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With due consideration to the current cost of living and difficulties associated with COVID – 19 the Government has removed import duties on essential commodities such as dhal, canned fish, B onions and sugar.

This will result in reducing the price of canned fish (large) to Rs. 200, a kilo of B onions to Rs. 100 and a kilo of sugar to Rs. 85 from tonight.

Consumers who purchase goods worth more than Rs. 500 including these essential items from Sathosa will have the opportunity to buy a kilo of dhal at Rs. 150.

The Coconut Development Board, Kurunegala Plantation Company and Chilaw Plantation Company have increased coconut supply to Colombo. This will pave the way for customers to buy coconut at a reasonable price from Sathosa outlets.

As the number of Staff personnel at the Presidential Secretariat have been minimized based on guidelines and recommendations given by the Health Authorities to suppress COVID 19, the public are requested to avoid visiting the Presidential Secretariat for their needs to avert any inconvenience. However, the available staff at the Presidential Secretariat are prepared to respond and facilitate the public requirements via post or telephone.

Therefore, the public are facilitated to reach the Public Relations Division, Ombudsman Office and the President’s Fund of the Presidential Secretariat via numbers below.

Public Relations Division                           0114354550/0112354550
Fax 011 2348855

Ombudsman Office                                   0112338073

President’s Fund                                       0112354354
(Extensions-4800/ 4814 / 4815 / 4818)
Fax 011 2331243

  • Relations with SL, a key priority of President Xi
  • China will stand with Sri Lanka at international fora
  • Port City will be completed expeditiously

 My objective is to achieve  development similar to that of China – President Rajapaksa

  • Assist us to reduce trade deficit

The head of the high-level delegation from the People’s Republic of China, who is currently visiting Sri Lanka assures President Gotabaya Rajapaksa China’s continued assistance to Sri Lanka for the success of the country’s development drive.

The present status of bilateral relations between China and Sri Lanka is highly satisfactory. Maintaining and promoting this friedship is a key priority of President Xi Jingping. The head of the delegation said that China will firmly stand with Sri Lanka extend to protect the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity at international fora including United Nations Human Rights Council.

The 7- member delegation led by Yang Jiechi,  Politburo member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee called on President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (9).

Holding several high-level positions at China’s Foreign Ministry Mr. Jiechi served as Chinese Ambassador to the United States of America from 2001-2005 and Foreign Minister of China from 2007-2013. His current position in the Chinese administrations is equivalent to Vice Premier level.

Extending President Xi’s congratulations to President Rajapaksa over landslide victories at recent elections, Mr. Yang recalled that he visited Sri Lanka 35 years ago as an interpreter assisting a visiting Chinese delegation. He noted that Sri Lanka is the first country in his four-nation tour of Asia adding that the President of China gives high priority to the enhancement of bilateral relations with Sri Lanka.

President Rajapaksa commenced the discussion by expressing satisfaction over the current state of Sino-Sri Lanka relations and said China has been long-standing friend who supported Sri Lanka irrespective of the government in power. China extensively supported us to defeat terrorism. Bilateral relations reached a higher level following the end of the armed conflict. He especially recalled the contribution of China for the development of country’s infrastructure facilities.

“China had contributed to a number of large-scale infrastructure development projects. Hambantota Port, the Port City project, Southern Expressway are some of them. Constructing a port in Hambantota is an idea of Sri Lanka and not China’s. We were convinced that it wouldl be a project with a vast potential for generating income and employment opportunities. China offered to fund it. Many geo-political analysis interprets this project as ‘debt trap’ set up by China to gain control over Sri Lankan affairs. I want to prove that it is not the case and that this large-scale project will help improve the living standards of the people. Assist us in this endevour,” President told the Chinese delegation.

President said that he had toured China 13 times prior to the assumption of Presidency and said he had seen first-hand the development progress that China had achieved. “I have seen massive development especially in rural areas. My target is to bring about similar development especially in rural areas in Sri Lanka and to raise the living conditions of the people in this country, especially that of the poor. I look forward to seeing a visible progress in the Port City project over the next four years”, President stressed.

President Rajapaksa pointed out that Sri Lanka’s trade deficit with China is high and called on the leader of the delegation to increase the volume of goods purchased from Sri Lanka to bring it down.

