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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka invites Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, to enter the energy sector

COME TOGETHER – State Minister for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya addressed a virtual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuirya has invited Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to enter the island’s energy sector, a statement said as efforts are being made to liberalize the industry.

State Minister Balasuriya met Minister of the Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)) 6th Summit in Kazakhstan place.

“As Azerbaijan is an oil-producing nation, State Minister Balasuriya …noted that Cabinet approval has recently granted to open fuel Imports and retail sales market to companies from oil-producing nations,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

“The two sides agreed to continue discussions on further cooperation and to establish a bilateral consultations mechanism in order to expand existing ties.”

Minister also met the Foreign Affairs Minister of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov of Kazakhstan and requested him to explore avenues for cooperation in the power and energy sectors in Sri Lanka.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tursunov had said that Kazakhstan was ready to support Sri Lanka and suggested that a team visit Kazakhstan to explore options available in the energy sector.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tursunov also stated that as a precursor, virtual bilateral consultations on economic, cultural and political relations could be held and invited State Minister Balasuriya to visit Kazakhstan in 2023.

In late June, Sri Lanka’s cabinet cleared a proposal to allow companies in oil producing countries to distribute fuel.

At the moment 90 percent of fuel distribution is done by state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and about 10 percent by Lanka IOC.

Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on June 25 that players may be given 200 to 300 filling stations out of the 1,190 fuel stations operated by state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.


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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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