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 President Maithripala Sirisena arrived in the country last night (19th) after successfull visit to the Philippines. He brought a host of benefits to the country in that state visit.

The President left for the Philippines on a four-day state visit on January 15th and this was the first time that a Sri Lankan Head of State has been invited for a state visit to the Philippines during fifty eight years diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) expressed his willingness to provide loans of US $ 455 million for three major projects in Sri Lanka, which was a special benefit of the President’s visit.
President Sirisena signed a five-year action plan between the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Philippines as a part of significant gains during his state visit to the Philippines. This national action plan was signed with regard to the implementation of the national plan for self-sufficiency for rice in Sri Lanka. It is to achieve goal of making Sri Lanka a self-sufficient nation in rice and to reduce the impacts on climate change.
The head of the police and senior officials of the drug prevention unit met with the President and he said that an open battle against illegal drugs is being carried out in Sri Lanka. The Philippines promised to send a specialist team to Sri Lanka to inquire on the technical expertise that can be provided to eradicate drug smuggling. This assistance is provided as a special benefit obtained by Sri Lanka from the President of Philippines.
President Sirisena arrived at Mannila, Ninoy Akino International Airport on the 15th, with the Sri Lankan delegation and warmly welcomed by a delegation of special representatives including the Minister of Trade and Industry of Philippine.
President Sirisena first attended a wreath-laying ceremony in Rizal Park, where he paid his respects to Philippine National Hero before heading to the palace where he was received by President Duterte.
The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte hosted a dinner in honour of President Sirisena, at the official residence of the President of the Philippines, Malacañan Palace on 16th. President Duterte presented a portrait of President Sirisena to the Sri Lankan President.
After meeting with the head of states of the two countries, the Philippine President Duterte, addressing the media stated that they are committed to strengthening the Philippines and Sri Lanka relations with a trusted friendship.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines said that the Parliament of the Philippines will extend fullest support to implement the programmes for development cooperation with Sri Lanka proposed by the Philippines President, with the aim of assisting Sri Lanka.
During his visit, the President also inspected the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Mannila. Another important event took place in the premises of International Rice Research Institute in order the appreciate the services rendered by the President for Agriculture a paddy field at the premises was named after President Sirisena. The commemoration plaque was also unveiled by the President.
President Maithripala Sirisena arrived in the country after concluding his state visit to the Philippines and he brought a host of benefits to the country within that state visit.

 • ADB ready to provide technical assistance to Sri Lanka to curb illegal drug smuggling 

