Japanese Grants Programme-2021 for Human Resource DevelopmentScholarships
The Government of Japan implements the Japanese Grants Programme for Human Resource Development Scholarships for Executive Level Government Sector Officials with from 2010 for undergoing Post Graduate Degree Courses at recognised Universities in Japan. Sri Lanka has been facilitated for 180 Postgraduate Degree Courses and eight doctorates by now under this programme. The Government of Japan has agreed to award a grant worth Japanese Yen 271 million (approximately Rs 488 million) to the batch to be inaugurated studies in September. Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the resolution submitted by the Prime Minister as the Finance Minister to sign the exchange papers/letters with Japan and to enter into an agreement with Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to implement the programme.
Concession for COVID affected Tourism Sector establishments
The Cabinet has previously approved the proposals by the Task Force of employers, employee trade union representatives and the officers of the Labour Ministry and Department of Labour to grant relief for sustaining the employments of the employees in some institutions within the sectors affected by the COVID pandemic. The relief of proportionately giving opportunity for every employee to be engaged in service, to award, which is more advantages from 50 per cent from the total or Rs. 14,500 from the monthly salary if the employees are to be remained in residences and payment of contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees Trust Fund (ETF) by the employees for the portion of salary among others, will be implemented until the end of June. As a result of the travel restrictions imposed for international aviation around the world, especially the tourism in the country is unable to be maintained and therefore, the Cabinet decided to grant agreement for further implementing the precautions taken by the Labour Minister from July to December.
Re-transferring land belong to BCC Lanka Company Limited
Approval of the Cabinet has been granted at its meeting on June 27, 2016 to evacuate the Welikada Prison from the venue and re -instate on a land of six acres and three roods and 8.77 perches, which belong to the BCC Lanka Company Limited. However, the Government has reached a policy decision to re–instate the Welikada Prison at a building complex constructed on a land in Horana and belongs to the Urban Development Authority. Accordingly, the Cabinet granted approval for the resolution by the Industries Minister with the concurrence of Prime Minister as the Urban Development and Housing Minister to utilise the land by the BCC Lanka Company Limited according to the development plan prepared by the Urban Development Authority.
National level media programme for educating on importance of production anduse of organic and natural fertilizer
The Government has reached a policy decision to utilise organic and natural fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer for agriculture. There is an urgent requirement of an awareness programme to be launched for the farmers/cultivators and other parties to educate the true situation in the regard, to improve understanding among the farmers/cultivators for popularising the use of organic fertilizer, to promote organic and natural fertilizer and encourage environment friendly programmes. Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the resolution by the Agriculture Minister to implement the awareness programmes across audio, visual, print, and digital media for educating the farmer community and the youth and other relevant parties.
Facilitating legal process on oceanic devastation caused due to MV-Express Pearl Tanker fire
A consultation programme is being implemented by the Justice Minister with the participation of other relevant Ministers and the Attorney General under the directions of the President to facilitate the legal process launched in relation with the oceanic devastation caused due to the fire in MV/Express Pearl Tanker. Accordingly, measures have been taken in this connection under the consultation programme, which include
* Five sub–committees have been appointed for evaluating the damage caused by the fire to obtain insurance compensation.
* Newspaper advertisements have been published in all three languages for obtaining claims for compensation and information.
* The Attorney General has taken necessary action to take legal action at the High Court of Colombo against the owner of the vessel, the Captain and the Board of Directors of the Local Agency.
* A committee headed by the State Secretary to the State Ministry of Wildlife Protection, Adoption of Safety Measures including the Construction of Electrical Fences and Trenches and Re-forestation and Forest Resource Development has been appointed to investigate the death of oceanic lives.
* Since the service of legal experts having experience in dealing with these types of accidents, are essential for further legal action, statements of aspirations have been called for selecting an appropriate institution and eight international legal institutions have given their consent in the regard.
* An agreement from the P & I Club, the insurer of the tanker, has been expressed to pay a compensation of Rs. 720 million as an interim compensation during the discussions between the Attorney General and the insurer. Accordingly, the Cabinet has decided to agree upon the measures taken by the consultation implemented headed by the Justice Minister and to appoint a committee including senior officers for selecting the most appropriate institution among the institutions submitted statements of aspirations for providing legal assistance.
Dry rations for Places of Worship in distress due to non-receipt of alms
The Religious and Cultural Affairs Ministry has launched a programme to provide dry rations to Places of Worship in distress due to non-receipt of alms from donors during the COVID pandemic and travel restrictions. Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the proposal by Prime Minister in his capacity as the Religious and Cultural Affairs Minister to distribute parcels of dry food items worth Rs. 5,000 bought from the Lanka Sathosa Limited to temples and Places of Worship, through the Distribution Unit of Lanka Sathosa.
Additional Interest for Special Deposit Accounts
Cabinet approval has previously been granted to open Special Deposit Accounts and to pay additional Interest to retain deposits in those accounts from April 7, 2020 to encourage the remittance of foreign currency to the country. Accordingly, the relevant orders have been issued under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017. Under the provisions, it is possible to reinvest special deposit accounts with a term of six months or 12 months and to award additional Interest on such Special Deposit Accounts. But there is no provision to pay an additional interest rate for special deposit accounts that are reinvested for 12 months. Accordingly, the proposal by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Finance Minister to make an order in terms of Section 7 (1) of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017, including the necessary provisions for that, and to submit such orders to Parliament for approval, was approved by the Cabinet.
