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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that the present education system should be reformed in order to achieve a rapid growth in economy.During the meeting at the Presidential Secretariat today (10) the president advised the vice-chancellors and the officials of the University Grants Commission to revise the university course system in accordance with the local and international job market demand.

President added that Sri Lanka possesses an educated, technology-savvy labour force which is more than capable in aiding and pushing Sri Lanka towards development.President Rajapaksa went on to note that employment generation centered around Tourism, Cultivation and Plantations could jump-start the economy. He highlighted that despite the number of job vacancies in the areas of Medicine, Engineering, Nursing and Information technology the university system had failed to address the issue over the time.

President pointed out that it is absolutely necessary to consider these grave issues when forming policies relating to tertiary education.President further added that the addition of Information Technology and a language as a subject for Arts degrees would pave the way for an expedited development process within the next three years.“University course contents should serve the job market demand and political pressures and other interference should be ignored in this matter. We can never compromise our nation. Take right decisions to make this country strong again”. President requested the Vice Chancellors.

The President stated that it is important to establish a national education policy so that no future government can deviate from the national education policy. President added that for this purpose he would go for a referendum if needed.“The universities should possess the right to select students in accordance with the course content they offer at the university. Building new universities and addressing issues pertaining to other facilities is the responsibility of the University Grants Commission. For student guidance programs in relation to newly implemented courses Ministry of Education can use premises such as the BMICH.” President added.

The president advised the University Grants Commission to relax some of the regulations imposed on law students in the Kothalawala Defence University.President Rajapakasa highlighted the need for the University Grants Commission to oversee the entire education system without confining itself to the administration of universities.

President advised it was wise and appropriate to apply resources into research and technological equipment as it would lead to a more qualitative education framework.President finally advised the officials present to introduce faster internet technology as current university students require speedy access to Information for their researches and experiments.

Minister of Higher Education, Bandula Gunawardana, Secretary to the president, P.B Jayasundara, Senior President’s Counsellor, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, Anura Dissanayake, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Professor Sampath Amaratunga and Vice-Chancellors of all the universities were present at the discussion.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that the present education system should be reformed in order to achieve a rapid growth in economy.During the meeting at the Presidential Secretariat today (10) the president advised the vice-chancellors and the officials of the University Grants Commission to revise the university course system in accordance with the local and international job market demand.

President added that Sri Lanka possesses an educated, technology-savvy labour force which is more than capable in aiding and pushing Sri Lanka towards development.President Rajapaksa went on to note that employment generation centered around Tourism, Cultivation and Plantations could jump-start the economy. He highlighted that despite the number of job vacancies in the areas of Medicine, Engineering, Nursing and Information technology the university system had failed to address the issue over the time.

President pointed out that it is absolutely necessary to consider these grave issues when forming policies relating to tertiary education.President further added that the addition of Information Technology and a language as a subject for Arts degrees would pave the way for an expedited development process within the next three years.“University course contents should serve the job market demand and political pressures and other interference should be ignored in this matter. We can never compromise our nation. Take right decisions to make this country strong again”. President requested the Vice Chancellors.

The President stated that it is important to establish a national education policy so that no future government can deviate from the national education policy. President added that for this purpose he would go for a referendum if needed.“The universities should possess the right to select students in accordance with the course content they offer at the university. Building new universities and addressing issues pertaining to other facilities is the responsibility of the University Grants Commission. For student guidance programs in relation to newly implemented courses Ministry of Education can use premises such as the BMICH.” President added.

The president advised the University Grants Commission to relax some of the regulations imposed on law students in the Kothalawala Defence University.President Rajapakasa highlighted the need for the University Grants Commission to oversee the entire education system without confining itself to the administration of universities.

President advised it was wise and appropriate to apply resources into research and technological equipment as it would lead to a more qualitative education framework.President finally advised the officials present to introduce faster internet technology as current university students require speedy access to Information for their researches and experiments.

Minister of Higher Education, Bandula Gunawardana, Secretary to the president, P.B Jayasundara, Senior President’s Counsellor, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, Anura Dissanayake, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Professor Sampath Amaratunga and Vice-Chancellors of all the universities were present at the discussion.

