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Israel to recruit 2000 caregivers from Sri Lanka in 2023

Israel has agreed to recruit 2000 female caregivers from Sri Lanka for the year 2023, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment reported.

The Ministry said in a statement, that the assurance was given to the Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara by a special delegation from Israel visiting Sri Lanka.

The delegation comprising Shiely Raisin Sason, director of Israel’s Population and Migration Institute and members Zindani Mary, Yaccow Kabilau, Margarita Gaorodnitsky among others met Minister Manusha Nanayakkara yesterday (16).

During the meeting, the minister requested the delegation to provide more job opportunities to caregivers from Sri Lanka and in response, the delegation assured the Minister that their country will recruit 2000 female caregivers from Sri Lanka this year.

The delegation pointed out that according to the existing culture in Israel, women have more opportunities for patient care, and the number of opportunities for male caregivers is very limited, and accordingly, the delegation also requested the Minister to give priority to females when providing training in the caregiver sector in the future.

The delegation also pointed out the importance of accelerating the recruitment process for caregiver jobs. Accordingly, the Minister assured the delegation that only those who meet the relevant qualifications will be recruited for training. Here, the Israeli delegation informed the minister that Sri Lankan workers with English language proficiency, who have received professional training, will always get the opportunity for Israeli employment opportunities. The delegation said their country is ready to give opportunities to up to 8000 qualified workers on an annual basis.

Both parties pointed out the importance of recruiting workers through a transparent process. The minister pointed out that some private recruiters are acting like a mafia in the process of recruiting caregivers to work in Israel. The minister also clarified the facts about the allegations against some Sri Lankans in Israel regarding the recruitment process. The Minister also mentioned that there are allegations that some people are taking money for providing Israeli jobs.

The Minister also presented to the Israeli representatives the requests to open up the opportunities to hire caregivers for jobs in Israel by the private sector as well. Responding the delegation said that the process of recruiting caregivers should be carried out only with the intervention of the Foreign Employment Bureau.

The delegation from the Population and Migration Institution of Israel requested that any information regarding people who are taking money to provide caregiver jobs in Israel should be given to them to take necessary action. They also assured that the security and confidentiality of the persons giving such information will be fully protected. The delegation also assured that maximum action will be taken according to Israeli law against people who make money through the recruitment process.

The minister also mentioned that the safety of workers who leave for work abroad is always a high priority and added that there have been no allegations of harassment of workers who have left for work in Israel. The minister expressed his thanks to Israel in that regard.

In this discussion, the minister also asked the Israeli delegation that since there are many trained professionals in the country for jobs in the agricultural sector, it would be better if they were given an opportunity in that area as well. Here, the Israeli delegation stated that they are not able to open jobs in the agricultural sector at this time, and that necessary steps will be taken in the future.

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Government will not be pressured by protests – President

Addressing the launching of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy (C-GaPP) at the Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC) Research University at the Trace City in Colombo this morning (15), President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the government will not give into the demands of protestors. He noted that just, because certain groups strike demanding the removal of certain officials, the government will not remove anyone arbitrarily as there is a procedure that has to be followed and the government will follow the rules and act accordingly.

He said that the responsibility to address such issues rests to a large extent with the Universities. The President noted that even at the point of the new Centre for Governance and Public Policy (C-GaPP) being inaugurated at the Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC) Research University, two strikes were in progress. One was staged at the Ruhuna University demanding the removal of the Vice Chancellor and another one demanded the removal of the General Manager of a state Corporation.

President Wickremesinghe further stated that the removal of the General Manager is a matter of the government. “Just, because there is a strike we will not remove him. There’s a procedure that has to be followed if they think there are any shortcomings of serious nature against him. As far as the Vice Chancellors are concerned, there is a procedure that has to be followed. Just because people go on strike, whether it’s in a corporation or in a university, this government will not change. We will follow the rules and we will act accordingly, because if I give into this now, next time they will want to remove the Deans and thereafter the heads of department. And then we will be told that we can’t appoint a professor without their consent.

