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Sunday, 8 April 2012

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"Let's turn the ocean into a lucrative resource"

“It is a shame to import canned fish for consumption spending billions of rupees as an island while endowed with a resourceful ocean around the country “, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa.


President Mahinda Rajapaksa was at Bogambara Grounds recently at the Rata Ekata program. Here he is seen giving a patient hearing to two little boys
Pic : Sudath Silva

Addressing a gathering after opening the first-ever State fish canning factory in Galle he said we should strive to end imports of not only canned fish or connected processed fish products, but, all such commodities which can be produced and grown in this fertile soil of ours.

He said opening of a fish canning factory was a commendable fulfillment of the profound objective of transforming the ocean into a lucrative resource as envisaged in the Mahinda Chintana.

The first fish canning factory established and operated as a joint venture between the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation and Happy Food Lanka (Pvt.)Ltd in the Galle Fisheries Harbour is the first cannery out of three such proposed State industries.

He said owing to the encouragement and concessions given by the Government to the agriculture sector, the country is by now satisfactorily self-sufficient in rice and maize as well. " But it is regrettable that we still import many agricultural products, such as, green gram, onion and even kurakkan which are conventional food crops of the country. We have to end this practice of maintaining the dependable economic practice", he said.

”I was pleased to hear that almost 80 per cent of the Government’s anticipated goals with regard to the Fishery Industry have been accomplished by now as revealed by Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Rajitha Senaratne”, President Rajapaksa said.

“With the progress of the fish canning industry, we would be able to end the import of canned fish to the country, thereby saving a massive amounts in foreign exchange. Further, the new cannery will be a boon to the fishery community and the people as well. It would encourage the fishing industry. I hope all officials and authorities responsible for the uplift of the fishery industry should work with proper understanding about the needs and aspirations of the fishery community. I also expect that the other two proposed fish canning factories would also be soon established,” the President said.

Good governance

It was at the meeting held at Temple Trees organised to take forward the policy of 'One Country' that President Rajapaksa said while the Government was capable of dealing with any pressures that came from Geneva, New York or Washington, it was the public servants and heads of corporations who should ensure good governance to improve the image of the country internationally.

The 'One country' policy was designed to respond to current challenges faced by the country and to mark the completion of two years of the Government that came to office in the General Election in April 2010.

Addressing a gathering of public servants, heads of state corporations, provincial and local government political leaders on the challenges facing the country, President said the public administration should be aware of the challenges that have taken place in society, the new expectations in an era of peace, and learn to be responsible to the public in all their actions.

Referring to current challenges before the country, he said such challenges were not new. He recalled that the Government was able to face up to and overcome tremendous pressure from the time it declared commitment to a unitary state. " It was able to take the message of unity against foreign pressure. It was able to face challenges such as fuel price increase, closure of banks due to the international financial crisis, and most importantly the major threat of terrorism. We were able to overcome these through the policy of non-alignment. We will remain non-aligned and therefore we can declare that we will not waiver in our policies whatever pressures we have to face", he said.

The President said the Government had pressing economic needs today and it had spent nearly Rs. 130 billion on public service to improve the quality of service to the people.

Duty to serve the public

"This should be borne in mind by all those whose duty is to serve the public. Public administration officials should take note of the changes in society due to the rise in per capita income to $ 2600 and that led to increased expectations among the people. Many development policies carried out by the Government have brought new roads, new access to electricity and water and much better expectations from the administration.

It was necessary to curb wastage and mismanagement and look into the actual necessity of products that are being imported, which could be produced here. He said there were many research institutes and a large number of experts too that could contribute to this. The private sector should be incentivised to look into new opportunities. There must be a new mindset that will ready to drink fresh milk produced in the country and not to look for powdered milk said to strengthen bones", he said.

