v2025 (2)



Sri Lanka Aims for RCEP Membership, FTA with ASEAN - President

President Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed that Sri Lanka’s intention to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is poised to materialize following the conclusion of credit optimization initiatives. Additionally, the President announced plans to initiate negotiations for the establishment of free trade agreements with corresponding ASEAN member countries.

President Wickremesinghe’s statement underscores the country’s determination to bolster its economic connectivity within the broader Asian region. The President affirmed his alignment with the future vision of ASEAN for the Indo-Pacific area, pledging full support for the advancement of this strategic perspective.

These proposed collaborations highlight Sri Lanka’s commitment to fostering economic cooperation and trade linkages, which are poised to open new avenues for growth and development. The President’s statements reaffirm the nation’s readiness to engage actively in regional economic partnerships to realize its economic ambitions.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks while addressing the 56th anniversary of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Tuesday (08) at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Colombo.

The President reflected on Sri Lanka’s economic history and the decisions that had impacted the nation’s progress. He acknowledged the efforts of former President J. R. Jayawardena, his father and other influential figures who advocated for opening up the economy and joining ASEAN during its founding years as well as the Shenoy reforms for liberalization of the economy and to ensure the welfare program stayed within the needs. The President remarked that turning down the opportunity to join ASEAN led to a period of socialist economic policies and limited capital formations, hindering the country’s growth potential.

The President further explained the circumstance that converted a source of profound regret. He said subsequently, over a span of three years, Sri Lanka transitioned into a socialist economic model, leading to the fragmentation of the capital formations, and has continued to progress in this trajectory. “However, we find ourselves not entirely emancipated from the constraints imposed by that economic paradigm. At present, despite being positioned as one of the world’s major economies, poised to potentially ascend to the ranks of the fifth or fourth largest expanding economies, we now confront the disheartening reality of shaking on the brink of bankruptcy after 55 years of existence.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe praised the association’s remarkable growth and success as one of the world’s largest economic blocks. The President also expressed regret that Sri Lanka had declined an invitation to join ASEAN in its early years, citing missed opportunities for economic prosperity. However, he highlighted a new policy approach to collaborate closely with ASEAN to enhance Sri Lanka’s position in the global arena.

In light of Sri Lanka’s recent financial challenges and the need for rejuvenation, President Wickremesinghe expressed a renewed commitment to pursue closer ties with ASEAN. He acknowledged the strong cultural and historical connections between Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka, underscoring the importance of building on these relations to drive economic and political cooperation.

Amid the looming threat of bankruptcy, Sri Lanka has embraced the challenge head-on, aiming to move forward with inspiration drawn from proactive problem-solving approaches. This involves looking to the accomplishments of the ASEAN and enhancing collaboration with the organization. This strategic approach is firmly rooted in the government’s policies. This approach, championed by the current administration, is expected to resonate with other governments as well. The nation’s enduring connections with Southeast Asia stand as evidence of its strong regional ties, perhaps only second to its affiliations with India and Maldives. Cultural bonds are exemplified through shared practices like Mahavihara Buddhism in countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, and historical links like that between the Srivijaya Empire and Sri Lanka and Anuradhapura further reinforce these ties.

Numerous historical interconnections further validate these relationships, including interactions with Malays and historical associations with the Srivijaya Empire. Even shared colonial history, notably during the Dutch Empire’s reign in places like Batavia (present-day Jakarta, Indonesia), adds another layer of commonality. This collective historical backdrop lays the groundwork for nurturing cultural, economic, and political relations.

Consequently, as Sri Lanka faces impending financial challenges, it is actively strengthening its bonds with ASEAN nations. These alliances are poised to facilitate the pursuit of shared interests and the fostering of regional cooperation. In the pursuit of progress, Sri Lanka seeks not only to capitalize on its robust ties with Southeast Asia but also to build upon them for a mutually prosperous future.

One of the key aspects of the new policy is the initiation of free trade agreements with ASEAN countries. President Wickremesinghe revealed that Sri Lanka has already forged a crucial trade agreement with Singapore and is actively negotiating with Thailand. The President also announced that Sri Lanka has applied to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), recognizing the potential of this vast trade block comprising major economies like China, Japan, and Korea. He emphasized that Sri Lanka’s economic focus should now turn towards the east, given the rapid development in that region.

