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



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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Geneva HR vote:



UK, Canada seek to influence member states against Lanka

The Sri Lanka Core group members, Canada and the UK, are campaigning hard to muster support for their resolution against Sri Lanka at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka Core group consists of Canada, Germany, the UK, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Malawi.

Canada High Commissioner David McKinnon met the Bangladesh High Commissioner Tareq Ariful Islam, at the Canada House, Colombo 07.

Sources said that meetings between diplomats of those countries were rare. Bangladesh is a member o the f UNHRC. The meeting at the Canada House took place close on the heels of the UK HC Sarah Hulton meeting South Korean Ambassador Woonjin Jeong. South Korea is also a member of the UNHRC.

The 47-member UNHRC is divided into five groups on regional basis. The Asia-Pacific Group consists of Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Marshall Islands, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea and Uzbekistan; Western Europe and Other States consists of Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and UK; Eastern European States consists of Armenia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia and Ukraine; Latin American and Caribbean States group consists of Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela and African States group consists of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Gabon, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Togo. (SF)

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CEB Chairman: Country would have been facing daily power cuts if not for MR’s initiative



by Ifham Nizam

The country would have been facing a daily power cut of eight hours if not for the initiative taken by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he was the President, to commence the first coal fired power plant complex at Norochcholai, said Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman Engineer Vijitha Herath at yesterday’s inauguration of the first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power plant in Sri Lanka.

PM Rajapaksa was the Chief Guest at the event. The CEB head stressed that if not for the Norochchoali plant the country would have lost more than Rs. 100 billion annually.

Power Minister Dullas Alahaperuma said that since the construction of the Norochcholai power plant in 2013, no large scale power plant had been built.

“Today, we are paying for this. Only small hydro power plants and solar power plants have been added to the national grid,” Alahaperuma said.

The power minister said that the LNG plant was coming up at an important time and would bring great relief to the economy which was heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

“Let there be a power sector that is not dependent on fossil fuels. The new power plant has been constructed at Kerawalapitiya, Wattala. This has been designed in accordance with international standards with minimal environmental damage. This power plant will have the highest efficiency F class gas turbine installed. The Kerawalapitiya Power Plant is a dual cycle power plant and will be completed in two phases. The installation of the first phase, or gas turbine, will generate 220 MW, which will be completed within 21 months and added to the national grid.”

Alhaperuma said that the second phase would add another 130 megawatts to the national grid via a steam turbine, which was expected to be completed in 12 months. With a total capacity of 300 MW over the next three years, the plant was expected to meet the country’s growing electricity demand, he said.

Speaking at the event Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that the government wanted to provide electricity at affordable prices using the most advanced technology. There had been many delays in building power plants under the Yahapalana regime; but the current government would fast-track power projects, he added.

Minister Alahapperuma also said: “The LNG power plant will be a great relief to the economy. Renewable energy is the future. It was clearly mentioned in the President’s vision of prosperity as well as in the Mahinda Chinthana. Our goal is an economy fully armed with renewable energy.”

State Ministers Duminda Dissanayake, Susil Premajayantha, Nimal Lansa, Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy Wasantha Perera, LTL CEO of Lakdanavi Affiliates U.D. Jayawardena, and a large number of people’s representatives and government officials were present.

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US Secretary of State names Lankan for International Women of Courage (IWOC) award



Lankan Human Rights Activist and Attorney-At-Law Ranitha Gnanarajah is among the recipients of this year’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) award presented by the United States Secretary of State.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will host the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards virtual ceremony to honour a group of extraordinary women from around the world on Monday, March 8, at 10:00 am, the U.S. State Department announced.

The First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden will deliver remarks to recognize the courageous accomplishments of these women.

Now in its 15th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment – often at great personal risk and sacrifice, the US State Department says.

According to the biographies of the finalists for the 2012 IWOC Awards, Sri Lanka’s Ranitha Gnanarajah, a lawyer, and Head of the Legal Department of the Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) Sri Lanka continues to fight for and defend the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable communities in the country, despite threats and challenges by the state.

“Ranitha has dedicated her career to accountability and justice for victims of enforced disappearances and prisoners detained often for years without charge under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act by providing free legal aid and related services. As an individual personally affected by the conflict and based on her extensive experience working with victims and their families, Ranitha has demonstrated tremendous passion and dedication to justice and accountability, especially for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable populations.”

From the inception of this award in March 2007, the Department of State has recognized more than 155 awardees from over 75 countries.

U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries, and finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials.

Following the virtual IWOC ceremony, the awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) virtual exchange and connect with their American counterparts.

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