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Strengthening cooperation is vital to unlock the economic potential of Sri Lanka – Korean Ambassador

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The 26th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka–Korea Business Council (SLKBC) of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was held recently via MS Teams.

The SLKBC was inaugurated on November 4, 1982, in Colombo at the request of the late Lalith Athulathmudali with the objective of promoting trade, investments, tourism and services between Sri Lanka and Korea.

Mr. Priyantha Mendis, Managing Director, Alpha Tours (Pvt) Ltd (General Sales Agent for Korean Air in Sri Lanka & Maldives) was re-elected President of the Council for the year 2020/2021, while John Shiran Dissanayake, Chairman, Transmarine (Pvt) Ltd and Shamil Mendis, Chairman/Managing Director, Spear International (Pvt) Ltd were elected Vice Presidents.

Mahen Kariyawasan serves as the Immediate Past President and the Founder President, Prof. Lakshman Watawala as an Honorary member. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka, Woonjin Jeong, said, “strengthening the commercial ties between the nations in harmony with the national policy is among my top priorities. It is noteworthy that amid this pandemic, Sri Lanka was the first South Asian country which held a nationwide election and Korea was the first country in the world to hold a nationwide election successfully. The global economy including that of Sri Lanka has experienced a negative impact since the covid-19 pandemic.

“Businesses have incurred grave losses due to the travel restrictions, disruptions in global supply chains and the imposition of numerous lockdowns. At this juncture, I will do the best to help achieve the economic goals of Sri Lanka together with the Sri Lanka-Korea business council members.

“The Sri Lankan economy will bounce back by attracting new foreign investors as it has shown strength and resilience in spite of past setbacks. Sri Lanka has great potential for growth and provides ample business opportunities with its strategic location, natural resources and high quality human resources which are very complimentary with the capital and technology of Korea. Strengthening the economic cooperation is thus vital unlock the economic potential of Sri Lanka.

“I invite Korean investors to explore opportunities especially in the key sectors including agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, LNG, digital economy and so on. There is more potential for business opportunities to expand between our two countries. In this regard, I hope that this esteemed Council too will work tirelessly to take our trade and economic ties to the next level and the Embassy, as always, will render its utmost assistance to you and work with you every step of the way until we realize this mutual goal”.

Priyantha Mendis, President of SLKBC reiterated that the main objectives of the Council is to promote trade and tourism between Sri Lanka and Korea, promote investment to Sri Lanka and encourage joint ventures, and to conduct joint meetings with Korean business organizations between the two countries.

“Bilateral Trade between Sri Lanka and Korea is around USD 400 million, mainly in favor of Korea. Anyway, for the past 15 years, the Korean government has offered employment opportunities to Lankan youth in the Manufacturing, Construction & Fisheries Sectors in Korea. At present there are around 30,000 Sri Lankans living in Korea, the biggest concentration of SL expatriate employees after Middle East.

With the commencement of direct services of Korea National Flag Carrier Korean Air to Sri Lanka in 2013, the Korean Tourist arrivals jumped to 16,000 in 2020 from around 4,000 earlier. Anyway Korean Air temporarily suspended its scheduled services in mid of March 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic situation and will recommence its operations when the situation improves here and in Korea”, he said.

Abans Ltd, Ceyline Shipping Ltd, Senok Trade Combine (Pvt) Ltd, Shipping & Cargo Logistics (Pvt) Ltd and Southern Tea Producers (Pvt) Ltd were elected from the membership to serve on the Executive Committee of the Council.



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Nightlife is essential without hindrance to other tourists, residents and businesses – Diana Gamage

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Minister of State for Tourism  Diana Gamage acknowledged that events that emanated noise should be conducted within a soundproof environment without causing any inconvenience or disturbance to other tourists who are here to relax, residents of the area and other businesses inasmuch its necessity to boost the economy by generating revenue.

She made this comment speaking at a press conference themed ‘Collective path to a stable country’ at the Presidential Media Centre today (22),

As debates continue regarding the regulation of nightlife, she urged stakeholders to consider the broader economic implications and the vital role that nightlife plays in driving economic activity and sustaining national finances. She further emphasized the importance of providing entertainment options to tourists, particularly in beach areas, which are major attractions for visitors. According to her, nightlife plays a crucial role in catering to the needs of tourists, not only in beach areas but also in urban centres like Colombo. The Minister noted that current regulations often restrict entertainment options, citing examples such as early last orders in hotels and restaurants, which may not align with the preferences of international tourists.

Drawing attention to the diverse origins of tourists, including those from the UK, France, and Germany, the State Minister Diana Gamage emphasized the need for flexibility in entertainment hours to accommodate varying cultural norms and preferences.

As discussions on tourism regulations continue, stakeholders are encouraged to consider the perspectives of tourists and the potential economic benefits of promoting a vibrant nightlife scene. The Minister’s remarks underscore the importance of striking a balance between regulation and the provision of entertainment options to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors to Sri Lanka.

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All vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka should be consolidated into a single vocational college – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an observation tour at the Ratmalana Lalith Athulathmudali Vocational Training Centre, this morning (22) , outlined plans to consolidate all vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka into a single vocational college, offering contemporary subject-related courses.

He said that the restructuring of vocational education was  essential to align with the demands of the modern world, ensuring that the youth of the country are equipped to excel in the competitive global job market.

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Opposition threatens to move no-faith motion against Speaker over OSB

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Speaker Abeywardena

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premnadasa told Parliament yesterday that the Online Safety Bill had been passed in violation of the law and unless remedial action was taken, a no-faith motion would be brought against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Premadasa said that Article 123(4) of the Constitution says, “Where any Bill, or the provision of any Bill, has been determined, or is deemed to have been determined, to be inconsistent with the Constitution, such Bill or such provision shall not be passed except in the manner stated in the determination of the Supreme Court.”

Premadasa said: “It is illegal to pass a Bill without adhering to this constitutional provision. There were nine instances where the government overlooked the Supreme Court determination on the Bill. The Speaker allowed that to happen despite our protests. The Justice Minister, too, has admitted that there are flaws in the Act. How could that happen? Rectify them immediately, or we will bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.”

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that even if the Supreme Court determined that a section or clause of a draft Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, a Bill could be passed by Parliament. It could be done with either a two-thirds majority or two-thirds majority plus people’s approval from a referendum. A case cannot be filed against the way the Speaker or an MP behaved in this House as they have immunity. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, too, has given a ruling on this issue and we still consider it as a precedent to be upheld. With regard to the Online Safety Bill, the Attorney General has instructed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to incorporate some amendments as per the Supreme Court determination and to bring other recommended amendments in the form of a separate Amendment Bill. I was not a party to that discussion. This Amendment Bill was presented to the Cabinet and approval was granted and now is at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Thereafter, it would be referred to the Cabinet again and with that approval we can have it here in this House for consideration,” the Minister said.

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