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The conclusion ceremony of ‘EMPOWER’, the island-wide provincial Journalist training initiative jointly conducted by the Ministry of Mass Media and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was held under the patronage of Minister of Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana in Colombo recently.

The series of island-wide Workshops designed to emphasise the fundamental Ethics and Values in the Media was launched with a two-day programme held in Colombo in August 2023. It was supported by the UN PeaceBuilding Fund

Addressing the event, the Minister appreciated the UNDP for implementing this programme in Sri Lanka, targeting provincial Journalists regardless of their race or their based locations.

He said that Journalists have a great responsibility to report the truth to society in a fair, balanced, analysed and discriminative manner. Such reporting is essential for maintaining a non-violent society.

Workshops of this nature play a key role in training the Journalists to maintain a healthy Media culture in the country, while healing the people of this society through their reporting, the Minister pointed out.

According to the UNDP Sri Lanka, they had reached a total of 350 Journalists at the provincial level over the course of this programme.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in an exclusive interview with WION’s (World Is One News) chief diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal in Perth, Australia, said that Sri Lanka will always give first priority to the security interests of India.

 

President Wickremesinghe thanked India for the economic support extended to Sri Lanka amid the 2022 economic crisis. Speaking to WION, he said that he is “thankful to India. Without India’s help we could not have survived and this is why we are also looking at closer relations between the two countries”.

 

The President also shared the news that plans are underway for the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras (IIT – Madras) to establish a campus in Sri Lanka, “most probably in Kandy”.

Here is the full transcript of the interview:

Q: India and Sri Lanka share a close relationship. This is a civilisational bond between the two countries. With me is the Sri Lankan President to talk about the India–Sri Lanka relationship and other things as well. My first question to you is how do you see the India–Sri Lanka relationship. What is your vision about this relationship?

A:  Indo-Lanka relations are improving and today we are looking at close economic ties and improving connectivity between the two countries. I think that’s the way to go.

 

 Q: But essentially, India was one country that came forward during the economic crisis with a bailout of almost US$ 4 billion. How do you see India’s support to your country?

A: We are thankful to India. Without India’s support we could not have survived and this is why we are also looking at closer relations between the two countries. Especially, trade and economic success is the way we have to go.

 Q: What is the current economic situation in your country and how have things improved in the past one year?

A: Well, we have gone ahead with the debt restructuring, we have completed it, it is now the official part. We have to have an agreement with the OCC [Official Creditor Committee].

In principle, they have agreed to what we have done [the debt restructuring]. The formal part is now taking place and after the formal agreement with the OCC, they will have to then come to formal agreements with all the creditor countries plus the other financial organisations, which have also been ignored in Sri Lanka debt negotiations.

 Q: And when will it be possible?

A: I think by about June or so it should be over hopefully.

 Q: Coming to regional security, India has to worry about the visits of the Chinese vessels to Sri Lanka and I believe some decisions have been taken by the Sri Lankan Government to not allow the visit of Chinese vessels. Can you talk about the visits and if any decision has been made like this?

 

A: What we have told India always is that we have kept Indian security in mind and we will not allow anything to happen that will be harmful to India’s security and these are all hydrographical vessels. So we have allowed them to come there. There have been other vessels from other countries that are allowed. We decided that this year, we will look at capacity-building for Sri Lanka and therefore now we are focusing on Sri Lanka building its own hydrological capacity by cooperating with others. As a result, we have said no ships from any country on hydrological matters can come to Sri Lanka, but if they are Navy ships that are coming in for visits, then we will allow them.

 Q: You will know about the visits of Chinese Navy ships?

A: Anyway, they have been coming to Sri Lanka. Indian, Chinese, Japanese, American ships come.

 Q: But do you think that China is trying to create a wedge between India and Sri Lanka somehow because India is worried about the visits and India is worried about the increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)? And that is something that many countries share as well?

A: Chinese ships have been coming to Sri Lanka over a period of time. And China has never tried to create a rift between India and Sri Lanka. They always say that we have to get along with India. There has never been an issue as far as we are concerned. The number of ships that have been coming has not increased, nor have they decreased. But we are also encouraging ships from other countries to come in, which have not been there earlier. Japan, India, Pakistan, the US. Yes, their ships have been coming. But we have asked many of the other European countries to come to Sri Lanka.

 

 Q: And the role played by the Chinese when it comes to debt restructuring. Have they been dragging their feet?

A: Well they agreed to the debt restructuring. They are not in the OCC though they attend the meeting. Their structure for this is different from the other countries. We have to deal with the China Development Bank mainly and also with the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China. Those are the two that we have to deal with. Most of the countries we have been dealing with are the government-led agencies.

 Q: Coming back to the India-Sri Lanka relationship, you started by pointing out that there are several aspects to connectivity. One is land connectivity and one of the decisions that was taken was to connect the two countries through a land bridge. What is the vision behind it? Has any step been taken by the Sri Lankan Government?

A: There are two connectivities we are looking at. First is the power connectivity. And that’s going on because Indian companies are investing in Sri Lanka’s power sector. Already Adani is out there. We are discussing power connectivity and we have come to an agreement that it should be an undersea cable. We will start working out the details. Similarly, as far as land connectivity is concerned, we have got to get a feasibility study. So we have appointed officials on both sides for coordination and there will be a feasibility study first and the environment study.

 Q: Connectivity has another aspect – that is financial connectivity. Universal Payment Interface (UPI) is something that has been talked about….

A: That has been going ahead. It should be implemented soon, but we will be discussing it in Colombo in the next two weeks.

 Q: Part of financial connectivity is the usage of the Indian Rupee. Will we see the usage of the Indian Rupee in Sri Lanka?

A: We want to see the usage of the Indian Rupee in Sri Lanka. Have no issue at all.

 Q: Has the trading started?

A: Not yet. But once it does, it will help tourism especially.

 Q: How have Indian tourists helped the Sri Lankan economy?

