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The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) assured President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that it is eager to promote a number of sectors, including exports and tourism, as soon as the country returns to normalcy with its vaccination drive.

The President has implemented the policies listed in the “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” National Policy Framework amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The CCC points out that it can take advantage of this and contribute to the rapid development of the economy.

The newly-elected office-bearers of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce stated this at a meeting held with the President at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (27).

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was established in 1839 and currently, it has 560 member companies. The Regional Chambers of Commerce have expanded to cover all parts of the country.
The newly elected office bearers commended the President's efforts to bring the country back to normalcy through the vaccination programme. Infrastructure has been rapidly developed, especially the road network.

They pointed out that its benefits would greatly enhance investment opportunities in the near future.

The officials of the CCC highlighted the possibility of expanding export opportunities by entering into a Free Trade Agreement with the UK.

The officials said the National Agenda Committees of the CCC has paid special attention to the government's programmes implemented to promote sustainable energy, agriculture and the field of technology.

The investors are discouraged by some of the laws and regulations that are in effect. The President said one of the main objectives of the government is to remove such obstacles and to encourage exports by preventing corruption and malpractices through the introduction of digitalization. The President said that the government's responsibility is to create employment opportunities and pointed out the need to provide opportunities for the new generation to come forward as entrepreneurs and businesspersons.

Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Economic Policies & Plan Implementation Ministry Secretary Anusha Pelpita and other officials, former Chairman of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Hans Wijesuriya, new Chairman V. Govindasamy and the new office bearers of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce were also present.

The Government of China has donated another consignment of 1.6 million doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to Sri Lanka. The two SriLankan Airlines flights UL869 and UL865 carrying the vaccine arrived at the Colombo Katunayake International Airport at 5.30 a.m., today (27).

Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong officially handed over the vaccines to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, today (27). In addition to these vaccines, a stock of syringes has also been donated. The vaccines were handed over to the Ministry of Health to be given to people over the age of 30 years in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. 72% of the vaccines used in the vaccination process in Sri Lanka is Sinopharm.

President Rajapaksa said that he highly appreciated the support provided by the Chinese Government for the control of COVID – 19 by donating 600,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines on March 31, 500,000 on May 26 and 1.6 million doses were received today.

The President pointed out that by the end of August, all those over the age of 30 will be vaccinated and the activities of the tourism industry will be able to commence from September. Therefore, the Chinese people are invited to visit Sri Lanka again, the President further said.

Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Douglas Devananda, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Senior Advisor to President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage, and the Political Officer of the Chinese Embassy Luo Chong was also present on the occasion

The City University programme commences keeping another promise made in the national policy framework “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”. Its first university is planned to be established in the next few weeks, in Pinnawala area in Kegalle District.

As the foremost step of the programme President Gotabaya Rajapaksa launched the official website(www.cu.ac.lk) to introduce the City university Programme as a concept at the Presidential Secretariat this morning(15) to coincide with the World Youth Skills Day – 2021.

The City universities will be established covering all districts with the aim of producing talented graduates equipped with the cutting edge technology, targeting the job market.

80% of those who qualify for tertiary education at the GCE Advanced Level milestone do not get opportunity to enter universities. Only those who are financially blessed will have the privilege to pursue their further studies at private institutes or abroad. The President expects to offer a degree compatible for the job market to the talented and capable students who have passed the Advanced Level and yet lack the financial support they need through the City University programme.

The programme specializes in formulating degree programmes based on a curriculum specific to each district as well as local and global job markets. Dr. Seetha Arambepola, State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation noted that a citizen empowered with knowledge and professionalism will leave the university following their graduation.

Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth & Sports and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development revealed that youth unemployment fell as low as 4% in 2014 but has risen to 16% by 2019.

Minister Rajapaksa pointed out that youth unemployment could rise to 30% due to the
current global situation and that a talented youth should be created through degree programmes. The young generation is moving towards modernity coupled with the latest technology. The Minister said that it was important to adapt to the world trends and that it
was life, not traditional practices, that should win in the end.

Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris pointed out that the aspiration of a graduate is to obtain a good job, but it has become today's responsibility to rectify the certain degree courses
that are incompatible with any employment opportunity.

Many graduates seek government employment. However, the President said that the responsibility of a government should not be to provide jobs but to create a comprehensive economic environment that enables creation of jobs.

