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President Ranil Wickremesinghe as Finance Minister will present the Budget for 2024 to Parliament on November 13.

The debate on the Second Reading of the 2024 Budget will begin on November 14 after President Wickremesinghe presents the Budget proposals.

The debate on the Second Reading of the Budget will continue for seven days from November 14 to November 21. Following the debate, the vote on the Second Reading of the Budget is scheduled to be held on the 21st at 6 pm.

The Committee Stage debate or the third reading debate on the budget is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, November 23, and will continue to be held until December 13. The vote related to the Third Reading of the 2024 budget is scheduled to be held on December 13 at 6 pm.

The Office of the Chief Government Whip has informed all Government Members of Parliament that it is essential to stay in Parliament during the budget debate and to arrange external activities so that they can stay in Parliament during the debate period.

The Presidential Cinema Award Ceremony will take place on November 14, from 6.30 pm at the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre. National Film Corporation Chairman Deepal Chandraratne said that Rs. 7 million will be spent to present 53 awards after reviewing 42 films.

Speaking at a press conference at Tharanganie Cinema belonging to the National Film Corporation, he said that this film awards ceremony, which will be held after five years, will be organised by the National Film Corporation under the sponsorship of Godakanda Herbal Company. He also said that this film festival will be held with 42 films screened in 2019 and 2020, and that seven films including “Katha Karana Heenaya”, “Face to Face”, “The Phone” did not apply for this award ceremony.

22 major awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenwriter and three other awards such as the Pioneer Award, the Swarna Sinha Award and the Vishwa Keerthi Award will be presented here.

On this occasion, members of the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka National Film Corporation, senior film critic Ashley Ratnavibhushana, senior actress Nadeeka Gunasekara, Prof.Samantha Herath and the Godakanda Herbal Company Chairman Dr.Lelwala Godakanda participated.

Cabinet Spokesman Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said that a Cabinet sub-committee headed by the President and a 25-member expert committee headed by the Prime Minister’s Secretary to assist the

sub-committee have been appointed to prepare a national education policy framework in a way that suits the current world needs and present it to Parliament.

The minister speaking at the Cabinet press conference said that the expert committee has drafted the national education policy framework focusing on the relevant subject areas and subject matters.

He stated that the National Education Policy 2023-2033, which has been further improved by incorporating the observations and recommendations presented by the Ministerial Sub-Committee for these drafts, has been submitted to the Parliament’s Oversight Committee on Education to be submitted to the Parliament as a ten-year policy and then tabled in Parliament.

Explaining that this is a very special ten-year national education programme, the minister also mentioned that this has been implemented with the aim of creating a future generation of children with various talents, skills and creative abilities so that the entire education system fits the needs of the modern world.

The Cabinet Spokesperson further stated that the proposal presented by the President to present the new National Education Policy for further discussion in the Sectoral Committee and in the Parliament, which was prepared and finalised after extensive study of the views of all parties, was approved by the Cabinet.

Marking a significant momentum of the economic recovery and stabilization, the second high- level roundtable discussion on Crisis to Recovery was held 31 October 2023, in Colombo.

This event follows the previous session in December 2022 and provides a forum to discuss the progress of the Government’s reform programs aimed at addressing key economic and structural issues. It also focuses on transitioning from crisis recovery to a sustainable growth path, challenges and opportunities for attracting investment, promoting private capital mobilization, creating jobs, and maintaining commitments by the Government and participating partners towards Sri Lanka’s greener, resilient, and inclusive development.

During the previous session in December 2022, representatives from the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) emphasized that a coordinated assistance program, supported by the multilateral financial institutions, is required for Sri Lanka to recover from the economic crisis currently facing the country.