“Sri Lanka has a strong private sector. They manufacture various products. Open the Chinese market for these items. Encourage Chinese investors to invest in Sri Lanka. Promote Chinese people to visit Sri Lanka. If China can participate in the Sri Lanka’s tea auction, it will be a major boost to economic stability”, President remarked. Explaining the limited tertiary educational opportunities available to Sri Lanka youth who pass GCE Advanced Level, President said establishing a University of Technology for them will be an area where China can invest in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Jiechi said that China’s assistance will not be just lip service but concrete action to achieve the development goals contained in “Saubhagyaye Dekma” policy statement.

China has identified several areas conducive for the development of bilateral relations with Sri Lanka. In addition to completing large-scale projects already underway, these include agriculture, education, tourism, water supply, healthcare, medical supplies, modern technology, digital economy, Blue Economy and labour training. Plans afoot to recommence discussions on China – Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement and to complete the Hambantota Industrial Scheme expeditiously.

We are eagerly waiting for President Rajapaksa to undertake an official visit to China, once the COVID – 19 pandemic successfully contained globally, Mr. Jiechi said.

Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency Mr.  Wang Xiaotao, Assistant Foreign Minister of China Mr. Deng Lee, Hu Wei, Chargé d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka, Chen Song, Deputy Director General of Department of Asian Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardene, Secretary to th President P. B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Designate to China Dr. Palitha Kohona were also present at the discussion.

Decisions taken at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on 05.10.2020

1. Issuance of orders on maintenance of ‘Special Deposit Accounts’ under the
Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017.


Approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted at their meeting held on the 08 th April 2020 for the issuance of orders under the foreign exchange act No. 12 of 2017 for the opening and maintenance of contemporary deposit accounts named ‘Special Deposit Accounts’ in order to deposit money remitted into the country across the banking system for a period of 06 months, with the objective of encouraging the influx of foreign exchange into the country. Accordingly, the valid time of the orders issued is scheduled to be ended on the 07 th October 2020 and therefore, the following recommendations have been furnished by the financial board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to enable the foreign exchange remitted to Sri Lanka as per the above orders to be retained within the country for a further period.

 Payment of interest rates applicable to general term deposits to the ‘special
deposit accounts’ too that are renewed and maintained after the maturity of the
deposits.
 Permit to transfer the income generated at the maturity of the ‘special deposit
accounts’ to respective accounts within Sri Lanka.
 The income of the special deposit account maturity of those ineligible (non -
government organizations, guarantor companies etc,) for opening foreign
currency accounts although resided within Sri Lanka, to be credited to a Sri
Lankan Rupee account on the basis of non - remittance to account away from Sri
Lanka in the future.
Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal submitted by the Hon. Prime Minister as the Minister of Finance for the declaration of new orders in terms of section 7 to be read with the section 29 of the Foreign Exchange Act in addition to the orders published in the gazettes extraordinary No. 2170/4 of 08.04.2020 and No. 2182/32 of 01.07.2020 in regard to special deposit accounts and the submission of the said orders to the Parliament for the approval.

2. Amendment of Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance (139 th Authority) of No.
19 of 1934


It has been mentioned that the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance of No. 19 of 1934 would be amended to take measures to escalate the amount of compensation eligible to be paid to the employees during an accident, under the theme of ‘A Workmen Culture for the Country’ declared in the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.

Accordingly, the Legal Draftsman has drafted a bill to amend the applicable provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance for increasing the amount of compensation paid to the employees encounter accidents and experience damages whereas it has been observed that the said bill should be further amended due to the following reasons.
 Increase of the fine of Rs. 1,000 that can be imposed in terms of the provisions
prevailing to the date at the instances in which an employer does not furnish
compensation statement to the Commissioner of Compensation in regard to a
particular accident caused to an employee in terms of section 42 of the
Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance.
 Amendment of the schedule 4 of the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance that
emphasize of the compensation amounts to suit the current circumstances as
follows:
i. The minimum monthly salary applicable for the payment of
compensation from rupees 0 to rupees 2,500/- prevailing at present to be
increased from rupees 0 to rupees 10,000/-.

ii. Amendment of the maximum monthly salary applicable for compensation
existing from rupees 20,001/- to be increased from rupees 100,000/-
iii. The death compensation from rupees 181,665/- to 550,000/- paid at
present to be increased from rupees 1,140,000/- to rupees 2,000,000/-.
iv. The compensation paid at a compete discrepancy from rupees 196083.80
to 550,000/- paid at present (based on the salary) to be increased from
rupees 1,200,000/- to rupees 2,000,000/-.
v. The temporary compensation from rupees 1,320/- to 5,500/- paid at
present to be increased from rupees 5,000/- to rupees 47,500/-
(depending on the bi - monthly salary).

