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NES market diversification business mission to Central Europe

Sri Lanka’s share in the global export market and the contribution of exports to the national GDP has been in decline whereas imports to the country is in the increase. Further exports are dependent on imported inputs therefore, it is noted that the gap between export and import has been continuously increasing.

In addition, the export markets for Sri Lankan export products are highly concentrated. Sri Lanka’s exports were mostly dependent on the EU and North-American markets and recorded market share for USA and EU was aggregated to 60 % in 2018.

The European Union, as a Region, is the number one market for Sri Lanka which represents 30% of total exports. The major export partner countries in the EU Region are UK, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Italy.

It is important to diversify Sri Lanka’s export product basket from “traditional” to “nontraditional” exports. The National Export Strategy (NES) being implemented from 2018 is focusing on this matter and there are 6 selected product sectors to develop during the next 5 years aiming at diversifying the export portfolio to intensify and accelerate the economic growth.

In the above context it is important for Sri Lanka to look into new markets which will provide opportunities immediately as well as in the long run.

Why Central Europe

Central Europe is an economically important region for Sri Lanka.  The potential of Central Europe remains largely untapped. This Region is much open for business and in particular attractive for long-term growth prospects.  Although Sri Lanka has a strong image in the region, our commercial engagement has been relatively limited.   Sri Lanka’s total bilateral trade with Central European countries is $ 810 million in 2018 with its total exports to Central Europe being $ 388 million and imports 422 million. But these figures do not tell the entire story as it contains Sri Lanka’s healthy trade relations with only few of the countries like Poland and Hungary.

Sri Lanka looks at the Central Europe primarily as a market for our own strategic industries.  Sri Lanka exports Tea, Apparel, Manufactured Tobacco, Rubber Finished Products, Electrical & Electronic Products, Coconut Fiber, Coconut Kernel Products, Edible Fish Products, Transport Equipment’s & Parts, Coconut Shell Products, Parts of Footwear, Spices, Essential Oils & Oleoresins and Processed Foods to Central European Region.

Recently EU has announced its Europe-Asia connectivity strategy.  It is important that Sri Lanka should now look beyond the largest EU states of Western Europe and utilize the potential of cooperation in the Central European Countries which complies with the uniform market rules which apply throughout the EU.

Sri Lanka and Central European countries have much to offer to each other. There are many complementarities of interests and mutual benefits and dependencies.  Central European countries have stable macro-economic environment, highly educated yet affordable workforce, favorable business environment and strategic location.

In the above context, Sri Lanka Export Development Board organized an outward trade mission to Central Europe covering Hungary and Poland. This delegation was organized parallel to the First Session of the Sri Lanka Hungary Joint Commission held in Budapest, Hungary

Business Forum and B2B Meetings parallel to Joint Commission (JC) in Budapest, Hungary

A total of 07 private companies representing sectors of Food & Beverage, Wellness Tourism, Coconut Products, Teaand Water Management participated in this outward mission.

GEED Technologies, Bio Foods (Pvt)Ltd, Vintage Teas Ceylon (Pvt) Ltd, Siddalepa Exports (Pvt) Ltd, Serendipol (Pvt) Ltd, Jetwing (Pvt) Ltd and Sen Wellness Sanctuary participated at the Business Forum followed by the B2B meetings held from 23rd -26th April 2019 in Hungary and Poland.  They had the added advantage of joining the official delegation to the Joint Commission which initially provided the opportunity to organize this mission and have credibility towards the mission.

Business Forum followed by the B2B meetings held on 23rd & 24th April 2019 in Hungary was organized by the Hungarian Export Promotion Agency (HEPA) and the Hungarian Embassy in New Delhi. The event was attended by the Co-Chairs of the Joint Commission; representing Sri Lanka, Secretary of the Ministry of Development Strategy & International Trade and H.E. István Joó, Deputy State Secretary for Export Development of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary H. This event was coordinated by Mr. Szolt Padazky, the Commercial secretary of Hungary Embassy in New Delhi.

