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The Cabinet has approved several proposals made by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to seek required funds to pay the Rs. 5,000 allowance for Samurdhi beneficiaries and other families with financial difficulties, Co-cabinet spokesman, Information and Communication Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane said. The Minister was speaking at a media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department to announce Cabinet decisions.

Dr. Gunawardane said the Samurdhi fund is not sufficient and an additional amount of Rs.16,000 million is required to pay the Rs 5,000 allowance for May. Cabinet approval has been granted to obtain a short term loan from a bank with the Samurdhi fund kept as surety.

The Minister noted that the government had spent more than Rs. 50,000 million to pay the allowance for the April and May. He added that Rs. 25.72 billion has been allocated to pay the allowance for May.

He said the Rs. 5,000 allowance was disbursed in a very transparent manner among needy persons.

 
 

Commenting on the letter to the President’s Secretary by the Election Commission Chairman asking him to reconsider the payment of Rs 5,000 for June, Minister Gunawardane said the government is not in a position to pay the allowance for June due to the election law. He said that the Cabinet of Ministers had decided not to pay the Rs. 5000 allowance paid to families who have lost their daily income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In his letter the Election Commissioner informed that the Commission received several complaints from political parties, civil society organizations and the public claiming the allowance has become politicised.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stressed the production and supply of the pharmaceutical items should be streamlined for the benefit of the people disregarding the interests of handful of intermediaries.

Reviewing the production, import and distribution of pharmaceutical supplies during a discussion with the Chairmen of the two State Pharmaceutical Corporations held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (21), the President pointed out the necessity of deciding the medicinal requirement of the coming year by studying the demand pattern of the previous year.

Replying to a query by the President as to how the medicines supply in the country is structured, State Pharmaceutical Corporation Chairman, Dr.Prasanna Gunasena said the supply is done in three ways.

They are production by the State sector, production by the private sector and imports by both sectors.

Currently there are 750 varieties of medicines in use in the country and sometimes a scarcity could occur due to delays in procurement process in respect of imports, the Chairman said.

The President directed that no room should be left for shortages in the supply of medicines in the country. All the medicines should be of highest standards said the President while warning relevant officials not to give any chance to produce or import substandard medicines.

Chairman of State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation Dr. Uthpala Indrawansha said that his organization produces 80 medicines required by hospitals in the country. Plans are underway to domestically produce Saline and several other items.

 This will save the country around Rs. 1300 million annually, Dr. Indrawansha said.

The possibility of investing money belonging to the Employees Trust Fund and the Samurdhi Movement in the production of medicine was also explored. If such a mechanism could be put in place, these two Funds will have a permanent source of income, President observed. Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe and representatives of the Treasury were also present during the discussion.

Following institute and personal donations along with direct deposits, the Itukama COVID-19 Healthcare and Security Fund reached Rs 1136mn today(May 21).

Canowin Hotel @ SPAS (Pvt) Ltd donated Rs 1 million and the cheque was handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat today(May 21).

Built Element Ltd, Mascons (Pvt) Ltd contributed Rs. 3 million and Mascons (pvt) Ltd donated Rs. 1 Million. Exim House Distributors (Pvt) Ltd, Exim House (Pvt) Ltd and Mr. Cyril Samarajeewa contributed Rs 250,000 each. The staff of the Tower Hall Theatre collected a sum of Rs. 90,637.69 while the staff members of the Inland Revenue Department collected Rs. 3 million for the Fund. In addition, Mr J.P Dayananda De Silva donated Rs. 100,000 to the Fund to battle COVID 19 pandemic.

Currently, the amount of Itukama COVID 19 Healthcare and Security Fund remains at 1,136,968,139.71.

Local, as well as foreign donors, have made their contributions to the Fund. Donations to Itukama COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund have been exempted from taxes and foreign exchange regulations. Deposits can be made through cheques, telegraphic transfers, via www.itukama.lk or by dialing #207#.

For further information contact through 0760700700/ 0112320880/ 0112354340 or 0112424012.

The COVID- 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund now operates under the brand name ‘ITUKAMA’. The Fund now has been renamed ‘ITUKAMA – COVID 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund’.

