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Indian External Affairs Minister meets President ; 3 bilateral agreements inked

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India’s Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (11) at the Presidential Secretariat.

Extensive discussions were held to further strengthen Indo-Sri Lankan relations, resulting in the signing of three new bilateral agreements aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two countries.

Furthermore, the inauguration of the third phase of the housing project, supported by Indian loan assistance, was conducted during the meeting. While an initial allocation of Rs. 1.026 million had been allocated per unit for the fourth phase, it was necessary to revise the budget to Rs. 2.8 million per unit due to increased housing unit costs.

To uplift the lives of Sri Lankan citizens, the Government of India has committed to providing additional funds for the speedy completion of nine development projects in the country, which are currently supported by the Government of India. The relevant agreement for this initiative was also signed today.

These projects include the modernization of 27 schools in the Northern Province, housing initiatives in Mannar and Anuradhapura, improvements to the Hatton Thondaman Vocational Training Centre and Pussellawa Saraswati Central College, the construction of a multi-ethnic trilingual school in Polonnaruwa, the establishment of 2889 rainwater harvesting projects in the Jaffna area, the promotion of vegetable cultivation in the Dambulla area and the construction of greenhouse facilities with a capacity of 5000 metric tons for fruit preservation. Additionally, a new surgical unit for the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital will be promptly built as part of these efforts.

An agreement concerning a joint project involving the Indian National Dairy Development Board, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation of India (Amul), and the Cargills Group of Sri Lanka was signed with the aim of elevating Sri Lanka’s local dairy industry. This agreement emerged as a result of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s official visit to India and allocation of funding for the modernization of Sri Lanka’s livestock sector.

The primary objective of this new project is to increase milk production by 53% within the first five years and achieve self-sufficiency in milk production for Sri Lanka within 15 years. As part of this endeavour, it is anticipated that approximately 200,000 local farmers will be empowered through the provision of facilities such as high-quality medicines, animal nutrition and technical support.

Furthermore, this initiative encompasses digitalization of the livestock sector, investments in new technologies to enhance the quality of milk-related by-products and ensuring access to milk-related products at affordable prices.

In addition to this significant agreement, a special commemorative logo was unveiled today to celebrate the 75 years of Indo-Sri Lankan relations.

Present at the signing ceremony were Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Mr. Gopal Baglay, Union Secretaries of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Puneeth Agrawal and Mr. J. P. Singh, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Dr Satyanjal Pandey and Indian Ministry of External Affairs Deputy Secretary Mr. Raghu Puri.

From the Sri Lankan side, notable attendees included Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ali Sabri PC, Minister Jeevan Thondaman, State Minister Tenuka Widanagamage, Member of Parliament M. Rameswaran, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, Senior Advisor to the President on Economic Affairs Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, President’s Secretary Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Aruni Wijewardena, Director of Presidential International Affairs Mr. Dinuk Colombage and other dignitaries.

(PMD)

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Four national sports federations temporarily suspended

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A Gazette notification has been issued by the Minister of Sports, Harin Fernando, announcing the suspension of the Sri Lanka Cycling Federation, the Sri Lanka Rugby Federation, the Sri Lanka Automobile Federation, and the Sri Lanka Netball Federation, effective from Wednesday, May 29.

The Extraordinary Gazette also appoints Professor (Rear Admiral) Shemal Fernando, the Director General of the Department of Sports Development, as the competent authority for the limited purpose of organizing the elections of office bearers for these national sports governing bodies.

In a post on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter), Sports Minister Harin Fernando clarified that the government will not appoint any interim committees for any sport federation.

The Gazette notification states that the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs has temporarily suspended the registration of the aforementioned federations, exercising the powers vested in him under Sections 32 and 33 of the Sports Law, No. 25 of 1973, and its amendments.

Additionally, Professor (Rear Admiral) Shemal Fernando has been appointed as the competent authority effective from May 29, 2024.

His role includes managing administrative and other necessary activities for the federations, organizing and conducting relevant elections, and performing duties appropriately until the elections are completed.

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MoD clearance needed when ex-servicemen seek Russian visit visa – Sabry

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Sri Lanka ex-servicemen applying for visit visas to Russia will now have to get Defence Ministry clearance, Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry said.

Sabry met the Russian Ambassador in Colombo Levan S Dzhagaryan today (May 29).

On a X post, the minister said, “We addressed the urgent situation of Sri Lankans being deployed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and agreed on immediate steps to resolve these issues.”

“Russia will now require Sri Lanka Defence Ministry clearance for visit visas of ex-servicemen,” he said, adding that the upcoming visit to Russia will enable further discussions to find a solution to this matter.

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Japan announces skills new test in Building Cleaning

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The Embassy of Japan has announced that a new skills test in the field of Building Cleaning will be newly introduced in July 2024 in Sri Lanka for those seeking jobs in Japan as specified skilled workers. 

Together with the existing skills tests in Nursing Care, Food Service and Agriculture that have been in place since 2022 as well as recently added Construction, Airport Ground Handling and Accommodation Industry, skills tests will be available in seven fields in Sri Lanka with the addition of Building Cleaning.
Building Cleaning is the work to eliminate environmental pollutants in the buildings, such as offices, shopping centres and hotels to maintain the hygiene conditions of the interior of buildings such as the entrance hall, the passage, the toilet, the floor and the bed making work at hotels. House cleaning work is not included in building cleaning work.

The Embassy of Japan sincerely hopes that many talented and aspiring Sri Lankans will take advantage of this new opportunity to work in Japan in the Building Cleaning sector, which is estimated to welcome up to 37,000 foreign workers over a five-year period starting in 2024. The Embassy of Japan will continue to provide the necessary support and cooperation for Sri Lanka’s development, further deepening our long-standing friendship with Sri Lanka.

For more information on the skills test, please visit the following website of Japan Building Maintenance Association. It contains an Introduction video of Building Cleaning (available in Sinhala, English and Japanese), the textbook (available in Sinhala, English and Japanese) and a practical exam preparation video.

https://www.j-bma.or.jp/examination/94334

– The application period for the skills test will be from 5th June (6:30am) – 12th June (1:30pm) 2024 (Sri Lankan time).
– The skills test will take place from 16th – 18 July 2024 at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI).
– The examination fee is Rs. 5,000.
– The skills test details: A judgement test (paper test) and a practical test on building cleaning will be implemented. The paper test is an examination that uses photographs and illustrations. The practical test
consists of three tasks (Task 1: Routine cleaning of floor surfaces, Task 2: Routine cleaning of glass surfaces, and Task 3: Routine cleaning of western style large urinals).

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