 Assigning the compensation recovery process of confiscating the property to the
Fiscal / Registrar attached to the office of the Commissioner of Compensation in
order to accelerate the compensation process.
 Introduction of a new labour compensation insurance scheme

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers have given their consent to the proposal submitted by the Minister of Labour for further amendment of the draft bill prepared already by the Legal Draftsmen with a view to enable including the above amendments too.

3. Obtaining financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank for the
quality development of the secondary Education in the government schools.


Approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted at their meeting held on the 01 st April 2020 for obtaining a loan of United States Dollars 400 million for the Education sector from the Asian Development Bank in order to implement result - oriented programmes.

Accordingly, plans have been drawn to invest the said amount in the following fields.

 Secondary Education curriculum and the evaluation methodology to be subject
to extended amendments.
 Develop a cluster of fully - fledged secondary schools with facilities at divisional
secretariat level and ensure the access to quality secondary Education
opportunities for all the children.
 Increase of national schools up to 1,000
 Upgrade the colleges of Education to the standard of awarding degrees.
 Increment of student performance levels across the assurance of teacher balancing and teacher supply.
The Cabinet of Ministers has granted their consent for the resolution forwarded by the Minister of Education for the implementation of the above investment project of United States Dollars 400 million mentioned above during the 2020 - 2025-time frame across the relevant institutions with a view to implement the Educational reforms adhering to the national policy statement ‘The Vistas of Splendour’.

4. Allocation of plots of land from the regional industrial zones for the
establishment of industries.


The project evaluation committee of the Ministry of Industries has recommended the allocation of plots of land as follows to ten investors for 10 project proposals, based on the recommendations furnished by the regional industrial services committees.
 Four (04) project proposals for Buttala industrial zone;
 Two (02) project proposals for Laksha Uyana industrial zone;
 One (01) per each of the industrial zones of Nalanda Ellawala, Puttlam,
Karandeniya and Bata - Atha;
An investment of rupees 1,144 million is scheduled to be utilized under the proposed projects while approximately 555 new employment opportunities will be generated due to this.
Accordingly, the resolution submitted by the Minister of Industries for allocation of plots of land on the basis of rent for 35 years was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

5. Extension of the measures for granting relief for tourism during the post
COVID - 19 pandemic period.


Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has taken measures to allocate a provision of rupees 186 million subject to the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers for granting relief to the tourist guides and tourist drivers lost their living due to COVID - 19 pandemic yet registered under Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and already the steps have been taken to grant relief for the tourist guides and tourist drivers from that amount.

The Cabinet of Ministers have granted their approval for the proposal submitted by the Minister of Tourism for awarding the said relief to the following groups as well engaged in business in the tourism field.
 Payment of a one - time sum of rupees 15,000/- per person allowance for the tourist drivers / tourist bus drivers and helpers / tuk tuk (three wheelers) drivers as well as the Safari vehicle drivers trained either under the supervision of Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority or any other tourist associations and applied for the concession as at 31.08.2020.
 Payment of a one - time sum of rupees 20,000/- per person allowance for the tourist guides registered under Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority and trained by the Provincial Councils.

6. Construction of Public Library Building Complex, Batticaloa


Cabinet approval has been granted on 11.09.2018 to complete the ground floor work of the Public Library building of the Batticaloa Municipal Council and National Competitive Bids have been called accordingly. The cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by Hon.Prime Minister in his capacity as the Minister of Urban Development and Housing to award this contract to Focus Marketing and Engineering Pvt. Ltd for Rs. 214.07 Million (without vat) upon the recommendation of cabinet appointed standing procurement committee.