 

A: Tourism helps our economy a lot and Indian tourists coming in greater numbers have been good.

 Q: Part of the India-Sri Lanka relationship is the trade in local currency as you talked about and there is the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Have there been conversations regarding the FTA?

A: The FTA is operational. Now we are discussing how to advance the FTA to an Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

 Q: And what do you expect from India in terms of your development goals? Anything specific?

A: India has helped us financially, but we would like to see Indian investments in Sri Lanka and a new phase has been the decision that the IIT – Madras will establish a campus in Sri Lanka, most probably in Kandy. A Ministerial delegation visited India, and now we are in the process of identifying the locations. But we would like to take some existing buildings and start that off next year.

 Q: That is a significant educational connection, but there are other issues as well. Some irritants in the relationship like the fishermen issue. India has been raising it in the past. Is there any sort of reaching out between the two sides so that there is a resolution of this issue?

A: Tamil Nadu fishermen are coming into our area, it is a big issue with our fishermen and we are discussing it. We want to conclude it sometime this year because we cannot have them coming in all the time.

 Q: Going to the Maldives, where you were present when the oath-taking ceremony for the new President took place. How do you see the current Government in Maldives which has not been very pro-India, in many senses they have been running an anti-India movement as well. What is your view about the current dispensation in Maldives?

A: It is a new Government that is settling down. So we have to give them some time to come to grips and especially at the moment there is a struggle between the President and Parliament also. So we are watching what happens there.

 

 Q: We are here in Perth with the Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) taking place. Sri Lanka is an important country in the Indian Ocean. You have a vast Exclusive Economic Zone as well. How can Sri Lanka play an important role in the stability of the wider region?

A: We have always been pushing for Freedom of Navigation (FON) in the Indian Ocean, that this should be free of Big Power rivalry, and close cooperation between the countries. Now that Sri Lanka is Chair [of the Indian Ocean Rim Association/IORA] that is what we are seeking.

 Q: What is your view about the situation in the Red Sea because it impacts the economic security of many countries, including Sri Lanka?

A: The Red Sea is vital to us. The Suez Canal is vital to us. The Colombo Port will develop only if the Suez Canal is available. In the 1967 War, some ships were sunk in the Suez Canal and it took us 10 years, the Colombo Port was not operative. So as far as the war in Gaza is concerned, we want the war to come to an end and hostages to be released.

We are in fact asking for a Palestinian State in five years but also guarantees for the security of Israel. That is separate from what is happening in the Red Sea because in the Red Sea the attacks are by Houthi rebels. And we recognize the Government of Yemen, so this should not take place and therefore we are cooperating with the other countries to ensure [the Red Sea] is kept safe.

 Q: Coming back to the tourism aspect which plays an important role. What is the progress on the plan for a Ramayana circuit that connects India and Sri Lanka?  

A: Basically it is the tourist companies and others who are doing it, but we told them that will also help, we are planning out more areas. So we will develop it. We are also looking at a Hindu trail… Lord Shiva because there are a lot of Shiva temples there. There are the four Eswarra temples and Dikshina Kailash. So we feel there can be a second one also.

 Q: We saw the inauguration of the Ram Temple in India. What is your view and any plans of a high-level delegation visiting the Ayodhya Ram Temple, including from your Government?

A: I think some of our people went for the function. We expected the Ram Temple to be built once the Supreme Court case was over. It was a matter of when it was going to be done. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Government have done it.

 Q: Another aspect is Canada. We have seen the India-Canada row. We have also seen comments by the Canadian Government on the situation in Sri Lanka. What is your view about the Canadian Government making these remarks?

A: We have said we do not want vote-getting politics in the way and we are not interested in dealing with it. So our contacts with Canada at the moment are minimal.

 Q: When you made the speech at the IOC in Perth, you mentioned the US role and your comments were very sharp. You pointed out the ill-advised decisions by the Americans in the region. What role do you think is being played by the US in the region? If you can characterize it?

A: I call it ill-advised because of their backing the Gaza War and the bombing. No, I mean, everyone would expect the US to stand with Israel, when Israel is attacked. I do not think there is an issue on this. But we have a major Islamic arc in the Indian Ocean, and many of them are friendly with the US Government rather than Iran, but this is going to put pressure on them. Russia has come in now. Russia is a key player in the western Indian Ocean. So it is a setback for the US.

 Q: How do you see the Russian role in the region?

A: Russia is improving its economic role and it is making political contact with all countries. And even militarily, they are having Naval exercises. So in a way, they have not broken Russia.

 Q: So moving to a multilateral dimension, UN Security Council (UNSC) reforms are much talked about. What is your view, and what is your take on India being at the high table?

A: Now we feel there should be reforms, it must be done. India should be in the UNSC. But we want overall discussion where we, the smaller countries, also have a say. But I cannot see that discussion taking place at the moment.

 Q: Do you think that it is going to take some time because there are elements who are trying to stop or delay the process?

A: It will take time.

 Q: We saw India hosting the G20 summit last year, and the African Union (AU) became a Permanent Member of the G20 under the Indian Presidency. How do you see India engaging with Africa and your perspective as to how do you plan to engage with Africa as well?

A: India has been engaging with Africa for a long time. Many Indian trading families are there in Africa – in East Africa, in Mauritius, in South Africa, even Mahatma Gandhi was there. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned we are reaching out to East Africa, South Africa. We are reaching out first to the countries on the Indian Ocean coast but we are also looking at West Africa. We have to develop those relations.

 Q: Your view about the Indo-Pacific? This is a vision which is backed by several countries in the region.

A: We are more focused on the Indian Ocean, so the ASEAN outlook is what we like, because we are basically an Indian Ocean country and links with the Pacific have been more with the Asian nations, which have been also ties going through land up to China. We have had ties in the old days, now it is extended to Japan and Korea. We do not go beyond that.

 Q: What is your view about the QUAD – the four countries coming together and working on several aspects including the humanitarian situation in the region?

