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USAID signs agreements with 8 businesses to promote commercial mediation

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Eight Sri Lankan business conglomerates have signed agreements to pursue commercial mediation to settle disputes as opposed to always using litigation, a move that will help make the Sri Lankan judicial system more efficient and effective by reducing case backlogs.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) assisted with development of a memorandum of understanding the eight companies individually signed on Tuesday, July 18, with USAID’s Effective and Efficient Justice (EEJ) activity. The agreements enable the companies to receive commercial mediation training, exposure to international-standard mediation and commercial mediation services and encourages the companies to incorporate a mediation clause into their corporate contracts.

Commercial mediation is a viable alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism that also will help promote investments and commercial development in Sri Lanka.

Nations Trust Bank PLC, Tudawe Brothers (Pvt) Ltd., AKK Engineering, Nawaloka Constructions, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company, Maga Engineering (Pvt) Ltd., Ranasinha Constructions, and MAC Holdings signed their agreements at a ceremony held at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo.

The partnerships are part of the commercial mediation pilot program launched by USAID under its EEJ activity. The activity provides training in commercial mediation and other ADR methods for these companies through workshops facilitated by international mediation experts. To improve ADR services in Sri Lanka, the project also trains ADR centers in mediation center management and administration.

“By helping adopt international best practices in case management and court management, and also by improving legal education and promoting and facilitating the use of ADR mechanisms, we hope to see reduced case delays and court backlogs, and promote the principles of people-centered justice,” said Ali Ezzatyar, USAID Acting Mission Director. “We believe that a strong justice system not only ensures the rule of law, but provides easy access.”

Since 2021, USAID’s Efficient and Effective Justice activity has been helping to equip the justice sector with international best practices, systems, and tools.

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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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4 SriLankan Airlines flights experience delays

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This morning, four SriLankan Airlines flights experienced delays as ground staff refrained from performing some of their duties, according to reports.

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