Cabinet Decisions | Daily News

Cabinet Decisions

01. Appointments for National Frontier Management Committee

'The National Frontier Management Committee' will be acting as a government central unit responsible for the estimation of high-level risk, priorities and targets in all sectors of frontier management in Sri Lanka. Officers in other institutions join in frontier management under the chairmanship of the Defence Secretary has been appointed members of this Committee. Cabinet has approved the President's proposal as Defence Minister to appoint the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority that plays a vital role in the frontier management, the Chief of Defence Staff who is entrusted with the coordination between the three Armed Forces and Defence Ministry and the Fisheries Ministry Secretary as new members of the Committee.

02. Continuation of micro finance loan grant facility for those living in Northern, North Central provinces.

The low interest loan scheme introduced across the Co-operative Rural Bank as well as Thrift and Loan Cooperative Societies for rural low-income generators from loans taken from various micro finance loan schemes and entangled in loans is being implemented in six District Secretariats in the Northern and North Central provinces. A total of Rs 542 million of which Rs.292 million for the Northern province and Rs.250 million for the North Central province have been lent to beneficiaries under this loan scheme by now while the said amount is utilized as a revolving fund of the loan scheme. Cabinet approved the proposal tabled by the Prime Minister as Finance Minister to implement this loan scheme utilising this revolving fund for indebted people while increasing the maximum loan limit already given up to rupees 100,000 and to decrease the annual interest rate from 9% to 6% for those loans.

03. Conducting Asian Development Bank's 55th Annual Summit in Sri Lanka in 2022.

The approval of the Governing Board of the Asian Development Bank has been granted to conduct the 55' annual summit of the Asian Development Bank in Colombo. Around 3000 to 4000 participants will be in the country for the summit with more than 30 Finance Ministers from the member countries, Central Bank Governors, Executive Officers from major international banks and companies, local and foreign distinguished guests and journalists. The proposed summit is to be held on four days from May 2 to 5, 2022 while a number of other applicable conferences and ceremonies parallel to the event. Cabinet approved the resolution submitted by the Prime Minister as Fiance Minister to formulate a plan of action to conduct the annual summit of the Asian Development Bank in May 2022 in Sri Lanka and enter into a Memorandum of Understanding in this connection with the Asian Development Bank.

04. Resettlement of internally displaced families without lands and residing in welfare centres in Jaffna.

Approval of the previous Cabinet of Ministers was granted for taking necessary measures for granting plots of land consisted of 20 perch plots for a cost of Rs.700,000 each, subject to the valuation of the Chief Valuer, for 381 families without lands and residing in the welfare centres in the district of Jaffna. By now, 233 families out of 409 families residing in welfare centres in Jaffna have been identified as without lands and have made requests to obtain lands from venues near their birth places. However, 20 perches cannot be bought for 700,000 due to the land prices prevailing within the area now.Therefore, Cabinet approved the resolution by the Prime Minister as Urban Development and Housing Minister to grant those families with lands of 10 to 20 perches bought from private owners subject to the valuation of the Government Valuer without exceeding the said amount.

05. Memorandum of Understanding on mutual cooperation among diplomatic studies training institutions in BIMSTEC member countries.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has been inaugurated in1997 as an association to further enhance cooperation within the region of the Bay of Bengal. Seven countries including Sri Lanka are acting as members of this organisation now. It has been proposed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding on the mutual cooperation among the diplomatic studies and training institutions of these countries. Accordingly,Cabinet granted approval to the proposal of the Foreign Relations Minister for approving the proposed memorandum of understanding at the fifth The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit to be held in Sri Lanka during the early months of this year.

06. Revision of the temporary driving licence (MTA 37) issued by a Police Officer.

When conducting an investigation pertaining to an offence under section 135 (4) of the Motor Traffic Act, a Police officer would obtain the relevant driving licence and issue a temporary licence. The specimen applicable to that has been published in the government gazette notification dated 25' August 25, 1951. Since the contents in that temporary licence is insufficient to the present day, the then subject Minister of Transport had issued the gazette notification No. 2144/19 on October 9, 2019 to cater to today's requirement. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution submitted by the Transport Minister to submit the said gazette notification to Parliament.