7. Procurement for the supply of Concentrated Monoclonal purified and
detergent treated dried factor VIII fraction 200 IU-350 IU Vials


Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by Hon. Minister of Health to award the contract of purchasing 85,000 vials of Concentrated Monoclonal purified and detergent treated dried factor VIII fraction 200 IU-350IU to treat haemophilia patients in the year 2021, to M/s Baxalta GmbH Switzerland for USD 5.185 million with the total cost and freight, as recommended by the cabinet appointed standing procurement committee.


8. Procurement for supplying 160,000 pre-fill 0.4ml Syringe of Enoxaparin
Sodium 4000 IU


Cabinet approval has been granted on 08.01.2020 to award this contract to M/s ABC Pharna Services (Pvt) Ltd. Accordingly, the relevant order has been issued
to the supplier on 24.02.2020. The need for another 160,000 syringes from the same drug has been confirmed. As per the recommendations of the Standing Procurement Committee, the contract to supply the 160,000 syringes of pre-fill 0.4ml Syringe of Enoxaparin Sodium 4000 IU was awarded to the same supplier, M/s ABC Pharna Services (Pvt) Ltd. Accordingly, at a cost of Rs. 126.96 million was approved by the cabinet of ministers.


9. Construction of Import Air-Cargo Terminal at Bandaranayake International
Airport – Phase 1


Cabinet approval has been granted on 07.05.2019 to initiate the procurement process for the construction of Import Air-Cargo Terminal at Bandaranayake International Airport – Phase 1. Competitive bids have been called accordingly and considering the recommendation of Procurement Appeal Board the cabinet of ministers approved the proposal presented by Hon. Minister of Tourism to
award this contract to Nawaloka Constructions Ltd for Rs.2.37 billion.

10. Presentation of the Appropriation Bill for the Fiscal year 2020 in parliament.
Cabinet approval has been granted on 19.08.2020 for drafting the Appropriation Bill of the financial year 2020. Accordingly, the total recurrent expenditure for the financial year 2020 is estimated as Rs. 2692 billion and the capital expenditure is estimated as Rs. 1846 billion.
Those estimated provisions include the following provisions:
 Provisions allocated by the two Vote on Accounts previously passed by
Parliament.

 Provisions for Estimated Expenditure for the Year 2020 approved by the
President in terms of the Article 150(3) of the Constitution.
 Provisions for the accounting of Rs. 211 billion spent for the year 2019 but has
not been accounted
Accordingly, the Attorney General's clearance has been received for the Appropriation Bill drafted by the legal draftsman for the Fiscal Year 2020. The cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by Hon. Prime Minister in his capacity as the Minister of Finance to publish this appropriation bill in the parliament and then table in the parliament for approval.


11. Presentation of the Appropriation Bill for the fiscal year 2021 in parliament.


Drafting of the Appropriation Bill for the Fiscal Year 2021 was approved by the Cabinet on 16th September 2020. Accordingly, the total recurrent expenditure for the financial year 2020 is estimated as Rs. 2.690 billion and the capital expenditure is estimated as Rs. 2,216 billion. The Attorney General's clearance has been received for the Appropriation Bill drafted by the legal draftsman. Accordingly, the cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by Hon. Prime Minister in his capacity as the Minister of Finance to publish this appropriation bill for the year 2021 in the parliament and then table in the parliament for approval.

12. Purchasing School Uniform Materials – 2021


It was decided at the Cabinet meeting on 28.09.2020 to purchase the required school uniform materials for the year 2021 from the local textile manufacturers and to expedite the procurement process commenced accordingly. Accordingly, the cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by Hon. Minister of Education to award the contract for the production, cutting and packaging of school uniforms materials and distribution to the Divisional Education Offices in accordance with the relevant specifications of the Standing Procurement Committee appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers.to Vanguard Industries(Pvt)Ltd, Dankotuwa Viewing Mills, Prabha Tex Industries and Creative Textile Mills (Pvt)Ltd.


13. Number of students assigned to one class in a school


The principals follow the guidance in the circulars issued by the Ministry of Education on the admission of pupils to grade one. Moreover, admitting of pupils to grade 06 of national and provincial schools based on cut off marks of the Scholarship Examination and admitting of pupils to advanced level classes based on qualifications of Ordinary Level Examinations are conducted by relevant principals.

