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Farmers to be provided a 50kg bag of Urea at Rs.10,000

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The Ministry of Agriculture has received the first stock of 13,000 tons of Urea fertilizer today (28) under the World Bank concessional emergency loan of 110 million US dollars and accordingly, the government has decided to provide a 50 kg bag of urea fertilizer to paddy farmers at Rs.10,000.

This step was taken to protect household food security, farming and rural incomes based on the demands made during several discussions with the intervention of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

This World Bank support complements the support of other development partners such as the Asian Development Bank and the United States Agency for International Development.

Sri Lanka requires approximately 150,000 tonnes of urea fertilizer for paddy cultivation during the Maha season. Mr. Rohana Pushpakumara, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Mr. Suren Batagoda, President’s Senior Adviser on Food Security, confirmed that it is possible to provide this requirement completely.

The fertilizer will be distributed directly to the paddy farmers through Agrarian Service Centres. Paddy farmers who grow paddy up to a minimum of 2 hectares will be able to purchase a fixed number of bags of fertilizer depending on the area they have prepared for paddy.

The maximum amount of fertilizer each farmer can purchase is determined based on the recommendations of the Department of Agriculture, with variations depending on the agro ecological zone. In addition, 12,000 metric tons of urea is to be provided for 60,000 hectares of maize farmers, and the price of a 50 kg bag is set at Rs.15,000.

Currently, the war in Ukraine and the world’s geopolitical conditions present a very challenging market situation in terms of the production and distribution of fertilizer.

Amid rising market prices, the Ministry of Agriculture has signed an agreement to supply 12,500 metric tons, 50,000 metric tons and 45,000 metric tons of urea under three phases.

The agreement to procure another 25,000 metric tons of urea is to be signed shortly.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 21,000 metric tons of urea have already been distributed to the farmers under the Indian Concessional Loan facility.

With the support of the World Bank, the Ministry of Agriculture has taken steps to deploy a Geo-Enabled Monitoring System (GEMS) to monitor the distribution of fertilizer from ports to agrarian service centres and from agrarian service centres to farmers. The system is also used for environmental and social risk management, grievance redress and impact.

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Presidential poll will be held first as scheduled: President affirms

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe affirmed that the Presidential election will be held as scheduled with the General Elections anticipated to be held early next year, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

The President gave this assurance during a meeting with the representatives of the United Republic Front headed by by its leader Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka at Sirikotha today.

The United Republic Front presented a proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning (24), at ‘Srikotha’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo.

After engaging in discussions with the President, the leader of the United Republic Front, Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, along with his delegation, presented this proposal to the President.

Speaking at the event, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. 

Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda on behalf of the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by MP Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debts.

United National Party Deputy Leader and President’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change, Ruwan Wijewardena, along with Secretary General of the United National Party Palitha Range Bandara were also in attendance at the event. 

Representing the United Republic Front were Karu Paranavithana, Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe and Attorney-at-Law, Shiral Lakthilaka.

(dailymirror.lk)

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Dedicated SLBFE office to be established in Kegalle district

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In response to a joint request from the Kegalle Migrant Workers Committee and the Kegalle District political authority, Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara has assured the establishment of a dedicated Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) office in Kegalle District.

The request was presented during the Jayagamu Sri Lanka program organized by the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment in Kegalle. 

The Committee emphasized the need for an SLBFE office in the district, which has the highest number of migrant workers in Sabaragamuwa Province.

Commending the Minister for his prompt action in establishing a new SLBFE office in Nuwara Eliya District following a similar request, the Committee expressed confidence in his swift response to their current appeal. 

Minister Nanayakkara pledged immediate steps to open an SLBFE office in Kegalle and instructed officials from the Ministry and SLBFE to take the necessary actions for its swift establishment. 

This move aims to enhance support and services for migrant workers in the district.

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Parliamentary committee demands CBSL report on salary hike amid criticism

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Amidst growing criticism over the substantial salary hike for Central Bank employees, a key parliamentary committee has taken action, demanding a report from the Central Bank regarding the legal basis for such an increment without parliamentary approval.

Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis, MP Gamini Waleboda, disclosed that the issue was raised during a committee meeting where Central Bank officials were present.

The Central Bank is now expected to submit a comprehensive report on the salary increment in the coming week. Following the submission, the Sectoral Oversight Committee intends to summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board for further examination.

MP Waleboda highlighted that the committee expressed strong criticism of the 70% salary increase for Central Bank employees, especially given the ongoing economic crisis, deeming it an immoral act.

“We instructed the Central Bank to provide a report by next week to justify the salary increase. They will need to provide the legal provisions that empower them to effect such an increment. We will summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board after receiving the report,” stated MP Waleboda.

Both government and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have voiced objections to the Central Bank’s decision to raise the salary scales by 70%, with Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella asserting that the Central Bank Act lacks provisions for such salary increases without parliamentary approval, deeming it illegal.

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