There were more than 45 Hungarian companies attended for the Forum and more than 30 B2B meetings were conducted. High interest were shown on Food Products, Wellness Tourism and Coconut Products.

Business Forum & B2B Meetings in Warsaw, Poland

Immediately after the Hungary programme, the delegation proceeded to Poland.  Poland is the largest economy in Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Poland’s population exceeds 38 million.

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Poland and the Polish Chamber of Commerce organized the Business Forums and B2B Meeting programme on 25th & 26th April 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. More than 40 Polish companies attended the Business Forum and more than 40 B2B meetings were conducted on 25th & 26th April 2019 in Warsaw.

During this Outward Mission to Hungary & Poland, our participants discussed with their counterparts on different options of partnerships. It was identified that the Central European market is more affordable and a reachable market for Sri Lanka. During this Mission, the Sri Lankan trade delegation was afforded with the opportunity to develop business sales leads, joint ventures, and distributorships in both countries.

Mrs. Vidyani Hettigoda, Director, Siddhalepa Exports (Pvt) Ltd stated that they received  positive interests towards Ayurvedic products, hotels and franchise sectors from the counterparts they met in Hungary and Poland  and could establish a number of business contacts in both countries. Though Sri Lanka tourism industry braces for tough times, Polish companies specifically inquired for facilitation services for 1-2 weeks in Ayurvedic Health Resorts in Sri Lanka.

Further Mrs. Hettigoda mentioned that “I saw a lot of possibilities in Poland to promote Ayurvedic products and would like to explore those and saw a lot of potential in Hungary too. I developed many contacts, and  is now exchanging emails, so the relationships have begun”.

In the next few months, EDB anticipates that many of these leads will develop into formal agreements, and the EDB will continue discussions with the private sector mission participants to track their individual results.

Follow up on World Food Poland

During this visit, it was identified that participation of Sri Lankan companies in the sector of food & beverages at the World Food Poland would be beneficial to make further connections with the buyers in the Central Europe. It provides a platform to connect and conduct business with food and beverages industry buyers operating in Eastern Europe. The next World Food Poland will take place in March 2020 in Warsaw. Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Sri Lanka Embassy in Warsaw will encourage more participation from Sri Lanka at the forthcoming event.

Inaugural Flight of LOT Polish Airlines

During the Business Forum held at the Polish Chamber of commerce, the representative from the LOT Polish Airlinesrevealed that its’ new seasonal service between Warsaw and Colombo is among the shortest routes from Europe and adding a connection between Europe and Sri Lanka from the next winter season, which will “guarantee the shortest travel” to the destination from many European countries. This may lead to wider scope for greater economic cooperation with Sri Lanka and Poland for more trade as well as tourism. Tourist arrivals from Poland have risen by 7.5% to 9,836 in the first nine months of this year.

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Inquiries from Sri l.ankan communities about providing assistance to the people affected by the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks

His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has announced that the Arch Diocese of Colombo has set up a Special Fund, to be managed by Caritas, which can be used by benefactors to send donations for the benefit of the affected people as well as the reconstruction of the affected churches. The video of the Cardinal’s announcement is available at http://www.archdioceseofcolombo.com/

Details of the Fund are given below. Missions may share this information with any Sri Lankan Association/groups making inquiries.

Account name     :Archbishop of Colombo
Bank                       :Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, Borella branch
Account No           :1190038741
Swift Code             :CCEYLKLX

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Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Maciej Lang , Vice Speaker of Parliament Hon. Ryszard Terlecki , Ambassadors, Diplomats Sign Condolence Book at Sri Lanka Embassy in Warsaw.

The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Maciej Lang ,and Vice Speaker of Parliament Hon. Ryszard Terlecki accompanied by Director of Foreign Affairs from President’s Chancery and Deputy Director of Diplomatic Protocol visited the Sri Lanka Embassy in Warsaw on Wednesday 24 April 2019  to offer condolences to the  Government and the people of Sri Lanka following the tragic terror attacks of Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, who were received by the  Ambassador CAHM Wijertane at the Embassy.

