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JVP’s bid to save Nicosia Consulate General Office fails: Cash-strapped govt closes down three diplomatic missions

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The cash-strapped government has decided to close down the Sri Lanka High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Frankfurt, Germany; and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Nicosia, Cyprus, from Friday, Dec 31.

The Foreign Ministry says the restructuring is meant to conserve the country’s much needed foreign reserves and minimising expenditure related to maintenance of Sri Lanka’s Missions/Posts overseas, while ensuring the effective conduct of bilateral relations, in the backdrop of the grave economic challenges posed by the global pandemic.

The JVP campaigned against the closure of our mission in Nicosia as it would affect the large number of Sri Lankan workers employed in Cyprus running to several thousands.

The following is the text of the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry:

“The decision, which has received the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, is part of a restructuring process of Sri Lanka’s network of Missions and Posts overseas carried out by the Foreign Ministry. The restructuring is undertaken with a view to conserving the country’s much needed foreign reserves and minimising expenditure related to maintenance of Sri Lanka’s Missions / Posts overseas, while ensuring the effective conduct of bilateral relations, in the backdrop of the grave economic challenges posed by the global pandemic.

“Upon closure of the three identified Missions / Posts, their functions, including maintenance of bilateral political, economic, cultural relations as well as consular functions as relevant, will come under the purview of accredited, and in the case of Abuja and Nicosia, non-resident High Commissions / Embassies of Sri Lanka. In this regard, action is in process to concurrently accredit Nigeria through Sri Lanka’s High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya; and the other countries in Africa concurrently accredited through the Sri Lankan Mission in Abuja, through Sri Lanka’s Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and High Commission in Nairobi, respectively. The functions of Sri Lanka’s Consulate General in Frankfurt, including trade, investment and tourism promotion, as well as consular matters of Sri Lankan nationals living and working in and around Frankfurt, will come under the purview of Sri Lanka’s Embassy in Berlin, Germany.

“The concurrent accreditation of Cyprus through the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome, Italy will continue, with the latter handling Sri Lanka’s bilateral relations with Cyprus as per current practice. The consular functions handled by the Consulate General in Nicosia will be brought under the purview of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome. However, considering the significant consular and welfare requirements of the approximately 6,000-strong Sri Lankan employee community living and working in Cyprus, which need to be addressed on a regular basis, action is being taken by the Foreign Ministry to appoint forthwith a suitably qualified Honorary Consul based in Nicosia. The Honorary Consul thus appointed will function under the direction of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome and the Foreign Ministry, in close coordination with the State Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotions & Market Diversification and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment. The Foreign Ministry will closely monitor the transition process in Cyprus in order to address issues, if any, and provide further solutions if deemed relevant and necessary in the foreseeable future.

“Notwithstanding cost-cutting measures, the Foreign Ministry continues to attach highest priority to maintenance of bilateral relations with all countries at optimum level, to meet the foreign policy objectives of the Government with special focus on economic diplomacy, which entails the promotion of exports, foreign direct investment, tourism and foreign employment generation. The Ministry pays high attention to its mandate of safeguarding the welfare and effective functioning of Sri Lankan employees overseas with due regard to their direct and significant contribution to the nation’s economy in terms of foreign remittances. A continuous evaluation of Mission / Post requirements vis-à-vis achievement of targets is being undertaken by the Foreign Ministry through a consultative process, both internal and external, involving senior representation of the Foreign Ministry and Sri Lanka’s Heads of Mission / Post overseas, as well as relevant line institutions of Government including the Ministries of Finance, Trade and Labour; the State Ministries of Regional Cooperation and Foreign Employment Promotion & Market Diversification; the Department of Commerce, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, among other agencies. The decision to temporarily close the three identified Missions / Posts is subject to continuous review, and action will be taken in due course to consider re-instatement of relevant resident Missions / Posts as deemed necessary.”



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Now, CEB plans to ‘rationalise’ tariff

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By Ifham Nizam

Plans are afoot to ‘rationalise’ the electricity tariff shortly, Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando said, adding that the 52-year-old system should be changed for the betterment of the electricity consumer.

CEB Chief told The Island the CEB tariffs need to be changed to better reflect the use and the income level of the consumer. Ferdinando added that he had already briefed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on it.

Ferdinanado said that right now waste and corruption on CEB’s part had also been added to the consumers’ bill.

He said the CEB had received 1500 MT of fuel yesterday and would receive another shipment soon. However, thort-term power interruptions would continue in several areas until the operations at the Kelanitissa Power Station returns to normal.

“The power interruptions are an annoyance and we are looking for solutions. We too want to provide an uninterrupted power supply to our customers. Our hydro-power generation capacity is low as water levels in reservoirs are receding,” he said.

CEB’s Systems Control Department officials said that power outages might be experienced for one and a half hours due to problems at the Kelanitissa thermal plant complex.

CEB Media Spokesman, Additional General Manager Andrew Navamani said that the national grid had lost 282 MW due to the issues at Kelanitissa thermal plant. He said the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had informed the CEB that necessary stocks of fuel for Kelanitissa power plant would be provided by yesterday night.

However, it would take several hours to start the generators, he said.

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Ranil calls on MPs to think anew to find solutions to problems engulfing country

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By Saman Indrajith

Traditional politics did not have solutions to problems and the MPs should think anew to find solutions, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.

Participating in the adjournment debate on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement, the UNP leader said: We have come to the end of politics. If we go by the words of Francis Fukuyama, it is a question of the end of politics. But that does not mean the end of parliament. We in parliament must think afresh. We must have the strength of finding a new way. We must discuss on bringing about long-term policies which could provide us with a new framework to find solutions for the problems of the people. Thereafter we can go for elections and ask people to decide who or which party could do better. Japan did so. Great Britain is doing so. India and Canada do the same. Why cannot we do it here? If we have common consensus here, we can plan to go for a new era. We must understand this reality.

“The President has commenced this new session at a time when the country is faced with the biggest economic and political crisis in 34 years. In his statement he mentioned only the foreign reserve crisis. The economic crisis we are facing is far more critical than that. We created a middle class with open economic policies. With the collapse of the open economy, the middle class too will collapse. There are a handful of companies and individuals who could earn profits while the entire economy is collapsing. We must decide whether we’ll perish or unite to work out a plan to survive,” Wickremesinghe said.

“We have come to the end of traditional politics. We may shout at each other and go out to shout slogans. None of them will be able to help us find solutions. The problems at hand cannot be solved without a policy framework and strong middle-term plan. What we are facing today is the end of traditional politics,” he said.

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Chandrika says Sirisena should be thrown out of SLFP

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Former President Maithripala Sirisena should be thrown out of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) for making it a junior partner of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said on Wednesday night after appearing before the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry (SPCoI) appointed to implement the recommendations of the final report of the PCoI into alleged Political Victimisation.

Both Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had destroyed the SLFP, she alleged.

The former President said that she had urged Sirisena not to join the SLPP as that would mark the end of the SLFP.

“I repeatedly told him this and in response Sirisena removed me from the party’s Central Committee and stripped me of my organiser’s post.

Now, Sirisena is saying the same things I said about the SLPP. Even during the war, I managed to get the economy up and running. Look at it now, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she said.

Bandaranaike was also critical of the SPCoI, stating that she had not been summoned before the PCoI on Political Victimisation for her to respond to any allegations against her.

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