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Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that there are instances where low income families do not receive lands even though lands were allocated to them.

The Prime Minister stressed that he will leave no room for such incidents to take place in the future.

He said that the Land Reforms Commission faced a barrage of criticism during the previous regime.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa completes 100 days of his office as President today.

President Rajapaksa in keeping with his “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” manifesto, has taken steps to introduce a programme for achieving university admission for all students who pass the GCE Advanced Level exam.

Alongside those who are not qualified for higher education, a system has been set up to turn them into experts in various technical fields, a release from President’s Media stated.

The release stated: development of 1,000 schools as national schools are also among the programme introduced by the President for the development of education. Introducing a programme to prepare undergraduate youth for employment by the age of 20, the implementation of the Economic Improvement Programme from January 15 to provide 100,000 unemployed youth in very poor families  under a task force and launching an employment program for unemployed graduates ensuring their direct contribution to the national economy are some of the steps taken by the President, the release stated.

The press release stated as regards the development of public service the President has taken steps to raise the age limit of the unemployed graduates to 45 years to apply for jobs, plans are afoot to take nursing courses and Teacher Training Courses to graduate degrees in the near future. A Task Force on Education has been set up and steps have been taken to introduce educational reforms with transparency. Drafts were prepared to create a National Defense Academy to conduct high-level National Security courses.

Action was taken to designate Heads of State institutions on the advice of a Special Advisory Committee and to display state symbol in government institutions rather than images of the president and ministers of government, and to review the salaries of heads of state institutions, to reduce the salary of SLT chairman from Rs 2 million to Rs 250,000 as part of it.

Appointment of a Committee to conduct a detailed study of MCC Agreement for recommendations, taking steps to regulate over 1,000 NGOs operating against the country, taking steps to restore the massive investment opportunities that the previous government missed, Inviting powerful states to trust and invest in Sri Lanka, commencement of royalty payments for artistes, Reduction of the tax on telephone charges by 25 percent, and reduction of VAT from 15 percent to 8 percent are some of the highlights of the President’s administration, it pointed out.

Furthermore, he directed construction of medium and other expressways.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed the officials to implement a programme to control the rising prices of vegetables with the aim of providing relief to consumers while safeguarding farmers.

The rising prices of vegetables have led to an increase in cost of living. During a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat, today (24) with the officials of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and the Ministry of Trade the President said that there should be an immediate intervention to control it.

Vegetables are brought to Dambulla from the areas of vegetable cultivation. After this process, again vegetables are distributed back to the original areas from Dambulla. Due to waste in transport a large amount of crop go waste. President Rajapaksa pointed out that this procedure is not correct at all. During this meeting the attention was also drawn to explore the possibilities of vegetable cultivation in state lands belonging to plantation companies not only limiting to coconut cultivation.

The President also pointed out that although economic centers were set up to provide relief to consumers and small traders, issues have arisen as these centers are controlled by large scale traders with vested interests.

The government paddy purchasing process was also taken into consideration. These tasks are being carried out successfully with the assistance of the Army. Paddy storage warehouses have been renovated in several areas. The President instructed the officials to repair all other paddy storage warehouses immediately.

During this meeting it was also discussed in detail regarding the issues related to the residents of the Moragahakanda – Kaluganga project. Issues that have arisen due to non-payment to the contract companies also discussed during this meeting.

Attention was also drawn to the protection of projects such as Uma Oya and to create reservations in those areas.

Minister of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development, Chamal Rajapaksa, State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe, Ministry Secretaries and Senior Officials participated in this meeting.

The new stretch from Matara-Godagama to Hambantota-Barawakumbuka of the southern expressway, E01, was declared open by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday.

This 56-Kilometer long extension, 30 kilo meters from Godagama to Beliatta and 26 kilo meters from Beliatta to Barawakumbuka has been built at a cost of Rs.169 billion.

With the opening of the new stretch, the southern expressway becomes the first such road in the in South Asia, which directly connects two international airports and two international ports.

Godagama (Matara) – Mattala (Hambantota) full extension of the SEW is 96 kilometers long and will be built at a cost of Rs. 225 billion. This comprises with eight inter-changes namely Godagama, Aparekka, Beliatta, Kahagalla, Angunakolapelessa, Wetiya, Sooriyawewa and Andarawewa.

The Sooriyawewa exit has been built targeting the vehicles reaching the Sooriyawewa International Cricket Stadium.

This also comprises with 14 bridges and several under and over passes. One such over pass of 700 meters will be helpful to the wild animals in the Aparekka, Dandeniya reserve to cross the road without harm.

The President and the Prime Minister opened the new phase at the Godagama-Palatuwa entrance and left for Barawakumbura through the expressway after ceremonially purchasing the first and the second tickets at the toll gate respectively.

