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Weerawansa sees silver lining in COVID-19 pandemic: Sri Lanka has realised its core values

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By Saman Indrajith

Industry Minister Wimal Weerawansa says that the COVID-19 pandemic, despite all its ill-effects, has reminded us of the value of indigenous wisdom and traditional practices.

 “In a way the pandemic is a blessing in disguise for it helped promote local culture and its traditions. We have been told that 80 percent Sri Lankans do not show the symptoms of the virus infection and it is believed that the majority have not been infected. This is because almost all Sri Lankan mothers have breast-fed their children and almost all of us have the best immunity in the world. In addition, it is also believed that our food culture too has helped increase our immunity. It is because of the pandemic those values have come to light.”

Minister Weerawansa was speaking at the launch of Made in Sri Lanka (MISL) franchise logo to micro and SME manufacturers during a ceremony held at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo on Tuesday.

“We have inherited all we need. It is sad that we had not been able to recognise the value of those traditions until the pandemic compelled us to do so. The pandemic resulted in a change of thinking of the people. Many businessmen have commenced investing on buying lands to cultivate because the pandemic has shown that our dependence on imports will make us vulnerable. Ours is a past that is so rich in knowledge and wisdom. The oldest hospital and the oldest surgical equipment were found in Anuradhapura. The government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa gives the maximum possible support for reviving this nation and making us once again the centre of excellence in this part of the world.”

At the ceremony the MISL franchise logo designed by the National Enterprise Development Authority’s (NEDA) on the basis of ancient wood carvings of Embekke Devale and an e-commerce portal were launched.

 Minister Weerawansa said that the introduction of the ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ franchise logo to micro and SME manufacturers would mark a turning point in local industry. “The brand, Made in Sri Lanka, will help make our products globally available through a newly launched e-commerce portal. Today, we start several programmes under the ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ brand campaign. These programmes will assist the micro, small, and medium-scale entrepreneurs making local products. The campaign has identified many longstanding issues barring the Lankan entrepreneurs to have a foothold in the local market and push their products to the global market.”

The website of the MISL www.madeinsrilanka.org designed by the NEDA was launched creating a platform that will connect these MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) to businesses and consumers.

Minister Weerawansa thanked his advisor Sunil Hettiarachchi and NEDA Chairman Anushka Gunasinghe for their role in creating the platform that would enable the MSMEs overcome limitations imposed on them by the COVID-19 pandemic to promote their products. The NEDA has a network of MSMEs that have been registered at divisional secretariats. The concept came about due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s first lockdown as a means to empower local traders and entrepreneurs, the Minister said. 

 

 



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U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies in Rome Cindy McCain to visit Lanka

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Colombo, September 23, 2022: United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.

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President urges SL diaspora in the UK to invest in their motherland

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By Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week urged the Sri Lanka diaspora in the United Kingdom to invest in Sri Lanka projects to revive the economy. Addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, he said that he is proud that the British Sri Lankan community for making a mark in every field of the UK economy such as trading, services, business, and requested them to come together as Sri Lankans and people of Sri Lankan origin to help build the motherland.

The President added that Sri Lanka is looking at transforming its economy to a competitive export-oriented one to meet the current challenges and build social systems and modernize the education system.

He remarked on the special affection Queen Elizabeth II had towards Sri Lanka as the Head of the Commonwealth and the longest serving Head of State of Ceylon for 20 years prior to the nation becoming a Republic and stated that her passing is the end of an era.

The president, first lady and party arrived in London on Sept. 17 via Dubai by an Emirates flight to attend the State Funeral Service of Queen Elizabeth II.They were received at the Heathrow airport by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, London where they stayed.

On Sunday (Sept. 18), the President accompanied by the First Lady and High Commissioner attended the Lying-in-State of the late Queen at the Palace of Westminster which was followed by a Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.The President and the First Lady attended the State Funeral Service held at the Westminster Abbey on Monday (Sept. 19).  On the same day, he signed the Book of Condolence. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly MP hosted a reception for the visiting world leaders at Church House.

On 20th September, the President met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC. They discussed Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat and matters of mutual interest. He also visited the London Buddhist Vihara during which Ven Dr Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the Vihara and the Chief Sanga Nayaka of Great Britain invoked blessings on the President and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Families countrywide facing malnutrition, says Cardinal

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By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has warned that the prevailing economic crisis and increasing unemployment and food prices are accelerating malnutrition among hundred thousands of families countrywide.

Addressing a ceremony at the annual get-together of the Archdiocesan Family Apostolate Service held at St Peter’s College Auditorium in Colombo, the Archbishop said that it was a shame that responsible local officials keep denying the prevailing status quo when world humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF continue to warn of the increasing malnutrition levels among children.

Many international organizations have pointed out that malnutrition in Sri Lanka was increasing at an alarming rate but the authorities responsible are hiding the truth and go to the extent of rejecting such reports.

“If they reject the reports of international organizations, then it is their paramount duty of conduct proper surveys to understand the situation. It is no secret that large numbers of Lankan families are starving due to the high prices of food. According to the UNICEF more than six million people consume only a single meal a day. It is so unfortunate that Health Ministry officials who spend their times in the air conditioned rooms in Colombo do not know the plight of the poor in rural areas,” the Cardinal said.He said that 225 MPs were concerned only of their well-being while continuing to ignore the actual and pressing issues of people.

“This country is in dire situation today mainly due to inefficient and corrupt political leaders. It is sad that these so-called people’s representatives are not concerned of the situation of people who are experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis this country has ever faced,” the Cardinal said.

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