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President warns those who exploit his attempts to solve problems of people to harm nature



President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, on Saturday, that meeting people to solve their problems was not a political drama or a media show, and it was not his policy to identify problems only through the officials without going among the people.

“The next presidential election is almost four years away. I am meeting villagers to fulfil the mission when in power. No other president has gone to remote villages to solve people’s problems. It is not my practice to stay in Colombo and consult only the officials and identify the problems of the people. Whoever criticises this system, I work according to my policy.”

“I became the President due to hard work. You can be a people’s leader by working with the people,” the President said, instructing the young people’s representatives to go among the people.

The President expressed these views while participating in the ninth ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ program held at the Dikellakanda Junior College premises in the Dickellakanda Grama Niladhari Division within the Deraniyagala Divisional Secretariat Division in the Kegalle District.

The President emphasised that if any individual or group engaged in illegal activities based on the decisions taken to solve the problems of the people, they would be severely severely dealth with.

President Rajapaksa said a decision had been taken to give the cultivation rights of the traditionally cultivated lands to the farmer. It has been revealed that a group of people were taking advantage of that and harming the environment and forest reserves, the President said.

The power of nature should be used for the betterment of man, President Rajapaksa said adding that that nationalism could not be maintained without strengthening the economy and that the aim of the government was to build a national economy based on agriculture.

The ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ (Conversation with the Village) program was launched on September 25, 2020 in the Badulla District. Past programs were organized covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kalutara and Moneragala districts.

It is the intention of the President to meet the people of the remote villages outside the city who have not been given due attention so far, to inquire into their problems and to bring them to the notice of the officials at the same time and provide solutions.

Problems that take time to resolve will be noted to be addressed later. The aim of the program is to reach out to the people of the village, ask their questions and find solutions through their own suggestions.

Dikellakanda village is located about 23 km from Deraniyagala town and borders the Sri Pada reserve. Asgala, Pallahena, Namalwatta and Urawanawa villages belong to the Dikellakanda Grama Niladhari Division. These villages have 208 families and a population of 718. Maliboda, Pothdeniya and Magala are the other villages around Dikellakanda.

Many of the people in these villages, which are located in a highly sensitive ecological zone, are engaged in tea cultivation or allied occupations. Cloves, cardamom and pepper are other plantation crops. There are 25 families engaged in the kitul industry.

People are severely affected by the underdevelopment of the road and bridge system and the weakening of public transport services.

The people present at the occasion explained to the President the various problems they were facing. Responding to complaints regarding road difficulties, the President instructed officials to commence work on the Pothdenikanda to Dikwellakanda road from Monday (08) and complete it expeditiously.

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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign



… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds



Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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