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The Army Headquarters at Sri Jayawardenepura on Tuesday (9) laid a red carpet welcome to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Ranil Wickremesinghe when he made his first formal visit to the HQ at the invitation of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage after the former's recent assumption of office as the 8th Executive President of Sri Lanka.

As the clock struck 9.00 am, the motorcade carrying the President, preceded by riders entered through the Army HQ main entrance where the visiting Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces cum the Head of the State was saluted in a drive-past Guard Turnout in front of the Defence Ministry building. Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Army waiting at the foyer afterwards extended a warm welcome to President Ranil Wickremesinghe before ushering him to the parade square to receive honours.

Prior to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s arrival, Hon Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Hon Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Hon Minister of Public Security, Tiran Alles, Secretary to Ministry of Defence, General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne, Chief of Staff & National Security Adviser to the President, Mr Sagala Rathnayake, General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Staff of the Army, Deputy Chief of Staff and several Senior Officers were there to welcome the President.

Colourfully and elegantly-attired troops of the Gajaba Regiment (GR) after a while presented arms and saluted the day’s Chief Guest, President Ranil Wickremesinghe after he reviewed the Guard of Honour at the request of the Parade Commander from the special dais in keeping with military traditions. No sooner than President reviewed the highest military salute closely, made up of 04 Officers, 100 Other Ranks along with squads of President Colours and Regimental Colours.

At the main entrance to the AHQ, President Ranil Wickremesinghe was then introduced to the Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) of the Army HQ by Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Army. At the Commander’s office, both the visiting Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the host, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage had a very brief exchange of views. Commander of the Army also availed himself of the opportunity to present the first editions of the "Sri Lanka Army Keystone Doctrines; Command, Operations Other Than War and Sustenance " to the visiting Commander-in-Chief.

Attaching more importance to the day's itinerary, the President in an appreciative move did not forget to meet a representative gathering of Army troops who performed their duties on that fateful day a few weeks ago when a violent mob tried hard to take control of the Parliamentary complex which is considered as the pinnacle of the Democracy and Sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Army soldiers on duty while trying to prevent their entry sustained injuries and some of them had to be admitted to hospitals for urgent treatment.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing the gathering after a welcome note appreciated their timely intervention at the expense of their own lives and gave away certificates of appreciation to those heroic troops of the Army where he stated " Your actions that day preserved the Constitution, Democracy and Sovereignty of the country”.

Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage towards the end of the distribution of appreciative certificates among soldiers, showed his organization’s gratitude to the visiting Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces by presenting a special memento on behalf of all in the Army.

The country’s 8th Executive President Ranil Wickremesinghe afterwards made a complimentary note in the Visitors' Book before he posed for a couple of group photos with Senior Officers at the Army Headquarters on request.

 

 

Decisions taken at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on 08.08.2022

 

01. Entering into a Memorandum of Understanding between the International Centre for Higher Education Innovation (UNESCO - ICHEI) and the Ministry of Education of the Government of Sri Lanka.

The International Centre for Higher Education Innovation implemented under the sponsorship of UNESCO has agreed to provide training across online methodology for enhancing the capacity of staff of technical and vocational education and training institutions in the state sector of this country. Under this facility, it has been agreed to facilitate a platform to access the sectors such as artificial intelligence, robotics, data analysis, mechanical vision, mechanical learning, digital graphic designing and digital enterprises. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval for the proposal submitted by the Minister of Education in order to sign a memorandum of understanding between the two parties to implement the said programme.

02. Introduction of cost-based water charges.

It has been recognized that a revision of charges to ensure the financial stability of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and the supply of water services to the public continuously and without any disturbance is required. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the resolution furnished by the Minister of Water Supply in order to revise the water charges and sewage charges obtained at present so that the recurrent monitoring cost and the capital loan services responsibility of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board is covered.

03. Allocating plots of land from regional industrial zones in which infrastructure facilities were developed for the establishment of industries.

The Ministry of Industries implements the ‘Regional Industrial Zones Development Programme’ with the aim of promoting the industries at a regional level. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the resolution furnished by the Minister of Industries in order to allocate plots of land from 13 industrial zones for 25 investors selected under the said programme.

04. Programme to provide Japanese language competency at the school level.

In terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of Japan, Sri Lankans are eligible to apply for employment as technical in-service trainees and employment in 14 sectors under the programme with special skills. Competency in the Japanese language is an essential qualification for the purpose and should be qualified precisely from the examinations conducted in several stages. It has been planned to recruit approximately 345,000 labourers for employment in Japan for the next 05 years under the special skills employment programme whereas Japan has signed agreements with seven (07) countries including Sri Lanka for this purpose.

Considering the above circumstances, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution furnished by the Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment in order to inaugurate the teaching of Japanese language and English language under the technical subject stream implemented in the schools and to develop soft skills in the sectors of nursing, hospitality, building cleaning, agricultural activities, motor mechanism or electric and electronic mechanism etc, aiming at the employment opportunities in Japan.

05. Awarding contract for aviation insurance coverage for Sri Lanka Airlines

Sri Lankan Aviation Company Limited obtain insurance services under 04 categories of insurance coverages for their air crafts. Limited national competitive bids have been called from general insurance companies registered under the Sri Lanka Insurance Regulation Commission for those 04 categories of insurance coverages. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the proposal submitted by His Excellency the President as the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation to award the relevant contract to Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation as per the recommendation of the Standing Procurement Committee appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers.