I think we have to seriously look at what is going to happen in the universities. The country has a right to know what is happening. We are paying money to educate our people. So we want the universities to function properly. And I am sad that this strike is taking place at the Ruhuna University,” the President said.

The Vice Chancellor of the SLTC Research University Ranjith G. Rubasinghe presented a memento to the President.

State Minister of Higher Education Dr. Suren Raghavan, Associate Professor at the Social Studies, The Hague Prof. Howard Nicolas, the Vice Chancellor and the President of the SLTC Research University Ranjith G. Rubasinghe, scholars and other officials attended at this event.

President’s full speech as follows:

It gives me great pleasure to be associated with you all because I believe universities need to change. This is one of the new models that we have here today. The SLTC is one of the newer entries into the universities of Sri Lanka. But it has had a record of being involved in the telecom sector. Now you are branching out, and the university became a research university this year. And now you’re opening, a School of Humanities, Arts and social Sciences, which is good. A balance education is needed in the technology sectors, and today you have the centre for Governance and Public Policy. I want to tell you that we need Research University in Sri Lanka and as far as the government is concerned, we will help research even in non-government universities. So if you come up with a plan, we will see that we can give you some funding. We are broke, but we are not that broke that we can give you some money. I don’t want to say much more of the university, because all of you are aware of it.

But I thought this was a good occasion also to say, I listened to Dr. Howard Nicholas, who says this crisis is an opportunity. It is not only for export economy, it’s also for higher education, research and technology. Because that’s the one that’s going to drive our export economy, a new economy, that we build a new economy that will be based on our capacity for renewable energy for green hydrogen, for logistics, for new tourism, for all the technology digitalization and the technologies that are involved, and for manufacturing. That manufacturing if we are to succeed has to be based on automation and semi automation. There’s no other way that we can beat the numbers of paid labour in South Asia whether it be in India or in Bangladesh or in Myanmar. So this is one area of the economy. But for the economy to take over and we are now at the moment at the stage of economic stabilization, I hope the I M F will by March be able to ensure that the debt restructuring can begin. But it also requires a political stability and a social innovation, and that innovation requires new thinking. New thinking requires new universities, so we have to think back how much have we spent in the universities since 1978?

As the Vice Chancellor said those days, he was a student protesting against the white paper and it’s reformed on universities. I think now he’s regretting it, but the reforms we have to bring another reforms of 1978. We have to think of all the changes in higher education today. I talk of my own university, Colombo University. When I was in Colombo University in the late sixties, the Medical College or the Medical Faculty of the Colombo University was well respected in the whole of Asia. Now there are more medical faculties in Asia that gets ranking higher than the medical faculty of the Colombo University. When I studied in the law, faculty, like, Dr. Hiran Jayawardhena here and the law faculty had high ranking in Asia. In fact, my professor T. Nadarajah was the World’s expert on Roman Dutch law. After R. W. Lee died of South Africa, we had a few lecturers who are well known, one of them, of course was Professor G.L. Pieris. Nevertheless we had A.F. Amarasinghe, A.R.B Amerasinghe, L.J.M. Cooray. But today do we have the same ranking we had at that time? What’s happened to our university? The Peradeniya University, University of Ceylon was very known for its science, for its archaeology for its social sciences.

The history of Ceylon by the University of Ceylon is an outstanding work. It’s not only in the field of education, but the University of Ceylon and it’s DRAMSOC and Professor Ediriweera Sarathchandra, actually changed, brought about a revolution in Sinhala literature. The first play Maname was from the DRAMSOC the second play Sinhabhahu was from DRAMSOC. I was able to see both those in 56 and the sixties. Where are we today? The drama is not in the DRAMSOC anymore. Drama is out on the streets, so we have to rethink. We have spent so much of money on a higher education institutes. What have we achieved? The country has to think. It’s your money that we have spent. Have we got our money’s worth for the universities? So we have to think of changes if the country provides the money, the people of this country have a right to know what is happening in the universities. Why can’t we send our Children into the university? What is happening inside? The affairs of the Universities are a matter for the whole country.

