Representing Sri Lanka at the 14th International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum (14th IIICF) Friday (02), Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation – Nimal Siripala de Silva said that under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the government was dedicated to driving the digitalization initiative forward under name ‘DIGIECON 2030’, signifying a pivotal step towards transforming Sri Lanka into an inclusive Digital Economy. The two-day Forum started on June 11 in Macao SAR, China.
“In our pursuit of a digitalised Sri Lanka, I am proud to reaffirm that our government places tremendous importance on the digital economy. This visionary initiative, conceived by our Government, aims to foster a regulatory policy framework and a master plan that will propel our nation forward in the digital realm. We are dedicated to creating conducive business environment, attracting investments, and nurturing a digital ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders. Therefore, Sri Lanka considers this Forum a very important event as it encompasses introducing policy framework for scientific and technological innovations to be adopted in the crucial development sectors,” the Minister said.
Minister Silva said that Sri Lanka had made significant strides in developing its ports and maritime infrastructure in the maritime sector and with its advantageous position in the Indian Ocean, the country aimed to become a prominent regional maritime hub.
“To achieve this, the government has implemented policies to attract foreign investments, particularly in port development and logistics,” he said.
The Minister said that in line with commitment, the Government of Sri Lanka would establish a committee of Cabinet Ministers, entrusted with the responsibility of accelerating the digitization process across the Government sector and such coordinated effort would ensure rapid progress in implementing digital solutions and policies that drive the nation’s transformation.
As a world-renowned event in the international infrastructure industry, the IIICF attracts annually more than 2000 delegates from over 70 countries and regions including around 50 ministerial officials, serving as an important platform for industry elites from Government authorities, financial institutions, engineering companies, survey & design firms, consultancy and equipment manufacturers to exchange strategic thinking and insights on cutting-edge topics, explore opportunities and seek cooperation.
“One notable advancement in Infrastructure Digitalization is the introduction of new technology in the port sector. Sri Lanka’s maritime ports require significant infrastructure upgrades to meet the demands of a digitalized era. This includes modernizing port terminals, improving navigational systems, upgrading traffic control systems, and enhancing connectivity infrastructure. Without adequate infrastructure, the full potential of digital solutions cannot be realized
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has collaborated with the National Trade Facilitation Committee to expedite the implementation of the National Single Window and Trade Information Portal. These initiatives aim to streamline trade, enhance efficiency and transparency, and promote economic growth. The National Single Window system enables standardized information and document transmission through a single-entry point, involving all parties engaged in the trading process, such as customs, banks, ports, insurers, public agencies, and private participants.
In alignment with the government’s tourism development plans, SLPA has initiated a project to transform Galle’s Port into a comprehensive tourist port and leisure hub for South Asia. The project, undertaken as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), involves an investment ranging from $175 to $200 million. It encompasses the construction of two offshore breakwaters to ensure calm waters in the Galle bay and harbour, as well as the development of a state-of-the-art cruise terminal to accommodate large cruise ships. The objective is to convert Galle into a regional commercial port with a significant emphasis on tourism, supported by new investments from the private sector.
Expanding the capacity of the Port of Colombo (POC) poses a primary challenge. SLPA has undertaken measures to attract new investments and develop the necessary infrastructure for capacity enhancement. Within the next two to three years, two deep-water terminals will be added. We will introduce the Automation and semi automation terminals to the Port of Colombo which will be a huge technological step in the ports in south Asia. Sri Lanka has recently sealed a ground-breaking investment deal worth $650 million with joint project promoters, including India’s Adani, local conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH), and the state-owned SLPA. This Build, Own and Transfer (BOT) agreement establishes the Colombo West International Terminal (CWIT) as the largest-ever investment in the port sector. In addition the SLPA will be constructing the ECT through its own funds.
Speaking on Bandaranaike International Airport’s Terminal 2 development the Minister said that the airport was undergoing a major expansion to provide improved passenger experience and increase handling capacity.
“The project will address issues such as congestion and passenger discomfort at the airport. The new terminal is expected to handle nine million passengers a year, taking the airport’s passenger handling capacity to 15 million passengers annually. We aim to provide seamless and efficient passenger experience, with innovative use of digital technologies, such as e-gate empowered by state-of-the-art biometric systems for streamlined immigration processes, utilized self-check-in kiosks and baggage drop systems to expedite passenger flow, and incorporated advanced data analytics to optimize flight scheduling and resource allocation with cutting-edge agile network solutions.