06. Provision of funds for the upcoming phases of the projects iROAD 1 and iROAD 2

implemented under the Consolidated Highways Investment Programme financed by the

Asian Development Bank

140 civil work contracts have been awarded for upgrading and maintenance of 6,250 kilometers of rural roads and 750 kilometers of national highways by iROAD 1 and iROAD 2 projects financed by the Asian Development Bank. Approximately 4,800 kilometers of rural roads and 300 kilometers of national highways have been completed by now. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the resolution furnished by the Minister of Transport and Highways to hold discussions and enter into negotiations as well as take future actions with the Asian Development Bank in relation to obtaining USD 243 million for phase 5 of iROAD 1 program and USD 200 million for phase 4 of iROAD 2 program to enable implementation of project activities of the said projects without disturbance.

07. Submission of published gazette notifications for the approval of the Parliament.

 

The Cabinet of Ministers approved the submission of a gazette notification published in terms of the value added tax act No. 14 of 2002, two (02) gazette notifications including rules published under the excise ordinance (Chapter 52) and an order published under the Finance Act No. 25 of 2003 by the Hon. President as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies for the approval of the Parliament.

08. Amendment of the Motor Traffic Act to include provisions to enable registration of electric Three Wheelers.

Several parties have requested an opportunity to utilize electric Tuk Tuks in order to popularize vehicles run with electric power instead of utilizing fossil fuel within Sri Lanka. However, the motor traffic act needs to be amended since no required provisions are available in the present act. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution submitted by the Minister of Transport and Highways to take necessary measures to amend the current motor traffic act including the relevant amendments to enable the registration of electric Three Wheeled Vehicles.

09. Amendment of Shop and Office Employees (Regulation of Employment and Remuneration) Act No.19 of 1954

Many business institutions such as Knowledge Process Outsourcing institutions, Business Process Outsourcing institutions, Back Office and ICT enabling Services have emerged in the country around major cities. According to the nature of those institutions, the employees working there have to work according to the time of other countries. However, according to the Act, women can be employed after 6:00 PM only in a limited number of employments. Therefore, it has been identified that the existing restrictive legal provisions on night work of women should be amended. Accordingly, the cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment to take necessary steps to amend the Shop and Office Employees (Regulation of Employment and Remuneration) Act No.19 of 1954.

10. Formation of Cabinet Sub Committees.

It has been recognized that it is appropriate to establish Cabinet Sub Committees enabling a time frame for policy decisions to be made during cabinet meetings and to make recommendations to the Cabinet of Ministers regarding the subjects that need to be studied and decided upon in depth of legal and other matters. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposals presented by Hon. President to establish the Cabinet Subcommittee on Public Expenditure Management chaired by the President in order to submit policy recommendations to the Cabinet on the proposals related to public expenditure such as the initiation of new projects and procurement activities and to establish the Cabinet Subcommittee on Institutional Affairs chaired by the prime Minister to study matters related to institutional affairs such as appointments, promotions, transfers and disciplinary actions in the public service and submit policy study matters related to public service appointments, promotions, transfers and disciplinary actions and make policy recommendations to the Cabinet.

11. Establishment of Cabinet Sub Committee on Cost of Living and establishment of Food

Security Committee.

The cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Hon. President to establish the Cabinet sub-committee on Cost of Living to provide recommendations on policy and practical solutions necessary to maintain the cost of living stable by ensuring that food and other essential materials are supplied to the market without shortage and to establish Food Security Committee. to assist the work of the sub-committee on trade and commerce and to form the committee under the chairmanship of the Minister of Food Safety.

12. Implementation of Food Security and Livelihood Restoration Emergency Assistance Project

 

The Project " Food Security and Livelihood Restoration Emergency Assistance Project" is planned to be implemented with the aim of protecting the food security and livelihoods of the poor and in disaster. In addition, the Japan Fund for a Prosperous and Resilient Asia and Pacific Region has agreed to provide a 3 million USD grant through the Asian Development Bank to finance the project activities. Accordingly, the cabinet of ministers approved the proposal presented by the Hon. president in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stability and National Policies to conduct negotiation discussions with the Asian Development Bank and enter into agreements.

13. Price Revised for domestic type gas

 

The cabinet of ministers approved the proposal presented by H.E. the president in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stability and National Policies to immediately implement a cost- representative price formula on the 5th day of every month for the purpose of ensuring continuous supply of gas and based on the said price formula to revise domestic gas prices.

14. Revision of Petroleum Products (Special Provisions) Act No.33 of 2002

On April 25, 2022, the Cabinet approved the amendment of the Petroleum Products Act No. 33 of 2002 to enable other competing parties to be granted licenses for the import of petroleum products in order to ensure the continuous supply of petroleum products due to the current severe foreign exchange deficit. Attorney General’s clearance has been received for the bill prepared by the legal draftsman accordingly. The cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by Hon. Minister of Power and Energy to publish this bill in the Govt. gazette and submit for parliament consequently.

 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has extended his well wishes to Ranil Wickremesinghe on his election as the Executive President of Sri Lanka.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres issuing a special congratulatory message has said that the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe will be crucial for building a favorable environment and stability to overcome the current challenges that the country is facing.

The UN Secretary-General has acknowledged the President’s commitment to forge a consensus among all political parties in formulating a national strategy to address these challenges.

He has also encouraged dialogue among all stakeholders, including consultation with the public, while ensuring respect for the rule of law and basic human rights principles.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the United Nations is ready to support the government and people of Sri Lanka in meeting their immediate and long-term needs and is looking forward to continuing the cooperation of the UN in building peace, sustainable development and promoting human rights for all Sri Lankans.

