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Cabinet nod to provide rice to 2 mn. low-income families

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The Cabinet paper presented by President Ranil Wickremesinghe for the provision of  10 kg of rice per month for two million low income families, including Samurdhi beneficiaries for a period of two months, has been approved.

Accordingly, the government will purchase 61,600 metric tons of paddy to meet the requirement of 40,000 Metric Tons. This program is proposed to be implemented by District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries with the assistance of small and medium-scale paddy mills.

Under the District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries, rice will be distributed among the identified Samurdhi beneficiaries including low-income earners using the existing system and the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment will coordinate the District Secretaries and issue necessary instructions to them.

The total estimated cost is Rs.8,040 million, which includes Rs.6,200 million for paddy purchase, Rs.290 million for rice drying, Rs.590 million for milling charges, Rs.200 million for packing costs, Rs.160 million as additional payment to mill owners, and Rs.600 million for transportation.

However, the program’s estimated cost will vary depending on market fluctuations, and a budget provision of around Rs.10,000 million will be allocated to be used if the need arises.

According to data from the Departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Development, the land extent used for paddy cultivation in the 2022/2023 Maha season is approximately 732,201 hectares, and the expected yield is 3.3 million metric tons, while approximately 2.2 million metric tons of rice can be produced. Given the country’s monthly rice requirement of approximately 210,000 metric tons, it has been observed that the next Maha season may see a paddy surplus.  As a result, in order to protect both the paddy farmer and the consumer, the government must intervene in the purchase of a specific amount of paddy during the 2022/23 season.

Furthermore, due to the country’s extremely difficult economic situation, it is necessary to protect low-income groups of society from the negative effects of the crisis by assisting them in maintaining a good nutritional level. This group consists of approximately 2 million families, including Samurdhi beneficiaries. Although the government has provided additional funds for this group until April 2023, there is a need to care for these low-income earners for a further period. Because the paddy harvest in this season of 2022/2023 is expected to be higher than the previous Maha season, it is appropriate to use a portion of the paddy to provide additional support to identified low-income earners in order to maintain their standard of living. This program will benefit both farmers and low-income groups in the country.

The Treasury Secretary, officers of the Presidential Secretariat, the Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, the Secretary to the Ministry of Women, and Child Affairs and Social Empowerment, all District Secretaries, the Department of Samurdhi Development, and other related institutions will participate in the discussions on the method of implementing the proposed program. It is also expected to discuss and decide on the proposed rice distribution mechanism. In addition, the production cost of rice varieties to be purchased by farmers, a certified price for rice, paddy owner participation, transportation methods, and paddy milling charges will be discussed in depth.

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Victoria Nuland to visit Sri Lanka next week

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The United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland will undertake an official visit to Sri Lanka, next week.

During her visit to Sri Lanka, Under Secretary Nuland will mark the 75th anniversary of U.S.-Sri Lanka relations which coincides with Sri Lanka’s 75th anniversary of Independence.

The American Embassy in Sri Lanka says this in a statement.

Full statement is below.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland Travels to Colombo for Bilateral U.S.-Sri Lanka Talks

United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland arrived in Colombo with an interagency delegation for meetings with the Government of Sri Lanka, as well as business and civil society leaders.  Other senior members of the interagency delegation include Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Amanda Dory.

Under Secretary Nuland and Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. Gamini Lakshman Peiris will co-chair the 4th U.S.-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue which will address strengthening democratic institutions, human rights, sustainable economic development, mitigating climate change, deepening trade and investment ties, regional security, and educational cooperation.

Under Secretary Nuland, Ambassador Chung, and the U.S. delegation will meet with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to discuss the challenges posed by the global pandemic and ways to strengthen the U.S.-Sri Lankan partnership.

Under Secretary Nuland and the U.S. delegation will also meet with representatives of civil society and the

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Public urged to inform of unauthorized power outages

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General Public and electricity consumers requested to inform the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) in writing of any unauthorized power outages imposed by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

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Speaker endorses certificate on 2 Bills

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena endorsed the certificate recently (24) on the Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill which were debated and passed in Parliament recently.

Accordingly, these bills come into force as the Bureau of Rehabilitation Act No. 2 of 2023 and the Regulation of Election Expenditure Act No. 3 of 2023.

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