A: The QUAD is one agency there, but how they are going to work it to cooperate is for them. The question is that when the Indo-Pacific was made, no one knew where the boundaries were. Some wanted it on the western Indian Ocean and Premier Modi said it should go from Africa to the shores of the American continent, and then the ASEAN came with a new outlook. So, we are looking at the Indian Ocean and India. We feel Indian Ocean countries either through the IORA or something else, have to get together because our outlook is quite different from that of the Pacific.

 Q: Moving forward to the domestic aspects of your country. Elections are happening this year?

A: Yes, both Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.

Q: How optimistic are you that hopefully you will be back?

A: For me to be back, I must contest.

  Q: And do you plan to, Sir?

A:  I have come here to put the economy in order, my first duty is to focus on that and to get Sri Lanka out of bankruptcy.

 Q: Do you think you have done a good job? What is your view about the economy in terms of your tenure, because you ultimately were the face of the crisis in terms of the emergence of Sri Lanka back to normality?

A: Well, I am quite satisfied. I feel we will be able to do this.

 Q: You will be able to do this. Another thing is the implementation of the 13th Amendment, something that India has also been talking about. What is the way forward?

A: We will hold the Provincial Council (PC) elections next year. As I announced in my speech when I opened the new session of Parliament, we want to give each province its own economy. So like in India, that economies will compete with each other, which is to our benefit to be very, very competitive economies.

Those provinces should handle their economic and social development within the national policy framework. In this respect, we said we are prepared to give the concurrent powers – most of it – or whatever is required, whatever they want to the PCs, so that we are moving on. There has been a request by some of the groups…minority groups. So as far as I am concerned, as far as we are concerned, we will not oppose it, but it is a matter for all parties to agree to or not, not  me and the Government and there are so many parties in Parliament at the moment.

 Q: In the regional aspect there are several groupings. One is BIMSTEC. In fact, its summit is planned for this year. What is your vision when it comes to this specific grouping?

A: We have to fast track the integration. We are a bit slow on it. But we have been talking to Prime Ministers – I spoke with Prime Minister Modi and also Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, also on the Bay of Bengal as a cruise zone. But we have to basically fast track it.

 Q: And do you think SAARC as a grouping is dead?

A: SAARC at the moment? No. We have not buried it or anything. We have not put it into the funeral parlour, but certainly the political side is not active. But I must say some of the other areas like culture are going ahead, maybe we should focus on the non-political issues there.

 Q: For Sri Lanka as a country, what is the future in terms of domestically and regionally the role it can play in terms of providing stability to this region, which has several challenges and Big Power rivalry as well?

A: We want to keep the Big Power rivalry out of the Indian Ocean, that means they should stay out. They are already there… the US is there, Japan, China all have ports to operate, but there should not be a rivalry which will in any way have an adverse impact on the Indian Ocean.

 Q: How do you see the BRICS grouping?

A: BRICS is expanding. Especially with Saudi Arabia, Iran, you have the African countries and one more from Latin America and that is good. I know a larger group has applied, but it is better to expand slowly. It shows the Global South is also trying to get a monetary union together.

 Q: And the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?

A: You can see central Asia opening up and the SCO is going to be important. You all will be having the Mumbai-Iran-Moscow line, it should be good to get into that part of Europe, instead of using the Canal route.

 
 
 
 

Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said that Sri Lanka should reap the benefits of the vast development of the Indian electric vehicle (EV) industry.

He said this while participating in the ‘Bharat Mobility Global Expo 2024’ held in New Delhi, India, as a special guest on the invitation of Indian Commerce, Industry and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal.

A large number of Indian and international vehicle manufacturers, auto component manufacturers and entrepreneurs, including investors, inventors, and others, presented their range of products, technologies and services at this three-day exhibition.

This exhibition and conference was organized under the theme ‘Beyond Boundaries’, with the concept of bringing the leaders and pioneers of the field onto one platform for the future of mobility. More than 800 exhibitors engaged in the field of motor vehicles and transportation, including more than 50 foreign exhibitors, were present. Along with the exhibition, 20 conferences were organized with the participation of industry leaders, on various themes. Many stalls to showcase technical solutions in the motor vehicle sector, construction equipment, hybrid and electric vehicles were set up at the exhibition.

 One of the main objectives of this exhibition was to demonstrate to the world the success that India has achieved in the motor vehicle sector. A number of IT and software products presented in a way suitable for the future motor transport sector were also unveiled here.

One of the main objectives of Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana’s visit is to get the contribution of Indian and foreign investors, manufacturers and entrepreneurs who joined this international exhibition to the International Green Mobility Exhibition and Conference to be held in Sri Lanka in March 2024.

The Minister also observed the new products including state-of-the-art passenger transport buses of many companies that have made investments in the motor vehicle manufacturing sector in many countries including Sri Lanka, and discussed investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s transport and highway sector with the leaders of many leading companies.

  • President Pledges Commitment to Construct a Nation of Dignity for All
  • Reiterates Invitation to All Parties to Collaborate on Government Programmes

President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored the accomplishment of the current Government in providing land rights to the people of the country without a revolution, amidst numerous global movements advocating for land rights.

 Highlighting the initial success of the present Government in rescuing the country from bankruptcy, President Wickremesinghe also emphasized additional achievements such as the Aswesuma programme benefiting two million people and salary increases for 1.5 million Government employees.
The President emphasized that the Government achieved significant progress for the country’s betterment in just two years with the support of a partial Parliament. He encouraged everyone to contemplate the potential advancements the country could achieve with the backing of all Parliament members. President Wickremesinghe made these remarks during a ceremony at Rangiri Dambulu Stadium yesterday (5), where 10,000 freehold titles were awarded to farmers as part of the first phase of the Urumaya programme.

The President highlighted that granting land rights to foreigners under the Government Land Ordinance Act would not have been an impediment to providing the same rights to the people.

As part of the 2024 Budget proposals, President Wickremesinghe’s eighth proposal aims to grant full ownership of Government lands to farmers, which were disposed of under the Land Development Ordinance Act of 1935 through permits and conditional grants.

