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No retirement parties for public-sector officials

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The Treasury has banned the conduct of parties and functions at state expenses to mark the retirement of public sector officials.

The move came after reports that some of the senior public sector employees including secretaries and heads of state-owned enterprises were planning to have functions, some of them at five-star hotels to mark their retirement at state expenses. 

Some of the functions are being organised in halls or workplaces with catering services providing the food. Arrangements also have been made to provide them with gift vouchers and expensive gifts such as television sets and electrical equipment using state money, a senior Treasury official said.

Some 18,000 public-sector employees are set to retire by the end of the year due to a government decision to revise the retirement age of public-sector employees to 60 years from 65 years.

Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena issued a circular on Friday, spelling out guidelines restricting the use of state money for opening ceremonies, functions for officials assuming duties, get-togethers and similar events.

The circular has been issued to ministry secretaries, chief secretaries of provincial councils, heads of departments, district secretaries, heads of state-owned enterprises and heads of state-run banks.

They have been advised to ensure that funds are not misused as they are responsible for the funds of the respective institutions.

The circular has noted that despite previous circulars regarding the suspension of the use of state money for non-important events, there were instances that the circulars were being violated.

“The restrictions have been issued in view of the current financial situation and unnecessary expenses would be an additional burden on the Treasury,” the official said.

source – sundaytimes.lk

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Apple is the world’s first $1 trillion brand: Kantar

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Kantar BrandZ’s Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2024 has named Apple as the world’s first trillion-dollar brand, holding onto pole position for the third consecutive year. 

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon join Apple atop the rankings, with McDonald’s rounding up the top 5.

Demonstrating how effective AI has become for driving brand value, NVIDIA has lept 18 places to crack the top 10 for the first time, holding sixth position with a 178% year-on-year brand value increase. 

Facebook rejoined the Top 10 after a one-year absence, while Oracle joined the Top 10 for the first time. 

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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University applications open tomorrow 

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced that online applications for university admissions for the academic year 2023/2024 will open tomorrow (14 June).

Applications will be available from 6 am tomorrow at www.ugc.ac.lk
The application deadline is 5 July 2024. 

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