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GL assures Delhi-resident ambassadors that SL was engaging cordially with UN

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“We oppose excessive interference and special mechanisms”

Sri Lanka would continue to engage purposefully and cordially with the UN but opposes excessive interference into the internal affairs of the country, Foreign Minister G. L Peiris last week told a group of 17 visiting ambassadors/high commissioners in Colombo but objected to the setting up of a ‘special mechanism’ by the UN whose sole purpose, he said, was to collect data to use against Sri Lanka.

There was no way of knowing what such data was and therefore we had no opportunity to test the truth in these allegations, he explained.

The meeting followed the presentation of credentials to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the envoys, mostly non-resident Heads of Mission based in New Delhi and concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka, the Foreign Ministry said.

Prof Peiris welcomed them and stated that the Sri Lankan Government looked forward to strong and substantial relationships with them all.

During his previous tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs under the leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Government felt that there was insufficient representation in the African continent and deliberate efforts were made to strengthen relations with the African countries.

The present Government under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is also looking towards forming close bonds with the African nations as well as consolidating relations with the African Union, Peiris said.

He briefed the Ambassadors on the current situation and developments in Sri Lanka saying the country had achieved substantial successes even after its planned structural strategies, priorities and frameworks were disrupted by the Covid19 pandemic.

Ninety percent of people over 30 have been double vaccinated and the country is now providing booster shots, he said. We had an efficient health care and delivery system supported by the armed forces who made that sure vaccines reached even remote areas of the country.

The Ambassadors were briefed on the resilience of the private sector which adapted to post-covid needs. The apparel industry, for instance, began producing face masks and PPE kits to meet global demand ensuring that the country’s export income remained stable and jobs were not lost.

In the case of remittances, the minister acknowledged they were affected due to a large number of Lankans working abroad returning home due to the pandemic. He stated that the Government was in discussions with many countries since many now want to return to their jobs.

The Foreign Minister also explained that the country was ravaged by a 30-year conflict saying a conflict of such magnitude is bound to leave residues. It has taken other countries decades to recover and Sri Lanka has made every effort to deal with residual problems.

He listed mechanisms like the Office of Missing Persons, Commissions of Inquiry, ONUR, and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka saying that all these were working towards tackling the remnants of the conflict.

On commitment to gender empowerment and gender equality, Peiris said the Human Rights Commission is headed by a former female judge of the Supreme Court and that Sri Lanka is working towards more female representation in decision making.

He called for the empathy of the Ambassadors and High Commissioners present and their backing on international platforms stating that it was important for the UN to support the efforts made by a country to get back on its feet and not pull it down.

Local institutions must be given the space and time to find solutions that sustain the culture and ethics of an individual country Pieris concluded by inviting the mission heads to join the upcoming National Day celebrations in February 2022 and stated that Sri Lanka looks forward to stronger bilateral relations and cooperation in the UN arena.



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Now, CEB plans to ‘rationalise’ tariff

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By Ifham Nizam

Plans are afoot to ‘rationalise’ the electricity tariff shortly, Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando said, adding that the 52-year-old system should be changed for the betterment of the electricity consumer.

CEB Chief told The Island the CEB tariffs need to be changed to better reflect the use and the income level of the consumer. Ferdinando added that he had already briefed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on it.

Ferdinanado said that right now waste and corruption on CEB’s part had also been added to the consumers’ bill.

He said the CEB had received 1500 MT of fuel yesterday and would receive another shipment soon. However, thort-term power interruptions would continue in several areas until the operations at the Kelanitissa Power Station returns to normal.

“The power interruptions are an annoyance and we are looking for solutions. We too want to provide an uninterrupted power supply to our customers. Our hydro-power generation capacity is low as water levels in reservoirs are receding,” he said.

CEB’s Systems Control Department officials said that power outages might be experienced for one and a half hours due to problems at the Kelanitissa thermal plant complex.

CEB Media Spokesman, Additional General Manager Andrew Navamani said that the national grid had lost 282 MW due to the issues at Kelanitissa thermal plant. He said the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had informed the CEB that necessary stocks of fuel for Kelanitissa power plant would be provided by yesterday night.

However, it would take several hours to start the generators, he said.

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Ranil calls on MPs to think anew to find solutions to problems engulfing country

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By Saman Indrajith

Traditional politics did not have solutions to problems and the MPs should think anew to find solutions, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.

Participating in the adjournment debate on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement, the UNP leader said: We have come to the end of politics. If we go by the words of Francis Fukuyama, it is a question of the end of politics. But that does not mean the end of parliament. We in parliament must think afresh. We must have the strength of finding a new way. We must discuss on bringing about long-term policies which could provide us with a new framework to find solutions for the problems of the people. Thereafter we can go for elections and ask people to decide who or which party could do better. Japan did so. Great Britain is doing so. India and Canada do the same. Why cannot we do it here? If we have common consensus here, we can plan to go for a new era. We must understand this reality.

“The President has commenced this new session at a time when the country is faced with the biggest economic and political crisis in 34 years. In his statement he mentioned only the foreign reserve crisis. The economic crisis we are facing is far more critical than that. We created a middle class with open economic policies. With the collapse of the open economy, the middle class too will collapse. There are a handful of companies and individuals who could earn profits while the entire economy is collapsing. We must decide whether we’ll perish or unite to work out a plan to survive,” Wickremesinghe said.

“We have come to the end of traditional politics. We may shout at each other and go out to shout slogans. None of them will be able to help us find solutions. The problems at hand cannot be solved without a policy framework and strong middle-term plan. What we are facing today is the end of traditional politics,” he said.

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Chandrika says Sirisena should be thrown out of SLFP

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Former President Maithripala Sirisena should be thrown out of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) for making it a junior partner of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said on Wednesday night after appearing before the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry (SPCoI) appointed to implement the recommendations of the final report of the PCoI into alleged Political Victimisation.

Both Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had destroyed the SLFP, she alleged.

The former President said that she had urged Sirisena not to join the SLPP as that would mark the end of the SLFP.

“I repeatedly told him this and in response Sirisena removed me from the party’s Central Committee and stripped me of my organiser’s post.

Now, Sirisena is saying the same things I said about the SLPP. Even during the war, I managed to get the economy up and running. Look at it now, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she said.

Bandaranaike was also critical of the SPCoI, stating that she had not been summoned before the PCoI on Political Victimisation for her to respond to any allegations against her.

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