And that’s what we have to decide and the responsibility to a large extent also lies with the University. At the moment there are two strikes. I must say today while we start this new centre. We are also witnessing a strike in the Ruhuna University to remove the Vice Chancellor, actually I have two strikes. One of them wants me to remove the General Manager of cooperation and other one says to remove the Vice Chancellor of University. Now where do we end up? The trade unions are saying to remove the General Manager of one of our corporations and the FUTA says remove the Vice Chancellor of the university. Has FUTA come to that level where like the guys who want the General Manager removed? That’s the only question I have to ask.

Removal of the General Manager is a matter for the government. Just, because there is a strike we will not remove him. There’s a procedure that has to be followed if they think there are any shortcomings by him of serious nature. As far as vice chancellors are concerned also, there has to be a procedure. There is a procedure as Professor Perera knows, and that can be investigated. Without procedures, just because people go on strike whether it’s in a corporation or in a university, this government will not change. We will follow the rules and we’ll act accordingly because, if I go into this now, next time they want to remove the deans and next time the heads of department. And then we will be told that you can’t appoint a professor without our consent. I think we have to seriously look at what is going to happen in the universities. The country has a right to know what is happening. We are paying money to educate our people. So we want the universities function properly. And I am sad that this is taking place in Ruhuna.

But I am over joyed that we are starting a new centre today. So we are at an age of transformation we have to look at the good and the bad both together. But higher education has to change and it has to change after wide ranging discussions in the country. And we will be initiating those wide ranging discussions once the IMF and the debt restructuring is over. And, in regard to the centre you have opened now on Governance and Public Policy, That’s one area that’s lacking in Sri Lanka, and we are now taking steps to start the University of Government and Public Policy. That will be at the postgraduate level, so graduate degrees undergraduate degrees are required. And I hope this University, Sri Jayawardena University also has Similar departments and are welcomed, they plus other members, will then be able to get the benefit of the University for government and public policy. The Institute of Public Policy, which Howard started, Kadirgama Institute of International Relations, will be amongst them. The JR Jayawardhena Centre will be transformed into the J R Jayawardhena Centre for Parliamentary Politics. It will be a ranged for the education and information of parliamentarians and members of the provincial councils.

So there are a number of those institutes and two new institutes where we will start one of the Institutes of, economics and trade and other will be the Institute of Women and Gender. So they’ll all come in for the making of public policy and the research into public policy in Sri Lanka. Parallel to that will also start the climate Change University which, I hope will be a regional or international university with a number of foreign, stakeholders. So we ourselves are expanding the sector of non-government universities and non UGC universities in addition to state universities or state sponsored universities, which are outside the UGC, we hope to see that there will be also universities which are not government. Some would be not for profit that there would be for profit, but that’s how universities operate and we have to think of new laws to regulate these institutions.

So I don’t want to take any more of your time but just to thank you for this new initiative and wish you all success

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Foreign travel ban on Cabraal further extended

The Colombo High Court has further extended the overseas travel ban imposed on former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal until April 06.

Colombo Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekulawala issued this order when the case related to a private plaint made by Rajitha Keerthi Tennakoon against the former Central Bank chief over the misuse of public funds was taken up today (Feb. 16).

Further, the Additional Magistrate declared that the order regarding the preliminary objections which have been submitted on behalf of Ajith Nivard Cabraal, will be issued on April 06.

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Four Police officers sentenced to death

The Hambantota High Court has sentenced to death four Police officers, including an Officer-in-Charge (OIC) over the death of an individual during a raid on a gambling den in Thissamaharamaya.

The court was informed that a group of Police officers attached to the Crimes Division of the Thissamaharama Police Station had carried out the raid during which they had shot and killed an individual.

The incident is reported to have taken place on 28th June 2005.

Among the four Police officers sentenced to death, two are currently in the Police force, with one officer attached to the Crimes Unit of the Hungama Police and the other attached to the State Intelligence Services.

The court was informed that one Police officer is not part of the Police Force at present, while another is reported to have retired.

