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Hali Ela Tragedy: Kids go in search of mother, washed away by strong currents - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka
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Hali Ela Tragedy: Kids go in search of mother, washed away by strong currents
COLOMBO (News 1st); The body of a seven-year-old girl who was reported missing after attempting to cross a water-way in the Bogoda Village in Hali-Ela was recovered.A search operation is underway to locate a ten-year-old boy who also remains missing. The unfortunate incident of two young children being washed away by strong currents while attempting to cross a water-way was reported on Thursday (23).According to reports, the two children were looking for their mother, who had gone to work.The mother was serving as a domestic aide for a daily wage, and she was employed at a neighboring house at the time.However, as she was late to come back home, the two children had gone out in search of her during a heavy downpour.Unfortunately, they were washed away by the currents when attempting to cross a water-way named the Pihilla Kandura not far from their home.Locals said that the currents reached dangerous levels due to the heavy downpour.The mother of the two children had returned home at around 5 in the evening, and as her children were missing, she had gone out in search of them.Locals banded together and started to search for the missing kids with their mother,The umbrella used by the children was located close to the water-way, and it was suspected that they may have been washed away by the gushing waters.Sri Lanka Police and the Sri Lanka Army launched an extensive search and recovered the body of the seven-year-old girl at around 10 PM on Thursday (23), around one kilometer away from the house in another waterway, locally referred to as the Dodangolla Oya.
Sajith Premadasa - Prasanna Ranatunga - Opposition groups meet diplomats in Colombo to discuss current state of affairs - newsfirst.lk - Japan - Usa - India - Sri Lanka - Italy - Britain - France - Australia - Canada - Eu - New Zealand - Netherlands
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Opposition groups meet diplomats in Colombo to discuss current state of affairs
COLOMBO (News 1st); Several leaders of opposition political parties in Sri Lanka led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa met with Ambassadors and Delegates representing 12 countries in Colombo on Wednesday (22) evening.According to reports, the objective of the meeting was to discuss the current state of affairs in Sri Lanka.The discussion was mainly focused on Sri Lanka's Democracy, Constitution, and the Local Government Election.The Opposition Leader had requested the foreign missions to extend support to Sri Lanka Internationally.The foreign diplomats who attended the meeting, according to the office of the opposition leader, were:– Sarah Hulton, High Commissioner, High Commission of the United Kingdom in Sri Lanka– Denis Chaibi, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union in Sri Lanka– Michael Appleton, High Commissioner, New Zealand High Commission in Sri Lanka– Julie J Chung, Ambassador, Embassy of the United States of America in Sri Lanka– Anouk Baron, Deputy Ambassador, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Sri Lanka– Dr Francesco Perale, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Italy in Sri Lanka  – Vinod Jacob, Deputy High Commissioner, High Commission of the Republic of India in Sri Lanka– Katsuki Kotaro, Minister/Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka– Lalita Kapur, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka– Aurélien MAILLET, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of France in Sri Lanka– Daniel Blood, Counsellor (Political), High Commission of Canada in Sri Lanka– Ozaki Takeshi, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka.However, in Parliament on Thursday (23), Government Minister Prasanna Ranatunga alleged that the opposition had met with the foreign diplomats to
First batch of Army Women De-miners Receive Insignia - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka
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First batch of Army Women De-miners Receive Insignia
The first batch of women de-miners of the Army who have completed the internationally-acclaimed Humanitarian De-mining Course of high standards had the privilege of getting their insignia pinned from the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage after they were invited to the Army HQ on Wednesday (22).Extending his best wishes to those women soldiers, now fully-fledged to undertake overseas UN Peacekeeping Missions, the Army Chief highlighted the significance of their achievement to the Army and the motherland.A group of 3 Lady Officers and 51 female Other Ranks, having undergone the De-mining Course for women soldiers which began in December 2021 under two batches at both Engineers' Brigade Headquarters in Boo Oya and 10 Field Engineers HQ in Mailaddy, Jaffna thus received their insignia from the Commander of the Army during the brief occasion.The De-mining Course, inclusive of field operations drew to a close early this year after they sat for the final examination phase under the close supervision of Major General MK Jayawardena RSP USP ndu, Chief Field Engineer and Colonel Commandant, Sri Lanka Engineers.The Commander of the Army in his brief talk commended their sustained courage for completion of the Humanitarian De-mining Course in keeping with scheduled time frame, and congratulated them for undertaking such a challenge with determination and fearlessness. He also reminded the gathering that their contribution in the future for world peace as women de-miners of Sri Lanka would go into the Army history and keep the national flag flying bringing international admiration.Three Lady Officers and 51 Other Ranks who had graduated in the De-mining Course for women de-miners are currently performing de-
