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Chief Incumbent of Sambuddhaloka Viharaya, Colombo Ven. Prof. Ittademaliye Indrasara Thera yesterday said the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House) has been rendering an invaluable service for the preservation and promotion of religion, culture, language and the national heritage of the country for over a century.

The Thera was delivering an Anusasana after invoking blessings for the year 2021 at the Lake House company premises yesterday.

Ven. Prof Ittademaliye Indrasara Thera said that Lake House Founder late D.R. Wijewardene was committed to the freedom of the country. The Thera said that he rendered a yeoman service for the uplift of the Buddha Sasana. The Lake House employees are also following in the footsteps of its founder and rendering a great service to the country and the religion. The Thera said Lake House Chairman W. Dayaratne, PC is steering the institution on the right path despite many obstacles and difficulties.

The Thera also invoked the blessings on the staff and the management led by Chairman W. Dayaratne, PC for the New Year

Hindu, Catholic and Islamic religious dignitaries also blessed the staff and the management for the New Year. Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House) Chairman W. Dayaratne, PC said the company plans to meet its economic targets this year in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. He said that 13 new educational publications in Sinhala and English mediums will be launched tomorrow at a ceremony to be held under the patronage of Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella in addition to three educational publications launched by the company during the course of last year.

The ANCL Chairman sought the support of all employees to make this effort a success. He also thanked the staff, on behalf of the management who rendered their service to the company in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the company was operating at a loss of over Rs.600 million when he assumed duties as the Chairman on December 16, 2019. The Chairman described how he and the members of the Director Board reached all Government institutions to obtain advertisements in order to ease the debt burden of the company.

“We received a favourable response from these institutions. However, Lake House stopped printing papers for more than a month with the onset of COVID-19 in the country from March last year,” he said.

He added that the company incurred a loss of Rs.100 million due to the prevalent situation in the country.

"Lake House stopped printing papers for more than a month for the first time since the establishment of the company . Though arrangements were made to print the paper thereafter, the company did not receive any income,” he said.

He said that the company succeeded in launching several tabloids targeting the students who are sitting for the GCE Ordinary Level, Grade 5 Scholarship Examinations and pre-schools students. The ANCL Chairman added that the operations at the Commercial Printing Department commenced after a lapse of four years and the company succeeded in making some profits.

Commencing duties in the New Year President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met Ministers, Members of Parliament and his staff at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday.

Mingling with the gathering, President Rajapaksa said that it is necessary to work with optimism, determination and commitment to achieve the aspirations of the people while being conscious about the challenges facing the nation. Extending his warm wishes to the Ministers, MPs and his staff, the President was engaged in a cordial discussion with them.

Secretary to the President Dr. P.B.Jayasundera administered the oath marking the commencement of official duties by public servants 2021.

“The entire public service should be sincerely committed to an efficient and effective public service as per the “Saubhagyaye Dekma” policy framework,” the Secretary to the President stated. The country is moving towards professional leadership.

Jayasundera said the President hoped for a public service that would fulfill the aspirations of the people under the “New Normal” situation that has evolved following the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Despite severe financial difficulties, ours is the only Government in the world that has paid salaries and allowances to over 1.5 million public servants and over 600,000 retirees on time without any deductions,” the Secretary pointed out.

 
 

The Government led by President Rajapaksa is committed to protect the public servants.

The Secretary to the President emphasized that it is the responsibility of all public servants to commit themselves to render best of their service to the country.

Principal Advisor to President Lalith Weeratunga, Director General (Administration) Retired Major General K.B. Egodawele, Private Secretary to the President Sugeeshwara Bandara and officials of the Presidential Secretariat were also present.

The New Year will be a year full of challenges, but the country must forge ahead under challenging COVID-19 threats. However, even under such conditions, the Government is ready to overcome these challenges and forge ahead, said Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

The Minister was addressing staff members at the Government Media Department yesterday, commencing work in the New Year.

