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113th Annual Feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara begins



The flag staff being raised yesterday evening commencing the festivities of the 113th Annual Feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara 

Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA 

The 113th Annual Feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara commenced yesterday evening with the raising of the flag staff.

 The Administrator of the Shrine Rev. Fr. Michael Colin Nixon said that the festivities would be held on a low key in keeping with health guidelines imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that there would be neither special transport arrangements nor accommodation facilities provided for pilgrims to stay over.

 The programme of events for this year’s feast is as follows: 

 31st August to 3rd September 4.30 pm Rosary, Holy Mass followed by Novena

 4th September- 4.30pm Holy hour and Benediction 

Celebrant – Very Rev. Fr. Charles Hewawasam (Vicar General of the Diocese of Galle)

 5th September- 8.30am Holy Mass

10.00am Holy Mass

11.30am Holy Mass 

 3.30 pm Welcoming of the Bishops and dignitaries 

 4.15pm Rosary,  Litany,  Vespers followed by the Marian Procession with the Miraculous Statue of Our Lady of Matara 

 Chief Celebrant – Most Rev. Dr. Harrold Anthony Perera the Bishop of Kurunegala 

 6th September- 08.00am Festive High Mass

Chief Celebrant- Most Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickremesinghe



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving



Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest



By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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