Shavendra Silva - Defence Staff - Indian military delegation at IPKF memorial - newsfirst.lk - India - Sri Lanka
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Indian military delegation at IPKF memorial
A delegation of 19 Indian Armed Forces officers led by Group Captain Yunus Syed Muzaffar from the 46th Indian Higher Air Command Course conducted at College of Air Warfare, Secunderabad arrived in Sri Lanka as part of Strategic Study Tour from 20-24 March 2023.The visit is focused on interactions with senior defence hierarchy as well as visits to military establishments and industrial organizations to broaden the vision of the trainees.The delegation started their visit by paying homage to the martyrs of Indian Peace Keeping Force at the memorial in Battaramulla followed by interactions with High Commissioner of India,Gopal Baglay, Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, and Air Marshal S.K Pathirana, Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force. The delegation is also scheduled to visit Galle, Hambantota, Diyatalawa, Kandy and Katunayake and interact with various agencies to get deeper insights about Sri Lanka. India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy seeks to promote institutional linkages between the Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka.  Such Study Tours help strengthen the existing bonds of camaraderie and enhance people to people connect to achieve regional peace, security and stability. A few members of the delegation, including the head of the delegation, called on the Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana and symbolic mementos were exchanged to mark the event.
Priyantha Perera - Navy turtle project releases over 100 hatchlings - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka - county Centre - Panama
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Navy turtle project releases over 100 hatchlings
The Sri Lanka Navy released 146 sea turtle hatchlings at Panama beach on 21st March 2023, in a bid to save these endangered marine animal.The Commander Southeastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Kanchana Banagoda was also in attendance on this occasion where the hatchlings were released. As part of the Turtle Conservation Project of the Sri Lanka Navy, the eggs of these hatchlings were conserved at the Turtle Conservation Unit in SLNS Mahanaga.Following the directives of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera the Navy conducts a Turtle Conservation Project in a bid to save these endangered marine species. The project ensures the conservation of sea turtle eggs and the safe release of hatchlings into the ocean. Apart from the navy-managed Turtle Conservation Centre in Panama area similar initiatives are being conducted in Mirissa, Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa, Balapitiya, Bentota, Moragolla, Panadura, Mount Lavinia, Dehiwala, Wellawatta, Nilaveli, and Pasikuda by the Sri Lanka Coast Guard.The eggs of released sea turtle hatchlings were conserved by the Turtle Conservation Unit at SLNS Mahanaga in the Southeastern Naval Command. Further, the unit has thus far released 14,027 sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean, since its establishment.Moreover, the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard conserved eggs and released 10755 hatchlings into the ocean in 2022.Meanwhile, thus far in 2023 it has sent 5886 hatchlings into their natural habitat.
Ranil Wickremesinghe - Sri Lankan President presents IMF-program based revenue generation plan - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka
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Sri Lankan President presents IMF-program based revenue generation plan
COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lanka's President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament that the government will be introducing a serious of reforms after the IMF Executive Board granted approval for a bailout package of the country.Increasing Public Revenue:– Reduce the primary deficit to 2.3% of the GDP by 2025.– Increase the government’s revenue up to 15% of the GDP by 2026 through our measures.– Raised the standard corporate income tax rate to 30% without sectoral tax holidays.– PAYE tax rate was increased from 8% to 15%.– The measures required to reduce the existing tax exemptions on Value Added Tax (VAT) will come into effect by 2025. Further, necessary measures will be taken to remove the simplified VAT system and expedite its reimbursement.–  Steps have also been taken to introduce tax on awards / substitutes and to introduce Estate Duty as a property tax by 2025, while providing an appropriate tax exemption allowance at a minimum.–  Revamping the property tax system and introducing a wealth transfer tax – Introduce a gift and inheritance taxManaging Expenditure:– Increase the allocations provided to cover the expenses through proper management of expenditure.– Adjustments in certain salary scales and pension schemes as part of the impact of inflation within the primary deficit targets.State Enterprises and Energy Cost: – Fuel prices will be determined based on the 2018 Price Formula.
