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IT Regional development Roadshows



The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) is the pioneer of digital transformation, aiming to make Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive Nation. ICTA together with the Ministry of Technology, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRCSL), telecommunications partners and industry partners launched a two-day national forum to create awareness about the national digital transformation agenda, which also engages regional partners.

The Southern Region Roadshow was the second of the five regional cluster development programs commenced by ICTA. The first Regional Development Roadshow was organised in June, focusing on the Northern Region. There will be three more Roadshows in the Western, Eastern, and Central Regions scheduled to unfold in the next few months.

Southern Region Roadshow was attended virtually by over 500 participants and was connected with officials representing five Districts in Southern Region – Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala and Ratnapura. This initiative focuses on collaborating with stakeholders in the southern region such as government agencies, industries, SME sector working in agriculture and education to introduce new and advanced technologies via experts, providing necessary infrastructure for new technological research and development.

The main Stakeholder Engagement forum on the 20th of August was attended by over 350 online participants, which was parallelly interpreted into Sinhala, Tamil, and Sign languages to ensure a broader reach to a larger audience. The Government Forum on the 21st was conducted with an online presence of over 200 participants and staff from the southern region. District Secretaries of the Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala and Ratnapura joined the dialog from the district offices.

The overall forum was applauded by the audience as it catered to all those who speak one or more of the three main languages in one national event.

Ministry of Technology Secretary Jayantha De Silva commenting on this initiative stated that the ministry has taken steps to ensure efficiency in facilitating and delivering the services to the public. He added that it is only a matter of putting resources together to uplift Sri Lanka to achieve developed status.   With the strength and resources, we are determined to bring technology into the right place.

Chairman of ICTA and Director General of Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) Oshada Senanayake, stated, “ICTA being the catalysing agent as well as the accelerator, will also become the catalyst and enabler of all the government institutes of the country. ICTA has taken the pragmatic steps with the vision to make a digitally transformed Sri Lanka by the verticals Digital government, Digital Economy and Perspective of Digital services”.

Chief Digital Economy Officer of ICTA, Anura De Alwis speaking at the session said that their target is to achieve 3 billion exports by 2024. To make that a reality the country will need 300,000 employees, while the current number stands at approximately 175,000. The focus has been on service engineering in the last few decades, while product building is the key for global conquest. A product is the best way to secure more IPs, revenue and FDI. He also added that there was a great response from the Northern cluster after the first Roadshow in June and initiatives are in place for certain key developments such as IOT labs, innovation centres and also the tier two of the techno park, which is a centre of business in Jaffna.

The official launch of the Sabaragamuwa Start-up Hub also took place at the event under the precedence of the Founder of the Start-up Hub, Uditha Sampath Bandara with the intention of supporting start-ups, companies, and freelancers in the region. Uditha mentioned that they have a five-year plan with the Sabaragamuwa Start-up Hub including increasing the numbers of members, creating awareness through workshops and conducting IT competitions. Start-up Ecosystem Development Director Sachindra Samararatne mentioned that for the eco systems to work properly the regions should come together and they have successfully formed two eco systems which are Uva Start-up Hub and Yarl IT Hub.

MOUs were signed by the five Chambers of Commerce in Southern Region Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Ratnapura and Moneragala with ICTA signifying the partnership between both organisations in moving towards developing digital technology in the Southern region.

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Sacked PUCSL Chairman fights back, writes to Prez



Former PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake yesterday showing the media a document at a news conference called by him in Colombo. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Janaka Ratnayake yesterday wrote to President Wickremesinghe denying all allegations levelled against him.

Earlier in the day, Ratnayake received a note informing of his removal from the PUCSL.

“I write in response to your above captioned letter dated 22 March 2023. At the outset I strongly deny all and singular the several allegations contained against me in your letter under reference,” he said.

The PUCSL Chairman said his letter contained a detailed response..

“I was given an extremely short period of one week, despite the serious consequences that could flow from the misconceived allegations made against me,” Ratnayake said.

