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SL cultural delegation invited to Deepotsav celebration



High Commissioner of India Shri Gopal Baglay with the delegation led by Gnanakumar Sithambaram and Gayathri Suveendran, members of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the Global Encyclopedia of Ramayana project, and Kalasuri Shrimati Vasugy Jegatheeswaran, an eminent Bharatha Natyam Guru at Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, and Natya Kala Mandhir, Colombo

A 15-member cultural delegation from Sri Lanka has been invited by the government of Uttar Pradesh, India to participate in the grand Deepotsav celebration, which is being organized from Nov 1-5 at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

The delegation is led by Gnanakumar Sithambaram and Gayathri Suveendran, members of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the Global Encyclopedia of Ramayana project, and Kalasuri Shrimati Vasugy Jegatheeswaran, an eminent Bharatha Natyam Guru at Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, and Natya Kala Mandhir, Colombo. High Commissioner of India Shri Gopal Baglay, interacted with the delegation before their departure. He highlighted the significance of such cultural and spiritual interactions in further strengthening the centuries old ties between India and Sri Lanka, and conveyed best wishes for their cultural performances in India.

The Ayodhya Research Institute, Department of Culture, Government of Uttar Pradesh is organizing the 15-member cultural delegation from Sri Lanka. Ayodhya is situated on the banks of holy river Saryu in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is regarded as one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. A grand temple is being constructed there.

Every year, since 2017, the Government of Uttar Pradesh has been celebrating Deepotsav in Ayodhya on the eve of Diwali. This year, during the fifth edition of Deepotsav, for the first time, 500 drones will draw Ramayana scenes on Ayodhya’s skyline. Cultural troupes from different regions of India and from all over the world, including Sri Lanka, would showcase cultural performances based on Ramayana.

The Government of Uttar Pradesh aims to set a record of lighting 12 lakh diyas (earthen lamps) on the eve of Diwali, falling on 3rd November. Other attractions during the Deepotsav celebrations at Ayodhya would include heritage tour, conference, book launch, Ramayana Shobhayatra (procession), photography exhibition, 3-D holographic show, projection mapping, and laser shows at the majestic ‘Ram-Ki-Paidi’ on the banks of the Saryu River.

On Oct 28, a symbolic sacred monument from Seetha Amman Temple at Nuwara Eliya was handed over to the Chief Priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, Milinda Moragoda. This sacred monument was brought to India by the High Commissioner from the Seetha Amman Temple in Sri Lanka.

It may be recalled that the inaugural international flight arrived at the holy city of Kushinagar from Colombo on the auspicious Vap Poya day on Oct 20. The delegation from Sri Lanka led by Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Development Coordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development comprised four State Ministers, senior officials and the Most Venerable Mahasangha represented by close to 100 Senior Buddhist monks from different sects and sacred temples across Sri Lanka. Such cultural and spiritual events attest to the abiding people-to-people linkages between the two countries which span across religions.

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Overtime gravy train for public sector back



Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.

The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.

Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.

Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.

Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.

Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.

One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.

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Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee



Prof G L Peris

Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.

Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.

Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.

Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.

The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)

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Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.

The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.

They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.

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