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‘Buddhism’s Response to COVID 19 Pandemic’



International Buddhist Conference 2020

The National Council for International Affairs of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) has organized the International Buddhist Conference on November 7 and 8 from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm Sri Lanka time via zoom, the organizers announced.

The theme of the Conference will be “Buddhism’s Response to COVID 19 Pandemic” and the Anusasana at the Inauguration of the Conference on November 7 at 2.00 pm was delivered by Most Ven Prof Kotapitiye Rahula Anunayaka Thero of the Kotte Srikalyani Samagreedhamma Maha Sangha Sabha & Main Secretary, Professor Pali and Buddhist Studies Division, Peradeniya University. The Government of Burma awarded the highest Honorary Degree “Aggamahapanditha” award to Ven Anunanyake Thero recently.

The welcome address was delivered by Prof Lakshman R. Watawala, Chairman, National Council for International Affairs of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) and Vice President ACBC. Thereafter, the President of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and Vice President of the World Federation of Buddhists Jagath Sumathipala will deliver his address.

The first Session on Buddha’s Teachings to overcome COVID – 19 Pandemic was chaired by Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, PC, Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. This session covered three presentations relating to the topic.

The first presentation on the Rathana Suthraya – A discourse to overcome disasters was delivered by Ven Prof Medagampitiye Wijithadhamma Thero, Prof of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

The next was on the Girimananda Suthraya – Ten perceptions for Healing of Suffering delivered by Prof. Sumanapala Galmangoda, Course Coordinator, Dean, Faculty of Buddhist Therapeutic Systems of Medicine, Dean Faculty of Graduate Studies, Chief Medical Officer, Buddhist ?yurvedic Counseling and Psychiatry, N?g?nanda Teaching Hospital.

The final presentation Coping with Pandemic and Overcoming Suffering from a Buddhist Perspective was delivered by Dr Tavivat Puntarigvivat Visiting Professor at the Thai Studies Program, Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University in Bangkok on a research study undertaken by him.

Thereafter, a panel discussion followed moderated by Prof. Chandima Wijebandara, former Vice Chancellor, University of Sri Jayewadenepura.

The panelists were Dr. Rathnasiri Rathnayaka, Senior Lecturer, Department of Buddhist Thought Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, Dr, Praneeth Abeysundera, Senior Lecturer of Sociology and Anthropology, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Past President All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, Ven. Senior Prof. Uturawela Dhammaratana Thero, Department of Pali, Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, Ven. Vajiraramaye Nanasiha Thero, Patron Servants of the Buddha, Bhante Mahinda Founder and Spiritual Director of the Aloka Foundation, Malaysia.

He is also the abbot of the Aloka Meditation Centre in Australia, founder and Spiritual Director of the Australian Buddhist Mission, Inc. and Ven. Halayale Wimalarathana Thera, President of the International Buddhist Foundation (IBF), Geneva, Switzerland.

On the second day – November 8, the conference will be held via zoom from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm 

The theme of Session 2. is Right Mindfulness and Meditation the Buddhist Way to Overcome Covid -19 Pandemic.

This session will be chaired by Deepal Sooriarachchi, Mindfulness Teacher, Post Graduate Institute of Management University of Sri Jayewardenepura, who will introduce the theme of the session.

The Keynote Address on Right Mindfulness the Buddhist Way to overcome COVID -19 Pandemic will be delivered by Most. Ven. Dhammajiva Maha Thero, Chief Meditation Master, Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya.

The next address on the Power of Meditation to relieve stress, strain and increase resilience –  Neuropsychiatric perspective will be delivered by Dr. Kumari Galboda, Consultant Psychiatrist in Old Age Psychiatry, Essex Partnership University, NHS Foundation Trust, Rochford Hospital, Essex, UK

The third address on The Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path – Liberation from Suffering will be delivered by Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero, Head London Buddhist Vihara and Chief Sanganayaka Great Britain. 

The final address will be delivered on Right Mindfulness – A Buddhist survival kit in the pandemic by Ajahn Sujato Co-founder, Sydney.