The Sri Lankan economy has shown initial signs of stabilization, with moderating inflation, easing foreign exchange liquidity pressures, and some progress on debt restructuring, including the approval of the domestic debt restructuring strategy. Under the Government of Sri Lanka’s reform program, underpinned by the IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and supported by other development partners, cornerstone legislation is being developed, and structural reforms are being implemented to restore stability and regain access to international financial markets. However, the path to recovery remains narrow, with limited fiscal and external buffers.

Moving forward, a rapid and sufficiently deep external debt restructuring, as well as the continued implementation of macro-fiscal and structural reforms that improve economic governance, enhance competitiveness, and protect the poor and vulnerable, remain essential for regaining a sustainable growth path. A clear and concrete action plan for coordinating these reforms, involving relevant stakeholders, including development partners, would significantly contribute to the successful implementation of the government-owned reform program.

Today’s Roundtable provided an open and candid forum between the Government of Sri Lanka, the Developmental Partners, and the private sector to share key updates and recommendations to sustain the momentum of the nation’s reform efforts.

The session was opened by the President Ranil Wickremesinghe, representing the Government of Sri Lanka. He delivered an address on the growth and strategic directions for Sri Lanka as it moves from recovery to a sustainable growth path. The President also made firm commitments for the Government to work hand in hand with the private sector to unlock key investments in new and existing economic sectors moving forward, together with exploring opportunities in pursuing Green initiatives and championing Sri Lanka as a regional logistics hub in the near future.

Outcomes from the discussions in the Roundtable signaled overwhelming commitment and confidence from both the Developmental Partners and the Private Sector in the Government’s present reform efforts. The Government has also provided a clear framework to improving coordination and communications, along with detailed action plans on the implementation and delivery of the reform agenda.

To strengthen delivery, the Government has plans to set-up a Presidential Delivery Unit, conduct Economic Labs with the private sector, and hold Open days to communicate outcomes to the public of what has been achieved and delivered.

Marking the Reform Priorities, Progress, Challenges and Opportunities, Secretary to the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance, Mr. K. M. Mahinda Siriwardana made a presentation under the theme of “Progress on key stabilization measures and structural reforms undertaken since the last roundtable discussion in December 2022 and planned over the medium term to sustain stability, promote growth, and re-establish credit worthiness” while outlining the Government’s reform coordination platform around which Multilateral Development Banks can work.

Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Dr. P Nandalal Weerasinghe highlighted the progress on debt restructuring made by the Sri Lankan Government. Alongside these presentations and remarks, international development partners including IMF, World Bank, MIGA, ADB, AIIB, ЛСА, USAID, EU, UN and private sector development partners made an interactive length long discussion and shared their views on the matter.

The session was also attended by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekara and State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Senior Advisor on National Security to the President and Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga and Foreign Ministry Secretary Ms Aruni Wijewardane all representing the Government of Sri Lanka.

Additionally, the following international representatives took part in the discussion: Ms. Anna Bjerde, World Bank Managing Director of Operations; Martin Raiser, World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region; Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmed, Vice President for Operations, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); Ms. Sarwat Jahan, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Mr. Shixin Chen, Vice President (South, Central, and West Asia) of the Asian Development Bank; Dr. Urjit Patel, Vice President, Investment Operations of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); H.E. Ambassador Carmen Moreno, Ambassador of the EU Delegation ; Ms. Sachiko Imoto, Senior Vice President, JICA; Ms. Anjali Kaur, Deputy Assistant Administrator USAID; and Mr. Marc-André Franche, Resident Coordinator, UN.

From the private sector, Mr. Krishan Balendra, CEO of John Keells Holdings; Mr. Mahesh Amlean, Chairman of MAS Holdings; Mr. Ajit Gunewardene, Chairman of the Oversight Committee for trade and investment, Duminda Hulangamuwa, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Ms. Sherin Cader, Chairperson of Nations Trust Bank joined as private sector representatives from Sri Lanka.

