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President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged greater South-South cooperation and proposed a scheme akin to the Colombo Plan to enhance collaboration, exchange best practices and develop policies that harness the transformational potential of science, technology and innovation. President Wickremesinghe delivered a compelling address at the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the G77 and China in Havana, Cuba on Friday (15).

In his speech, President Wickremesinghe emphasized the crucial role of science, technology and innovation in overcoming the current development challenges faced by developing nations worldwide.

The President began by commending Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez for convening the summit and acknowledging Cuba’s historic role as a champion for the concerns and aspirations of developing nations within various multilateral forums.

He noted the unprecedented challenges confronting the global South, including the pandemic, climate change, food, fertilizer and energy crises, which threaten the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and exacerbate the global debt crisis.

President Wickremesinghe then delved into the historical perspective of technological development, highlighting how Europe’s advancements in the 15th century, such as gunpowder, cannons and ocean-going ships, enabled it to conquer other parts of the world, resulting in the technological divide seen today. He underscored that a new technological divide is emerging in the 21st century, necessitating the adoption of digitalization and new technologies, such as Big Data, IoT, AI, Blockchain, Biotechnology and Genome Sequencing, to bridge the gap.

He emphasised the importance of an educated manpower well- equipped with knowledge and technological know-how essential for the smooth flow of the needed transformations which will lubricate the development and catching up process in developing nations.

The President outlined his Government’s initiatives, including the evaluation of underperforming Science and Technology Research Institutes and the establishment of a Technology and Innovation Council and a Digital Transformation Agency.

Additionally, Sri Lanka plans to create four new universities specializing in new technologies, with one being the result of technological co-operation between India and Sri Lanka. The International Climate University will be the fifth.

Addressing the digital divide, President Wickremesinghe cited challenges such as limited access to costly technology, insufficient digital skills and infrastructure, cultural and institutional barriers and financing constraints.

He called for effective co-operation mechanisms within the G77 and China, including the revitalization of the Consortium of Science and Technology and Innovation for the South (COSTIS) and the commitment of member countries to earmark 1% of their GDP for R&D over a decade.

President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of collaboration between Governments and the private sector and proposed creating technological platforms in fields like digitalisation, health, medication, AI and renewable energy including green hydrogen, inspired by the European Union’s Technology and Innovation Platforms.

The brain drain from the South to the North and the resulting loss of educated manpower is another threat to the development of Science Technology and Innovation of the South, President Wickremesinghe said, adding that China, India, Japan and South Korea have developed Science Technology and Innovation by nurturing their manpower. “Therefore we must ask for compensation from the North for the loss of our manpower,” he added.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to supporting the new Havana Declaration and called for the collective voice of G77 and China to be heard in international fora.

The President’s address underscored the significance of science, technology and innovation in shaping the future of developing nations, making it a pivotal moment at the G77 and China Summit.


A book written by Natalya Kulishenko, senior officer at the Russian Centre in Colombo, was presented to Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana yesterday (13).

Kulishenko presented the book An English Queen and Starlingrad written in Russian and a copy of its English translation to the Minister.

The presentation of the book took place after a discussion between the Minister and Kulishenko at the office of the Transport, Highways and Mass Media Ministry in Battaramulla.


President Ranil Wickremesinghe is set to take the helm of the Sri Lankan delegation at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. President Wickremesinghe will address the General Assembly on September 21. His speech will revolve around the theme ‘Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.’

Notably, President Wickremesinghe is slated to participate in a Heads of State/Government Leaders Dialogue during the 2023 SDG Summit. Here, world leaders will come together to provide crucial guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to 2030. Furthermore, the President will lend his voice to the Climate Ambition Summit, convened by the UN Secretary-General, where a collective global will to hasten the transition to a more equitable renewable energy-based, climate-resilient global economy will be the central focus.

Adding to his packed agenda, President Wickremesinghe will deliver a keynote address at the High-Level Meeting on Financing for Development, highlighting the imperative of fostering debt sustainability and strengthening the global financial safety net.

During his stay in New York, President Wickremesinghe will seize the opportunity to meet with Mr. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and engage in discussions with leaders of member countries.

Moreover, the President’s visit will extend beyond diplomatic engagements. He is set to participate in a Roundtable Discussion on Economic Opportunities in Sri Lanka, joined by over 40 prominent private companies from the United States. In addition, he will take centre stage at the Ocean Nations: The 3rd Annual Indo-Pacific Islands Dialogue, an event organized by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Sasakawa Foundation in New York.