The President said that his objective of the 'City University' Programme is to create a person who can directly contribute to the economy or who possesses the knowledge to engage in
self-employment at the end of the degree course.
It is not possible to maintain only government universities one hundred per cent. However, the President stated that he was also opposed to operating private universities as a business. Income generated from private universities should be set aside for the promotion
of education itself.

The President stated that those who protest against educational reforms should come up with proposals for a modern education system instead of advocating political motives.

The President also emphasized the need to take steps to expedite the implementation of the City University Programme commencing from Kegalle, throughout the island.

Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Secretaries to the Ministries, Chairman of the University Grants Commission and other officials were present at the meeting.

 

The second phase of the Colombo Stock Exchange digitalization process was launched recently at the Presidential Secretariat under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) along with the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) commenced the digital advancement in Sri Lanka’s capital market with the launch of the first phase of the digitalization of the Stock Market in last September and it was intended to ensure uninterrupted access, facilitate investor participation, enhance operational efficiencies and service standards in the capital market.

The stock market authority said that following the digitalization of the capital market, more than 65,000 new investors have entered the market and 17,000 new Central Depository (CDS) accounts have been opened with the capability to swiftly download the stock market information.

With digitalization, investors will be able to make transactions in Sinhala, Tamil or English from anywhere in the world, receive monthly publications, exchange and modify information, as well as to open accounts for local companies.

Secretary to President P.B. Jayasundera, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Viraj Dayaratne PC, Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange Dumith Fernando and other members of the Board of Directors were also present.

 
 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this afternoon (09) inspected the land belonging to the Millewa Estate in Horana, where the prison complex in Borella is to be relocated.
The need to relocate the prison has long existed due to dilapidated old buildings, overcrowding and other external factors.
The prison complex and its current status was shown in a video presentation, and Prison Management & Prisoners' Rehabilitation State Minister Lohan Ratwatte briefed the President on the developments.
A 200-acre tract of land from the Millewa Estate belonging to the Urban Development Authority (UDA) has been allocated to construct the new prison complex. The Welikada Prison, Colombo Remand Prison, New Magazine Prison, Prison Hospital, Training School, Prison Intelligence Unit and the Department of Community Based Correctional Centers are to be constructed within the proposed premises. It is noteworthy that the project titled “Sipiri Suwaseth Udana,” the Millewa Detention and Correctional Center, had not been funded by the Treasury.
State Minister of Urban Development Nalaka Godahewa pointed out that special attention has been paid to the welfare of prisoners in the proposed prison complex project.
The President thereafter inspected the proposed sites for the construction of the Prison Complex, Prison Hospital, Training School and the Intelligence Unit.
The President met with the residents in the Estate and inquired into their well-being during the inspection. He instructed the officials to take immediate action to provide compensation including houses for loss of properties due to constructions.
Ministers Ali Sabry, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, State Ministers Vidura Wickramanayaka, Jayantha Samaraweera, Piyal Nishantha, Parliamentarians Lalith Ellawala, Sanjeewa Edirimanna, Anupa Pasqual, Secretaries to the Ministries and Government Officials were also present.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa inaugurated the 'Dorin Dorata Kapruka' National Programme to plant 4 million coconut saplings at the Weliketiya Estate, Bujjampola, Dankotuwa, today (10).
The programme is expected to enhance the annual coconut crop to 3,600 million nuts per year from the current level of 2,800 million nuts. To achieve this goal, the Ministry of Plantation, the State Ministry of Coconut, Kitul, Palmyra and Rubber Product Promotion and Allied Industrial Production and Export Diversification and the Coconut Cultivation Board are jointly organising the 'Dorin Dorata Kapruka' National Programme.
For a long time, Sri Lanka's name has been at the forefront of the international market for its traditional exports - tea, rubber and coconut. The National Policy Framework, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” focused on the promotion of coconut cultivation and related products, to secure that position in the future as well.
It is expected to achieve the target of planting 4 million coconut saplings within the next year, and in view of that, one million coconut saplings will be given to Samurdhi recipients and another two million will be distributed under a subsidiary scheme and the remaining one million can be purchase by anyone who wishes to cultivate.
The President planted a coconut sapling at the Weliketiya Estate to mark the inauguration of this national programme. Ministers and MPs also joined the President in planting coconut saplings. In parallel to the national programme, coconut saplings were planted and distributed throughout the island by all the Ministries.
The President inspected a coconut land which has been cultivated according to the ‘Eli Weti’ method by using organic fertilizer.
President Rajapaksa also inspected the Organic Fertilizer Production Methods suitable for coconut cultivation, machinery, soil rehabilitation works aimed at increasing the productivity of existing coconut lands, water using methods,Intercropping, Model Seed Coconut Nursery, Coconut Pests and Diseases Institute, Exhibition Stalls of “Kapruka” Society Members and the coconut plantations in the fallow paddy fields.
The President then visited the Coconut Research Institute, Lunuwila and inspected the Coconut Products and Coconut Milk based new products promotion Advisory Unit.
The President also symbolically distributed Coconut Saplings and Agriculture Equipment to 15 beneficiaries at a ceremony organised at the Coconut Research Institute premises in parallel to the programme.
The Chairman of Chilaw Plantations Limited, Jude Perera, handed over Rs. 10 million from the company's profits earned in 2020 to the President to be deposited to the Treasury.
Minister Ramesh Pathirana, North Western Province Governor A.J.M. Muzammil, State Ministers Arundika Fernando, Sanath Nishantha, Priyankara Jayaratne, MPs Ashoka Priyantha, Chinthaka Mayadunne, Secretaries to the Ministries and officials of line agencies were also present at the occasion.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has put forward a comprehensive mechanism to vaccinate a majority of the population against COVID-19 virus before September.