• ADB assistance for projects which aim to mitigate damages from climate changes

The President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has promised to President Maithripala Sirisena to provide a total sum of US Dollars 445 million ADB assistance to Sri Lanka for its three major projects.
This agreement was reached when President Sirisena, who is on a state visit to the Philippines, made an observational visit to the Headquarters of ADB in Manila, yesterday (17) and met with the President of the Asian Development Bank Takehiko Nakao.
They include, US Dollars 300 million under the South Asian Sub-region Economic Cooperation (SASEC) assistance for the Port Access Elevated Highway Project (PAEHP).
Furthermore, ADB agreed to provide US$ 145 million for Science & Technology, Human Resource Development Program in Sri Lanka. The Bank also agreed to provide an additional US$ 10 million for Urban project Preparatory Facility Technical Assistance.
The agreements were signed by President Maithripala Sirisena and ADB President Takehiko Nakao.
During this meeting, President Sirisena further said that today Sri Lanka is facing two major challenges and those challenges are elimination of poverty from the country and curbing drug smuggling. The President also said that the country is expecting a prominent assistance from ADB in the process of curbing drug smuggling into Sri Lanka and eradicating poverty.
The Philippines President said that the ADB could provide technical assistance to the customs department for strengthening illegal drug detection.
Speaking at the event, President Sirisena said that Sri Lanka is suffering from both drought and floods and there is a need for a formal programme to face it. The ADB agrees to assist in Climate Change Mitigation projects in Sri Lanka.
The President explains the programme of the government of Sri Lanka implemented to achieve success in the sustainable development goals and also it was an essential to develop the economy in the country. Meanwhile, ADB President elucidates that although the expected targets are not completely achieved, but Sri Lanka has been able to bring a remarkable economic growth rate.
The President of the ADB said that ADB is supporting Sri Lanka at present in the fields of energy protection, agriculture, infrastructure, climate and environment protection, forestry, and the support will continue. In addition, he also said that in the near future, it will be expected to assist in the development of new projects in irrigation, highways and digital infrastructure development in Sri Lanka.
The ADB President is expected to provide special assistance to develop financial management through the development of small and medium scale agriculture in the country.
Thus the ADB President who appreciated the progress gained in the field of health in Sri Lanka and said that the Asian Development Bank will look into the possibility of supporting pogrammes to develop the tourism field.
The President who made aware the ADB President on the program conducted by Sri Lanka on environmental conservation said that the expectation is to develop the forest density of the country from 28% to 32% and that he made discussions with the Minister of Environment over the matter and urged the support of the ADB President in this matter.
In order to eradicate the damage done to crops by the animals the President discussed with the ADB President over the need of an immediate programme.
The President was thankful for the cooperation provided by ADB in building healthy ties with Sri Lanka since 1966 more than a half a century and appreciated contribution made by ADB towards the other developing countries of the region.
Thkehiko Nakao, who recalled the official visits made by him to Sri Lanka in several times said that he is happy on the transformative condition that is prevailing in the country. Sri Lanka is one country that is suitable to travel within the other Asian countries said, the President of ADB, Thkehiko Nakao.

 Sri Lankan delegation to IMF headed by the Minister of Finance & Mass Media, Mr. Mangala Samaraweera met with Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. on 15th January to have discussions on the possibility of resuming the IMF programme in Sri Lanka.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera updated the IMF management on the recent developments regarding the Sri Lankan economy.
The Sri Lankan delegation discussed the possibility of resuming the IMF programme with a view to stabilizing the economy following the disruptions of post 26thOctober 2018, and stressed on Sri Lanka’s commitment to the economic reform agenda.
The IMF has disbursed over US Dollar 1 Billion out of a USD 1.5 Billion three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) loan it had agreed in 2016.
IMF Managing Director Ms. Lagarde stated that the IMF remains ready to support Sri Lankan authorities in these endeavors and a team from the IMF is scheduled to visit Colombo in February 2019 to resume programme discussions.
Sri Lankan delegation included Non-Cabinet Minister of Public Distribution and Economic Reforms Mr Harsha de Silva, Secretary to the Treasury Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, the Governor of Central Bank Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Senior Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Dr. N.P. Weerasinghe, , Economics Advisor to the Minister of Finance & Mass Media Mr. Deshal de Mel and Alternate and the Executive Director of the IMF for Sri Lanka Mr. M. Siriwardena.

 The Minister of Finance & Mass Media Hon. Mangala Samaraweera met with the Chinese Ambassador H.E. Cheng XueYuan and the delegation at the Treasury today. Hon.Mininster apprised the Chinese Ambassador about the Sri Lankan Governments plan to re-engage with I.M.F and Thanked the Chinese Government for their continued support extended to Sri Lanka.

The Chinese Ambassador H.E. Cheng XueYuan reiterated his countries support to the development of the Sri Lankan economy and pledged their support in our efforts to re-engage the I.M.F in a sustainable manner.
The meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Treasury Dr.R.H.S.Samaratunga, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Finance & Mass Media Mr.Mano Tittawella and other senior Finance Ministry officials.

 President Maithripala Sirisena instructed the relevant authorities to deploy a systematic program to eliminate various drug smuggling activities targeting school children.

