President Gotabaya Rajapaksa directed relevant authorities to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks scattered across the island following a mechanism combining ancient technology and modern scientific methods. In parallel to this initiative the “National Food Production Contribution Programme” covering 120,000 abandoned paddy lands will also be launched.
Tanks will be rehabilitated under “Wari Saubhagya” programme. The assistance of Civil Defence Force will be secured to expedite the project.
The proposed programme was reviewed in length during the meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Development of Rural Paddy Fields and Associated Tanks, Reservoirs and Irrigation held at the Presidential Secretariat. “A project to rehabilitate tanks was carried out earlier too. It came under strong criticism by the experts as well as the public. This is due to the fact that despite dredging of tanks, ancient techniques and scientific methods of water retention were not used. Such shortcoming should be avoided and rehabilitation should proceed in a manner specific to each area and tank under a common criterion”, President said.
The capacity of tanks has been reduced due to their silting. There is large number of tanks with breached banks. The chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa pointed out the necessity of rehabilitating such tanks targeting Maha season. President Rajapaksa highlighted the possibility of using tank water not only for paddy cultivation but also to meet the needs for drinking water and irrigation requirements. The Departments of Land Use and Agriculture have jointly conducted a survey on the pattern of agricultural land use depending on the irrigation system. Based on its findings, plans are afoot to cultivate 17 identified crops in the intermediate and inter seasons supported by satisfactory water management system. Rehabilitation of tanks should be carried out while preserving their related industries.It is imperative that the project should be implemented in conjunction with affiliated organizations and Farmers’ Societies. President Rajapaksa instructed to renovate the irrigation system including canals and dams in parallel with the project to rehabilitate tanks. During the meeting attention was focused on the requirement of expediting “Uthuru Meda Maha Ela” and “Wyamba Ela” projects planned with the objective to supply irrigation and drinking water. Under this programme 80,000 hectares fed by 1500 tanks in North Central and North Western Provinces will be cultivated.
The necessity to include the irrigation systems of the island and all the forest reservoirs neighboring rivers in a gazette notification was among the topics discussed at the meeting.
President Rajapaksa also instructed the officials to rapidly renovate 500 small tanks located within reserves for the benefit of wild animals. A one year programme will be implemented to achieve this objective jointly by the Irrigation Department, Wild Life and Forest Conservation Department.
During this meeting special attention was drawn to the need of promptly filling the vacancies that exist in certain cadres such as Engineer and Technical Officer in the field of irrigation for a long period of time. The progress of the ‘ Taruna Govi Saubhagya, Kabanika Govipala’ programme initiated with the aim of directing young entrepreneurs to use organic fertilizers for agricultural activities, was reviewed at this meeting. The project has been designed covering 5,000 acres from the Maduru Oya right bank. It was agreed to provide all the necessary infrastructure facilities for the project. Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, State Minister Anuradha Jayaratne, Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President, P.B. Jayasundera, officials of the Cabinet and state ministries and line institutes and representatives of the Farmers’ Associations were present at the discussion.
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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka
SLT-Mobitel, the nation’s ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider recently partnered with Spotify, to mark their launch in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a paid premium music streaming app which allows subscribers to listen to music to their hearts content. Both, SLT-Mobitel Post-Paid and Pre-Paid customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify by activating a monthly recurring subscription or one-time subscription plan and access unlimited music streaming and downloading facilities.
The subscription charges will get added to the user’s customary billing, where payment will be deducted in real time. Starting from the payment date, the user will be able to access Spotify and download their favourite songs, for the next 30 days. Users who sign up for their first monthly subscription will receive an additional one month, courtesy of Spotify. The one-month subscription plan is not applicable with one-time subscription plans. SLT-Mobitel data rates, depending on the user’s respective broadband charges, will apply.
Spotify also has some exciting features that will provide SLT-Mobitel customers with the opportunity to listen to ad-free music, access millions of uninterrupted music under one platform, play any song they like, anywhere they go, and also be able to enjoy their music offline.