President Wickremesinghe will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Mr. Ali Sabry P.C., Secretary to the President Mr. E. M. S. B. Ekanayake, Foreign Secretary Ms. Aruni Wijewardane and other senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The annual “Asidisi Media Scholarship Programme” aimed at improving the professionalism of the Sri Lankan journalists has been organized this year too by the Ministry of Mass Media.

Accordingly, applications has been called for “Asidisi Media Scholarship Programme 2023” and the deadline is 11th October 2023.

The journalist between the age of 18-55 who are employed in recognized Media institutions having completed three years of service on permanent or part time basis, freelance journalists, provincial journalists, web Journalists and media technicians are eligible for applying to this Scholarship programme. Moreover, the intended course should directly be related to the field of mass media and the applicants should possess the media identity issued for the Journalists by the Department of Information for the year 2023.

The journalists can be benefited by this scheme of scholarships twice. After the first Scholarship is awarded, they can once again apply for the second opportunity in five years after successful completion of the course.

Under this Scholarship Programme, two hundred thousand rupees (Rs.200,000.00) would be offered for a graduate or postgraduate programme and one hundred thousand rupees (Rs.100,000.00) would be offered for a long term or short term certificate course conduced by recognized institutions. The journalists who are eligible for this Scholarship Programme will receive 50% of the total course fee at the beginning of the course as the 1st installment, next 25% as the 2nd Installment and the balance when submitting the certificate after the successful completion of the course.

The beneficiaries will be selected after an interview conducted by a committee nominated by the Secretary, Ministry of Mass Media.

All the applications should be sent via registered post to the Director (Media), Ministry of Mass Media, No. 163. Kirulapone Avenue, Polhengoda. Colombo 05 on or before 11th October 2023.

Further details of "Asidisi Media Scholarship Programme 2023" can be obtained by contacting 0112513645 / 0112514632 and the application can be downloaded by visiting the website (


President Ranil Wickremesinghe is set to depart for Cuba to address the G77 + China Leaders’ Summit next week. This summit, themed “Current Development Challenges: Role of Science, Technology and Innovation,” is scheduled for September 15 and 16, 2023, in Havana, Cuba.

President Wickremesinghe’s participation in the summit comes as a result of an official invitation from Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. Alongside the summit, there are plans for bilateral discussions between President Wickremesinghe and the Cuban President to further strengthen the cooperation between Sri Lanka and Cuba.

The G77 + China Leaders’ Summit represents the largest intergovernmental coalition of 134 developing nations, as recognized by the United Nations. It serves as a platform for Southern countries to voice and promote their shared economic interests while enhancing their collaborative negotiating capabilities.

This conference offers an opportunity to address contemporary challenges in the realms of science, technology and innovation, exploring cooperative solutions, particularly through inter-Southern collaboration. The leaders of these nations are expected to adopt the ‘Havana Declaration’ during the summit, which will outline guidelines for reforms and new approaches to enhance cooperation among Southern countries in the fields of science, technology and innovation.

Ms. Aruni Wijewardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with a delegation of senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will also accompany the President for this significant conference.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe outlined an ambitious vision for Sri Lanka’s economic future during his address at the centenary celebration of Al-Mubarak Central College in Malwana.

He emphasised the replication of the Biyagama Free Trade Zone’s success as a blueprint for modern commercial industrialization to be implemented nationwide.

This strategy aims to propel the country towards rapid development within the next 15 to 20 years.

President Wickremesinghe noted the significant progress made in the Biyagama region since the establishment of the trade zone and highlighted the nation’s potential to become a thriving investment hub. He unveiled plans to open up several new investment opportunities on a global scale, paving the way for Sri Lanka to emerge as a prominent investment destination.

The President’s remarks were delivered during the centenary celebration ceremony, where he also revealed that several areas, including Bingiriya, Hambantota, Kandy, Trincomalee and the Northern Province, have been earmarked for the establishment of industrial estates. These areas are set to undergo rapid development, transforming into vibrant commercial cities.

Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe stressed the commitment of local representatives to attract investment opportunities for the advancement of their respective districts. He cited the example of the Biyagama investment zone, which has evolved into the premier trade zone in South Asia. President Wickremesinghe asserted that replicating the success of industrialization seen in Biyagama and Katunayake across all provinces is crucial for alleviating economic pressures.

President Wickremesinghe also highlighted the Government’s dedication to strengthening the country’s economy while simultaneously creating employment opportunities for the nation’s youth.