The deaneries signed the Book of Condolence opened at the Embassy, following which they met with Ambassador conveyed their sincere condolences and those of the Polish Government on the tragic incidents of Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka to the families of the victims, President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the people of Sri Lanka.

Ambassadors, Representatives of Diplomatic Missions and Other International Organizations also signed the Condolence book expressing solidarity and condolences.

Sri Lanka Embassy

Warsaw

24 April 2019

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President Duda sends message of sympathy to Sri Lankan President

Following the deadly terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday, Polish President Andrzej Duda offered condolences to the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

“Dear Mr. President. I have received with profound sadness the news about a series of explosions that took place in churches and hotels in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa in Sri Lanka, ” Andrzej Duda wrote in his condolence message to Sri Lankan President.

“In the name of the Polish nation and my own, I would like to offer our heartfelt condolenences to all victims and families of the victims,” President said.

“The Poles are shocked by this tragedy that touched people when the Feast of hope and life is celebrated.” During these difficult times, we join in the prayers with the families of all victims of this tragedy, Mr. President, please accept the words of sorrow and solidarity once more, ” Andrzej Duda added.

On Easter Sunday in several cities of Sri Lanka there was a series of explosions in churches and hotels where at least 207 people were killed and 450 injured.

Sri Lankan authorities said that about  30 of the fatalities were foreigners.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said that it has verified the nationality of 11 foreigners killed in the attacks. They are three Indians, two Turks, a Portuguese, three British, one person with British citizenship and one with the US citizenship. Nine foreigners are considered missing.

 

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Ambassador CAHM Wijeratne, met with Mr Pawel Niewiadomski, President of Polish Chamber of Tourism.

Ambassador met with Mr. Pawel Niewiadomski, President of the Polish Chamber of Tourism at the Embassy on 11th April 2019.

Polish Chamber of  Tourism is the largest organization founded by the tourism industry and operating all over the country. The Chamber’s role became extremely important after Poland joined the European Union. The Chamber has 500 members with about 1000 offices spread through the country.

The Chamber’s activities cover a wide range of interests. Among other issues, there are development of the tourism industry, its competitiveness on the foreign markets, access to new technologies and setting business standards among the members.

The Chamber members and the organization itself cooperates with international associations like The United Federation of Travel Agent’s Association, The European Travel Agent’s and Tour Operators’ Associations, The American Society of Travel Agents, German Association of Travel Agencies, as well as local travel agencies associations.

During the meeting with the Ambassador, the President of the Chamber agreed to host the visiting Sri Lankan Trade delegation at his office on 25th April and discuss the matters interested to both parties. They will also explore the possibility of having collaborative arrangement for future cooperation in the tourism sector.

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Warsaw.

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Sri Lanka Embassy in Poland participates at 8th edition of Action Diplomacy

The Action Diplomacy is a project organized by the Foreign Affairs Club at Warsaw University of School of Economics which is dedicated to furthering the knowledge of diplomacy, business and geopolitics among the brightest students of Polish Universities.

The participants coming from the whole Poland, are selected in a special recruitment process by the Club. Throughout March and April, they will visit Embassies and prominent institutions in Warsaw. The visit will be accompanied by workshops and lectures with experts at Warsaw School of economics.

As the Action Diplomacy is one of the most recognized and respected students’ projects concerning diplomacy and Foreign Affairs in Poland , in the past years this project was endorsed by the European Commission, Polish Institute of Diplomacy and Polish National Commission for UNESCO among others.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Warsaw hosted the Group of 17 Students of Action Diplomacy on 01.04.2019 at the  Chancery building. During the interaction sessions the Ambassador CAHM Wijeratne, delivered a key note speech outlining Sri Lanka’s history, political, economic, cultural and tourism spheres in Sri Lanka.  In addition, Sri Lanka Poland relations was also focused in the discussion. Students raised questions on variety of topics including the current level and areas of cooperation between Sri Lanka and Europe, the situation in SAARC region and international issues. During the  Discussion, promotional videos about Sri Lanka were shown.