Additionally,   according to the circulars 37/2008 and 33/2019, pupils enroll to intermediate classes with the agreement of school principals. As per the groups who change the residence due to transfers, arrive from abroad, elect to the parliament, Judges in Service, Government Specialist Doctors , Government Medical Officers, employees of the Ministry of Education, schools and allied departments, University Lecturers and Executive Officers, SriLanka Education Administration and Teaching Educationist Services are eligible to enroll students to intermediate classes.

Moreover, groups who were being to the unfairness  during the admission process of pupils and qualifying by the investigations regard on that, being pupils with special needs and stay in social welfare centers are eligible to enroll to intermediate classes. The Cabinet of Ministers granted the approval for the proposal tabled by the Minister of Education in order to revise the existing procedure of admission of pupils and to introduce a more transparent procedure which enables to increase the number of pupils that could be admitted per a classroom by taking into account the high demand that prevails to admit pupils in such    manner.


14. Temporary Cancellation of diving permits  issued   to collect   Sea Cucumbers
and Conch Shells.


The Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources issues a particular diving permit to collect Sea Cucumbers and Conch Shells in the western coast of Jaffna peninsula. Accordingly, the diving teams engage in such activities while residence temporarily on the coast of the area.
It has been reported that some divers who have obtained permits for this purpose are abusing the permits and engaging in illegal rackets with Indian fishermen who engage in fishing by trawlers in the maritime boundary. Therefore, It has been observed that there is a huge threat to spread the Covid 19 pandemic among the people of Jaffna peninsula. As per the Cabinet of Ministers granted the approval for the proposal tabled by the Minister of Fisheries for temporary cancellation of diving  permits  issued to collect Sea Cucumbers and Conch Shells

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructs relevant officials to expedite and streamline the process of sending skilled labour with internationally recognized qualifications and certificates for foreign employment.

A mechanism of this nature will be instrumental in securing higher benefits to both the employee and the country, President points out.

President made these remarks at a meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotions and Market Diversification held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (6).

The demand for skilled workers in the global job market remains high. Emphasizing the need to implement training programmes targeting job markets in countries such as Korea and Japan President advised the Foreign Employment Bureau and the Vocational Training Authority to formulate joint strategies. Employment opportunities in North European countries including Poland and Romania are now open to Sri Lanka. A workforce meeting demands in such markets should be created, President said.

President also highlighted the importance of identifying overseas employment opportunities that are available for graduates of the country. So far, no attention was paid to this matter. Even undergraduates in Arts stream can seize these opportunities.

Migration for employment is a major component in Sri Lanka’s economic development and the total migrant community of Sri Lanka stands at 1.2 million at present. It was revealed that around 200,000 go abroad for employment annually and due to COVID – 19 pandemic the number has decreased to 40,000. Classes have already begun at 17 training centers to establish a pool of trained labour needed for the overseas job market to provide them with the opportunity to enhance their language skills and to acquire required training with the aim of sending a greater number of trained workers abroad once the airports and airspaces are opened with the successful control of COVID – 19 pandemic.

The President also instructed the Bureau of Foreign Employment to hold discussions with the relevant agencies and sectors to extend the employment contracts of workers who are unable to return to the Motherland due to the COVID-19 situation, though their employment contracts have expired.

State banks must stand on workers behalf to facilitate remittance of their foreign exchange earnings. This endeavour can be promoted by introducing more attractive and creative schemes, said Basil Rajapaksa, the Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival. ‘State Banks can implement a mechanism to deliver foreign exchange remittances sent by migrant workers to their respective homes, said the head of the Task Force adding that through this kind of initiative we could prevent the informal currency transfers, such as Undiyal.

Employment agencies that send workers abroad should act in a more responsible manner. The President also said that there were allegations that the intervention of these institutions was not sufficient in dealing with cases of harassment involving these workers. President Rajapaksa also stated that the prime objective of sending workers abroad is not to earn foreign exchange but to provide them with a better standard of living.

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, State Minister Priyankara Jayaratne, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera and Secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries, Heads of Line Institutions were also present at the discussion.

                                                                                              Message

          Our children are the future of the nation. It is the responsibility of the entire society to create an environment for them to develop their skills while enriching them with knowledge. As much as we give importance to nurture children’s physical and mental health, we must also ensure they are brought up to be virtuous adults.