This will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Nalaka Hewamadduma, Educator and Author, Mental Skills development. The panelists will comprise: Ven. Panadure Chandraratne Thero, Deputy Abbot, Meethirigala Nissarana Vanaya, Meetirigala, Rev. Dr. Bhante Saranapala – The Urban Buddhist Monk, Founder and President “Canada A Mindful and Kind Nation”, West End Buddhist Temple & Meditation Centre, Mississauga, Canada, Dr. Sumana Ratnayaka, Retired Senior Lecturer, Pali & Buddhist Studies, University of Peradeniya (studied at Kelaniya, Uppsala, Oxford, Lund and Peradeniya Universities).

She holds a doctorate on the subject of Mindfulness: An exploratory study of the Buddhist Meditation in Sri Lanka and is currently resident in Lund, Sweden, Ven. Rathanapala Mahawela. Asst. Lecturer. Pali & Buddhist Studies University of Peradeniya and Dr. Sunil Kariyakarawana, Buddhist Advisor to Her Majesty’s British Armed Services.



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COPA questions lion’s share of fines going to Customs



Irregularities, lapses, corruption erode public finance

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has summoned the Inland Revenue Department tomorrow (23) for an inquiry regarding the inordinate delay in collecting taxes amounting to billions of rupees and extraordinary payments made to the officers of the Customs Department out of fines imposed on both public and private sector enterprises.

Besides, a COPA sub-committee is inquiring into revenue losses suffered over the years as a result of releasing vehicles imported for special purposes as dual-purpose vehicles. 

SLPP MP Prof. Tissa Vitharana heads the all-party watchdog committee. 

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake in a statement issued on April 19 through the Communication Department of the Parliament said that Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and COPA summoned four enterprises. COPE called the Sri Lanka Football Federation and the National Film Corporation on April 22 and 23, respectively. The COPA summoned the Wildlife Conservation Department and the Inland Revenue on April 21 and April 23, respectively, Dasanayake said.

COPA has fixed the meeting in the wake of disclosure of major shortcomings in the overall revenue collection process. Following COPA meeting Inland Revenue Chief H.M.C. Bandara on March 10, the watchdog committee called for accelerated measures to recover dues. The COPA pointed out that out of Rs 107 bn due to the government, only Rs 224 mn had been recovered so far, immediate measures were required to collect taxes and fines.

At the same meeting, the COPA, having questioned the correctness of a list containing tax defaulters furnished by the Inland Revenue Department, emphasized the pivotal importance of rectifying the shortcomings. The COPA also raised the practicability in recovering taxes in terms of the data provided by ‘Legacy’ and ‘RAMIS’ computer systems. 

The Inland Revenue Commissioner General lamented before COPA how inordinate delay in legal proceedings thwarted their efforts to recover taxes. The COPA assured that the Justice Ministry and the Finance Ministry would be summoned for a meeting along with the Inland Revenue Department to explore ways and means of overcoming the issue at hand.

At a subsequent COPA meeting held late March, it was revealed that in addition to their failure to recover taxes amounting to Rs 2,670 mn due from casinos, the Inland Revenue received 6,878 dishonored cheques to the tune of Rs 2,451,465,383. COPA members present on this occasion included Dayasiri Jayasekera, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tissa Attanayake, Mohamed Muzammil, Niroshan Perera, Dr. Upul Galapatti, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Cader Mastan, S. Sritharan and Weerasumana Weerasinha.

That particular meeting was also told that the amount of collectable taxes in terms of the ‘Default Taxes (Special Provisions) Act No 16 of 2010 (certified on Dec 07, 2010) amounted to a staggering Rs 144.5 bn. 

COPA and the Consultative Committee on Ports and Shipping had also taken up on March 9 and 24 the highly contentious issue of the Customs officers taking a big share of fines imposed on tax defaulters, both public and private sector. COPA pointed out that the Customs took advantage of the provision that 50 per cent of the fines imposed on defaulters were shared among those involved in a particular detection. COPA has discussed two specific issues in this regard. COPA pointed out that the allocation of 50 per cent of a fine received from the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) for defaulting in respect of gantry cranes to Customs officers was a major problem. COPA focused on taking necessary measures in this regard after having discussed the matter with relevant authorities, including the Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle.

