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President instructs to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks immediately

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa directed relevant authorities to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks scattered across the island following a mechanism combining ancient technology and modern scientific methods. In parallel to this initiative the “National Food Production Contribution Programme” covering 120,000 abandoned paddy lands will also be launched.

Tanks will be rehabilitated under “Wari Saubhagya” programme. The assistance of Civil Defence Force will be secured to expedite the project.

The proposed programme was reviewed in length during the meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Development of Rural Paddy Fields and Associated Tanks, Reservoirs and Irrigation held at the Presidential Secretariat. “A project to rehabilitate tanks was carried out earlier too. It came under strong criticism by the experts as well as the public. This is due to the fact that despite dredging of tanks, ancient techniques and scientific methods of water retention were not used. Such shortcoming should be avoided and rehabilitation should proceed in a manner specific to each area and tank under a common criterion”, President said.

The capacity of tanks has been reduced due to their silting. There is large number of tanks with breached banks. The chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa pointed out the necessity of rehabilitating such tanks targeting Maha season. President Rajapaksa highlighted the possibility of using tank water not only for paddy cultivation but also to meet the needs for drinking water and irrigation requirements. The Departments of Land Use and Agriculture have jointly conducted a survey on the pattern of agricultural land use depending on the irrigation system. Based on its findings, plans are afoot to cultivate 17 identified crops in the intermediate and inter seasons supported by satisfactory water management system. Rehabilitation of tanks should be carried out while preserving their related industries.It is imperative that the project should be implemented in conjunction with affiliated organizations and Farmers’ Societies. President Rajapaksa instructed to renovate the irrigation system including canals and dams in parallel with the project to rehabilitate tanks. During the meeting attention was focused on the requirement of expediting “Uthuru Meda Maha Ela” and “Wyamba Ela” projects planned with the objective to supply irrigation and drinking water. Under this programme 80,000 hectares fed by 1500 tanks in North Central and North Western Provinces will be cultivated.

The necessity to include the irrigation systems of the island and all the forest reservoirs neighboring rivers in a gazette notification was among the topics discussed at the meeting.

President Rajapaksa also instructed the officials to rapidly renovate 500 small tanks located within reserves for the benefit of wild animals. A one year programme will be implemented to achieve this objective jointly by the Irrigation Department, Wild Life and Forest Conservation Department.

During this meeting special attention was drawn to the need of promptly filling the vacancies that exist in certain cadres such as Engineer and Technical Officer in the field of irrigation for a long period of time. The progress of the ‘ Taruna Govi Saubhagya, Kabanika Govipala’ programme initiated with the aim of directing young entrepreneurs to use organic fertilizers for agricultural activities, was reviewed at this meeting. The project has been designed covering 5,000 acres from the Maduru Oya right bank. It was agreed to provide all the necessary infrastructure facilities for the project. Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, State Minister Anuradha Jayaratne, Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President, P.B. Jayasundera, officials of the Cabinet and state ministries and line institutes and representatives of the Farmers’ Associations were present at the discussion.



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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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