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Sri Lankan professional honoured by Rotary International



Sri Lankan business personality, Dr. Rohantha Athukorala has been honored among the six members across the world as ‘People of Action: Champions of Health by Rotary International’.

The award was in recognition of their proactive behaviour demonstrated to improve the foundation of good health at home and across the globe.

The work of these members proved especially challenging due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which tested their ‘service above self’ ethos, a communique from Rotary Head Quarters in Chicago, United States, said.

They will be recognized at the 2021 Global Convention for their outstanding contribution.

Commenting on the award Athukorala said: “Rotary is undoubtedly one of the strongest service organizations in Sri Lanka for project management. This includes interactors who work at the school end and Rotaractors in the University end of the postgraduate segments of Sri Lanka. This award is a win for Rotary/Rotaract and Interactors of Sri Lanka”.

Dr. Athukorala, a marketing professional, who has had a 17-year career with top British and American multinational, was also the Chairman of Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Sri Lanka Tourism which gave him the experience to conceptualize the project ‘Stop the Spread’ that was picked as a national project for the year 2020/21 by the Governor of Rotary Sri Lanka and Maldives, Ajith Weerasinghe.

The innovative project brought together 6,200 Interactors, 7,800 Rotaractors and 2,000 Rotarians under one theme driving multiple initiatives from attitude change communication to economic development projects during the pandemic. It was a unique project in our ecosystem that helped fight the Covid-19 deadly virus, Governor Weerasinghe said.

‘Stop the Spread’ used a two step communication model driven by the Interactors using the voice of 280 South Asian, Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games medallions in partnership with the National Olympic Committee in the first stage of the roll out. The campaign created awareness on the new normal behaviour required like wearing a mask, keeping social distance, body temperate watch and washing one’s hands in a somewhat controlled ecosystem, which supported the government’s efforts on how to contain the Covid-19 virus.

At present, more than 100,000 people have fallen prey to the virus with 625 deaths in Sri Lanka. The advocacy model must be taken to the next level in Sri Lanka and also extended to the global stage in the partnership with the respective sports bodies of their home country, says Weerasinghe, the Director/CEO of CIC, a a blue chip company in Sri Lanka.

Concurrent to the ‘Stop the Spread’ attitude changing concept, Rotary Sri Lanka mooted the idea of a certification program for businesses to bring to the DNA the new health protocols required in an organization.

The Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) developed the standards that led to the first-ever Certification protocols for Covid protection being launched in country. Rotary then diffused the idea and Certified almost 300 entities including schools, supermarkets, hotels, and top tea brands, global health and nutrition companies, International rubber organizations, the apparel sector and hotels which quantified the contribution of Rotary during the pandemic commented, Dr. Athukorala noted.

The award winning Sri Lankan professional has also served the United Nations (UNOPS) in his illustrious multinational career. He now heads a leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) company for the South Asian Region.

“The Covid-19 spike in Sri Lanka is very worrying given the new strand we see in countries like India. We cannot afford another lockdown like last year. We have to stop the spread by regulating our behavior”, he stressed.

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President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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