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Defence adviser to Indian HC calls on Defence Secy. and commanders of SL Army and Navy

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New Defence Adviser to the High Commission of India Captain (Indian Navy) Vikas Sood has had interactions with the leadership of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence and armed forces in the past week, the Indian High Commission says.

The India HC has said in a media statement: “Captain Sood paid courtesycalls on Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne on 28 July 2020, Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lt Gen. Shavendra Silva on 27 July and Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne on 29 July.

“During these interactions, marked by traditional cordiality and camaraderie between the armed forces of the two countries, a range of matters of mutual interest in bilateral defence cooperation was discussed. Strong commitment to further strengthen the defence relationship between the two countries was reiterated by participants on both sides.

” It was noted that India and Sri Lanka enjoyed a strong and growing defence relationship pillared on extensive cooperation in capacity building, such as through training, and other close linkages. More than 50% of all foreign military training slots in India are allocated to Sri Lankan defence personnel. It was observed that commonality of security concerns and challenges as well as the mutual resolve to address them for ensuring peace and security in our shared region guide the bilateral defence ties. Regular

                   Sood with Gunaratne

high level exchanges and visits, joint training and exercises, ship visits and sports interactions are the key elements of the robust cooperation.”

Satisfaction was expressed at several high level exchanges and interactions between the two countries in the field of defence this year, despite the travel restrictions in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. Besides several delegation level visits, Maj Gen (retired) Kamal Gunaratne alongwith Lt Gen Shavendra Silva, participated in Def Expo 2020 at Lucknow, India in February 2020.

“Gratitude of India for the excellent cooperation by Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Ports Authority in the repatriation of Indian nationals from Sri Lanka in June 2020 when INS Jalashwa undertook a visit to Sri Lanka was conveyed. The smooth conduct of this operation is a testimony to extremely close ties between Indian and Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

“It was also noted that in line with the commitment of the leadership of the two countries to cooperate in facing COVID 19 challenges, India had extended essential medical assistance to Sri Lanka in recent months. In this context, it was recalled that the Indian Navy had gifted two transportation pods for transferring COVID 19 patients and four thermal scanners to Sri Lanka Navy. In the context of sharing Sri Lanka’s valuable experience in effectively fighting COVID, the recent participation of Maj Gen HJS Gunawardena, Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Army in a webinar organised by India for various partner countries including Bangladesh, Thailand and Myanmar to share best practices followed by Sri Lanka was appreciated.

“It was noted that the participation of more than 400 personnel from tri-services of Sri Lanka in the celebration of ‘International Day of Yoga’ on 21 June this year at Sri Lanka Army Headquarters is a further testimony to the close professional and cultural affinity between the two countries and their armed forces.”

 



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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