Students were served with variety Sri Lankan foods and Ceylon tea.

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Warsaw

03.04.2019

 

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President of Sri Lanka attends Fourth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya

His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka visited Kenya to attend the One Planet Summit and the Fourth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly  from 13th to 16th March 2019.

Addressing the Environment Assembly, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s achievement in contributing towards an environmentally sustainable future for the children of the world.   The President stated that several ground level Blue-Green smart initiatives have been taken covering both land and ocean. The President also stated that Sri  Lanka cosponsored Resolutions  at the UNEA 4 Assembly along with other partnering countries on;  Conservation of  Mangroves, Marine Litter and Microplastics, Solid Waste Management and Food Loss and Waste.

The UNEA 4 was graced with the attendance of French President Emmanuel Macron, President of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina, Prime Minister of Rwanda Édouard Ngirente, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed, UNEA-4 President Siim Valmar Kiisler, Acting Executive Director, UNEP Joyce Msuya, Interim President and CEO, World Bank Kristalina Georgieva and as the host President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Appreciating the long term collaboration with Sri Lanka, the President visited the International Centre for Research in Agro Forestry (ICRAF), where a tree was planted in commemoration of his  first visit. Director General, Mr.Tony Simons and Deputy Director Research,  Mr.Ravi  Prabhu,  appreciated  the  initiatives of the  President  in the environmental  front  and   thanked  him for his support  in their  endeavours in Sri Lanka as the  Minister of Environment. Mr Prabhu, made special mention  of the environmentally sound initiatives taken by the President around the Moragahakanda project.

President Sirisena also had a discussion with President Kenyatta at the State House on 15th March 2019. Both Presidents focused on common issues that hinder rapid development of the two countries.

The Sri Lankan community met the President at a function hosted by the Sri Lanka Mission in Nairobi. At the event, Sri Lankan Association in Kenya presented a short documentary on the history of Sri Lankan businesses in Kenya.  They also pledged their support for the endeavours and initiatives of the President in safeguarding Sri Lankan interests.  Speaking at the event, the President appreciated the initiatives of the Sri Lankan Association for their tireless efforts in preserving Sri Lankan culture in Kenya.  The President has also appreciated the dance performance of children of Sri Lankans living in Kenya.   In remembrance of the visit, the Sri Lanka-Kenya Association presented a momentum to the President.

On the morning of 16th of March, the President was welcomed by Rev. Yatirawana Wimala Thero at Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple in Loresho, Nairobi. Kenyan student s from surrounding schools performed a traditional dance to welcome the President.

Sri Lanka High Commission,

Nairobi

19th March 2019

(Photographs credits: Presidential Media Unit)

 

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Statement by Hon. Tilak Marapana, PC, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka (Head of the Sri Lanka Delegation) 40th Session of the Human Rights Council 21st March 2019

Item 2- Adoption of the resolution A/HRC/40/L.1 ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’

 Mr. President,

The Government of Sri Lanka considers Resolution 40/L.1 mandating an extension of two years until March 2021, to make further progress on human rights, reconciliation and accountability, as a mark of recognition of Sri Lanka’s political commitment and the progressive steps already taken by the Government since 2015.

Sri Lanka’s open, and constructive approach towards the work of this Council is well acknowledged. We have engaged with seven core Treaty Bodies, the UPR, and have also facilitated 8 visits by special procedures mandate holders and independent experts, resulting in a total of over 1000 recommendations, for expeditious implementation by Sri Lanka.

Mr. President,

As I put on record before this Council yesterday, we have to set our priorities right and we are committed to find innovative and pragmatic solutions to protect the country’s national interest and the well-being of all Sri Lankans alike, guided by the provisions of the supreme law of the land – The Constitution. Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship of this year’s Resolution assures to all concerned persons, the Sri Lankan society at large, and to all our interlocutors outside the country, that we will continue to move forward within these parameters, to ensure eventual closure.