President Wickremesinghe has urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs to facilitate regular ministerial-level meetings with ASEAN countries to address mutual concerns and discuss the way forward. He stressed the importance of upholding the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific and supporting Indonesia’s maritime fulcrum concept.

The President emphasized the need for unity and cooperation, especially in the face of challenges like climate change. Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, President Wickremesinghe called for joint efforts between ASEAN countries and Sri Lanka to combat climate change and explore the potential of the blue economy.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed gratitude for the invitation to the ASEAN anniversary event and reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to fostering closer ties with ASEAN and reiterated that collaboration and friendship among nations would be the driving force for shared progress and prosperity in the region.

Meanwhile the Indonesian Ambassador, Dewi Gustina Tobing, highlighted the significance of the ASEAN viewing Sri Lanka as a vital partner for regional cooperation. With a collective population exceeding 670 million, roughly 8.8% of the global populace, ASEAN represents the world’s third-largest market.

The Ambassador emphasized the importance of fostering stronger ties between ASEAN and Sri Lanka. The aim is to promote people-to-people connections and create a closer link between the two regions.

Ambassador Tobing reiterated ASEAN’s aspiration for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. The organization seeks to establish an inclusive regional architecture that ensures the safety and security of all member nations.

The envoy expressed ASEAN’s openness to engaging with countries interested in strengthening their presence in the Indo-Pacific. The organization is committed to collaborating with Sri Lanka to ensure the nation benefits from ASEAN’s development. Dynamic and multifaceted partnerships are recognized as pivotal in this pursuit.

Ambassador Tobing emphasized that shared values, principles, and interests form the bedrock of ASEAN’s relations with countries worldwide. These include bolstering a rule-based international order to tackle common challenges spanning economic, security, health, environmental, cultural, and climate change aspects.

In light of the 57th year of ASEAN’s existence, the envoy reaffirmed solidarity among member nations to collectively address challenges and create more opportunities for growth. The partnership between ASEAN and Sri Lanka is poised to flourish, evolving positively over the years and decades to come.


IMG 20230810 WA0001

Comment (0) Hits: 48

President urges for ‘sustainable, environmentally conscious’ practices in SL architecture

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has emphasised that integrating sustainable and environmentally conscious practices into Sri Lanka’s architectural designs will be instrumental in achieving the nation’s climate goals ahead of the set timeline.

The Head of State made these remarks at an international conference on Architecture, which was organized by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Chapter in Sri Lanka, in collaboration with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Italian Embassy of Sri Lanka, on the theme: “Architecture: A Lasting Impact,” held this morning (05) at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo.

Accordingly, President Wickremesinghe emphasised that Sri Lanka has demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing climate change goals. Going forward, Sri Lankan architects will play a pivotal role in this endeavor, the President’s media Division (PMD) reported.

He noted that they will need to integrate climate change criteria into their designs, ensuring that the built environment aligns with sustainable and environmentally responsible practices, adding that together, we a resilient and environmentally friendly future can built for Sri Lanka, contributing to global efforts to combat climate change and protect the planet for generations to come. The President further mentioned prominent examples of significant architectural achievements such as the grand dagabas, including Ruwanwelisaya, Abhayagiri, and Jetavanaramaya, as well as iconic structures like Sigiriya, which stands as a prime example of exceptional architecture recognized worldwide. These architectural marvels are further exemplified by the structures found in Polonnaruwa. Notably, even during a period of decline, architectural endeavours persevered, evidenced by the expansion of the Dalada Maligawa featuring its octagonal design, and the construction of the Kandy Lake under the reign of the last king.

President Wickremesinghe further stressed that throughout history, Sri Lanka has showcased its architectural prowess, evident in remarkable structures like the Trinity College Chapel, Kelaniya Vihara, Lake House building, Peradeniya University, Independence Square, and the Art Gallery, among others. The iconic Parliament building designed by Jeffrey Bawa has added to this rich architectural heritage.

The President emphasized that if remarkable architectural feats were accomplished 2,000 or 1,000 years ago, there is no reason why the same level of excellence cannot be achieved in the present and future. The responsibility to create a lasting impact through architecture was entrusted to the Architects.

