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Lankan Navy takes delivery of Ex-USCGC Douglas Munro



Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) formally took the delivery of the Ex-United States Coast Guard Cutter, USCGC Douglas Munro, provided by the United States to SLN, in a ceremony held at the US Coast Guard Base Seattle of Washington in the United States on 26 October. On behalf of Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, the event was attended by Chief of Staff of the Navy Rear Admiral Y.N. Jayarathne. As such, the ship formally joined the SLN fleet from 26 October under the pennant number P 627 and the main mast of the ship will fly the national flag effective from the very date.

Aiming to strengthen and develop partnerships to overcome common challenges in the maritime domain, US Coast Guard has previously provided two ships to SLN, and they are currently patrolling island waters by the names of ‘Samudura’ (P 621) and ‘Gajabahu’ (P 626). As an extension of partnership ties that bring value to each other’s service, Ex-USCGC Douglas Munro was transferred as the third ship to be handed to SLN.

Ex-USCGC Douglas Munro, the second ‘Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutter,’ received by the SLN measures 115 metres in length, capable of attaining maximum speed of 29 knots and endurance of 14,000 NM at cruising speed. Further, she has been designed for 187 of crew and is equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and machinery. The ship, which was used by the US Coast Guard, has rendered an exceptional service during her tenure by curbing illegal fishing, illegal immigration and the seizure of over 11.5 tons of cocaine in US waters.

Sri Lanka inherits an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that is seven times larger than the landmass. In such a backdrop, the Navy is determined to deploy this vessel in wide-ranging operations that include conservation of marine resources in the region, and search and rescue of naval and fishing communities in distress. Thereby, the Navy will be able to utilise this vessel efficiently in the future to achieve the national aspiration, while making safe and secure seas for all for economic affairs. In the same vein as the SLN’s Samudura (P 621) and Gajabahu (P 626), the Offshore Patrol Vessels received by SLN from the US Coast Guard on previous occasions have been conducting a praiseworthy role for the island nation and have contributed to the seizure of large consignments of drugs being smuggled via sea routes.

Further, as the first line of defence of the island nation, it is mandatory for the navy to be equipped with ships having higher endurance and operational capabilities. As such, acquisition of high endurance vessels to the SLN fleet will enable the country to achieve its maritime security aspirations resourcefully.

The designated SL Navy crew for the ‘EX USCG Douglas Munro’ is expected to undergo training and carry out necessary restoration attached to the US Coast Guard Base Seattle over the next seven months as scheduled and is scheduled to sail home port in 2022.

Thus, the ship’s home journey is to commence in 2022 and the voyage commencing from the Port of Seattle across the Pacific and Indian oceans to Sri Lanka will possibly be the longest ever sea voyage a Sri Lankan naval vessel has ever sailed in SLN history.

Meanwhile, the event at the US Coast Guard Base Seattle which saw the transfer of the Ex-USCGC Douglas Munro to SLN was attended by the Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Y.N. Jayarathne, representing the Sri Lanka Navy. As the USCG host, 13th District Commander Rear Admiral Melvin W. Bouboulis was present on the occasion.

Besides, the Adjutant General for the State of Montana Major General John P. Hronek II, Senior Assistant Secretary (Defense-III) Chinthaka Abeykoon, Deputy Director Naval Projects and Plans Captain Nimal Ranasinghe, Commanding Officer Designee P-627 Captain Lanka Dissanayake, Commanding Officer Base Seattle Captain Ibrahim M. Khalil official from the officials of the United States Embassy in Sri Lanka and officials from the State Department of United States were also present on this occasion.

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Overtime gravy train for public sector back



Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.

The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.

Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.

Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.

Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.

Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.

One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.

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Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee



Prof G L Peris

Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.

Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.

Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.

Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.

The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)

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Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.

The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.

They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.

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