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New Bill to enable dollar income from ships crossing SL waters

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The Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security took into discussion matters contained in the National Hydrographic Bill, which gives the necessary legal authority to create “Electronic Navigation Charts so that Sri Lanka can earn an annual dollar income from ships sailing near the Sri Lankan waters.

It was taken into discussion when the said Committee met in Parliament recently under the chairmanship of Member of Parliament Dr. Sarath Weerasekera.

Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who was present at the Committee meeting held stated that since 1983, the right to receive dollars from ships traveling through Sri Lankan waters has not been used. Accordingly, the Minister of Justice further commented that Sri Lanka will get the necessary legal power through the passing of this Bill.

Furthermore, through the establishment of the National Hydrographic Office, the officials stated that the purpose of this Act is to register hydrographic surveyors and nautical cartographers and to make provisions for related matters.

The Navy stated that the Royal Navy of England has created 3 maps covering the South Seas. Accordingly, the officials further commented that only data has been provided from Sri Lanka for the creation of the maps. However, the Navy officials informed the Committee that the Sri Lankan government has the right to explore and obtain data and create maps for the relevant sea areas through this Act. Based on this updated data, related maps can also be updated and dollars can be generated, the officials further said.

Officials of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) who addressed the Committee said that some of the functions carried out by their Agency will be drifted away by this Bill. However, the Committee Chair pointed out that this Bill is currently scheduled to be debated in the Parliament and pointed out that during the Committee stage, the NARA institution will be given the opportunity to add amendments to it through the relevant Minister.

State Minister of Fisheries, – Piyal Nishantha on approval of the Committee Chair and Committee Members – Rauff Hakeem, Prof. Channa Jayasumana, Major Sudarshana Denipitiya, Member of Parliament – Buddhika Pathirana, General Kamal Gunaratne, Secretary to the Ministry of Defense, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Commander of the Navy and the heads of related Ministries and institutions were present at this Committee meeting held.

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IMF approves Sri Lanka program review

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The International Monetary Fund has approved a review of Sri Lanka’s program, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry has said.

On a X post, he has said, “This achievement is a testament to our dedication to driving forward economic reforms and securing a prosperous future for all Sri Lankans.”

According to the State Minister of Finance – Shehan Semasinghe, “a favorable outcome from the review is expected to unlock the 3rd tranche of approximately USD 330 million”.

The IMF had earlier said Sri Lanka had made “sufficient progress” on debt restructuring for a review on June 12, despite final deals pending with bilateral creditors and private creditors.

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Another probe related to Easter Sunday attacks

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the actions taken by the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Chief of National Intelligence (CNI), and other relevant authorities concerning prior intelligence received about the bomb attacks on April 21, 2019. This decision follows the findings of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry, dated January 31, 2021, which highlighted that Indian Intelligence agencies and other sources had provided advance warnings about the impending attacks.

The Committee of Inquiry will be chaired by Ms. A.N.J. De Alwis, Retired Judge of the High Court. Other esteemed members of the committee include SLAS special grade Officer Ms. K.N.K. Somaratne and Senior Lawyer Mr. W.M.A.N. Nishane, AAL. 

The committee’s mandate includes examining whether actions or measures were taken by the SIS, CNI, and other relevant authorities based on the prior information or intelligence on an impending attack on April 21, 2019 by Indian intelligence agencies and any other sources and if so, adequacy of the actions and measure taken by the SIS, CNI and other relevant authorities. 

Additionally, the committee will investigate the circumstances surrounding the Directorate of Military Intelligence’s (DMI) and Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) initial belief that the Vavunathivu killing of two police officers on November 30, 2018, was connected to the LTTE. This belief was held for four months before suspects with alleged links to the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) were identified.

A compact disk containing the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Bomb Attacks of April 21, 2019, has been provided to the committee. The President has authorized the committee to inquire relevant officials and examine pertinent documents to thoroughly investigate these matters.

Ms. Sarathanjali Manoharan, Senior Assistant Secretary to the President, will serve as the Secretary to the Committee of Inquiry. The committee is expected to submit its report, including findings and recommendations, to the President by September 15, 2024.

(President’s Media Division)

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New, free train ride for pilgrims visiting Mihintale (Video)

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Cabinet Spokesman Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena has said that a new short train ride between Anuradhapura and Mihintale will be arranged for pilgrims during the Poson season.

He said this at the Cabinet briefing held today (June 12) at the Government Information Department.

Since work on the Northern railway line have been delayed, 400 special buses will be deployed to Anuradhapura instead during the Poson season, he added.

Noting that a special railway line from Anuradhapura to Mihintale has been reconstructed,  the minister said that Sri Lanka Railways has been directed to arrange special, free train rides on this line for pilgrims.

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