 An Observation Board for imported teledramas and films was appointed by Information and Communication Technology, Higher Education, Technology and Innovations Minister Bandula Gunawardane at a ceremony held at the Ministry yesterday. Ministry Secretary Chulananda Perera was also present on the occasion. The Observation Board of intellectuals includes university dons, artistes and other intellectuals connected to these fields. Minister Gunawardane said films and teledramas imported in the past had caused social and cultural retrogression and decline and as such, he believed that the new Board would take action to release them in a manner which would protect Sri Lanka’s cultural values. Here, a member of the Board receives her appointment from the Minister.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa departs to New Delhi today on a state visit to India on the invitation of his Indian Premier Narendra Modi from February 7 to 11. This is the first foreign visit by Rajapaksa after assuming duties as the Prime Minister in November last year.During the visit, the Prime Minister will engage in high-level bilateral meetings with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and other senior government officials, according to government sources.

These meetings are expected to further strengthen the long-lasting relationship between the two countries and cover important sectors such as politics, trade, development, defense, culture and tourism, these sources said.Prime Minister Rajapaksa also expects to finalize the discussions on the USD 450 million fresh line of credit, that the government of India announced for Sri Lanka during the state visit of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in November last year. In addition, discussions on Indian assistance to enhance training opportunities in the fields of vocational training and training of the public services will also be held during this visit.
With the aim of enhancing engagement in sub-regional maritime security cooperation, the two delegations are expected to discuss key areas under the defense and maritime security initiatives that include the Sri Lanka–India Annual Defense Dialogue and the Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation with India and Maldives.In light of the deep historical, cultural and religious relations, the two sides will also pay attention to strengthening people-to-people contacts by expanding aviation links to the sacred Buddhist sites in India, including the “Sanchi Buddhist Complex” in Madhya Pradesh.

Following the talks, Prime Minister Rajapaksa is scheduled to visit historic religious sites in Varanasi, Sarnath, Bodhgaya and Tirupati.

The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal submitted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to provide government jobs to all unemployed graduates, Co-cabinet Media Spokesman Information & Communications Technology, Higher Education, and Technology & Innovations Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane said today.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet briefing at the Government Information Department Auditorium this Morning the minister added that all unemployed graduates who completed their degree by December 31, 2019 and youth with degree level qualification approved by University Grants Commission are eligible for this recruitment scheme and they will be subjected to one year training period. They won’t be able to transfer till they complete five years from their appointments.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will answer the questions raised by the Members of Parliament today.

This will be the first time that Prime Minister Rajapaksa will be answering the questions directed to the Prime Minister, the Parliament Communications Office said in a communique.

The Committee on Parliamentary Business chaired by Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya, decided to schedule the Parliament sittings from today to February 7.

Accordingly, the regulations under the Motor Traffic Act will be debated in Parliament today. The Parliament will meet at 1.00 pm and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will answer oral questions of the Members of Parliament from 1.00 pm to 1.30 pm.

The adjournment debate by the Tamil National Alliance will be taken into discussion from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.

The orders under the Special Commodity Levy Act will be taken into debate on February 6 and a proposal for the Vote of Condolence on behalf of four late Parliamentarians will be presented to Parliament on February 7.

The Vote of Condolence will be held for the MP

An APP is going to be launched for the delivery of packages in every province with the partnership of the Sri Lanka Post and Sri Lanka Telecom under the concept of His Excellency the President’s concept of creating an efficient and productive environment in the public institutions.

The postmen could come to houses and collect the packages or they could be handed over to the post offices. The person would receive a confirmation SMS as soon as the parcel is handed over. The receiver too would receive an SMS once the parcel is collected. The one who hands over the parcel would also receive an SMS once the parcel is received.

The goods at the global online shopping sites such as eBay, Alibaba and Amazon could also be delivered from this. This project will first be implemented in the districts such as Colombo, Galle, Kurunegala and Kandy.

No room will be left for extremist organizations that pave way for terrorism – President pledges

· Freedom to think and to write freely will be fully strengthened….

· Unnecessary restrictions imposed on the public will be removed…

· Solutions for economic difficulties to ensure freedom of life…

· Development activities to be accelerated in line with new trends in the global economy …..

