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8 Lankans among the released crew of the detained vessel by Nigerian High Court

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Eight Sri Lankans were among the crew released by the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Port Harcourt on April 28, 2023, along with the vessel M/T Heroic Idun, which was under detention over disputed oil smuggling allegations, since August 2022 in Nigeria and the Equatorial Guinea.

The out-of-court settlement reached between the Nigerian authorities and Idun Maritime Ltd., the vessel owner, enabled the High Court to end the detention of the vessel and dropping of the charges.

The vessel was detained along with 26 crew members, including 8 Sri Lankans. Sri Lanka will coordinate with the vessel owner regarding the repatriation of the Sri Lankan crew at the earliest, once the conditions are fulfilled by the shipping company, which will arrange the safe return of the crew.

As requested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, the High Commission in Nairobi, which is concurrently accredited to Nigeria, provided assistance and ensured the welfare and safety of the Sri Lankan crew until the legal process was over. Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Veluppillai Kananathan, met the Sri Lankan crew in Lagos, Nigeria, on November 13, 2022, and took necessary action to ensure their welfare and accommodation on board the vessel, instead of being sent to judicial custody. High Commissioner Kananathan ensured payment of salaries and other entitlements to the Sri Lankans in full. The High Commissioner was able to convince the shipping company to enhance the salaries of the Sri Lankan crew until their release.

The High Commission worked jointly with the Indian High Commission in Abuja, as the crew also comprised 16 Indian nationals.

BIZ

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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Bakery industry in crisis as bread and bun sales decline

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The All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association (ACBOA) has reported a significant drop of around 50% in the sales of cakes, bread, and buns in the local market. The association attributes this decline to the high manufacturing costs currently faced by the bakery industry.

According to the ACBOA, the costs of margarine and butter have surged to Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 3,000 per kilogram, respectively. Additionally, the association cited challenges in obtaining imported eggs from India, forcing them to purchase locally produced eggs at Rs. 60 each.

The chairman of the association expressed concerns about the impact these rising costs have on the bakery industry. In light of these challenges, the ACBOA is urging the government to provide concessions and work towards reducing the prices of essential ingredients before the upcoming Sinhala and Hindu New Year.

The association’s plea emphasizes the need for government support to help stabilize the bakery industry and ensure its sustainability amid the current economic challenges. Further updates on the situation and any government response will be monitored closely.

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Former Minister Ronnie de Mel no more

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Former Minister – Ronnie de Mel has passed away today (27) while being treated at a private hospital, reports say.

He was aged 99 years old.A former civil servant, he was the Minister of Finance from 1977 – 1988 under the United National Party government and holds the record for the largest number of budgets presented by a finance minister.

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