The branding was done in order to attract more local and foreign benefactors.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa established the Fund on March 23rd. The President’s Fund contributed Rs. 100 million to the Fund under the directive of the President.

The objective of the Fund is to strengthen the mitigation activities aimed at controlling COVID-19 pandemic and related social welfare programmes. A special account was opened at the Corporate Branch of the Bank of Ceylon to collect funds.

The account number is 85737373. Banking code is 7010 while the Branch code is 660. The SWIFT Code of the account is BCEYLKLX.

Local as well as foreign donors have made financial contributions to the Fund. Donations will be exempted from tax and foreign exchange regulations. Deposits could be made through cheques, telegraphic transfers or through www.itukama.lk website or dialing #207#.

The management of the ITUKAMA COVID -19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund is entrusted with a highly qualified panel of 18 professionals in the fields of administration, finance and banking.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Prof. W. D. Lakshman is the Chairman of the Committee. The Chief Financial Officer, Presidential Secretariat Ravindra J. Wimalaweera is the Secretary of the Committee.

The other members are Secretary to the Treasury S.R. Attigala, Defense Secretary Major General Kamal Gunaratne, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration J. J. Ratnasiri, Secretary to the Ministry of Health Major General Consultant Radiologist Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Acting Inspector General of Police C. D. Wickramarathna, Director General Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Director General Sri Lanka Customs Major General G. Wijitha Ravipriya, Chairman Lanka Sathosa Nushad M. Perera, Chairma Employees Trust Fund Shriyan de Silva Wijayaratne, Additional Secretary, Presidential Secretariat P. D. Indika L. Wijegunawardene, Director General (Legal), Presidential Secretariat Attorney-at-Law Hariguptha Rohanadheera, Deputy Governor Central Bank N. W. G. R. D. Nanayakkara, Senior Deputy General Manager Bank of Ceylon W. P. Russel Fonseka, and former Auditor General S. Swarnajothi. Former President of the Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association Attorney –at-Law J. M. S.G. Jayasundara heads the Committee.

Further information can be obtained through 076 0700700/011 2320880/ 011 2354340/011 2424012.

Speech made by His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the National Ranaviru Day commemorations on May 19th 2020

Full text of the speech made by His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the National Ranaviru Day commemorations on May 19th 2020.

Reverend Maha Sanga representing Maha Nayaka Theros and Anu Nayaka Theros of Malwatta and Asgiriya Chapters, Amarapura and Ramannya Nikayas,
His Eminence Cardinal,Hindu Kurukkal leader, Islam Mowlawi,


· Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President and the Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
· Hon. Maithripala Sirisena, former President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
· Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda,
· Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Gunatilleke, Governor of the Western Province
· Secretary to the President,
· Secretary Defence,
· Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force,
· Acting Inspector General of Police, Director General of the Department of Civil Defence,
· Distinguished guests,
· War heroes of Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Civil Defence,
· Dear parents, wives, sons and daughters of war heroes,


May 19th is a very important milestone in the history of Sri Lanka.


11 years ago on a day like this, on May 19th 2009, we completely defeated the separatist terrorism which had been a curse to the country for nearly 30 years.
It was President Mahinda Rajapaksa who gave the leadership for this battle in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief.
With the end of terrorism, an environment where people could live without fear or anxiety and enjoy their human rights freely was created.
After a period of 30 years, we ensured democracy and build an atmosphere where free and fair elections could be held.
The atmosphere where people can travel freely without any restrictions to any place of the country was restored.
Our war heroes and their families made immense sacrifices to usher in peace to the country which was engulfed in terror.
War is not a bed of roses. Especially, the war heroes had to face numerous bitter experiences and difficulties when battling one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world which did not respect law.
During those 30 years, helpless civilians got killed everywhere in the country. A large number of lives and properties were lost due to suicide attacks, bombing in buses, trains and buildings carried out by the terrorists.
The prime objective of the Humanitarian Mission was to bring lasting peace in the country.
Because of the exceptional sacrifices made by our war heroes, today we have the opportunity to live in peace and harmony in a unitary state.
Our country, nourished by Buddhist philosophy, possesses a form of administration that an oasis for all religions and all nationalities.
Throughout its history, people in this country including Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher have had equal rights.
The motive of the extremists was to divide us. If they were successful in their attempt, our history could have taken a different course. Sri Lanka could have become a country where communities hate each other, engage in continuous battles for borders, fear of war is a common norm of life and another hapless and divided country.
The honor of liberating the country from this catastrophe should be given to all our heroic troops who fought for the peace in our country for a long time.
We remember with immense gratitude, all the war heroes including General Kobbekaduwa and General Vijaya Wimalarathna who fought for this victory for more than 3 decades and laid their lives for the country.
As an officer who was engaged in active service for around 20 years, later as the Secretary Defence for 10 years as well as a citizen I am very well aware of the sacrifices made by our war heroes.
Pain of the war is not strange to me.
Therefore, I will not allow any room for attempts to discredit and destroy the dignity of our war heroes who made countless sacrifices to bring peace to entire Sri Lanka.
I assure you that under my administration, we will take every measure always to protect the dignity of our heroic forces.
It is a national responsibility to ensure their rights.
In a situation where even leaders of powerful countries have emphatically stated that they would not allow any action against their war heroes, in a small country like ours where our war heroes have sacrificed so much, I will not allow anyone to exert undue pressure on them or harass them.