While preserving the right of every citizen for a secured life, freedom of expression and thinking, we will leave no room for extremist organizations that pave way for terrorism, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.

“I have the vision that I must serve as the leader of the country looking after all citizens rather than serve as a political leader concerned only about a particular community. As the President today, I represent the entire Sri Lankan nation irrespective of ethnicity, religion, party affiliation or other differences”, said President Rajapaksa addressing the nation at the 72nd National Independence Day celebrations held at the Independence Square yesterday (04).

“There are several domains that need to be maintained in equilibrium for democracy to function properly. Maintaining the balance of power between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary is very important in this regard…. We must always remember that citizens have individual as well as collective rights. Coordination between the State and the public is integral to this”, President stated.

Even today, there is a large gap between the haves and have nots in our society. The facilities that are available in our urban centers are lacking in rural areas. Education facilities are not equal in all areas. Healthcare facilities are not equally dispersed. Job opportunities have not spread to all regions. These inequalities are not due to racial or religious reasons. These are common problems that the country faces, President observed.

“If due to terrorists, extremists, thieves, thugs, extortionists, women and child abusers, there is impediment to ordinary life of the people, then the people will not be free”, said the President adding that the government had paid special attention to strengthening the National Security and Public Security.

“My government is always ready to tolerate and accommodate opposing views. The media has complete freedom today. We have ensured that everyone has the right to freely express themselves.”

While highlighting the new challenges that social media can pose President requested everyone to act in accordance with one’s conscience. Always think about the country, he added.

Outdated laws, regulations, taxes and charges that prevent people from freely undertaking self-employment, traditional industries or businesses need to be revised swiftly. We will work towards removing unnecessary restrictions imposed on the public to better ensure their right to live freely.

“An efficient and corruption- free Public Service is essential for the development of a nation. The public administration and governance must function in a proper manner so as to grant people the maximum benefit of their freedom. The entire public administration must accept responsibility for this,” President further said.

The National Independence Day celebrations included several colourful cultural events.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaragunge, Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa, the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Ministers, members of Parliament diplomats, Commanders of tri-forces, acting Inspector General of Police, Director General of the Department of Civil Defence, security personnel were among the many dignitaries present.

Prior to leaving the venue, President walked close to the general public gathered there to greet them.

Address by His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka at the 72nd Independence Day celebrations

Sri Lanka is a Unitary State. It is a free, sovereign, independent and democratic Republic. On this occasion when we celebrate 72 years of Independence after nearly 500 years of imperialist colonial rule, I address you as the Head of the State with a pledge to further strengthen your freedom. I pay tribute to all Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher leaders who dedicated themselves to achieving and ensuring this Independence.
Every citizen living in Sri Lanka has the right to live freely and securely. We will always ensure their right to think freely, hold independent opinions, and express themselves without any hindrance. We will always respect the right of any citizen to follow the religion of his or her choice. Every citizen has the right of free association and of free assembly. We will always defend the right of every Sri Lankan citizen to participate in the political and governance processes through his or her elected representatives. We consider all these as rights of human beings that no one can challenge.

There are several domains that need to be maintained in equilibrium for democracy to function properly. Maintaining the balance of power between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary is very important in this regard. There needs to be a clear consensus on the responsibilities of the central government and decentralized authorities in the devolution of power. The responsibilities of the civilian and military establishments need to be clearly understood, and we must always remember that citizens have individual as well as collective rights. Coordination between the State and the public is integral to this.

Following Independence, every leader who came to power in this Republic was elected through universal franchise. As the current Head of the State elected through the popular vote, I am ready to work with the utmost dedication for the betterment of the country and its people during my term of office.

In a democracy, when the leader is elected following a legitimate process, he becomes the President of all the people of the country. During his term of office, he must serve the entire Sri Lankan people. He is not bound to serve only the interests of the people who voted for him. I have the vision that I must serve as the leader of the country looking after all citizens rather than serve as a political leader concerned only about a particular community. As the President today, I represent the entire Sri Lankan nation irrespective of ethnicity, religion, party affiliation or other differences.

