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SRI LANKA EMBASSY CONDUCTS “A DAY OF SRI LANKAN CULTURE” IN WASHINGTON DC

Posted on 12 May 2017 by TSL

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A Day of Sri Lankan Culture and Tradition in DC 

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Despite spring showers, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC was a hive of activity on Saturday as thousands of visitors thronged to the embassy premises for a celebration of Sri Lankan culture. The Embassy opened its doors to the public as part of the annual Passport DC Around the World Embassy Tour, an event organized by Cultural Tourism D.C., which provides embassies in Washington D.C. the opportunity to offer a peak into their cultures and cuisine.

Throughout the day visitors to the Sri Lanka Embassy were treated to an array of Sri Lankan food and beverages, including Ceylon tea, while enjoying live traditional music, dances and folk games. As in past years, the ‘sari corner’ generated much excitement among the visitors, as they tried on the country’s colourful traditional attire and posed for photographs. The visitors were also eager to have their names written in the age-old Sinhalese and Tamil scripts, as a unique souvenir of their visit. Many were also eager to learn what made Sri Lanka such a globally popular tourist destination.

Around the World Embassy Tour is Washington D.C.’s citywide international cultural awareness program that provides its residents and visitors an opportunity to explore the international culture that is a crucial part of the city’s character.  

 

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Washington D.C.

 

May 6, 2017

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News Release from Sri Lanka Embassy in the USA

Posted on 06 February 2017 by TSL

Sri Lanka reiterates commitment to Open Government Principles.

At a meeting with Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam on February 1, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Sanjay Pradhan stated, that the election of the Sri Lankan government two years ago on the plank of good governance gives Sri Lanka the opportunity to play an important role in promoting open government principles.

The Ambassador recalled that Sri Lanka was invited to join the OGP in 2015, in recognition of the measures taken by the government to strengthen good governance, combat corruption and strengthen democracy in the country since coming into office in January 2015. In October 2015, Sri Lanka participated in the OGP Summit held in Mexico City and became a participating country by endorsing the OGP Declaration committing “to foster a global culture of open government that empowers and delivers for citizens and advances the ideals of open and participatory 21st century government.”

In keeping with its OGP commitments, Sri Lanka has already submitted the National Action Plan of Sri Lanka for the OGP to the Washington based OGP Secretariat. At the meeting, Ambassador Kariyawasam handed over a letter from Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, formally conveying the National Action Plan and reiterating Sri Lanka’s commitment to implement Open Government principles.

Launched in 2011, OGP provides an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. With this aim, OGP aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness cutting edge technologies to strengthen governance. From its initial eight countries, OGP has now grown to 75 participating countries.

The OGP National Action Plan was developed through a consultative process in partnership with relevant ministries, and civil society partners in all provinces of the country. The National Action Plan was drafted by a Joint Working Committee comprising government officials and civil society partners and will be implemented over a period of two years. The Cabinet appointed a National Steering Committee under the Chairmanship of the President, with the participation of the Prime Minister, relevant Cabinet members and members of the Joint Working Committee which will oversee and provide guidance in implementation.

Representing Sri Lanka in the OGP Summit in December 2016 in Paris, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera observed the importance of OGP values to build trust in government and highlighted the reforms being undertaken by the Sri Lankan government to uphold the vision of transparent, inclusive and participatory governance.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington D.C.

February 3, 2017

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Sri Lanka Parliament and U.S. House Democracy Partnership launch Collaboration Agreement

Posted on 15 September 2016 by TSL

The Sri Lanka Parliament and the House Democracy Partnership of the U.S. House of Representatives launched a Collaboration Agreement to strengthen partnership between the two legislatures today, 14 September, in Washington D.C.
 
The Agreement was signed by the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Representative Peter J. Roskam, Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership on behalf of the Sri Lanka Parliament and the House Democracy Partnership respectively.
 
The collaboration between the two legislatures is based on the principles of facilitating the exchange of information on the legislative systems of each country, sharing knowledge, and offering consultations on effective legislative management; and cooperating and assisting each other through training programs for the members and staff of the legislatures.
 