The number of vaccines that are being received in July will be made available to the public, giving priority to the districts identified as high risk areas for Covid-19 spread. Accordingly, the President said that 200,000 doses out of the total two million Sinopharm vaccines to be received on July 11 should be allocated for the Colombo District, 500,000 for Gampaha and 300,000 for Kalutara in order to complete the vaccination of all persons over the age of 30 in the Western Province before the 30th of this month.

The President made these remarks at the meeting with the Special Committee on Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak, held at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (09) regarding the vaccination drive and future plans.

A total of 100,000 vaccines each have been allocated for Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya, Ratnapura, Badulla and Matale Districts and two hundred thousand vaccines have been allocated for the Kurunegala District.

It is expected to receive 1.47 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine within the next two weeks. Out of this, 600,000 doses will be allocated to the Colombo District for the people who have received the first dose. The President instructed that the balance should be given as the first and second doses for the people in the Kegalle District.

Plans have been made to administer the Pfizer vaccine doses that have been already received to the people in Mannar and Vavuniya Districts while the Moderna vaccine which is to be received is planned to be administered in Kandy District. It was decided to administer the future vaccine doses to arrive in the country in a scientific manner, taking into account the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

President Rajapaksa also instructed that steps be taken to provide more space for resumption of economic activities as a significant percentage of doses have already been given to the people. It was also discussed the need to brief the foreign diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka on the local vaccination drive and the current situation in the country.

Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Bandula Gunawardana, Keheliya Rambukwella, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Prasanna Ranatunga, Namal Rajapaksa, State Ministers Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Channa Jayasumana, Sisira Jayakody, MP Madhura Withanage, Senior Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to Health Ministry Major General (rtd.) Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Commanders of the three Armed Forces, the Inspector-General of Police and the Heads of health sector were also present at the meeting.

 
 

Two State Ministry Portfolios were reshuffled and accordingly, two State Ministers were sworn in before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this afternoon (08).

Mr. Shasheendra Rajapaksa was sworn in as the State Minister of Organic Fertilizer Production, Supply and Regulation and the Paddy and Grains, Organic Food, Vegetables, Fruits, Chillies, Onion and Potato Cultivation Promotion, Seed Production and Advanced Technology for Agriculture.

With the reshuffle of the ministerial portfolios, Mr. Mohan De Silva was sworn in as the State Minister of Coast Conservation and Low-Lying Lands Development.

Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera was also present at the occasion.

The 1,000 rupee commemorative coin issued to mark the 65th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Government of Sri Lanka and the People’s Republic of China, and the 100th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China was presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Central Bank Governor Professor W. D. Lakshman at the Presidential Secretariat this afternoon (06).

