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Police advised on how to manage child-rape issues; ‘Secure Schools Program’ to the fore

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(L-R) Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Dr. Tush Wickramanayake and Saranga Disasekara.

By Ifham Nizam

“Police should be clear in their definition of rape with consent and rape without consent, Founder Chairperson, Stop Child Cruelty Trust (SCC) Dr. Tush Wickramanayake said.

“Rape is rape and police should be cautious in making statements on such issues. Lack of caution in making these statements allows culprits to get away easily, she added.

Speaking at a press briefing held at the Press Institute recently on the subject, Dr. Wickramanayake explained: “This year has been transformative for us. We’ve not only set benchmarks but also achieved several ‘firsts’ in the realm of child protection. We believe in the potential of Sri Lanka’s children and are committed to ensuring that their rights and safety are upheld.

“With the launch of the ‘Secure Schools Program,’ we intend to provide national-level training to strengthen teacher-student relationships, improve the psycho-social wellbeing of the child and promote non-violent conflict resolution via positive discipline strategies to end physical, mental and verbal punishments within schools in Sri Lanka.

“Educators and psychologists contend that teachers can effectively manage classrooms and nurture their students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities without resorting to physical punishment. The unique feature is that the program is focused on working cohesively with students, parents and teachers to establish ‘no-hit zones’ by following the UN-recognized INSPIRE module to end violence, conduct workshops to educate parents on improving communication with children and empowering students on sexuality education and on-line safety, child rights and global citizenship and the prevention of substance abuse.”

President, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and president, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Dr Vinya Ariyaratne said that up to October 31 this year more than 8,000 children were faced with cruelty and other such serious issues and of that some 80 per cent had to go in for psychological treatment.

Dr. Ariyaratne said that the number of such reported incidents would be much more if not for social and family related issues.

Dr. Ariyaratne added: “During the current economic crisis there is an unprecedented strain on health services. All efforts should be focused on preventing the alarming rise of physical and sexual abuse of children by empowering teachers through the inculcation of positive discipline techniques and providing compulsory sexual health education to children.

“Support mechanism should be introduced as in other countries, especially when it comes to teenage pregnancies.

“Child victims of sexual abuse were generally with single parents; thus, a comprehensive care system is the need of the hour.”

Saranga Disasekara, actor and Brand Ambassador of #NOguti explained: “At a time when Sri Lanka is crippled in many aspects of society, it is imperative that parents improve communication with their children and ensure their children can come to them without fear in any matter relating to their well-being; child protection is a collective social responsibility.”

In her message, Radika Gunaratne, Attorney-at-Law and human rights activist, was deeply concerned over a backlog of over 40,000 complaints of child abuse, revealed in a recent report by the Auditor General. “Justice delayed is justice denied. The system requires a fast forward re-set button to ensure that all relevant institutions responsible for child protection work cohesively to expedite the cases and provide relief to victims, some of whom have been suffering for years.”

Rtd DIG Priyantha Jayakody, a respected figure in law enforcement, reiterated in his message: “Child abuse is now a top grave crime in Sri Lanka. The police must act more vigorously to ensure the evidence is submitted to courts without delay to avoid burdens being placed on the law and order and judiciary services.”

Jayakody suggested introducing electronic tagging of suspects on bail to expedite cases.



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Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –

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Aravinda Perera- Chairman & Naleen Edirisinghe - Director CEO of Pan Asia Bank

Profit before Tax increases by 258% amidst external challenges

Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reflected a steady performance amidst multitude of adversities emerging from challenging macro-economic conditions as the Bank reported its financial performance during 2023, which showed judicious portfolio management and prudency exercised in dealing with possible fallout on its asset quality in challenging times.

The Bank reported a Pre-tax Profit of Rs. 2,328 Mn for the year ended 31st December 2023, which is 258% increase compared to corresponding period last year, supported by improved net interest income, increased trading gains from government securities and reduced exchange losses.

The Sri Lankan economy has experienced some positive signs of gradual economic recovery and a measure of stability in macro-economic factors compared to the previous year, with the appreciation of LKR against USD and the IMF bailout followed by the Domestic Debt Optimization (DDO) announcement. The multiple economic scenario models used regarding collective impairment in 2022 were continued in 2023 to ensure that adequate buffers were in place to absorb any potential credit risk that could arise in the future. The allowance for overlays applied in previous year was continued and maintained during 2023 too. Meanwhile, the Bank managed to end the year with healthy credit quality matrices due to improved credit underwriting standards and concerted collection & recovery efforts despite the contraction in the loan book during 2023 which impacted the Bank’s Stage 3 Loan Ratio adversely.

