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Dutch and Australian envoys meet the Foreign Minister

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The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Sri Lanka Tanja Gonggrijp and High Commissioner of Australia David Holly called on Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris on Wednesday (25) .

During discussions with Ambassador Gonggrijp, Foreign Minister Peiris highlighted the long and fruitful relationship between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands which has influenced the legal system, architecture, cuisine, culture and lifestyle, as well as various facets of the socio-political system in Sri Lanka. The Minister Peiris in this regard made specific reference to the legacy of Roman Dutch law which has contributed to the evolution of the Sri Lankan legal system.

With regard to contemporary relations, the Foreign Minister Peiris reiterated the strong resolve of the Government of Sri Lanka to reinforce areas of cooperation with the Netherlands in the political, economic and cultural spheres, enhance connectivity and people-to-people interactions, as well as to further strengthen collaboration in multilateral fora.

Ambassador Gonggrijp spoke on the many areas of synergy and cooperation existing between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands which are harnessed for mutual benefit. In this regard, the Ambassador Gonggrijp referred to Dutch technical expertise in the fields of agriculture, dairy industry, culture, heritage management and restoration, which are being utilised in programmes of ongoing collaboration with Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador Gonggrijp also referred to value-added production and exports in the agriculture sector, capacity building in the dairy sector, and use of organic fertiliser and sustainable agriculture in Sri Lanka, as areas where there can be further collaboration with the Netherlands. There was agreement to further explore areas of synergy for mutual benefit.

During the meeting with High Commissioner, Holly, the Foreign Minister Peiris spoke of Sri Lanka’s commitment and interest to enhance cooperation in countering irregular migration by sea, combatting COVID-19, education, technical and vocational training, economic and investment sectors, which was reciprocated by Australia.

High Commissioner Holly extended sincere felicitations on the appointment of the Foreign Minister and reiterated that Australia was ready to assist Sri Lanka in the socio-economic development process.

Being Indian Ocean neighbours, the two sides identified the importance of close collaboration in the maritime field, including in the prevention of future maritime disasters and cooperation in international & regional forums on issues of shared interest.

Foreign Minister Peiris and the Australian High Commissioner Holly also agreed to jointly celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia in 2022.

Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage and senior officials of the Ministry participated in the meeting.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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