 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has announced that he is planning to present an interim budget in the first week of September. President Wickremesinghe has said through the interim budget he will provide several concessions and relief to the people. The matter was conveyed by the President during a discussion held last evening with a group of Members of Parliament pertaining to the formation of an all-party government. The Head of State met representatives of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and another group including Parliamentarians GL Peiris and Dullas Alahapperuma. The President has said the aim of the all-party government is to convert the entire Parliament into a government and rebuild the country.

Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickremesinghe is scheduled to hold a special discussion with the representatives of the Samagi Jana Alliance this afternoon. The meeting will mainly focus on the formation of an all-party government, the proposed Parliamentary committee system and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

 

 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe received the blessings of Mahanayake of Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Nikaya Most Ven.Dodampahala Chandrasiri Thera at Sri Gothama Thapowana Viharaya, Rajagiriya.

 

Italy-based 27-year-old Abeykoon defied all expectations win a historic bronze medal in the men’s 100m final clocking 10.14 seconds behind Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala (10.02) and South Africa’s Akani Simbine (10.13).

Army Corporal Palitha Bandara (30) walked the talk to become the first para-athlete to win a medal in the Commonwealth Games when he claimed silver in the men’s Discus F42-44/61-64 event throwing a distance of 44.20 metres. Welshmen Aled Davies (F42 51.29m) and Harrison Walsh (F44 54.76m) claimed gold and bronze respectively.

In a magnanimous gesture, Bandara rushed to congratulate Abeykoon soon after he finished in the third position in the 100m final. “All of Sri Lanka had a lot of hopes on Yupun. At that moment as a Sri Lankan I felt very proud more than my event when Yupun won,” said Bandara.

Abeykoon said his medal was a little gift from him to the people of Sri Lanka who had rooted for him all the way. “I want to thank everyone for supporting me all the way. For everyone who watched me running and everyone in Sri Lanka, this is a little gift,” said Abeykoon who could not believe his eyes when he finished third in the final.

“My team and I had already achieved the target when we entered the semifinals,” said Abeykoon who was the fastest in the heats clocking 10.02 seconds before finishing fourth in the third semifinals barely advancing to the final as one of the fastest qualifiers returning a time of 10.20.

“My coach told me to relax during the finals because we had already achieved our goal,” said Abeykoon, who considers the medal a bonus.

He expressed his eternal gratitude to the people of Sri Lanka who blessed him every step of the way.

“Lot of people were looking forward to it. They believed in me. I want to thank everyone for supporting me all the way. For everyone who watched me running and everyone in Sri Lanka, this is a little gift,” he reiterated.

On becoming the first South Asian athlete to run a sub-10 of 9.96, Abeykoon said: “I planned three years for it. I told you earlier, I have achieved my target. Everything else is a bonus. Medal is also a bonus. I have achieved my target already,” he said basking in the glory.

 

 

With the aim of providing instant news to readers, the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL) has taken steps to commence an SMS news alert service in all three languages.

Accordingly, subscribers can type Reg(space)DIN and SMS it to 77010 to activate Dinamina news alerts. Similarly, by typing Reg(space)DAILYNEWS and sending an SMS to 77010, Daily News news alerts could be activated and for Thinakaran news alerts subscribers should type Reg(space)TKN and send it to 77010 to activate Tamil news alerts.

Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and ANCL Chairman Anusha Palpita officially launched the SMS news alert service on August 3.

Addressing the gathering at the launch of the SMS news alert service, Palpita noted that as the new generation is more inclined towards new media, ANCL as a media organization should adapt to new media methods and communicate information to the readers accordingly.

He said that the sources of information communication should be changed while adapting to new technological methods, and information should be communicated promptly to the loyal readers who have been with Lake House for many years. He compared the newly commenced SMS news alert service to a sprouting plant and expressed confidence that it would grow into a mighty tree.

The Chairman pointed out that the rising cost of printing due to the current economic crisis is becoming unbearable for all printing establishments, adding that if a peaceful atmosphere can be maintained in the country, this situation would normalize to some extent in the future.

Meanwhile, the Editorial Director of Lake House Senior Journalist Sisira Paranathanthri said that there is no doubt that this SMS service will be a crucial crossroad in the history of ANCL, where it reaches its readers instantly, whereas readers were reached only once a day previously through newspapers.

ANCL Director of Legal Affairs Janaka Ranatunga, Director of Financial Affairs Professor Harendra Kariyawasam, Editors of ANCL newspapers, Deputy General Manager of Advertising Prasanna Sukho Jayasumana and several others participated in this event.

 

 

Cabinet Spokesman Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane told reporters on Tuesday (3) that a resolution has been furnished by Industries Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana for granting duty concessions on imports by local garment manufacturing equipment or appliances.

Speaking to the media at the weekly Cabinet media briefing, Minister Gunawardane said that the granting of duty concessions to the garment industry has become one of the main sectors earning foreign exchange to Sri Lanka even amidst COVID-19 pandemic circumstances.

However, due to the price hike of raw materials and the prevailing unfavorable economic environment experienced in the country, local garment manufacturers are compelled to deal with a number of challenges when importing appliances required for garment manufacturing that are not produced locally.

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the proposal made by the Industries Minister to grant duty concessions on imports by local garment manufacturing equipment or appliances or items not manufactured locally and coming under 19 harmonized system (HS) codes; as a remedy to the prevailing situation.

 

I was elected as the President on the 20th of last month, having secured the trust of the majority of the Members of Parliament. Today I am addressing you for the first time as the President.

