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Fueling a way forward for small and medium enterprises

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Providing financial and technical assistance towards the switch to renewable energy technologies

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka together with the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA) has commenced an initiative to strengthen rural economies, increase forest cover, improve the living standards of rural women, and sustainable industries and small and medium enterprises in the country, by increasing the growth of suppliers for clean and modern biomass technology in line with the energy policy.

The UNDP said: “Sri Lanka aims to be a nation more resilient to shocks in the energy sector by 2030.  The objective is to increase the power generation capacity of the country from the existing 4,043 MW to 6,900 MW by 2025 with a significant increase in renewable energy. Around 40% of Sri Lanka’s primary energy requirements are met by biomass energy, which is a significant source of energy for both households and businesses. Being an indigenous source of energy, it contributes to the country’s energy security and provides rural farmers with an extra source of income. Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has led to hardships for households and businesses to source the required energy for production. Renewable energy technologies are thus a timely solution to the challenges faced by many small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

 Building on experiences, best practices, and lessons learned from Phase I, the Biomass Project Phase II – Biomass Energy 2022 is an initiative of the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA) together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka. The project aims to strengthen rural economies, increase forest cover, improve the living standards of rural women, and sustainable industries and SMEs in the country, by increasing the growth of suppliers for clean and modern biomass technology in line with the energy policy.

 As a part of the project, a series of training programmes on renewable energy technologies for SMEs and financial institutions will take place in partnership with Standard Charted Bank (SCB). The second of the training programmes for 50 SMEs was held recently in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

 Speaking at the programme, Harsha Wickramasinghe, Acting Director General of SLSEA noted, ‘’In the present economic crisis, the hardest hit segment of our business community is undoubtedly the SME sector. The real issue affecting all these small businesses can be traced to the energy supply, either in the transport requirements or in their process energy requirements, which are mainly electricity and fuel for heating applications. Providing indigenous solutions, such as biomass and solar-based energy technologies, will contribute in no small measure to rebuilding our SME sector. In this regard, the support provided by SCB and UNDP could be very useful’’.

 Addressing participants at the workshop, Sampath Ranasinghe, Programme Coordinator – Energy and Waste, UNDP in Sri Lanka emphasized that “UNDP is committed to supporting SMEs to increase the use of renewable energy technologies through sustainable models for energy production. In the prevailing economic crisis, renewable energy technology is the most cost-effective source of energy which will create new business models and opportunities for SMEs by enabling them to benefit from reduced costs and sustainability enhancements”.

The programme, which focused on entrepreneurs from various industries ranging from tea, spice, hotel, and food and beverage industries, was developed to increase awareness and build the capacity of SMEs on renewable energy technologies in the market.

 Head of Corporate Affairs, Brand & Marketing of Standard Chartered Sri Lanka, Anuk De Silva said, “As a global bank, we are constantly interested in promoting sustainability and green initiatives within our markets and across the globe. Keeping in line with the Group’s agenda on achieving net zero by the year 2050, we are honoured to have partnered with the UNDP to share knowledge and training on Biomass and renewable energies, which is a very timely and relevant need.”

The Biomass Energy 2022 project will increase the use of biomass energy in Sri Lanka for power generation, benefitting local households, farmers, and the national economy. The project will further expand biomass production to agricultural waste and develop collection systems to process 100,000 tons of agricultural waste annually, to be given to industries using biomass as an energy source. The next training programme for SMEs will be held in October 2022.



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Thousands flee floods after dam collapse near Nova Kakhovka

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An aerial image shows water pouring through what appears to be a breach in the dam (pic BBC)

BBC reported that thousands of people are being evacuated downstream of a major dam which has been blown up in Russian-held Ukraine.

President Zelensky said 80 towns and villages were at risk of flooding after the destruction of the dam at Nova Kakhovka, which he blamed on Russia. Water is surging down the Dnipro river and is said to pose a catastrophic flooding risk to the city of Kherson.

Russia has denied destroying the dam – which it controls – instead blaming Ukrainian shelling. Neither Ukraine or Russia’s claim has been verified by the BBC.

The Kakhovka dam is crucial in the region. It contains a reservoir, which provides water to farmers and residents, as well as to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It is also is a vital channel carrying water south to Russian-occupied Crimea.

Video footage shows a torrent of floodwater gushing through a breach in the dam. Several towns are already flooded, while people in areas further downstream were forced to flee by bus and train.

Around 40,000 people need to be evacuated, Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktoriya Lytvynova said on Ukrainian television – 17,000 people in Ukraine-controlled territory west of the Dnipro River and 25,000 on the Russian-controlled east.

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Sagala Ratnayaka leads Sri Lanka delegation to 20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

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Chief of Staff to the President and National Security Advisor (NSA) Sagala Ratnayaka led the Sri Lanka delegation to the 20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier Security Summit held in Singapore from 2 – 4 June 2023.

The highly anticipated summit commenced on 2 June with a powerful Keynote address delivered by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Throughout the event, a series of plenary sessions delved into various crucial geo-political issues, encompassing the establishment of a stable and balanced Asia Pacific, the resolution of regional tensions, the evolution of maritime security in Asia, US leadership in the Indo-Pacific, and China’s latest security initiatives, among other topics.

During the Special Session focusing on ‘Defence Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region,’ Ratnayaka delivered an impactful statement, participating alongside representatives from India, Oman, France, and the United States. He emphasized the significance of keeping big power rivalries and external conflicts out of the Indian Ocean, highlighting Sri Lanka’s efforts in the United Nations to declare the region as a zone of peace. Furthermore, he underscored the country’s contributions to preserving freedom of navigation and over flight, stressing the crucial need for constructive dialogue among all stakeholders in the Indian Ocean region to pursue shared interests.

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Prices of sixty essential drugs to be reduced from 15th June

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The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal raised by the Minister of Health to reduce the maximum retail price of 60 medicines by 16% with effect from 15.06.2023 and review the price of medicines every three months

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