Primacy or the priority that has been given to Buddhism by the Constitution does not need to change as there is a big consent among all political parties to keep it as it is, said the Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Karunarathne Paranawithane.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet briefing today at the Department of Government Information, Deputy Minister also the Acting Minister added that although there were dissent opinions in the country in this regard, different religious leaders have expressed their consent for Buddhism to be given priority. “Finally, the matter will be resolved at the Constitutional Assembly.”

When the minister was asked about establishing of a branch of a religious movement in Vavuniya, he replied that although how many ‘Senaa’ were there, there was no ‘Senaawa’ (People) with them.

Replying to a question as to whether the Buddhism would be declared as the state religion of the country, he added that they are not going to declare Buddhism as the state religion. “In Sri Lanka we don’t have a state religion. What we have done is we have given Buddhism the first and foremost place”, he said.

President Maithripala Sirisena expressed confidence that the outcome of the Second Summit of the ‘Asia Co-operation Dialogue’ would bring about a common policy helping to enhance peace, security and prosperity among the countries in ACD Region.

“In the coming years, Asia will be the new financial hub, the focal point for the financial services industry, he said that ACD leaders endorse the ‘ACD vision 2030’ and the roadmap for ACD regional cooperation, with the objective of further building up ACD’s role as an active forum for dialogue.”

Speaking at the Second Summit of the ‘Asia Co-operation Dialogue’ in Bangkok today (October 10), President Sirisena said as an emerging economy Sri Lanka’s aim to achieve the High Income Developed Country Status.  A series of mega projects to promote economic growth has been put into action, he said.

The President stated that there is a large potential in the ACD Region in the field of tourism.  “This could play a crucial role in sustainable social, cultural and economic growth in our countries. Sri Lanka identified tourism as one of the key sectors driving the country’s economy,” he said.

“We consider that Development of Science and Technology are important features to promote economic development,” President Sirisena said.

Many leaders and high-level representatives from the member countries participate in the ACD Summit. They include the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, the Amir of Kuwait, Prime Minister of Bhutan, Prime Minister of Cambodia, President of Iran, Prime Minister of Laos and Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Strong regional cooperation is the key to overcome the challenges of poverty and equity said President Maithripala Sirisena today when he called on the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for bilateral discussions during his working visit to attend the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) held in Bangkok. Prime Minister Chan-o-cha and Spouse Paraporn Chan-o-cha welcomed the President and First Lady Jayanthi Sirisena at the Thai Government House.

Prime Minister Chan-o-cha thanked President Sirisena for attending the ACD as increased cooperation in the Asian region is vital for keeping its competitiveness and overcoming poverty. Thai Prime Minister also thanked President for his visit in November 2015 and presenting sacred Buddhist relics to Thailand.

President Sirisena highlighted the bilateral relation of Sri Lanka and Thailand is entrenched in the Theravada Buddhism that both countries inherited. President Sirisena appreciated the assistance Thailand provided during the natural disasters in Sri Lanka. Further President Sirisena welcomed more cooperation in developing agricultural technology in Sri Lanka.

Thai Prime Minister appreciated Sri Lankan President’s dedication to fight corruption and bring about reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Chan-o-cha further affirmed Thailand’s willingness to assist Sri Lanka in its effort to rebuild its economy. Thai Prime Minister expressed that connectivity between Thailand and Sri Lanka can further improve in terms of increased flights and that would help boost tourism in Sri Lanka.  

President Maithripala Sirisena thanked Thai Prime Minister for his hospitality and said that the importance of the ACD as a platform to increase Asian identity is vital.

President Sirisena signed the guest book at the Government house of Thailand. After the talks, President Sirisena and First Lady Jayanthi Sirisena attended the dinner hosted by Thai Prime Minister and Spouse.

Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva, Sri Lanka's Ambassador Kshenuka Seneviratne were present during the talks.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today marked out India and China as the only countries that can drive economic growth across the globe, saying manufacturing companies have no other place to go. 

Critical of the western nations over selective treatment on framing economic policies, he said: "Asia will bail out the world (from the economic crisis), if it is allowed to frame the rules (policies)." 

"WEF in Delhi this year says the world is expecting India to translate potential into action... we are at threshold of another historic moment. If the pace of reforms fails to pick up, companies may look elsewhere. Where elsewhere? It has to be India or China. That's the hard truth. There is no other place to go today," Wickremesinghe said here. 

Speaking at the India Economic Forum, organised jointly by WEF and CII, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister singled out the West for favouritism. 

"The rules were written by the West on globalisation, and we have (been) only played by it. When people here went and deposited part of their funds and assets in western countries, no one complained. When their own people (western countries) started going to Switzerland, they started complaining...," he added. 

Asia will bail the world out... Otherwise, we create our own systems here (Asia). A very, very stable system." 

Speaking about Sri Lanka's economic engagement with the US, he said both will take the process further after the presidential elections in the North American nation. 

We have kept 500 acres of land for a gold course and Trump towers," Wickremesinghe said, jokingly referring to Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is locked in a tight battle with Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

With India, he said, Sri Lanka will ink the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) this year. 