COPA pointed out how out of Rs 205 mn fine imposed on Lanka Coal Company (Pvt) Limited for defrauding taxes, Rs 102.5 mn (50 per cent of the total amount) had been distributed among Customs officers as rewards and Rs 41 mn for their welfare (20 per cent) thereby leaving the government with only Rs 61.5 mn. COPA has directed Treasury Secretary Attygalle to conduct a fresh inquiry into this and take tangible measures to prevent similar malpractices in the future.

COPA investigations have also revealed massive racket in the registration of ‘dual purpose’ vehicles. It revealed that as a result of corrupt elements since 2013 registering vehicles imported for special purposes as ‘dual purpose’ vehicles the Treasury lost taxes amounting to Rs 220 mn.

In addition to that the Treasury had been also deprived of taxes amounting to Rs 1.300 mn by not imposing Rs 3 mn each on 443 special vans brought to the country during 2010-2019 period.

COPA also stated that the Customs perpetrated another massive fraud by allowing the import of 10 vans and 414 lorries as special purpose vehicles during 2010-2014.

COPA reported the Customs imposing Rs 1.5 mn tax on a super luxury car instead of legitimate Rs 56 mn.

It revealed the loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 6.1 bn during 2013-2016 period due to the Customs adopting wrong procedure in respect of large quantities of palm oil imports by two enterprises. The watchdog committee has instructed the Customs to expedite measures to recover the dues from those companies.

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India reiterates commitment to Sri Lanka’s security



India has reiterated her support for Sri Lanka’s fight against terrorism. The assurance was made on the second anniversary of 2019 Easter Sunday attacks. The following is the text of statement issued by the Indian High Commission yesterday: “High Commissioner Gopal Baglay attended the solemn ceremony at St. Anthony’s Church on 21 April 2021 to mark the second anniversary of the dastardly Easter Sunday attacks. He lit a candle in memory of the victims of the attack and prayed for the recovery of those who are still suffering from its aftermath.

“It may be recalled that the High Commissioner had paid homage to the victims at the Church also on 23 May 2020, the first day after the completion of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period, subsequent to his arrival to Sri Lanka on 8 May 2020 on a special flight carrying a gift consignment of essential medical supplies from India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also paid his respects at the Church during the solidarity visit to Sri Lanka in June 2019.

“St. Anthony’s Church was one of the multiple targets of the Easter Sunday attacks, which also took away the lives of 10 Indians. These Indian victims fell prey to the perpetrators at Shangri-la, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand Hotels.  

India and Sri Lanka cooperate closely in all aspects across the security spectrum. India stands firmly with the people and Government of Sri Lanka in the fight against terrorism and also collaborate on curbing various other illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, narcotics, etc. “

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Explosive cargo: Ship carrying compound used for enrichment of uranium asked to leave H’tota port



A ship that made an emergency call at the Hambantota International Port on Tuesday night (20) carrying Uranium hexafluoridea–a compound used in the process of enriching uranium, which produces fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons–has been asked to leave.

Chandula Rambukwella, Senior Manager, Commercial & Marketing, Hambantota International Port, issued the following statement yesterday: “M.V. BBC Naples sailing under the flag of “Antigua & Barbados” entered the port of Hambantota on 20th April at 2100 hrs, while en route from Rotterdam to China. The ship made an emergency call at the port for some urgent repairs. Agents for the vessel in Sri Lanka, Ms. Barwil Meridian Navigation, had not declared to the port authorities that there was dangerous cargo on board, prior to the vessel entering the port.

It was later found that they were carrying a cargo of Uranium Hexafluoride via investigations made by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Port Authority. The vessel was required to leave the port no sooner the facts were verified.

The SLPA, Navy, and Customs officials had approved all the necessary documentation prior to berthing of the vessel, based on the declaration made by the agent. The Navy and Customs were present at all times to ensure that there wasn’t any cargo unloaded onto the Hambantota International Port premises.”



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