During his visit to Al-Mubarak Central College, President Wickremesinghe was warmly welcomed by students. He inaugurated a new three-storied building at the college and issued a commemorative stamp to mark the centenary celebration. This historic visit marked the first time a sitting President had visited Al-Mubarak Central College. The President also left a commemorative note in the special guest book and inaugurated the college’s centenary memorial. Additionally, he recognized students who exhibited exceptional skills with awards and certificates.

Education State Minister Aravinda Kumar also addressed the ceremony, while State Ministers Prasanna Ranaweera and Kader Masthan, along with Principal of Al-Mubarak Central College Malwana S.H.M.Naim, staff, students past and present and other officials were present to mark this significant occasion.

A collection of Russian books was donated to the Homagama Mahinda Rajapaksa College Library on a request made by Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana.

Colombo Russian Centre’s senior officer Natalia Kulishenko donated the collection that included a number of works used by her in Sri Lanka before returning after her tenure in Sri Lanka.

Kulishenko planted two Naa saplings in the college premises to commemorate her visit to the school. Tatiana Panditha, Russian Language Instructor of the Colombo Russian Centre, Sarath Bandu Kumara, Principal of the Homagama Mahinda Rajapaksa College, the teaching staff of the college and students were present on this occasion.

Kulishenko said that the Russian House in Colombo provides 60 scholarships for Sri Lankan students to pursue their higher education in Russian Universities free of charge.

She said that the students of the Mahinda Rajapaksa College will immensely benefit through the partnership between Mahinda Rajapaksa College and the Russian Cultural Centre.

“The Russian language is a very special one. It is poeticized by many talented writers. It is the language of the world’s greatest literature, which is known and admired throughout the world”, she said.

Kulishenko said that the first words in outer space were pronounced in Russian by Yury Gagarin. “During my travelling to the central part of the island, to the tea fields, I am surprised to hear fluent Russian there from Sri Lankans”, she said. She added that knowledge of the Russian language for a foreigner means a competitive advantage in the area of life success.

“As far as I know there are about 5, 000 Sri Lankan people who speak Russian Language. Most of them are members of the Association of Sri Lankan graduates from Socialist countries. Kelaniya University is the university in the country which offers bachelor’s degree in teaching Russian language,” Natalia Kulishenko said.


Decisions taken by the Cabinet of Ministers on 04.09.2023

01. Acting under an integrated approach for the need of water management considering it
as an emergency situation

A report dated 22.08.2023 published by the National Disaster Relief Center indicates that
due to the recent dry weather situation, around 84000 families in 70 divisional secretariat
areas belonging to 17 districts of the island have faced a shortage of drinking water. Under
this situation, the existing limited water capacities should be optimally utilized and managed
until sufficient water capacity is stored in the island's reservoir system. According to the
"National Water Resources Policy" approved by the Council of Ministers on 10.07.2023,
priority should be given to supply of drinking water. The government is also obliged to
protect other water sharers. According to the "National Water Resources Policy" approved by
the Cabinet of Ministers on 10.07.2023, priority should be given to supply of drinking water.
The government is also obliged to protect other water sharers. Accordingly the Cabinet of
Ministers approved the proposals mentioned in the cabinet memorandum presented
combined by the Hon. Prime Minister, Minister of Irrigation and Minister of Water Supply
and Estate Infrastructure Development to consider the supply of drinking water as an urgent
and priority requirement until sufficient rainfall is received and to act National Water
Resources Council proposed by the National Water Resources Policy as an emergency action
committee and take necessary measures for the same.

02. Progress of large-scale development projects by the end of the second quarter 2023

The Cabinet of Ministers took in to account the report presented by the President in his
capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies on the
progress achieved by 202 large-scale development projects implemented by line ministries by
the end of the second quarter of 2023. The Cabinet of Ministers took into consideration that
the progress of many projects was lower than expected level by the end of the second quarter
of 2023 due to the inability to use the funds related to the projects implemented on foreign
funds and the limited release of local funds until the debt restructuring process that has been
started is completed. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to allocate budget
allocations for the year 2024 by prioritizing the projects that can contribute to the achievement
of the government's 2048 development goals and contribute to the current economic crisis,
among the currently ongoing projects, until foreign funds can be utilized.