The signing of the Agreement was preceded by a roundtable conversation among the members of the House Democracy Partnership and the visiting parliamentary delegation of Sri Lanka led by the Speaker. Speaker Jayasuriya was joined by Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy, Karunaratne Paranavithane, Deputy Minister of Parliament Reform and Mass Media, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of City Planning and Water Supply, Dhammika Dasanayake, Secretary General of Parliament and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Prasad Kariyawasam.
  
HDP Chairman Peter Roskam and Ranking Member Congressman David Price, both reflected on the strong bilateral ties that Sri Lanka and the United States have traditionally shared and the potential to further deepen relations through collaboration under the HDP.
 
They were joined by Congresswomen Diane Black and Dina Titus, who signaled interest, particularly, in working with women parliamentarians.
 
Speaker Jayasuriya observed that the political transformation in Sri Lanka since the Presidential and Parliamentary elections last year and the formation of the National Unity Government have ushered in a new era for the Sri Lankan parliamentary system. He explained in detail democratic reforms undertaken by the Parliament during last 12 months.  The Parliament, sitting as a Constitutional Assembly, is in the process of drafting a new Constitution, which is expected to be finalized next year. He thanked the HDP membership for the initiative to collaborate with Sri Lanka under the partnership.
 
A bipartisan, twenty-member commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, the House Democracy Partnership works with partner countries to develop accountable, effective and independent legislatures. Partner states are eligible to participate in training seminars for staff, peer-to-peer exchange programs with the U.S. House of Representatives and receive capacity building assistance in critical areas such as constituent relations, legislative oversight, committee operations, research and library services. The converging power of the forum in bringing together American legislators and their peers from around the world, makes the initiative an invaluable tool in the process of strengthening democratic institutions worldwide.
 
 
 
Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

14 September 2016

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Sri Lanka invites diaspora to make submissions for reconciliation.

Posted on 20 July 2016 by TSL

Indian Express

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has invited the diaspora groups, including Tamils, to make submissions for advancing the task of reconciliation following the country's three-decade-long civil war that ended in 2009.

The Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTF) through the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington has called for submissions from diaspora organisations on the design of structures, processes and measures for truth, accountability, reparations and non-recurrence.

The diaspora can make submissions on Office on Missing Persons, an Office on Reparations, a Judicial Mechanism with a Special Counsel, a Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non-Recurrence Commission and any other mechanisms, processes or measures for advancing reconciliation.

The submissions can be made until July 28.

These mechanisms will be evolved through a process of wide consultations involving all stakeholders, including victims, the notice said.

The Tamil diaspora groups in the West were generally regarded as sympathisers of the LTTE during the armed separatist conflict.

The report of the CTF will be handed over to the government at the conclusion of the consultation process.

"It is expected that the Report, upon conclusion of consultations in August 2016, will be handed over in September 2016, the notice said.

The government has already noticed parliament on the Office of Missing Persons which has been criticised by the Sinhala majority nationalists as a move to betray the government troops who defeated the LTTE.

According to the UN figures, up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by security forces during Rajapaksa's regime that brought an end to the nearly three decades-long war with the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.NNNN

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CONSUL GENERAL SAROJA SIRISENA TALKS ABOUT HER JOURNEY SO FAR

Posted on 01 July 2016 by TSL

Fuelled by an interest in travel, politics and international relations, she carved a career in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service

Saroja Sirisena: rooted to her home and homeland

Saroja Sirisena: rooted to her home and homeland

Her residence in South Mumbai quietly speaks volumes about her homeland — walk into its welcoming ambience, and the Sri Lankan flag immediately catches your eye. Simply furnished – in a minimalistic fashion — the different rooms can be seen as one walks down the short corridor and into the hall that boasts furniture from the island country, a few paintings that speak of its owner’s artistic taste and potted plants that lend a soothing touch to the Sri Lankan official’s address in the city.

Her first posting as consul general brought Saroja Sirisena to Mumbai, and the self-confessed nomad has endowed her new address with her individual touch. In the almost two decades that she has served as a diplomat, before she came to India, she had been posted to Paris, Brussels and then Geneva — and, interestingly, has also lived in Britain and Australia, and of course Sri Lanka, with her parents. Her slim frame draped in an orange sari, Sirisena sits elegantly on the couch and admits, “Like a crab or tortoise, I carry my house with me. Whenever I am posted to a new country, I bring the familiar with me, like an oasis in an unfamiliar territory. But, I always have regrets when I have to move, as I tend to miss the people and the place. And as much as I can, I carry a part of Sri Lanka wherever I go. And when I have to move again, I carry a bit of the latest place where I have lived to my next destination too. I travel with 200 boxes. And when settling into a new city, I don’t go to shops and buy popular stuff. I go to little places and try to find things that appeal to me. And the best part is that there is a difference between travelling and living in a country. When you stay abroad and work for your nation, you get to see the best of the other country while continuing to be connected to your own.”

