Prime Minister Ranil Wickramesinghe on an invitation of the Government of Australia will leave for Australia today for a four-day official visit.

The Prime Minister’s visit will also signify the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia.

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“I will take every step to make the country prosperous in agriculture by enhancing the farmers’ economy, as a President whose roots are of a agricultural family”, says President Maithripala Sirisena.
“I will take measures to solve the water issue by filling the large tanks with blue water so that the farmers will not face any shortages for irrigating their lands”, he added.
The President was speaking at the public meeting held today (Feb. 13) at the playground of Welamitiyawa Vidyalaya in Galewela, after launching the Wayamba Ela Project; the giant development project to supply water to Wayamba.

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All preparations are underway to celebrate the 69th Independence day on the theme of unity. 
The Ministry of Home Affairs requests all public institutions, private institutions, shops, houses and cars to hoist the National flag for one week from 1st February 2017 in commemoration of the 69th Independence day. 

The 69th Independence day will be celebrated on February 4th at the Galle face green on the theme National Unity. The celebrations will start at 8 a.m. and finish at 12 p.m.

In parallel, 23 National day celebrations will be held in the districts with the patronage of the District Secretaries, Chief Ministers and peoples representatives. In addition, Independence Day celebrations will also be held at high commissions around the world on 4th February.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs requests to hoist the national flag at all public institutions, homes and vehicles to show the importance of all people in the country living in peace.

On February 2nd an all night pirith ceremony will be held at the Independence Hall at Independence square while an almsgiving will be offered at the Vajiraramaya, Bambalapitiya.

On 4th February Buddhist religious observances will be held at Polwatta Dharmakeerthiyaramaya, Colombo at 6.30 a.m, a Hindu pooja will be held at Sri Ponnambalawaneswaran Kovil , Colombo 13 at 6.30 a.m, Islamic prayers at Grand Mosque Colombo 12 at 6 a.m, A catholic service at St. Theresa Church Thimbirigasyaya at 6.30am as well as a Christian service at the St. Luke Church Borella at 6.30am.

Buddhist religious observance will be held under the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe , Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, all the Colombo district ministers, and MPs.

Hindu religious observances will be held under the patronage of minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Palani Digambaram, Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganeshan, State Minister for Child Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran and State Minister of Education V. Rathakrishnan.

Islam Religious observances will be held under the patronage of Minister of Posts Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs M.H.A. Haleem, Minister of Public Enterprise Development Kabir Hashim, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen, Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Rauf Hakeem, Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils Faizer Mustapha and State Minister National Integration and Reconciliation A.H.M. Fowzie.

Roman Catholic religious observances will be held under the patronage of Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga.

Christian religious observances will be held under the patronage of Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development Eran Wickramarathna.

Floral tributes will be offered at the statue of late D.S. Senanayake by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, State Ministers Ruwan Wijayawardena, Wasantha Senanayake, Buddhika Pathirana, Former minister Rukman Senanayake, Southern Province Governor Dr. Hemakumara Nanayakkara, Chief Secretary of D.S. Senanayake Memorial Committee Dr I. Dissanayake and Municipal Commissioner Colombo Municipal Council A.K. Anura.

A felicitation ceremony to pay tribute to veteran actress Swarna Mallawarachchi ‘s contribution to the country’s cinema during the last 50 years, was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena at the Tarangani Hall in National Film Cooperation recently.

The President presented a felicitation award to the actress Swarna Mallawarachchi in recognition of her service to the Sri Lankan film industry during the last 50 year period.

The actress presented a commemorative book titled “Cinamawe Gehaniya Swarna Mallawarachchi Panas Wasaraka Cinamabhimanaya” to the President in the event.

Addressing the gathering, President Sirisena said that Mrs. Swarna Mallawarachchi is a significant cinematic icon who won the love of the Sri Lankan fans as well as the international fans. During the ceremony the President wished strength and courage to actress Swarna Mallawarachchi to render further service to the development of the Sri Lankan cinema.

Minister of Mass Media, Gayantha Karunathilake, Deputy Minister Karunarathna Paranavitana, dignitaries including film directors, artistes participated in this event.

The extraordinary Gazette announcing the date of enforcement of the Right to Information Act as February 3 has been published. The gazette had been published last Friday.

Under the RTI Act, ministries, government departments, public corporations and private organisations carrying out public functions or services, local authorities, any department, authority or institution established by a provincial council, non-governmental organisations that are substantially funded by the government, higher educational institutions including private universities and professional institutions recognised by the state, all courts, tribunals and institutions created for the administration of justice should provide access to information and shall maintain records.

The introduction of the RTI was a key pledge of the government. The government when introducing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution recognised the Right to Information as a fundamental right. Parliament unanimously passed the Right to Information Act on June 24, 2016.

The Parliament Reforms and Mass Media Ministry is vested with the task of implementing the RTI Act.

Information officers are to be appointed to all state establishments to carry out the functions related to dissemination of information.

President Maithripala Sirisena opted for a pragmatic approach to the concept and asked that his government do their best to adhere to principles of good governance amidst challenging circumstances.

“When you take the current government, some people look at it and say ‘Yahapalanaya’ with pride while some say it with ridicule,” the President said. President Sirisena was speaking at the launching of the book ‘Buddhist Ideals of Good Governance’ at Waters Edge, Battaramulla yesterday.