03. Promotion of tertiary education through career guidance

A program has been prepared to provide students those who finish the G.C.E. (O/L) Exam
until they start the Advanced Level or students those who finish the G.C.E. (A/L) with the
opportunity to complete a curriculum covering five basic areas related to vocational
education until they start vocational education while keeping them in the school system. The
program is mainly expected to develop IT and English language which are generally
important for vocational education along with soft skills. The Cabinet of Ministers approved
the proposal presented by the Minister of Education to implement the proposed program as
a pilot project for a period of 3-4 months in 320 selected schools covering every educational
division of the island and based on the results of the pilot project to implement the project as
a national program from the year 2024.

04. Leasing the servitude right of several plots of land in Muthurajawela owned by the Sri
Lanka Land Development Corporation to Ceylon Electricity Board for Laying of
Underground Pipeline

In 1997, a portion of 69 acres of Muthurajawela land owned by the Sri Lanka Land
Development Corporation was sold to the Ceylon Electricity Board. The Yugadanavi power
plant is built in one part of this land and the Sobadanavi new power plant is currently being
built on the rest of the land. The requirements for the construction of underground cooling
pipelines and underground fuel pipelines for those fuel plants have been identified. Several
other plots of land in Muthurajawela owned by the Land Development Corporation have
been identified as suitable for that purpose. As such, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the
proposal presented by the Minister of Urban Development and Housing to transfer the
servitude ownership of the said lands to the Ceylon Electricity Board on lease basis with the
right to sub-lease.

05. Allotment of a portion of land located on D.M.Kolambage Mawatha, Kirulapone to
Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratana Social Welfare Foundation

The Chief Incumbent of the Asgiri Maha Vihara has made a request for a suitable land for
the construction of an official monastery to provide accommodation facilities for monks
traveling from remote areas for national and religious festivals held in Colombo and suburbs.
A land of 27 perches owned by the Urban Development Authority located in
D.M.Kolambage Mawatha, Kirulapana has been identified as suitable for the construction.
Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of
Urban Development and Housing to transfer the said land to the Warakagoda Sri
Gnanaratana Social Welfare Foundation by way of Free Grant for the construction of a monk

06. Establishment of diplomatic relations by the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri
Lanka with the Union of Comoros and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and

There are 54 sovereign states accepted by the United Nations in the African region. Among
these, Sri Lanka has established diplomatic relations with 46 countries and agreement to
establish diplomatic relations with 6 other countries is pending. Accordingly, the Cabinet of
Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to establish
diplomatic relations with the Union of Comoros and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome
and Principe.

07. Sri Lanka National Policy and Action Plan on Migration for Employment

The National Labor Migration Policy formulated in 2008 is the first policy on labor
migration in Sri Lanka. The "Sri Lanka National Policy and Action Plan on Migration for
Employment 2023-2027" has been drafted reviewing the said policy by obtaining the views
of respective Ministries, Migrant Workers and their family members, Foreign Employment
Agencies, Private sector, Civil Society Organizations, Trade Unions, Academics, Research
Institutes and Development Partners as well as International Non-Governmental
Organizations and the United Nations Agencies. Accordingly the Cabinet of Ministers
approved the Proposal presented by the Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment for the
implementation of the said policy and action plan 2023-2027 which has been prepared in
accordance with the national and international legal and policy frameworks.

08. Provisions for registration of electric tricycles

Electrically charged batteries are used to manufacture electric three wheelers and to convert
petrol or diesel powered three wheelers in to three wheelers running on electric power. It has
been recognized that the tare weight of such three-wheelers exceeds 500 kg due to this
reason. According to the interpretation of the Motor Vehicles Act, the tare weight of a motor
tricycle should not exceed 500 kg and the gross weight should not exceed 1000 kg.
Accordingly, approval of the Cabinet of Ministers has been received on 08.08.2022 to amend
the Motor Vehicle Act by removing the existing obstacle to the registration of electric threewheelers. The bill prepared accordingly by the legal draftsman has received the clearance of
the Attorney General. As such, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by
the Minister of Transport and Highways to publish the said bill in the Government Gazette
and submit for the parliamentary approval consequently.

09. Cancellation of Rent Act No. 7 of 1972 and introduction of Securing Residents Act.

Although revisions to Rent Act No. 7 of 1972 that are introduced with the objective of
defining the rights and responsibilities of the landlords and those who take houses on rent
have been introduced on several occasions, it is apparent that the expected objectives are not
catered by the act. The Consultancy Committee on Rent Act established under the Ministry
of Justice, Prison Activities and Constitutional Reforms has probed into this matter and
accordingly, it has been proposed appropriate to introduce a new law aiming at securing the
rights of both rentee and renter. Considering the said proposals, the Cabinet of Ministers have
granted approval for the proposal submitted by the Minister of Justice, Prison Activities and
Constitutional Reforms to instruct the Legal Draftsman to repeal the existing Rent Act No. 7
of 1972 and draft a bill named Securing Residents Act.

