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AG tells state officials to take stock of everything related to oil super tanker fire

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Attorney General Dappula de Livera yesterday held a three-hour discussion with Navy Commander Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Chairman of the SLPA, Gen. (retd.) Daya Ratnayake, Chairperson of Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), Dharshani Lahandapura and Director General of Merchant Shipping Secretariat, A.W. Seneviratne on the New Diamond Oil Tanker that caught fire 40 nautical miles off Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast, State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne, the Coordinating Officer to the Attorney General said.

The Attorney General instructed the officials to evaluate the current status of the losses and the expenses that the government had incurred due to the incident. The relevant parties were also instructed to report the government’s losses and the expenses.

Livera also instructed the Chairperson of Marine Environment Protection Authority to send a team to the site, observe the pollution created by the incident and find out if marine pollution had taken place.

The Attorney General told those officials that foreign teams that would come to Sri Lanka over the matter had to be brought in following COVId-19 guidelines.

He also instructed the officials to see where the ship was, stability and the damage caused by the incident and future damages that could happen to the stricken vessel. They were also asked to see if there was a probability of an oil spill and evaluate the potential damage to the environment. They were also asked to prepare emergency measures if such an eventuality occurred.

Earlier the Merchant Shipping Secretariat and MEPA sought the AG’s advice on the arrest of the captain and crew members of the oil tanker.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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