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President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared the government’s commitment to ensuring inclusivity in strengthening the country’s economy, prioritizing both economic growth and citizen welfare.

 

He emphasized the need to distribute economic benefits equitably among all citizens, acknowledging the impact of recent economic challenges on everyone. Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the National Rice Distribution for low-income families at Ambagasdowa Stadium, Uva Paranagama President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that 2.74 million low-income families would receive a monthly allocation of 10 kilograms of rice for two months. Specifically, 191,548 eligible families in 15 Divisional Secretariat Divisions within the Badulla District were identified to receive this subsidy. The President symbolically distributed rice bags to 25 beneficiaries, marking the commencement of the rice allocation.

Rice distribution to chosen beneficiaries is ongoing under the supervision of Divisional Secretaries nationwide. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the significance of equitable economic development and collaboration among political parties, highlighting the current government’s diverse composition and its commitment to national interests.

Despite challenges such as currency depreciation and job losses, the government tripled benefits under the Aswasuma program to support those in need and initiated rice distribution for low-income individuals. The President emphasized inclusive economic development, sourcing rice from small-scale mill owners to support them financially.

Efforts to improve living standards include land grants to plantation communities and allocation of flats in Colombo. President Wickremesinghe stressed unity and urged collective efforts for national progress, emphasizing significant development programs for the Uva province. Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva highlighted the President’s focus on empowering individuals economically, resulting in tangible progress. State Minister Chamara Samapath Dasanayake expressed satisfaction in providing rice benefits to those in need, emphasizing the President’s role in the nation’s economic recovery.

MP Vadivel Suresh commended the President’s efforts in uplifting the country from economic crisis and praised his foreign relations strategy. He highlighted initiatives like Aswasuma benefits and wage increases for public service employees, expressing confidence in the President’s leadership.

The event was attended by various political representatives and officials, signaling collective support for the government’s initiatives.

 
 
 
 

Irrigation, Wildlife and Forestry Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi states that all arrangements have been made for the Uma-Oya Multi-Purpose Development Project to be handed over to the public on Wednesday (24).

The Minister said this while speaking to the media after visiting the Uma-Oya Multipurpose Development Project last week.

She also said that all plans have been prepared to declare open the Uma-Oya Multipurpose Development Project under the leadership of the President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi on Wednesday. Minister Wanniarachchi said that it was a victory.

The Minister first travelled to observe the Diaraba Reservoir and the Puhulpola Reservoir in the Welimada area of Bandarawela, which are the two reservoirs that collect water required for the production of electricity in the Uma-Oya project.

Minister Wanniarachchi also visited the underground power plant in Ella Karandagolla area and observed the power generation activities there.

Speaking to the media after the observation visit, the Minister said that it is a great achievement to be able to produce 120 megawatts of electricity through the Uma-Oya Multipurpose Development Project and connect it to the national power system. He pointed out that the production of electricity worth between 1,000 and 15,000 acres of paddy fields in Moneragala and Badulla districts is directly used for the cultivation of Yala Maha Dekenna after the production of electricity.

The Minister also mentioned that by being able to supply water, the development of the country’s agriculture sector will be positively affected. She also said that it is special to be able to supply drinking water to the people of Moneragala, Badulla and Bandarawela areas. She further said that the Uma-Oya Multi-Purpose Development Project is a huge project that will benefit the country’s national economy on the one hand and the livelihood development of the people of Badulla, Moneragala, Bandarawela and Hambantota areas on the other.

 

Project Director Eng. D. C. S. Alakanda, Resident Project Eng. Priyantha Nanayakkara, Iran Farab Construction Company Project Manager P. Dezfuli, and the site manager of the company M. Malekpour and others were present.


Project at a glance…

* The project was officially launched in 2010, with an estimated cost of US$ 514 million.

 

* All the constructions are carried out by the Farab Institute, which is the contracting company of the Iranian Government, and the Central Consultancy Bureau is monitoring the engineering works on behalf of the Irrigation Ministry (Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau).

* Under the Uma-Oya Multi-Purpose Development Project, a dam will first be constructed at the Puhulpola Reservoir and the water collected there will be brought to Diaraba Reservoir through a 4 km tunnel.