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Police seal public utilities chief’s office

Police have sealed the office of Public Utilities Commission chairman Janaka Ratnayake following a court order.

According to police media spokesman Nihal Talduwa, Kollupitiya police obtained the order from the Colombo Fort magistrate’s court after making submissions that actions had been planned in the office to inconvenience the government.

It will be reopened in the presence of Ratnayake, who is presently in Australia, said SSP Talduwa.

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Indian visa center in Colombo closed until further notice due to security incident

Due to a security incident reported last night, Indian visa application center, IVS Pvt. Ltd, Colombo would remain closed until further notice, Indian High Commission in Colombo announced

“All applicants are requested to reschedule their appointments with IVS Pvt. Ltd accordingly.For any urgent consular / visa matter, please contact the High Commission over phone” Indian HC said in a statement.

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No power interruptions from today as tariffs increased - Kanchana

The Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekara says that with the increase in the electricity tariff by 66%, power cuts will no longer be imposed from Thursday (16).

Speaking to reporters in Colombo, the Minister said the electricity tariff increase was a difficult decision to make, but it was one that had to be taken.

He further said that the Ceylon Electricity Board will start making direct purchases related to fuel and coal.

The Minister said that the Bank of Ceylon will be providing an additional loan of Rs. 22 Billion for coal procurement, while a request was made for an additional Rs. 50 Billion as a loan from People's Bank.

He said the loans will be used to make payments to the renewable energy suppliers, and for the fuel purchased from the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

The Minister stressed that the new tariff hike was not proposed to cover the losses incurred by the CEB, but to cover the costs incurred to generate electricity.

The Ministry of Power and Energy said that power outages will not be imposed from Thursday (16), as the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka granted approval to the 66% electricity tariff hike.

According to the new electricity bill hike proposal:

The electricity tariff of Rs 360 paid for 30 electricity units so far can be increased to Rs 1,300. That's an increase of 261 percent.

This gives an opportunity to increase the electricity tariff of Rs. 680 for 60 units by Rs.1,880.

The existing electricity tariff of Rs.1,800 for 90 electricity units will increase to Rs.4430.

The existing electricity tariff of Rs. 3,900 for 120 units will increase by 74 percent.

According to this price revision, the electricity tariff has increased by a large amount in the range of 30 to 90 units used by most Sri Lankans.

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Govt to purchase rice to feed 2.85 million families

President Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed officials to ensure no one in need is overlooked in providing rice to low-income families.

In addition, the President directed the officers to purchase adequate rice to feed 2.85 million (28,50,000) families subject to a maximum of Rs. 20 billion.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks today (14) while attending a discussion related to the purchase of paddy at the Ministry of Defence.

The President further instructed that the paddy be purchased, milled and the rice be distributed among low-income earners through a transparent mechanism.

Previously, it was decided to allocate Rs. 10,000 million to purchase 61,600 metric tons of paddy under the program of providing 2 million low-income families with 10 kg of rice each per month over a period of two months, free of charge.

However, it was revealed during this discussion that 2.85 million families have been identified as being in need of this assistance.

Accordingly, President Ranil Wickremesinghe directed the officials to implement the program for all those people.

President Wickremesinghe further stated,

“The Government is set to purchase rice worth Rs. 20 billion to distribute to 2,850,000 low-income families as part of its food security program. The government will protect the rice price by providing a guaranteed price. District and Divisional Secretaries have been delegated the task of purchasing paddy stocks. The government will not sell rice, and a full-time team will be deployed to take this program forward.

A formal mechanism for distributing rice to eligible people in all 25 districts will be developed. The government is taking measures to prevent large-scale paddy mill owners from exerting unnecessary influence in purchasing paddy. The government aims to label the grant given to low-income families as “relief rice” to prevent its resale. Members of Parliament are being consulted, and discussions are on-going with the District Secretaries.

However, this necessitates the deployment of a full-time team. The agreement was expressed during the discussion with the security forces to release a group of officials from Ministry of Defence for this purpose.