10. Amendments to the Export Agriculture Promotion Act No. 46 of 1992

The requirement of amending the Export Agriculture Promotion Act No. 46 of 1992 to cater
to the contemporary requirement has been identified. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers
granted approval to the proposal furnished by the Minister of Plantation Industries to instruct
the Legal Draftsman to prepare a draft bill for amending the said act.

11. Draft Bill on the Security of the Online Methods

The Attorney General has given his clearance for the draft bill on the security of online
methods drafted by the Legal Draftsman with the objective of safeguarding the general
society from the damages caused by false information publicizing and discriminating control
through the internet. As appeared in section III of the said draft bill, the following actions
have been misinterpreted in the provisions of this act;
• Communication of false statements on the incidents within Sri Lanka
• False statements causing defame
• Pave way for riots by provocation without reason
• Disturbing a religious assembly through false statements
• Communication of false statements with the sole intention of hurting religious
• Communication of false statements with the sole intention and with the sole
intention for the abomination of religious emotions
• Fraud
• Cheating by appearing some other person
• Defaming intentionally by a false statement with the objective of arousing for
violation of peace
• Circulation of false statements with the intention of causing a riot or an offense
against the Government
• Communication of statements on incidents to cause harassment.
• Child abuse
• Production of bots or modifying them for causing an offense.
Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution furnished by the Ministry of
Public Security to publish the above draft bill in the government gazette and subsequently
submit the same to the Parliament for its concurrence.

12. Draft Bill of the Anti – Terrorist Act

Concurrence of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted at their meeting held on 05.09.2022 to
publish the draft bill of the Anti – Terrorist Act prepared by the Legal Draftsman in order to
introduce the Anti – Terrorist Act repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the
government gazette and subsequently submit it to the Parliament and followed by that, the
said draft bill has been published in the government gazette on 22.03.2023. Thereafter, a
number of parties having concern about that (local and international) have expressed their
concern regarding certain sections of the draft bill. Accordingly, the Ministry of Justice,
Prison Activities and Constitutional Reforms have called for views and proposals formally
from those who are interested in this regard through electronic media and the Minister of
Justice, Prison Activities and Constitutional Reforms has held discussions with certain parties
himself. Whereas, considering all the views and proposals submitted, actions have been taken
to prepare a new draft bill by the Legal Draftsman by revising the original draft bill which
was published in the government gazette. Clearance of the Attorney General has been
granted to the said new draft bill. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the
resolution furnished by the Minister of Justice, Prison Activities and Constitutional Reforms
to publish the said draft bill in the government gazette and thereby submit the same to the

Route to cover all places of worship within Sacred City for Rs. 50

Service on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Poya Days

A special passenger bus service from the Anuradhapura railway station to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi was launched from the Anuradhapura Railway Station on a special request made by the Anuradhapura Atamsthanadhipathi,  Ven.Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera from Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr.Bandula Gunawardhana yesterday.

Accordingly, with the commencement of this bus service, devotees will have the opportunity to travel from the railway station to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi for Rs.50. The bus is scheduled to run 15 times a day according to a railway-bus integrated timetable system.

The ‘Bo Samindu Vandana’ bus route has been planned to cover all places worship including the Sandahiru Seya, Isurumuniya, Abhayagiriya, Samadhi Statue, Jethawanaramaya, Thuparamaya,

Ruwanweli Maha Seya and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi from the Anuradhapura railway station.There has been a need for pilgrims and tourists, especially on Poya days and weekends, who come to worship the Anuradhapura sacred city including the Atamasthana without any obstruction at a minimum cost from the railway station to Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. Private transport facilities including three-wheelers have been there for a long time but it was pointed out a few weeks ago when Atamasthanadhipathi Nayak Thera met the minister that there had been an organized network of harassing pilgrims and tourists by forcing them into their vehicles and charging unbearably high fees. Critical news about this was published through various media and Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana had given instructions to the Sri LankaTransport Board officials to start a new bus service from Nikini Poya day.

Speaking on the occasion of launching this bus service, the Minister said; On Nikini Full Moon Poya Day, it is a pleasure to contribute to a special pilgrimage from the historical sacred city of Anuradhapura. With the Mahindagamana, the economic, social, cultural and religious history of this country began to change, with the sacred city of Anuradhapura as the foundation.