*A dam will be constructed at the Diaraba Reservoir, the water brought from the Puhulpola Reservoir will be stored there and then the water will be brought through a 15.5 km long tunnel to two turbines located underground in the Ella Karandagolla area.

* The two turbines produce 60 megawatts of hydroelectricity separately, and thus an electrical capacity of 120 megawatts is added to the national grid. The electricity produced in this way will be taken to Badulla for a distance of 23 kilometres through 65 high voltage power lines and connected to the national power system.

*After power generation, the water will be brought to the Alikota reservoir through another 4 km tunnel. Accidentally, the water is brought to Handapanagala and Kudoya reservoirs. By doing so, 1,500 hectares of old paddy fields and 4,500 hectares of new paddy fields will be directly irrigated to 15,000 acres of paddy fields for both the lower and upper regions.

*It is also expected to take the extra water discharged after the cultivation activities to the Lunugam Wehera area of Hambantota district and provide water for the cultivation activities of the Yala Maha Dekhanna for thirty thousand acres of paddy fields in that area.

* Through the Kirindioya Basin, the Uva Wellassa farmlands will be fertilised and this will enable the drinking water needs of the people of Badulla, Moneragala and Bandarawela areas to be fulfilled.

 
 
 
 

  • Committed his life for the welfare of the people – Prime Minister
  • Eradicating poverty was his objective – Opposition Leader
  • Tried to find solutions for the problems in the country – Northern Province Governor

Harnessing the people’s innate power was Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne’s vision, Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said, delivering the President’s message of condolence.

In a moving tribute, Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana, while presenting the President’s condolence message, affirmed that Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne dedicated his life to uplifting the populace by tapping into their latent potential. President Ranil Wickremesinghe also acknowledged that empowering people was indeed Dr. Ariyaratne’s fervent wish.

The late founder of the Sarvodaya movement, Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne was commemorated with state honours at Independence Square on Saturday. At the funeral, the President’s condolence message was formally presented by Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana, Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media.

Dr. Ariyaratne, who passed away last Tuesday, was initially laid in state at the Sarvodaya headquarters in Moratuwa for public homage, followed by a ceremonial procession to Independence Square.

The ceremony began with his body placed on a specially constructed pedestal, followed by eulogies and religious rites, culminating in the cremation.

In his address at the funeral, Minister Dr. Gunawardhana conveyed further sentiments from the President’s message: “Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne and I closely collaborated on numerous social initiatives. He was driven by a vision to harness the inherent energy of the people for societal upliftment, a principle that formed the foundation of the esteemed Sarvodaya organisation. Despite facing numerous challenges, he expanded this organization across the island and significantly contributed to national welfare, earning numerous accolades such as the Peace Prize and the Magsaysay Award for his efforts. I convey my and Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe’s condolences to the children, grandchildren and relatives of Dr. Ariyaratne.”

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, delivering a eulogy, stated, “The passing of Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, whom we hold in high regard, leaves a significant void in the nation. Both domestically and internationally, there is a unified expression of sorrow. Today, Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne is bestowed with a state honour due to the exceptional nature of his life.

“Dr. Ariyaratne dedicated his entire life to the welfare of the people. His mission to bring joy to those suffering was truly noble. By visiting various villages, Dr. Ariyaratne led an exemplary programme that will be remembered forever. Today, we honour him as a noble man who imbued ‘shramadana’ with deep meaning and vigour. His generosity has greatly enriched our nation’s human capital, fostering transformative social changes.

“Through his efforts in that programme, Dr. Ariyaratne changed tens of thousands of lives across the country, embodying the human virtues of our society. It was his leadership that granted rights to those previously without rights. The Sarvodaya movement, merging these principles, has provided a vast canopy under which our people may step out of poverty and walk a path of virtue. He led these initiatives nationwide, setting a remarkable example.

“As he departs, I am compelled to acknowledge that the significant social transformation achieved by Sarvodaya was possible through his leadership. This is why the Government has declared today a day of mourning in his honour.

“Dr. Ariyaratne led without the backing of political parties, government departments, or institutions, relying solely on a quiet but powerful form of leadership that greatly benefitted the people. Notably, he faced these immense challenges without any inherited advantages.

“Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne instilled in us the dharma of human virtues, which will continue to guide this movement based on public trust and interest. Thus, Dr. Ariyaratne is celebrated as an exemplary and noble figure among our citizens.

