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President opens South Asia’s biggest US$ 250 million tyre factory

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa inaugurated South Asia’s largest tyre factory built at a cost of US$ 250 million, at Wagawatte in Horana on Thursday.

Ferentino Tyre Corporation (Pvt) Limited is Sri Lanka’s biggest manufacturing facility for tyres and radials.

Ferentino Chairman Nandana Lokuwithana recalled how he was continuously motivated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to kick-start the plant without any delay.

“The President not only emphasized on getting the factory started but also mobilized and provided the support of relevant government institutions including the Board of Investments (BoI) towards getting the infrastructure and other operational aspects in place to ensure its commencement,” he said.

Lokuwithana said that the local manufacturers and entrepreneurs are encouraged by the President’s vision to boost production of goods for the local and export markets. “We believe we can rely on the government’s support in the future too,” he said.

The opening ceremony was also attended by Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa and Minister of Ports and Shipping Rohitha Abeygunwardena. The facility constructed with an investment of USD 250Mn is the brainchild of reputed entrepreneur Nandana Lokuwithana, the incumbent Chairman of Ceylon Steel Corporation (Pvt) Ltd.

The project will be the largest such facility in Southeast Asia manufacturing Passenger Car Radials (PCR) including specialized category for SUVs, two-wheelers, three-wheelers, trucks, buses and solid tyres seamlessly combining local talent with sophisticated European technology.

The new manufacturing plant combines state-of-the-art European technology in tyre manufacturing with local craftsmanship for an optimum, world-class output. The project was facilitated by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) and aims to generate a substantial amount employment opportunities directly and indirectly.

Ferentino Tyres will use locally sourced rubber as a main ingredient thereby compelling the local industry to level itself to deliver to the global expectation. The Phase 1 of the project has already been completed and commissioned while the construction of Phase 2 is scheduled to be completed in March 2022.

Lokuwithana also heads Onyx Group in the UAE with a host of subsidiaries including a steel fabrication company. His other investments include: Marriot Al Jadaf Hotel in Dubai, up-coming state-of-the art Cement Grinding Plant in Mirijjawila, Hambantota slated to be commissioned in May 2021 and Marangoni Industrial Tyres Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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