Fulfilling a longstanding aspiration of the nation, the ‘Urumaya’ program, aimed at granting freehold rights to land, will be rolled out nationwide under the President’s guidance, benefiting an estimated two million farming families. The 2024 Budget proposal allocates Rs. 2 billion for the ‘Urumaya’ program’s implementation.

Applicants seeking full ownership of land through the ‘Urumaya’ program will receive freehold titles in three main stages. To streamline the process and address community concerns promptly, a Urumaya National Operations Secretariat has been established under the Presidential Secretariat, coordinating relevant institutions.

Symbolically, President Wickremesinghe personally distributed land deeds to farmers.

Additionally, he inaugurated the ‘Centre of Excellence’ at Dambulla Stadium as part of the “National Cricket Development Pathway” program, designed to offer equal opportunities to cricketers with natural talents for national team representation.

Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe opened a new swimming pool on the stadium premises and actively observed the pool’s practical activities.

President Wickremesinghe inaugurated the innovative stadium lighting system.

Furthermore, during the ceremony, he laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Media Centre, the new auditorium, and the indoor stadium at the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium and the ‘Centre of Excellence.’

“This is our homeland, the place of my birth, the nation that defines my heritage. Today marks a significant occasion as we gather to address a longstanding struggle faced by the people of our beloved nation—the quest for land rights. What we are witnessing today is a transformative moment, a revolution, as we grant land rights to two million individuals. This monumental step empowers our citizens to exercise control over their land without the need for constant approvals from authorities.

“I urge everyone to cherish and safeguard this right, not just for themselves but for future generations. Let us capitalize on this opportunity for progress and development. While many parts of the world have witnessed revolutions to secure land rights, our country is distinguished by achieving this milestone without the need for such upheavals.

“Many deemed this impossibility, but our Government made the decisive choice. Specifically, those engaged in farming and those who have built houses will now hold the rights to that land. I extend my gratitude to all involved in agricultural activities. Your support in the last Maha and Yala seasons played a crucial role in revitalizing the country’s economy, leading to a successful harvest.

“Additionally, I acknowledge those who have constructed homes on these lands. It is in appreciation of their contributions that we grant this freehold land right. This marks a historic moment, as even during the Sinhalese dynasty, there was no established deed system. Lands were allocated to the privileged and Nilames through letters, while others received land for cultivation without permanent deeds. The Waste Land Act designated all such lands to the Government, leaving the people with nothing.

“D.S Senanayake initiated efforts to allocate land to people for farming under the Land Development Ordinance Act of 1935. The Land Acquisition Act was utilized to acquire land for village expansion, but ownership rights were not granted.

“Subsequently, settlements were established in arid regions, accompanied by the commencement of paddy cultivation. Philip Gunawardena introduced the Paddy Act to enhance paddy fields in the wet zone where the majority existed, facing considerable opposition. However, the initiative persevered.

“During the Mahaweli movement, J.R. Jayewardene allocated additional acres to the people. We are now launching a similar program.

“In the past, Gayantha Karunathilaka faced legal challenges when initiating this program, accused of introducing a new law. However, this time, I did not encounter such opposition. If the Government Land Ordinance could grant land to white individuals and provide free land rights to investors, there is no reason why the same rights cannot be extended to the general public.

“Today, we are granting free land rights to everyone using the same ordinance that facilitated land allocation to investors. No legal hurdles need to be overcome again. This program is historic and revolutionary. Land rights have only been granted in Asia by Japan and South Korea, and today, the people of our country have acquired this right.

“I have instructed the swift implementation of this initiative in every Divisional Secretariat. I urge all Members of Parliament to unite without party distinctions for the success of this endeavour.

“It must be acknowledged that the current Government in Sri Lanka is unprecedented, with individuals from various parties coming together to take on responsibilities during challenging times. Despite the complexities of forming a Government with contributions from different parties, we faced the task of rebuilding the country.

“While our nation is gradually recovering, I recognize the hardships endured by the people. Efforts have been made to provide relief through programs such as the ‘Aswesuma’ program and salary increases for Government employees. Emerging from a state of bankruptcy, the next step involves granting free land rights to the people. Despite economic challenges, undertaking these initiatives raises the question of what cannot be achieved in the future with a strengthened national economy.

“Continuing on the path we have embarked upon, there is the potential to achieve a 5% economic growth in 2025. Our collective efforts, transcending party politics, have contributed to the success achieved so far. I urge everyone to unite in carrying forward this work, keeping the future of our people in mind.

“We have already granted land rights to 02 million people and provided benefits to another 02 million, along with salary increases for 1.5 million. The development of the tourism sector has also created new income streams. If such significant accomplishments can be achieved with parliamentary unity, envision the possibilities if all members collaborate. This is the direction we must take.

“Anticipating further legislative measures to foster the country’s development, let us advance together. An extensive agricultural revolution is underway, transforming the landscape through agricultural modernization.

“We must avoid falling into debt again and prevent becoming a nation of beggars. Safeguarding our pride is crucial, and we must embark on this journey together. Today, each one of you is a stakeholder in this country. I encourage everyone to act with pride and wish you all the best.”

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena acknowledged the historical significance of the city of Dambulu and its role in preserving the country’s heritage. “This presents an opportunity to bestow the ‘Urumaya’ that began with the struggle to overcome such challenges upon 02 million people. In achieving the President’s objectives, commendable efforts were made by all officials, including the Minister of Lands.”

Highlighting the unparalleled historical importance of Dambulu, enriched by landmarks like Dambulla and Sigiriya, the Prime Minister emphasized the responsibility of recipients of Government land to contribute to vital tasks, particularly in ensuring food self-sufficiency. “Today, we are commemorating our rich heritage. This is a source of pride for our land,” he said.

