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13 mn US funding, training for 100 lobby correspondents, refurbishment of media centre

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… ready to work with new govt

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The US provided funds to the tune of Rs 1.92 bn to Parliament at the request of the previous UNP-led yahapalana government. Funds were utilized to refurbish Parliament’s Media centre, training of more than 100 lobby correspondents on parliamentary procedures and strengthening of House staff research capabilities.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in late Nov. 2016 launched a Rs. 1.92 billion (USD$13 mn) partnership with the Parliament of Sri Lanka to strengthen accountability and democratic governance in Sri Lanka.

In response to several questions as regards US funding raised by The Island, the US Embassy has sent us the following statement: “The United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other US Government agencies, has provided a range of assistance to Sri Lanka over the last 70 years.  The support to Sri Lanka’s Parliament supported by USAID was provided at the request of the Sri Lankan government and in consultation with the Secretariat of the Parliament.  It has included the refurbishment of Parliament’s media center, modernizing Parliament’s offices, the training of more than 100 lobby correspondents on parliamentary procedures, non-partisan support for increasing the political participation of women and other underrepresented groups, and strengthening parliamentary staff research capabilities.  We look forward to collaborating with the new Parliament as requested.  Assistance provided by USAID conforms to development assistance agreements concluded by the Government of Sri Lanka and the United States Government.”

The embassy was responding to the following questions that were submitted as requested:

Q: Did Sri Lanka parliament utilise the entire amount of funds provided by the USAID?

Q: Did Sri Lanka parliament seek additional funding after the completion of the three-year project?

Q: Will you extend the same facility to the new Parliament?

Q: Would it be possible to know how the funds were spent? And projects funded by it?

Q: Did Sri Lanka project meet US standards?

Q: Are you (US embassy) satisfied with Sri Lanka project and do you believe USAID project helped strengthen accountability and democratic governance in Sri Lanka and achieved objectives?

 Q: Why is aid given to Sri Lanka channelled almost entirely through NGO outfits?

Why is the legitimately elected government bypassed when it needs international help, especially at a time when the country is fighting a pandemic better than most countries?

 Q: Is Sarvodaya a credible NGO, being more or less a family run organisation? (Recently US announced USD 1.5 mn in support of Sarvodaya).

 



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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