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For a country to develop economically, it must be open to the world – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that he is interested in exposing Sri Lanka to the world for economic development promptly as possible and to implement related legal reforms.

The President expressed these views while participating as the chief guest at the “Indian CEO Forum” held yesterday (13) at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe further commented:

Trade between Sri Lanka and India began 700 years ago. We have a remarkable history of Kerala merchants venturing to Sri Lanka and establishing businesses, ultimately integrating into our local system. This cultural amalgamation is evident in landmarks like the Pattini Devalaya in Navagamuwa, which reflects the influence of Kerala on Sri Lankan culture.

By the late 19th century, India accounted for only 1% of the world’s GDP. However, with the shift of economic power towards Asia, India has once again risen to prominence. Just as East Asia, including countries like Japan, Korea, and China, witnessed significant growth 75 years ago, it is now India’s turn, along with the Indian Ocean region. It’s important to note that India is not the sole nation rising in this context; the oil countries in West Asia are also on the ascent. Positioned strategically in the middle, Sri Lanka benefits from its proximity to India, coupled with a rich history, cultural heritage, and longstanding trading relationships spanning 2,500 years.

The world is evolving, and India is undergoing rapid development, particularly under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership. We, too, have experienced our own economic challenges, but we are a resilient nation, not destined for a Greek tragedy. As our economy recovers, we must prioritize economic restructuring. We initially made progress, but our pace has slowed. Once we complete the debt restructuring process, our focus will shift towards a comprehensive growth agenda. This entails a massive overhaul of our economy, legal framework, and systems, aligning our path with that of India.

Our goal is to establish a highly competitive economy that can stand on par with the rest of the world, encompassing green and digital sectors. India and Sri Lanka should embark on this transformative journey together, as we have for the past 2,500 years. Regardless of political dynamics, our cultural and economic ties have remained steadfast.

During my visit to India, my primary objective will be to explore connectivity, as High Commissioner Gopal Bagley aptly stated. We need to determine our long-term objectives and aspirations for the next 10 to 15 years. This marks the beginning of a new era, and we must forge ahead together.

It’s essential to remember that development doesn’t halt in India. In the next 50 years, it will extend to Africa and beyond. Therefore, the vision we discussed with Prime Minister Modi should guide our immediate actions. Ultimately, it’s crucial to recognize that the relationship between our countries is not solely driven by governments but by our people, who are moving forward at a rapid pace. We must adapt to the changing world, avoiding the pitfalls that come with government intransigence. Hence, we must foster a long-term relationship between our two nations, transcending individual leaders or political parties. Together, India and Sri Lanka possess immense potential, and it is our path forward.

Responding to a point addressed by Mr. T. S. Prakash, President of the Indian CEO Forum, on the circulation of Indian currency in Sri Lanka, President Wickremesinghe stated that the Sri Lankan government would want to see the Indian rupee used as much as the dollar. It makes no difference to us if India becomes a common currency. We’ll have to figure out how to go about it. So that is what we must do. We must become more open to the outside world. We must be competitive not just for Sri Lanka, but also for the rest of Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Australia. We must negotiate a more comprehensive trade agreement with the EU. If you want to, you can dominate the entire world. You will fail if you do not want to accomplish it.

Meanwhile The High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, Gopal Bagle said:

For a long time, Indians have conducted business in Sri Lanka. We were able to build a bridge of friendship between the two countries by launching this business. I feel it will have a positive impact on the people of Sri Lanka. When the people of this country were oppressed, India stood by them. During last year’s financial crisis, India and the Indian business community helped Sri Lanka’s economy recover. Sri Lanka is now recuperating from the financial crisis, it should be noted. The Government of India and the Indian business community both supported it in this regard. Even during the initial crisis, Indian businessmen began doing business in Sri Lanka to demonstrate to the rest of the world that the country’s financial status is stable. For the past 40 years, the leaders of this country have promoted Indian business people doing business in Sri Lanka. I’d want to point out to you that the present President, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, has also expressed his support. It is recalled here that the Indian government and business community will support Sri Lanka’s economic and physical development. It is an Indian promise.

A commemorative gift was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe by the Indian business community, and the President also took a group photo with the business community.

Madam Maithree Wickramasinghe, Minister of Ports and Maritime Affairs Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella, State Ministers Shehan Semasinghe, Dilum Amunugama, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake, Governor of the Eastern Province Senthil Thondaman Chief of Staff of the Tri-Forces General Shavendra Silva, Members of the Indian Business community and other dignitaries were present on this occasion.

(President’s Media Division)

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Anton’s TU life celebrated in Kusal’s ‘Humanist Without Borders’

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A book celebrating fifty years of Mr. Anton Marcus as a Trade Unionist will be held in Colombo next week.

Mr. Marcus is currently the Joint Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and Public Employees’ Union.

The book entitled ‘Humanist Without Borders’ alongside its Sinhala version, will be launched on June 17, at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo from 3.30pm.

The books are penned by political columnist and analyst – Kusal Perera.

Emeritus Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda and the former president and general secretary of New Zealand’s ‘First Union’, Mr. Robert Reed, will deliver guest lectures.
Speaking to ‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ in this regard, Mr. Kusal Perera said:

“My effort in profiling Anton in this book that traverses the fifty years of his trade union life is in the context of Sri Lankan politics. It’s because he himself is a political creature. Therefore my reading said, despite all rights, decency, dignity enshrined in the Constitution, in International law and for all that Anton fought for, it was no easy task in a world of the filthy rich whatever honourable labels one would tag them with.”

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Modi expected to visit SL?

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A high level delegation headed by the State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya is scheduled to visit Russia to arrange for the repatriation of Sri Lankan ex-military personnel deployed in Russia for military purposes and the related discussions will be held on June 26 and 27, said Minister of Foreign Affairs, President’s Counsel Ali Sabry.
The Minister also noted that a team of officials has been tasked with reviewing the Cabinet paper submitted to decide on Sri Lanka’s potential membership in the BRICS organization. Their report is anticipated later this month.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, President’s Counsel Ali Sabry, highlighted this during his participation in today’s (June 14) Press conference at the Presidential Media Centre, focusing on the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’.

The minister elaborated further, stating that they are also anticipating a visit from the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs – S. Jaishankar followed by a visit by the Indian PM himself.

“President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India to take part in the swearing-in ceremony of Sri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.  Consequently, we anticipate a visit from the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs to Sri Lanka later this month, with the Prime Minister of India expected to follow suit shortly,” Minister Sabry has said.

He further noted : 
Recently, I attended the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Russia, representing Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has submitted a Cabinet paper to explore the possibility of Sri Lanka joining the BRICS organization. A team comprising officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Treasury, Ministry of Finance, and Central Bank has been tasked with studying this proposal. The Cabinet is expected to receive their report later this month.

Furthermore, discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov focused on resolving the issue of Sri Lankan ex-military personnel serving in the Russian army. To address this, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, and a delegation including secretary to the Defence Ministry will visit Russia. These discussions are scheduled for June 26th and 27th. Concurrently, efforts have commenced to facilitate the safe return of Sri Lankans currently stranded in Myanmar.

(Excerpts : President’s Media Division) 

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Keheliya & 7 others further remanded

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Former Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and 07 others have been further remanded until June 28 by the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court over the import of substandard human Immunoglobulin vials.

This order was issued when the case was taken up before the Maligakanda Magistrate today (June 14).

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Department today informed the Supreme Court that it will not appear on behalf of former Health Minister Kehiliya Rambukwella and arrested NMRA officials over the case of purchasing medicines from two allegedly unregistered companies.

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