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Indian response on debt structuring, favourable – PMD (Pics)



A meeting was held between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and visiting Indian  Minister of External Affairs – Dr. S. Jaishankar today, where it was agreed upon to implement a joint program between Sri Lanka and India.

During the meeting, many political, economic and social issues as well as investment matters between the two countries had been discussed at length.

During this discussion, special attention was paid to the debt-restructuring program in Sri Lanka which had received a positive response from the Indian government, the Presidential Media Division (PMD) says.

India and Sri Lanka signed bilateral documents for the upward revision of ceilings prescribed in the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) framework agreement today. The agreement, first signed in May 2005, has doubled the individual project limit from Rs 300 to 600 million. The total HICDP funds will be doubled from Rs 5 billion 10 billion.

The President and Dr. Jaishankar also virtually declared open the Academy for Kandyan dancing in close proximity to the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy today, for which Indian PM – Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone during his visit in 2017. Further, 300 completed houses in Galle, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya (100 each) under Indian assistance were also declared open virtually.

The complete media release by the PMD is as follows :

During a meeting held between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar, it was agreed upon to implement a joint program between Sri Lanka and India.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe warmly welcomed the Indian External Affairs Minister at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (20) where the duo engaged in cordial discussions.

Prior to the official meeting, President Wickremesinghe hosted the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar for breakfast and tea at his official residence at Paget Road, Colombo.

In addition, in the official meeting held between the President and Indian Foreign Minister Dr S. Jaishankar, many political, economic and social issues as well as investment matters between the two countries were discussed at length.

During this discussion, special attention was paid to the debt-restructuring program in Sri Lanka which had received a positive response from the Indian government.

The Indian External Affairs Minister recalled that in 1991, during the tenure of former Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, India had to face an economic crisis similar to what Sri Lanka is currently facing. He added that the Indian Government overcame the crisis by pledging the government’s gold reserves.

Therefore, Dr Jaishankar said that India has a good understanding of the situation Sri Lanka is currently facing and said that the Indian government will provide all possible support to solve the current economic problems faced by Sri Lanka.

The bilateral agreement related to raising the limit of the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) implemented in Sri Lanka with the support of the Government of India was also signed during the meeting.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, Mr Mahinda Siriwardena, signed the agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka and the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka HE Gopal Baglay  signed on behalf of India.

 This agreement guides many community development projects in Sri Lanka with the support of the Government of India.

This agreement related to community development projects in Sri Lanka was signed in May 2005. Its project limit was Rs. 300 million, which will now be doubled to Rs. 600 million by the agreement signed today.

Meanwhile, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka in 2017, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of an Academy for Kandyan dancing as a gift given to Sri Lanka by the Indian Government and its people. The Indian Foreign Minister also virtually declared open the academy, which was built near the historical Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.

The handing over of 300 completed houses in Galle, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya – (100 houses each) under the housing project implemented in Sri Lanka with the support of the Indian Government, was also done virtually by the President and the Indian External Affairs Minister. 

In this project of 60,000 houses, 50,000 houses have been completed. The third phase of the project of 400 houses for the people of the upcountry estate sector is currently underway and over 3,300 houses built under it have already been completed and are ready to be handed over to the beneficiaries.

The handing over of houses built in Anuradhapura and Badulla districts under the “Model Village Housing Program” implemented with the support of the Government of India for low-income families in Sri Lanka, were also symbolically handed over to the beneficiaries.

Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Presidential Chief of Staff Mr Sagala Ratnayake, President’s Secretary Mr Saman Ekanayake and other officials and a special Indian delegation attended the discussion.


New evidence surfaces on health ministry’s controversial emergency procurement scheme




More documentary evidence has emerged on the Health Ministry’s disastrous “fast-track” emergency procurement scheme that led to counterfeit drugs entering public sector hospitals.

Letters between key officials show the plan was in place as early as September last year. That month, a Health Ministry Additional Secretary wrote to the Deputy Director General of the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) stating that it was decided at a meeting chaired by former Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella to buy drugs using the Indian credit line (ICL) through private suppliers.