“During a period when people across the country were grappling with food shortages, the farmers, with the President’s invitation and intervention, played a crucial role in restoring self-sufficiency to our nation. As recipients of government land, it is expected that you will vigorously continue these vital tasks. The responsibility lies with all of you to wholeheartedly commit to this cause. Do not underestimate the significance of the deed you receive today.”

Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports and Youth Affairs Harin Fernando paid respectful homage to past land ministers, notably highlighting the efforts of former Lands Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka. In 2015, Minister Karunathilaka proposed a Cabinet paper advocating for land rights for the people, a vision that, though unrealized at the time, has now materialized under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Minister Fernando proclaimed today as a historic day that merits a place in the records of the country’s history.

On that day, Mr. D.S. Senanayake solidified the land rights of the country’s people, and later, Mr. J.R. Jayewardena recognized the significance of granting land rights to the citizens.

This can be noted as a unique instance when freehold land was acquired. I extend my gratitude to all those who devoted themselves to this historic endeavour.

The event was attended by Religious leaders led the Maha Sangharatna, Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Prasanna Ranatunga, Tiran Alas, Douglas Devananda, Mahinda Amaraweera, State Ministers Pramita Bandara Thennakone, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Rohana Dissanayake, Chamara Sampath Dasanayake, Members of Parliament Janaka Bandara Thennakone, S. M. Chandrasena, Vadivel Suresh, Vajira Abeywardena, Gayantha Karunathilaka, Nalaka Kottegoda, UNP Chief Organizer of Matale Priyan Wijeratne, Governors including Central Province Governor Lalith U Gamage, senior Adviser to the President on National security and the chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Land Commissioner General Bandhula Jayasinghe, Director General of Trade Unions to the President – Saman Rathnapriya and a large number of officials, including Ministry Secretaries, Provincial Secretaries, District Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries, and land title holders.

 
 
 
 
 

 

  • Thai PM Honoured as Guest of Honour at 76th Independence Day Celebration.
  • Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement Unveiled: A New Chapter in Bilateral Economic Cooperation.

In a momentous Joint Press Conference today (03), President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his utmost pleasure in welcoming Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his distinguished delegation to Sri Lanka. The occasion marked a pivotal step towards strengthening bilateral ties and fostering economic cooperation between the two nations.

President Wickremesinghe extended gratitude to Prime Minister Thavisin for accepting the invitation to be the Guest of Honour at the upcoming 76th anniversary celebration of Sri Lanka’s independence, scheduled for tomorrow (04).

The primary focus of this visit revolves around accelerating economic collaboration between Sri Lanka and Thailand. President Wickremesinghe highlighted the untapped potential for expanding trade and investment ties between the two countries, emphasizing the significance of their strengthened economic partnership.

A major milestone of the visit was the signing of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA), the second such agreement Sri Lanka has forged with an ASEAN partner. The President emphasized the expeditious conclusion of the agreement, underscoring its potential to boost trade and investment ties significantly.

The leaders also renewed the Air-Services Agreement to enhance connectivity and inked a Memorandum of Understanding between the Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute of Sri Lanka and the Gem and Jewellery Institute of Thailand, further promoting economic, trade and tourism exchanges.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted the productive discussions on elevating Sri Lanka-Thailand relations, focusing on tourism, trade and various areas of economic cooperation. Notable agreements were reached in the defence sector, emphasizing information and intelligence sharing to combat transnational organized crime.

Following is the full speech delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the joint press briefing;

I am extremely pleased to welcome Prime Minister Thavisin and accompanying high level delegation including the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs to Sri Lanka. I want to thank Prime Minister Thavisin for accepting my invitation to be the Guest of Honour at the celebration of the 76th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence, which will be held tomorrow.

The main focus of this visit is accelerating economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and Thailand. There is significant potential for the expansion of trade and investment ties between our two countries which have remain largely untapped.

The Prime Minister and I witnessed the signing of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA) a short while ago. This is the second FTA Sri Lanka is concluding with an ASEAN partner, the first being with Singapore. The two sides worked expeditiously to conclude this agreement highlighting the strong interest of both Governments on this important endeavour. This is a milestone in our economic partnership and operationalizing the FTA will be a priority. The FTA is expected to boost trade and investment ties between the two countries.

Additionally, we have renewed the Air-Services Agreement to enhance connectivity between the two countries and a MoU has been concluded between the Gems and Jewellery Research and Training Institute of Sri Lanka and the Gems and Jewellery Institute of Thailand. Both of these agreements will enhance economic, trade and tourism exchanges.

Today, we have also had a very productive discussion on elevating Sri Lanka –Thailand relations. During the bilateral discussion between our two delegations which concluded a little while ago, we covered a wide range of areas of cooperation. There is considerable potential to develop tourism, trade and other areas of economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and Thailand. We see great potential for enhanced investments from Thailand coming into Sri Lanka and we discussed possible areas for collaboration. We have also had a detailed exchange on cooperation in the agriculture and fisheries sectors which both countries have a keen interest in pursuing.

In the area of Tourism we have spoken in particular on promoting the Buddhist tourism routes and marine tourism. In order to facilitate travel between the two countries, we have agreed to consider entering into an agreement for a visa free travel arrangement on reciprocal basis. Our officials will work towards finalizing this arrangement early.

I thank the Prime Minister and the Government of Thailand for the assistance extended by the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) over the years for capacity building, sharing of expertise, and training provided to Government officials in Sri Lanka by the Thai side in areas including fisheries, SMEs, tourism, climate change, public health, and agriculture.

We have also had a very useful discussion on cooperation in the area of defence and intend to augment our defence sector cooperation in the future. In particular sharing information and intelligence between defence establishment of both countries to curb transnational organized crime including human trafficking, drug smuggling, money laundering and financing of terrorism is important.

We also discussed that Sri Lanka and Thailand have cooperated well in regional fora such as BIMSTEC, IORA, ACD and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). I congratulated Thailand on the initiatives undertaken during their Chairmanship of BIMSTEC in particular the Bangkok Vision 2030 which aims to propel BIMSTEC towards a prosperous, resilient, and open region, fostering sustainable and balanced growth. As partners in the Indian Ocean region, we look forward to collaborating with Thailand along with other IORA partners within IORA which Sri Lanka is chairing at present.