Minister Rambukwella commended the members of his Ministry who had worked with commitment during the most decisive situations, making special note of the dedicated staff of the Postal Department who had carried out the delivery of medicines during the height of the COVID pandemic.

273 buses belong to Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) which were taken out of service due to dilapidation were repaired and re-added to the passenger transportation under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Galle Face Green today (31). These buses will be utilized to meet the passenger transportation needs in rural areas throughout the country.

The project based on a concept of the State Minister of Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments and Motor Car Industry Dilum Amunugama was implemented under the guidance of Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge.

In order to rebuild the collapsed economy vehicle imports were restricted after the new government came into power. As a result, there occurred a shortage of buses for passenger transport. Launched as a solution to this issue, the new project will save foreign exchange spent on importing buses.

273 buses that were completely out of service at 107 depots island-wide have been repaired at a cost of Rs. 115 million.

The project is being carried out by SLTB depots and Lakdiva Engineering with the full support of the Sri Lanka Public Transport Employees Union.

After inspecting the standard of the buses President had a cordial chat with the workers of SLTB and motivated them.

Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge, State Minister Dilum Amunugama, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Chairman of SLTB Kingsley Ranawaka were also present.

The dawn of the New Year motivates us to move towards a new meaningful heights in life while providing opportunity to clearly understand the challenges we face at each passing moment. We welcome 2021 with positive attitudes, determination and absolute commitment, states President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his New Year message.

The message:

No sooner than we commenced the journey towards prosperity that we had successfully initiated, we were compelled, together with the rest of the world, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which had engulfed the country. Amidst formidable challenges and obstacles, we were able to lay the foundation for sustainable development while prioritising national aspirations.

The Government is determined to further strengthen the steps that it had already taken to meet the expectations of the people in the New Year. The Government was formed with the objective of securing people-centric development and to protect and preserve national identity. No room should be left for the erosion of confidence the people placed in the Government that it would not go against the country and the people’s will.

The prime responsibility of the Government is to make development targets enshrined in Saubhagyaye Dekma policy framework, a reality. To achieve this objective, it is essential that the public and private sectors, work together as partners. If each and every public servant properly performs the duties and responsibilities entrusted to them, it is not a difficult task for the Government to conquest any challenge faced by it. I expect that commitment from all public servants. Furthermore, I hope that all the citizens will continue to faithfully serve the Motherland.

We strongly believe that we have self-determination and courage to overcome challenges that we have to face in the New Year. That is because we have already built that confidence in the country by formulating and implementing necessary plans with a clear perception.

There is no need to separately mention the economic and social prosperity that a disciplined country could achieve. Therefore, let us determine that in this New Year we will fulfill our respective duties in a proper and disciplined manner.

I wish that New Year will usher in a prosperous future devoid of diseases for all Sri Lankans and their children living here and overseas.

New Year is a hopeful time for all of us and as we bid farewell to 2020, we must welcome the New Year with renewed strength and determination, states Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his New Year message.

The message: “We are grateful for the support extended by the people of Sri Lanka for our Government to create an inclusive and safe country for all Sri Lankans. During the short tenure of our Government, we take great pride in being able to address public grievances, and work towards the betterment of our people. After five years of political stagnation, we were able to restart many endeavours aimed at enhancing our social and economic growth, while fighting the multifaceted challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I commend the dedication of our frontline staff fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers, the Armed Forces, Police and Security, Government officials and volunteers have helped in mitigating the impact of this unprecedented challenge. While 2020 was a difficult year for all of us in Sri Lanka and around the world, it has been a true test of our spirit.

The people of Sri Lanka have shown their true mettle in these difficult times, and as we reflect back on this year, let us all believe that brighter days are ahead of us.

Even though our challenges remain great, the Sri Lankan spirit and perseverance remains greater, and it is this strength that will enable us to overcome the obstacles of this global pandemic as a nation and inspire our future generations. I wish you all a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has issued a commemorative coin in the denomination of Rupees 20 to mark its 70th Anniversary. The first coin was officially presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the Governor of the Central Bank Professor W. D. Lakshman, at the Presidential Secretariat, today (31).