Obtaining accurate data is crucial for the program’s progress. If government officials are uncooperative at the village level, a contracted team should be recruited to expedite data collection. They should receive priority for future vacancies, and retired officials may also provide assistance. All activities must be completed within a designated timeframe.”

Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and President’s Chief of Staff Mr. Sagala Ratnayake

“We are currently in the process of establishing a social welfare safety net with support from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. However, we are not satisfied with the progress of our data collection efforts thus far. As such, we plan to meet with the District Secretaries to discuss this matter and move forward with the necessary work.”

President’s Secretary Mr. Saman Ekanayake

“The establishment of the social welfare safety net must not be sabotaged. The completion of these activities should be achieved by March 31.”

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Trade Minister Nalin Fernando, State Ministers Ranjith Siambalapitiya, Anupa Pasqual and Ashoka Priyantha, Prime Minister’s Secretary Anura Dissanayake, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne (Rtd), Senior Presidential Adviser on Food Security Dr. Suren Batagoda, Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, and several others participated in this discussion while many District Secretaries joined in through zoom technology.

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Sabaragamuwa University off limits to students, except first year students, after ugly brawl

The Sabaragamuwa University is off limits to all students, except first year students, until further notice with effect from Thursday (16).

The University administration said that a brawl between student groups led to this decision.

The Vice Chancellor of the Sabaragamuwa University, Professor Udaya Ratnayake said that all students must vacate the dorm rooms before 4 PM on Thursday (16).

A statement from the Vice Chancellor noted that students are prohibited to enter the university premises after 4 PM on Thursday (16).

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Any election can be held after six months – Navin Disssanayake

The president should be given at least another six months to stabilize the country, after which any election could be held, said a senior leader of the UNP, Navin Dissanayake.

Speaking to the media at Sirikotha, Dissanayake said his party never advocated putting off elections, but noted the president’s foremost responsibility was to feed the people.

Today, president Ranil Wickremesinghe is using his political acumen to play a solo game, and the country is now in a much better position than what it was six months ago, Dissanayake claimed.

Foreign reserves have improved to two billion US dollars from a negative position when he took over, he added.

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Executive Committee Proposed to Revive Sri Lanka’s Construction Industry

The Construction Industry Revitalization Committee convened at the President’s Office today (15), led by Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff, Mr. Sagala Ratnayake. The committee aims to identify and address the issues facing the construction industry in Sri Lanka in light of the current economic crisis.

During the meeting, Mr. Ratnayake emphasized the need to systematically address the problems facing the construction industry and to revive it. To this end, it was proposed to establish an executive committee under the Construction Revival Committee, composed of representatives from the Office of the President, Ministry of Finance, Urban Development Authority, Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA), Department of Irrigation, Water Supply and Drainage Board, Ministry of Transport and Highways, as well as stakeholders from the private sector.

The committee discussed various problems affecting the industry, such as high bank interest rates, import restrictions and customs duties, and payment mechanisms for government projects. In particular, Mr. Ratnayake highlighted the need for a clear agreement on payment timelines to help streamline the construction sector’s financial operations.

Representatives from the private sector in the construction industry also presented their concerns, and heads of relevant line agencies attended the meeting. Overall, the Construction Industry Revitalization Committee’s efforts are a positive step towards addressing the issues facing the construction industry in Sri Lanka and reviving it during this economic crisis.

IMG 20230215 WA0011

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Postal Voting for LG Election postponed indefinitely

Postal Voting for the Local Government Election was postponed indefinitely, said the National Election Commission on Tuesday (14).

A Senior Official at the NEC told News 1st that the decision was taken as the funds required to print the ballot papers for the Postal Vote were not received.

The National Election Commission had planned for the Postal Vote to take place on 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of February 2023.

The National Election Commission informed the Political Party Secretaries that it will not be able to direct the ballot papers for Postal Voting tomorrow (15), as previously planned.

This was revealed by the Secretaries of the Political Parties who met with the National Election Commission on Tuesday (14) morning.

The Secretaries of the Political Parties revealed that the National Election Commission is yet to decide on whether or not the Local Government Election will be held on the 9th of March 2023.

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