The two countries have also worked well at various multilateral fora. I highlighted to the Prime Minister that there is much that needs to be done by likeminded countries of the Global South such as Thailand and Sri Lanka to create an effective impact in shaping the evolving new world order.

As you are aware, Sri Lanka has made significant progress in economic stabilization since the economic crisis of 2022. One of my principle strategies of economic growth and prosperity is to enhance bilateral trade, particularly with proven future potential of the East Asian and ASEAN region including Thailand. We are ready to engage with external partners and our aim is to ensure prosperity for our people.

With the advent of the Asian century, we believe there is expanded scope for cooperation between our Sri Lanka and Thailand, building on the traditional friendship that we already share.

One of the foremost tenets of my government’s foreign policy is deepening economic integration with the Southeast Asia region. We also wish to be a part of the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) which is the world’s largest free trade pact, encompassing 15 Asia-Pacific economies and covering about 30% of the world’s gross domestic product and population. As Sri Lanka begins to stabilize its economy and regain international confidence towards recovery and growth, we are looking at Thailand’s support as Sri Lanka undertakes this very important journey of economic transformation and integration with Asia.

Our business communities will be meeting following this briefing at the Sri Lanka- Thailand Business Forum. I am pleased to see that a high-level business delegation of 21 companies from Thailand are also in Sri Lanka representing inter alia food and food processing, healthcare, energy, hospitality, tourism, fisheries, agriculture and manufacturing sectors during this visit, demonstrating the keen interest on building synergies with the Sri Lankan business community. This will be a very useful opportunity for our companies to hear from the Prime Minister and me directly and understand the potential for trade and business. We will be creating many more such opportunities for our companies to interact more regularly, in the future.

I want to thank you Prime Minister Thavisin and accompanying high level delegation for your visit to Sri Lanka which has further cemented our existing historical and religious connections as in the economic sphere and I look forward to working closely on the initiatives we have taken during this visit.

Meanwhile, in a demonstration of deep respect and gratitude, Thai Prime Minister Hon. Srettha Thavisin expressed gratitude for the warm welcome from President Wickremesinghe and the Government of Sri Lanka. The leaders discussed a broad range of topics, emphasizing their shared historical and cultural ties, culminating in the signing of a pivotal Free Trade Agreement.

The Sri Lanka-Thailand Business Forum, promises significant business opportunities, encouraging private sectors to explore two-way trade and investment. Two essential MOUs were signed, focusing on enhanced air services and gem and jewellery cooperation.

Thailand’s ambitious land bridge project connecting the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand aims to fortify connectivity, with collaborative efforts with Sri Lanka on the horizon. The leaders agreed to promote investments in sectors such as fisheries, food processing, tourism, hospitality and green energy.

In a significant announcement, Thai Airways International will resume daily flights between Bangkok and Colombo from March 31st, fostering closer ties. Thailand proposed trilateral collaboration on cruise tourism, with a focus on cultural and Buddhist tourism.

Visa-free arrangements and a Memorandum of Understanding on visa exemption are under discussion, enhancing people-to-people connections post-FTA signing.

Thailand reiterated support for Sri Lankan human resource development, focusing on agriculture and fishery sectors. The joint initiative on elephant welfare and habitation is progressing, reflecting shared values.

The leaders expressed intent to maximize shared values bilaterally and in multilateral fora, with Thailand’s hosting of the sixth BIMSTEC Summit this year. As a candidate for ASEAN membership in the Human Rights Council, Thailand anticipates effective collaboration with Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Hon. Srettha Thavisin extended warm felicitations on Sri Lanka’s 76th independence anniversary, expressing sincere appreciation for the hospitality and arrangements.

 

Prime Minister of Thailand Joins as Guest of Honour.

Global Leaders Extend Greetings, Including His Holiness Pope Francis and King Charles III.

The 76th National Independence Day celebration took place with pride and grandeur at Galle Face Colombo, symbolizing a renewed commitment to “Let’s Build a New Country.” The event, chaired by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, was honoured by the presence of the Prime Minister of Thailand, Hon. Srettha Thavisin, and received greetings from world leaders, including His Holiness Pope Francis and King Charles III.

The festivities commenced with the Sri Lankan Army heralding the President’s arrival through trumpet calls. The Chief of Defence Staff, Commanders of the three armed forces, and the Acting Inspector General of Police escorted President Wickremesinghe to the main flagpole, where he raised the national flag amidst the beats of auspicious drums and the sound of conch.

Following the flag-raising ceremony, the President joined a special stage, where 100 students melodiously sang the National Anthem. Additionally, 25 schoolgirls performed Jaya Mangala Gatha and the auspicious chant “Devo Vassathu Kalena”. A poignant moment of silence honoured the Sri Lankans who sacrificed their lives for the country’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

The ceremony continued with a 21-gun salute, followed by a vibrant Independence Day parade featuring the Tri-forces, Police, Civil Defence Force and National Cadet Corps, showcasing Sri Lanka as a sovereign state. The parade highlighted the strength and magnanimity of the nation, featuring personnel from the Army, Navy, Air, Police, Civil Security Department and the National Cadet Corps.

The parade also featured combat vehicles from the three armed forces, with 22 retired officers and 29 disabled soldiers participating. The cultural parade added musical splendor to the event.

Noteworthy was President Wickremesinghe’s presence on the special stage until the parade’s end, paying respects to all the war heroes in attendance.

The celebration included an impressive air show, featuring F7 aircrafts displaying Sri Lanka’s air power and a showcase of naval power. A parachute show with thirty paratroopers representing the armed forces and police added to the festivities.

