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Lanka declares China as its closest friend



Sri Lanka and China could cooperate within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, turning the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port into two major engines to boost Sri Lanka’s economic development, pushing for the country’s industrialization, and enhancing the country’s capacity for independent development, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Wednesday, during a phone conversation.

The call was made on Gunawardena’s suggestion and Wang assured that the two countries are strategic cooperative partners of sincere mutual assistance and lasting friendship.

“Over the past year, the two countries joined hands to fight against the pandemic and supported each other, and their bilateral relations maintained a strong development momentum,” Minister Wang Yi said.

Noting that this year marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Wang said that China had won the victory in ending extreme poverty and achieved great results in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and would embark on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country.

“China’s development means a growing force for peace and the growth of developing countries, which will provide more development opportunities for developing countries, including Sri Lanka. We must make solid progress in cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, turning the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port into two major engines to boost Sri Lanka’s economic development, pushing for Sri Lanka’s industrialization, and enhancing the country’s capacity for independent development,” he said.

Minister Gunawardena said Sri Lanka regarded China as its closest friend and thanked China for its long-term assistance for Sri Lanka’s economic development, improvement of people’s livelihood, and dealing with internal and external challenges. The Sri Lankan FM highlighted that the Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port were key projects for Sri Lanka’s future development, and welcomed more Chinese investment, businessmen and tourists.

“Some Western countries, including the United States are using alleged human rights issues to intervene in the internal affairs of developing countries including Sri Lanka. They use the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council as a platform to exert pressure on developing nations. I hope that China will continue to uphold justice and stand with developing countries,” Gunawardena said.

Wang said that some Western countries are used to pressuring developing countries on the pretext of human rights, adding that China firmly opposed it, and was willing to unswervingly support Sri Lanka to jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, the basic norms governing international relations, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter including non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

Gunawardena warmly congratulated China on the 100th anniversary of the CPC’s founding and that China had under the leadership of the CPC, completely lifted itself out of poverty, made great development achievements, and significantly improved the livelihood of its people.

Gunawardena said China had also led other countries on the way towards common development, and made vital contribution to human civilization. Sri Lanka appreciated China’s fair stance on human rights issues and was willing to join hands with China to safeguard fairness and justice in regional and international affairs. “Those allegations about Xinjiang and Hong Kong are just baseless. We steadily support China on the Xinjiang, Hong Kong related issues and the One-China Policy”, he added.



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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