This commemorative coin was issued as a special tribute to the long standing friendship and strong ties between the two countries.

On the center of one side of the coin is the front view of the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre with the national flags of Sri Lanka and China. The ‘2022’ is shown in large numbers below the Theatre. The coin reads “65 years for Sri Lanka – China” in English, Sinhala and Tamil.

The other side of the coin says ‘1,000 rupees’ and “Chinese Communist Party” in three languages.

The Central Bank has issued 500 gold and 2,000 silver commemorative coins.

An automated hand disinfection machine manufactured by the Army Research Analysis, Projection and Development Branch was introduced to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, today (06).
By storing four litres of disinfectant liquid, the machine is capable of sterilizing the hands of 600 people and operating automatically for forty-eight hours after charging.
This machine can be manufactured locally at a lower cost compared to importing. Therefore, the Army Research Unit is ready to manufacture machines for the orders they receive and willing to exchange the knowledge in this regard to the interested parties.
Army Commander and Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, Additional Secretary to the President Major General (Retd.) K.B. Egodawela and Brigadier Sudath Udayasena were also present at the occasion.

The 1,000 rupee commemorative coin issued to mark the 65th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Government of Sri Lanka and the People's Republic of China, and the 100th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China was presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Central Bank Governor Professor W. D. Lakshman at the Presidential Secretariat this afternoon (06).
This commemorative coin was issued as a special tribute to the long standing friendship and strong ties between the two countries.
On the center of one side of the coin is the front view of the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre with the national flags of Sri Lanka and China. The '2022' is shown in large numbers below the Theatre. The coin reads "65 years for Sri Lanka - China" in English, Sinhala and Tamil.
The other side of the coin says '1,000 rupees' and "Chinese Communist Party" in three languages.
The Central Bank has issued 500 gold and 2,000 silver commemorative coins.

The Government has spent Rs.262 billion for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic so far since 2020, said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (30). He made this observation during a Finance Ministry Progress Review Meeting held at the Temple Trees presided by the Premier.

As the Finance Minister, the Premier focused his attention on the present situation of all institutions belonging to the Ministry and about solving prevailing problems at the presentation of the progress and future vision of the Ministry under the theme of “towards the path of prosperity through challenges” by Secretary to the Treasury S. R. Attygalle.

Attygalle said the Government successfully controlled the first and second waves of COVID-19 pandemic, and added that the Government is successfully facing the third wave of the pandemic which began in April this year. According to data of the Ministry of Finance the Government had spent a sum of Rs. 117 billion on COVID-19 control in 2020 and up to now in 2021 another Rs. 53 billion has been spent. Attygalle said further that during the relevant period, Rs. 92 billion had been spent on vaccinations and other expenditure.

He pointed out further that on the instructions of the Prime Minister, even during this difficult period of time, provisions were allocated through the Ministry of Finance on behalf of people including small and medium scale businesspersons who deserved it.

He also said that while reducing interest rates and providing loan concessions it was possible to maintain a rate of 4-6 percent inflation and that it had increased during the past month of May to either 6.1 or 6.2 percent. He mentioned that arrangements are being made by the Ministry of Finance to decrease that figure.

He Pointed out that 11,000 development projects had been approved by the Government from the Decentralized Fund. It was also revealed that all groups who were being given allowances under the Samurdhi Development Department had been paid the stipend of Rs. 5,000 on four occasions.

 
 

Steps will be taken in near future to create 500 production villages under the instructions of Premier Rajapaksa. During the meeting attention was drawn to the possibility of reducing the interest rates and providing debt relief by holding discussions with both local and foreign banks in order to revive the businesses which collapsed in the face of COVID-19.

The discussion also revealed that the Government is holding discussions with institutions in the field of finance in order to attract foreign investments to the country and a National Securities Institution will be established within the country by January 2022. Plans are afoot to add list 500 companies more to the Share Market from 2021 to 2024.

Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Prof. W. D. Lakshman emphasized that whatever opinions are being presented by the Opposition, it was possible to pay back foreign debts without delay. The Prime Minister instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury S. R. Attygalle to look into setting up all institutions of the Ministry which are now scattered all over, in the same building, for the convenience of the public.

 

He recalled that a clean budget was presented last time in the year 2019 while paying off outstanding bills of Rs. 423 billion.

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