The coin is made of aluminum and bronze with Seven Lobed shape. This is a limited issue of 3,000 coins and the new coin will not be added to the circulation.

A coin will be sold at a price of Rs.1,300 through the CBSL Headquarters and Regional Offices.

Principal Advisor to President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga and Central Bank officials were present on this occasion.

Reaffirming the cordial relationship that has always existed between Egypt and Sri Lanka, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has extended his heartfelt best wishes and greetings to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the people of Sri Lanka for 2021. The full text of the message of greetings follows:

“As we bid farewell to this year and welcome, with optimism and hope, the New Year 2021, it gives me pleasure to extend to Your Excellency and your people my warm greetings and heartfelt felicitations together with my best wishes.

“With this good occasion, I would like to express my sincere hope that the New Year will usher in a new chapter where our ambitions and aspirations come true through harnessing our efforts to surmount the global challenges and realize a future that ensures growing peace and prosperity for all.

“I also hope that 2021 will witness further expansion of our bilateral ties in the spirit of friendship and cooperation that has marked our relations for long decades to achieve mutual benefit for our friendly peoples.

Reiterating my cordial wishes for a happy New Year, please accept my sincerest wishes for the best of your well-being and for the progress and welfare of your friendly people and all the peoples of the world”.

It is noteworthy that Egypt was the first Arab and African country to establish diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka in 1957 and currently bilateral relations are experiencing a surge across many fields as both countries are cooperating and working together to overcome the diverse challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even during these difficult times, bilateral trade has gained momentum while the two countries are pursuing enhanced cooperation on several other fronts following the first round of bilateral political consultations held between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and Sri Lanka in Cairo on December 12, 2019. Egypt Air, the national flag carrier of Egypt commenced direct cargo flights between Cairo and Colombo from October 2020 while the inauguration of direct passenger flights between the two countries is also in the pipeline. Building upon these strong foundations of mutual cooperation, the New Year is expected herald greater opportunities for the enhancement of amicable relations between the countries and peoples.

– Do not disturb livelihoods of those depend on agriculture

– Provide rapid solutions to displaced people when planning development projects –      President instructs officials

Air Force to develop “Kanugahawewa” as a model village

  • 21 tanks and several dams to be renovated soon
  • Quick solutions to land issues
  • Measures to develop main and byroads
  • Pastures for milch cows
  • Remedies to number of health, education and transportation problems

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited Kanugahawewa in Kebethigollawa to participate “Discussion with the Village” programme. This marks the fourth in the series of “Discussion with the Village” attended by the President.

The programme commenced on September 25, 2020 at Welanwita in Haldummulla Divisional Secretariat Division in Badulla district. The idea behind this programme is for President to talk to the rural communities living in remote and difficult areas without intermediaries about their long-standing unresolved problems and to present them directly to the officials in order to find solutions. Problems that can be solved on the spot are instantly addressed . The rest which take time to deal with are noted down to find solutions later.

The second of the series was held on October 2 in Himbiliyakada in Wilgamuwa Divisional Secretariat Division in Matale district while the third was held on December 18 in Rawanakanda, Imbulpe in Balangoda.

The village of Kanugahawewa in Kebethigollawa Divisional Secretariat located 73km away from Anuradhapura city was chosen for the today’s (30) discussion. The public gathering was held at the playground of Kanugahawewa Primary school. Villagers from several surrounding hamlets including Thalgahawewa, Halmillawatiya, Thammannawa, Herath Halmillawa and Nikawewa gathered there to present their grievances to the President seeking redress.

LTTE terrorists frequently attacked Kebethigollawa during the separatist war. 68 villagers from Kanugahawewa and the vicinity were killed when the LTTE terrorists exploded a passenger bus using a claymore mine in Halmillawatiya on June 15, 2006.

