Countrywide docs strike today over FTAs

...continuous all sector strike contemplated


Dr. Haritha

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Declaring a 24 hour countrywide strike commencing 8 am today (May 17) against Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) and a move to finalise Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) yesterday alleged that President Maithripala Sirisena hadn’t responded to their call for an urgent meeting to discuss the matter.

GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge said that in spite of President Sirisena being briefed of the situation, the GMOA couldn’t secure an opportunity to make further representations.

Sri Lanka and Singapore signed the agreement on January 23, 2018 following 18 months of negotiations.

Dr. Aluthge assured that emergency services would be maintained during the strike. The GMOA also assured uninterrupted services at maternity hospitals, children’s hospitals, cancer hospitals, medical units where kidney patients were treated and military hospitals.

The GMOA spokesperson said that the planned strike could be averted depending on President Sirisena’s reaction. The official asserted that many issues could be resolved by issuing a statement guaranteeing that SLSFTA wouldn’t be implemented until the government agreed on a national policy framework on such agreements.

Dr. Aluthge said that the GMOA was ready to lead a campaign to organize countrywide continuous strike involving all sectors in case the government pursued its anti-national agenda.

The GMOA spokesperson faulted Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema and his group of advisers for the current situation. They were accused of pursuing their own interests at the expense of the national economy and well being of the country.

The GMOA alleged that the contrary to public statements, those responsible for SLSFTA hadn’t properly briefed the parliament or cabinet of ministers headed by President Maithripala Sirisena of the adverse implications of the agreement.

Alleging that the SLSFTA was advantageous to Singapore, Dr. Aluthge quoted the Customs as having said that Sri Lanka could lose revenue close to USD 1,000 mn due to this agreement.

Having explained how SLSFTA had undermined the national economy, the GMOA pointed out that the government recently had declared that the next round of talks to finalize ETCA would take place on May 23.

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