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Japan’s development assistance to SL transcribes to wide infrastructure development



by Steve A. Morrell

The Japanese Embassy convened a seminar on ‘Quality Infrastructure’ to commemorate International Cooperation Day.

Japanese Ambassador, Akira Sugiyama, in his opening remarks said under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) program of the government of Japan, infrastructure development to Sri Lanka has continued for 50 years.

In addition, Japan’s entry to the Colombo Plan on October 6, 1954 marked an indelible milestone in economic assistance and cooperation to Sri Lanka over this period.

He said ‘Quality Infrastructure’, including sustainable growth, was the hallmark of development programs initiated by Japan. Such growth included open access, transparency, economic efficiency including life cycle cost and financial viability.

Reverting to the 2019 G20 Osaka Summit, he said emerging donors under Japan’s leadership endorsed G20 principles of quality Infrastructure Investment, which will “guide us a long way into the future as we witness shifts towards the Indo Pacific Region”.

The majority member states covering G20 countries are in the Region covered by the Colombo Plan.

Japan’s economic cooperation with the Sri Lankan government goes back 56 years covering human resources, and the post-war emerging economic cooperation which, to this day chartered an unbroken course of development, that could be aptly described a trend of continuation of mutual friendship between both countries.

Japan’s knowledge-based assistance was continued with no interruption. Around 13,350 persons were exposed to education in Japanese Universities including technical assistance and training in a wide choice of technology that benefited infrastructure development in Sri Lanka.

Chief guest at the ceremony, Central Bank Governor, Professor W. D. Lakshman, in his presentation to the seminar, referred to Sri Lanka and Japan as ‘Distant Neighbours’, a term he coined to describe the long-term development and continuous expansion and infrastructure which is an ongoing phenomenon of economic cooperation.

The ODA program was index to such development, including the onset of television, which was unheard of before 1977; broadcasting development, power, water, the Colombo harbor and additional projects worth many billions of dollars, which were of sustained benefit to Sri Lanka, he noted.

Such benefits also included agriculture improvement and allied technology generating expansion of techniques that percolated to the rural sector, he said.

Although imports from Japan to Sri Lanka were substantial, it was of interest to also note that exports from Sri Lanka to Japan amounted to about US$ 85 million in 2019. The main commodity was tea to Japan. Such exports did not match imports of technology or equipment from Japan to Sri Lanka, but the advantage was that Sri Lanka was exposed to advanced technology made available as a sequel to such imports, Prof. Lakshman outlined.

His presentation also referred to Anagarika Dharmapala’s visit to Japan in the late 19th century, initiating friendship between both countries at the time.

The Governor also referred to the celebrated speech of President J. R. Jayewardene at the San Francisco conference, where he stressed it was important that Japan should be supported by world powers to regain its technology and internal infrastructure to make progress in a world of peace.

Charman Institute of Policy Studies, Prof. H. D. Karunaratne, in his presentation, expanded on the importance of Japan not only to Sri Lanka, but its economic impact on the South East Asian Region was a growing phenomenon of technology and growth.

Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Colombo, Dr. D. D. P. M. Dunusinghe also spoke.


(Pix by Dharmasena Welipitiya)

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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance



By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs



A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture



Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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