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KOICA donates equipment to upgrade National Plant Quarantine Service Headquarters



Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Sri Lanka Santhush Woonjin Jeong, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Kang Youn Hwa, Country Director of KOICA and other officials durign the ceremony at the National Plant Quarantine Service Headquarters at Katunayake

KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) handed over laboratory equipment to Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage for the use at the National Plant Quarantine Service Headquarters at Katunayake.

The equipment was handed over to the Minister as a part of KOICA funded project Modernisation of National Plant Quarantine Service in Sri Lanka worth 6 Million USD with the objective of enhancing the export competitiveness of Lankan agricultural products by improving plant quarantine capacity, a press release issued by the KOICA said.

Santhush Woonjin Jeong Ambassador of the Republic of Korea said: Agriculture is a main sector for development cooperation between our two countries. The Korean government has assisted Sri Lanka by sharing knowledge, providing financial and technical support.” He added: “I hope that this Plant Quarantine Laboratory Equipment will be utilised to the maximum to increase agricultural exports, leading to the economic growth of Sri Lanka.”

Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister of Agriculture, highly appreciated the support of laboratory equipment by extending his sincere gratitude to KOICA Sri Lanka and the government of Korea for the continuous support.

In Sri Lanka, agricultural exports hold a significant portion of total exports and it is expected that agricultural exports will play an important role in economic development of Sri Lanka.

In order to expand exports of agricultural products, the plant quarantine system must comply with the importing countries’ quarantine conditions. Hence, it is necessary to establish an advanced plant quarantine system required by the export target country. As a step forward, KOICA has decided to join hands in strengthening and modernising the Plant Quarantine Service in Sri Lanka.

The main output of this project includes construction of Seaport Plant Quarantine Station, provision of latest laboratory and ICT equipment, capacity building of the agricultural sector, providing a latest Plant Quarantine Information Management System, and enhancing the Standard of Procedures and upgrading the Sri Lanka Good Agricultural Practice (SL-GAP).

Moreover, for the successful completion of this project, Ambassador Jeong encouraged the Sri Lankan Government to provide continuous dynamic support and cooperation to make this project a massive success.

Among those present were Kang Youn Hwa, Country Director of KOICA, Senior Professor Uditha K. Jayasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. W.M.W. Weerakoon, Director General of the Department of Agriculture, and Dr. W.A.R.T. Wickramarachchi, Head of the NPQS.

KOICA contributes to the advancement of international cooperation through various projects that build friendly and collaborative relationships and mutual exchanges between Korea and developing countries and support the economic and social development in developing countries, under the mission of ‘Leave no one behind with People centered Peace and Prosperity.’

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Self-Employed Traders petition SC over govt. favouring liquor dealers



By A.J.A Abeynayake

The Supreme Court has decided take up, on 04 Oct. for hearing a petition filed by the Association of Self-Employed Traders against the opening of liquor stores during the current lockdown.

 The traders have requested the apex court to order the government to allow members of their union to engage in business activities since the liquor stores had been allowed to reopen during the lockdown.

The petition was taken up before a three-judge bench comprising justices L. T. B. Dehideniya, Shiran Gooneratne and Janak de Silva, yesterday.

 The State Counsel appearing for the respondents said he had received the relevant documents pertaining to the case only last Friday evening. Therefore, the State Counsel requested the court to give him time to seek advice from the respondents who were many.

Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva, appearing for the petitioner at the time, said about 7,000 members of his client union had lost their livelihoods due to the decision by the respondents.

Therefore, Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva requested the court to give an early date for considering the petition.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court decided to take up the petition for consideration on 04 Oct and directed the lawyers of the petitioners to take steps to send notice to the respondents before that date.

The petition was filed by the President of the United National Self-Employed Trade Association G.I. Charles, its Vice President P.G.B. Nissanka, and Secretary Krishan Marambage.

The petition names 47 respondents, including the Director General of Health Services, the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of Excise.

The petitioners allege that under the quarantine law, the Director General of Health Services, who is the competent authority, issued a notice on Aug 20 prohibiting the opening of liquor stores.

The petitioners point out that steps were taken to open liquor stores countrywide contrary to the regulations of the Health Authority.

The Director General of Health Services, the Commissioner General of Excise and the Inspector General of Police have stated that they have not allowed the reopening of liquor stores.

The petitioners have also requested the Supreme Court to issue an order to the respondents to allow the members of their association to engage in business activities as the liquor stores are allowed to remain open.

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Lankan born newly elected Norwegian MP Gunaratnam calls for investments here



Newly elected Norwegian Labour Party MP, Lankan born Kamzy Gunaratnam says she will ask the new Norwegian government to continue engagement with the country of her birth.

 Speaking at a virtual media conference on Sunday night, Gunaratnam said that she does not believe that boycotting Sri Lanka is the way forward.

“I don’t believe in boycott. There needs to be investments. Only that will ensure employment,” she said.

Gunaratnam said that she is also prepared to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, if invited, for talks.

She said that Norway must continue to assist Sri Lanka through trade, education and in other ways.

Gunaratnam said that she will also discuss with her party and the new Norwegian Foreign Minister, as well as the Norwegian Ambassador in Sri Lanka and see how best Norway can assist the country.

Gunaratnam said that Sri Lankans must also decide the best solution for Sri Lanka and not any foreign country. She said that Sri Lanka must not wait for foreign pressure to work on a solution.

The newly elected Norwegian MP also said that minority rights in Sri Lanka must be protected.

As a Norwegian MP she said that her main focus in the Norwegian Parliament will be to push for equality in Norway.

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Going to IMF best solution, says Ranil



UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe insists that a programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is necessary to mitigate impact of the growing debt repayment crisis; homegrown solutions are not effective.

“Unlike in the past, Sri Lanka’s debt problem has increased at a time when there is a global debt problem. This makes the situation more challenging and complex. Sri Lanka is a highly import-dependent economy,” Wickremesinghe said during a panel discussion, organised by the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka on Saturday.

The UNP leader said that the government shouldn’t sell state assets to ease off the shortage of foreign exchange to have breakfast but reinvest those proceeds back in the economy. “Going to the IMF is the best solution,” Wickremesinghe said.

With reference to homegrown solutions, he referred to the mess caused by the government in promoting Dhammika peniya as one of the failed measures earlier on to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The former Prime Minister said that Sri Lanka should use the current situation to forge ahead with structural and public sector reforms which were postponed due to political considerations in the past.

The former PM suggested that the re-opening of the country be delayed till mid-October.

In responding to the issue of debt management in Sri Lanka, the UNP leader said that the most pressing concern is addressing the dwindling foreign exchange reserves of the country.

He explained that the regional foreign exchange reserves were projected to increase over the course of the year, however, Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserves were on a downward trend.

He also said that economic recovery based on a resurgence of the tourism industry would be uncertain, and until airline ticket prices were reduced it was unlikely that tourist arrivals would increase significantly.

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