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Russian Federation  amongst first countries to assist Sri Lanka in establishing industrial base  – Speaker

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in Parliament recently that the country should not forget that the Russian Federation was amongst the first countries to assist Sri Lanka in establishing its industrial base, and at that time the three industrial projects, Ceylon Steel Corporation, along with Ceylon Tyre Corporation and Ceylon Sugar Corporation, were established in Sri Lanka with the assistance of the Soviet Union, the predecessor of the Russian Federation

He was speaking at the revival meeting of the Russian-Sri Lankan Parliamentary Friendship Association for the ninth Parliament held recently in Parliament.

The meeting was held under the patronage of Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Sri Lanka Yury Materiy and Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake. It was attended by Ministers, State Ministers and Members of Parliament.

 The Speaker said that ‘’The very first Sri Lanka – Russia Parliamentary Friendship Association was inaugurated on 9th October 1998, and the most Senior Parliamentarian, at the moment in the country Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the then Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development was elected as the first President of this Association.’’ 

‘’Sri Lanka imports a large number of items from Russia. On the other hand, Russia is a very valuable importer of Sri Lanka products. Russia has become the single largest buyer of Ceylon tea for several years. Since 01st January 2010, Russian Generalized Scheme of Preferences – GSP  scheme has been granting preferential tariffs to certain developing countries and Sri Lanka has been a beneficiary country of this scheme. Under the GSP of the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka enjoys 25 per cent tariff reduction from the current customs duty rate’’ The Speaker added.

 At this meeting, State Minister of Education Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning Promotion Susil Premajayantha, was elected as the new Chairman of the Sri Lanka-Russia Parliamentary Friendship Organization.

 Member of Parliament Sagara Kariyawasam, was elected as the new Secretary and MPs Mohamed Muzammil, Aravind Kumar and Dr. Upul Galappaththi were elected as the Vice Presidents.

In addition, MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera was elected as the Treasurer and MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala was elected as the Assistant Secretary.



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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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