PMD

 
 

Decisions taken by the Cabinet of Ministers on 30.10.2023


1. Formulation of a new Employees’ Provident Fund


The Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment, in consultation with trade unions, employers and
relevant parties, has prepared a concept paper for the formulation of a new Employment Act with relevant
provisions. It was discussed in the meeting on 07.08.2023. It was decided in the meeting of the Cabinet of
Ministers to present the said concept paper to the Tripartite Committee representing Employers,
Employees and the Government functioning under the Prime Minister's Office, for further discussion with
all relevant parties and to submit recommendations. The committee chaired by the Prime Minister has
studied the concept paper and submitted a report containing recommendations regarding matters that need
to be addressed to the attention of the Cabinet. Accordingly, it was decided by the Cabinet of Ministers to
advise the Legal Draftsman to prepare a bill based on those recommendations and the concept paper
presented by the Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment related to this matter.


2. Agreements entered into by the Open University of Sri Lanka for higher education
cooperation and regarding the Chinese Language Center


Aiming to promote international cooperation, scholarly collaboration, cultural interaction and friendship,
the relevant parties have reached an agreement to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding between
the Open University of China and the Open University of Sri Lanka for higher education cooperation and
under the cooperation areas of the MoU, to sign a tripartite agreement between Shanghai Open University
of China , the Open University of Sri Lanka and the Bank of China Ltd for the establishment of a Chinese
language center in Sri Lanka . Accordingly the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by
the Minister of Education to enter into relevant agreements valid for a period of 05 years.


3. Memorandum of Understanding Between the Ministry of Education and the Room to Read
Organization for increasing literacy


The Government of Sri Lanka is bound to eradicating illiteracy and ensuring the right of all to equal and
fair access to education at all stages. It is practically a difficult task for the government to provide all the
facilities in that process and therefore, the support of other parties is also obtained for this purpose. Since
the year 2005, the Ministry of Education has been implementing the Reading Development Program and
the Girls' Education Program together with the Room to Read Organization. The program is planned to be
further expanded and implemented within a period of 5 years from 01.12.2023. As such, the Cabinet of
Ministers approved the Proposal presented by the Minister of Education to enter in to a new Memorandum
of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and the Room to Read Organization for this purpose.


4. Joint Statement on the Establishment of the International Organization for Arbitration


The Chinese government has proposed the establishment of an International Organization for Mediation
to resolve disputes between states and commercial entities. Accordingly, the Chinese government has
discussed with interested countries in this regard and Sri Lanka also participated in some of those initial
discussions. In July 2022, the preliminary joint statement for the establishment of the proposed
organization has been issued and about 10 countries including China have endorsed the joint declaration.
Sri Lanka has sought observations from other government agencies including the Ministry of Justice and
the Attorney General's Department regarding the approval of the said Joint Statement and it has been
observed that the signing of the Joint statement will not affect any of the international obligations currently
undertaken by Sri Lanka. Accordingly the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Proposal presented by the
Minister of Foreign Affairs to approve the Joint Statement on the Establishment of the International
Organization for Mediation.


5. “Sri Lanka Abhiman” – National Art Festival


The National Art Festival ,“Sri Lanka Abhiman” is proposed to be held on December 30, 31, 2023 and
January 1, 2024, incorporating cultural elements for the enjoyment and entertainment of the general public.
Accordingly, the proposed art festival is scheduled to be held at Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha,
Colombo 07 and the surrounding premises of Nelum Pokuna Theatre, National Art Gallery , John Silva
Memorial Theatre, Viharamahadevi Park, New Town Hall and National Museum. Accordingly the
Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Buddhasashana, Religious and
Cultural Affairs to hold the “Sri Lanka Abhiman” - National Art Festival as a combined program of the
Ministry of Buddhasashana, Religious and Cultural Affairs and the affiliated institutions and the other
Government and Private Institutions.


