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Port City to be ‘Colombo Financial Zone’: President



President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a new legislation has been drafted to transform the Port City as the Colombo Financial Zone.

President Wickremesinghe said this in his address at the 2023 Commercial Mediation Symposium at Colombo’s Hilton Hotel, the President’s Media Division said.

The event was organized by International Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre (IADRC).

The President underscored the significance of international trade agreements and the need for Sri Lanka to become a center for alternate dispute resolution.

He urged legal professionals to look beyond Sri Lanka’s borders and specialize in emerging fields like AI, Blockchain and green energy to secure the nation’s competitive future.

“Now we want Sri Lanka to be a center. One is the new legislation which will replace the port city to make it a Colombo financial zone with jurisdiction for offshore activity. The new law has been drafted. And we will see the light of day before the end of the year.”

“Secondly, the BOI will be replaced with the Economic Commission. Which is also looking at the resolution of disputes. We will be entering a number of free trade agreements. We have got one with Singapore. We are about to finalize one with Thailand. We are discussing with India to upgrade the agreement. Talking with Bangladesh. And more than that, we are moving to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). That’s the largest trading community in the world. So this means that alternate dispute resolutions are going to be important.”

In a final call to action, he offered government funding to support learning and expertise development in these new areas, inviting all stakeholders to join in the journey towards a more efficient and forward-looking legal landscape in Sri Lanka.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized that Sri Lanka must position itself as the central player in the region. When examining Singapore as a benchmark, Sri Lanka should strive to match or surpass Singapore in various aspects, except for cost, where it should maintain a competitive advantage.

This approach is crucial because there exists a noticeable void in this region, which Sri Lanka can effectively fill if it acts swiftly.

“This is the key lesson to be derived. Furthermore, it is essential for all lawyers and individuals involved in legal services to broaden their perspectives and explore opportunities beyond their current scope,” the President added.

Meanwhile, he acknowledged the long-standing reliance on trial courts and stressed the importance of embracing alternate dispute resolution methods.

Highlighting the government’s commitment, he mentioned the establishment of the Alternate Dispute Resolution Center in 2018 and expressed support for its continued growth.

President Wickremesinghe urged the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Investments to collaborate on supporting these initiatives.

“Alternate dispute resolution, arbitration, both have a long way to travel in Sri Lanka and that’s our problem. We have to first find ways of how we can adjust to this process. You need a change of culture. Change of culture where disputes can be resolved in the shortest possible time. Which means we are in a way wedded to the old concept of the trial court? Whether we have a domestic inquiry, we all want to follow the same procedure. I don’t know why. But nevertheless, this is one of the challenges that we have to face.”

He emphasized that success in dispute resolution was crucial for Sri Lanka’s aspirations to be an outward-looking economy.

The event was attended by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, State Minister Anuradha Jayarathne, Judges of the Supreme Court, Attorney General, Former Attorney Generals, Retired Judges of the Supreme Court, Resident Representative of UNDP Azusa Kubota, Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, IADRC Chairman Dr. K. Kanag-Isvaran, Director & Secretary General of IADRC Dhara Wijayatilake, legal professionals and the representatives of reputed companies in Sri Lanka.


Materials worth Rs. 12 mn. from consumer goods warehouse, misplaced




The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) met recently under the chairmanship of the State Minister Hon. Lasantha Alagiyawanna and the Auditor General’s reports for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 and the current performance of the Ministry of Defence were discussed.

Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General (retired) Kamal Gunaratne and a group of officers participated in this meeting.

Expedite amendment of Firearms Act

COPA had directed the officials of the Ministry of Defence to expedite the amendment of the Firearms (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1996 and the Explosives (Amendment) Act, which have been delayed for many years.
Although the committee had recommended to amend the Firearms (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1996 and the Explosives (Amendment) Act since 2012, it was revealed that it has been delayed due to various reasons. Officials also said that so far about 37,000 firearms have been licensed in the country. The officials mentioned that the amendment of the Act is in the final stage and the draft bill will be completed soon. The committee emphasized the need to speed up the process as the license fees should be revised and the state revenue will be lost due to this delay. Accordingly, it was also advised to submit a report on the progress.

Although it was mentioned in the constitution that the revenues generated by the services provided to external parties by the armed forces should be credited to the consolidated fund, attention was also drawn to the fact that it was not implemented properly. Although it was previously informed to prepare a proper system related to it and report to the committee, the committee asked about the fact that it has not yet been prepared. The Auditor General’s Department pointed out that since most of the income goes to the welfare associations, a proper system should be set up. Although the services are being successfully carried out, the committee also advised to prepare a clear system in this regard. He also instructed the ministry officials to review this process extensively.

Procurement of food itemsSpecial attention was also paid to the procurement of food items for the three-armed forces. It was revealed at the committee that although earlier recommendations had been given to set up an information management system connecting all the institutions involved in the food items procurement process for the three-armed forces, it is being implemented only in the Navy and the Air Force. Accordingly, the officers were ordered to expedite the preparation of the system for the Army and to submit a report on this. Also, it was emphasized in the committee that parties including the soldiers should receive a meal commensurate with the money spent by the government.

There was also a discussion regarding hiring a housing complex with 24 house units on a lease agreement for 72 million rupees, in order to provide accommodation for the 31 officers participating in the course of the National Defence Academy. Instead of getting houses on such a rent, the Committee Chair advised to pay attention to the possibility of providing accommodation facilities by constructing a new building. The Defence Secretary pointed out that since the construction has been stopped due to the current economic situation, measures will be taken in the future.

Materials worth Rs. 12 mn. misplaced!Attention was also drawn to the misplacement of materials worth 12 million rupees in the consumer goods warehouse. The officials said that all those persons related to this have been suspended and steps have been taken to collect the related money from the storekeeper. It was discussed why this incident was not revealed by the internal audit until it was uncovered by the audit of the Auditor General’s Department.

Apart from this, attention was also paid to the strategic communication network project, procurement process, role of Disaster Management Centre (DMC) etc.

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Major drug bust at Central Mail Exchange




The Sri Lanka Customs at the Central Mail Exchange (CME) seized multiple consignments containing psychedelic drugs worth over Rs. 43 million, sent from European countries addressed to bogus recipients in Sri Lanka.

Customs Narcotics Control Unit officials following a special surveillance inside the CME detected 25 parcels sent from Germany and the United Kingdom during the weekend and found a variety of narcotics.

The parcels contained the Cannabis variety of ‘Kush’ weighing 1.74 Kgs, Methamphetamine drug contained 2,193 tablets of Ecstasy and 29 grams of Amphetamine drug varieties.

Customs Spokesman Senior Director Seevali Arukgoda said the parcels had been addressed to recipients in Colombo, Battaramulla, Maharagama, Boralesgamuwa, Panadura, Moratuwa and Kandy but all those were found to be fake addresses.

The Customs officials with the CME’s Postal Department officials carried out the inquiries and the contraband was to be handed over to the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB).


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First digitized National Birth Certificate in SL, issued




The first digitized National Birth Certificate with a barcode was issued today (Nov. 05).

The launch event was held at the Kalutara District Secretariat under the patronage of State Minister of Home Affairs –  Ashoka Priyantha.

The state minister notes that measures are already underway to broaden this programme to other districts.

He added that the number given in this National Birth Certificate will be converted into the National Identity Card number as per international standards.

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