He said that the PUCSL was not a rubber stamp for proposals put forward by the Electricity Industry including the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

“But the PUCSL should duly exercise its powers and functions as an independent regulator even when the consequent decision reached by it may be one which is not desired by the CEB or the Government,” he said.

Ratnayake said that the PUCSL acting independently has resulted in the Minister of Power and Energy being unable at times to act at his whim and fancy.

“This appears to have irked the Minister of Power and Energy, and also the President. In May 2022, the secretary to the President had phoned my personal assistant instructing her to “ask the Chairman of the Commission to refrain from making any announcement or statement contradicting the speech made by the Prime Minister.”

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Singer Sri Lanka bags top awards



Singer Sri Lanka PLC clinched the People’s Brand of the Year and Durable Brand of the Year Awards for the 17th consecutive year at the SLIM-KANTAR Awards held at the Monarch Imperial on 27th March, 2023. Singer Sri Lanka PLC Chairman Mohan Pandithage receiving the award from Chief Guest, Sri Lanka Test Cricket Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Guest of Honour, Past President-SLIM Kalana Ratnayake at the glittering ceremony. Singer Sri Lanka PLC CEO Mahesh Wijewardene, Marketing Director, Shanil Perera, Marketing Manager, Piyum Jayathilaka and other senior officials were present. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

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SJB trade unionist calls for significant fuel price reduction



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Convenor of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) trade union wing, Samagi Joint Trade Union Alliance, Ananda Palitha yesterday (28) said that with the appreciation of rupee against the USD and comparatively lower crude prices in the world market, the government could reduce the price of litre of petrol (92 Octane) and diesel by as much as Rs 100 and petrol (95 Octane) by Rs 125.

The trade unionist said that the price of a litre of kerosene, furnace oil and naphtha, too, could be decreased by Rs 100 each.

Responding to The Island queries, the former Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) employee said that fuel prices should be revised as fast as possible for the benefit of the public.

Lanka IOC should follow the new pricing formula, the former UNP trade union leader said, strongly urging the government to re-examine the petroleum sector. It would be pertinent to mention that petroleum and water sectors, too, should be brought under the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in terms of PUC Act No 35 of 2002, Ananda Palitha said.

Former Power and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that he was out of the country.

Therefore, I couldn’t comment without studying the latest developments.

Ananda Palitha found fault with political parties represented in parliament for the inordinate delay in fully implementing the Act that was meant to regulate three vital sectors. The PUC received authority to regulate the electricity industry, in terms of Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009, Palitha said. However, respective Acts, pertaining to Petroleum and Water, were yet to be passed by Parliament, the trade union leader said pointing out that the delay on the part of the parliament seemed deliberate.

Asked whether they opposed the further liberalisation of retail market with the entry of more foreign companies, Ananda Palitha said that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was exploiting the current political-economic-social crisis to advance the original agenda of Wickremesinghe.

“We are facing a frightening situation,” the SJB activist said, urging political parties represented in parliament to review rapid developments taking place. The entry of four foreign entities should be examined against the backdrop of Lanka IOC further expanding its operations here, Ananda Palitha said.

The outspoken trade unionist warned against moves to gradually weaken Sapugaskanda oil refinery to pave the way for increased import of refined products. “The refinery that launched operations in 1969 during Dudley Senbanayake’s era received the attention of President J.R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa. But, since then no President paid attention to the facility,” Ananda Palitha said. Instead of enhancing its capacity, successive governments were working overtime to weaken it for obvious reasons, the trade unionist said.

According to him, all were attacking Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera over the continuing crisis in the petroleum sector. “We should question President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Cabinet-of-Ministers headed by the President and the relevant Sectoral Oversight Committee,” Ananda Palitah said.

Ananda Palitha said that political parties as well as some trade unions should accept responsibility for the pathetic situation in the petroleum sector. For want of a cohesive action plan, politicians and interested parties regardless of on and off setbacks were able to pursue their agendas detrimental to Sri Lanka, he said.

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