The vision to transform Colombo into a beautiful city is already in motion, with plans provided by Surbana Jurong. Similar plans have been prepared for Trincomalee, aiming to enhance the development in that region as well. Additionally, Surbana Jurong is actively involved in creating a tourist zone from Verugal Aru to Batticaloa and Arugam Bay areas, contributing to the growth of the tourism industry.

The focus on expanding the tourist industry is expected to create opportunities for non-government universities in Sri Lanka. The recent enactment of the new act, allowing provincial councils to establish universities, marks the beginning of this endeavour. There is a growing need for skilled professionals, including engineers, architects, IT specialists, and others, with the demand estimated to be at least 10,000 engineers alone.

To address these requirements, discussions are underway with Japan, which has shown a willingness to assist in the past. Despite some challenges posed by the recent crisis, the commitment to progressing these plans remains strong, with the hope of securing the necessary support to meet the country’s developmental needs.

Envisioning the future, the potential for architects to participate in the development of the Port City holds significant promise. A notable portion of the Port City land is under government ownership and is slated for diverse utilization. The involvement of the private sector in this initiative offers an added avenue to harness architectural expertise. This exploration requires collaborative dialogues involving relevant chambers and stakeholders.

These emerging opportunities symbolize valuable prospects for Sri Lanka. Seizing these chances has the potential to establish a notable standing for the nation. It’s imperative to acknowledge that as India’s progress persists, architectural possibilities might also arise there. Those with established recognition could potentially tap into this market, mirroring the engagement of architects in Africa for house design.

Effectively orchestrating these prospects is critical for architects’ personal growth and the broader advancement of the discipline. By tapping into these potentials, Sri Lankan architects can substantially contribute to the country’s advancement while carving an illustrious identity for themselves on both regional and global platforms.

The President acknowledged that his expertise lies primarily in the field of the economy and not architecture. As the discussion revolves around architecture and the lasting impression it creates, the President opted not to delve into the topic extensively. It was emphasized that ancient architects achieved the task of leaving a lasting impression through their work.

Numerous architects have contributed to this legacy with their creations. However, the present challenge lies in not only preserving this rich heritage but also elevating it to meet global standards. This endeavour comes at a time when the construction industry is facing a downturn, a consequence of the recent crisis.

Over the past two years, this sector has experienced significant setbacks, resulting in the unfortunate loss of numerous jobs and a noticeable reduction in available projects. However, amidst the challenges faced by the construction industry, the country now stands at a critical juncture.

The last two years have witnessed a downturn in the construction sector, leading to job losses for many and a decline in available projects. Despite these difficulties, there is a pressing need to preserve and elevate this architectural legacy to international standards.

The future lies in how the nation can continue its architectural journey and build upon its heritage to create structures that not only exemplify Sri Lanka’s identity but also meet global standards. Emphasizing innovation and creativity will be crucial in revitalizing the construction industry and rekindling its growth for a promising future.

In the past, the economy predominantly revolved around concrete-based development, primarily directed at infrastructure like roads and irrigation projects. However, the resulting debt burden has contributed to the current crisis. This situation doesn’t mandate a complete halt to construction; rather, economic restructuring calls for a shift in focus to other sectors.

While revitalizing construction is desired, it may not reach previous levels. Furthermore, there’s a need to encourage our construction companies to explore international opportunities.

As part of the approach, the government is looking to involve private companies in building homes and structures. This is just the beginning. It will create more affordable housing for people with low and middle incomes. The government land that’s worth more than the buildings can be used for this purpose and to relocate people from there and give the land to private companies to build affordable homes and apartments.

This will also free up space in Colombo for other developments. It’s like a cycle – more buildings, more possibilities. Imagine what could happen if they repurpose places like Welikada Prison or even the railway area. Some buildings on Mount Mary can be kept, but the rest can be used for new projects.

Many areas could benefit from this. And the cost of land today makes it feasible. The Treasury is working on the details, so starting maybe next year or the year after, as the economy gets stronger, this could become a reality.

The government is actively engaged in the promotion of tourism, with a target of increasing the number of tourists from 2.5 million to 5 million, and potentially up to 7.5 million. This endeavor entails diverse categories of accommodations, including various styles of bungalows.