Furthermore, the Bank increased impairment provision buffers held regarding investments in International Sovereign Bonds of Government of Sri Lanka (SLISBs) further during 2023 with the expectation of possible adverse outcomes of the on-going government External Debt Restructuring (EDR) programme. The Bank recognised an impairment charge of nearly Rs. 2 Bn regarding International Sovereign Bonds during 2023.

The interest income for the year 2023 rose by 39% due to the high interest rates that prevailed during the period under review compared to corresponding period of the last year and the re-pricing effect of facilities in response to the market conditions. Further, the growth in interest income was supported by the increased interest income from Rupee denominated securities of the Government of Sri Lanka (T-Bills & Bonds) due to increased investments and high interest rates offered on such new investments compared to the previous year. Consequently, the net interest income increased by 9% in 2023 compared to the last year. (Pan Asia Bank)

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SLT-MOBITEL celebrates the season of love with exciting giveaways

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a series of heartwarming promotions and networking activities, spreading love and joy for customers across the country.

Connecting hearts from all around the world on social media, SLT-MOBITEL invited participants to share their loving memories for a chance to win movie tickets. Customers were also given the opportunity to dedicate romantic ringing tones to their loved ones by dialling special codes.

As part of the Valentine’s Day celebrations, SLT-MOBITEL also offered a special promotion, providing a special screening for the glamorous movie ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’, powered by SLT-MOBITEL. Furthermore, customers were treated to a surprise bonus of 10GB of free data upon recharging their SLT-MOBITEL mobile numbers with Rs. 500 or more through any banking app.

Taking love to the hill country, in a special engagement event at the Kandy City Centre, fans were able to participate in activities and interact with the ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’ cast including Hemal Ranasinghe, Sheshadri Priyasad, and many others.

Through these exciting promotions, SLT-MOBITEL helped spread love and joy this season while enhancing the customer experience with exclusive activities.

To discover more of SLT-MOBITEL’s Valentine’s Day promotions, visit https://www.facebook.com/SLTMobitel.

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Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024

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The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) is inviting proposals for the Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024. The grant is an annual, merit-based grant awarded to an outstanding undergraduate studying in a Sri Lankan university. It aims to promote policy entrepreneurs among undergraduates by encouraging policy-relevant, rigorous and innovative socio-economic research.

The grant was established in 2018 to honour Dr. Saman Kelegama’s legacy of independent research and public policy engagement in socio-economic development in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region. Dr. Kelegama was the Executive Director of the IPS from 1995 to 2017.

Fourth-year undergraduates studying economics or a related subject in a University Grants Commission approved university or higher education institution in Sri Lanka are eligible to apply. Proposals must be written according to the guidelines provided and emailed to tharakam@ips.lk on or before the submission deadline of 30 April 2024.

HOW WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN? The quality of the proposals will be judged for its policy relevance, feasibility, originality and creativity. Three finalists will be chosen and invited to present their proposals at the IPS, where the award recipient will be selected.

OUTCOMES OF THE GRANTS – The recipient will be expected to produce a Policy Discussion Brief within six months of receiving the grant. The research report can be written individually or jointly with an IPS senior researcher.

BENEFITS OF THE GRANT – The beneficiary will be awarded a one-time research grant of LKR 200,000 to carry out the proposed research and a three-month internship at the IPS. The recipient will be able to seek guidance from senior researchers and benefit from IPS resources to complete the proposed study during the internship. To enable students from all over Sri Lanka to benefit from this opportunity, the terms of the internship will be flexible. The internship can either be a fully in-house internship at IPS, or it can be an in-house plus online internship. In the case of the second option, the in-house component of the internship should be at least six weeks. To encourage research dissemination, an additional subsidy will be provided for presenting the research findings at local conferences and workshops.

Important Dates

30 April 2024 – Deadline for Submission of Proposals

01 June 2024 – Announcement of Finalists

23 June 2024 – Announcement of the Winner

Further information is available at: https://www.ips.lk/saman-kelegama-memorial-research-grant/

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