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Sak Surin won’t be returning to SL – Thai minister

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It is out of question that Sak Surin, now the most famous elephant in Thailand, will have to return to Sri Lanka, as he is now under the patronage of HM the King, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa on Wednesday.

Sak Surin, who arrived in Thailand on Sunday, quickly became familiar with his new environment, despite the fact that he had lived in Sri Lanka for 22 years.

Commenting on a call from a senior monk in Sri Lanka for Bangkok to return the elephant once he fully recovers, Varawut said the matter is not even open for discussion.

“Sak Surin is now under the patronage of the King, so that is out question,” Varawut said.

Sak Surin is currently in quarantine for 30 days, at the elephant conservation centre in Hang Chat district of Lampang province. The elephant seems to be in a good mood, shaking his head and enjoying his food.

After the quarantine period, vets will conduct more thorough checks on him. Initial examinations show that Sak Surin is suffering from a cataract in the right eye, its front left leg cannot bend, he has infected wounds on his hips and has problems with his nails and the soles of all four feet.

Varawut also mentioned two other Thai elephants donated to Sri Lanka, Sri Narong and Pratupa, which remain there. He said it seems that Sri Lanka is capable of taking care of them and they are apparently in good health, although one of has suffered minor injuries.

Some universities in Sri Lanka have contacted the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer to take care of the Thai elephants, claiming they have the capabilities to do so.

(thaipbsworld.com)

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Rs. 20 Bn loan lifeline for SMEs

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The government has taken measures to implement a Rs.20 billion credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector in Sri Lanka.  

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the proposal forwarded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies Minister to implement a credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department, Cabinet Spokesman, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said the proposed Rs.20 billion will be spent on the entire project which has two components.

“Out of this, Rs.15 billion will be used to strengthen existing and new enterprises and the remaining amount of Rs.five billion will be used to support enterprises under the non-performing loan category.

A significant number of small and medium scale entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing, import, export, tourism, apparel and various other commercial operations have found it very difficult to continue running their enterprises as a result of the economic downturn and the impact of external factors beyond their control.

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide working capital support for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector as a relief. The proposed programme is intended to provide credit facilities to existing micro, small and medium scale enterprises for further expansion and recovery of their businesses through licensed commercial banks and licensed specialised banks at concessional interest rates.

(dailynews.lk)

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Bakery industry in crisis as bread and bun sales decline

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The All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association (ACBOA) has reported a significant drop of around 50% in the sales of cakes, bread, and buns in the local market. The association attributes this decline to the high manufacturing costs currently faced by the bakery industry.

According to the ACBOA, the costs of margarine and butter have surged to Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 3,000 per kilogram, respectively. Additionally, the association cited challenges in obtaining imported eggs from India, forcing them to purchase locally produced eggs at Rs. 60 each.

The chairman of the association expressed concerns about the impact these rising costs have on the bakery industry. In light of these challenges, the ACBOA is urging the government to provide concessions and work towards reducing the prices of essential ingredients before the upcoming Sinhala and Hindu New Year.

The association’s plea emphasizes the need for government support to help stabilize the bakery industry and ensure its sustainability amid the current economic challenges. Further updates on the situation and any government response will be monitored closely.

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Former Minister Ronnie de Mel no more

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Former Minister – Ronnie de Mel has passed away today (27) while being treated at a private hospital, reports say.

He was aged 99 years old.A former civil servant, he was the Minister of Finance from 1977 – 1988 under the United National Party government and holds the record for the largest number of budgets presented by a finance minister.

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