The restoration of historical structures to create smaller boutique hotels and the revitalization of larger hotels in various regions across the country represents a significant focus area. This ambitious goal involves doubling the existing capacity. It’s important to note that the majority of this expansion will be realized through the construction of new buildings or the renovation of existing ones, thereby offering yet another avenue for the involvement of architects.

A third strategic initiative involves the expansion of our existing investment promotion zones. The current discussions revolve around the establishment of expansive zones spanning thousands of acres, which will be gradually opened up. This expansion is set to facilitate the construction of additional factory buildings to accommodate growing industries. With Sri Lanka’s increasing role as a logistical hub, there will also be a heightened demand for logistics buildings, which are relatively straightforward to design.

These represent just a few of the concepts we’re considering. As the economy gains momentum, it’s likely that we’ll witness an increase in the construction of skyscrapers, high-rise structures, and residential homes. However, strategic planning is crucial to determine the locations, methods, and integration with our evolving transportation system. This is the direction I envision for the future, and it’s where our dedicated efforts must be focused.

The re-planning of Kandy Town to potentially extend its boundaries up to Teldeniya, along with considerations for incorporating Peradeniya and potentially Talatu Oya, are subjects currently under committee deliberation.

The committee will be responsible for making informed decisions regarding these proposals. Notably, the extension of the new town and bridge to Peradeniya is viewed as a significant priority. These opportunities signify important prospects for development. Similarly, Galle is engaged in evaluating the enhancement of its urban landscape, particularly the sea frontage.

Additionally, it is likely that other regions, such as Nuwara Eliya town, will also require reimagining and redesigning in new locations. This presents a significant task. The pertinent question is whether we are prepared to embrace this challenge, which we must undertake. Collaboration with international counterparts will also be essential for successful execution.

The impending tasks are undoubtedly of substantial magnitude. However, there is another crucial aspect that warrants attention. Sri Lanka remains steadfast in its commitment to climate change objectives. Notably, upon assuming leadership, adjustments were made to hasten the timeline from 2060 to 2050 for achieving climate change targets.

Recent discussions at a UN session, prompted by the concerning fires in Europe, have spurred a re-evaluation of this timeline. There is a contemplation of expediting these efforts even before 2050. This endeavor’s feasibility rests, in part, upon available resources. Consequently, architects now face the imperative of aligning their designs with climate change criteria, marking a significant shift in their role and responsibilities.

Reflecting on the past, Jeffrey Bawa’s remarkable work, such as the Kandalama project, highlights a growing trend of impressive designs in various scales. Sri Lankan architects are excelling in creating climate-responsive buildings, outperforming their counterparts elsewhere. Future laws and regulations will demand climate-adaptive constructions. An innovative concept emerges: establishing the International Climate Change University, comparable in size to Peradeniya University, within the former Kotmale Skanska camp. This presents significant opportunities. Presently, architects have a mission: leaving a lasting impact, reminiscent of historical achievements.

The ability to achieve greatness in the past prompts a pertinent question: Why not now and in the future? This call is directed towards those pioneering architectural progress. The blueprint is set, and the drive to establish an enduring legacy rests with the architects of tomorrow.

Douglas E. Sonnek, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Lisa Whanstall, the Acting British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Representatives from the Italian Embassy in Colombo, and nearly 350 people, including architects from Sri Lanka and South and Southeast Asia, attended the event.


Comment (0) Hits: 112

Norochcholai Generator 2 shutdown; National Grid loses 270 MW

The Ceylon Electricity Board announced on Tuesday (8) that Generator Two at the Norochcholai Power Plant shut down due to an issue.

It added that the National Grid lost 270 MW of Power as a result of the shutdown.

The CEB said that it would take at least another 10 days to restore operations.

Unit 3 at the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant was shutdown for a period of 100 days from the 13th of June 2023, for a scheduled major overhaul maintenance work.

Only Unit 1 of the Norochcholai Power Plant is in active status, and it generates 300 MW of electricity to the national grid.

Sri Lanla's Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera said that the CEB will ensure an uninterrupted supply of power islandwide.