The purchase would be under an “emergency procurement method”, it said, adding that pending orders must be disregarded.

This meant that, even if required stocks were on the way, the Health Ministry would farm out additional contracts under the ICL to handpicked suppliers. And it would be done through a new system that a small coterie of officials—with the Health Minister’s endorsement—had floated to facilitate walk-in, unsolicited offers from unvetted suppliers, bypassing the national drug regulatory process.


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Tsunami Alert Lifted 




The Philippines lifted a tsunami alert early on Sunday as waves receded from a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck the south of the country, triggering coastal evacuations and some waves in there and in Japan.

There were no initial reports of casualties or serious damage from the quake in the Mindanao region, although some residents reported damage to buildings in the area, which is less populated than some parts of the archipelago.

More than 500 aftershocks were recorded, and the Philippines’ Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) urged caution as people resumed normal activities.

“The tsunami threat associated with this earthquake has now largely passed the Philippines,” Phivolcs said in a statement but advised people in threatened communities to heed the instructions from local authorities.

It had earlier urged people living near the coast of Surigao Del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to move inland.

The national disaster said it was assessing the impact of the quake, with a team on the ground collating information.

The Philippine Coast Guard put all its vessels and aircraft on alert for potential dispatch.

“We started going back to our homes early on Sunday, although we are still shaking because of aftershocks,” Julita Bicap, 51, a front desk staffer at GLC Suites hotel in the seaside town of Bislig, said after power was restored around 5 a.m. (2100 GMT)

“There are aftershocks even now. Last night we were at the evacuation centre including my two foreigner guests. One of them came back to the hotel already,” Bicap told Reuters, adding that she noticed a small crack in the hotel’s front wall.

The largest aftershock was magnitude 6.5, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

Earthquakes are common in the Philippines, which lies on the “Ring of Fire”, a belt of volcanoes circling the Pacific Ocean that is prone to seismic activity.

Scores of residents were seen in an evacuation centre in photographs posted on social media by the authorities in Hinatuan province, 30 km (20 miles) from the quake’s epicentre.

Philvolcs’ Hinatuan-Bislig Bay station recorded maximum waves of 0.64 metre (2 feet). Japan’s Hachijojima island, some 290 km (180 miles) south of Tokyo, recorded waves of 40 cm (1.3 feet), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System had initially warned of waves of up to 3 metres (10 feet) above the usual high tide level.

The quake, which struck at 10:37 p.m. (1437 GMT) on Saturday, was at a depth of 25 km (15 miles), Philvolcs said.

James Soria, who owns a small hotel in Hinatuan, said there had been significant damage to his home. “It’s shaking again here now,” he told Reuters before the call was disconnected as another aftershock hit.

Cosme Calejesan, 47, said there had been damage to his house in Surigao City 185 km (115 miles) from the epicentre, but the structure was intact.

“I was already asleep, but I was woken up by the creaking sounds of my cabinets when the tremor occurred,” he said. “It was frightening. It was sudden and abrupt and I was worried for my children.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by srilankamirror staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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President leads talks on six renewable energy projects for next year




President Ranil Wickremesinghe along with Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera and Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake has spearheaded discussions for six renewable energy projects next year.

The projects will generate over 1500 MW and transform Sri Lanka’s energy landscape. The inaugural project is a 700 MW solar power initiative, harnessing sustainable energy sources. A senior Government spokesperson said that all six projects are slated for completion within the next 12-24 months.

President Wickremesinghe initiated these discussions with the relevant parties before leaving for the United Nations International Conference on Climate Change (COP 28) in Dubai.

Presidential Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake last week held a meeting with officials to address the challenges and devise solutions to commence these ground-breaking projects.

The Ministry of Power and Energy anticipates a marked reduction in Sri Lanka’s electricity tariffs following the successful implementation of these energy projects. This is in line with the country’s broader vision for a sustainable and eco-friendly energy future.


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