6. Placement of social security systems in Sri Lanka under a formal institutional structure


Around a total of 8.1 million workers are employed in Sri Lanka. Among these 1.2 million are working
in the public sector and about 3.4 million are working in the private sector. According to census and
statistical reports, about 58.4% of the total number of workers is employed in the informal sector.
However, around 2.5 million workers are covered by social security schemes such as the Employees'
Provident Fund. In addition, the government bears the cost of various social security schemes such as
Farmers Insurance and Fishery Insurance implemented by various government agencies to cover the
informal employment sector.
The effectiveness and efficiency of these social security systems have been challenged due to the
difficulties caused by the implementation by different institutions under different methods and the cost
being borne by the government or the employer party. Due to this, it has been recognized that all the social
security systems currently in operation should be managed under one institution. The Cabinet of Ministers
paid attention to the proposal presented by the Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment in this regard
and decided to appoint a committee representing all parties to study the international experience related
to this matter and to make recommendations to introduce a system so that all current social security
systems can be implemented under one institution.


7. Submission of Regulations issued under the Import and Export (Control) Act No. 1 of 1969, for
approval of Parliament


The proposal presented by the Hon. President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic
Stabilization and National Policies to submit the Regulation No.14 of 2023 imposed under the provisions
of Imports and Exports (Control) Act, No.1 of 1969 and published in Extraordinary Gazette Notification
No. 2353/16 dated 09.10.2023, for approval of Parliament, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.


8. Sri Lanka Institute of Economics and International Trade Bill


The Cabinet approval has been granted for preparing a bill for the establishment of the Sri Lanka Institute
of Economics and International Trade with the objectives of operating as a space for research and policy
formulation relevant economics, international finance and international trade, Conducting modern
research and studies in those fields, Contribute by providing ideas to strengthen economic finance and
trade policies and the Effective promotion of international and regional trade policy integration.
Accordingly the cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Hon. President to publish the
bill prepared for this purpose in the government gazette and submit for approval of parliament
consequently.
 
9. Long term contract for purchase of 03 stocks of crude oil during the period from 15.01.2024 to
14.06.2024.


Bids have been called to award a long term contract for the purchase of crude oil under the methodology
of payment at the 100% issuance from stored tanks basis pertaining to 03 shipment stocks of crude oil
during the period from 15.01.2024 to 14.06.2024 whereas two (02) bids in the connection have been
received. Approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted to the resolution furnished by the Minister of
Electricity and Power to award the relevant procurement to M/s Vitol Asia Pte. Ltd. of Singapore subject
to the recommendation submitted by the special fixed procurement committee appointed by the Cabinet
of Ministers in regard to the said bids.


10. Long term contract for purchase by a letter of credit on the basis of payment in 30 days in
regard to 03 shipments of crude oil during the period from 15.01.2024 to 14.06.2024.


Three bids have been received in relation to the bidding for awarding long term contract for purchase by
a letter of credit on the basis of payment in 30 days in regard to 03 shipments of crude oil during the period
from 15.01.2024 to 14.06.2024. Approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted to the resolution
furnished by the Minister of Electricity and Power to award the relevant procurement to M/s Coral Energy
DMCC, UAE, subject to the recommendation submitted by the special fixed procurement committee
appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers in regard to the said bids


11. Conducting a series of programmes to totally combine up country Tamil community in Sri
Lanka to the Sri Lankan society.


The Government has planned to implement a national level programme to commemorate the 200 years of
establishment of plantation community in Sri Lanka and to implement various other programmes in the
future for the betterment of that community. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the
proposal furnished by the Hon. President to appoint a Cabinet Sub - Committee chaired by the Hon. Prime
Minister to render guidance and supervision to implement relevamt programmes productively and
efficiently by the Ministry of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development joined with the
participation of other relevant government and non - government institutions ensuring a higher standard
of life enhancing education and health facilities, creating economic and professional opportunities and
permanent residency of estate community who are Sri Lankan citizens for their betterment.