President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka was now moving towards a new era and it was the duty of the public servants to be responsible and ensure good governance for the sake of the country, for the sake of our children, for the sake of the children yet to be born and for the sake of the future generations.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa launching the 'Mihi Meth Suwa Sara' programme to alleviate the malnutrition in the country and control the no-communicable diseases among the country's population said the Government strengthened the free health service while implementing qualitative and timely measures such as free education.

Quality health service

He said the Government targets to build a healthy nation of sound mind and body and will provide the necessary strength through quality health service while developing the country as a whole." Sri Lanka has the best health indicators in Asia and successfully managed epidemics such as malaria and polio due to the free healthcare available to the country's people", he said.

The program was organised to create awareness among the people on leading a healthy lifestyle and forming a wholesome society to prevent non - communicable diseases (NCD) among Sri Lankans, which have become a major reason for the increase in deaths.

"Most students go even to nearby schools by bus or school van. Schoolchildren take fast food as a result of the busy lifestyle of their parents. We have to play a pivotal role to be safe from NCDs," President Rajapaksa said. The President noted that it has been observed that more people are paying attention to their health. "The recently constructed jogging tracks are popular among the people. The law cannot prevent people from NCDs but it has to be achieved by individual dedication and determination," President Rajapaksa said.

He emphasised the importance of children as well as adults engaging in physical exercises and said that the government has taken measures to build playgrounds and walkers' lanes in every city to promote good health through exercise.

At a development review meeting held in Matara President Rajapaksa urged public officials and political representatives to work according to a well-planned road map when enacting economic and social development initiatives in the provinces.

He said that such prudent planning could bring about better results in line with the people's expectations. While emphasizing the importance of proper planning, the President also said that it was important to minmise wastage when carrying out development initiatives.

He opened the newly constructed building complex of Matara District Secretariat. Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, Matara District Parliamentarian Sanath Jayasuriya, Southern Province Governor Kumari Balasuriya and District Secretary W. K. K. Athukorale were also present.

The 29th Asia-Pacific Regional and Sri Lanka’s Centenary Scout Jamboree was declared open by the Chief Scout, President Rajapaksa in Dambulla last Sunday.

“While announcing that the 29th Asia-Pacific Regional and Sri Lanka’s Centenary Scout Jamboree has been officially declared open, I am pleased to extend my warmest felicitations to all Sri Lankan and foreign scouts and officials participating in this event,” he said.

The Jamboree with the participation of nearly 750 foreign scouts from 26 countries and 6,000 local participants will continue till April 7. In 1912, F. G. Stephens launched the Scout movement in Sri Lanka.

The first ever scout contingent was established in Christ Church College in Matale. Since then the scout movement had extended throughout Sri Lanka with a membership of over 46,000 today.

It was a happy and unforgettable moment for the Veteran film maker Dr. Lester James Peiris as the President of Sri Lanka was with him to celebrate his 93rd birthday. President Rajapaksa paid a personal visit to his residence to extend his best wishes to Dr. Peiris, who is rendering an immeasurable service to Sri Lankan film industry.

The President has presented a Rs. 2.5 million life insurance policy to the veteran film maker, who is considered as the father of Sinhala cinema and revolutionised the Sinhala film industry with his globally acclaimed film "Rekawa" in 1956.

The internationally acclaimed film director, screenwriter and film producer went on to produce 28 such award-winning movies as Sandesaya, Gamperaliya, Delovak Athara, Golu Hadawatha, Nidhanaya, Madol Duwa, Weera Puran Appu, Kaliyugaya, Yuganthaya, Baddegama, Wekanda Walauwa and Avaragira.

He has earned many accolades including the Sri Lankabhimanya title, Sri Lanka's highest honour for a civilian.'Avurudu Nekath Seettuwa', the traditional document that lists the 'nekath' (auspicious times) for the customs to be followed during the upcoming Sinhala and Hindu New Year was handed over to the country's leader, President Rajapaksa on Friday at the Temple Trees.

A messenger handed over the traditional document to the President at an event organised by the Ministry of Culture and the Arts.

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