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Won’t compromise country’s future by succumbing to popular decisions – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the nation cannot revert to a period marked by scarcity of fuel, lack of fertilizers, and economic collapse. 

The President further asserted that despite the challenges, the country’s economy can experience swift strengthening by persisting on the current trajectory, acknowledging the inherent difficulties.

In his address at the “Shilpa Abhimani 2023” Presidential Handicraft Awards ceremony held at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre in Colombo today (03), President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored that making incorrect economic decisions could exacerbate the devaluation of the Rupee. 

He emphasized his steadfast commitment to avoid compromising the nation’s future by succumbing to popular decisions that might have adverse consequences.

The President affirmed his dedication to offering comprehensive relief to the public in times of adversity. He further declared that the government would extend every necessary support to transform the handicraft industry into a sector contributing significantly to foreign exchange earnings.

The National Crafts Council annually organizes the “Shilpa Abhimani” National Handicrafts Competition and Exhibition with the objective of preserving and promoting traditional and culturally significant handicrafts. This initiative also seeks to foster social appreciation and contribute to the economic empowerment of craftsmen.

The “Shilpa Abhimani” 2023 National Handicraft Competition, held this year, was conducted under the auspices of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Division and the Ministry of Industries. This competition showcased the craftsmanship from 66 sub-fields under 31 fundamental handicraft categories. The designs submitted underwent a meticulous selection process, overseen by a qualified jury comprising university professors.

The laureates of the “Shilpa Abhimani 2023” National Handicraft Competition received prestigious recognition through Gold and Silver Awards, while cash prizes were bestowed upon those securing the first, second and third places.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe presented the prize money, certificates and trophies to the accomplished artisans including the two winners of the World Craft Council Tournament 2023 who earned the distinguished Gold Awards. 

A special commemorative gift was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe. 

Additionally, the President visited to observe the winning designs in the “Shilpa Abhimani 2023” design competition and expressed appreciation for the talents of the winning artists.

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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Lankan convict in Gandhi assassination case passes away

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Santhan alias T Suthendiraraja, a Sri Lankan national who was one of the six convicts released in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, died on Wednesday morning at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital (RGGH) in Chennai.

Santhan, who was released by the Indian Supreme Court in November 2022, was kept at the special camp near the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison.

Last week, the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai issued an order to deport Santhan to Sri Lanka, however, he was admitted to the RGGH for treatment for a kidney-related ailment.

Addressing the reports, E Thenirajan, Dean, RGGH, said that based on the directions of the Tiruchirapalli district collector, Santhan was admitted to the hospital on January 27.

Thenirajan said a team of doctors were treating him at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and constantly monitoring him. He said Santhan was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis or a liver disease.

“He suffered a setback to his health yesterday (Tuesday) night. He had lost consciousness and we were providing treatment. Around 4.30 am today (Wednesday), he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was revived following a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) procedure and was on ventilator support. However, he failed to respond to further treatment and passed away at 7.50 am,” he said.

Thenirajan said they would carry out the post-mortem procedures now and take further measures to send his body to Sri Lanka.

According to court documents, Santhan is believed to have fled then strife-torn Sri Lanka in 1991 and reached India by boat, along with Sivarasan, who led the assassination team and was never caught alive, and a few others. According to the Supreme Court order, Santhan’s role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was direct and active.

Santhan was initially sentenced to death for his involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, however, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in November 2022, along with five other convicts, after spending over three decades in prison.

(The Indian Express)

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