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US-donated SL Navy ship Vijayabahu commissioned

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President of Sri Lanka – Ranil Wickremesinghe, Secretary to the Minister of Defence – Kamal Gunaratne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy – Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne and the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka – Julie Chung today (22) attended the commissioning of the Navy Ship Vijayabahu, formerly the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro, in Colombo Harbor.  The United States had donated the ship to Sri Lanka on October 26, 2021 as part of its continuing commitment to strengthen Sri Lanka’s ability to protect its maritime sovereignty and security.

Viewing the commissioning ceremony with Sri Lankan dignitaries, Ambassador Chung extended her appreciation to the ship’s officers and sailors for their skillful handling of the ship during the voyage.  She also expressed her thanks to the families and loved ones of the sailors for their sacrifice during the crew’s long absence. 

Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is seven times the size of its land area and maintains a Search and Rescue area nearly 25 times as large. The new vessel is capable of performing wide-ranging operations that include conservation of marine resources, search and rescue of naval and fishing vessels in distress and interdiction of drug and weapons smuggling among other crucial functions.

The Vijayabahu is the third ship donated by the United States to the Sri Lanka Navy, preceded by the Gajabahu in 2018 and the Samudura in 2004, which continue to patrol the nation’s waters.  The latest ship, a former Hamilton-class high-endurance 115-meter cutter, undertook one of the longest voyages in Sri Lankan naval history, embarking from Seattle, Washington, on September 3 and arriving in Colombo on November 2, 2022.

In its former U.S. role, the then-Douglas Munro enforced fishing regulations in Alaskan waters, seized trawlers engaged in illegal practices and interdicted 11.5 tons of cocaine off the coast of Mexico, one of the largest hauls in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.  After the 2004 tsunami, the cutter provided food and water to Indonesians and later seized a vessel overtaken by pirates off the Horn of Africa.  The ship also rescued survivors of numerous shipwrecks in dangerous and frigid waters off the Alaskan coast.

The transfer of the vessel is just one point in a long history of cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United States in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.  The U.S. is committed to supporting Sri Lanka’s efforts to protect its sea lanes, which are vital to alleviating the current economic crisis.

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Increasing beedi prices result of hidden pact!

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Increasing the tax on beedis instead of tax on cigarettes when there is an opportunity to earn more income from cigarettes is the result of an agreement between the heads of the tobacco company and the government, the Sri Lanka Mirror learns.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said in the 2023 Budget speech that the government would impose a tax of Rs.2 on a beedi.

“I suggest a tax of Rs.2 per beedi to streamline the beedi industry and to discourage people from using beedis. Apart from this, the fees to be paid for obtaining certificates and licenses will also be increased,” he said.

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Highest income recorded from gem exports after 12 years

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The highest income from gem exports since 2010 has been recorded this year, National Gem and Jewellery Authority of Sri Lanka Director General Pradeep Thenuwara said.

He said more than 380 million USDs have been earned this year from the export of gems, including sapphires.

The National Gems and Jewellery Authority said that in the last 11 months, it has earned a record income more than the previous year.

Accordingly, it is reported that the 355 million USD income that was targeted to be earned from gem exports this year has already been exceeded.

Mr. Thenuwara said that sapphires found in Sri Lanka are popular in the world market and the largest amount of exported gems are sapphires.

Most gems have been exported to China, the US, Britain, Malaysia, Hong Kong while Israel has bought diamonds.

An income of 500 million USDs has been targeted from gem exports for 2023, and the Authority said it will provide facilities including new technology to the miners to achieve this target.

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Minister Tiran’s intelligence team ahead of IGP

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Public Security Minister Tiran Alles has launched an investigation into the sudden death of seven horses of the Police Mounted Division due to lack of proper food this year.

The minister has asked Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramarate about the incident but it was reported that he was not aware of these incidents until the minister had questioned him.

Each horse has been brought to the Police Mounted Division at a cost of 35,000 USDs.

As soon as the information was received that seven horses had died from malnutrition, the minister has launched an investigation.

The minister has inquired about these deaths from SDIG Priyantha Weerasuriya who is responsible for supervising the welfare of the horses.

It has been revealed that the company that supplies horses’ feed has not provided proper feed.

It has also been reported that 23 healthy young horses have been transported to several special celebrations held in the recent past, but their health condition has not been considered whey they are being transported.

The investigations have revealed that the responsibility of monitoring the health of the horses lies with the veterinarian who also monitors the health of the police dogs and that the senior police officers have not paid special attention to the issue.

Meanwhile, it was reported that 38 horses have died in previous years.

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