07. Vehicular restrictions to protect Sedawatte Bridge

No. 2160/33 dated 30.01.2020 issued for declaring the motor traffic (restrictive rules) orders to Parliament. It has been reported that some containers being driven underneath the Sedawatte railway bridge within the highway from Thotalanga junction to Kohilawatte junction on the Colombo-Hanwella (AB 010) highway cause damage to the railway bridge due to the irresponsibility and negligence of their drivers. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal submitted by the Transport Minister to submit the gazette notification No. 2160/33 dated 30.01.2020 issued in terms of the provisions of the Motor Traffic Act to Parliament in order to ban all vehicles that transport crates, other vehicles with a loading height of 3.2 metres from the floor as well as driving vehicles with a loading height of more than 3.2 metres from the floor within that portion of the road and introduce remedial roads for driving those vehicles subject to restrictive rules in order to avoid grave accidents.

08. Providing lands in Mahaweli areas for commercial agriculture under lease.

The government has taken measures to limit food crop imports recognized for cultivation within the country with the objective of containing foreign exchange.Accordingly, import of maize has been suspended and measures have to be taken to locally produce around 250,000 metric tonnes of maize required for the production of 'Thriposha' and other animal food. Therefore, it has been planned to grant 2,750 acres of underutilised lands identified from the Rambakenoya zone controlled under the Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority and not coming under any Reserve to investors with the objective of encouraging the local agricultural producers for the large scale production of maize locally. Cabinet approved the proposal submitted by the Irrigation Minister to allocate the relevant plots of land under a lease for a period of one year to recognized local investors and to grant those lands to those investors on long - term lease subject to the provisions of Crown Lands Ordinance depending on the progress of the cultivation.

09. Project on Integrated Management of Forests, Agriculture and Tourism through Community Based Ecosystem approach.

The breakdown of the ecological balance due to non-eco-friendly environmental planning has caused many social, environmental, economic and health problems today. The Government has implemented various programmes to control this situation and has identified the need of a programme with long-term plans to be carried out jointly in agriculture, tourism and forestry. Accordingly, it is planned to implement the "Forest, Agriculture and Tourism Integrated Management Project" as a pilot project in the Malwathu Oya basin in the Anuradhapura, Mannar, Vavuniya and Puttalam districts through the introduction of the Prosperous Systems approach. It has been agreed to provide a grant of US $ 3.34 million for the project under the Global Environment Facility of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Environment Minister to implement this project between 2021-2024 using the said grant.

10. To formalise government intervention in the field of organic fertilizer production and distribution.

The Government Policy Statement -Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour" emphasises the need of directing Sri Lanka's agriculture to use organic fertilisers. In order to monitor the strategic plan of implementing this policy, it has been identified the need of a government institute with modern technology and research facilities, capable of producing, marketing, researching and developing organic fertilizers in line within international standards. Accordingly Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Agriculture Minister to convert the Colombo Commercial Fertilizer Company into an institution that manufactures, distributes and researches organic fertilizers and upscale chemical fertilizers

11. Amendment of Fertilizer Subsidy System

Approximately 382,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer for paddy cultivation is provided free to 1.45 million beneficiaries annually. Subsidized fertilizers are available in the market for other non-paddy crops without any restrictions. Under the existing system, the fertilizer subsidy for non-paddy crops is being utilized by other parties outside the target farmers, making it difficult for farmers to meet their fertilizer requirements when required. Also, the government has to bear more than the estimated cost of the fertilizer subsidy program annually. Cabinet approved the proposal of the Agriculture Minister to implement the fertilizer subsidy programme as follows: Implementing the fertilizer subsidy scheme for paddy in the same manner as at present, subject to a maximum of two hectares per season for two seasons per year, Providing opportunity to purchase fertilizer up to a maximum of 5 hectares per year as per the quantities determined by the relevant research institutes for each non-paddy crops.