“The movement he began, characterized by exemplary and independent human virtues, has become influential, reaching every village and resonating with every citizen and government institution. As he leaves us, we reflect on the life he has gifted us, an example we will carry forward into the future.

“At this time, the Government is honoured to bestow upon him the highest recognition. Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, we remember your service with pride and wish you eternal peace as a revered son of our nation.”

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa expressed his condolences, noting, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, who initiated a unique social welfare development revolution in the history of social services in this country. He intended to eradicate poverty. He supported the Gam Udawa programme alongside my father. He can be called a son of the people, playing a significant role in advancing the people-centred community participation housing development programme.”

Northern Province Governor P. S. M. Charles remarked, “Dr. Ariyaratne and the Sarvodaya team were pivotal in addressing the country’s challenges, bringing extensive experience and compassion to their work.” 

Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of PAFFREL, in his eulogy, sensitively reflected on Dr. Ariyaratne’s contributions.

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, current president of the Sarvodaya organisation, in his vote of thanks, highlighted his father’s tireless commitment over sixty-five years to serving all communities, transcending regional and generational divides, based on the universal values of humanity.

The event was attended by prominent figures including Ven. Waleboda Gunasiri Thera, Anunayaka of the Sri Lanka Rammana Maha Nikaya, religious leaders, the Speaker of Parliament, government officials, and Sarvodaya activists, all united in mourning and celebrating the extraordinary life of Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne.

Measures taken to award land rights to estate community

The Government has taken measures to grant free-hold ownership of lands for the plantation families, Cabinet Spokesman, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said. He was speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department.

 

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the joint proposal forwarded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Facilities Development to grant free – hold deeds with immediate effect for the same lands of plantation families that are residing at present.

In order to secure free-hold land rights to the estate community, the President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies submitted a proposal under the theme “Awarding land rights to the estate community” by the budget proposals of 2024.

In order to realize this objective, a programme has been planned to be implemented by the Ministry of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Facilities Development along with the New Village Development Authority for the estate zone with the assistance of non – Cabinet Ministry of State Plantation Entrepreneurship Rehabilitation.

 

Under the programme, 4,151 families living in the estates belonging to regional estate companies and State owned estate companies have been identified.

Submission of gazette notifications  to Parliament for approval

The Cabinet approved the proposal submitted by the President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to submit to Parliament for the approval of the terms / orders / regulations, published under the following Acts and the relevant Gazette Notifications.

* Order issued under Excise (Special Provisions) Act, No.13 of 1989 published by Extraordinary Gazette No. 2364/36 dated 31.12.2023

* Order issued under Ports and Airports Development Levy Act, No. 18 of 2011 published by Extraordinary Gazette No. 2364/37 dated 31.12.2023

* Orders issued under the Finance Act No. 25 of 2003, published by Extraordinary Gazettes No. 2369/27 and No. 2374/19 dated 01.02.2024 and 06.03.2024 respectively.

* Notification issued under Finance Act No. 35 of 2018 (Luxury Tax on Motor Vehicles) published by Extraordinary Gazette No. 2368/24 dated 24.01.2024

* Regulations issued under Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka Act No. 19 of 2021 published by Extraordinary Gazette No. 2366/34 dated 12.01.2024

 

* Excise Notification No. 03/2023 issued under Excise Ordinance published by Extraordinary Gazette No. 2361/44 dated 08.12.2023

* Excise Notification No. 04/2023 issued under Excise Ordinance published by Extraordinary Gazette No. 2364/35 dated 31.12.2023

* Terms issued under the Casino Business (Regulation) Act No. 17 of 2010, published by Extraordinary Gazettes No. 2366/33 and No. 2369/42 dated 12.01.2024 and 02.02.2024 respectively.

Submission of rules published in gazette notification needs approval of Parliament

It is necessary to obtain the concurrence of the Parliament for the rules published in the gazette notification within the prescribed time frame mentioned in the relevant act for empowering the amendments to special commodities tax imposed when importing certain selected good categories under the Special Commodity Act No. 48 of 2007. Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the resolution submitted by the President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to forward the rules published in the extraordinary gazette notifications mentioned below under the Special Commodity Act No. 48 of 2007 for the concurrence of the Parliament.