This House represents the various communities of Sri Lanka. Whether you are Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher or any other ethnic group, you are gathering here as the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Representatives of the Parliament were elected by people belonging to various ethnic groups. However, we are all Sri Lankans, no matter which ethnic group we represent.

Today, I am addressing you as the President of every Sri Lankan citizen.

Our country consists of communities belonging to different cultures, following different religions and speaking different languages. I defend the right of all of you to maintain cultural practices, follow your religious beliefs and use your language.

I am also constitutionally bound to give Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly protect and foster the Buddhasasana while assuring all other religions in the country their rights.

We have been blessed with an ancient legacy not only religiously, culturally and socially, but also economically. It has been nurtured by different cultures. That is how the concept of “Satharawaram Deviwaru” is related to Buddhist culture. Today, we are entrusted with the responsibility of building the future based on these ancient legacies.

I took over a country that was in disaster. Severe economic crisis on one side, massive public opposition on the other. However, I decided to accept this critical challenge, on behalf of my people and the country, based on the premise that it is my duty to light even one lamp for the country rather than cursing the darkness.

Today we are facing an unprecedented situation that our country had never faced in recent history. We are in great danger. The country could extricate and be secured from that danger, only if we all face this challenge together as one people. It is vital that the Honorable Members of this Parliament as well as the entire populace contribute with their own strength towards the effort of nation building.

The expectation of all the citizens of the country at this juncture is for all their representatives in the Parliament to work together in order to build the country. If we come together, we will be able to invigorate the nation. If we divide, it will not only harm the people’s representatives but the entire nation.

Therefore, I once again request all parties representing the people in this Parliament to unite in the formation of an All-Party Government. I respectfully extend the hand of friendship to all of you. I confidently invite you to put aside the past and come together for the sake of the country. I have already initiated discussions with political parties in forming an All-Party Government.

Certain parties had declared that they would consider my programme and give their consent to form the All-Party Government. I wish to make my observations in this regard. An All-Party Government is not a government that acts on the sole opinion of one party. It is a government that comprises the views of all parties within a common policy framework, and implemented after decisions are made.

I wish to reiterate to this House, the importance of an All-Party Government in order to resolve this crisis and establish stability in an expeditious manner.

Due to the collapse of the economy, our country also suffered a political crisis. Why did our economy collapse in this manner?

We have been debating for two or three decades on how our economic system should be. In 1977, a new economic regime was introduced to our country. However, we failed to modernize and adjust with time. Without focusing on modernization of the economy, we were engaged in competitive, short-sighted and destructive narrow politics. Unfavorable international economic factors brought about by the Ukraine war and the collapse of the world's major economies due to the Covid pandemic exacerbated and complicated our crisis.

Due to all these reasons, our country totally declined. The people have been suffering severe hardship. We have now initiated the process of revitalization.

We have now minimized power cuts; we are in the process of bringing the fertilizer required for cultivation. There is no shortage of gas, and soon everyone would be able to obtain it without queuing. Safety measures have been taken to avoid food shortages. Bringing essential drugs and medical equipment to the hospitals have been initiated. Schools have been re-opened. Measures are being taken to overcome the impediments faced by the industries and export sectors.

I wish to specially mention the assistance provided by India, our closest  neighbour, in our efforts economic revitalization. The Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given us a breath of life. On behalf of my people and that of my own, I convey our gratitude to Prime Minister Modi, the Government and people of India.

Presently, the immediate requirement before us is fuel. While appreciating the international assistance in addressing the fuel shortage, it in timely that we now initiate a system for such importation from our own export income and foreign remittances. We also have to limit selected imports in order to balance the payments for fuel. On the other hand, fuel supply has to be curtailed. These hardships would need to be borne until the end of this year.

Due to the economic crisis, we are facing various difficulties. I look forward to the support of the nation to rid the country of these troubles.

We need to move towards long-term solutions in order to overcome these difficulties. A strong foundation needs be laid as not to repeat this kind of economic crisis in our country. The economy should be modernized. Economic stability should be established and transformed into a competitive export economy. In this context, we are now preparing the necessary reports, plans, rules and regulations, laws and programmes.

I now seek to explain the planning framework which will be the basis for the country’s future journey. Within this framework, detailed information about the programmes we are implementing, will be presented through the Interim Budget and the 2023 Budget to be presented to the Parliament.

As a preliminary step, we initiated negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a four year programme. We would continue those discussions from this month. It is our expectation to conclude the staff level negotiations expeditiously and successfully.

The finalization of the debt restructuring plan has commenced in collaboration with Lazard and Clifford Chance, who are international financial and legal experts. We would submit this plan to the International  Monetary Fund in the near future, and negotiate with the countries who provided loan assistance. Subsequently negotiations with private creditors would also begin to arrive at a consensus.

We are also looking at formulating necessary policies, rules and regulations, and programmes, to strengthen the export economy. Our economic legacy is based on foreign trade. From the ancient times, Sri Lanka was known worldwide as a major economic hub located on the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), and was identified as the ‘Granary of the East’. Sri Lanka was the center that distributed rice from the entire region across the world.

Our ultimate goal is to re-establish that past legacy to create a strong and developed green economy. It has been recognized that climate change is a monumental issue facing the future world. We need to create a strong economy that can address climate change. As King Maha Parakramabahu said, we should ensure that we do not waste even a single drop of water that falls from the sky.

As a result of the economic crisis we are facing today, the income disparity in society is widening. The middle class is shrinking. On the other hand, businesses and industries are facing serious challenges, exacerbated by the loss of employment.