MP Namal Rajapaksa drove the vehicle travelled by the President and Minister of Roads and Highways Johnston Fernando drove the vehicle travelled by the Prime Minister to Barawakumbuka. Both President and the Prime Minister waved to the crowds flocking at the Aparekka and Beliatta entrances and also received blessings by the Maha Sangha there.

Construction of this new extension of the SEW was to end on April 11 this year according to the contract but, it was finished 50 days prior to the agreed day.

Ahead of the upcoming 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) scheduled to commence next Monday (24 February),

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha briefed the President of the HRC Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger on the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka to withdraw its co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 of March 2019 on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, which also incorporates and builds on preceding Resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017.

The Foreign Secretary who is presently in Geneva, on Friday (21 February) informed the President that the Cabinet of Ministers had on Wednesday approved this decision following a cabinet paper submitted by Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. The decision had also been presented to the Parliament on Thursday. He also informed her that Minister Gunawardena will lead the Sri Lanka delegation to the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council, and will formally inform the Council Members on the Government’s decision when he addresses the High Level Segment of the Council, on Wednesday 26 February. Minister Gunawardena who will also respond to the Oral Update on Sri Lanka by the High Commissioner on 27 February, is scheduled to meet the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, during his stay in Geneva.

She was also informed by the Foreign Secretary that on the eve of the decision being taken by the Cabinet, the Ambassadors of the ‘core group’ that had moved the resolution, who were resident in Colombo ( the UK, Germany and Canada), had also been briefed by Minister Gunawardena.

Ambassador Tichy-Fisslberger appreciated Sri Lanka’s initiative to keep her briefed on the matter.

Belluna Co. Japan and Asia Capital PLC, the developers of 447 Luna Tower recently met with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo, for a discussion which was focused on the current Sri Lankan market and economy.

The Japanese delegation informed the Prime Minister of Japan’s optimistic approach to further invest in to the country.

Belluna Co. Japan and Asia Capital PLC also went on to inform and update the Prime Minister of all their current investmentsin the country which include a Rs.10 billion condominium project located at Union Place;a 300-room city hotel on Marine Drive in Colombo 03 which is currently under construction; an ultra-luxurious 57 room resort known as Le Grand in Galle which opened August 2018; as well as their first resort endeavour with Marriott International, debuting the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort entailing 70 villas, which opened in October 2018.

Belluna Co. has already invested over USD 220 million into Sri Lanka and currently envisaged up to USD 450 million.

The Prime Minister reassured the delegationof the government’s fullest support with the current and future investments, which further strengthened Belluna’s confidence in the local market and in the Sri Lankan economy.

In addition, Belluna Co. Japan and Asia Capital PLC have also invested and acquired a prime block of land in the heart of Colombo for yet another mixed development project which will be announced in the near future.

The meeting was coordinated through the Senior Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, Nivard Cabraal with Belluna Co and Asia Capital PLC officials.

These large investments highlight the commitment of both companies to its current projects in the local market and confidence of its potential growth for the future.

The current government has further strengthened Japan’s interest in Sri Lanka, and Asia Capital PLC plans to bring in a further substantial amount of foreign direct investments to the country.

Ahead of the upcoming 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) scheduled to commence next Monday (24 February),

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha briefed the President of the HRC Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger on the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka to withdraw its co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 of March 2019 on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, which also incorporates and builds on preceding Resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017.

The Foreign Secretary who is presently in Geneva, on Friday (21 February) informed the President that the Cabinet of Ministers had on Wednesday approved this decision following a cabinet paper submitted by Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. The decision had also been presented to the Parliament on Thursday. He also informed her that Minister Gunawardena will lead the Sri Lanka delegation to the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council, and will formally inform the Council Members on the Government’s decision when he addresses the High Level Segment of the Council, on Wednesday 26 February. Minister Gunawardena who will also respond to the Oral Update on Sri Lanka by the High Commissioner on 27 February, is scheduled to meet the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, during his stay in Geneva.

She was also informed by the Foreign Secretary that on the eve of the decision being taken by the Cabinet, the Ambassadors of the ‘core group’ that had moved the resolution, who were resident in Colombo ( the UK, Germany and Canada), had also been briefed by Minister Gunawardena.

Ambassador Tichy-Fisslberger appreciated Sri Lanka’s initiative to keep her briefed on the matter.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa attended the International Mother Language Day celebrations at Independence Square in Colombo.

This year’s celebrations, organized jointly by the High Commission of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education, consisted of an islandwide competition in which school students submitted paintings, essays and poems. Winners received their prizes from Prime Minister
Rajapaksa at this event.

This year’s UNESCO celebrations are taking place under the overall theme “Languages without Borders” while the celebrations in Sri Lanka focused on “Language for Unity.” International Mother Language Day has been observed since 2000 and works to promote
linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. According to the United Nations, “At least 43% of the estimated 6,000 languages spoken in the world are endangered.” And it estimates that a language disappears every two weeks, “taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.” Thus, this initiative seeks to create greater awareness of language-related concerns and promote language diversity and multilingualism.

