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About 700 out of 1,000 rural bridges planned for 2021 nearing completion

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Construction work on about 700 out of 1,000 rural bridges scheduled to be completed by the end of this year was in progress as per the plans, Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday.

Speaking to the media at his Ministry after meeting to review the progress of constructing 5,000 rural bridges as per President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour, the Minister said that the work had been in progress according to plans despite the effects of the pandemic.

He said construction of 1,000 bridges in rural areas would be completed by the end of this year in line with the government’s plans to eradicate rural poverty by increasing efficiency and connectivity of villages to the main cities. The work commenced as per the instructions of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and under the supervision of Basil Rajapaksa, Head of the Presidential Special Task Force on Economic Renewal and Poverty Alleviation would continue in all electorates of the country.

Minister Fernando instructed the officials of the Highways Ministry, Road Development Authority and State Development and Construction Corporation to pay their utmost attention to complete the work under their purview on schedule.

“The new bridges will replace the dilapidated makeshift bridges in rural areas which are unstable. These low-cost concrete bridges will be an alternative to the makeshift wooden bridges. With the implementation of this project, the main road network will be connected to the rural roads facilitating the day-to-day activities of the rural people. Their livelihoods will be improved while promoting the tourism industry as well,” the Minister said.

This project was implemented throughout the country with the target of completing the work of 5,000 bridge project within the next four years. The project will facilitate the daily activities of the rural people, improve their livelihoods and promote the tourism industry.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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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.

(SF)

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

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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

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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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