* Extraordinary gazette notification No. 2360/52 dated 30.11.2023

 
 

Cabinet approves signing of MoU between Ocean University SL and Notre Dame
University in USA

It has been proposed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between Ocean University of Sri Lanka and Notre Dame University in the United States of America valid for a period of 5 years from

2024-2028 for implementation of a research project on Ocean and Atmospheric Science in the Bay of Bengal. The project is expected to facilitate the development of academic, research, undergraduate and postgraduate students’ skills in other National Universities and higher education institutions including the Ocean University of Sri Lanka.

The total cost of the project is USD 62,000 out of which USD 60,000 has been agreed to be given as a grant by the Notre Dame University and Washington University in the United States of America. Following which, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Education to sign the MoU between Ocean University of Sri Lanka and Notre Dame University in the United States of America for the implementation of this project.

Setting up of lab for energy efficiency testing of ACs in Sri Lanka

 

The South Korean government has agreed to provide support under the Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Project to establish a laboratory in Sri Lanka for testing the energy efficiency of air conditioners. The project is financed through the Korea Energy Agency and the installation of the laboratory and necessary training of human resources in this project is scheduled to be completed during the year 2024. The agreement of the Department of Foreign Resources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General’s Department has been received for the memorandum and referrals to be signed by the Government of South Korea and the Government of Sri Lanka expressing their agreement for the implementation of the proposed project.

As such, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Power and Energy to sign the MoU and referrals between the two countries so that the proposed project can be implemented.

Establishing facility for radio active based cyclotron pharmaceuticals on basis of BOO gets Cabinet nod

Approval of the Cabinet has been granted at their meeting held on 29.03.2021 to implement a cyclotron based radioactive pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka with the loan and grants from local banks.

Accordingly, on the basis of Building, Ownership and Operating (BOO), EOI has been called and five (05) resolutions in this regard have been received. The Cabinet approved the proposal furnished by the Electricity and Power Minister to award the related contract to M/s Access International (Pvt.) Ltd that has furnished the resolution with all required technical requirements based on the recommendations of the project committee and the Cabinet appointed negotiation committee.

Permits for Black Gram imports gets Cabinet nod

Sri Lanka’s annual Black Gram requirement is Around 20,000 MT. Due to the fact that the harvest reaches the market only during a certain period, there is a shortage of Black Gram in the market during the festive season of April and December every year. Therefore, measures should be taken to prevent the shortage of Black Gram in the market during the upcoming festival season and to control the increase in the price of Black Gram.

As such, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Agriculture and Plantation Industries to lift the temporary ban on the importing of Black Gram and to import 2,000 metric tons of Black Gram only through the State Trading (General) Corporation, the National Food Promotion Board and the Hadabima Authority of Sri Lanka subject to the Special Commodity Tax imposed by the Special Commodities Act No. 48 of 2007.

Cabinet nods for Sports Minister’s proposal seeking annual gazetting of Anti-Doping (Prohibited List)

According to the provisions of the Convention against Doping in Sport Act, No. 33 of 2013, the list of prohibited substances should be published in the Gazette annually.

Since it has been reported that doping is given to athletes as well as animals used in sports, a list of doping substances has also been published for horse sports and horse racing from this year.

Following which, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs to submit to Parliament for approval the Anti-Doping (Prohibited List) Regulations No.09 of 2023 published under the provisions of Convention Against Doping in Sport Act No. 33 of 2013, in the Extraordinary Gazette Notification No.2373/14 dated February 27, 2024.

 
 
 
 

The Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the proposal forwarded by Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Minister Ratnasiri Wickremenayake to conduct the State Vesak Festival from May 21 to 27, 2024 in the Matale District, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said.

He was speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department.

The theme for the State Vesak festival for Sri Buddha year 2568 (2024) is “Let’s not look at what others have done and look at what we have done”. The opening ceremony of the festival is scheduled to be held at the premises of Dharmaraja Pirivena in Matale and the closing ceremony at Millawana Sri Sunandarama Temple premises in Pallepola Divisional Secretariat.

Slaughtering of animals and the sale of meat and liquor will be prohibited on May 22,23 and 24.

