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Rs. 78 mn. loss over Met. Dept.’s failed radar project

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The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) recently disclosed that the Government has incurred a loss of Rs 78 million due to a failed project for the construction of a radar system provided by the World Meteorological Organization in Gongala area.

These facts came to light when the Department of Meteorology came before the Committee on Public Accounts held on 10.08.2023 under the Chairmanship of the State Minister – Lasantha Alagiyawanna to examine the auditor general’s report and current performance for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021.

In this project implemented in 2008, it was revealed that approximately 402 million rupees have been spent for this radar system and 323 million rupees have been given by the World Meteorological Organization. It was also disclosed that before bringing this project to Sri Lanka, an officer of the Department of Meteorology inspected this machine and informed them not to bring it to Sri Lanka as it was not in working condition. Officials of the Auditor General’s Department stated that many years have passed for the preparation of a road to the relevant place and the equipment has become obsolete. They then pointed out that due to the collapse of the crane carrying this and the road, some equipment has been destroyed and the rest of the equipment is missing. It was disclosed that an investigation by the Police and an investigation by the Bribery and Corruption Commission is underway. Therefore, the Committee emphasized the need for effective projects to be implemented quickly by the Department of Meteorology to provide accurate forecasts with modern technology instead of such projects which have incurred huge losses and have completely failed.

Inquiries were made regarding the existing reports about the current drought situation not being accurately predicted.

The Director General said that he was informed about this during the Monsoon discussions held last April with the Irrigation Department, Mahaweli Authority and related government institutions and other regional countries. However, the Committee pointed out that the relevant institutions did not provide them with the relevant information, so until the situation is resolved through an act, a cabinet decision or a joint mechanism should be prepared with all the relevant institutions. It was also instructed to report to COPA in this regard within a month.

It was also inquired if there was data on the progress made in achieving the published predictions. But it was revealed that there is no such program and he advised to prepare a formal program quickly and report within a month considering the situation in other countries of the world.

While 453 rain gauges were installed, 73 of them were inactive. Furthermore, although 122 automatic rain gauges were installed in 2018, special attention was paid to the fact that 70 are currently not working due to issues such as batteries not working. The department was instructed to present a program within a month to install these rain gauges properly and get the data immediately.

It was also revealed that audit committees have not been conducted as the department does not have an audit officer. The Chair of the Committee pointed out that the Department of Meteorology under the Ministry of Defense is one of the institutions that scored the lowest in the COPA committee program for measuring the efficiency of government institutions and expressed his strong displeasure with the poor administration of the institution. Accordingly, the Chair of the committee advised the secretary of the Ministry of Defense to intervene more in the ministry to solve the administrative problems quickly.

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French ambassador in SL, passes away

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The French Ambassador for Sri Lanka and Maldives Jean-François Pactet has passed away today (May 26).

According to the police, the ambassador has passed away at his official residence.

He was 53 years old.He has served as the Ambassador in Sri Lanka since October 2022.

A career diplomat, Pactet was previously Deputy Director of Culture and Education in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

From 2016 to 2019, Jean-François Pactet was in charge of the Ministry’s policy regarding global health, gender equality and education, and supervised French contributions to multilateral funds in these areas.

Prior to this, Jean-François Pactet has been posted at the French Embassy to the United States in Washington (2012-2016) and at the French Permanent Representation to NATO in Brussels. 

He was also a Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Veteran singer and musician Ananda Perera passes away

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Renowned singer and musician Ananda Perera has passed away at the age of 67.

Family sources confirmed that he died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Kandy.

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Tea represents harmony, social inclusivity, says China – SL reps. to UN (Video)

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Tea as a popular drink shared by multiple countries around the world stands for harmony, diversity and social inclusivity, said representatives both of China and Sri Lanka to the United Nations at a ceremony held in the United Nations headquarter in New York on Tuesday.

The event themed “Tea for Harmony” was held to celebrate the International Tea Day, which also fell on Tuesday with a nod to China’s centuries-old tea traditions. It is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of China to the UN and China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

“For thousands of years, tea has traveled along the Silk Road and the maritime routes to reach people around the world. Tea cultures from various countries, while sharing the same roots, have deeply integrated with their own customs and traditions. Just like this year’s theme ‘Tea for Harmony’ suggests, tea has indeed played an important role in promoting harmony within diversity,” said Dai Bing, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.

In his opening speech, Mohan Peiris, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to UN, noted that tea functions as a means to bring people together for a casual chat, and thus helps to encourage social interaction and stands for inclusivity.

“Drinking tea promotes social interaction. Sharing tea provides an opportunity for individuals to come together. And that’s something we do here in the delegates lounge. It facilitates conversation. Let’s have a chat over a cup of tea. It encourages inclusivity. Community drinking can bring people together. Well, it also fosters equal footing. The very act of sharing a cup of tea is typically egalitarian. It’s big,” he said.

Products from Xinyang, a well-known tea-producing region in central China’s Henan Province, were highlighted at the event, with tea masters making drink with Xinyang Maojian, a widely welcomed local green tea at the scene.

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