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With decision pending on MCC Compact, Ravinatha named Lanka’s US envoy

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Ex-navy Chief and former Colombo VC among 6 named for top posts

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has chosen former Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinha to head the Sri Lanka mission in the US.

Ariyasinha, a veteran career diplomat will replace another career officer Rodney Perera, who received the appointment in June 2019. Rodney is a son of late veteran UNPer Paul Perera.

Perera was appointed in place of Prasad Kariyawasam, nearly two years after the latter was brought back to Colombo as Secretary to the Foreign Ministry.

Ariyasinha, who had been Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva at the time the previous yahapalana administration co-sponsored an Accountability Resolution 30/1 in respect of the conflict and post-conflict period, will appear before the newly constituted Parliamentary High Post Committee (PHPC).

In the wake of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory at the November 2019 presidential election, the administration brought in one-time Navy Commander Admiral Jayanath Colombage as the Foreign Secretary. Colombage replaced Ariyasinha.

The PHPC headed by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena comprises 18 lawmakers, with the SLPP having a clear majority therein. The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) is represented by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Thalatha Atukorale and Rishad Bathiudden, leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC).

JVPer Vijitha Herath represents the National People’s Power in the PHPC.

A spokesperson for the SJB told The Island that Sri Lanka proposed to change the head of the mission at a time the country was under pressure to finalize the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact. The lawmaker pointed out that a four-member committee headed by Prof. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan appointed by the current dispensation strongly opposed the MCC Compact in its present form.

The US also wants consensus on Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in the wake of the previous government extending the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA). The then President Maithripala Sirisena authorized ACSA, first entered into in 2007 for a ten-year period by the Rajapaksa administration.

Office of the Secretary General of Parliament on Wednesday, Sept 9, announced Ariyasinha’s appointment coming before the PHPC soon. According to the statement, representations in respect of altogether six diplomatic postings could be made till September 23.

In addition to parliament clearinghouse’s posting to Washington, the Office of the Secretary General of Parliament announced nomination of former minister Asoka Milinda Moragoda (High Commissioner designate to India), former VC of the Colombo University Professor Kshanika Hiriburegama (Ambassador designate to France), one-time Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona (Ambassador designate to China), US-based real estate agent Vishramal Sanjiv Gunasekera (Ambassador to Japan) and recently retired Navy Commander Piyal de Silva (Ambassador to Afghanistan).

The Office of the Secretary General of Parliament announced the decision on Moragoda amidst continuing protests against the former minister’s appointment. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently declared that appointments made following careful consideration wouldn’t be changed under any circumstances.

 

 



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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