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Chinese cruise ships to visit SL after travel restrictions are relaxed

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The Sri Lanka Embassy in Beijing, with a view to attracting more Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka, is also actively exploring the possibility of Chinese cruise ships and yachts visiting Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador, Dr. Palitha Kohona had a very successful online meeting with the Vice President of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA) Zheng Weihang, on 23 November 2022.

Vice President Zheng said that Sri Lanka will be promoted as a new market for Chinese cruise ships. On 15 November, he had attended a conference of Chinese cruise ship operators, where he formally proposed that Sri Lanka be designated as a destination for cruise ships after the travel restrictions are relaxed. He had proposed creating four/five Sri Lankan cruise itineraries. Ships will dock in Sri Lankas’ ports for a day and give the passengers the option of taking tours in the region close to the port thus engaging land operators as well. He specified that the CCYIA will work with the Embassy to promote Sri Lanka at cruise-related conferences.

Ambassador Dr. Kohona responded that the Embassy will also assist with these goals actively. Sri Lanka has three well-established ports for cruise ships: Colombo, Galle, and Trincomalee. He stated that there were many cruise visitors from Europe before the pandemic, and recently welcomed the Cruise ship VIKING MARS with 900 tourists on board. He highlighted that other European cruise ships are scheduled to call at Sri Lanka ports in the coming weeks. The Ambassador suggested that tourists could experience not only the coastal cities but also the Buddhist sites of the island, like the Temple of the sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, or the lush green forests, home to the biggest concentrations of wild elephants and leopards in Asia.

Vice President Zheng added that CCYIA plans to organize exhibitions of Sri Lankan products in Shanghai (Nov 2023), Shenzhen (Nov 2023), and Haikou (Apr 2023) and the association will also organize exhibitions and sales outlets on Chinese cruise ships to promote Sri Lankan gems, tea, artifacts and other products.

Ambassador Dr. Kohona said that the Embassy successfully participated in the last CIIE, with two National Pavilions (Food and Beverages, Gem and Jewelry). He opined that a collaboration with CCYIA will benefit both Sri Lanka and the cruise industry. The Ambassador extended an invitation to Vice President Zheng and the team of CCYIA to participate in the upcoming Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Event which is to take place in mid-December at the Embassy.

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SL to stop sending women overseas as housemaids

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The Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara has urged the management of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment and the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies to submit a set of proposals to completely stop sending Sri Lankan women overseas to work as housemaids.

He has said this yesterday (Feb. 20).

The Minister has emphasized the importance of halting the usual practice of sending women for overseas employment as domestic workers and sending them for foreign jobs in high paying skilled categories instead.

The Minister has said that the proposals should include views and suggestions of all stakeholders in the sector.

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Special commodity levy on several items, upped

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A government notification has been issued, increasing the special commodity levy imposed on several items including black grams, green grams and cowpeas.

As such, the special commodity levy on black grams (skinned, either split or not) has been increased to Rs. 300 per kilogram. 

Meanwhile, the tax on green grams, cowpeas, Kurakkan (seeds), Kurakkan (other), millet (seeds) and millet (other) has been raised from Rs. 70 to Rs. 300.

In addition, a special commodity levy of Rs. 25 is in place on maize.

The communiqué, issued by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance Minister, says the order is valid from February 20, 2024 through December 31, 2024.

It also notes that importation of maize, black grams, green grams, and Kurakkan is allowed on the recommendation of the Agriculture Ministry.

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Notice issued to Asiri Medical Hospital Directors

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The Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court has issued a notice to the Director Board of Asiri Hospitals, ordering them to appear before open courts today (Feb. 21).

This is with regard to a case where the hospital had previously pleaded guilty to selling 11 drugs beyond the MRP set as per the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Act.

Notice has been issued to all 11 respondents in the case which includes the group’s directors – Vishal Bali, Ashoka Kariyawasam Pathirage, Ankur Nand Thadani, Karunamuni Manjula Prasanna Karunaratne, Sudarshan Ahangama, Gardiyar Lokuge Harris Premaratne, Sivakumar Sellaiya, Haresh Kumar Kaimal and Ajith Karunaratne as well as Assistant Billing Manager – B.D. Sadathisaru.

The Maligakanda Magistrate – Ms. Lochani Abeywickrama had issued notice to the respondents, rejecting the objection of the defense lawyers.

When this case had been called before the Acting Magistrate on Jan. 17th, neither the aggrieved party nor the NMRA, which was the plaintiff in this case had been present while the defendant had failed to inform of their motion before the scheduled date.

Accordingly, the Acting Magistrate had not received the opportunity to listen to both parties on the relevant date.

Noting all this, Justice Abeywickrama had said that therefore the verdict by the Acting Magistrate is legally flawed and the court is of the opinion that the case cannot be considered as closed since the defendants of this case are yet to appear before court.

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