If any international body or organization continuously target our country and our war heroes, using baseless allegations, I will also not hesitate to withdraw Sri Lanka from such bodies or organizations.
We pay the tribute of the nation to all war heroes and their families who contributed to the battle against separatism for 3 decades.
The highest honour that can be bestowed on them is to transform this country which was protected by them by laying their lives to a land where every citizenry can live in peace, harmony and with dignity.
At this War Memorial, I invite all patriotic citizens to make your fullest contribution towards this endeavor.
I thank you all.
May the noble Triple Gem bless you.

The Sri Lanka Standards Institute has already formulated standard guidelines for the manufacture of 11 Covid-19 prevention products including face masks, hand wash, gloves etc, said the Higher Education, technology, Innovation, Information and Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena during a media briefing held last day (May 12).

He said that if these products are to enter the export market, they definitely need the standards certification, adding that the Standards Institute officers had worked tirelessly round the clock during the curfew to formulate these standards. He said that these standards have been formulated in accordance with international standard specifications.

Addressing the media briefing the Director-General of the SL Standards Institute Dr. (Mrs) Siddhika Senaratne said that this is an opportune moment to market these products internationally, but it should be done in accordance with proper standards. Adding that the people of this country are not inclined to insist on proper standards, but appealed to the manufacturers to adhere to proper standards from the inception of their production ventures.

Ambassador for the Federative Republic of Brazil, Ambassador for the Islamic Republic of Iran and the High Commissioner of the Republic of India, based in Colombo presented their credentials to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo today (14).

It was a historic moment as the credentials were presented via a video conferencing ceremony. This is the first time in Sri Lanka for this solemn ceremony to be conducted using internet technologies. Instead of postponing the presentation ceremony until the COVID-19 crisis ends, President instructed for the ceremony to proceed as per schedule.

This is one of the many innovative ways adapted by Sri Lanka in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result Sri Lanka, while successfully containing the virus, had continued to make progressive steps socially and economically and now diplomatically.

It was a relatively short ceremony. The diplomats presented their credentials to the President by displaying it to the camera. Afterwards, the President welcomed them.

The envoys who presented their credentials today were:

  1. Mr. Sergio Luiz Canaes

Ambassador- designate of the Federative Republic of Brazil based in Colombo

  1. Mr. Hashem Ashjazadeh

Ambassador- designate of the Islamic Republic of Iran based in Colombo

  1. Mr. Gopal Baglay

High Commissioner- designate of the Republic of India based in Colombo

Minister of Foreign Relations, Mr. Dinesh Gunawardena, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundara, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations  Ravinath Aryasinha and  Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Relations Admiral Jayanath Colombage  also participated at the ceremony.

A top medical doctor with vast experience in medical administration and an impeccable service record as a military medical officer has been appointed new Secretary to Ministry of Health at this crucial time to spearhead the battle against dreaded COVD19 pandemic. Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, the Director General of Army Health Services, who assumed duties at the Ministry of Health last week has a proud record of performing amputation and other surgeries sometimes under a shade of a tree in the battlefields in the North during most parts of the 30 year old war and formulating medical policy for the armed forces medical corp.

