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New Secretary Defence Assumes Office in Simple Ceremony

Mr B.M.U.D Basnayake, the former Secretary to Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy, assumed office as the new Secretary of Defence, Ministry of Defence Sunday (11) morning during a simple ceremony, attended by additional secretaries, tri-service commanders, invitees and a host of administrative service officials and service officers.

The ceremony got to a start amidst religious observances and Pirith chanting, administered by venerable members of the Maha Sangha at Sambuddhaloka Viharaya, close to the Ministry of Defence premises at Colombo, Fort during which a brief Anushasana (oration) invoked blessings on the new appointment.

As chanting was continuing, Mr Basnayake, more popularly known as ‘Uthpala’ among all those who know him, placed his signature in a formal document, signifying the acceptance of the new office as the auspicious minute struck. Flanked by Mrs Basnayake, two daughters, Mr Siri Hettiarachchi, Additional Secretary to Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, Commander of the Army, Navy and Air Force Commanders and other senior officers, the new Secretary, Mr Basnayake afterwards was showered with warm greetings of everyone present there.

Later on, Mr Basnayake at the Ministry’s conference hall addressed the gathering and urged the cooperation of everyone to carry out his duties as per guidelines, being given by His Excellency the President, Prime Minister and the Government.

“In consultation with the Army and other services, all measures would be taken to sustain the territorial integrity and the unitary status of the country since the military had succeeded in restoring peace in the country. I wish to pay a special word of thanks to my predecessor with whom I spoke over the phone before I assumed duties. With my diverse experience as an administrator, I believe, I would be able to perform my duties in this sphere of national security. In the future, I would like to meet all of you separately and map out our future roles and tasks for the best interest of the country,” Mr Basnayake told the attendees at the inaugural conference.

Mr Siri Hettiarachchi, Additional Secretary to Ministry of Defence welcomed the new Secretary on arrival at the premises, together with a representative team of senior MoD officials, offering auspicious sheaves of betel.
Mr Basnayake, a senior officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS) – Special Grade, holds Masters of Development Administration (MDA), National Centre for Development Administration (NCDA) in the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, Australia and Masters of Science (MSc) in Agriculture Economics from the Post Graduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya (PGIA) and a Graduate Diploma in Development Administration from the National Centre for Development Administration of the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Kelaniya in Geography.

Mr Basnayake was serving as the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment & Renewable Energy before he was appointed the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence after HE the President Maithripala Sirisena was voted to power. During 2010-2012, he also held the position of Permanent Secretary to the Ministries of Resettlement and Transport. As an Additional Secretary, Mr Basnayake has served several Ministries, including Public Management Reforms, Tourism, Advanced Technology and National Enterprise Development.

In addition to those, he held the posts of Acting Project Director for the JBIC-funded Tourism Resources Implemented Project, Acting Director General of Sri Lanka Export Development Board and the post of Senior Consultant at the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA).

In his capacity as the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment & Renewable Energy, Mr Basnayake held the focal point positions in all environment-related Conventions, including the Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer, Basel Convention on the Control of Trans Boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought And / Or Desertification, particularly in Africa, Convention on the Continental Shelf, Bio Safety Protocol (Cartagena), Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP's) and Kyoto Protocol, etc.

Department of Forestry, State Timber Corporation, National Gem & Jewellery Authority, Gem & Jewellery Research Institute, Marine Environment Protection Authority, Geological Survey & Mines Bureau, Central Environment Protection Authority, Geological Survey & Mines Bureau, Central Environment Authority and Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority were the Departments and Institutions that came under the purview of the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy, in which he was the Secretary until he took over the Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Basnayake joined the SLAS in January 1982 and held positions of Assistant Director and Deputy Director to the Department of Fiscal Policy and Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance and Assistant Government Agent (Akkaraipattu Division) Ampara. Similarly, Mr. Basnayake has participated in a number of national and international meetings, seminars and conferences, representing the Government of Sri Lanka and chaired some of those meetings on behalf of respective Governments.