A strong executive, a legislature and an independent judiciary is essential for the well-being and advancement of any democratic society. If, for whatever reason, there is a loss of public confidence in any of these key institutions fundamental to the functioning of a country, that can give rise to anarchy within the country.

Therefore, all such stakeholders must perform their role with the powers they have been granted for the welfare of the country and for protecting the sovereignty of the people with a national vision.

I am committed to working towards fulfilling the needs of the people of this country. That is my responsibility and my duty. I do not envisage public officials, lawmakers or the judiciary to impede my implementing this commitment. I not only respect your freedom, but I will work towards improving it and guarantee the political and economic freedom in a truly democratic country.
Some limitations on the freedoms of the people have arisen because of the way public administration has evolved over time.Those rules and regulations that have been enacted without adequate study and coordination have led to the public facing considerable harassment and inconvenience. This has led to various irregularities and corruption. Losses to the public in terms of time, resources and livelihood opportunities are enormous.

We must re-examine the need to obtain licenses for things that affect the day-to-day lives of the people. We must refrain from imposing unnecessary restrictions on the majority of the people; instead we must swiftly enforce the law against the minority who transgress it. We must give our people the opportunity and real freedom to live law abiding, disciplined and virtuous lives.

Outdated laws, regulations, taxes and charges that prevent people from freely undertaking self-employment, traditional industries or businesses need to be revised swiftly.We will work towards removing unnecessary restrictions imposed on the public to better ensure their right to live freely.

Sri Lanka is a country with an ancient history. It is a country that has been nurtured by the Buddhist philosophy, and a country that has been a haven for people of all ethnicities and religious beliefs. During my term of office, I will guarantee the freedom of all persons to follow the religion of their choice.

In the Buddhist philosophy, our leaders always have been advised to ensure a lawful, just and fair governance where no citizen is discriminated. I am committed to protecting and nurturing the Buddhist philosophy of this country during my tenure.

The public will only achieve true freedom when social and economic inequalities are minimized. All citizens within a Unitary State should have equal rights.

Even today, there is a large gap between the haves and have nots in our society. The facilities that are available in our urban centers are lacking in rural areas. Education facilities are not equal in all areas.

Healthcare facilities are not equally dispersed. Job opportunities have not spread to all regions. These inequalities are not due to racial or religious reasons. These are common problems that the country faces. In strengthening the ability for people to live freely, we must first address the economic problems that affect the public.That is why the eradication of poverty is a priority of our Government.

Thirty years of conflict and various other factors have delayed the progress of development in our country. We can no longer afford to waste time. We will act to accelerate our development activities in line with new trends in the global economy by making appropriate use of our country’s unique geographical location, natural resources and human resources.

An efficient and corruption- free Public Service is essential for the development of a nation. The public administration and governance must function in a proper manner so as to grant people the maximum benefit of their freedom.The entire public administration must accept responsibility for this.

If due to terrorists, extremists, thieves, thugs, extortionists, women and child abusers, there is impediment to ordinary life of the people, then the people will not be free. We have paid special attention to strengthening the National Security and Public Security. We will not allow extremist organizations that pave the way for terrorism to further function in the country.

Parents will not be free until their children are liberated from the drug menace that has spread throughout the country. The public will not be free as long as there is corruption in state institutions. Therefore, we will strictly enforce the law to eliminate all social hazards that can impact ordinary social life. The reforms required to increase the efficiency of the law enforcement agencies in order to accomplish this are already being carried out.

I wish to fully strengthen the freedom of people to think and to write freely. It is then that visionaries and quality works of art will be created. My government is always ready to tolerate and accommodate opposing views. The media has complete freedom today. We have ensured that everyone has the right to freely express themselves.

Social media can pose new challenges to democracy. Spending more time online, often with complete strangers, creates situations where people are misled by false information resulting in their swiftly believing the worst of those who bear different views.

I request everyone to act in accordance with one’s conscience. Always think about the country. Think about your fellow citizens. Without thinking only about political requirements, think carefully about whether your actions and your words will benefit or harm the country. However, if your conscience tells you that the government is moving in the wrong direction, you always have a duty to point this out boldly.

We must always respect the rule of law. The public will get real freedom only when the law is fairly and equally applied. My government has taken steps to change the culture of political interference in legal matters.

