All 54 member countries of Commonwealth will participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka in November this year, External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama said recently.
"The External Affairs Ministry will send invitations to member states within the next two weeks, "he said.
"Preparatory arrangements are being made for the Summit even as we speak," said Amunugama. "We are waiting to welcome all member states to our country." He said," We are sure that this will provide them an opportunity to experience the social and economic development taking place in Sri Lanka as well as the peace achieved through post-war efforts at reconciliation to achieve social and political stability,"
Details on CHOGM 2013, to be held in Sri Lanka in November, are beginning to be publicly firmed up. The government has already pre-booked in excess of 4,000 rooms within the city limits of Colombo from 7 to 17 November, with Rs 25 million in public finances expected to be spent on hosting 54 Heads of Governments of the Commonwealth nations.This is in addition to Rs 1.1 billion that is earmarked for importing 55 of the latest edition Mercedes Benz S400 hybrid cars.
The major CHOGM meeting will be Colombo based with the organisers currently setting in place somewhere around 6,000 room bookings for delegates, partners, and national support teams. The VIP transport park is under organisation.
The Ministry for External Affairs advises that the Business Forum will be located in Colombo, the People’s Forum in Dambulla, and the Youth Forum in Hambantota.
It is reported that CHOGM 203 will focus on youth, skill development, and the successful integration of technology to the rural environment. All entirely appropriate to the CHOGM given how young the overall Commonwealth population is and how significant the Commonwealth’s rural population is.
The Sri Lankan government today out rightly dismissed a claim made by the opposition that the government is planning to import high end luxury cars for the Commonwealth meeting in November.
Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, acting as the cabinet spokesman today, said the reports spreading by the opposition that the government plans to import luxury Rolls Royce and BMW limousines for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo in November is not true.
External Affairs Ministry releasing a statement said the media reports and statements by interested parties that Rolls Royce and BMW cars will be imported at a heavy cost to be used for the forthcoming CHOGM in November 2013 are "baseless and fictitious", as no importation of cars is being contemplated by the Sri Lankan government for this Conference.
"All expenditure in relation to CHOGM 2013 will be met from existing budgetary provisions, and additional funds for this purpose will not be resorted to," the Ministry said.
Sri Lanka's local media citing External Affairs Ministry sources said the Ministry is making arrangements to import 12 Rolls- Royce cars and 100 BMW cars for the use of the heads of state who will be attending the summit in November.
Minister Yapa said the cars from the government's existing fleet will be used for the transport of dignitaries.
The External Affairs Ministry said the CHOGM 2013 will be an opportunity to showcase the developments in Sri Lanka following a three decade separatist terrorist conflict and the vast economic opportunities available in the country.
"The Commonwealth Business Forum, which attracts extensive participation both from within and outside the Commonwealth, will serve as a springboard for Sri Lanka to promote trade and investment and further enhance economic cooperation. Resources allocated to the relevant government agencies for promotional activities will be fully utilized within the country towards this end. Preparation of investment projects and sectors for cooperation is already under way, and the response is encouraging for participation at the Commonwealth Business Forum later this year," the statement said.
The Ministry said the objective of the government with regard to the outcome of CHOGM 2013 is to derive the maximum benefit for the people of the country by making full use of a unique opportunity.
"In this context, it is regrettable to observe a negative attitude from some quarters, considering that this event is of a national character and worthy of support across party lines," it added.