The President ordered the officials to take necessary steps to amend the laws to make them more effective.
The President gave these instructions at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (10th) regarding drug control and prevention.
He said that he had received information about drug addicts and students in the vicinity from many sources and urged the police to take steps to prevent this situation from spreding further and eliminate this menace.
The government has taken many steps to curb the illegal smuggling of drugs and to strengthening the procedures related to raids and amending the relevant laws.
The President instructed the officials to expedite all relevant laws and expeditiously devolve powers to relevant authorities.
Discussions were also held with regard to drug related issues, obtaining assistance from other agencies and steps taken to prevent drugs smuggling in prisons.
Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Mr. Hemasiri Fernando, Secretaries of the Ministries, relevant heads of institutions, public officials, Inspector General of Police and the heads of the security forces were also present in this discussion.

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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe opened the three storied building of the Karandeniya Central College to mark its 75th anniversary celebrations held yesterday. The PM views an exhibit of a student at the event. Minister Vajira Abeywardene, MPs Wijepala Hettiarachchi, Bandulal Bandarigoda and area Organiser Jayantha Jayaweera were present. Picture by Prime Minister’s Media Division.

 Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera will leave for Washington on Jan 11 to get the IMF External Fund Facility (EFF) back on track. He will be meeting Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director, Chanyong Rhee, Director, Asia Pacific Department, Manuel Goretti, Team Leader and other members of the IMF Sri Lanka Team.

Minister Samaraweera is expected to signal the Government's intention to continue with IMF reform program. A key objective will be to negotiate the trajectory of continued fiscal consolidation while accommodating policies to support growth and strengthen the social safety net.
The Finance Minister's delegation to IMF will include the Governor of the Central Bank, Secretary to the Treasury and other key officials of the Central Bank and the Treasury

 The approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted to the Appropriation Bill-2019, submitted by the Finance and Media Minister, Mangala Samaraweera. Accordingly, this year’s state expenditure will be Rs 4,470 and the budget deficit will be 4.8 % of the GDP.

The State revenue which was 11.5 % of the GDP in the year 2014 was gradually increased after the present government came in to power in 2015 and, it is expected to be increased to 15.% of the GDP this year.
This year’s National Budget is prepared under the Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) by adopting the performance based budgeting approach with the aim of strengthening the on-going fiscal consolidation programs. The government is also aiming to achieve the target of increasing the State revenue to 17 % and limiting the recurrent expenditure to 15 percent of the GDP in the year 2021.

Rs.2, 200 billion has been allocated for debt servicing in 2019. This is the highest; a government in the history of this country is compelled to bear for debt servicing. The recurrent expenditure include Rs 1,425 billion while the Capital expenditure will cost Rs 838 billion.

The Appropriation Bill will be presented in the Parliament on February 5th and the Budget proposal will be presented by the Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mr. Mangala Samaraweera on 5th March.

 Mahanayaka’s of Buddhist nikayas commended the services rendered by the President Maithripala Sirisena for the propagation of Buddha sasanaya.

President Maithripala Sirisena said that he has made the Tripitaka as a national heritage and he will work towards declaring it as a World Heritage.
The President also said that he will continue to mediate in making the Tripitaka as a World Heritage.
The national ceremony to officially proclaim the sacred Tripitaka as a National heritage for thousands of years was held at the historic Aluvihara temple in Matalewith the blessings of the Most Venerable Maha Sangha and under the patronage of the President 05th January.The Maha Sangha expressed gratitude and the blessed the President for the historic achievement of proclaiming the Tripitakaya as a national heritage.

