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New FS ready to face challenges

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Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage yesterday told The Island that they had a vital role to play in post-war affairs. The first retired service Chief to hold the post of Foreign Secretary, Colombage expressed confidence in facing the challenges.

The Foreign Ministry issued the following statement yesterday afternoon after the former Navy Commander moved in earlier in the day: “Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage (PhD) assumed duties as the Secretary to the Foreign Ministry today (14 August) following the appointment to the position by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The new Foreign Secretary Admiral Colombage was warmly received by the senior officials of the Foreign Ministry this morning, upon arrival at the Ministry.

Dr. Colombage was previously Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Relations since December 2019. In addition, he is presently serving as the Director General of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka.

Admiral Colombage has served the Sri Lanka Navy for a period of 36 years and retired as the Commander of the Navy on 01 July 2014. He is the 18th Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy and was decorated for gallantry and commended for exceptional service to the Navy.

Upon retirement from the Navy, Admiral Colombage served as the Director for Indo-Sri Lanka Initiatives and Law of the Sea Centres at the Pathfinder Foundation, which is a premier think-tank and research centre, based in Colombo. He has represented the Pathfinder Foundation and Sri Lanka in many bi-lateral, regional and international fora, presenting papers, participating in panel discussions and chairing sessions on international politics, strategic  and maritime security related fields.

Admiral Colombage has been a guest lecturer in universities and training institutes in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan and Pakistan. He has also been an editor and reviewer of a number of internationally renowned academic journals.

Foreign Secretary Admiral Colombage holds a PhD from General Sir John Kotalawela University, Master of Science  in Defence and Strategic Studies from Madras University and Master of Arts in International Studies from Kings College, London.  His PhD thesis “Asymmetric Warfare at Sea; the case of Sri Lanka” has been published by Lambert Academic Publishing in Germany.  He is also a fellow of Nautical Institute of London.

 



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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