He posted on X, formerly known as twitter, to state that CEB has no plans for scheduled power cuts.

He added that the CEB will procure the necessary supplementary power needed to maintain a 24-hour uninterrupted supply of power.

Comment (0) Hits: 49

‘Yal Nila Odyssey’ luxury train begins operations

The ‘Yal Nila Odyssey’, the new luxury express train from Mount Lavinia to Kankesanturai, has commenced operations, with the aim of promoting tourism in the northern parts of the country.

Deputy General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways, N.J. Indipolage said the train, which consists of fully air-conditioned carriages, was inaugurated on Friday (Aug 04).

Initially, the train will operate only on weekends until August 04, departing the Mount Lavinia station at 10:00 p.m. on Friday and reaching the Kankesanturai station at 5:52 a.m. on Saturday. The train will be stationed at Kankesanturai station until its departure at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday. It will return to Mount Lavinia station at 6:00 a.m. on Monday.

However, the train will be up and running daily from August 18 to facilitate the transportation of devotees participating in the upcoming Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil Temple Festival.

According to reports, the train can accommodate 570 passengers. It is equipped with 106 third-class seats, 128 second-class seats and 336 first-class seats, and an onboard cleaning service is available on the train.

The passengers can reserve tickets online. A first-class ticket is priced at Rs. 4,000, while a second-class and a third-class ticket is priced at Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 2,000, respectively.

However, train operations between Colombo and Jaffna will be temporarily halted after December 2023 due to upgrading of the railway tracks between Maho and Anuradhapura.

Comment (0) Hits: 115

FAO delivers over 8,000 MT of Japan-funded fertilizer to support Sri Lanka’s smallholder paddy farmers

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) delivered 8,360 metric tonnes of urea fertilizer this week to the Ministry of Agriculture for distribution during the forthcoming Maha cropping season.

According to the FAO, this has been made possible through funding from the Government of Japan.

The essential fertilizer will be distributed to over 228,000 smallholder paddy farmers across several districts in dry and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka, bolstering production and increasing the resilience of smallholder paddy farmers in the country.

The assistance targets smallholder paddy farmers cultivating lands up to one hectare in Kurunegala, Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, and Batticaloa, districts.

Under this emergency assistance programme, farmers cultivating up to 0.5 hectares of land will receive 25 kg of urea fertilizer free of charge, while those cultivating up to 1 hectare of land will receive 50 kg of urea, also provided at no cost to the farmers.

Minister of Agriculture in Sri Lanka, Mahinda Amaraweera emphasized the significance of this support in advancing the country’s agricultural goals, saying, “The arrival of this urea fertilizer will support Sri Lanka’s steady recovery. By addressing the needs of our farmers, we are fostering the growth of a more resilient and prosperous agricultural sector. I thank the government of Japan and the Japanese people for this valuable aid to the smallholder paddy farmers of Sri Lanka”

The Japanese Ambassador, MIZUKOSHI Hideaki expressed Japan’s commitment to supporting Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector and stated, “We are delighted to be a part of this collaborative effort with FAO and the government of Sri Lanka. Our shared vision of empowering smallholder farmers through sustainable practices aligns well with this initiative. We believe this assistance will significantly contribute to the betterment of Sri Lanka’s farming communities.”

FAO Representative to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Vimlendra Sharan, highlighted the organization’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and its dedication to assisting Sri Lanka’s farming communities, stating, “FAO remains steadfast in its mission to promote sustainable practices and improve the livelihoods of farmers. This collaboration with the government of Japan and the Ministry of Agriculture exemplifies the positive outcomes that can be achieved when nations come together to address the challenges faced by smallholder farmers.”

FAO, along with its esteemed partners, reiterates its commitment to supporting the agriculture sector in Sri Lanka and stands united in advancing food security and building a resilient agrifood system in the country.

Comment (0) Hits: 66

Import restrictions on 300 more items to be lifted

Import restrictions on another 300 items will be relaxed soon, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya announced today.

The State Minister stated that the import restrictions will be relaxed by the first week of September.

The Government last lifted import restrictions on 328 items on July 20, 2023, following the relaxing of import restrictions on over 240 items earlier on June 10, 2023.

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 goods in batches.

