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A kilo of sugar costs five kilos of paddy: JVP



by Saman Indrajith

The fact that a farmer has to sell five kilos of paddy to buy a kilo of sugar at present market prices is a testimony to the government economic mismanagement reneging its election promise to help the poor and downtrodden to uplift their lives, says Namal Karunaratne,  national organizer of JVP-led All Ceylon Farmer’s Federation.

Speaking at the Online Farmer’s rally under the theme of “Crisis of agriculture and farmers’ struggle” via internet on Wednesday, Karunaratne said that the dire plight of farmers was not an outcome of an accident but was a result of series of processes of economic mismanagement under all governments since independence, especially by those after 1977.

“The objective of those economic policies is clear – that is to keep the farmers out of agriculture. Their attempts have been successful because no child of a farmer no longer wants to be a farmer someday, seeing the plight of their parents,” Karunaratne said.

He said that the neo-liberal economic policies have systematically made farmers redundant to a community of people living on government relief packages.

“The farmers do not get a due price for their products. The governments have left them at the mercy of the middlemen. They have neither fertilizer nor chemicals they need for their cultivations. In some other areas, they complain that they have been adversely affected as a result of not receiving seeds.

“After the pandemic, farmers in some districts have had to throw away their harvests because they were unable to sell their produce. Some were forced to sell their crops for a pittance,” the former JVP MP Karunaratne said.

President of the Ampara District Farmers’ Associations, CH Kumara, Chairman of Nocchiyagama MILCO Farmers’ Association, Susantha Fernando and Prof LM Abeywickrama of the Agriculture Faculty of the University of Ruhuna also addressed the online rally.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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