The amount of remittances sent by migrant workers to Sri Lanka has dropped, for several reasons. With the Covid epidemic, much employment was terminated, and people’s travel abroad for jobs became limited. Due to the artificial control of the rupee, it became more advantageous to transfer money to Sri Lanka through other means. Presently, this situation is gradually changing, and we are taking measures to encourage remittances to Sri Lanka through the banking system.

Tourists mostly come in the month of August. Necessary initiatives are being taken to attract more tourists to Sri Lanka.

We confirm the rights of the people. Freehold deeds are being granted to government licensed landholders. Ownership of the houses are granted to those who are living in government housing schemes. Programmes are being implemented to solve the issues of the upcountry Tamil Sri Lankan community.

In the effort of stabilizing the economy, we pay close attention towards the less privileged of the society. Avenues for the entrepreneurs of the country to come forward through their skills are being expanded.

I am committed to making effective changes for the future of the society. The foundation is being prepared to rekindle the middle class. Benefits are distributed fairly to the entire society, through a social market economy. I am taking measures to establish a Social Justice Commission for this purpose.

Four or five decades ago, there was an economic concept of state enterprise. However, it is now widely accepted that this concept is ineffective. Even former socialist countries now encourage private enterprises. If our country continues to nurture state-owned loss-making enterprises the country will take a further downturn. Therefore, we have to make policy decisions on getting rid of such enterprises.

However, I am of the view that, before the end of the 21st century, the Indo-Pacific Region will be the most powerful economic domain in the world. In this context, the strategic geographical location of our country is extremely important. We should make the best use of this favorable position. Bearing this in mind, our future corporate laws and policies should be formulated. A country cannot be sustained by taking loans, and therefore should reduce the borrowings to the extent possible. Therefore, I am joining you Hon. MPs in compiling rules and regulations and policies that will allow our country to get the maximum benefit from the Indian Ocean-centric new economic power.

I urge all parties to get rid of traditional thinking in striving to build the Sri Lankan nation. Some groups stand idle while taking commercial loans at high interest rates and oppose investments that are beneficial to the country.

The enormous loss caused to our country due to the opposition to foreign investments because of here say, without checking, cannot be qualified. However, people are aware of the losses caused to the country due to corruption and fraud.

I will mention a few examples.

When we tried to develop the oil tank complex in Trincomalee together with India, it was stated that Sri Lanka would be a sell out of to India and this development project was halted. If at that time we were allowed to develop the oil tank complex, today people would not have to spend many days in queues for fuel.

Even when the ‘Suvasarya’ ambulance service was initiated, a similar objection was raised. Some doctors held press conferences stating that ‘if the patient comes to the hospital by the ‘Suvasariya’ ambulance service, deaths will occur. However, we somehow initiated the ‘Suvasariya’ service and thereby thousands of lives have been saved.

When Japan offered to establish the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and develop the Container Terminal in the port, it was opposed giving a number of baseless reasons. Therefore, our country lost more than 03 billion dollars in investments. Regrettably, the traditional friendship between Japan and Sri Lanka has been adversely affected.

The Hon. late Shinsho Abe, the former Prime Minister of Japan, who was a close friend of Sri Lanka, took the initiative to offer us these projects. He sadly was killed recently. At this moment, I wish to transfer merit to Hon. Abe, according to our religious beliefs.

In order to strengthen our journey towards a developmental economy, we should examine the past. Why did our economy fall into such a low level? Why did we inherit negative results? Was it due to mistakes made by individuals? Or due to policy deficiencies? How were individuals allowed to manipulate the economy as they wished? Can the economic policy of a country vary from person to person? Is it favorable for the country or else harmful to change policies from time to time?

We have examined this situation in depth. As a remedy, we are preparing a National Economic Policy for the next 25 years. It lays the foundation for a social market economic system, securing development for the poor and underprivileged groups and encouraging small and medium entrepreneurs.

Our aim is to create a surplus in the primary budget by the year 2025. Our effort is to raise the economic growth rate to a stable stage, in order to establish a solid economic foundation by the year 2026. Currently, public debt is 140 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our plan is to bring this down to less than 100% by the year 2032.

If we build the country, the nation and the economy through the national economic policy, we would be able to become a fully developed country by the year 2048, when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of independence.

When I draw long-term plans in this manner some ridicule me. Yes, I am not like other politicians. I have long-term plans. My planning is not for my own betterment, but for the young generation of today. I clearly know that I would not eat the fruit of the tree that I plant. But tomorrow, our children or future generations will enjoy the fruit.

I would also like to make a special reference to the foreign policy of our country. Due to the instability of foreign policy, we faced many disadvantages and setbacks in the international arena. I will change this situation. All countries of the world are our friends. We have no enemies. We do not belong to any group. I will ensure the adoption of a cordial and friendly foreign policy with all countries.

I have already emphasized that a number of social and political reforms should be made in parallel with the economic growth policies in order to build a prosperous Sri Lanka. The people of the country is looking forward to an extensive political reform process.

What has happened today? Reliance of people on the political system and politicians has broken. Expectations of the people regarding the state mechanism have been exhausted. This is the reason for the activists to demand a change in the system.

I will take measures to make the change required to build the Sri Lankan nation. I will implement social and political reforms requested by the nation, with the cooperation of all the citizen.

The struggle that started all over Colombo expecting system change was later centralized in Galle Face. This was expanded to several major cities on the island. This struggle was conducted on a non-violent basis and creative manner. These activists did not commit any act of violence. Therefore, families joined the struggle to express their protests. Parents were not afraid to even bring children to places of protest.