12. Submission of the National Education Policy Framework to the Parliament.


In order to take measures to prepare and furnish the Parliament with a National Education Policy
Framework, a Cabinet Sub - Committee headed by the Hon. President and another specialist Committee
comprised of 25 members headed by the Secretary to the Hon. Prime Minister to assist the above sub -
committee have been appointed and the specialist committee has prepared the draft National Education
Policy Framework paying attention on the relevant specific fields and subject matters Including the
observations and recommendations submitted by the Cabinet Sub - Committee for that draft, a further
enhanced ‘National Education Policy Framework - 2023 - 2033’ has been developed. The Cabinet of
Ministers granted approval for the proposal submitted by the Hon. President to direct the said National
Education Policy Framework to the Sector Supervision Committee on Education at the Parliament and
subsequently submit to the Parliament for its concurrence.


13. Tax Policy Reforms to strengthen State Finance Contemplation based on revenue.


Various tax based enhancing and developmental tax policy proposals have been implemented from the
month of June 2022 for the state financial stability based on the income with the objective of ensuring loan

sustainability and as a result of that, the state tax revenue of the first 09 months of 2023 has been escalated
by 51% compared to the year 2022. However, tax collection targets agreed with the International Monetary
Fund have not yet been accomplished. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to escalate
the value added tax rate up to 18% with effect from 01.01.2024, impose the said tax on certain goods and
services to which the value added tax is not yet applicable and implement some of new tax proposals with
effect from 01.01.2024 including the imposition of that tax to enable accomplishment of tax revenue and
primary balance targets as agreed with the International Monetary Fund.


14. Revision of the existing General Policy Guidelines on Supply of Electricity.


The Minister in charge of the subject of Electricity is vested with the power of preparation of a general
policy guideline on the supply of electricity subject to the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers as per the
provisions of the SRi Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009.. Accordingly, the electricity charges review
period is decided to be six (06) months as per the existing general policies guidelines. However,
considering the inconveniences the public has to confront due to acting according to it, the Cabinet of
Ministers granted approval to the joint Cabinet proposal furnished by the Hon. President in his capacity as
the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies with the Minister of Electricity and
Power to revise the relevant period as three (03) months, to implement power dispatch audit of the Ceylon
Electricity Board, and strengthen hydro electricity forecast with the assistance of the Department of
Meteorology so that the general policies guidelines already implemented can be revised.


15. Proposed salary revisions to be implemented by the budget 2024.


The Cabinet of Ministers discussed the escalation of salaries in the government service and the private
sector by the 2024 budget. The Hon. President made aware of the Cabinet of Ministers that it is expected
to furnish proposals to the Parliament in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization
and National Policies in regard to revision of government service salaries and private sector salaries by
the next budget.
*****


 In the event of any inconsistency between the Tamil and English translations of this
document, the Sinhala text shall prevail.

 
 

 

  • A Non-Cabinet ministerial post for Plantation Enterprises.

The three Cabinet ministers took their oaths at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (23), in the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mr. Keheliya Rambukwella now serves as the Minister of Environment, Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera as the Minister of Plantation Industries and Dr. Ramesh Pathirana as the Minister of Health.

Furthermore, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana has been appointed as the Minister of Health in addition to his current portfolio as the Minister of Industry while Minister Amaraweera was appointed as the Minister of Plantation Industries in addition to his current post as the Minister of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who presently serves as the State Minister of Finance, has been designated as the State Plantation Enterprise Reform Minister, which is a non-Cabinet position.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday arrived in Beijing to attend the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. leaders from over 90 countries’ representatives confirm participation in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

The event will be focusing on connectivity as the main theme as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to provide a new platform for international economic cooperation and add fresh impetus to participating countries’ development and world economic growth. China has signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations.

According to the World Bank, by 2030, BRI transport infrastructure, if fully implemented, is expected to increase global real income by 0.7% to 2.9% lifting 7.6 million people from extreme poverty and 32 million people from moderate poverty.