Peter Breuer - Tax revenue should be growth friendly – IMF - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka
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Tax revenue should be growth friendly – IMF
COLOMBO (News 1st); The International Monetary Fund said that Sri Lanka must increase tax revenue in a growth friendly manner. Peter Breuer, the Senior IMF Mission Chief for Sri Lanka, told reporters that the current economic crisis has a number of origins including the governments' inability to meet government spending needs through revenue collection and Sri Lanka is among the countries that collect the least amount of fiscal revenue in the world. He said that Tax Reforms are badly needed to correct the imbalance, and only with appropriate tax receipts will the government be able to fund essential expenditures, and avoid further slashing critically important outlets. "These reforms will also help regain the confidence of the creditors, so that in the future they will once again finance the gap between revenue and expenditure," he said.Peter Breuer further said that it is important that those who can afford it may commence contributions to the financing of necessary government expenditures."The tax package the authorities have introduced including the new tax rate schedule for Personal Income tax helps to meet the objectives. The tax rates proposed under the authorities program are also inline with similar countries who are contributing to Sri Lanka's support package, through the IMF," he said."So it is important to remember that there are many countries who have income levels comparable or may be less than Sri Lanka with much higher tax rates.
Sri Lanka’s Social Safety Net programs suffer from poor targeting – IMF - newsfirst.lk - Usa - Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka’s Social Safety Net programs suffer from poor targeting – IMF
COLOMBO (News 1st); The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday (21) said that the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement for Sri Lanka sets a minimum spending floor by the government on the social safety net program.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board on Monday (20) approved SDR 2.286 billion (about US dollars 3 billion) under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) to support Sri Lanka’s economic policies and reforms.The IMF report on the EFF noted that Social Safety Net (SSN) programs in Sri Lanka are fragmented, with several implementation agencies, which has led to a lack of ownership and widespread inefficiencies in delivery of SSN programs.Masahiro Nozaki, the IMF Mission Chief for Sri Lanka said the EFF program said that Sri Lankan authorities have committed to SSN spending of Rs. 187 billion (0.6 percent of GDP) in 2023.Sri Lanka’s SSN programs monitored under the EFF-supported program comprise the Samurdhi program (largest poverty-targeted cash transfer program in Sri Lanka), as well as assistance to the elderly (over 70 years), allowance for disabled people, and financial support for kidney patients.Masahiro Nozaki highlighted that Sri Lanka's Social Safety Net program suffer from poor targeting."Right now the social safety nets cover about 40% of poorer households, that should be significantly increased and some social safety net spending is going towards relatively rich families.
Masahiro Nozaki - Peter Breuer - Anti-Corruption & Governance reforms are critical – IMF - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka
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Anti-Corruption & Governance reforms are critical – IMF
COLOMBO (News 1st); The International Monetary Fund has emphasized the importance of anti-corruption and governance reforms as a central pillar of the EFF-supported program as they are indispensable to ensure the hard-won gains from the reforms benefit the Sri Lankan people.In a statement issued ahead of the IMF press briefing on Tuesday (21) morning, Peter Breuer, Senior Mission Chief for Sri Lanka & Masahiro Nozaki, Mission Chief for Sri Lanka noted that Sri Lankan authorities have committed to fundamentally improve public financial management and strengthen the anti-corruption legal framework in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.The reform program supported under the EFF arrangement is built on strong policy measures and prioritizes:(i) an ambitious revenue-based fiscal consolidation, accompanied by stronger social safety nets, fiscal institutional reforms, and cost-recovery based energy pricing to ensure the state’s ability to support all its essential expenditures;(ii) restoration of public debt sustainability, including through a debt restructuring to ensure stable financing of the government’s operations;(iii) a multi-pronged strategy to restore price stability and rebuild reserves under greater exchange rate flexibility in order to alleviate the burden of inflation, particularly on the poor, to foster an environment of investment and growth, and to ensure Sri Lanka's ability to purchase essential goods from abroad;(iv) policies to safeguard financial sector stability to ensure that the financial sector can play its key role in supporting economic growth; and(v) structural reforms to address corruption vulnerabilities and enhance growth. It is now essential to continue the reform momentum
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