“We must foster strong partnerships to share knowledge, exchange best practices, and jointly address challenges. Collaboration will enable us to leverage collective expertise and resources, driving the digitalization agenda forward. The Government of Sri Lanka has established the Digital Economy Steer Committee, Chaired by H.E. the President himself, Cabinet Ministers such as Ministry of Technologies, Finance, and my ministry, and industry organizations, under collaboration with the World Bank. We are happy to have global technologies companies such as Huawei, to share with us the worldwide industrial digitization experiences and practices. Together, let us embrace the limitless potential of digitalization in revolutionizing our maritime and aviation sectors, driving economic growth in the digitalized era, the Minister said.
President orders probe into judge’s resignation
By Saman Indrajith
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is currently in Berlin, yesterday ordered his Secretary Saman Ekanayake to launch a probe into the resignation of Mullaitivu District Judge and Magistrate, T. Saravanarajah, who heard the controversial Kurundimale temple case. The judge has cited receiving death threats as the reason for his resignation.
Judge Saravanarajah had not informed either the police or the Judicial Service Commission of the alleged death threats to him, sources said.
In a letter dated 23 September, 2023, addressed to the Judicial Services Commission, Judge T. Saravanarajah conveyed his decision to step down from various judicial roles including District Judge, Magistrate, Family Court Judge,
Primary Court Judge, Small Claims Court Judge, and Juvenile Court Judge.President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake held discussions on the judge’s resignation with Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles. It was revealed that the judge had not lodged any formal complaint of the alleged death threats prior to his resignation.
China pledges steadfast support to Sri Lanka
China will continue to firmly support Sri Lanka in pursuing a development path that suits its own national conditions, getting rid of the “poverty trap” and the “trap of non-development”, and safeguarding its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity, Ambassador Qi Zhenhong said at the 74th National Day Reception of the People’s Republic of China on Thursday.
Given below are excerpts of the Chinese Ambassador’s speech: “Right now, changes of the world, of our times and of history are unfolding in ways like never before, which leads to rapidly growing uncertainty, instability and unpredictability.
In view of these global challenges, President Xi Jinping has put forward three crucial global initiatives, namely the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative. We urge all countries to respect each other, seek common ground while reserving differences, and work together to meet the challenges of our times and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
“This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping. Over the past 10 years under the BRI cooperation, more than 150 countries, including Sri Lanka, and 32 international organizations, have made great progress in connectivity, infrastructure, trade, and investment, with about 3,100 joint projects bringing tangible benefits to the world. As the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, I am more than happy to highlight the major projects between our two countries, such as the Katunayake Expressway, the Southern Expressway, the CICT, the Hambantota Port and the Port City Colombo, etc.
“No matter how the world changes, China and Sri Lanka are good neighbours with mutual respect and trust, good partners with mutual benefit, and good friends who help each other. China’s friendly policy towards Sri Lanka is for all political parties and all people of Sri Lanka and maintains continuity and stability. In the past decades, many landmarks, such as the BMICH, the Supreme Court Complex, the Nelum Pokuna Theatre, the Polonnaruwa Kidney Disease Hospital and the National Hospital Out-Patient Department Building, have been gifted by the Chinese people to the Sri Lankan people.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, especially when Sri Lanka was faced with the economic challenges last year, China has been supporting Sri Lanka to the best of its ability. It includes not only providing emergency assistance from all walks of life in China, but also being the first to reach out to Sri Lanka to properly deal with its debt issues.
More importantly, China will continue to firmly support Sri Lanka in pursuing a development path that suits its own national conditions, getting rid of the “poverty trap” and the “trap of non-development”, and safeguarding its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity.”
Justice Minister sees police, judiciary and lawyers coming short on ensuring justice for all
The way the police, judiciary and lawyers operate had left much to be desired in ensuring justice for all, Minister of Justice Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said at the National Law Week – 2023 celebrations yesterday.
Dr. Rajapakshe said that in a country with the rule of law, all citizens felt they had access to justice. The Minister said that the country faced a severe economic crisis in 2022. The breakdown of the rule of law was a major reason for the economic crisis, the Justice Minister said.
Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya said at the same event that people needed to understand the roles and functions of the judiciary, police, mediation boards and other institutions of justice in order to obtain a satisfactory service.
“These institutions are there to ensure everyone has equal access to justice. If these institutions were not there, the rich and the powerful would always get their way,” the CJ said.
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