Mr. President,

We welcome the assistance and cooperation we have received from partners as required, and invite the OHCHR to engage closely with the relevant local institutions and independent bodies including the National Human Rights Commission, in verifying facts on ground, which will help OHCHR to provide more objective and realistic assessment on the progress made in Sri Lanka and on its genuine challenges, to this Council next year.

In conclusion Mr. President,

Sri Lanka takes this opportunity to appreciate the efforts of the members of the Core-Group, and thank all Members of this Council for supporting a consensus outcome today.

I thank you.

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Polish airline LOT to fly to Colombo

With its eyes on the tourist market, the Polish carrier will offer the service from November 3 to March 28.

The nine-hour flights on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be available tAll Postshree times a week.

LOT carried over 8.9 million passengers last year, 2 million more than in 2017, according to Polish Radio’s IAR news agency.

This year, the airline is eyeing a record 10 million passengers, IAR added.

From this fall, LOT will fly from Warsaw to Colombo in Sri Lanka. Cruises will be seasonally serviced from November 3 to March 28 three times a week with modern Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Colombo is already the seventh Asian long-distance direction in the growing grid of the Polish carrier and the first regular connection opened for tourists seeking a winter exotic vacation. Tickets are now available for sale.

Boeing 787-9 LOT Dreamliner will support the connection between Warsaw and Colombo in the winter season. The first cruise is scheduled for November 3 this year. The merger will be implemented until March 28, 2020 three times a week, according to the following schedule:

 

LO 069 WAW-CMB 15: 35-05: 10 + 1 Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays

LO 070 CMB-WAW 07: 35-13: 30 Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays

 

In this way, LOT will guarantee the shortest travel to Sri Lanka to passengers from Poland, but also from many other European countries.

 

Tourists choose Asia

 

– We decided to start a regular connection to Sri Lanka due to the very large tourist potential of this direction. Annually, more than 1.8 million people travel between Europe and Colombo. The convenient schedule guarantees passengers from all LOT cities serviced in Poland, Western Europe, and Scandinavia, the Baltic states and from Prague, Budapest or Zagreb, the shortest journey to Colombo with a convenient change at Chopin Airport. The cruise from Warsaw to Sri Lanka will take about 9 hours – says Rafał Milczarski, the president of LOT.

 

For several years, South Asia has been the most frequently chosen destination for the increasing number of passengers traveling from many European countries. Located on the Indian Ocean, Ceylon attracts by kilometers of sandy beaches, lush greenery, ancient architecture and outstanding cuisine of the region. The country is also one of the largest tea producers in the world, hence its large part is covered by tea fields. From November to March, the average temperature in Sri Lanka is 30 degrees, making it an ideal proposition for winter relaxation.

 

Thanks to excellent cooperation with travel agencies, Dreamliners LOT every year fly to many exotic places in the world willingly chosen as the destination of exotic holidays. I am glad that we can take another step today and announce the launch of the first regular long-haul connection, which will be operated in the winter season for tourists from Warsaw and other European cities. It’s the shortest and most convenient way for them to get to the beautiful beaches of Ceylon – says Rafał Milczarski. The other representatives of the industry speak in a similar tone. – It is obvious that carriers reduce their offer on regular routes during the winter season. Machines can not stand idle and be used halfway through a whistle, so searching for charter or tourist destinations for them is perfectly right. In Poland, the demand for winter trips is growing exponentially and as it is estimated this winter the interest in travel will increase by more than 220 percent. compared to the season from two years ago. Winter wanderers are beginning to discover new directions, which include Sri Lanka and India – says Adrian Furgalski from the Tordes’ Dordcy Gospodacze Group.

