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KDU and CUI, Pakistan collaborate on advanced biomaterial research



University Islamabad in Pakistan (CUI) and General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) in Sri Lanka have inked a Document of Understanding to collaborate on advanced biomaterial research.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Tabassum Afzal, Rector CUI and Major General Milinda Peiris, Vice Chancellor, KDU signed the document of collaboration at a ceremony held online, COMSATS said in a press release.

The Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials (IRCBM), a state of the art research centre at CUI Lahore campus will collaborate with KDU on respective national regulations on safety and security of sensitive materials, goods, technologies and equipment.

Prof. Afzal said that the core focus of partnership between CUI and KDU will be in the field of advanced biomaterials and allied areas that are much needed in Pakistan. “While there is a limited development of products such as synthetic skin substitute, wound dressings for foot ulcer patients, artificial bone fillers, disease monitoring and diagnostic devices and stem cells linked with therapies in our part of the world. The future is indeed bright with the kind of functional partnership such as the one we are signing today.”

Prof. Afzal also added that interdisciplinary research in IRCBM is globally recognized and transnational in nature. “It is our crown jewel because of its high impact factor research. While CUI continues to grow within Pakistan, we are also very keen on developing our international linkages and partnership with centres of excellence in the developing world.”

The centre was established in the year 2008 to research and deliver indigenously-developed low-cost healthcare solutions to the local market.

Prof. Afzal conveyed his satisfaction that currently three brilliant and outstanding Sri Lankan students are studying in CUI doing their MS degrees. He desired hosting more international students from Sri Lanka, thus offered 100 percent tuition fee waiver to the Sri Lankan students particularly from KDU.

Major General Milinda Peiris said that the objectives of collaboration is to cooperate and develop the activities related to any field in which CUI and KDU have shared interests, such as biomaterials, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, sensors and biosensors and allied fields.

In addition, both universities will explore possibility of exchange of programs for students, faculty members and scientists, joint supervision of PhD students, mutual organisation of lectures, conferences, symposia and training programmes.

Maj. Gen. Dr. Shahid Ahmad Hashmat (Retd.) former High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka informed about efforts of the Government of Pakistan for the promotion of educational and research opportunities with Sri Lanka. He explained efforts of the Higher Education Commission, Government of Pakistan to offer fully funded scholarships to the students of Sri Lanka who wish to study BS, MS and PhD programmes in leading universities of Pakistan.

UI Niyas, Counsellor (Political and Trade), High Commission of Sri Lanka in Pakistan thanked for giving opportunity to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Islamabad to witness signing of DOU between top universities of both countries. He appreciated KDU as well as CUI’s development and growth.

He said that he is very happy and confident that this collaboration will be the initial step and will open more avenues of partnership between the two universities.

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No immediate hike in fuel prices – Udaya



Finance Minister rules out bailout package for CPC

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has told Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila that the Treasury is not in a position to assist the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). However, there would not be a fuel price hike in the short term, the Minister of Energy told the media yesterday.

Minister Gammanpila said that if a fuel hike was on the cards, he would announce it publicly.

“This is what I did last time also. This time around, I have told the people that we are facing a serious problem. We incur a loss of Rs. 15 on a litre of petrol and a loss of Rs 16 on a litre of diesel. The Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) has asked for a price increase,” he said.

Gammanpila said he told the Chairman of the CPC that they should first seek assistance from the Treasury. Given that prices of all essential items had increased, a significant increase in fuel prices would cause great inconvenience to the people, he said.

“At the last Cabinet meeting, I asked the Finance Minister for assistance. He said it was hard to provide assistance and was non-committal. I will again take the matter up at the next Cabinet meeting,” he said.

The government was discussing the possibility of obtaining a 3.6 billion US dollar credit line for fuel from Oman. Sri Lanka spent around USD 300 million on oil imports per month and the credit line would allow for a year of fuel supply at concessionary rates, the Minister said.