SLT-Mobitel customers can select their preferred premium package under four categories; Individual, Duo, Family, Student. Each category has recurring and non-recurring plans. After one month of free streaming, the package will activate once the offer period terminates. While both, the Individual and Student premiums are limited to one account user, the Duo package offers two accounts and the Family premium is accessible through six accounts. To view Spotify plans, users can log on to https://spoti.fi/3aLWvce
Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor
by Sanath Nanayakkare
Anyone conversant with the elements of a political economy would know that Sri Lanka is using its ‘sovereign power’ to manage the different dynamics of the economy in a sustainable manner, Professor W. D Lakshman Governor of the Central Bank said on Wednesday.
“Some critics are saying that we adopt a so-called modern monetary theory. That’s not the case. In fact, Sri Lanka is using its sovereign power in a number of economic aspects to honour its external debt repayment commitments as well as to reduce its debt burden in the medium term as well as achieve resilient growth in the medium to long term, he said.
“We make policy decisions to boost our gross foreign reserves, meet our external debt servicing, to facilitate monetary expansion, to boost our GDP growth, to strengthen our current account balance and manage our domestic and external economic variables in a sustainable manner. This is not a modern monetary theory. This is an age-old tool used by central banks around the world when the circumstances demand it, he said.
“Certain trade-offs will be necessary when dealing with an economy which has a big fiscal gap to bridge. There are efforts to push Sri Lanka towards the IMF again which would in turn have influence on our policymaking. We have taken policy measures to stabilize the economy and we have adequate reserve levels to meet our debt repayments. Meanwhile, we are in negotiations with overseas central banks and multilateral agencies to further boost our reserve level and it would materialise within a matter of weeks,” he noted.
“One of the tools the Central Bank has introduced is in respect of repatriation of export proceeds into Sri Lanka and conversion of such proceeds into Sri Lankan rupees in order to strengthen the foreign exchange situation of the country,” he said.
The Governor made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative led by its Managing Director Luxman Siriwardene – the former Executive Director of Pathfinder Foundation.
The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?’
Professor Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Nishan de Mel and Dr. Ravi Liyanage were the other speakers on the panel.
CSE on the rebound; indices close positive
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE produced signs of a rebound yesterday with both indices closing positive, though turnover remained low. Central Bank Governor W.D Lakshman’s recent statement on managing foreign reserves gave some boost to the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.
The index experienced a zigzag movement within the early hours of trading; thereafter, it recorded a slight up-trend as it reached its intraday high of 7,439. Later, the market witnessed a down-trend at mid-day, followed by a sideways movement and closed at 7,372, gaining 43 points during the month of February, market sources said.
It is said the banking sector dominated turnover with a contribution of considerable parcel trades in Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and HNB.
Further, the Commercial Bank’s impressive quarterly results during the recent turbulent period also built investor confidence. Commercial Bank was able to register a18 percent net interest income when other banks were reporting a decline. Its share price increased by Rs. 3 or 3.5 percent. On the previous day, its shares started trading at Rs. 85 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 88. Due to the positive growth results, the bank announced a Rs. 4.40 dividend per share, plus a Rs. 2 script divergent for every share.
Further, Sampath Bank shares also appreciated in both crossing and retail. In crossings its shares appreciated by Rs. 1.At the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 154.50. In the retail market, its shares moved up by Rs. 2 or 1.3 percent. Previously, its shares fetched Rs. 154 and at the end of yesterday they moved up to Rs. 156.
Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 104.48 points and S and P SL20 rose by 67.78 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, where 3.9 million shares crossed for Rs. 602.2 million, its share price being Rs. 154.50, HNB 375,000 shares crossed for Rs. 39.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 105, Pan Asia Power 9.5 million shares crossed for Rs. 33.2 million, its shares traded at Rs. 3.50 and Access Engineering 1.2 million shares crossed for Rs. 28.2 million; its shares traded at Rs. 24.
In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 450 million (10 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 205 million (1.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 199 million (34.9 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 191 million (1.2 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs. 137.7 million (2.8 million shares traded). During the day 101 million share volumes changed hands in 18046 transactions.
During the day, Expolanka, the biggest contributor to the turnover, saw its share price appreciating by Rs. 6.20 or 15 percent. Its share price quoted on the previous day was Rs. 41 and at the end of trading yesterday it moved up to Rs. 47.
Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted wider at 193.50/195.50 levels to the US dollar in the spot next market on Thursday while bond yields remained unchanged, dealers said. The rupee last closed in the spot market at 194.50/195.00 to the dollar on Wednesday.