. The President’s comprehensive vision seeks to pave the way for a vibrant, sustainable and dynamic agricultural sector in Sri Lanka.


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Kshenuka to succeed Milinda in India

Former foreign secretary Kshenuka Seneviratne will be posted to India as Sri Lanka’s next high commissioner, the president has decided.

She will succeed Milinda Moragoda, who completes his tenure next month, according to Presidential Secretariat sources.

Seneviratne is presently functioning as the senior presiential adviser (foreign media) at the Presidential Secretariat.

She was previously the permanent representative at the UN, high commissioner in UK and ambassador in Thailand.

(With inputs from ceylonwire.lk)

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Chinese Navy warship arrives in Colombo

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy warship HAI YANG 24 HAO arrived at the port of Colombo on a formal visit this morning (10 August).

The 129m long ship which arrived in Colombo is manned by a crew of 138 and it is commanded by Commander Jin Xin.

Meanwhile, the ship is scheduled to depart the island on 12th August, the Sri Lanka navy said.

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