Protesters once digitally illuminated the walls of the Presidential Secretariat, without any harm. Although, later this non-violence was suppressed and violence emerged, with certain politicized groups that became stakeholders. By indulging in violence the protests turned towards terrorism.

I do not allow violence and terrorism. However, will protect non-violence and democracy.

Peaceful struggle is a fundamental right. I accept those rights.

Some groups are trying to spread a huge propaganda through social media that I am hunting down the protesters. But it is not true. I will not allow any kind of prejudice to the peaceful activists. I will establish an office to protect the peaceful protesters and support them.

If any injustice occurs to a peaceful activist, that person can call the 24 hour dedicated line and file a complaint. A Committee headed by a retired judge will examine the complaints and take necessary measures, accordingly.

If there are individuals who have participated in such illegal activities either unknowingly or due to the influence of others, a plan will be prepared to act sympathetically towards them.

However, if there are individuals who intentionally violate the law and engage in violent and terrorist acts, legal action will be taken against them. I will not allow anyone to act outside the law. The law is the same for you, me and everyone.

The law will be applied equally to the people who attacked the peaceful protesters on 09th May and those who are engaging in violence and terrorism under the guise of the struggle. I will ensure that there is no political intervention in this process.

There are groups spreading violence near fuel stations. Complaints are being received about people breaking the queue by force, without allowing the people who have been in the queue for days to obtain fuel. Such unruly conduct cannot be allowed. The limited amount of fuel that we can provide must be fairly distributed. I have directed the Inspector General of Police to strictly enforce the law against people who interfere with queues.

A number of major Buddhist and Hindu religious festivals are held in the month of August. These festivals are one of the reasons for increasing the tourist arrivals in this month. Although, some groups are trying to disrupt these festivals by creating a turbulent background in the country. The security forces are keeping an eye on such behavior. I request everyone not to fall into such traps that contribute to destroying the future of the country.

Currently, places have been allocated by the Colombo and Kandy Municipal Councils for peaceful protests. Municipal councils are also acting in order to provide the necessary facilities for the activists who are protesting in those places. So I kindly request the people not to stay in unauthorized places anymore, and therefore, request the peaceful strugglers to vacate the unauthorized places and assist to maintain law and order. We look forward to your support in building the Sri Lankan nation.

A protest was held in Batticaloa in concurrence with the Galle Face Struggle. A walk to the Gandhi Statue was organized daily. A statement made by Tashi Chodap, a Tibetan Thero who joined this struggle, was quoted in an article written by a female activist in our country. I would like to quote that statement.

“You re-confirm your participation by joining this walk. Protest in a different way. Through the participation express your opinion about what is happening today. You have chosen to be alert in this moment of crisis. Not that suffering alone. We know that one crisis cannot be solved by another. The crisis can only be resolved through unity."

As stated by Tashi Chodap Thero, I re-emphasize to this House that we all should solve this crisis together and in unity. Let's get together. Let's make the social, economic and political changes needed for the 21st century.

I would like to draw attention to several factors therein. How should we proceed forward by solving these crises? What are the responsibilities of political parties in that journey? Can we go on this journey, trapped in our traditional political thinking?

We have to think anew about the political party system. The activities of the parties should be reorganized in a manner that suits the future. Should we continue to think of politics today, in the same way? Political education should be seriously considered.

In the year 1977, we were able to create a new economy that accomplished a number by our expectations and hopes as youths. Now, absolute contribution of our youth should provide to create a new economy appropriate for the future. Their skills should not be limited to a protest venue. We should create opportunities to utilize their creative skills for the future of the country. In the upcoming elections, more youth should come to this Parliament. The next election should be the term of the youth.

I consider that the creation of a new Constitution with new attitudes in order to provide space for youth, is one of the main priority tasks.

At present, the President has the full right to appoint the members of the Election Commission, Public Service Commission, Police Commission, Judicial Service Commission, etc. I directly say that it is not a favorable condition for democracy. We should change that condition. Presently, it has inherited more power to the President than a previous king of Sri Lanka. It should be changed immediately.

The President of a country does not have to be a King or a God who is exalted above the people. He or she is one of the citizens. Therefore, separate flags, separate logos, and separate honor awards should not be consecrated. I have already taken some necessary measures and will continue to do so.

As an initiative of the political reform process, we wish to pass the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, including all the effective elements of the 19th Amendment. I expect the full support of this Honorable House in its adoption.

The Bill of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution has now been presented to Parliament. It is my view that discussing it and reaching a common consensus is most appropriate. We could not achieve everything we want through the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. It is fundamental to a series of reforms. It would be a constructive step if we adopt the reforms in one voice.

As I mentioned earlier, measures are being taken to establish the Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committees immediately. All the political parties will have the opportunity to work together, through those Committees. I have already submitted to this House the report forwarded by the National Movement for Social Justice in this regard.

Also, I am working to establish a National Assembly consisting of political party leaders. For the next steps, we will be able to arrange a programme with a common minimum programme with the consent of all, through the National Assembly.

From the past our country suffered disputes due to disunity. We were divided into ethnic groups. Divided into languages. Divided into religions. Divided into parties. Divided into classes. Divided geographically. Divided by castes.

Certain parties widened these divisions further. These divisions were used to gain power, and seek advantages from the distribution of power. They tried to maintain power by creating various divisions such as ethnic groups, religions etc.