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi located in Anuradhapura, which is a huge educational center centered on the Maha Vihara and Abhayagiriya, is known as the oldest tree worshipped by the

world’s largest number of people. A large number of people from remote areas of the country and even from foreign countries visit Anuradhapura daily to worship these special religious heritages and shrines including theAtamasthana.

The Nayake Thera of the Atamasthana had informed the heads of institutions and ministers and the heads of the security departments, since a long time about having to incur huge costs for travelling the short distance from the railway station, which is their main means of transport, to sacred areas including the Atamasthana and about the various persecutions and harassments devotees have to face. It is very reasonable to be blamed by the Nayake Thera for not looking into this. I took the responsibility of resuming this train-bus integrated transport service, which had been running for about a decade and had been discontinued, after paying attention to it. As the Minister in charge of Transport and Highways, it is my responsibility, duty and right.

Accordingly, we are happy that this bus service, which will be launched, has been able to provide solutions to a problem that was a big nuisance for the devotees. Accordingly, this joint bus transport service will operate only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Poya days, and through this, the people who run three-wheelers will also be able to operate without any injustice being done to them.

“In order to rebuild the country, which is facing an economic crisis, we must work to create a public service that will stop theft, fraud and corruption and work with discipline”.

“We fulfill the responsibility of protecting and advocating for the employees as well as state property. I hope that the government employees as well as the local people will get the support of everyone for the work done with a good cause and for public welfare.

Anuradhapura Atamasthanadhipathi, Chief Sanghanayake of Nuwara Kalaviya,Ven.Pallegama Hemarathana Nayake Thera, Ruwanweli Chaityaramadhipathi, Chancellor of the Rajarata University, Venerable Eethalawetunuwewe Gnanathilaka Nayaka Thera, and Maha sangha, former Minister, MP S.M. Chandrasena, former Chief Minister of North Central Province Ranjith Samarakoon,Sri Lanka Transport Board Chief Executive Officer Mahesh Kulathilake, Deputy General Manager (Operations) Panduka Swarnahansa, and officials from the Railway Department as well as a large crowd of people were present on this occasion.


President Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing the Forum on Sri Lanka Sustainable Development Trajectories and Pathways, expressed unwavering confidence in Sri Lanka’s potential to develop independently and alleviate the burden on external assistance.

“I think we in Sri Lanka should no longer think of asking others for help. But let’s make it on our own as many countries have done,” President Wickremesinghe asserted, underlining the nation’s determination to forge its path.

The President underscored the importance of diversifying financial resources beyond traditional channels. President Wickremesinghe emphasised that Sri Lanka’s reliance extends beyond financing solely from multilateral development banks. The engagement of the private sector, along with encouraging investments, has been identified as a crucial factor in generating the necessary funds to drive the country’s sustainable development initiatives.

In a bid to foster competitiveness and navigate economic challenges, President Wickremesinghe highlighted Sri Lanka’s proactive efforts to overhaul its economy. Drawing inspiration from successful models such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, the nation seeks to attract foreign investments and capitalize on emerging markets.

President Wickremesinghe’s address at the Sustainable Development Forum conveyed an unwavering commitment to self-reliance, economic transformation, and sustainable growth, positioning Sri Lanka on a trajectory of progress and resilience.

Following is the full speech delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe; “When the speakers before me were explaining the Sustainable Development Goals and what we have achieved so far, the question that arose in my mind was: what is the future?

I will be one of those participating in the discussions at the United Nations, which have been called for by the Secretary General. While discussing these issues with some of them and with

some of my officials here, I had to raise a few questions that I thought I would also place before you. Where do we go from here? We have the Sustainable Development Goals that you all accepted, and now we are evaluating the results halfway through. But the world has changed a lot since then. In addition to the Sustainable Development Goals, we had the Paris Climate Summit and the Glasgow Summit, and thus the whole issue of climate change.

Furthermore, we are also meeting in the aftermath of the adverse impact of COVID-19 worldwide. Sri Lanka is one of the worst-affected because COVID itself resulted in Sri Lanka becoming bankrupt. However, every country has suffered. There has been a significant setback to the global economy. Even if we look at the situation today, what progress do we see? In Europe, it is still stagnant. The US has been luckier with growth taking place and the on-and-off rise and fall of economic performance. China is still in the process of recovery. So the engines of world growth have come to a halt.

So, what is the cost of all this for us? How do we find the financial resources for the Sustainable Development Goals? How do we find the financial resources for climate change mitigation?