Interestingly, the girl who grew up to be a diplomat initially nurtured dreams of being a housewife. Born to doctor parents, she rewinds, “I grew up in a household of professionals, so the emphasis on education was strong. My paternal grandmother was a teacher. For a long time I thought that I would follow in my parents’ footsteps, but when I turned 16 I told them that I wanted to be a home-maker. Believe it or not, but I was not a nerd as a child. I played a lot, was involved in athletics and was also interested in playing the piano. Later, my interest in travel, international politics and languages greatly influenced my choice of career in the Sri Lankan diplomatic corps.”

The only child of her parents, she confesses to being the apple of her father’s eye. She recalls a precious gift he gave her when she was barely four or five years old. Sirisena reminisces, “I used to play on the dining table and hum tunes to myself. So, while we were in England he ordered a brand-new piano for me, which got delivered when we returned to Sri Lanka.”

Her life today is filled with numerous activities — for her role is about being the face of her country here, facilitating new economic gateways and interacting with a host of celebrities and businesspersons, and the people of the country. Although while growing up, she says, “I never felt that there were any limitations to my achievements, for my parents did not let my gender define me”, she does admit that being a consul general is at times a challenging job. “I embrace my life as a diplomat. My personal and professional lives move seamlessly and percolate into one another. I don’t have any pretentious airs as a diplomat. It is just a way of life. People always see the glamorous side of it, but there are several important consular functions. For instance, when I was posted in Paris, a tsunami struck Sri Lanka and its surrounding regions. We had never heard of something like that and were soon packing boxes with relief material to send home. There was an outpouring of grief and of kindness, sometimes misplaced, for people also sent winter clothes. Generally, work ranges from helping your own citizens when they are overseas, to handling visas, trade and investment matters, and promotional exercises for your country. This is my 18th year as a diplomat; so it comes naturally to me.”

On the gender bias in her domain, she states, “Diplomacy is still quite male-dominated. And as a woman, one has another role to play. You still have the feminine side to you that wants to be able to run a nice home, whether you are single or married. And when I move, I have to do everything on my own — it is tough, and yet exciting.”

Saroja Sirisena: a global nomad

Saroja Sirisena: a global nomad

When I ask her if she has a preferred destination to work in, Sirisena says diplomatically, “I live in the present, and the present moment is always the best. Each station — and country — has something very special. Paris was my first posting, I had lived there as a student and five years later, I was working there, living the life I had seen from outside. Each city has something to offer and when you live your quotidian life in that space, you take something back with you. Even before I came to Mumbai, the city was familiar to me. It is the Mecca for saris and I had come here with my mother 20 years ago for shopping. And I had asked to be posted here. People in India and Sri Lanka look the same, have similar attitudes and thought processes. I represent my country with so much pride. It is the most important thing I have ever done in my life. It is such a beautiful country and I am happy to set up a little bit of Sri Lanka here and share its unseen aspects with Mumbai. We have a very simplistic style. Open spaces are inherent to our island culture. Our homes reflect that. My only regret so far is that I have not picked up as much Hindi as I should have. I enjoy the local food and have relished puran poli, aamti and masala bhaat!”

Her job has its own risks; what would she do if posted to a country that was characterised by unrest? Sirisena states calmly, “I have been lucky in that I have not had to face unusual difficulties in my postings. But growing up in Colombo, during a time of rampant terrorism, has equipped me to face any difficult situation. I have seen strife at close range as I have grown up amidst tension and conflict. You learn to cope with it and then move on. You become a little resilient, which is a good thing. I have never really felt unsafe. The only time I felt so was when I was a student in Australia, and my family was in Sri Lanka and trouble erupted there. I was worried as I did not want anything to happen to them, and be the only survivor. But, by nature, I am a positive person and do not imagine the worst.”