The Matara-Hambantota section of the Southern Expressway declared open to the public today (24)

The newly constructed extension was ceremoniously declared open by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

With the opening of this new section, the total length of the Southern Expressway becomes 222 kilometers.

The Southern Expressway from Matara to Hambantota is constructed under four phases: Matara - Beliatta, Beliatta - Barawakumbuka, Barawakumbuka - Andarawewa and Andarawewa - Mattala.

The construction of this new section has cost the government Rs 250 million, according to the Road Development Authority (RDA).

Six interchanges have been established at Aparekka, Beliatta, Kasagala, Angunakolapelessa, Barawakumbuka and Sooriyawewa

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says his aim is to eradicate poverty with the creation of a people-centric economy.

The President made these remarks addressing the 22nd National Conference of the All Ceylon Samurdhi Development, Agricultural Research and Production Assistants Union held at the Temple Tress, today (20). The Conference was organized under the theme ‘A people’s era where Samurdhi and agricultural rights are guaranteed’.

During this event, permanent appointments were given to 176 Samurdhi and Agricultural Officers. These appointments were granted under the programme to hand over permanent appointments to newly recruited Samurdhi Officers during the last five years.

The objective of the government is to raise income levels to create an environment where people from all strata of society could live happily. As part of this programme, the government plans to recruit 100,000 unskilled and low educated individuals from low income families. The assistance of the Samurdhi and Agricultural Research Officers are needed in selecting them, the President said.

‘The number of our public servants is 1.5 million. Public money is spent to ensure their rights and privileges. If the Treasury receives state revenue in a proper manner, the government can guarantee privileges and rights of all sectors. As a government we are ready to ensure all the rights of public servants. Public servants in turn should fulfill their respective responsibilities towards the country,” the President further stressed.

It is the responsibility of the public officials to facilitate the endeavours that are being undertaken to make the lives of the general public convenient.  President Rajapaksa requested the state officials to apply their wisdom directly to state administration services and suggested them to submit practical proposals in order to promote living standards of the people as well as the economic growth.

“Absence of a second or a follow-up generation in agricultural sector is an issue. Lack of infrastructure development, non-existence of an appropriate market, market monopoly and mismanagement of the existing infrastructure facilities lead to this crisis. It is essential to address these issues immediately and promote agriculture among the younger generations.” President added.

President Rajapaksa explained that several rules and restrictions have adversely affecting the general public. President stated that it is the responsibility of the state officials to relax these rigid laws and restrictions and to make their lives more convenient.

“The incumbent government will not use unwise decisions or faults of our predecessors as an excuse. We are ready to overcome those challenges left over by the former government. For this purpose government needs the support of all state officials” President Rajapaksa noted.

Ministry Secretaries Mr. S. Mahanama  and Mr. Ashoka Alawatta, Samurdhi Director-General and the General Secretary of Samurdhi Association, Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi and members of the All Ceylon Samurdhi Development, Agricultural Research and Production Assistants Union were present for this event.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stressed that no room will be left for separatism, terrorism and religious extremism to raise its head again.

He said the country will never be affected by separatism, terrorism and religious extremism which brought havoc to the country.

The President was speaking while inaugurating the national programme to renovate 100,000 kilometres of rural and alternative roads at Galaha, Kandy yesterday. With the programme launch under the theme “Route to Prosperity” (Saubhagyaye Mawatha) the construction of a road from Peradeniya to Rikillagaskada via Galaha was jointly launched by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Galaha, Kandy yesterday.

The construction of this road is a long felt need of the people as this road has not been renovated for three decades.

The President said the project, which renovates 100,000 kilometres of rural and alternative roads countrywide, is a fulfillment of a proposal in the election manifesto at the last Presidential election. The Government will fulfill all the pledges made in the election manifesto.”

The President said that the best, experienced and capable people have been appointed to key positions regarding national security, since the government believes that the protection of national security as a must.

“Utmost priority is being given to national security,” the President added.

Speaking on the productivity of the state service, the President noted that the Government has been strengthening the state service in order to provide an effective service to the nation.

“State officers can work impartially and take impartial decisions,” the President said.

“The people asked for a secure country during the Presidential election. Therefore, this Government is duty bound to work on strengthening national security of the county. There will be no compromise with regard to national security which is given utmost priority,” he highlighted.

President Rajapaksa said that massive development projects were initiated during the period between 2005 to 2015.

Speaking on achieving economic prosperity, the President said that unemployed graduates will be absorbed into the government service by March 1.

President Rajapaksa said the former government had failed to carry out a single investment proposal after 2015.

The President speaking on the moves to strengthen the rule of law said that unlike the former government, this government will never interfere with the judicial system. During the previous regime,FCID, CID and Justice Ministry officials etc.were advised on cases before courts by the politicians. He pointed out the need for the judicial system to function in an impartial and productive manner.

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