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GL calls for enhancement of bilateral relations with South Korea, Kuwait

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Having succeeded Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena recently, Prof. G.L. Peiris has met top envoys of several major countries over the past few days. On Tuesday (24), Prof. Peiris met South Korean Ambassador Santhush Woonjin Jeong and Kuwaiti Ambassador Khalaf Bu Dhhair to discuss a range of bilateral matters. Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage and senior officials of the Ministry participated in the meetings.

 The Foreign Ministry said the discussions with Ambassador Jeong centered on a wide range of areas of existing and potential cooperation including education, science, information technology, digitalisation, pharmaceutical production, labor migration, people-to-people exchanges and partnership in multilateral engagements. A particular emphasis was placed on the importance of development of Korean language education in Sri Lanka, enabling direct and effective exchanges between citizens, businesses and institutions between the two countries.

During the meeting, Foreign Minister Peiris reiterated the significance of Sri Lanka-Korea bilateral relations which continue to be mutually beneficial with potential for further expansion and expressed appreciation for Ambassador Woonjin’s sentiments towards Sri Lanka and its people.

They agreed to explore further avenues for expanding trade and economic relations between the two countries which can be diversified into new development projects and investments.

The following is the text of statement on the Foreign Minister’s meet with Ambassador Khalaf Bu Dhhair: In his opening remarks, Ambassador Dhhair extended greetings from the Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah and expressed the Government of Kuwait’s willingness to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations with the Government of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, Ambassador Dhhair said that the Government of Kuwait was looking forward to employing skilled workers from Sri Lanka in the health and energy sectors.

Responding to the remarks made by the Ambassador Dhhair, Foreign Minister Peiris expressed that the Government of Sri Lanka and the State of Kuwait enjoy extremely cordial relations and during his tenure, was looking forward to strengthening Sri Lanka’s relations with the Gulf countries. Minister Peiris also conveyed the Sri Lankan Government’s appreciation to the Emir of Kuwait for the donation granted by the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society for the Covid– 19 emergency health sector requirements. The Minister Peiris also noted the valuable support extended by Kuwait to the Government to Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council and other multilateral forums.

Foreign Minister Peiris and Ambassador Dhhair discussed the possibilities of further expanding the Trade and Investment ties between both countries into new areas such as energy, hotel and tourism and urban housing projects through a partnership between public and private sector institutions. They also noted that there were new areas of bilateral cooperation that are yet to be explored such as Tourism, Health and Energy sectors which would be mutually beneficial in strengthening the already existing cordial relations between the two countries.”



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Self-Employed Traders petition SC over govt. favouring liquor dealers

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By A.J.A Abeynayake

The Supreme Court has decided take up, on 04 Oct. for hearing a petition filed by the Association of Self-Employed Traders against the opening of liquor stores during the current lockdown.

 The traders have requested the apex court to order the government to allow members of their union to engage in business activities since the liquor stores had been allowed to reopen during the lockdown.

The petition was taken up before a three-judge bench comprising justices L. T. B. Dehideniya, Shiran Gooneratne and Janak de Silva, yesterday.

 The State Counsel appearing for the respondents said he had received the relevant documents pertaining to the case only last Friday evening. Therefore, the State Counsel requested the court to give him time to seek advice from the respondents who were many.

Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva, appearing for the petitioner at the time, said about 7,000 members of his client union had lost their livelihoods due to the decision by the respondents.

Therefore, Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva requested the court to give an early date for considering the petition.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court decided to take up the petition for consideration on 04 Oct and directed the lawyers of the petitioners to take steps to send notice to the respondents before that date.

The petition was filed by the President of the United National Self-Employed Trade Association G.I. Charles, its Vice President P.G.B. Nissanka, and Secretary Krishan Marambage.

The petition names 47 respondents, including the Director General of Health Services, the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of Excise.

The petitioners allege that under the quarantine law, the Director General of Health Services, who is the competent authority, issued a notice on Aug 20 prohibiting the opening of liquor stores.

The petitioners point out that steps were taken to open liquor stores countrywide contrary to the regulations of the Health Authority.

The Director General of Health Services, the Commissioner General of Excise and the Inspector General of Police have stated that they have not allowed the reopening of liquor stores.

The petitioners have also requested the Supreme Court to issue an order to the respondents to allow the members of their association to engage in business activities as the liquor stores are allowed to remain open.

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Lankan born newly elected Norwegian MP Gunaratnam calls for investments here

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Newly elected Norwegian Labour Party MP, Lankan born Kamzy Gunaratnam says she will ask the new Norwegian government to continue engagement with the country of her birth.

 Speaking at a virtual media conference on Sunday night, Gunaratnam said that she does not believe that boycotting Sri Lanka is the way forward.

“I don’t believe in boycott. There needs to be investments. Only that will ensure employment,” she said.

Gunaratnam said that she is also prepared to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, if invited, for talks.

She said that Norway must continue to assist Sri Lanka through trade, education and in other ways.

Gunaratnam said that she will also discuss with her party and the new Norwegian Foreign Minister, as well as the Norwegian Ambassador in Sri Lanka and see how best Norway can assist the country.

Gunaratnam said that Sri Lankans must also decide the best solution for Sri Lanka and not any foreign country. She said that Sri Lanka must not wait for foreign pressure to work on a solution.

The newly elected Norwegian MP also said that minority rights in Sri Lanka must be protected.

As a Norwegian MP she said that her main focus in the Norwegian Parliament will be to push for equality in Norway.

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Going to IMF best solution, says Ranil

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UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe insists that a programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is necessary to mitigate impact of the growing debt repayment crisis; homegrown solutions are not effective.

“Unlike in the past, Sri Lanka’s debt problem has increased at a time when there is a global debt problem. This makes the situation more challenging and complex. Sri Lanka is a highly import-dependent economy,” Wickremesinghe said during a panel discussion, organised by the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka on Saturday.

The UNP leader said that the government shouldn’t sell state assets to ease off the shortage of foreign exchange to have breakfast but reinvest those proceeds back in the economy. “Going to the IMF is the best solution,” Wickremesinghe said.

With reference to homegrown solutions, he referred to the mess caused by the government in promoting Dhammika peniya as one of the failed measures earlier on to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The former Prime Minister said that Sri Lanka should use the current situation to forge ahead with structural and public sector reforms which were postponed due to political considerations in the past.

The former PM suggested that the re-opening of the country be delayed till mid-October.

In responding to the issue of debt management in Sri Lanka, the UNP leader said that the most pressing concern is addressing the dwindling foreign exchange reserves of the country.

He explained that the regional foreign exchange reserves were projected to increase over the course of the year, however, Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserves were on a downward trend.

He also said that economic recovery based on a resurgence of the tourism industry would be uncertain, and until airline ticket prices were reduced it was unlikely that tourist arrivals would increase significantly.

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