The global significance of the event was underlined by congratulatory messages from world leaders, including His Holiness Pope Francis, His Majesty King Charles III of the UK, His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito of Japan, President Joe Biden of the United States, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Xi Jinping of China, President Yun Suk Yeol of South Korea, President Droupadi Murmu of India, President Tharman Shanmugaratnam of Singapore, President of Libya Dr. Mohamed Y. AL-Menfi, Governor General of Australia General David Hurley as well as the President of Pakistan, President of Bangladesh, Amir of the State of Kuwait and other dignitaries.

The ceremony was attended by the Maha Sangha and religious leaders, Prof. Maithree Wickramasinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers, Provincial Governors, Members of Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Phumtham Wechayachai along with the delegation from Thailand, foreign Ambassadors & High Commissioners. Notable attendees also included the Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, Secretary to the President Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime minister as well as various government officials and war heroes.

The 76th Independence Day celebration in Sri Lanka was a spectacular display of national pride, unity and resilience, symbolizing a collective commitment to building a new and prosperous future.

A final series of discussions on the initiation of transport-focused on Athurugiriya and Kaduwela town development projects were held at the Kaduwela Municipal Council Auditorium at the invitation of the Chairman of the Colombo District Coordinating Committee and the Chairman of the Kaduwela Regional Development Committee, Member of Parliament, Dr. Major Pradeep Undugoda which was presided over by Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana.

 Opinions were presented on the actions and proposals that can be taken to reduce the transportation difficulties faced by the people on a daily basis in Athurugiriya and Kaduwela areas which have many important Government institutions and other locations.
Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana and MP Major Pradeep Undugoda together with other officials recently conducted an inspection tour in those areas to observe the traffic congestion in these two cities.

Following which, Minister Gunawardhana pointed out that as the Minister in charge of Transport and Highways, an opportunity has come up to restart the infrastructural development works which have been stalled for about three years now, so the importance of carrying out these development works by getting provision facilities from the available sectors and giving priority to the places where rapid development is essential, will recommence.

In addition, the Minister emphasized on the importance of preparing a short-term plan that can be implemented quickly and then another programme that can be implemented in the long-term to reduce the massive traffic congestion in Athurugiriya and Kaduwela areas as well as the importance of preparing the basic activities necessary to implement the plans as the provisions arrive after the government’s debt restructuring programmes become successful.

As a measure to reduce road and traffic congestion in the Athurugiriya area, the existing bus station will be relocated to an empty land reserved for common facilities around the Millennium City housing complex, considering the demands of the people, to the places identified for widening the roads.

The Minister also instructed the officials to take steps to start the projects as soon as possible after completing the basic work including compensation payments for the land locations identified. Also attention was paid to taking an alternative measure to avoid the obstacles in traffic management due to the existing clock tower in the middle of the intersections of the city.

The representatives of Kaduwela – Athurigiriya Trade Associations also conveyed their appreciation to the Minister and other officials for properly identifying the needs of the people and providing the right guidance for the development of the area, and the business community and the local residents who provide the maximum support for any development work that is being carried out.

Kaduwela Divisional Secretary Sampath Idamgodage, Municipal Commissioner Dilrukshi Gamage, officials of the Urban Development Authority, Road Development Authority, Kaduwela Municipal Council, Road Passenger Transport Authority, Trade Association and many other public and private institutions were present for this event.

 

  • Contemporary International Debt Settlement Model deemed inappropriate in the present context.
  • Developing Nations Unduly Affected by Current System – Revealed President Wickremesinghe at the 3rd South Summit of G77 + China.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the 3rd South Summit today (21) in Kampala, Uganda, highlighted the numerous challenges the world faces, such as conflicts, pandemic repercussions, climate disasters and financial market uncertainties. The President also emphasized the disproportionate impact on vulnerable G77 economies.

In his statement, President Wickremesinghe stressed the urgency of reforming the global financial architecture. The President also pointed out that the contemporary international debt resolution architecture is more suited for a world where the Paris Club and London Club dominated global debt resolution. Currently the global debt and particularly debt in the developing world is dominated by international bond markets, and non-Paris Club lenders.

The President lamented the diversion of financial resources to debt service, hindering spending on essential public services and human development, impacting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. He criticized the Common Framework for its inability to provide speedy debt resolution, causing delays in addressing recent sovereign debt distress in many G77 countries.

Addressing climate finance, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the failure of the global financial system to meet the Global South’s needs for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Despite commitments made in global forums, he pointed out the lack of real contributions. He introduced Sri Lanka’s Tropical Belt Initiative, aiming to catalyse private investments for global public goods, including biodiversity, oceans, and forest resources.

Expressing concern about rising protectionist tendencies in global trade, the President urged decisions to be made in multilateral forums rather than unilaterally. He emphasized the need for coordination between the G77 and BRICS to ensure the smooth efficiency of global trade and investment.

President Wickremesinghe also touched upon the challenges of job creation in developing economies, quoting Joseph Stiglitz on technological changes making manufacturing skills and capital-intensive, resulting in fewer jobs.

While advocating for global financial reforms, the President called on the G77 + China to formulate strategies for member countries to prepare for energy transition, digital transformation, the green economy, and a skilled workforce for the new global economy.

President Wickremesinghe also thanked President Museveni and the Government of Uganda for their hospitality and congratulated President Museveni on hosting the 3rd South Summit and assuming the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 + China.

The President also expressed gratitude to Cuba for its leadership during the past year and commended their effective leadership in the Havana Declaration.

As the G77 + China commemorate their 60th year, President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of remaining united to overcome multidimensional challenges based on the group’s founding principles of unity, complementarity, cooperation and solidarity.

As the largest alliance of developing countries within the United Nations, the G77 provided a platform for the Global South countries to express and advance their collective economic interests. It also served as a forum for joint discussions on international economic issues, fostering mutual cooperation among its member countries. The 3rd Southern Summit was convened under the theme of “Leaving No One Behind,” aiming to enhance collaboration among its 134 member nations in areas such as trade, investment, sustainable development, climate change, poverty alleviation, and the digital economy.

The presidency of the G77 + China summit, previously held by the Republic of Cuba, was assumed by the Republic of Uganda during this session.