Earlier at the summit, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that in "not so encouraging" global economic environment, South and South-East Asia are going to be the "engine of growth" for the world. She was clear that India is committed and driven towards "equitable and inclusive" growth. 

Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agrawal put an emphasis on India developing small and medium enterprises to push growth. GE Hong Kong SAR Vice-Chairman John Rice, on his part, said India needs to lay more emphasis on exports and look at establishing an export credit agency. For A T Kearney Global Managing Partner Johan Aurik, the answer lay in jobs and technological development for India to grow. 

Harvard economist Gita Gopinath felt that India needs to ensure it can manage 8 per cent growth over a couple of decades. Paytm CEO V S Sharma was of the view that "the fourth industrial revolution" will depend on affordable and accessible Internet for all. According to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, the country needs a radical restructuring of education and health sectors to sustain growth momentum. 

The government is to establish a special office to disseminate information on the Right to Information Act (RTIA) in Battaramulla, Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said yesterday. “This office will be headed by Piyatissa Ranasinghe (former Secretary to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications) and we hope to set it up by the end of the month,”added the minister.

With the ministry on a tight rope to meet the deadline for implementation of the RTI, Karunathilake also said ; “We will also get a list of RTI officers appointed to each ministry by the end of this month. We will start training them from next month”.

The minister made these remarks at the Cabinet media briefing held at the Government Information Department and explained that there were many takeaways from the International Conference on RTI and Media Reforms held on 28-29 September, the government planned to implement. The Mass Media ministry has also promised to publish a discussion paper on the key findings of the Conference at the end of this week.

Another key point discussed at the seminar was the establishment of an Media Training Academy and minister Karunathilake said steps would be taken next to embark on this ambitious plan. 

President Maithripala Sirisena says he will committed to ensure the peace and reconciliation in the country while building peace, brotherhood and reconciliation among the communities as well as developing the field of sports which is a universal language for healing hearts.

He made these remarks at the closing ceremony of the 42nd National Games held at the Duraiappah Stadium in Jaffna, yesterday (02) with the aim of building peace, brotherhood and reconciliation in the country.

The President pointed out that the sports ground is a place where everyone can meet irrespective of their race, religion, caste or regional differences. He also said that the sports play an important role in developing discipline in persons and it has the power to transform an undisciplined society to a disciplined one.

President Sirisena further said that today there is a strong need for good moral values in our country as well as for the whole world and as a result of lack of these ethical values today the whole world is at war. The whole world should reach excellence in moral values to build lasting peace.  

The present Government is committed to provide maximum facilities for the upliftment of Sports with the aim of building a disciplined society. The President also said that he will provide assistance to develop sports skills of the children in every part of the country to reduce the development disparities across the country.

All the facilities including high quality stadiums, modern technology will be provided in this regard for each region, the President said.

Nearly 800 athletes representing 9 provinces in the country participated in this 42nd National Games and the President also presented awards for the athletes who showed outstanding performances.

Opposition Leader R Sampanthan, Chief Minister of the Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran, Governor of the Northern Province, Reginald Cooray, Minister of Sports, Dayasiri Jayasekara, State Minister, Vijayakala Maheswaran, Local governments Sports Minister, athletics and many others participated in this event.

President Maithripala Sirisena vested with the students of the Jaffna University the newly established Reverse Osmosis Water Systems at the University premises, yesterday (02).

The President, who visited Jaffna to attend the closing ceremony of the 42nd National Games participated at this event at the university.

The Water Osmosis machines were provided following a request made by the university students. Two more such machines will be installed in the future.

The President also engaged in a cordial discussion with the students.

Mahinda Gammanpila a former Ministry Secretary was appointed as the Chairman of the Right to Information (RTI) Commission by President Maithripala Sirisena. Director of the Government Information Department Ranga Kalansooriya said the appointment was made 30th of september. According to him, S. G. Punchihewa, T. Selvakumaran, Salim Marzook and Kishali Pinto Jayawardhana had been appointed as the members of the Commission. 

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met the Sri Lankan and New Zealand business community in New Zealand and invited them to make use of the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, which is becoming the economic hub in the Indian Ocean.

Addressing the Sri Lanka – New Zealand Business Council on 1st October in Auckland, New Zealand, the Premier emphasized the importance of the new economic market and the new productions.

He believed that the commercial and industrial affairs between both countries could be further strengthened with the establishment of the proposed High Commissions. Prime Minister explained the way of receiving the new technology from New Zealand towards the agriculture, fisheries, animal food, and tourism sectors.

Ministers Sagala Rathnayake, Harin Fernanado, State Minister Sudarshani Fernandopulle, and Deputy Minister Harsha De Silva also participated.

A consultative meeting on the implementation of the RTI Act was held at the Ministry of Parliameraty Reforms and Mass Media sep.30th with participation of the visiting international RTI experts and some local civil society experts under the chair of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilleke.

The meeting extensively discussed the strategies on implementation of the ACT.