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Great potential for expansion of rubber cultivation

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There is a great potential for the expansion of rubber plantations in the country as the local production of the raw material is around 60 percent of the country’s requirement at present, Company Estate Reforms, Tea Estate Related Crops, Tea Factory Modernization and Tea Export Promotion State Minister Kanaka Herath has said.

The Minister made the observation during a field visit to monitor the progress of the Rubber Cultivation Expansion Programme being implemented in the Moneragala District.

With the mega scale investments in the rubber production sector including tyre manufacturing, the demand for local latex would increase day by day. It was proposed to commence operations in another large tyre manufacturing plant at the Hambantota industrial zone in the near future similar to the largest ever tyre manufacturing facility in South Asia, which commenced operations in Horana recently. Moreover there would be several other large scale private sector investments in the rubber sector in the country, the Sate Minister added.

He said that once operations commenced in those proposed factories there would be a huge scarcity in latex since only 60 per cent of local requirement of latex was produced in the country at present. This situation will result in increasing the price of rubber and latex.    

State Minister Herath said that with the emergence of those new industries, the demand for local latex production would be increasing rapidly and there was a great potential for the expansion of rubber cultivation and the rubber grower would be able to obtain very high prices.

Accordingly, the extent of rubber cultivation should be increased and the expansion of rubber cultivation in non-traditional areas has already commenced. Non-availability of lands is the major obstacles for expanding of rubber cultivation in the Kegalle, Kalutara and Ratnapura districts, which are the main rubber cultivation districts in the country. Due to this reason, rubber plantations are being expanded beyond the traditional rubber plantations of rubber triangular.

He further pointed out that there was a great potential to expand rubber cultivation in the Monaragala District and the surrounding areas due to climatic and soil factors as well as a large number of cultivable lands in the District.

A number of measures had also been taken to encourage rubber growers and, accordingly, the subsidy per acre for new rubber plantations had been increased from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 750,000. Besides, Rs. 250,000 per acre would be offered for drip-irrigation.

Another Rs. 250,000 each would be provided to a grower for the construction of irrigation wells or tube wells to overcome the scarcity of water. In addition, various assistance, including cultivation advice, fertilizer subsidy and technical assistance were provided to rubber growers by the Ministry. the State Minister said.



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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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