 
 
 
 
 

 

  • Global Training to Empower Artists and Production Designers with Modern Tech
  • Country’s First AI Film Receives Government Backing – President Ranil Wickremesinghe at 20th Raigam Tele’es Awards ceremony.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that the outmoded film corporation would be transformed using modern technology, and it would be developed into a film and teledrama industries development company in Sri Lanka.

Also, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the importance of providing foreign training opportunities to artists and production designers. This measure seeks to equip them with the latest technological knowledge, emphasizing the need for the film and teledrama industries to embrace modern advancements for future progress.

He further mentioned that artificial intelligence (AI) technology has integrated into the global film industry, and moving forward, the government will extend support for the production of Sri Lanka’s first AI film.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made this statement while addressing the 20th Raigam Tele’es Awards ceremony held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo yesterday (30).

The annual Raigam Tele’es Awards ceremony, organized by the Raigam Tele’es Secretariat, is based on a concept introduced by Mr. Dr. Ravi Liyanage, the president of the Kingdom of Raigam Group and a renowned entrepreneur in the country.

This prestigious event honours excellence in teledramas, media programs, and television news programs screened during the year 2023, with over sixty awards presented across seven categories.

President Ranil Wickramasinghe joined the Raigam Special Pranama Awards ceremony where veteran artists Mr. Atula Ransirilal, Mr. Givantha Arthasad, and Mrs. Grace Thennakoon were honoured with awards presented by the President.

The prestigious “Raigam Pratibha Prabha” Honorary Award, a once-in-a-lifetime recognition, was conferred to Dr. Rohana Weerasinghe by the President. Additionally, veteran actor Mr. Mahendra Perera was honoured as the best teledrama actor of the year, and Mrs. Semini Iddamalgoda was recognized as the best teledrama actress of the year.

The teledrama “Eya Dan Bandala” directed by Mr. Prasanna Jayakody and produced by Mr. Wasantha Kannangara, received accolades from the President as the best teledrama director of the year and also as the best teledrama of the year.

Moreover, both Hiru TV and Sirasa TV were jointly recognized by the President as the award-winning media program channels of the year. Additionally, the Independent Television Network (ITN) that secured awards for both the award-winning teledrama channel of the year and the award-winning channel of the year was also honoured by the President.

The award ceremony was vibrant, featuring performances by seasoned singers and actors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took part in a group photo with all the award recipients from the arts and journalism fields, also engaged in a pleasant conversation with the guests, including veteran artists and singers.

During his speech at the Raigam Tele’es Awards ceremony, President Ranil Wickramasinghe elaborated:

“The award ceremony, initiated by the Raigam Group, is celebrating its 20th anniversary today. I would like to thank the Raigam Group for their contribution to this award ceremony. I extend my gratitude to the Raigam Group for their valuable contributions to this event.

Over the last twenty years, there has been a significant revolution in television. Nowadays, television faces competition from mobile phones and laptops. The world is advancing with platforms like Netflix and Amazon. We need to keep pace with these developments. Many countries are producing films in multiple languages, including smaller nations like Greece. We should also pay attention to this. It’s essential for us to take note of these trends and adapt accordingly.

Hence, our primary focus is on modernizing the outmoded film corporation and transforming it into a film and teledrama development entity. It is worth mentioning that we are actively working to facilitate the required expertise for this transition. During the inception of television, numerous individuals were offered training opportunities in Japan, which resulted in the emergence of new teledramas such as “Yasoravaya” during that period. We want to emphasize that we will be revisiting and working on similar initiatives in the near future.

Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) technology has become a part of the film industry since last year. “The Frost” short film is an example of a production created using AI technology, including the screenplay. India is also producing “Maharaja in Denims,” which will soon be introduced in Sri Lanka. It’s imperative for us to make preparations for these advancements as well.

I have instructed the committee that we appointed for the introduction of artificial intelligence in Sri Lanka to collaborate with the University of Moratuwa and the University of Beauty in producing Sri Lanka’s first AI film. It should be noted that the government is working to provide funding for this.

In this way, the film industry is undergoing a change that we did not anticipate. I invite everyone to embark on a new journey by modernizing the film corporation and creating the first AI film.

Transport, Highways, and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Professor Sunil Ariyaratne, Professor J. B. Dissanayake, numerous distinguished guests, veteran actresses including Mrs. Swarna Mallavarachchi, singers, artists, film directors, producers, and several renowned guests were present at the event.

