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Aim to end bulk rubber exports by creating value addition industries locally



The contribution of the rubber industry to the national economy would be enhanced by establishing rubber-related industries throughout the country, Company Estate Reforms, Tea and Rubber Estates Related Crops Cultivation and Factories Modernization and Tea and Rubber Export Promotion State Minister Kanaka Herath said recently.

The Minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the National Entrepreneurship Programme for the Establishment of New Rubber Related Industries. The National Programme commenced from the Kegalle District and it is planned to establish 100 new Rubber-Related Industries in the Kegalle District alone.

This programme is jointly implemented by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) in collaboration with the Rubber Development Department and the Rubber Secretariat under the supervision of the State Ministry of Plantations. It is proposed to implement such programmes especially in the rubber growing districts, which will provide the entrepreneurs aspiring to enter the rubber-related manufacturing sector with the knowledge, attitude, technical aspects, know-how and all aspects, including financing as well.

Besides, those budding entrepreneurs will be assisted to overcome the burning issue of fulfilling the initial capital jointly by the State Ministry and banks.

Under this move the State Ministry provides those new entrepreneurs with a non-refundable financial assistance to meet the start-up costs of the business. In addition, the IDB provides them with the necessary technical knowledge.

Although our country is a high quality rubber producer in the world, the output is often exported as a raw material without adding value. However, the State Minister pointed out that more foreign exchange could be earned by setting up local rubber-related industries so as to add value to the local rubber production and turning it into a finished product instead of exporting it as a raw material.

The Minister said that on an average, about 600 rubber parts were used in a car and the primary goal was to manufacture at least a few of them in the country as a starting point. Apart from the automotive industry, there was already a very good market for rubber-related products in many fields including sports, medical, naval, defence, transportation and many more. He noted that local manufacturers could have vast opportunity to reap greater benefits from entering the export market.

Parallel to the programme, a study would be carried out on rubber products imported into the country and some of them will be manufactured locally. Plans were afoot to manufacture other rubber products in the country by gradually uplifting the rubber related industries and in the final stage of this process it is planned to manufacture all the imported rubber related products locally, State Minister Herath said.

“We look forward to enlisting of small and medium scale local industrialists in the process,” he said.

State Minister Herath emphasised a country had to have a production economy to achieve economic prosperity. He noted that greater economic benefits could be achieved through the addition of value to local raw materials.

Tilakaratne Banda, Secretary to the State Ministry said that the main objective of the programme was to implement a significant number of new entrepreneurs in the rubber-related industry especially through the eight rubber growing districts.

Only an average of 50 per cent of the rubber based products used in our country were produced locally and accordingly there was a huge trade gap for rubber production in the local market as well. Therefore, it would not be a challenging task for a local manufacturer to enter the rubber based manufacturing sector and win the market, the Minister said.

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GL sounds far-reaching educational reforms  



Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (21) acknowledged that for want of tangible measures on the part of successive governments, there was a critical mismatch between the education provided and the availability of job opportunities.

The academic, in quarantine as a result being identified as potential Covid-19 contact, emphasised the need for far reaching changes to address the issue as part of their efforts to restructure the entire system.

Prof. Peiris said so in his short remarks at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the University of Colombo.

The one-time External Affairs Minister said: “It is a great pleasure for me to felicitate the University of Colombo, my alma mater on this happy occasion. It is a significant milestone because we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the faculty of arts, faculty of science and the library of the University of Colombo. As we look back on that span of a full century, the characteristics of the University which comes to mind is its resilience. During that period the University has had to face and indeed overcome many challenges. The society of our country has undergone a fundamental transformation during that period.

The University had the strength to cope with rapidly changing circumstances. I would identify that as a principal accomplishment of the University of Colombo.

The University proved its capacity for development, change and refinement and adaptation in order to keep pace with dramatically changing circumstances. The University proud as its history is I am sure will have an even more magnificent future. It has an important role to play in the far reaching changes we are contemplating in the educational system of our country. It is our intention in the course of this year 2021 to restructure the entire system in order to address the fundamental problem of a rather critical mismatch between the education we provide in our Universities and other educational institutions on the one hand and the availability of employment, livelihoods on the other. There is regrettably gap in this regard and it should be our collective endeavor to address this problem. We are also revisiting the curricular. The substance of our curricular  the methods of teaching in such a way  as to serve better the public in a  better way   In all these efforts I have no doubt the expertise of the University of Colombo by any standards  will be of enormous assistance to us in achieving goals we have set ourselves (SF)

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China slaps sanctions on 28 Trump administration officials, including Pompeo



China has imposed sanctions on 28 former Trump administration officials, including outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, agency reports said yesterday.

In a statement released just minutes after President Biden took office, China’s foreign ministry said it had decided to sanction those “who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues.”

The list of names features former Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar; former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro; former national security adviser Robert O’Brien; Kelly Craft, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Matthew Pottinger, who recently resigned as deputy national security adviser. Former national security adviser John Bolton and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon were also included.

The sanctions prohibit those individuals and their immediate family members from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. They are also restricted from doing business with China, as are any companies or institutions associated with them.

“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations,” the ministry said.

The move comes just one day after Pompeo issued a forceful statement accusing China of committing genocide against Muslim Uighurs and other minority groups in its Xinjiang region, for which the U.S. sanctioned several Chinese officials in July. That was one of numerous instances of sanctions, visa bans and trade restrictions imposed on Chinese politicians and Communist Party officials in the Trump administration’s final year.

Relations between the U.S. and China deteriorated considerably under the previous administration, which took an unusually confrontational approach. Pompeo and other officials referred to China as constituting America’s greatest threat, as NPR’s John Ruwitch has reported.

In fact, Bolton appeared to celebrate the sanction against him, calling it “great news” in a tweet posted Wednesday afternoon.

“I accept this prestigious recognition of my unrelenting efforts to defend American freedom,” he wrote.

It is unclear what changes Biden plans, but Ruwitch noted, “Even if the Biden team moves swiftly to put the U.S.-China relationship back on a less antagonistic track, Beijing will be wary after the dramatic changes of the past four years.”

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Expert Committee appointed to report on gold, copper and iron ore deposits



By Ifham Nizam

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweeera yesterday appointed an expert committee to conduct a scientific study on the Seruwawila gold, copper and iron ore deposits.

With iron ore prices skyrocketing worldwide and both neighbouring giant India and China having huge demands, Sri Lanka was keen on tapping natural resources, an official said.  

The committee will be coordinated by an Additional Secretary to the Ministry and will be chaired by Prof. Athula Senaratne of the University of Peradeniya and its other members are H W. Navaratne, Dr. Stalin Fernando, Dr. Bernard Perera, Dr. C.H.K.R. Siriwardena and Dr. O.K. Dissanayake.

Amaraweera, addressing the media, at his Ministry yesterday said the mineral deposit had been explored in the 1970s with the help of technology available at that time, and it had been found that there was iron, copper as well as a certain amount of gold in the Seruwawila deposit.

As today’s excavation technology was very advanced, it was possible to dig up to 250-300 metres, the Minister said.

The Minister also said that all possible steps would be taken to increase the value of the mineral resources through value addition locally to ensure higher prices.



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