Even if a country achieves high ranking in many national and international development indices, I believe that a country cannot be rated as one with a righteous society unless it possesses rich fundamental qualities such as human virtues and compassion. To build that kind of a country we should equip our present and future generations with technical skills and language competencies while enhancing their moral values.

My sole purpose is to build a country where citizens conquer both the physical and mental poverty. It is guaranteed that in such a country children will live in peace, happiness and contentment. I believe that you will prudently steer the childhood of your offspring in order to create a generation that will experience the benefits of such a nation. Then only we can make the theme of this year’s World Children’s Day, ‘Let’s build our nation’ a reality.

                                                                                                                     Gotabaya Rajapaksa

September 28, 2020 

The Government of Sri Lankan is committed to protect and sustainably manage natural resources, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said addressing the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity today (30).

“Sri Lanka is home to two UNESCO    Natural Heritage Sites: the Central Highlands, and the Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve. We are also proud of our six sites recognized under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Sri Lanka firmly stands committed to protect and sustainably manage these natural assets that contribute to our unique and rich biodiversity” President Rajapaksa told the virtual gathering held under the theme of Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development”.

The Summit will highlight the crisis facing humanity from the degradation of biodiversity and the urgent need to accelerate action on biodiversity for sustainable development. It will provide an opportunity for Heads of State and Government and other leaders to raise ambition for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021.

Emphasizing that the concept of biodiversity must be at the very core of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, President Rajapaksa pointed out that despite the rapid decline seen in biodiversity globally, over the recent decades, Sri Lanka is deeply committed to uphold the overarching spirit of the Convention on Biodiversity.

“There is a critical need for a transformational change in the relationship between nature and people and contemporary global environmental governance,” he remarked.

The ancient governance of Sri Lanka was built on the concept that the ruler is never the owner of the land; he is merely its caretaker on behalf of his countrymen and all living beings. This is the very principle that my Government has adopted in our development agenda said the President while stressing as mere trustees of this planet and its resources we must resolve to protect what is in our trust and pass it to future generations as best as we could.

Full text of the speech:

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary General,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ayubowan !

I am deeply honoured to represent the people of Sri Lanka at this High-Level Summit on Biodiversity.

The concept of biodiversity must be at the very core of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Despite the rapid decline seen in biodiversity globally, over the recent decades, Sri Lanka is deeply committed to uphold the overarching spirit of the Convention on Biodiversity.

There is a critical need for a transformational change in the relationship between nature and people and contemporary global environmental governance.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Sri Lanka endorsed the Commonwealth Blue Charter in 2018 and as such we will champion the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods.

Further, the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Nitrogen Management was adopted last year.  We as world leaders, must better manage nitrogen, ensuring the sustenance of humankind.

Sri Lanka is home to two UNESCO Natural Heritage Sites: the Central Highlands, and the Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve. We are also proud of our six sites recognized under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Sri Lanka firmly stands committed to protect and sustainably manage these natural assets that contribute to our unique and rich biodiversity.

We have been mindful of conserving ecosystems to the highest extent possible, even during the redesigning of cities and urban areas. The wetland parks that we have created in cities, especially in and around our Capital Sri Jayawardhanapura Kotte, are home to an array of plant and animal species, offering a ‘mini-rainforest experience’ within crowded cities.

The ancient governance of Sri Lanka was built on the concept that the ruler is never the owner of the land; he is merely its caretaker on behalf of his countrymen and all living beings. This is the very principle that my Government has adopted in our development agenda.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

As mere trustees of this planet and its resources we must resolve to protect what is in our trust and pass it to future generations as best as we could.

Thank you.

“Sri Lanka is located in a place of strategic importance. Therefore, our country is attracted to many parties. In this context, Sri Lanka has chosen neutrality as its foreign policy. Our top most priority is mutually beneficial development cooperation. This country is open for foreign investments”, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said during a brief cordial conversation with four newly appointed Ambassadors to Sri Lanka following presentation of their credentials at the President’s House this morning (30).

Ambassadors of Republic of Korea, Germany, Holy See and Switzerland presented their credentials to the President.