President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the forum and deliver a keynote speech and hold a welcoming banquet and bilateral events for the guests attending the forum.

 
 
 
 

 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe will leave for China tonight (15) to attend the 3rd Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation.

The President will engage a four-day official visit to China from October 16 to 20.

During his absence, the responsibilities of the ministries under his purview have been temporarily entrusted to the respective state ministers and a cabinet minister.

As part of this arrangement, State Minister Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon will serve as the Acting Minister of Defence, State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as the Acting Minister of Finance, State Minister Kanaka Herath as the Acting Minister of Technology and Acting Minister of Investment Promotion, State Minister Anupa Pasqual as the Acting Minister for Women, Children Affairs and Social Empowerment and Minister of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Pavithra Wanniarachchi as the Acting Minister of Environment with the effect from tomorrow (16).

President Ranil Wickremesinghe in a condolence message on the demise of veteran artiste Jackson Anthony said his untimely passing is an immense loss to the Sri Lankan creative arts industry.

The message said: A pioneer in Jackson Anthony’s generation Ediriweera Sarachchandra expressed a profound sentiment in his book ‘Malagiya Aththo,’ that “The world is full of comings and goings.

One cannot leave without entering and one cannot enter without leaving.” This serves as a reminder of impermanence, where all of us, living in this world, are bound by the inevitability of having to depart someday.

The time has now come for Jackson, a versatile artiste, to bid us farewell; a departure we did not anticipate to happen so fast. His untimely passing is an immense loss to the Sri Lankan creative arts industry.

Amid the recent reflections on Jackson’s creative contributions, it is important to highlight a facet that may have gone unnoticed – his brilliance as a storyteller. Jackson’s debut novel, ‘Kanda Uda Gindara,’ was just the beginning of his literary journey, with plans for a sequel that, sadly, could not be completed in his lifetime.

In this time of grief, both Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe and I extend heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.

“It maybe recalled that Jackson Anthony’s life had its moments of scrutiny and critique. In such times, let us remember the wisdom from the New Testament of the Bible, “Judge not and yet shall not be judged. With the judgement you give, you will be judged. With what you measure, it will be measured to you.”

“May the multi-talented Jackson Anthony rest in eternal peace,” the message said.

The 2022 Kalabhooshana State Award Ceremony, which honours artistes for their outstanding contributions to the arts industry, took place at the Maharagama Youth Service Council under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (11).

Organized by the Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Ministry, this marks the 38th edition of the award ceremony. The Kalabhooshana Award, the highest recognition an artiste can receive in Sri Lanka, was bestowed on 200 accomplished artistes from across the country this year.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in the event, symbolically presenting the Kalabhooshana Honorary Title, Appreciation Award and certificates, along with a cash prize of Rs. 50,000, to the deserving artistes. During the ceremony, Director of Cultural Affairs, Yasintha Gunawardena, also presented a commemorative gift to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Before the awards were presented, a moment of silence was observed to pay tribute to artistes, including the late Jackson Anthony. The event was attended by Ven.Rambukana Siddhartha Thera, religious leaders and several dignitaries, including the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayake, State Minister Shantha Banadara, MPs Vajira Abeywardena and C.B.Ratnayake, Prof. Tissa Witharana and Religious and Cultural Affairs Ministry Secretary Somaratne Vidanapathirana. Notable scholars and artistes were also present.

 
 
 
 

 

  • Three new bilateral agreements were signed to foster greater cooperation between the two countries.

India’s Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (11) at the Presidential Secretariat.

Extensive discussions were held to further strengthen Indo-Sri Lankan relations, resulting in the signing of three new bilateral agreements aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two countries.

Furthermore, the inauguration of the third phase of the housing project, supported by Indian loan assistance, was conducted during the meeting. While an initial allocation of Rs. 1.026 million had been allocated per unit for the fourth phase, it was necessary to revise the budget to Rs. 2.8 million per unit due to increased housing unit costs.