“If we get this credit line, we should be able to weather this storm. Otherwise, I will ask the Cabinet for relief. While people are suffering, we can’t also let the CPC go bankrupt. If CPC goes bust, the People’s Bank and Bank of Ceylon will be in deep trouble too,” the Minister said.

Gammanpila added that there was no point in queuing at fuel stations because a decision to increase fuel takes a few months to be approved. For example the previous hike in June was first proposed in April. “If takes a few months for such a proposal to be approved and implemented. I was told that people were queuing at fuel stations last Monday and Wednesday.”

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JVP calls for multi-agency probe into Rs. 4 bn. Gin-Nilwala scam



Ex Prez can assist inquiry

By Shamindra Ferdinando

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says a comprehensive multi-agency investigation is required to get to the bottom of what he called the massive Gin Nilwala scam perpetrated in 2012 and 2015.

In spite of disclosures in that regard, both in and outside Parliament, over a period of time, absolutely nothing had been done so far, lawmaker Dissanayake told The Island.

The government owed an explanation why over Rs 4 bn had been paid to a Chinese firm, in Dec 2012, and on January 7, 2015, as the project was yet to get off the ground, MP Dissanayake said.

The JVPer said that he felt the need to highlight the Gin Nilwala scam against the backdrop of the Pandora Papers exposure of former Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa’s husband, Thirukumar Nadesan, as the Chinese company, allegedly involved in the Gin Nilwala project had moved money to a foreign account, in Hong Kong, held by the businessman.

Asked whether the Gin Nilwala scam, too, had been dealt by Pandora Papers, MP Dissanayake said as far as he knew Pandora Papers’ disclosure didn’t include the Gin Nilwala project.

Responding to another query, lawmaker Dissanayake said that though the then President Maithripala Sirisena questioned the Gin Nilwala project, the yahapalana government never investigated the issue properly.

MP Dissanayake said it wouldn’t be a difficult task to establish the transferring to a foreign account of Rs one bn in Dec 2012 and the over Rs. 3 bn on January 7, 2015, the day before the presidential election. Since the release of Pandora Papers, the video footage of former President Sirisena, now an SLPP MP, on the Gin Nilwala project had gone viral, the MP said.

The JVP leader said that the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) should inquire into the matter as part of the ongoing examination of matters relating to Thirukumar Nadesan in respect of Pandora Papers.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Oct. 06 instructed CIABOC to inquire into Sri Lankans mentioned in Pandora Papers. Nadesan, too, also on the same day, asked President Rajapaksa to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations by appointing a retired Appeals Court Judge for the task. The CIABOC has recorded Nadesan’s statement in this regard.

MP Dissanayake alleged that successive governments had conveniently turned a blind eye to major cases of corruption. The very basis of parliamentary control over public finance was under threat, MP Dissanayake said, urging the government to take remedial measures or face the consequences. “Billions of rupees had been moved around, misappropriated and squandered. Those responsible for ensuring the proper practices are accused of exploiting the system. What is happening now is tragic,” MP Dissanayake said.

The JVPer said that examination of proceedings of the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), COPA (Committee on Public Finance) and COPF (Committee on Public Finance) since the last general election revealed a frightening situation. The reports before the last general election were no exception, the parliamentarian said, the level of corruption in the public sector and the private-public sector joint ventures was horrifying. The national economy was being mercilessly exploited by persons holding office, the JVP leader said, the CIABOC could examine proceedings of the parliamentary watchdog committees if it was genuinely interested in stamping out corruption.

MP Dissanayake said that the national economy was in such a desperate situation thanks to decades of waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence on the part of political parties in power. “Today, we are seeking finance assistance from various countries. Recently, Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris revealed he discussed ways and means to overcome financial crisis with the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary,” he said.

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Inter-provincial travel restrictions extended to Oct 21



Inter-provincial travel restrictions have been extended to October 21, the Presidential Media Division (PMD) said issuing a press release yesterday.

The PMD added that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had instructed the security forces to strictly enforce the inter-province travel restrictions during the weekend.

The decision was taken at the COVID-19 Prevention Committee meeting held Friday (15) morning.

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