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Cooking oil unfit for consumption released with Customs blessings!

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The PHIs of Ridigama have busted a large-scale smuggling in which expired cooking oil unfit for human consumption has been released to the market.

The 51,600 liters of canola oil stock used for cooking, which was allegedly brought from Germany, has been found at a warehouse in Ridigama and the stock has been released with the help of Customs officers.

The Public Health Inspectors raided the warehouse located at Annoorpura, Panagamuwa in Ridigama based on information received by the Ridigama Medical Officer of Health (MOH) office.

The oil stock was taken into custody along with a businessman named Iliyas Mohammed of No. 130 A, Annoorpura in Panagamuwa.

A total of 5,160 cans of ten-liter each were found in the warehouse.

The arrested businessman said the oil stock was supposed to be used for soap production.

Though the businessman had said that he had purchased three containers containing these oil cans from the port, he had failed to produce any document.

Investigators said that a ten-liter can was priced at Rs.9,999 and they have been labelled in a foreign country.

The oil cans had no expiry date and the businessman had no receipt to indicate that the goods were purchased.
 
Officials who conducted the raid said that an address ‘South Pacific Agency, Upper Bomiriya, Kaduwela’ was mentioned on the oil cans as the importer and distributor.

The Rambadagalla Court has given orders to seal the warehouse and send the samples to the government analyst.

When ‘Aruna’ made an inquiry in this regard, the port sources confirmed that several containers seized by the Customs were tendered and released on January 20.

The tender has been called under the number CDV/TS/2023/01.

The cans of canola oil weighing 47,265 kgs have been released for over Rs.15 million.

On December 19, 2022, the government food inspector has approved the use of this oil stock before February 2023.

The price of a liter of canola oil released from the port was Rs.294.18.

The port officials said if this ten-liter can, which was priced at nine hundred and ninety nine rupees per liter, generated a profit of seven thousand fifty rupees, the businessman may have earned an income of over Rs.36 million.

The officials pointed out that the smugglers had tried to release several rice containers on the same day when these containers were tendered with the help of corrupt officials in anticipation of high profits, but they were prevented by the intervention of the Ports Authority Chairman.

Source – Aruna

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Rs. 20 Bn loan lifeline for SMEs

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The government has taken measures to implement a Rs.20 billion credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector in Sri Lanka.  

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the proposal forwarded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies Minister to implement a credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department, Cabinet Spokesman, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said the proposed Rs.20 billion will be spent on the entire project which has two components.

“Out of this, Rs.15 billion will be used to strengthen existing and new enterprises and the remaining amount of Rs.five billion will be used to support enterprises under the non-performing loan category.

A significant number of small and medium scale entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing, import, export, tourism, apparel and various other commercial operations have found it very difficult to continue running their enterprises as a result of the economic downturn and the impact of external factors beyond their control.

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide working capital support for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector as a relief. The proposed programme is intended to provide credit facilities to existing micro, small and medium scale enterprises for further expansion and recovery of their businesses through licensed commercial banks and licensed specialised banks at concessional interest rates.

(dailynews.lk)

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Won’t be able to offer SriLankan to investors even for free – Minister

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Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday (26) spoke firmly on the national carrier – SriLankan Airlines, stating that the airline’s disruptive employees and tarnished reputation would deter potential buyers in the privatisation process.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, he said  “We cannot run an airline with disruptive employees. This is a critical moment for SriLankan Airlines. We cannot afford to entertain employees who fail to handle situations under pressure.”

“The deadline for the Expressions of Interest (EOIs) is set for 5 March and in the present scenario, according to the information I received some of the bidders want to withdraw. With the negative reputation plaguing the airline, we will not be in a position to offer it free-of-charge even,” the minister claimed.

However, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage’s views had contrasted starkly with that of Minister de Silva.

The discussion saw a disagreement regarding ground handling. Minister De Silva advocated for immediate privatization of the service, citing shortcomings. Chairman Pathirage, while acknowledging areas for improvement, argued that the lack of aircraft, not ground handling, was the primary issue. He blamed lengthy government procurement procedures for hindering fleet acquisition.

De Silva justified his push for privatization by citing the airline’s struggles and reports of potential bidders withdrawing their interest. While not inherently opposed to privatization, Pathirage emphasized the ongoing process and the lack of control the airline has in the decision.

Meanwhile, trade union representatives commended Pathirage for his leadership whilst blaming political interventions and its past management. 

“We all undoubtedly praise the Chairman for his leadership and unwavering commitment to operate this airline amidst all odds. Neither the employees nor the current management of the SriLankan Airlines are responsible for the cancellations and bad reputation, but the political intervention,” they stated.

They also slammed the former COPE Chairmen and MPs Dr. Harsha de Silva and Dr. Charitha Herath for disrupting the lease procedure of the airline when the aircraft were at a lower price. “They are responsible for all the operational delays the airline is facing at present,” they claimed.

(Excerpts : DailyFT)

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Australia’s United Petroleum enters SL market

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Australia’s United Petroleum has entered into an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to supply petroleum products to the Sri Lankan market.

According to United Petroleum Lanka, Australia’s United Petroleum entered into the relevant agreement with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Power and Energy on Feb 22.

Following the signing of the agreement, United Petroleum is assigned 150 existing fuel stations and also has the right to build 50 new fuel stations in Sri Lanka.

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