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Prime Minister reaffirms Sri Lanka’s commitment towards achieving SDGs



Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, participating in the celebration to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, reiterated Sri Lanka’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

“We are firm in our commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and create a greener and more sustainable environment for the future,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said.

“I call upon my fellow world leaders to work collectively in restoring compassion back to the eco-system in our respective countries”, he noted.

Due to the prevailing pandemic, the event took place virtually under the theme “‘Shaping Our Future Together.”

In his remarks, the Prime Minister thanked the United Nations for providing support to Sri Lanka in a wide range of sectors and highlighted the importance of member states supporting the United Nations in becoming a “more agile and accountable institution.”

The following is the text of the Prime Minister’s speech:

“Thank you, Your Excellency and the United Nations, for inviting me to participate in the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the U.N. It is indeed an historic occasion, especially given the long-standing partnership Sri Lanka has had with the U.N. for 65 years.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from joining you at your office for this celebration. However, I’m glad technology has brought us together virtually.

“I want to start by thanking the United Nations for its support to Sri Lanka in fighting the Coronavirus outbreak. As the world takes on the challenges of this unprecedented global health crisis, it is more important than ever to work collectively on our shared challenges to overcome this pandemic.

“Seventy-five years ago, on a day like tomorrow, the United Nations was created to be a global organization to act as the center of discussions on international cooperation, economic and social development, and international peace and security. It was the optimism of the U.N. Charter that instilled our faith in the U.N.’s ability to create a better world for us and our children.

“The global platform has helped bring world leaders together during some of the most challenging times, such as today. As Member States, I believe we need to support the United Nations as it evolves into a more agile and accountable institution. The world is changing dramatically, and an upgraded United Nations must both adapt and stay relevant.

“Having overcome a three-decade long war, Sri Lanka is on a transformative journey to becoming a more sustainable and resilient country. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all desperately searching for solutions to build back our economies, societies and global networks. We are firm in our commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and create a greener and more sustainable environment for the future. I call upon my fellow world leaders to work collectively in restoring compassion back to the eco-system in our respective countries.

“I appreciate the United Nations support for a wide range of sectors such as health, education, environment, agriculture and food security. One of my most important memories working with the U.N. is when I had the opportunity to work with children, especially after the Easter Sunday attacks and during the pandemic.

“In addition to remaining committed to children’s rights and safety, I remain equally committed to addressing the challenges faced by women and girls, the elderly and the differently-abled, and look forward to working closely with the U.N. Resident Coordinator and the Country Team”.

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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving



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



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



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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