Residents of these villages had to live in welfare camps from 1995 to 1998 and from 2006 to 2008 due to terrorist activities. Although the threat of terror is over now, they still face a number of serious economic and social issues. The poverty ratio in the village stands at 54% of the total population.

Paddy and chena cultivation is the main source of livelihood of the people in Kanugahawewa as well as many surrounding villages. Loss of traditional habitat as a result of displacement due to terrorist threat is a major issue. Therefore, the farming lands have become residual forests. Marking such lands as reserves by the Wildlife and Forest Conservation Departments during their surveys makes it very hard for the people to cultivate. The threat of wild elephants is another major issue faced by the villagers.

Stating that the Government’s and his policy is to develop agriculture on a priority basis President instructed officials not to disturb the daily cultivation activities of the people who make a  living from agriculture. President Rajapaksa also said that they should have the full support of the political authority.

It was decided to hand over the lands identified as residual forests when marking reserves according to the Google map after 2012 back to the people for cultivation purposes immediately.

It was revealed during the public gathering that a large number of people have lost their lands due to the implementation of Yan Oya project but no compensation has been paid. President stressed that from now on, priority should be given to providing alternative lands and compensation must be made accordingly to those who lost their lands in the implementation of such projects.

Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Air Marshall Sudarshana Pathirana  undertook the responsibility of developing Kanugahawewa village with housing facilities to mark the 70th anniversary of the SLAF. Kanugahawewa villaged will be developed as a model village under this initiative.

The President sought cooperation of the Chief Incumbent of the village temple, the Grama Niladhari, the Divisional Secretary and the Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha to jointly take steps to identify the needs of the people living in the village and submit plans to the Commander of the Air Force.

Renovation of existing tanks needed for farming was one of the main demands of many villagers present at the public gathering. Out of the tanks that have been filtered, 21 were decided to be rehabilitated speedily. Many canals and dams will also be renovated under under this scheme. It will benefit more than one thousand families and nearly 8,000 acres of land can be cultivated.

The monthly milk production by the residents of Kebithigollewa area is one hundred and thirty thousand liters. The officials pointed out that the income from this exceeds Rs. 10 million. Farmers are able to achieve higher milk production in 2020 than in 2019. The main challenge faced by the dairy farmers, is the lack of grasslands. Therefore, special attention was paid to develop grasslands for dairy farming industry. Instructions were given to the officials to allow the owners of dairy cattle to release their cows to grazing in the surrounding areas of the forest reserves.

The President instructed the education officials to expedite the process of providing solutions for the teacher shortage as well as other requirements at Kanugahawewa Primary School, Halmillawetiya and Kebithigollewa Schools.

President wanted officials to expedite the development of major and by-roads including the Medawewa Road from Kanugahawewa to Rambakapuwewa, Kebithigollewa to Buhalmillewa and the road from Yakawewa, Bogaswewa, Wahalkada to Yan Oya.

The President directed the Provincial political authority to intervene to expedite the process to ensure adequate supply of drinking water and sanitation facility for the villagers.

It was decided to develop Nikawewa in order to provide water for drinking and cultivation purposes.

The farmers also briefed the President on the Armyworm caterpillar menace affecting maize cultivation.

It was also decided to provide medical and nursing facilities for Kebithigollewa Base Hospital and Wahalkada Rural Hospital. President Rajapaksa paid special attention to providing transport facilities for school children and rural people.

President Rajapaksa also opened the ‘ Smart Classroom’ equipped with computers donated by Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) Mobitel to Kanugahawewa Primary School in support of “Discussion with the Village” programme. Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Director General Oshadha Senanayake and SLT Mobitel Group Executive Lalith Seneviratne were also present.

On this occasion, two books written by Lalith Seneviratne were also presented to the President.

After conversation with villagers, President visited the Vihara Halmillewa Siri Sulugal Dambulla Vihara main Pirivena and called on the Chief Incumbent of the Temple,  Ven. Viharahalmillewe Dhammarakkitha Thero. The President applauded the Thero for his yeoman service for the benefit of Buddha Sasana by protecting the temple in the face of terrorist threats.