To uplift the lives of Sri Lankan citizens, the Government of India has committed to providing additional funds for the speedy completion of nine development projects in the country, which are currently supported by the Government of India. The relevant agreement for this initiative was also signed today.

These projects include the modernization of 27 schools in the Northern Province, housing initiatives in Mannar and Anuradhapura, improvements to the Hatton Thondaman Vocational Training Centre and Pussellawa Saraswati Central College, the construction of a multi-ethnic trilingual school in Polonnaruwa, the establishment of 2889 rainwater harvesting projects in the Jaffna area, the promotion of vegetable cultivation in the Dambulla area and the construction of greenhouse facilities with a capacity of 5000 metric tons for fruit preservation. Additionally, a new surgical unit for the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital will be promptly built as part of these efforts.

An agreement concerning a joint project involving the Indian National Dairy Development Board, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation of India (Amul), and the Cargills Group of Sri Lanka was signed with the aim of elevating Sri Lanka’s local dairy industry. This agreement emerged as a result of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s official visit to India and allocation of funding for the modernization of Sri Lanka’s livestock sector.

The primary objective of this new project is to increase milk production by 53% within the first five years and achieve self-sufficiency in milk production for Sri Lanka within 15 years. As part of this endeavour, it is anticipated that approximately 200,000 local farmers will be empowered through the provision of facilities such as high-quality medicines, animal nutrition and technical support.

Furthermore, this initiative encompasses digitalization of the livestock sector, investments in new technologies to enhance the quality of milk-related by-products and ensuring access to milk-related products at affordable prices.

In addition to this significant agreement, a special commemorative logo was unveiled today to celebrate the 75 years of Indo-Sri Lankan relations.

Present at the signing ceremony were Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Mr. Gopal Baglay, Union Secretaries of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Puneeth Agrawal and Mr. J. P. Singh, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Dr Satyanjal Pandey and Indian Ministry of External Affairs Deputy Secretary Mr. Raghu Puri.

From the Sri Lankan side, notable attendees included Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ali Sabri PC, Minister Jeevan Thondaman, State Minister Tenuka Widanagamage, Member of Parliament M. Rameswaran, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, Senior Advisor to the President on Economic Affairs Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, President’s Secretary Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Aruni Wijewardena, Director of Presidential International Affairs Mr. Dinuk Colombage and other dignitaries.

Tarushi Karunaratne, who won the gold medal in the women’s 800m event held yesterday at the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in Hangzhou, China, later won the bronze medal with the women’s 400m relay team.

Tarushi, who participated in the 800m event yesterday at 4.55 pm Sri Lanka time, won the gold medal with a time of 2:02.20 minutes, and she won the bronze medal by participating in the women’s 400m relay event at 5.45 pm Sri Lanka time.

This is the first gold medal won by Sri Lanka in the women’s 800-metre event at the Asian Games.

It is also notable that Sri Lanka won an athletics gold medal at an Asian Games after 21 years. The last time Sri Lanka’s Susanthika Jayasinghe and Damayanthi Darsha won gold medals was in Busan, South Korea in 2002. This is the 12th gold medal won by Sri Lanka in the history of the Asian Games.

18-year-old Tarushi was also the youngest among the eight players who joined this event yesterday. Tarushi, who holds the Sri Lankan record in this event, entered the sport at Walala A. Rathnayake Central College and is coached by Susantha Fernando. Gayanthika Abeyratne who represented Sri Lanka in this event got the last place. Her recorded time was 2:05.87 minutes. The silver medal was won by India’s Harmilan Bains (2:03.75), while the bronze medal went to China’s Wang Chunyu (2:03.90).

In the women’s 400m relay event, the Sri Lankan team clocked 3:30.88 minutes, Nadeesha Ramanayake, Jayeshi Uttara and Sayuri Mendis joined the team along with Tarushi. This time also became a new Sri Lankan record, while the old Sri Lankan record was set at the Asian Athletics Championship held last July at 3:33.27 minutes. Nadeesha Ramanayake, Sayuri Mendis, Nishendra Fernando and Tarushi Karunaratne participated in that event. This is the first medal won in this event at the Asian Games.