“We all know that in Buddhism, we have the five precepts and the eight precepts and there are many Buddhists in this country and the world over. But, the problem is how many of these Buddhists by name live up to the true philosophy.?

Many take up the five precepts but how many actually keep it?,”the President said.

“This is similar to the concept of Yahpalanaya. How many truly live by the principles of Yahapalanaya. When you talk of the principles of good governance as prescribed by The

Buddha, at times, we think can we even pragmatically achieve one percent of that?,”the President asked.

“Having completed two years in office, the people in this country now have some measure of how much of good governance the President, the Prime Minister and the ministers have adhered to.

“To implement the concept of Good Governance in a society which has gone far beyond it is no easy task. To implement this within a society which functioned under politics, ways of thinking and alternative pathways to that of good governance is a challenge- similar to the keeping to the

five precepts”, the President further explained.

The President added,“The only solution we have is to do our best as we know how”.

Ven.Dr.Tampalawela Dhammaratana Thera who is a co-author of the book also handed over a concept paper to establish an International Institute of Good Governance in Sri Lanka and

asked that the President make it a place to train future politicians and civil servants.

“Good governance can be the best gift we can bestow from our Buddhist heritage this year. It should be the hand book that future leaders should follow,” the Thera said.

“The Buddha instructed many rulers without being a politician himself. The Buddha asked that they practice civilised human behaviour in politics thereby ratifying good governance policies and advocating righteous administration,”Ven. Dr. Dhammaratana Thera said.

The other co-author of the book Prof.Francois Chenet stressed that with the future of politics predicted to be more unstable, it was necessary for leaders to ensure that societies are more open, equitable and transparent.

“It is always the ruler that makes the age, he creates the environment for change,”the Professor said. 

Minister of Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilaka, Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksha, MInister Arjuna ranathunga, Deputy minister Karunarathna Paranawithana and Media Secretary Nimal Bopage participated in this event.

Right to Information (RTI) Act would be fully operative from February 3 enabling people to obtain any information from the government, Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka said yesterday.

The Minister said this at a special meeting with Information Commission Chairman, committee members and media ministry members at the parliament premises yesterday. “As promised by this government to bring in the Right to Information (RTI) Act before it came to power it had taken steps to present the Right to Information Bill in Parliament on August 4 last year and it was passed with a massive 255 votes,” the Minister said.

Accordingly, every citizen in the country will get their right to know the information they need from any government institution. A Five members Right to Information (RTI) Commission was formed under former Ministry Secretary Mahinda Gammanpila, who was appointed as the Chairman of the Commission by the President on last September. S. G. Punchihewa, T. Selvakumaran, Salim Marzook and Kishali Pinto Jayawardhana had been appointed as the members of the Commission. However, some information prejudicial to the national security, national economy, examinations, foreign trade agreement negotiations, personnel details, details of medical reports would have restrictions, the Minister said. “For example you can’t demand the breakdown of arms and ammunition of the Army. You can't ask how many multi- barrel rockets the army has etc. Those details are not supposed to be revealed. You can’t ask a doctor about his treatment for a particular patient. That is the privacy of the patient. You can’t ask premature disclosure of foreign trade agreements,” he said. People can obtain their details in three languages, the minister said. 

President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed the relevant officials to take immediate steps to correctly implement the existing laws to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights as well as to implement new rules and regulations if the existing laws are not adequate.

The President gave these instructions at a discussion heකා 09 th Jan. at the Presidential Secretariat with a group of artistes and relevant officials. During the meeting, attention was drawn towards proper payment of royalty to the writers and protecting the copyrights.

The President further said that at present the rules and regulations on intellectual property rights properly enforced in every developed country and we also should pay our attention in this regard.

President Sirisena directed the Ministry of Mass Media to implement a new program to educate the relevant sectors about the rules and regulations related to the intellectual property rights and the royalty.

The ideas and suggestions were presented for a qualitative media and regarding the steps that should be taken to prevent the damage caused to the society through indecent visuals.

Minister of Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilaka, Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya and artistes participated in this meeting.

The National Film Cooperation of Sri Lanka has scheduled a number of programs to celebrate the 69th anniversary of Sri Lankan Cinema and the 44th anniversary of the National Film Cooperation which falls on 21 January this year .

The main event will be held on January 21 at 9.00 a.m at the National Film Cooperation under the patronage of the Minister of Parliament reforms and Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilake and the Chairman of the National Film Cooperation Deepal Chandrarathne.

At the event, Pushpajith Niroshan Jayasinghe's book titled "Jalayen yata wu Lokaya" (A translation of The Cinema of David Lynch) will be launched. Also the late Prime Minister Sirimawo Bandaranayaie who is the founder of National Film Cooperation will be honoured at the event. An all night Pirith chanting ceremony will be held on 21st night to invoke blessings on the government and the people of the country.

Parallel to the main function a film show will be held from January 17-20 at the Film Co-operation cinema hall in Colombo 07. Also a workshop to develop a zest for cinema will take place on January 19 at 09.00.a.m. at the Film Co-operation premises for school and University students. The resource personnel will be University lecturers and experts in the cinema field.