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Friday February 23rd, 2024

Cardinal leading the charge against developers intruding into Muthurajawela

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church is marshalling its forces to protect the Muthurajawela wetlands from a multi-use development project planned to be built in the area, the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith says.

He told reporters on Thursday that the area is “surrounded by our churches and I have told our Parish Priests not to allow anyone to lay hands on this area.”

In an unusually strong statement, the Cardinal said the county “is being turned into a garbage dump as garbage from around the world is being brought here by rich businesspeople.”

“These people are also protected by the government. How can the people in the government have any self-respect?” he asked. [In Sinhala ¬- ආණ්ඩුවේ ඉන්න අය කොහොමද රෙදි ඇඳගෙන ඉන්නේ?]

The primary purpose of these matters is to reduce poverty among the people and “I am asking the people of the area not to assist these developers.”

Ranjith who held a joint press conference with a coalition of environmental activists said that the wetlands, which is a protected area under a gazette issued in 1996, has been “violated by successive governments which have given hundreds of acres to big time businessmen from time to time.”

The Cardinal also said that Maithripala Sirisena as Environment Minister in 2006 had issued a gazette declaring that some areas of the wetlands can be used for development.

He said that the notices placed in various parts of the wetlands declaring it a protected area have been removed recently and replaced with signs barring people from entering a large portion of the region.

“How is it possible that a protected area becomes someone’s private land?” he asked.

Ranjith called on the people living in the area to rise up against the developers.

“We cannot allow these people to come here, throw their money around, bribe officials, use their political influence and destroy this area,” he said.

“This area which has a lot of natural beauty, where many birds, fish and other animals live is the natural filter for the rain that falls on to the Gampaha district,” he said.

The leader of the Environmentalist Group Surakimu Sri Lanka Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero and several other activists also addressed the media. (Colombo January 8, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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  1. Dilrukshi says:

    Very happy to hear this news. I thank those who have contributed to voice their concerns for the protection of the most beautiful things. I urge both Buddhist, Christian and other clergies to unite for the protection of nature and health.

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  1. Dilrukshi says:

    Very happy to hear this news. I thank those who have contributed to voice their concerns for the protection of the most beautiful things. I urge both Buddhist, Christian and other clergies to unite for the protection of nature and health.

Sri Lankans may need to wait for Monetary Board meeting minutes despite new Act

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankans may have to wait more time to read the meeting minutes of the Central Bank’s Monetary Board, a top official said, despite a new act that has made the central bank to be more transparent and accountable for its decisions.

Many central banks including the United States’ Federal Reserve, India’s Reserve Bank, and Bank of Mexico release the minutes of their monetary policy meeting to ensure transparency.

The new Central Bank Act passed by the Parliament in line with the guidance by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) includes measures for Sri Lanka’s central bank to be more transparent and accountable.

These measures include releasing the Monetary Policy Report every six months and the first such report was released on February 15.

However, the central bank has not taken a decision to release the minutes of the Monetary Board meetings on the monetary policy.

“Going forward, one day this could happen,” Chandranath Amarasekara, Assistant Governor at the Central Bank told reporters on Wednesday (21) at a media briefing.

“Right now, we have just started working on the new Central Bank Act. We are not there yet. There is no such decision on releasing minutes yet.”

The central bank in the past printed billions of rupees to keep the market interest rates artificially low and provide cheap funding for successive governments to propel a debt-driven economy.

It’s decision, however, led Sri Lanka into an unprecedented economic crisis in 2022 with sovereign debt default.

It also propped up the rupee currency artificially in the past to maintain a stable exchange rate at the expense of billions of US dollars. The move also contributed for the economic crisis and later the central bank was forced to allow over 60 percent depreciation in the rupee in March 2022.

However, none of the top central bank officials was held responsible for wrong decisions to hold interest rates artificially low with money printing and propping up the rupee. (Colombo/Feb 23/2024)

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Amid mass migration, Sri Lanka to recruit volunteers as English teachers

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka is planning to appoint foreign and expatriate volunteers to teach English for Sri Lanka students, the Ministry of Higher Education said, amid thousand of teachers migrating to other countries after the island nation’s unprecedented economic crisis.

Over five thousand teachers have left the country with the Education Ministry permission using the government’s circular of temporarily leaving state jobs while tens of thousands of teachers have left the country without informing the relevant authorities, Education Ministry officials say.

That had led to an acute teacher shortage in the country.

Suren Raghavan, the State Minister for Higher Education said the shortage has aggravated because most of the graduates who have an English degree become writers and join the private sector due to higher salary.

“They do not join government schools. This is a problem all over the country which is why we need to have an online system,” Raghavan told EconomyNext.

Separately he said on Thursday at a press conference that he had spoken to Canadian and Australian High Commissions to get the assistance of where their English teachers who have experience in teaching English as a second language in South Asia.

He also said that there is a number of teachers in the Unite Kingdom have shown interest in teaching English and they have experience in teaching in other Asian countries such as Burma and India while the teaching would be done free of charge.

The new move also comes at a time when the country’s English literacy rate is on the decline, according to the Minister.

President Ranil Wickramasinghe announced the English-for-all initiative three months ago with plans to improve English literacy at school and university level. (Colombo/Feb 23/2024)

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Sri Lanka tea production up 1.4-pct in Jan 2024, exports up 6.8-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s tea production was up 1.4 percent to 18.73 million kilograms in January 2024, with high growns falling and low and mid growns rising, industry data shows.

High grown tea in January 2024 was 3.56 million kilograms, down from 3.36 million, medium growns were 2.6, up from 2.5 million kilograms and low growns were 12.56 million, up from 12.32 million kilograms last year.

Exports, including re-exports were up 6.88 percent to 18.76 million kilograms, industry data published by Ceylon Tea Brokers show.

Export earnings were reported at 102 million US dollars, up from 99.5 million dollars last year. The average FOB price was 5.45 US dollars a kilo down from 5.67 dollars last year.

Tea in bulk was 8.5 million kilograms valued at 12.79 billion rupees, tea in packets was 7.8 million kilograms valued at 13.1 billion rupees and tea in bags was 1.8 million kilos, valued at 5.06 billion rupees.

The top buyer was Iraq with 2.5 million kilos, up from 2.1 million last year followed by the UAE with 1.99 kilos, up from 1.86 million last year.

Russia bought 1.98 million kilos, down from 2.0 last year, Turkey bought 1.72 million kilos, from 2.3 million last year, while Iran bought 1.32 million, up from 614 million last year. (Colombo/Feb23/2024)

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