Major General Munasinghe was the Director General of Army Health Services, and President of Sri Lanka College of Military Medicine and Colonel Commandant of Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps. He also served as Consultant Radiologist at the Army Hospital.

A brilliant student of Ghnaodaya Vidyalaya – Kalutara and Thissa Vidyalaya – Kalutara, Sanjeewa Munasinghe joined the medical faculty in 1978 successfully competing with most privileged students of premier schools in the island.

This patriotic youth, served as a medical doctor at hospitals in Galle and Badulla before voluntarily joining the army when there was an urgent requirement of young doctors to treat the wounded soldiers in the battlefields in the North and the East in 1986. “When the war intensified, there was an imperative need for Army doctors and I decided to join,” he said. The doctors were sent immediately to the front where they had to perform even surgeries under the shade of a tree. He recalled that they had to perform amputations, ICT insertions, tracheotomy, arresting bleeding and many such surgeries.

Dr Munasinghe was also actively involved in the field during the Vadamarachchi Operation, in which Brigadier Denzil Kobbekaduwa was the Field Commander. “That was an unforgettable experience. Amidst gunfire and shellfire we had to treat the wounded soldiers”.

When the Indian troops were deployed, the military operations of Sri Lankan army were ceased and Dr Munasinghe utilized the time for his post graduate studies. After completing MD at the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine he went to Australia on a fellowship to study Interventional Neuro-Radiology. He also did further studies at Oxford University in UK and Maryland University in USA.

While he was employed in Australia, the second face of conflict in Sri Lanka began in 1995 and Dr Munasinghe volunteered to come back to serve the Motherland once again. He was appointed Commanding Officer at Military Hospital in the following year and he was entrusted with all medical planning during the military operations. At the same time, Dr Munasinghe continued to make field visits to operation areas.

Recognizing the invaluable services rendered, he was promoted to the rank of Major General in 2009.

During his Military Career he was awarded with a number of decorations and awards includes Rana Wickrama Padakkama, Rana Sura Padakkama, Vishishta Seva Vibhushana, Uththama Seva Padakkama, East Humanitarian Operation Medal, North Humanitarian Medal, Poorna Bhoomi Padakkama, North and East Operation Medal, Wadamarachchi Operation Medal, Riviresa Campaign Medal, 50th Independent Anniversary Medal, Sri Lanka Army 50th Anniversary Medal and Sri Lanka Armed Service Long Service Medal.

In the following year, he was made the Colonel Commandant of Sri Lanka Army Medical Corp. In 2012, Maj Gen Munasinghe was appointed as first Director General Army Hospital Services and also DG of Technical Operations.

At this crucial hour of combating the most dangerous COVID19 pandemic, the Health Secretary will have a vital role to play and it is befitting that a person with vast experience in medicine as well as medical policy and administration has been appointed to the post. Maj Gen Munasinghe said that his fist task would be to attend to important issues such as ensuring sufficient supply of medicine, deployment of medical personnel, including paramedics and taking speedy action to minimize shortages in medicine and medical personnel. “What is essential is to educate the people about maintenance of social distancing after the lifting of lockdown. Health personnel and Security Forces will do everything possible to combat COVID-19. However, for absolute success, the cooperation of the people is essential”.

Sri Lanka’s post covid-19 economy will receive a major boost from foreign direct investments (FDI) due to the way the government controlled the covid-19 situation, Minister of Information & Communications Technology, Higher Education, Technology and Innovations, Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said.

In an interview with ‘Daily News Finance’ he said that even the projects like Colombo Port City and mega apartment projects will receive a keen interest from the foreign buyers and investors.

Most of the affected and deaths from corona virus were senior citizens in Europe. This proves the medical system in those countries were not geared to tackle issues of this nature and in contract Sri Lanka has provided its medical care is above worked class. Sri Lanka had only 9 deaths from nearly 900 patients and this is a remarkable success and this speaks volumes of Sri Lanka’s medical capabilities.

“This will provide a sense of health security for senior citizens who will be keen to spend rest of their lives in Sri Lanka opening up new vistas in elderly care segment in Sri Lanka.”