The President also pledged to provide his fullest support to the development of the temple.

Minister S.M. Chandrasena, State Ministers Duminda Dissanayake, Shehan Semasinghe, Channa Jayasumana, Members of Parliament S. Nandasena and Uddika Premaratne, Governor Mahipala Herath, Principal Advisor to President Lalith Weeratunga, people’s representatives, Secretaries to the Ministries, Heads of Government Institutions and many others joined with the “Discussion with the Village” programme.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has approved a move to reopen cinemas in the country on 1st January.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Rajapaksa, who is also the Minister of Cultural Affairs, had instructed the authorities to reopen cinemas in the country, except those in isolated areas.

Movie Directors, Producers, actors and others linked to the industry have informed the Prime Minister about the difficulties they are facing.

As a result, the Prime Minister has instructed the authorities to reopen cinemas and allow them to operate in line with the health guidelines issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The National Film Corporation said last week that cinemas will operate with a 25 percent seating capacity.

The Government had in October decided to close all cinemas as a result of the second wave of the coronavirus.

This was the second instance in which cinemas operating under the National Film Corporation had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cinemas were initially temporarily closed from the 14th of March due to the first coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The Government later permitted cinemas to reopen from 27th June under strict health guidelines.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa paid homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic at Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy and obtained blessings on December 25.

The President was warmly welcomed by the custodian of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Diyawadane Nilame Nilanga Dela.

The President called on the Chief Prelate of the Malwathu Chapter, Most Ven.Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera and inquired into his well-being.

The President also called on the Anunayake Theras of the Malwatta Chapter, Most Ven. Dimbul Kumbure Wimaladhamma and the Most Ven. Niyangoda Vijithasiri and engaged in pleasantries.

Thereafter, President Rajapaksa visited the Chief Prelate of the Asgiriya Chapter, Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera and obtained his blessings.

 
 

The President also called on the Most Ven. Anamaduwe Dhammadassi Anunayake Thera and the Registrar, Most Ven. Medagama Dhammananda Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter and inquired into their well-being as well.

The President visited the Asgiriya Gedige Vihara and had a brief conversation with the Anunayake, Most Ven. Wendaruwe Upali Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter and inspected the development work of the vihara.

The President also visited the Asgiriya Maha Pirivena and called on the Deputy Registrar of the Asgiriya Chapter, Ven. Narampanawe Ananda Nayaka Thero.

Christmas is a noble religious event in the Christian calendar, associated with the birth of Lord Jesus Christ, which inspires the devotion of millions of Christians in God around the world and is second only to the Easter, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in his Christmas Message, yesterday.

The rest of the message is as follows:

“It exemplifies the noble values that make up the foundation of a civilised human society; such as peace, love, kindness, coexistence, and compassion; that Lord Jesus Christ preached and demonstrated by practice. From a social perspective, Christmas is also a joyous occasion for Christian families to get together, exchange gifts, forget enmity, and renew bonds.

“The doctrine preached by Lord Jesus Christ encompasses a body of teachings that contributes to the perpetuation of society. Foremost among these teachings is to eliminate the darkness of sin and help those who have been neglected and marginalised with a sense of brotherhood and be committed to the salvation of mankind. This doctrine can be utilised to revive this economically, socially, and culturally-disrupted world in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

 
 

“I am aware that the Christian brethren of this country celebrate this Christmas while still anguishing in the bitter pain created by the brutal attacks that took place last Easter. Nevertheless, we have been able to dispel the feeling of fear and insecurity that was generated as a result and to bestow everyone with the opportunity to engage in religious observances freely. In the same manner, justice too will be meted out to the affected.

“May the gospel of peace and love expounded by Lord Jesus Christ spread across the world! I wholeheartedly wish all Christians in Sri Lanka a Merry Christmas!”

Page 6 of 61

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