 

As Christians worldwide rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we reflect on the profound significance of this event. Easter is preceded by a time of fasting and religious observance during the Lent season, symbolizing the journey of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.

In the face of unprecedented economic challenges, our nation has demonstrated resilience. Just as Christ’s resurrection brings hope, let us emerge stronger, united in our resolve to overcome obstacles.

As a diverse society, fostering unity is paramount. Let us join hands as Sri Lankans, dedicating ourselves to the country’s security, peace and development while guarding against divisive agendas.

While we commemorate Easter with reverence, we also remember the tragic events of the past perpetrated by extremists. The government remains steadfast in its commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring national security, preventing such tragedies from recurring.

On this blessed occasion, I extend heartfelt wishes for a joyful Easter to all Christians.

Ranil Wickremesinghe,
President,
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

 

The President’s Media Division launched the “Kaleidoscope 2024 Screen Media for Gen-Z” initiative, aimed at equipping school students with practical media knowledge. The program, inaugurated today (20) at the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA), is a collaborative effort with an advisory board comprising representatives from the Presidential Secretariat, Ministry of Education, public and private media entities, academia, and industry experts.

In its initial phase, 158 students from thirty-one schools with active media units have been chosen to participate in the 16-week program, conducted once a week. Generous sponsorship from Unilever Lanka, SLIT Educational Institute, and Lanka IOC supports the initiative.

The program’s commencement involved educating students on media fundamentals, led by Senior Assistant Secretary to the President Mr. Sudheera Nilanga Withana, along with Directors from the Presidential Media Division, Engineer Mr. Stanley Hettiarachchi, and Ms. Nadeera Madugalle.

Veteran journalist Udham Satarasinghe, renowned artist Sudath Devapriya, and former head of the Media Department at the National Institute of Education, Mr. Bandula P. Dayaratne, delivered special lectures as guest speakers.

In the program’s second phase, students will receive six additional days of education across five skill areas, led by expert teachers and industry professionals.

All electronic media organizations in Sri Lanka have united in support of this initiative, offering participating students the opportunity for a two-day visit to gain practical knowledge. Furthermore, leading private sector institutions, recognizing the importance of branding and marketing understanding for journalists, have opened their doors to provide students with first-hand experience, ensuring they are equipped not just for today’s world, but also for the innovations of the future.

Phasing out of Hydro-fluorocarbon

Fulfilment of National commitments consistent with the Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol on gradual phase out of Hydro-fluorocarbon importation and consumption of it being mindful of not having any adverse effects in the process.

In 2018, Sri Lanka ratified the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol on the phase down of Hydro-fluorocarbon. As a result, Sri Lanka is legally bound to restrict the import, export, trade and consumption of Hydro-fluorocarbon on a phased basis from January 01, 2024. 

As such, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the President in his capacity as the Minister of Environment to adhere the legal obligation of the National obligations related to the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Alliance by limiting the importation and consumption of pure Hydro-fluorocarbon and products containing Hydro-fluorocarbon to Sri Lanka on a phasing out basis and by implementing the Hydro-fluorocarbon import trade under an annual import quota system so that the hydro-fluorocarbon consuming sectors such as agriculture, fishing, health, tourism, transport, industry, housing, and construction do not have adverse effects.

Establishment of an inter-Ministerial tourism committee

It is recognised that the current revival of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry will play an important role in the country’s economic recovery and growth.

Therefore, many measures have been proposed in the 2024 budget, including the implementation of a long-term programme to promote the tourism sector and bring at least five million tourists annually.

Due to the multifaceted nature of the tourism industry and its various assets, laws and responsibilities are divided among several government agencies, it is essential to maintain efficient coordination and cooperation among the relevant agencies to achieve the desired benefits.

As such, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the President to establish an inter-ministerial tourism committee chaired by the Secretary to the President and with representatives from relevant government agencies.

MoU between DSRSL and Govt. of Hungary on Sports and Sport Education

It has been proposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (DSRSL) and the Republic of Hungary in order to develop and strengthen cooperation between the two sides by promoting the fields of sports and sports education. The draft MoU has received the Attorney General’s clearance and as such, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs to obtain the relevant signatures.