There is a break in our conversation as the dining table, beautifully set with a floral centrepiece, gets laden with a host of Sri Lankan delights — mince balls, coconut-and-jaggery-filled rolls and more, topped off by a refreshing coconut cooler. Sirisena who quickly steps out of her sari and into an outfit from Kalaasa, a Sri Lankan label, by artist Lasantha Karunaratne who also designs clothes, says, “I like glamorous clothes, and I also wear dresses, pants and jeans. But, I spend most of my time in saris as that is the official dress code for Sri Lankan public servants. It is an embodiment of both tradition and modernity, and is also very functional. A sari is a symbol of respect and authority in my culture.”

Her strong connect with Sri Lanka keeps her grounded as she moves around the globe. Sirisena points out, “Our culture is what keeps me rooted to my home. It evolves over time; however, the essence remains the same.”

In India, she has slipped into a routine that, along with the demands of work, has also embraced yoga. On her affinity with the Indian ethos, she states, “India, especially Mumbai, is like a second home to me — with its foods, clothes and spirituality. Add to that the positive response of Indians to Sri Lanka, and the entire experience makes me feel completely local and happy.”

And, home in Sri Lanka to her is Colombo. “My parents, cousins and friends live there. It is the perfect combination of traditions, ancient culture and modernity, bustling cities and a tranquil countryside, white sandy beaches and lush green hill forests. It truly is a magical land.”

Courtesy: Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena. Photographs by Ryan Martis.

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BOI facilitates Japanese investors meeting

Posted on 09 June 2016 by TSL

BOI facilitate Japanese investors meeting.

Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka hosted the annual Japan-Sri Lanka Government Private Sector Joint Forum for existing Japanese Companies based in Sri Lanka and operating projects under the BOI regime. This is the 8th such Forum where the BOI is hosting Japanese enterprises.

The Forum is an ongoing process whereby Japanese investors meet BOI regularly and discuss ongoing matters to ensure that Sri Lanka offers the most investor friendly conditions to existing Japanese companies.


The Japanese delegation was led by Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Kenichi Suganuma, who also acted as the main spokesman for the group.


The Sri Lankan side was led by Chairman of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Upul Jayasuriya, and included Deputy Director General Duminda Ariyasinghe, senior officials of the BOI, and officials of other important state agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, The Labor Department, The Inland Revenue Department, Airport and Aviation Services, Sri Lanka Customs and the Department of Immigration and Emigration.


The Japanese organizations represented at the meeting were Colombo Dockyard, Taisei Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Kaihatsu Management Consulting Lanka and JETRO.


The discussions covered a wide range of matters, such as salaries paid to the staff of enterprises, current status of taxes, residence visas, status of the power supply and road network, internet services and matters relating to the port. On many of these issues a consensus was reached between the Japanese enterprises and the Sri Lankan side.


Through this comprehensive mechanism of facilitation BOI is able to assist existing Japanese investors by addressing their requests.

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World Bank predicts Sri Lanka’s growth will pick up to 5.3% for next 3 years 

Posted on 09 June 2016 by TSL

 

World Bank LogoIn its latest Global Economic Prospects report, the World Bank predicts Sri Lanka's economic growth will pick up to 5.3 percent in this year and in both 2017 and 2018 despite monetary and fiscal tightening.

"Growth will be supported by infrastructure spending financed by sizable FDI flows as part of the government's Port City and Western Province Megapolis initiatives. Also, recent policy measures to curb imports will contribute to growth," the World Bank's flagship report the Global Economic Prospects June 2016 said.


The report notes that an expansionary fiscal policy has contributed to the increased deficit and debt levels in Sri Lanka but efforts are underway to address the deterioration in public finances, including the increase in the VAT rate from 11 to 15 percent.


In Sri Lanka, rising core inflation and high credit growth have compelled the Central Bank to tighten policy.


Noting that fiscal deficit is on the rise in Sri Lanka, which received a sovereign rating downgrade in 2016, In Sri Lanka, the report says the expansionary fiscal policy has contributed to the increased deficit and debt levels. In Sri Lanka, government debt levels are above 70 percent of GDP.


While reserve buffers remain comfortable or improved in most countries in the South Asia region, in Sri Lanka, along with its fiscal situation, import cover ratios deteriorated to an estimated 3.5 months, as the country, along with other emerging and frontier market economies, experienced significant capital outflows. Gross official reserves in Sri Lanka fell to $6.3 billion in March 2016 from $7.3 billion in December 2015.