 

A new Dreamliner for Sri Lanka The new connection will be made by the most modern wide-bodied aircraft in the world – Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. In each of them, passengers have at their disposal three classes of travel: LOT Business Class with armchairs decomposing to a flatbed position and a kitchen like from the best restaurant; LOT Premium Economy Class with a larger, individual space, comfortable seats with footrests, thigh rests, cocktail tables and a rich menu, as well as LOT Economy Class with modern armchairs with individual onboard entertainment screens and USB sockets as well as fresh and varied meals served during the voyage. Decks will also include products containing regional elements. The launch of the connection from Warsaw to Colombo is an element of the profitable growth strategy that LOT has been implementing since the beginning of 2016, and most of its assumptions have been implemented by the Polish carrier ahead of time. LOT is constantly expanding its fleet. In December last year, the carrier picked up another new aircraft: Boeing 737 MAX 8 and four Embraery 190 (the carrier already has in its fleet of 34 Embraers four types). This year, deliveries of the next nine B737 MAX are planned, the number of which will increase by the end of this year to 14. By the end of this year, four more B787 Dreamliner planes will join the fleet, thanks to which their number in the LOT fleet will increase to 15. Last year, LOT transported a record number of over 8.9 million passengers, by 2 million more than a year earlier. This year, the Polish carrier plans to carry 10 million passengers. LOT currently uses 80 modern aircraft on a daily basis. The carrier has in its scheduled offer already 111 connections on three continents. Tickets for the new LOT connection to Colombo are already available in all sales channels, including on lot.com, LOT Contact Center, LOT Travel offices and agents.

 

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Tripitakabhivandana’ Week commences tomorrow

‘Tripitakabhivandana’ Week has been declared from tomorrow (March 16) to March 23rd, to mark the occasion of initiating the process in order to declare the Theravada Tripitaka, the sacred scripture of Buddhists, as a World Heritage.

The National ceremony to announce the proposal made by Sri Lanka to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare the Theravada Tripitaka as a World Heritage, with the assistance of all the Buddhist countries in the world, will be held under the patronage of Maha Sangha including the Maha Nayaka Theros of the Tri-Nikayas and with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena at the  Maha Maluwa (Great Terrace) of the premises of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic on March 23.

The Theravada Tripitaka was declared as a National Heritage of Sri Lanka by President Maithripala Sirisena on January 5, 2019 at the Aluviharaya Temple in Matale. The effort taken by the President Sirisena to declare the Theravada Tripitaka as a World Heritage has been appreciated by the Maha Sangha including all the Buddhists around the world.

The Presidential Secretariat, Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Ministry of Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with other Ministries have organized many religious programmes to mark the ‘Tripitakabhivandana’ Week and a request has made to the public to hoist the Buddhist flags in all the state institutions, private institutions, houses, vehicles and roads.

‘Tripitakabhiwandana week’ program will be conducted a Sound Offerings from 6.00 pm to 6.15 pm in the week in Island wide. Meanwhile, the Tripitakabhiwandana, along with the Sacred Relics, was organized simultaneously in several Buddhist religious places throughout the country.

On the 16th of March, the Tripitakabhiwandana Week will be held at the police divisional level based on the Pindapatha Alms giving and the various religious programs based on Sri Lankan temples abroad.

On Sunday, March 17th, a program is to be implemented to construct Sunday Damma Schools building in 226 temples selected for the children studying Dhamma education under the trees. On March 18th, Island wide, religious programs will be held and various programs will be organized based on non-governmental organizations on Tuesday, 19th March.

On March 20th, the Poya Day, the ‘Janapathi Sadaham Yaththra’ program will be conducted and on the same day arrangements will be made to inform the public about the Tripitaka Dharma offering at Temples Island wide.

Thursday, March 21st, Presidential Secretariat and all Governor’s Offices jointly organise alms giving programs. Various religious programs including alms giving by all state institutions will be held on Friday, March 22nd. On the 23rd of March, the national festival will take place at the historical Dalada Maligawa, concluding the Tripitakabhiwandana week.