Ever since I entered into politics, I wanted to create a society with a Sri Lankan identity without these divisions. To create a nation, where children of one mother can live in harmony. I suffered political defeats due to regular engagement in this exercise. It was criticized by extremists, because of my continued stand against racism and bigotry, some political parties slandered me as a racist.

However, I did not deviate from my principle. I will not deviate from that policy.

Today, the majority of the youth have accepted that they want to continue my policies. They chant slogans against racism and bigotry. Protests are being carried out mentioning the necessity of peace among ethnic groups of Sinhala - Tamil - Muslim - Burgher etc. Sinhalese youths say that all the ethnic groups including Tamils and Muslims should be treated equally. I am glad that the young generation understand the truth that I tried to explain to this society for about five decades.

Now we have the opportunity to direct the entire country towards that policy with the collaboration of these youths. Space has been created to eliminate all kind of disunity in race, religion, party, caste etc. Opportunity has been granted to end the sufferings faced by some community due to this disunity. Space has been arranged to ensure the basis of determining the advancement of an individual on talent and ability. The background has been created for an environment where every citizen can live in freedom.

It is also essential to provide a political solution to the issues faced by the Tamil community for a long time. They are suffering with many social and economic issues due to the hardships of war. There are many land issues that need to be resolved. We have to think anew about the development tasks in the North. We expect to get the support of the Sri Lankan Tamils living abroad by closely working with them, on the programme of rebuilding Sri Lanka. We look forward to their visits and investments in their motherland.

Similarly, women, who are the majority of the population, still face issues of harassment, violence and other discrimination and inadequacy. We have to take necessary measures to change this situation.

It is essential to completely eliminate bribery, corruption and fraud from our society. I will implement a national policy to combat bribery and corruption. New rules and regulations and orders in this regard are being prepared by the Ministry of Justice. A consensus will be reached with the International Monetary Fund regarding combating of corruption.

A comprehensive series of political reforms are required to implement all these functions. I will carry out those reforms during my tenure. However, not based on my own opinion, but with the consent of the Parliament based on the views of the youth, women and other people.

I am taking measures to establish a People’s Assembly in order to decide which social and political reforms should be implemented. A mechanism to obtain views of all interested parties is being prepared through the People's Assembly through the consultation of political parties, various organizations etc. I specially invite the youth engaged in activism and youth who are not to provide their views.

All matters such as ‘Should we continue to maintain the presidential system in our country? Which system is most appropriate for the country? How should the government system be reformed?’ should be discussed by the People’s Assembly, and ideas requested. After reaching a national consensus on the system that suits the country, it may be legalized and implemented.

It is essential to reach such a national consensus, on which I would explain. The major commitment presented during the Presidential Election campaign in our country is the abolition of the executive presidential system. However, no one who came to power delivered on that commitment. On the other hand, even if someone abolishes the executive presidential system, the next party that comes to power has the ability to change it. That is the reason we require to reach a common national consensus through a body such as the People's Assembly.

People’s Assembly is a fully independent body with the Government only providing the necessary resources. The Government has no influence on its functions or decisions. We decide in consultation with various parties, regarding the composition of the People's Assembly.

Views and proposals in this regard have already been made by the National Movement for Social Justice.

The People's Assembly may seek from the nations in our neighbourhood and the wider Asian region together with the relevant international agencies their expertise in the respective areas.

The responsibility of preparing a National Plan for social, economic and political reforms is assigned to the People's Assembly, by taking the opinions and advice of all stakeholders and acting with full transparency. The Assembly may wish to prepare this plan.

Friends,

I came to Parliament as a young Member of Parliament in the year 1977, and held various positions in the country. I did what I thought was right for the country in the midst of honour-dishonour, grace-disgrace. In the past two or three years, I have experienced that the country has become unstable. Looking back at all of that, I remember the poem 'If' written by Rudyard Kipling, one of the world famous literary scholars, which I memorized while studying at Royal College.

I will quote a part of it.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stood and build’em up with worn-out tools:

  • - you’ll be a Man, my son!”

So, let us embark on a new journey with sincere hearts and noble expectations. Let's plant the seeds of truth and freedom. Nowadays, many slanders and criticisms can be directed to us. However, one day in the future, we will be proven right, when the seeds of truth and freedom we planted sprout, grow, and bear fruit.

Concluding my speech, I would like to remind you of a teaching preached by the Buddha. It is mentioned in the Tripitaka that the Buddha emphasized this fact on many occasions.

"Attadipa Viharatha..."

Be a light to yourself.

Let us be a light to ourselves. Let us illuminate Sri Lanka with that light.

Thank you.

 

Decisions taken at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on 01.08.2022

1. Encouraging agriculture and cultivation activities

Approval of the Cabinet of Ministers has been granted at their meeting held on 13.06.2022 not to
open government offices during Fridays as a remedy since it has become difficult for the state sector
employees to find transport facilities due to the existing fuel shortage as well as a remedy to the food
scarcity to be experienced in the future. Accordingly, the Public Administration Circular No. 15/2022
dated 15.06.2022 has been issued inclusive of the said instructions with a validity / effective period of
03 months. However, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution forwarded by the Hon. Prime
Minister as the Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local
Government to cancel the above circular with immediate effect, considering that the public
transport is being normalized by now as well as a sufficient period has been allocated to be engaged
in the preliminary activities applicable to the agricultural activities.