The term ‘Make Sri Lanka Your Home’ and not ‘second home’ will now have a more secure and realistic meaning. We even expect most of the diaspora to return and settle down in Sri Lanka and start business in the island”

Today most of the Sri Lankan students residing overseas are returning. “I am now talking to some of the world’s leading Universities to open their Universities in Sri Lanka so that this student migration with reverse and also attract students from the region to come and study in these universities.”

The Minister said that already several international universities are talking to him in this regard.

The government has already allocated a special dedicated Higher Education dedicated zone in Gampaha to accommodate foreign universities. “They will be given all facilities and tax concessions.”

This intern will open up a new supply chain.

Dr. Gunawardane said that he also expects many multinational companies to open their regional offices in Sri Lanka due to the health safety factor and also security aspect. In addition the Political stability and also media freedom are some other plus points for investors.

He said that Sri Lanka was in par with Israel which has the most sophisticated intelligence agencies in the world to successfully track and treat clusters of Corona virus patients.

The innovative skills of Sri Lankans were also highlighted during this crisis and several patented medical robots and protective gear were created. “Inventers must now try to market them globally and government will egg them to with assistance.” 

We will have to maintain a balance between steps taken to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease on the one hand and the restoration of normality on the other, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stated yesterday.

“Even countries like Italy, Britain, France and the USA which experienced tens of thousands of Coronavirus related deaths have commenced programmes for the gradual restoration of normal life. What is meant by restoring normality is the process of extending the restoration of public life in a controlled way, to the sections of the population that had been confined to their homes during the shutdown,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said, issuing a special statement.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said Government and private sector institutions will begin functioning with a limited number of employees. “The number of passengers on trains and buses will be limited. Schools and tuition classes will remain closed. Social distancing norms are to be maintained when commencing work in this phased manner.”

“We should be aware that even though the spread of Coronavirus has been brought under control, it has not been eradicated completely. Random sample testing will continue. Quarantine centres will be kept open. Even after the restoration of normality has begun, it may be necessary to isolate and lock down certain areas and even to impose police curfews,” he added.

The Prime Minister urged the public to be mindful of the need for social distancing even after the curfew is relaxed. “Coronavirus patients may continue to be found, but our health authorities have by now mastered the manner in which such situations should be handled.  We request the people to extend their fullest cooperation to the Armed Forces and Police for the phased restoration of normal life in the country.”  

The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to Health, Armed Forces, Intelligence and other sectors for controlling the COVID-19 spread to the point where Sri Lanka is well ahead of most countries. “It's noteworthy that while 25 Sri Lankans resident in Britain have died of the Coronavirus, only nine Sri Lankans resident in Sri Lanka have died of this disease so far. It must also be stated that had Gotabaya Rajapaksa not been elected President on 16 November last year, none of these achievements would have been possible.” 

In the two districts of Colombo and Gampaha curfew will be in force until further notice.

In other districts including Kalutara and Puttalam curfew will be effective only from 8.00 pm to 5.00 am daily from tomorrow, Monday, May 11th until further notice.

Resumption of civilian life and work while curfew is in force in the districts of Colombo and Gampaha will commence tomorrow, May 11th as previously scheduled.

Conditions included in previous announcements regarding the resumption of normal life will remain  unchanged.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa participated in the all-night Pirith Chanting Ceremony organized to celebrate Vesak day held at the Gonapola Olaboduwa Historical Rajamaha Viharaya in Horana yesterday(May 07).

The President visited the Chief Incumbent of the Vihara, Ven. Uduwe Hemaloka Thera and engaged in pleasantries.

Consequently, the president and the first lady engaged in religious rituals and paid homage to the sacred relics.

President Rajapaksa also participated in a special pooja to celebrate the Vesak festival.

The customary invitation to commence the procession and placing of the casket containing sacred relics was carried out by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Mahasanga led by the Pradhana Adhikarana Sanganayaka of Nawa Korala, Colombo, Dr. Diviyagaha Yasassi Nayaka Thero and the Chief Incumbent of the Lankarama Vihara in Milano, Italy Ven. Olaboduwa Dhammika Thero graced the Pirith chanting ceremony with their presence.

 
 

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