Comment (0) Hits: 85

Court of Appeal: New Judge & Acting President appointed

New appointments have been made to the Court of Appeal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), High Court Judge M.C.B. Sanjeeva Morais took oaths as a judge of the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, Court of Appeal Judge Sobitha Rajakaruna was sworn in as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal.

Comment (0) Hits: 74

Govt will heed advice on debt optimization only from parliament - President

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the government’s financial accountability to Parliament, making it clear that they will only adhere to the instructions and orders of the Parliament in the debt optimization program.

He asserted that he is committed to preventing the country from descending into anarchy by avoiding out-dated political practices, and he remains devoted to developing Sri Lanka, the President’s Media Division (PMD) reported.

These statements were made during the 29th annual meeting of the Coconut Growers Association, held today (04) at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. At the event, President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed gratitude for the invitation to attend and acknowledged the historical significance of coconut cultivation for Sri Lankan businesses. He highlighted that until 1970, the Sinhalese people held a significant amount of coconut land, but this changed with the land reform of 1972-73, leading to a decline in the capital of Sinhala businessmen.

He further mentioned that during the presidency of J.R. Jayawardena, efforts were made to develop the coconut industry with assistance from the Asian Development Bank. However, he acknowledged that the coconut industry’s progress over the last 50 years has not been satisfactory, contrasting it with other countries such as Brazil and Vietnam that have rapidly advanced in coconut cultivation, the PMD said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the current situation of coconut farmers in Sri Lanka, with 82% of them owning less than 20 acres of land, while only 18% are engaged in large-scale cultivation. Comparatively, India, which started coconut cultivation with approximately 20 million acres of land in 1950, now has around 45 million acres dedicated to coconuts.

He pointed out the significant difference in coconut yield between Sri Lanka and neighbouring regions like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal. While Sri Lanka’s coconut production stands at 7000 nuts per acre, these regions are achieving much higher yields, such as 11,400 coconuts per acre in Tamil Nadu and 10,000 coconuts per acre in Telangana, it added.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s address at the event indicated his concern for the coconut industry’s development in Sri Lanka and his commitment to fostering progress in the sector to match the advancements seen in other countries.

In the Andhra region, coconut cultivation yields approximately 15,000 coconuts per acre, which is twice the output we achieve here.

A proposal has been put forth to merge three coconut-related institutions, and it seems appropriate to combine the Coconut Research Institute with the Agricultural University, thereby streamlining the process.

The government has already initiated an agriculture modernization program with the aim of creating a highly competitive economy through agriculture. To achieve this, we must also focus on advancing the coconut industry. Increasing coconut production and marketing it effectively are crucial. Relying solely on price control will not lead to successful business development. Instead, the key lies in boosting production and enhancing the value of coconuts.

Investments should be encouraged in the coconut industry. Currently, 55% of total coconut production comes from the Coconut Triangle, and the plan to establish a second coconut triangle in dry areas is a promising step forward.

Despite the country’s financial challenges, the current government possesses the capability to address these issues and move forward. Loan optimization activities are underway, and discussions have taken place with leaders from various countries. The goal is not to default on outstanding loans but to gain more time to repay them while finding ways to pay off debts incurred for necessary imports. This necessitates a shift towards a highly competitive export economy.

The loan optimization work is in progress, with proposals presented in the cabinet and discussions held with the International Monetary Fund and major creditor countries. After parliamentary discussions and amendments, the proposal has been submitted for acceptance. The State Finance Committee of the Parliament has actively participated in this process, working diligently regardless of party differences.

The President expresses gratitude to the State Finance Committee for their support and hopes that the opposition would also back the initiative. Regrettably, internal issues between opposition parties have hindered their support, but the President remains thankful for the backing received from everyone. The aim is to complete the loan optimization work by September or October this year, according to the PMD.

Despite not receiving support from the opposition initially, many members from opposition parties later backed the continuation of this program without objection. However, some groups sought to disrupt the program, resorting to street protests, which were ultimately unsuccessful in garnering public support. Now, they are attempting to utilize the court for their political agenda, seeking prohibitory orders.

Halting this program could have negative consequences, as foreign countries might be less inclined to engage in business with us. The country is already facing issues such as fuel pollution and farmers losing access to necessary fertilizers, it said.