12. Restarting of Fuel Oil trade by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

The monopoly of fuel oil supply, upheld by "Lanka Maritime Services Limited" affiliated to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, was opened to the Private Sector in 2004. The bonded warehouse facilities in Sri Lanka Ports Authority has been vended to the Private Sector by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had withdrawn from the fuel oil business. Small quantities of oil imported by a few suppliers stored at the Jaya Container Terminal are re-exported to ships sailing across the territorial sea of Sri Lanka. The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation possesses the capacity of importing fuel oil in bulk at favourable prices and supplying the same to licensed suppliers at competitive prices. The supply of shipping oil at competitive prices will increase the number of vessels sailing across Sri Lanka. Accordingly Cabinet approved the proposal by the Energy Minister regarding the programme designed to restart the Fuel Oil business by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

13. Reorganization of Prison Intelligence Unit.

The need of reorganizing the intelligence unit currently operating in the prison has been identified and so that it can be used for security duties, protection of special prisoners / suspects, riot control and security duties. Accordingly the cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Justice Minister to re-organise the present Prison Intelligence Unit into the "Sri Lanka Prison Emergency Response Strategic Force" enabling to assign identified specific duties in addition to the duties performed by ordinary prison officers.

14. Amendment of the Industrial Disputes Act. No 43 of 1950 to expedite procedure of Disciplinary Inquiries or Interdictions against private sector employees.

The Labour Laws do not specify a time limit for a Formal Disciplinary Inquiry on allegations and a final decision in the event of an Interdiction due to any action of exculpatory or misconduct by Private Sector Employees. As a result, it has been found that in some cases, Interdicted employees face various economic and social difficulties.Therefore, Cabinet approved the proposal of the Labour Minister to amend the Industrial Disputes Act No.43 of 1950 to issue a final disciplinary order within six months from the date of Interdiction of an employee and to include provisions that allow the employee to receive a half payment of the salary unless the relevant charge is a financial fraud.

15. Amendment of the Civil Procedure Code.

Provisions have been included in the Civil Procedure Code relating to reversal of the judgement given by the court on the request of a defendant with a notice to the plaintiff stating that he has a justifiable reason for evading the court within fourteen days of the pronouncement of judgment against him by the court due to the aforesaid evading of the defendant. It has been observed that by taking advantage of these provisions, a defendant may be able to use procrastinating tactics and object to the legitimate claim of the plaintiff. Cabinet approved the proposal submitted by the Justice Minister to amend Section 88 (2) of the Civil Procedure CodeCode to prevent such adverse conditions.

16. Manufacturing of Railway Passenger Coaches locally.

The prevailing needs require about 700 Railway Passenger Coaches and it is estimated that the number of Railway Passenger Coaches will increase to about 800 over the next five years. Existing Railway Passenger Coaches are in different ages of which 30% are 30 years old, 60% are 25 to 30 years old and 10% have been in service for 12 years or less. The forthcoming 160 Railway Passenger Coaches from India and 140 Railway Passenger Coaches expected to be acquired by the renovation project will meet only 42% of the total Railway Passenger Coach requirement. Therefore, 50% of the total Railway Passenger Coach requirement should be provided expeditiously with the use or replacement of new Railway Passenger Coaches. The Cabinet approved the proposal submitted by the Transport Minister to select an investor in compliance with government procurement guidelines to manufacture 100 Railway Passenger Coaches with the participation of private sector as a solution to prevailing requirements.

17. Developing and operating the East Container Terminal and the West Container Terminal of the Colombo South Harbour.

Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding between India and Japan for the development of the East Container Terminal of the Colombo South Harbour. The Cabinet of Ministers had approved a proposal to appoint a negotiating committee on October 26, 2020 to evaluate an investment proposal submitted by an Indian investor in accordance with provisions of the agreement. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the following proposals tabled by the Minister of Ports and Shipping according to the recommendations furnished by the aforesaid negotiating committee.

• Operating the East Container Terminal as a wholly owned container terminal of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. • Taking necessary steps to develop the West Container Terminal of the Port of Colombo on the basis of operating and developing as a public - private partnership and return it within 35 years together with the government of India and the government of Japan nominated parties and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority in compliance with the International Agreements signed by the government of Sri Lanka with a view to develop the Port of Colombo as a competitive port in the region.