The World Bank forecasts that weaker-than expected growth in advanced economies will dampen export growth for countries in South Asia. Fiscal consolidation in Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries will slow remittance flows, mainly affecting the outlook for the smaller economies that rely heavily on remittances such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.


Remittance flows have been broadly steady in Sri Lanka but if the ongoing fiscal consolidation in Gulf countries is sharper than expected, remittance flows to the region could slow sharply, in particular to Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, the global lender predicts.


Gradually tightening financing conditions will increase external borrowing costs for economies with access to international capital markets, notably corporate public sector borrowing in Sri Lanka.


The World Bank report says against the backdrop of a fragile global economy, the priority for fiscal policy is to build fiscal buffers and reduce debt, and measures to raise direct tax revenues, which are low in Sri Lanka even by emerging market and developing country standards, will free fiscal space for much-needed public investment.


For Sri Lanka, such measures include broadening the tax base, reducing exemptions and improved tax administration.


Efforts to raise revenue would benefit Sri Lanka if they are complemented with better quality of spending and to this end, appropriate measures should include strengthened public financial management, the report suggests.


Growth in South Asia is expected to remain robust at 7.1 percent in 2016, picking up to 7.3 percent in 2018.

Courtesy: News LK (Government of Sri Lanka Website)

 

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Lal Wickrematunge is Consul-General for Sri Lanka in Sydney

Posted on 17 October 2015 by TSL

 

October 17, 2015 | Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,News,STORIES | Posted by: 

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime’s policy of helping friends and family appears to have spread to the Foreign Ministry with career diplomats being overlooked in favour of loyalists and their kin.

Foreign Minister Managla Samaraweera

Foreign Minister Managla Samaraweera

Last week Lal Wickrematunge, brother of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the slain Editor of the Sunday Leader, was made Consul General in Sydney. Also, Manoj Warnapala, the son-in-law of Austin Fernando, advisor and confidante of President Maithripala Sirisena and the Governor of the Eastern Province, was appointed yesterday as a consul in Sri Lankan High Commission in UK. Warnapala is a UK citizen.

One of the main pillars of the Maithripala Sirisena campaign was to de-politicize the Foreign Service which was filled with children and relatives of cronies by the previous Rajapaksa administration. Colombo Telegraph understands that key individuals of the Sri Lanka expatriate community are upset by this decision. They argue that it amounts to a continuation of the much-criticized nepotism of the Rajapaksa Era. Some of them, who were very vocal in their support for Maithipala Sirisena, point out that career diploamats continue to be sidelined just like during the Rajapaksa years.

Neither Lal Wickrematunge nor Manoj Warnapala have ever held a diplomatic post before nor do either one of them have any career training or experience in the diplomatic service.

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President Sirisena arrives in New York to attend 70th UN General Assembly Sessions

Posted on 24 September 2015 by TSL

President NYPresident Maithripala Sirisena arrived in New York City this morning (Sep. 24) to attend the 70th United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) Sessions.

The President was warmly received by the Sri Lankan Ambassadors for Washington and New York, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, and embassy staff in New York, as he arrived at the Hotel where he will be accommodated until the conclusion of his visit.

The President and the Sri Lankan delegation are scheduled to participate in the inaugural session of the UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters.

The President will have bilateral meetings tomorrow (25) with several leaders including Switzerland President Didier Burkhalter and South African President Jacob Zuma.

He also will meet the President of ICRC; Peter Maurer as well as the Administrator of the UNDP; Helen Clark.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is scheduled to held bilateral discussions with Foreign Ministers of New Zealand and Pakistan.

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President Sirisena leaves for New York to attend UNGA Sessions

Posted on 23 September 2015 by TSL

 

President leaves for New York

President Maithripala Sirisena left for New York today (Sep. 23) to attend the 70th United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) Sessions.

He is scheduled to deliver a special address at the General Debate of the 70th UNGA.

The President will have bilateral meetings with several leaders including Prime Minister of Malta Dr Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key, and Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull during the summit.

He also will meet the President of ICRC; Peter Maurer, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch; Mr. Kenneth Roth, as well as the Administrator of the UNDP; Helen Clark.

External Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Affairs D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training Mahinda Samarasinghe are accompanying the President.

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