 

Creating a million young entrepreneurs under the ‘Urumaya’ programme

 

An islandwide programme to gather information about young entrepreneurs covering the entire island obtaining information related to grant of freehold ownership and creating a million young entrepreneurs under the ‘Urumaya’ programme. Almost two million families in the country have been given grants/permits for the land they occupy. Under the Urumaya programme, it is planned to give the absolute right of the government lands to the grantees and permit holders in the year 2024. It is also planned to implement a programme to create one million young entrepreneurs in the entire island. The information required to implement these two programmes is expected to be gathered by deploying the youth force of the National Youth Service Council covering all 14,022 Grama Niladhari Divisions in the island with the support of the Grama Niladhari in the respective divisions. In accordance, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Tourism and Lands to implement the Urumaya programme and the programme to create a million young entrepreneurs by collecting the necessary information through the existing mechanisms at the divisional secretariat level.

 

Revision of Sri Lanka Foundation Act No: 31 of 1973

The Sri Lanka Foundation, established under the Sri Lanka Foundation Act No. 31 of 1973, acts as a centre for training and awareness services on subjects related to sustainable development, social integration, socioeconomic development, good governance, entrepreneurship and democracy. At present, the Sri Lanka Foundation runs various courses ranging from Certificate courses to Advanced National Diplomas. However, there is a need to revise not only the goals and objectives of the foundation but also the powers and functions to suit the current needs. Consequently, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Media Minister to amend the Sri Lanka Foundation Act providing scope for the Act to perform accordingly.

Amendments to the Primary Courts Procedure Act

In a dispute affecting land, it is the function of a Civil Court to determine or give a final decision as to title or possession, and until then only preventive or remedial action is taken by a Primary Court. Inevitable delays occur here since the order entered by the Primary Court remains in effect pending a final decision by a District Court in determining rights, and since District Court decisions are subject to two appeals. That situation enables a trespasser or even a squatter to retain possession of the land for a considerable period of time. As such, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister to instruct the Legal Draftsman to prepare a Bill to amend the Primary Court Procedure Act so as to achieve the desired objectives section 66 of the Primary Court Procedure Act No. 44 of 1979 as amended by Act No. 49 of 1980 in a more effective manner.


Provision of fertilizer subsidy to farmers for Yala season

As estimated by the National Fertilizer Secretariat, the chemical fertilizers urea, TSP and MOP, respectively, MT 110298.1, MT 27711.1 and MT. 33412.4 each is required for paddy cultivation in 2024 season. Accordingly, taking into consideration the proposals presented by the Agriculture and Plantation Industries Minister, the Cabinet decided as follows.

To import fertilizer through Ceylon Fertilizer Company Limited and Colombo Commercial Fertilizer Company Limited for the 2024 ‘Yala’ season, and sell fertilizer to farmers at concessional prices competitively with the private sector. Provision of a Rs. 15,000 subsidy per hectare for a maximum of twoú hectares cultivated by a farmer during the 2024 Yala season through the Department of Agricultural Development, directly crediting of relevant subsidy to farmers’ bank accounts.


Acceleration of stalled rural development programmes

Due to the economic crisis of the last few years, many development projects that had been commenced at the rural level had to be suspended.

However, since the government has already made significant investment in those projects, those projects should be completed immediately and the expected benefits should be given to the rural people. It has been revealed that the amount of allocation allocated under the decentralized budget programme is not sufficient to continue the implementation of the rural development programmes that have already been suspended midway in the respective areas.

Hence, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the President to provide another Rs. 2,000 million allocation under the decentralized budget programme for the re-implementation of the development projects that had to be stopped midway at the rural level, and to increase the allocation for special development initiatives implemented under the supervision of the President’s Office by another 1,000 million rupees.


Rooftop Solar Power Generation Projects for Religious Places

Awarding procurement for the implementation of the Rooftop Solar Power Generation Projects for Religious Places under the funds provided by the Government of India.

On January 08, 2024, the Cabinet had approved the implementation of the Rooftop Solar Power Generation Projects in religious places subject to a limit of 17 million US dollars under the loan facility of 1,000 million US dollars provided by the State Bank of India.