They are:

  1. Mr. Jeong Woonjin – Ambassador- The Republic of Korea
  2. Mr. Holger Lothar Seubert – Ambassador- The Federal Republic of Germany
  3. Monsignor Brian Udaigwe – Apostolic Nuncio-designate of the Holy See
  4. Mr. Dominik Furgler – Ambassador- Switzerland

Explaining Sri Lanka’s policy towards the Indian Ocean during the discussion with the new envoys based in Colombo President said the Indian Ocean should be a free zone open to every country. Five decades ago, it was Sri Lanka that proposed Indian Ocean to be declared as a zone of peace, President recalled.

While paying attention to the development efforts of Sri Lanka in the recent past President said after defeating terrorism in 2009 priority of the Government as well as the people of Sri Lanka was to achieve a rapid development.

“The economy was weakened due to terrorism. We required foreign investments for speedy development. China came forward to invest in development projects in the country. It was only a commercial transaction between our two countries. But some described this as a manifestation of a pro-China policy. Sri Lanka is a friend of all countries,” President explained.

President Rajapaksa pointed out that the construction of the Hambantota Port with funding from China was a project with enormous development potential, although some call it a ‘debt trap’. He said the previous Government leased the Hambantota Port to China but it is being used only for commercial purposes.

Expressing their views the Ambassadors commended both President and the people of Sri Lanka for successfully controlling the COVID – 19 pandemic. “Sri Lanka is so safe”, Ambassador of Korea Mr. Jeong Woonjin remarke.

Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr. Holger Lothar Seubert said he is pleased to be appointed as an envoy to Sri Lanka that has overcome the COVID – 19 pandemic.

“We are not here to lecture you but to offer any possible assistance. We are certain that Sri Lanka is capable of choosing what needs to be done. We are ready to extend our cooperation to achieve development aspirations of Sri Lanka”, both German Ambassador Mr. Holger Lothar Seubert and Switzerland Ambassador Mr. Dominik Furgler echoed.

Communicating congratulations of Pope Francis to the President for the massive mandate received during elections Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See Monsignor Brian Udaigwe said he was a member of the entourage of the Holy Father during his visit to Sri Lanka in 2015. The Apostolic Nuncio said the geographical location is a great gift to Sri Lanka.

 
 

Minister of Mass Media Keheliya Rambukwella assured participants at a seminar organised by Journalists for Rights held yesterday (28) to mark the International Day for Right to Information that the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution contains the Right To Information granted by the 19th Amendment in its entirety.

The Minister also said that Sri Lanka has come a long way after the RTI was enacted and said that there is a need for information to be made available by institutions before citizens are compelled to request for it through the RTI.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasized the necessity to construct residences for estate workers in close proximity to their existing line houses.

The construction of 4000 houses for estate people commenced in 2016 with funding from the Indian government. A total of 669 houses have been constructed in the last 5 years under this project. The officials claimed that practical issues in the supply of infrastructure facilities delayed the construction.

Essential infrastructure facilities have already been provided for the people living in estates. “Therefore the construction of their new residences in close vicinity to their line houses would allow them to experience these benefits without wasting time.” President and Premier added.

President Rajapaksa stated that it was important to uplift the lives of the estate community without having to shift their current habitats. President noted that the construction plans for these new houses should be supervised by the State Engineering Corporation to ensure higher standards and better quality.

President made these remarks during a meeting with the State Ministry of Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure Facilities to review their future vision at the Presidential Secretariat today(September 29).

President Rajapaksa stated that in addition to the government measures to promote the living conditions of the estate people, private estate companies should fulfill their part of responsibilities for a remarkable outcome.

The State Ministry of Estate housing and Community Infrastructure Facilities should liaise with line Ministries including Health, Education, Agriculture, Housing, and Sports and take measure to uplift the living standards of the estate community, President added.

President stressed the necessity of developing pre-schools, primary schools and medical centers in the estate sector.

There was also a lengthy discussion on the importance of providing vocational training to estate youth so that they can obtain NVQ level certificates and guide them to find employment opportunities.

438 estate health centers should be taken over by the Government and quality service should be provided for the benefit of the estate community, President noted.

Plans mooted to promote tourism in Bandarawela, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya and Ella were also discussed.

President emphasized that all development activities should be carried out without delineating the estate and the village.

State Minister Jeewan Thondaman, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries and heads of several line institutes were also present at the meeting.

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