Anunayaka of the Malwathu Maha Vihara of the Shyamopali Maha Nikaya, the Most Ven. Niyangoda Vijithasiri Thero made a special discourse at the ceremony today. The Maha Sangha stated that the great work done by the President to the Buddha Sasana was praised by the Maha Sangha.
In an era where dharma is distorted, the task that the President performed, during his term, is a noble cause, said the Chief Incumbent of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Nikaya Aggamaha Panditha Ven. Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thero.
The Mahanayake Thero also praised the President’s great noble deed to name the national hero of the 1818 rebellion and to include them as patriotic national titles in the National Heroic List, removing them from the Colonial list of traitors.
Addressing the celebration at Aluvihare temple, the President further stated that this historic task will save the Tripitaka from distorted interpretations and provide legal protection. From here, no one is allowed to use the translation, conversion, or misuse of the Tripitaka or issue any text without approval from the Government. Now, the Tripitaka can be translated and edited only by a statutory academic council. In this way, the government intervened to prevent any attempt to damage or distort the Tripitaka, the President said.
Through securing the Tripitaka, its tansparency, is assured and it has been properly established in accordance with Buddhist tradition to understand the word of the Buddha, said the President. The President added that with the expectations and the guidance of Mahasangha he has come to this decision with heartfelt respect and love for the Buddhist order. He added that he considers this a great privilege for him to accomplish this virtuous deed within his tenure and gain merits, said the President.
President Sirisena who went to historical Matale Aluvihare Temple unveiled the commemoration plaque and marked the declaration of the Tripitaka in written form as a national heritage.
The declaration of Tripitaka in written form was officially presented to Mahanayake at the event.
Chief Incumbent of Aloka Vihara Ven. Dr. Inamaluwe Nandarathana Thero presnted the Ola leaf manuscript that composes Dhamma Chakka Pawaththana Sutra as a special token of appreciation.
A collection of articles were presented to the President
A postal stamp was issued to mark this historical event and it was presented to the Mahasangha by the President.
The Mahanayake Thero of the Asgiriya Mahavihara of the Shyamopali Maha Nikaya Ven. Warakagoda Gnanarathana Thero, Ven. Niyangoda Vijithasiri Anunayake Thero, the Anunayake of the Malwathu Chapter of the Shyamopali Maha Nikaya, The Chief Incumbent of the Amarapura Maha Nikaya, Most Ven. Aggamaha Panditha Kotugoda Dhammawasa Maha Nayaka Thero and thousands of Maha Sangha who came with their greetings from whole country and Buddha Sasana Minister Mr. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera and Ministers, Governors, public servants and a large number of people also participated in this ceremony.








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 Two European Union Parliamentary Members, Lord William Dartmouth and Geoffrey Van Orden, who visited Sri Lanka as members of the “Friends of Sri Lanka Group”, paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, at the latter’s office on 2nd January. During the call both the parties exchanged views on matters of mutual interests and agreed to enhance bilateral trade and tourism cooperation, maximizing the benefits for Sri Lanka under the EU’s GSP+ facility.

Mr. Malik Samarawickrema, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Dr. R.H.S.Samaratunge, Secretary to the Treasury and Ministry of Finance and Mass Media and Mr. Mano Tittawella, Senior Adviser to Finance Minister were also present.


 President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Mister Ranil Wickremesinghe congratulated Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday on her party’s victory in Bangladesh’s general election.Both of them separately called PM Hasina over phone and congratulated her, said Ihsanul Karim, the Bangladeshi PM’s press secretary.

They also greeted the Awami League and the people of Bangladesh for the party’s overwhelming victory, he said.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Sri Lankan leaders hoped the bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries would be strengthened in the coming days, the press secretary said.
Awami League, led by Hasina, won a landslide victory in the December 30 national election. The party alone secured 259 out of 299 parliamentary seats that went to polls.“My heartiest congratulations to Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, on her resounding victory at the elections.
“The people of Bangladesh have placed unwavering trust in your leadership. Sri Lanka looks forward to increasing bilateral relations with Bangladesh,” President Sirisena tweeted.

 Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera assumed duties yesterday morning at the traditional ceremony held in the ministry. State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramarathna, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury A.R. Deshapriya, Additional Secretary Ministry of Finance and Mass Media R. Semasinghe and the staff also participated in this occasion.

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