How do we find the financial resources for the global debt financing crisis? The engine itself, the engine of growth, has still not reached its fullest potential. It is in crisis. And with this engine of growth in crisis, we have also got to find the resources both for the Sustainable Development Goals and for climate change.

I am not speaking against these goals; these are goals that we have to fulfill. We have our commitment from the SDGs of 2030 to the climate change goals of 2050. Recently, the Secretary General called for an accelerated agenda. But all this requires the ability to find the resources. Some thought that the developer would be good enough to fund it. However, they are not. They certainly haven’t come up with the resources. And at the moment, I don’t think they have the resources, given the problems they are facing. So where do we find it? Is the world still ready for a period of fast growth? No. So we are in the middle of another crisis. So, first, we have to look at how to find the resources, what resources are available. We rely not only on financing from the multilateral development banks, but also from the private sector. The private sector needs to invest, and the private sector needs to issue bonds. Will that succeed in the case of many countries? Some may not be prepared to accept it, and the private sector may find that other countries are not suitable for investment. So, we are leaving about one third to 40% out of that. Then how does the rest grow? This is an issue we have to address. Where do we find the funding? Look at Sri Lanka. In 2019, we required an annual investment of 9% of GDP just to achieve the SDGs. In addition to this, we now have the climate change goals, and we are a country that’s bankrupt. So, where do we find the resources?

This is a question that all of us have. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, we will make the best effort. As a result of the debt crisis we’ve had, we are now taking measures to completely restructure the economy.

We are following the path that Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam have taken, so that we become a highly competitive economy and learn to find our markets. We can no longer be the sheltered small economy that we were earlier. I hope that we will succeed, but it means reworking, starting from the beginning. We have to invest in new technologies and bring in foreign investment and capital.

This is what we want to do because if we can develop on our own, then fewer resources will be needed for Sri Lanka, and more resources will be available elsewhere. So let’s not be a burden. I think we in Sri Lanka should no longer think of asking others for help, but let’s make it on our own, just like many other countries have done. Take Vietnam, a country completely destroyed by war, which was still able to become a world power. There are many growing economies like Vietnam. There are numerous instances, and we are situated in the area

of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. We are in East Asia, Southeast Asia. We are observing growth taking place. India holds potential for growth, and the Indian Ocean region is anticipated to be the next area of growth. So, we will strive to succeed on our own. However, can the whole world be supportive?

They are after you. While Sri Lanka has its share of the Sri Lankan coast, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be ample resources available for others. With three distinct programs needing attention, it is prudent for us to consider an integrated approach to resolving this. We need to determine the areas that deserve immediate emphasis and those that can be addressed later.

I believe it’s time for all of us to review this situation. We should review the SDGs, assess climate change mitigation efforts, and examine the global debt crisis. The objective is not to abandon any of these but to bring them together and then find a way to regroup for the next phase. I intentionally use the term “regroup” because, in battle, after some time when your forces are scattered, you gather them all and regroup for the next assault. Similarly, we need to regroup, strategise, and move ahead. This is what I believe. This is what we have been contemplating, and I think it’s a serious option for us to consider.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s interest in the religious and cultural revival, as part of the post-Independence resurgence, is enormous as evident from his attention to the minutest detail with regard to the implementation of the Maha Vihara excavation and the development of the Anuradhapura Sacred City, closely questioning the officials displaying his knowledge ability.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a statement, has said: Sigiriya and Anuradhapura can be considered as our heritage. Sigiriya is our greatest achievement and our civilization lies in this City of Anuradhapura. The Maha Viharayaya takes precedence there. The Maha Viharaya is the headquarters of Pali Buddhism. This time, during my visit to India, I presented Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an English copy of the Tripitaka.

Other development initiatives in the Anuradhapura Sacred Site region should be put into action based on this Maha Viharaya Development Plan.

During the time when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was Local Government Minister in 1947, the Anuradhapura Sacred Site was initiated. But up until now, we haven’t been able to complete this properly.

India began the construction of Nalanda University in the 1990s. Today, Nalanda University has been established as a major University. Many countries made contributions to it. Pakistan, a Muslim country, also built Taxila in the same way.

Despite the fact that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation, we were unable to finish the Maha Viharaya’s construction. We should all feel guilty about it.

New Law

The Department of Archaeology is sending me letters asking me to protect the archaeological sites. We are ready for it. But we must remember the basic work of this Maha Viharaya. A new city can be built at any time. But we have to proceed with the excavation work of the Maha Viharaya. These activities should be carried forward on the advice of the Maha Sangha of the Atamasthana.