Bahrain won the gold medal in this event with a time of 3:27.65 minutes, setting a new competition record. India (3:27.85), which claimed their old record (3:28.68), won the silver medal.

The Sri Lankan men’s team managed to win the bronze medal in this event, where their time was 3:02.55 minutes. The preliminary round of this event was held on Tuesday, where the Sri Lankan team recorded a time of 3:06.60 minutes. Dinuka Deshan and Pasindu Kodikara, who took part in that event, did not participate in the race yesterday, while Rajitha Rajakaruna and Pabasara Nikoo joined Aruna Darshana along with Kalinga Kumarage.

Although this is the best time recorded by the Sri Lankan 400m relay team at the Asian Games, the previous best time in this event was recorded in 1974 when Sri Lanka won the gold medal with a time of 3:07.40 minutes.

The gold medal in this competition was won by India, who finished the competition in 3:01.58 minutes, while the silver medal went to Qatar (3:02.05).

With yesterday’s gold and two bronze medals, Sri Lanka finished 23rd in the medal table with one gold medal, two silver medals and two bronze medals.

Poor batting pull Sri Lanka out

Meanwhile, due to the irresponsible playing style of the batsmen, Sri Lanka’s medal hopes in the men’s event of the cricket tournament were dashed yesterday.

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, who qualified directly for the quarter-finals of this tournament, met in the third match of that round, where the Sri Lankan team lost by eight runs. With this defeat, Sri Lanka lost the gold medal it had won in the men’s cricket event at the last Asian Games, and this time they are not among the first 4 teams. Sri Lanka had last won the men’s cricket gold medal at the 2014 Games held in South Korea under the leadership of Lahiru Thirimanna. Afghanistan, who won the match yesterday, will meet Pakistan in the semi-final match tomorrow.

Sri Lanka won the toss of yesterday’s match at the Sheijang University Cricket Ground in Hangzhou, and invited Afghanistan to bat first. Afghanistan scored 116 in 18.3 overs and in reply Sri Lanka were skittled out for 108 in 19.1 overs.

Captain Sahan Arachchige was the top scorer of the innings with 22 runs. Lasith Kruspulle scored 16 runs, Ashen Bandara and Vijayakanth Viaskanth scored 13 runs each. In front of the Afghan bowlers, the rest of the batsmen could not cross the 9-run limit, and the impatience of the Sri Lankan batsmen was seen throughout this match.

In bowling, Qais Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib shared three wickets each.

Batting first, Noor Ali Zadran scored 51 runs for the Afghan team, while Nuwan Thushara took 4 wickets and Sahan Arachchi took 2 wickets.

Badminton

Viren Nettasinghe, who qualified for the round of last 16 in the badminton singles event yesterday, lost the opportunity to advance. It was due to losing 2-0 to Chinese Taipei player Tien Chen. The score was 21-16 and 21-10. With this defeat, Sri Lanka’s badminton participation in the Games came to an end as Viren was the only Badminton player to participate in the Games this year.

Wrestling

Nethmi Ahinsa, who is the only Lankan representative in the wrestling event of this year’s Games, is going to compete in the 53 kg event today.

Her first opponent is SEDNEVA Marina from Kazakhstan. The match will be held at 7.30 am local time.

Karate

The karate events of the Asian Games begin today, and Deneth Avihinsa Fernando and Heshani Hettiachchi are going to compete in the tournament representing Sri Lanka.

20-year-old Deneth, who has been representing the national team since 2016, has been competing in the 67 kg Kumite event, and he is a student of Moratuwa Prince of Wales School and has also won the South Asian Championship. 25-year-old Heshani has represented the national team since 2013 and is a student at Sabaragamuwa University.

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