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IT Regional development Roadshows

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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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JVP, too, moves court against deal with US company

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By Chitra Weerarathne and A.J.A. Abeynayake

The JVP yesterday (26) filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal requesting it to declare null and void a Cabinet decision to transfer 40 percent of the Yugadanavi Power Plant to US Company, New Fortress Energy Inc.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ceylon Electricity Board, West Coast Power (Pvt) Ltd, Lakdanavi Limited, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have been named as respondents among 43 others.

The JVP’s petition has come in the way of Colombo’s Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven Elle Gunawansa, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya and the Federation of National Organisations (FNO) moving the court against the controversial deal with US energy company,The application has also sought a writ of mandamus on the respondents preventing them from taking any action with regard to the matter until the application is taken up and its examination is concluded.

Former JVP MPs Sunil Handunnetti and Wasantha Samarasinghe are the petitioners.

The petitioners state that the Cabinet decisions undermine the rule of law, the Constitution and democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and several other statutes, and conventions of democratic governance and Cabinet of Ministers exercising executive powers.

The petitioners state that LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., is the largest power sector engineering company in the country. It was first incorporated in the 1980s as a joint venture of the Ceylon Electricity Board and a multinational group – ABB of Norway.

The Petitioners state that Lakdanavi (Pvt) Ltd., is a fully owned subsidiary of LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., and is a company specialised in engineering, procurement and construction and operations and maintenance in the energy and power generation sector.

They assert that the government has not properly explained particulars of the deal even to the Cabinet of Ministers when transferring the shares of the power plant to the American company.

They have also alleged that the government has not obtained the approval of Parliament for the agreement in question and that the relevant share transfer process has not been carried out in accordance with a formal tender procedure.

They have sought the Appeals Court to issue an order rescinding the decision taken to transfer the shares to the American company and the agreement signed by the government.

In addition, the General Secretary of the SJB MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara filed a Fundamental Rights application in the Supreme Court on 21 Oct., challenging the government decision to transfer 40 per cent of the Kerawalapitiya Power Plant to the US firm.

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Ex-Indian HC in Colombo during turbulent 1989-90 will be featured in next Pathfinder “In Conversation” webinar

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Ambassador Lakhan Mehrotra, former High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, will be featured in the next Pathfinder “In Conversation” webinar scheduled at 2.30 p.m. IST/SLST on Thursday 28th October.

Mehrotra will be interviewed by Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman, Pathfinder Foundation. They will discuss the guest speaker’s publication ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’, which features his experience during the period 1989-1990, when he served as High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, during a politically turbulent era coupled with the separatist war in the north-east and an insurrection in the south.

His book, ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’ touches on the beginnings of the conflict, briefly follows on its evolution until it reached its peak in the early 1990s, and then takes the reader in detail through the author’s own experience in the country, nearly two years after the 1987 Indo-Lanka Agreement was signed and the Indian Peace Keeping Force had been inducted at the invitation of President J. R. Jayewardene, while President Premadasa, who succeeded President Jayewardene considered the presence of an Indian military contingent on his nation’s soil as an affront to its sovereignty. Soon after his election, the President issued an ultimatum for the IPKF to leave its shores by 29th July 1989 and threatened military action against it if it failed to do so, which brought the two nations to the brink of a military confrontation.

The High Commissioner’s intensive consultations and tireless interaction with the political leaders of Sri Lanka, the warring factions in the country’s north-east, and the governments in New Delhi and Colombo helped signing of the joint communique on 28th July 1989 on arrangements for phased withdrawal of the IPKF in March 1990 with due recognition of its contribution and sacrifices made to preserve the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country. ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’ provides information that has never been divulged before. The “In Conversation” webinar will delve into these experiences of the High Commissioner; whose rather brief assignment was from April 1989 to June 1990.

Following his assignment that covered the most turbulent period of Sri Lanka in modern times, Ambassador Mehrotra served as Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs and as Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Africa before his retirement in 1992. Later, he served as UN Secretary General’s Personal Representative in Cambodia from 1997 to 2000 and as Head of the UN Diplomatic Mission in Jakarta for Peace Talks between Indonesia and East Timor.

Those who are interested in retracing the history of Sri Lanka should register in advance for this webinar through the link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0nxJI2dPR8SCKK7k4hqDpg

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Cardinal lashes out at Minister known as Ten Percent

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His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith visits Sarakkuwa in the Pamunugama area where clearing of X-Press Pearl debris continuinues.Pic by Nishan S .Priyantha

By Norman Palihawadane and Nishan S. Priyantha

Monies taken in the form of commissions by forfeiting people’s welfare will never do any good to those who take them, says His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

“The biggest malady our society is afflicted with is the commissions earned by politicians through various deals. They take commissions from companies by depriving the people of their dues. Such money has blood on them and they would not do any good to those who take them,” the Cardinal said yesterday.

Speaking to journalists at the Sarakkuwa beach in Pamunugama during an inspection tour to witness the progress of cleaning work of the MV X-Press Pearl wreck the Cardinal said: “We have a Cabinet minister who is notoriously known as Mr. Ten Percent. Imagine the shame on this nation when there is such a minister taking ten percent of commission from every project he passes. The monies collected in that way would never bring out any good.”

The Cardinal said that the President, the Prime Minister and government institutions including the Ministry of Fisheries, coast conservation department, marine environment protection authority and urban development authority were duty bound to remove the wreck, clean the beach and the ocean. “In doing so, the government should be concerned about the interests of people, and not about the shipping company, its local agents or agents of the insurance companies. We demand that the government take this case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague and get full compensation for the people. We have information that the agents of companies have come down and are staying in Colombo exerting influence on various political leaders and officials. Their objective is getting out of this by paying a paltry sum. If the politicians and officials permit that we will take to the streets with people.”

The Cardinal said that there was information that Urban Development Authority officials were making plans to give away Muthurajawela to foreign companies. “Muthurajawela is a national asset and belongs to the people. The politicians have no right to sell them off to Korean or Chinese companies. We would not let that happen,” he said.

Associated with the Cardinal were Ven. Pahiyangala Ananada Thera, Chairperson of Marine Environment Protection Chairperson, bishops and other religious leaders.

The Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast of Colombo in May and sank while transporting 1,486 chemical containers from the Middle East with stops in India and Sri Lanka during its voyage to Singapore.

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