A new law that will apply to Anuradhapura should be prepared. Additionally, a Committee is anticipated to be formed to carry out this activity with the concerned officials. Despite the existence of Departments and Corporations, this work is not overseen by a single administrative officer. We should focus on that as well.

If we start this project now, we can achieve some progress in the next ten years, but it will take at least 25 years to complete it. When these operations begin, Sri Lanka will develop into an archaeological hub.

Malwathu Oya is where the Sinhalese civilization first emerged. Before beginning the Malwathu Oya project, excavations at Maha Viharaya should be completed in the following two years. Retired archaeologists can be contacted if necessary. These initiatives are connected.

We have successfully completed the Sigiriya project with Senaka Bandaranayake, Roland Silva, and Shiran Deraniyagala. We should develop the City of Anuradhapura in the same way. When I went to Paris, I also discussed it with UNESCO.

We can also get assistance from Rajarata University in this regard. This area has to be developed so that visitors can remain for a few days. Therefore, it is important to prioritize and advance this programme. Once this is underway, we will receive support from around the world to carry out the project.

Anuradhapura has a rich history. While other countries emphasize their historical civilizations we have not paid adequate attention to it. If Dimbulagala excavations were done today, tourists from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos would come to visit the place. Let’s first finish the Anuradhapura work.

We should be proud of our history and civilization. We should showcase our history to the world. Therefore, if we develop our heritage, we will be able to reap high benefits from tourism.

A showroom by the name ‘Rajarata Civilization’ will be built here. It is necessary to establish a separate location for Buddhist culture. I also spoke with the Indian Prime Minister about how Kusinara and Sanchi were built. Such locations have been constructed in Hindu countries to draw Buddhist tourists.

Additionally, we are now discussing the establishment of the Maha Vihara University. We intend to carry out those tasks in-depth in accordance with the old Pirivena education. The historical City of Anuradhapura will gain from these endeavours.

Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of Nuwara Kalaviya Most Venerable Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera as a leader who recognized the value of Anuradhapura, your efforts to re-establish the Maha Viharaya will be blessed by the Maha Sangha. Also, we express our appreciation for your desire to exchange Buddhist philosophy with other countries of the world as a centre of Theravada Buddhism in accordance with the international relations that existed in history.

In 1948 S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike gazetted and developed the Anuradhapura Sacred Site. President J.R. Jayewardene along with the Central Cultural Fund worked to restore Jethavanaramaya and Abhayagiriya temples. But no one’s attention has been focused on other temple complexes of the Atamasthana.

In the Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan, it seems that no attention has been paid to Lankaramaya. Therefore, I remind the National Physical Planning Department, Archeology Department, and the Central Cultural Fund to prepare a proper plan for the development of Lankaramaya within two weeks and include it in the Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan. Otherwise, this Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan will basically fail.

Also, I see it as a work of great national importance if a system of rules and regulations particular to this land can be prepared and gazetted to protect this sacred Anuradhapura city for the future, he said.

Anuradhapura Sacred City was founded by Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike with the assistance of Nissanka Wijeyeratne, who was Government Agent of Anuradhapura District from 1958 to 1962.

At a time when the City of Anuradhapura was in a period of historic transition, the New Town of Anuradhapura was being built, and the residents of the old were being transferred to the new town. It was a time of some tension and of excitement. He managed this process of change with courage and remarkable political skills.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe met the President of Singapore Ms. Halimah Yacob at the Istana earlier today. The Singapore President said in a note on her official Facebook page that the two leaders had fruitful discussions, covering food security, renewable energy, and regional economic cooperation, amongst others.

“Our friendship is anchored by strong people-to-people ties and cooperation across various sectors. There is much scope to deepen our ties. I wish President Wickremesinghe a productive visit in Singapore,” she noted in her post.

Meanwhile, in a significant step towards reinforcing bilateral ties, Singapore’s Minister for Defence, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe today during President Wickremesinghe’s two-day official visit to Singapore.

The meeting focused on amplifying security and defence collaboration between the two nations.

The discussions between Minister Ng Eng Hen and President Wickremesinghe underscored the paramount importance of strengthening security partnerships in the South Asian region.

Singapore’s Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen and President Wickremesinghe highlighted the necessity for consistent communication and coordination to effectively address common security concerns.

Both nations are set to harness their respective strengths to create a synergistic partnership that enhances the security landscape in the region.

President Wickremesinghe also met the Minister for Sustainability and Environment of Singapore Ms Grace FU Hai Yien.

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