In effect, bids have been invited to select a suitable institution for the implementation of the project, and six bids have so far been received. Considering the recommendations made by the Procurement Appellate Board regarding the recommendation made by the Technical Appraisal Committee and the Standing Procurement Committee appointed by the Cabinet, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Power and Energy to award the procurement for the implementation of Rooftop Solar Power Generation Project to M/s Premier Energies Ltd., for a contract price of US$ 17 million.


Relief to low income families gets Cabinet nod

In the first half of 2023, the government has taken steps to provide ten kilos of Nadu rice per family for a period of two months covering 2.74 million families in the 25 districts, including Samurdhi beneficiaries.

In order to help maintain the nutritional level of the identified low-income earners, it has been found that it is advisable to implement the same programme this year as well. Following which, the Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the President to provide 10 kgs of rice per family per month for a period of two months covering about 2.74 million low-income families identified through district secretaries/Government Agents by involving small and medium scale mill owners.

 
 
 
 

A ceremony was held at the Lake House premises yesterday to celebrate the 92nd anniversary of Thinakaran, the Tamil language daily published by the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd., (ANCL).

The Chief Guest was Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda. Among the other notable attendees included Director of the Anti-Leprosy Campaign Dr. Prasad Ranaweera and legendary cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan’s father Sinnasamy Muttiah.

Lake House Chairman Prof. Harendra Kariyawasam and the Board of directors and Thinakaran paper and Lake House Staff attended.

Also, students who excelled in an essay competition conducted by the paper also were given awards. Several veteran journalists who contributed to the success of the paper over the years too were felicitated.

The Thinakaran paper was first published in 1932. It was started by founder of the Lake House the late D. R. Wijewardene with an objective of instilling the desire for freedom in the minds of Tamil speaking community from the colonial rulers.

Thinakaran acted as a platform for the development of Tamil literature in Sri Lanka. Thinakaran, Sri Lanka’s premier Tamil language National newspaper with a tradition of more than nine decades, has successfully overcome many risks and hurdles in its history of 92 years.

 
 

The ‘Satharawa Deepani’ felicitation ceremony, organised on a concept of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana, was held under the patronage of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardhana at the BMICH on Saturday (16) evening.

Veteran Cinema Artistes Malani Fonseka, Swarna Mallwaarachchi, Anoja Weerasinghe and Ravindra Randeniya who made a major contribution to the films produced by Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana, were felicitated with ‘Satharawa Deepani’ awards by the Prime Minister, on this occasion.

A group of 250 G.C.E. (A/L) students selected from all districts, were also granted ‘Pragnabandu Scholarships’ valid for two years, on this occasion, under the patronage of Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Pranith Abeysundara.

Ven. Maha Sangha including the Anunayake of the Malwatta Chapter, Sahithya Chakrawarthi Most Ven. Dr. Niyangoda Dharmakeerthi Sri Sangharakkhitha Vijithasiri Thera, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, heads of Diplomatic Missions representing India, Russia and Japan, Cabinet Ministers, Government and Opposition MPs, government officials, artistes, members of the business community were present on this occasion.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe attended the art exhibitions “Celebration of Women” and “Bhawanawaka Shanthiya” by renowned artists Mrs. Iromi Wijewardena and Mr. Winston Suludagoda at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, Colombo 07, yesterday (14).

The art exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mrs. Iromi Wijewardena’s artistic career was themed “Celebration of Women”. Concurrently, Mr. Winston Suludagoda, known for hosting art exhibitions domestically and internationally had organized his 34th art exhibition under the theme “Bhawanawaka Shantiya”.

For 46 years, Mr. Winston, an experienced artist, has showcased his artworks in numerous foreign countries. These exhibitions featured a wide array of colourful paintings depicting various themes such as daily life relationships, global crises, and religious lifestyles.

Following his visit to the art exhibition, the President also participated in friendly conversations with the attendees of the art exhibitions and took part in group photos. Also, these artists presented a special commemorative gift to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Former Minister Ravi Karunayake, MP Mayantha Dissanyake, Former Governor of the Central Bank Indrajith Kumaraswami, Dr. Dayan Jaayathilake, Sujan Wijewardene, Lusil Wijewardene, Natali Wijewardene, Mala Jayawardene, Roshini Gunaratne, Shirani Thenabadu, Veteran Artist Kala Soori S.H. Sarath, and other guests graced the occasion with their presence.

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