 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in the 3rd South Summit “G77 and China,” commencing today (21) in Kampala, Uganda. During the event, he engaged in fruitful discussions with numerous state leaders and representatives.

This morning (21), President Ranil Wickremesinghe held a significant meeting with Dr. Riyad Malki, Palestine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates. Additionally, he met with Maldives Vice President Hussain Mohamed Latheef, fostering dialogue and collaboration.

Further, President Ranil Wickremesinghe convened with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the same day (21), discussing matters of global significance.

In a separate engagement, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Shri V. Muraleedharan, had a constructive discussion with President Ranil Wickremesinghe, emphasizing bilateral relations.

Moreover, President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with Mr. Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Laos, and Mr. Ivan John Uy, Secretary of the Department of Information and Communication Technology of the Philippines, further enhancing diplomatic ties and cooperation.

 

  • Rebuilding Sri Lanka following its challenges acknowledged and appreciated by the President of Uganda.

During his official visit to Uganda, President Ranil Wickremesinghe engaged in a formal meeting with HE Yoweri Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda, yesterday afternoon (20). President Museveni warmly welcomed Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, and following a friendly exchange, bilateral discussions commenced.

During the meeting, President Yoweri Museveni expressed his joy at President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s acceptance of the invitation for the official visit and lauded his significant role in revitalizing Sri Lanka’s economy. President Museveni commended the nation for its achievements in this regard.

The leaders delved into discussions about Sri Lanka’s new economic program, with President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighting the positive economic trajectory since entering into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. He emphasized the anticipated growth in 2024.

Mr. Ali Sabry PC, Minister of Foreign Affairs, also shared his remarks. He noted that many in Sri Lanka initially viewed rebuilding the economy as a complex task but believed that President Ranil Wickremesinghe was the right person for the job. Minister Ali Sabry highlighted the President’s swift and effective efforts in achieving economic stability, earning widespread appreciation.

The conversation extended to discussions on further enhancing bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Uganda across various domains.

In attendance were President’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change Mr. Ruwan Wijewardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Aruni Wijewardena, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Uganda Mr. V. Kananathan and the Sri Lankan delegation.

 

  • Global leaders have commended the President’s initiative to bolster Sri Lanka’s economy.
  • Let’s examine the African President’s proposal, drawing the attention of leaders across the continent – Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry PC.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent visit to Uganda has significantly contributed to strengthening diplomatic ties with African nations that have previously been overlooked in Sri Lanka’s foreign relations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry PC, highlighted the importance of these engagements, emphasizing the sizable population of approximately 1.3 billion in these African countries and the anticipated rapid development in the future.

In his special statement today (20), Minister Ali Sabry pointed out that President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ‘Look Africa’ initiative has laid the groundwork for Sri Lanka to invest in African nations, marking the commencement of a new economic journey for the country.

In a special statement on the official visit to Uganda, where President Wickremesinghe participated in the 19th Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement and the G77+China Summit, Minister Ali Sabry reiterated the significance of broadening Sri Lanka’s engagement with Africa.

“Addressing the Non-Aligned Nations Conference yesterday, President Ranil Wickremesinghe touched upon global issues, particularly focusing on events in the Gaza Strip, Israel-Palestine, the future steps for developing countries, and strategies for alleviating the burden of debt and addressing climate change.

The President shared his perspectives on a range of topics.

Foreign leaders and ministers I engaged with expressed their commendation for President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s insightful speech. Simultaneously, the President engaged in discussions with several leaders from the Global South, specifically in the African region.

Notable meetings included talks with the President of Uganda, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the Vice President of the Republic of Benin, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India. The discussions centred on enhancing bilateral relations between these nations and Sri Lanka.

I am optimistic that this visit will fortify relations with African countries that are often overlooked, despite their substantial population of 1.3 billion, and are projected to undergo rapid development in the future. The economic progress witnessed in Sri Lanka under President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership, along with the President’s pivotal role, garnered appreciation from all counterparts.

Reflecting on the past year and a half since President Wickremesinghe assumed office, there has been widespread acclaim for the notable advancements Sri Lanka has achieved. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni specifically lauded President Ranil Wickremesinghe for contributing to the reconstruction of the nation.

Additionally, the Non-Aligned Nations Summits provided a platform to present the current situation in Sri Lanka to the international community. This visit by the President has played a crucial role in fostering bilateral relations with numerous countries in the African region.

Furthermore, it’s noteworthy that President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ‘Look Africa’ initiative has laid the groundwork for investing in African countries, marking the commencement of a new economic chapter for Sri Lanka. A notable example is the arrangement with the Republic of Benin, wherein mutual benefits are expected through the visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, official, and service passports from both countries.

As the Foreign Minister, I seized the opportunity to engage in bilateral discussions with counterparts from Bangladesh, Bahrain, Ghana, Tanzania, Azerbaijan, and others. These dialogues have been instrumental in strengthening friendships and fostering economic ties with these nations.

Hence, through participation in such summits, our country aspires to further enhance bilateral relations with international partners and reap substantial benefits for the nation.”

Proposals for the draft legislation for safeguarding freedom of speech and expression and protection of creative rights was recently handed over to President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, at the Presidential Secretariat, by the committee appointed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

 Former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Public Performance Board Saman Athaudahetti chaired the committee tasked with drafting proposals for the new legislation
Committee members involved in this endeavour included cinematographer Ashoka Handagama, dramatist Rajitha Dissanayake, designer Anoma Rajakaruna and President’s Counsel Jagath Wickramanayake. The draft proposals align with contemporary international trends and standards, developed through consultations with stakeholders in film, theatre and the performing arts. The Draft Bill will adhere to the currently enforced Public Exhibition Control Ordinance passed in 1912. Committee Chairman Athaudahetti affirmed that the draft proposals offer solutions to various issues related to the creative arts. He emphasized that the implementation of this legislation will ensure the comprehensive protection of creative freedom.

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