2. Management of expenditure of state corporations, statutory boards and government
owned companies

The monitoring efficiency, as well as the financial discipline of the state enterprises, have to be
ensured strictly with a view to enable confronting the challenging situation existing within the
country at present. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted their concurrence to the
proposal submitted by the President as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stability and National
Policies in order to issue circular instructions for expenditure management and ensuring the
sustainability of enterprises of the state corporations, statutory boards and government owned
companies, parallel to the National Budget Circular No. 03/2022 dated 26.04.2022 issued in regard to
the control of government expenditure.

3. Granting duty concessions on imports by local garment manufacturing equipment /
appliances.

Garment industry has become one of the main sectors earning foreign exchange to Sri Lanka even
amidst Covid – 19 pandemic circumstances. However, due to the price hike of raw materials and the
prevailing unfavourable economic environment experienced in the country, local garment
manufacturers are compelled to deal with a number of challenges when importing appliances required
for garment manufacturing that are not produced locally. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers
granted approval to the resolution furnished by the Minister of Industries for granting duty
concessions in regard to appliances/items not manufactured locally and coming under 19
harmonized system (HS) codes; as a remedy to the prevailing situation.

4. Incentives to Migrant workers for remittances through official channels

Increasing the remittances made by migrant workers to Sri Lanka is a solution to the foreign
exchange crisis in the country. Therefore, an officers committee has been appointed as per 
the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers dated 27.06.2022 to study the facts and make recommendations
regarding the relief and incentives to be given to them.

Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented in accordance with the recommendations of the
committee, by the Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment to provide an Additional Duty
Concession Allowance for them based on the amount remitted to Sri Lanka through official channels
upon the arrival of the concerned migrant workers to Sri Lanka and to facilitate the said migrant
workers to purchase an electric vehicle.

5. Enactment of the Constitution of the – Sri Lanka UNESCO National Commission

The need to recognize and strengthen in Sri Lanka UNESCO National Commission has long been
recognized. In accordance with the cabinet decision dated 14.06.2021, Legal Draftsman has prepared
a bill for this purpose and the clearance of the Attorney General has also been received for this.
Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Education
to publish this in the Govt. Gazette and consequently table in the parliament for approval.

6. Revision of Kandyan Marriage and Divorce Act

Approval of the Cabinet of Minister has been granted on 2021.10.26 to draft a bill for repealing
section II of the Kandyan Marriages and Divorce Act that requires parental consent for the marriage
of a minor and to remove the existing non-conformities.

Legal Draftsman has prepared a bill for this purpose and the clearance of the Attorney General has
also been received for this. Accordingly the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by
the Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms to publish this in the Govt. Gazette
and consequently table in the parliament for approval.

 

 

A Bodhi Pooja ceremony to invoke blessings on veteran actor and artiste Jackson Anthony was held at the Hunupitiya Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo under the patronage of the Maha Sangha and with the participation of Highways and Transport and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane yesterday.

This was organized by the Mass Media Ministry under the guidance of Minister Gunawardane.

Jackson Anthony is currently receiving treatment at the ICU of the National Hospital in Colombo following a major accident that took place in Thalawa recently.

Deputy Incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple, Ven.Dr. Kirinde Assaji Thera on this occasion said that Jackson Anthony is an instrumental character for the country and the future of the art and media sectors.

His knowledge and experience in multiple sectors are invaluable and such characters are very rare and unique in the country, he said.

Jackson Anthony has won the applause of the Sri Lankans for his talent on the stage, television and cinema. Anthony has won the award for the Best Actor for a record sixteen times.

Ven. Dr. Assaji Thera also recalled how Anthony visited the temple and associated with the Maha Sangha whenever necessary. According to the Thera, Jackson Anthony is well-known by the Sri Lankans in and out of the country as an actor, director, producer, singer, screenwriter, television host, novelist, columnist, lyricist, historian and traveler.

Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and the Chairman of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited Anusha Pelpita, Director General of the Department of Government Information Mohan Samaranayake, heads of state media institutions, artistes, journalists and several others participated on this occasion.

  

 

 

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena visited the historic Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy and paid homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic, today (31). The Prime Minister placed floral tribute to the Sacred Tooth Relic and engaged in religious observances. The Prime Minister also received the blessings of the Maha Sangha.

while speaking to the media after paying homage to Dalada Maligawa in Kandy Prime Minister Gunawardena said, that the Government will not allow any room for activities and attempts to destabilize the economic process of the country.

He added that although some are trying to portray that the government is taking a hard-line approach the government was only taking measures to ensure the country’s security, people’s well-being and a conducive atmosphere for the economy to develop.

He said that it is essential to maintain law and order in the country and it is important not only for the government but also for the private sector as well as the entrepreneurs.

He stressed that everyone has to join hands to overcome the challenges faced by the country and that protecting the citizens is the primary aim of the government.

The Prime Minister stressed that the President has called for an All-Party Government several times and he also made a statement in the Parliament in this regard and said that a statement in this regard will be made at the new parliamentary session on August 3.

He said that the President and the Ministers will work with foreign countries with great friendship and mutual trust.

He declared that law and order are implemented for the benefit of all the people of the country and foreign countries have the ability to understand it.

He said that the government always respects the independence of the judiciary and the government has bowed its head and accepted the decisions given by the judiciary in the past.

He said that the work of the President and Prime Minister offices has now started again and the Temple Tree will also be restored to its former status very soon.

The Prime Minister was received by the Kandy Mayor Kesara Senanayaka, Governor Lalith U.Gamage, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, MPs Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Dilum Amunugama, Sisira Jayakody, Udayana Kirindigoda,Wasantha Yapa Bandara, Lak Vanitha Peramuna Chairman Shanthini Kongahage too were present among others.

Page 5 of 85

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