President of Sri Lanka attends ceremonial handover of FAO distributed inboard engines
As part of the handover, two engines were transported to the President's House by the Agents (Browns Group of Industries) and a number of beneficiaries were accordingly invited to grace the occasion. During the ceremony, the Director-General of the DFAR delivered a speech indicating beneficiaries had been selected from many tsunami-affected districts including, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Trincomalee and Kalutara. During his address, the FAO representative, Mr. Pote Chumsri, reiterated FAO's commitment to the rehabilitation of the fisheries sector, thanks to multi-donor contributions exceeding US$23 million from Japan, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Laos, Italy and the European Union. He expressly thanked the MFAR and the DFAR for their willingness to support the implementation of FAO projects and also informed the President that FAO is due to deliver an additional 285 outboard motor (OBM) engines for the east coast.
In addition, the President distributed two boats and engines to fishers who lost their boats as a result of a fire at the Kalametiya fish landing centre (Hambantota district) in late 2006. As a result, the18 fishers who suffered the loss of assets were provided with a MFAR-funded 6-7 metre fibreglass reinforced plastic boat and a 25 hp OBM engine costing Rs. 375 000. All 18 beneficiaries were present on the occasion.
The President's closing remarks gave appreciation to FAO for supporting the rehabilitation of the fisheries sector. Further, the President reaffirmed that improving the plight of tsunami-affected fishers was a Government priority. He recalled that as a former Minister of Fisheries, the restoration of the fisheries sector is still close to his heart. Furthermore, the President stressed the need to tap offshore fishery resources, paving the way for sector-wide economic development and pledged Government support for the achievement of these goals.