We have many challenges ahead of us. We need everyone’s support for the efforts taken by the government to overcome them. The Policy Statement I placed before you comprises an action plan that will allow us to overcome the challenges before us. It is our expectation to create a prosperous nation through this. Only the present generation can realize this hope on behalf of future generations. I request all Sri Lankans to join with us in accepting this responsibility that history has bestowed upon us.

I wish you all a prosperous future !

 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived at the Independence Square for the Independence Day celebrationsthis morning.He was accorded a warm welcome by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The event, themed “A Secured Nation - A Prosperous Country”, officially commenced as the President graced the event and hoisted the national flag.

Nearly 2,500 guests including the Prime Minister, Ministers, State Ministers, parliamentarians and foreign diplomats have been invited for the celebrations.The march-past of the ceremony consists of 8,260 security forces personnel including 4,325 from Sri Lanka Army, 868 from the Navy and 815 from the Air Force. A total of 1,382 police personnel will also join the military pageant.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that the development process and environmental protection should go hand in hand for the betterment of the country and the future generations. ‘Everyone should pay attention to conserve biodiversity in the process of development. Inappropriate development activities have led to environmental degradation and wetlands destruction. We are losing out on many benefits received from animals and plants. Culture is also destroyed in parallel to the destruction of nature. Enforcement of rules and regulations alone cannot change this situation. Public cooperation as well as understanding regarding the environment is of utmost important’, the President pointed out.

The President made these remarks addressing the national ceremony to mark the World Wetlands Day held at the premises of “Ape Gama” (Our Village) in Battaramulla, yesterday (03).The World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on 02 February, and this year’s theme is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”. The programme was jointly organized by the Environment Authority and the Department of Wildlife.

Environmental degradation must be stopped to ensure people’s right to life. Nevertheless, development process should not be discouraged and investments should be made in compliance with environmental rules. Environmental laws should not be an unnecessary impediment to traditional industries, President Rajapaksa said. He also highlighted the responsibility of relevant officials to act in a scientific manner with the aim of safeguarding both the environment and local industries without making rash decisions.

The beauty and cultural values of a village must be preserved for the benefit of future generations. Everyone should be committed to overcome both environmental conservation and development challenges while protecting the native flora and fauna, the President added.President Rajapaksa presented gifts and certificates to the winners of the All Island Art Competition organized to promote the attitudes of school children and the community on the value of wetlands.Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Minister S.M. Chandrasena, State Minister Jayantha Samaraweera and the Chairman of the Central Environment Authority Mr. S. Amarasinghe, Director General Hemantha Jayasinghe and several others were present at this occasion.

In his addresse at the 72 Independence Day Ceremony today, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that he doesn’t expect any interference from public officials, legislators or the judiciary when fulfilling his duties and responsibilities to the people.President Rajapaksa said fulfilling the needs and requirements of the people was his responsibility and the duty.

"I am committed to working towards fulfilling the needs of the people of this country. That is my responsibility and my duty. I do not envisage public officials, legislators or the judiciary to impede my implementing this commitment," he said.

He said the government has ensured the freedom of speech and the government is also ready to tolerate any opposing opinions and views.“I request everyone to always place the country first and think about fellow citizens. Also, if you feel like the government is heading towards the wrong path, don’t ever be afraid to point that out," he said.

Unemployed university graduates will be offered with suitable employment opportunities this year irrespective of their political affiliations, religious or ethnic groups, Higher Education Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said.

He was speaking at a meeting of undergraduates in the Kurunegala District on Saturday.

The Minister said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have given these instructions considering the plight of unemployed graduates in the country.

“Every educated youth is a valuable resource to the country and this nation. The talents and skills of these educated youth have to be used by the authorities. and they should be given opportunities to serve the country. Their contributions should be taken for the country’s future progress. Billions of rupees have been spent by the Governments to educate these graduates. The school education system and the University education system in Sri Lanka have to be modified and updated to suit to the present global career needs. Then, all graduates who pass out from state universities would be able to get job opportunities easily locally and globally in accordance with their professional skills and vocational abilities,” the minister said.

He added that the Government always considers the youth population of the country as an asset and not as a burden to the motherland.

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