Extending order issued under Section 22 of Foreign ExchangeAct No. 12 of 2017 to control foreign exchange remittances outside the country
Orders have been issued under Section 22 of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017 to suspend external remittances related to certain transactions, taking into account the possible negative impact on the country’s foreign reserves and the Foreign Exchange Market due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The orders expire on July 1, 2021, and the Central Bank said the order should be further implemented to minimise potential risk in the Foreign Exchange Market and maintain the stability of the financial system. Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the proposal by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Finance Minister to extend the orders issued under Section 22 of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017 imposing certain restrictions/prohibitions on foreign exchange remittances, for further six months from July 2.
Facilitating companies incorporate in Sri Lanka for investing in Government International Sovereign Bonds
Some licensed commercial banks and registered companies in Sri Lanka have expressed consent in obtaining loans from outside Sri Lanka to invest in Sri Lankan Government International Sovereign Bonds. Taking into account the overall benefits available to the country, Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has agreed to allow licensed commercial banks, National Savings Banks and appropriately non-finance companies registered under the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007 to purchase international sovereign bonds of the Government of Sri Lanka/Sri Lanka Development Bonds, subject to certain conditions, Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the proposal by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Finance Minister to issue orders under Section 7 (1) of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017 to facilitate non-financial companies registered under the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007 to act accordingly, and to submit such orders to Parliament for approval.
National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka ActNo.53 of 1998
The approval has been granted by the Cabinet Meeting on August 15, 2017 to amend the National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka Act No.53 of 1998 to vest the wide powers for the Director General of Sri Lanka National Aquaculture Development Authority to monitor, promote and manage the aquaculture. Accordingly, the Minister has appointed a committee to submit recommendations by studying the facts on amendments have to be done. The Committee has submitted proposals related to the amendment of the Act and as per the proposals, it has been recommended to amend the Sri Lanka National Aquaculture Development Authority No.53 1998 and amend the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act No. 2 of 1996, which was amended by the Act No. 22 of 2006 concurrently thereto. Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the proposal by the Fisheries Minister to amend the Sri Lanka National Aquaculture Development Authority No.53 1998 and the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Authority No.2 of 1996 concurrently thereto based on the Bill drafted by the Committee.
Amendments to Dangerous Animals Ordinance
The Subcommittee on Criminal Law Reforms of the Special Unit of the Justice Ministry has recommended that the Dangerous Animals Ordinance should be amended according to the present requirements. Accordingly, the proposal by the Justice Minister to take necessary steps to amend the Dangerous Animals Ordinance No.38 of 1921, was approved by the Cabinet.
Amending Immigration and Emigration Act No.20 of 1948
The President as the Defense Minister had tabled a proposal to the Cabinet earlier to publish the Bill that drafted by the Legal Draftsman to amend the Immigration and Emigration Act to revise the Visa period in relation to the Visa Issuance Process of the Department of Immigration and Emigration in the gazette and submit to Parliament. The Justice Minister was requested at the Cabinet Meeting on April 5, 2021 to study the facts regarding the Bill and submit if further amendments to be made to the Cabinet. Accordingly, the Justice Minister has discussed with the relevant parties and recommended to the Cabinet that it is suitable to get the approval relevant Bill by Parliament in as it is. In view of the recommendation, the Cabinet approved the proposals by the President by the Cabinet Memorandum dated February 23, 2021 to publish the Bill drafted to amend the Immigration and Emigration Act in the Gazette and submit to Pparliament.
Financial Assistance from Asian Development Bank for ‘Responsive Covid-19 Vaccines for Recovery Project’
The Government has planned to obtain a loan of USD 150 million from the Asian Development Bank to implement the Responsive COVID-19 Vaccines for Recovery Project. It is expected to obtain USD 84 million from the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility and the remaining USD 66 million from the Standard Local Allocation of the Ordinary Capital Resources Fund of the Asian Development Bank. The total cost of the project is USD 161.85 million and the Government will bear USD 11.85 million thereof. The loan will be used for a number of related activities, including cost of vaccination, installation of vaccine-related monitoring systems, providing of refrigerated transport facilities, and strengthening the clinical waste management. Accordingly, the Cabinet approved the proposal by the Prime Minister as the Finance Minister to proceed with the relevant further steps to obtain the loan.
Facilitating local companies to raise foreign funds
The Colombo Stock Exchange has submitted a proposal to list out the foreign currency denominated shares issued by the Sri Lankan registered companies on the Colombo Stock Exchange to increase the ability of local companies to raise foreign funds in Sri Lanka. Foreign Exchange Orders No. 2 of 2021 does not permit to be debited to the Business Foreign Currency Account by the issuance of debentures or initial shares issued in foreign currency or the payment of dividends or the payments received by distributing foreign currency. The Monetary Board of the Central Bank has recommended to implement the proposal by the Colombo Stock Exchange considering the factors such as increasing the interest of foreign investors in Sri Lankan listed companies, attracting foreign currency into the country and increasing its participation, reducing the pressure on the Sri Lankan Rupee and making an alternative instead of Sri Lankan companies going to the Foreign Stock Markets for collecting foreign exchange funds. The Cabinet approved the proposal by the Prime Minister as the Finance Minister to issue an order under Section 7 (1) of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017 amending the Order No. 2 of 2021 to make the necessary provisions for the implementation of the proposal and to submit that order to Parliament for approval.