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SLPI holds its 17th AGM virtually on Zoom web-conference platform

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The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) held its 17th Annual General Meeting on October 21 virtually using the Zoom web-conference platform, attended by representatives of its constituent partners – the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association and its members.

Presenting the annual report of the institution, Kumar Lopez, Chief Executive Officer of the SLPI, said 2019 had been a successful year with many improvements where they engaged with their main domains; Media Freedom and Journalist Professionalism, Transparency and Accountability, and Peace and Reconciliation.

This included a self-reflection exercise on the self-regulation process of the print media with the objective of strengthening media ethics and professionalizing newspaper reporting practices.

In keeping with the SLPI mandate to nurture an informed public committed to democratic ideals, SLPI has made prominent interventions especially in spreading awareness on Right to Information (RTI) among various strata in society.

The Right to Information help desk which was established to support the newsrooms, and RTI Journalists fora continue to engage and strengthen the use of RTI among journalists.

The CEO also referred to the outreach program with youth on RTI awareness and communication that had produced several success stories from districts across the country.

SLPI has been expanding their presence on the digital front, with increased engagement through social media and dedicated portals such as Rtisrilanka.lk and Changemaker.lk for RTI engagements and Peace and reconciliation work via thecatamaran.org, to cater to a wider and growing audience.

Several projects have been implemented in association with foreign missions such as Norway, United States, and Germany with the organizations like Norwegian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Open Society Foundation (OSF), UNESCO, International Research & Exchange Board (IREX), Media in Transition and Coordination (MiCT), USAID and the IOM.

Lopez further said the Journalism Awards for Excellence, a joint event organized by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka (TEGOSL) and the SLPI, successfully concluded its 20th edition on December 10, 2019.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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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

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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

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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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