The control of public finances lies with the Parliament, and this program has already been approved by it. The Parliament, being the custodian of the sovereign power of the people under Article 04 of the Constitution, exercises all the necessary powers. The government operates within the framework set by the laws of the Parliament, and decisions can only be changed or continued with the Parliament’s notification.

The President emphasizes the need for unity in moving the country forward and warns against the destructive influences of old politics. He is committed to the responsibility of developing the country and works in tandem with the Parliament, particularly in the loan optimization program, where their accountability lies.

Minister Ramesh Pathirana highlighted the significant increase in coconut export income in recent times, driven by the growing demand for various coconut products like milk, substrate, and activated carbon.

This year, exports related to coconut products are expected to generate 700 million dollars, and the goal is to achieve a 2 billion dollar export income within the next decade. To support this, a second coconut triangle is planned to be established, covering areas in the Northern Province like Jaffna-Point Pedro, Mannar, and Mullaitivu, the PMD said.

Currently, two-thirds of coconut production is utilized locally, leaving only one-third for exports. The plan is to increase opportunities for exports by altering this situation.

The event was attended by the President of the Coconut Growers Association, Jayantha Samarakoon, Secretary Shakila Wijewardanayana, and many others, according to the PMD.

Comment (0) Hits: 89

Minister of Education Announces Reduction of Term Exams

Minister of Education Susil Premjayantha, said that from 2024, term exams will be reduced, and only one exam per year will be conducted.

The Minister made this announcement while attending the Prefects' induction ceremony at the at Hewagama Model Primary School.

He also revealed plans to modify school textbooks, dividing them into three parts for each term.

Minister Premjayantha said that the number of term tests will be decreased, and evaluations will be held after completing each module in a subject.

Comment (0) Hits: 47

President appoints new Chancellor to Wayamba University

The founder of the SANASA Movement, Dr. P. A. Kiriwandeniya has been appointed as the Chancellor of Wayamba University.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the appointment has been made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Dr. P. A. Kiriwandeniya has been appointed as the Chancellor of Wayamba University for a period of five years with immediate effect.

He began his professional career as a teacher after having obtained a Social Science Degree from Vidyodaya University and subsequently worked as the Director of Education at Sarvodaya Movement and Deputy Director of the National Heritage Programme.

He is a renowned professional who held several key positions as the Chairman of the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU), Vice Chair of the Asia and Oceania Association (AOA) of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation, Director of People’s Bank, Regional Development Bank, Sri Lanka and President of the National Institute of Cooperative Management and National Cooperative Council of Sri Lanka.

Comment (0) Hits: 79

Another Wind Power Project commissioned in Mannar

Wind Force Commissioned yet another Wind Power Project in Mannar,SriLanka

The winds of change are blowing in Mannar, Sri Lanka,as the Hiruras Power(Pvt) Ltd Wind Power Project takes centre stage. Situated in the wind rich Mannar wind belt,this unique project marks a significant milestone in Sri Lanka’s renewable energy journey. With WindForce holding a 100% stake and a combined capacity of 15MW, this initiative further cements Wind Force’s position as a leading player in the renewable energy sector, increasing their total installed capacity to an impressive 245.1 MW.

Despite facing numerous challenges, including the Covid pandemic and economic crises, the project showcases the unwavering determination and commitment of the Wind Force team.

With a total capacity of 15MW, the Hiruras Wind Power Project consists of two phases: 10MW and 5 MW. Thefirst phase of 10MW, was successfully commissioned on June 12, 2023, followed by the second phaseof 5MW,which was commissioned on July21,2023.

Comment (0) Hits: 52

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry to visit Iran

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry is scheduled to undertake an official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran from 04 – 07 August 2023.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Ali Sabry will visit Iran on an invitation extended by his Iranian counterpart, Dr. Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

During the visit, the Minister is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on the Iranian President Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi.

He is scheduled to hold meetings with the Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Hossein Amir Abdollahian and other senior government officials, with a view to further strengthening the close relations between the two countries.

Minister Ali Sabry is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the Institute of Political and International Studies of Iran during his short visit.

Comment (0) Hits: 99

Page 9 of 435