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AMS proposes suspension of ad hoc salary revisions, etc., to halt health sector strikes

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The government should temporarily suspend all ad hoc salary revisions and other corrective measures agreed with trade unions recently with immediate effect and review salary scales and grades of public servants in a uniform, fair, equitable and transparent manner on a scientific basis, Dr R. Gnanasekeram,  General Secretary of the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) said yesterday.

He told The Island that the government had lost the confidence of the public sector by granting concessions to some categories of workers in an ad hoc manner in the health sector.

Dr. Gnanasekeram asserted that lack of direction in general and poor fiscal management had aggravated the ill-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The General Secretary of the AMS added that what determined whether a trade union would win their demands or not depended only on the might and political allegiance of the trade union and not how reasonable their demands were.

“To win such demands, whom are they holding to ransom? It is usually the poorest of the poor who have already been battered by the pandemic. As public servants we must admit that we are among the least affected by the pandemic and resultant economic impact. Our salaries are paid in full whether we work or not. Even the transport is arranged at the expense of the state for some of us. Essentials were made available for us to be delivered to the workplace as an extra convenience. These are some of the privileges we have enjoyed as public servants during this period,” he said.

Therefore, public servants, as one of the least affected segments of the society, should be more mindful of our duty over rights, he said. Dr. Gnanasekeram said that AMS had analysed the current situation and believed that an urgent interim solution should be sought to prevent a lot more trade unions joining the strike bandwagon.

“We strongly recommend that all ad-hoc salary revisions and other corrective measures agreed with trade unions recently and promised to do in the near future be suspended with immediate effect until a concrete solution is worked out and revisit and review salary scales and official statuses of public servants in a uniform, fair, equitable and transparent manner on a scientific basis in consultation with experts in the salaries and cadre commission. If such remedial measures are not adopted, we wil be compelled to warn the government of facing a spate of trade union actions plunging the nation into absolute chaos.”



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Lanka, Turkish FMs powwow in NY

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Sri Lankan and Turkish FMs meet (pic courtesy Foreign Ministry)

Concerns over selective use of human rights by section of int’l community

Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris has expressed condolences on the death of two Turkish nationals as a result of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks when he met the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu at the Turkish House, the Chancery building of the Turkish Permanent Mission, in New York, for a bilateral meeting between them, on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to New York.

Prof. Peiris has given an update on the investigations underway and the legal processes being taken to try those that were involved that had linkages to extreme groups. The two Ministers expressed the need to confront terrorism in all its forms as well as linkages to the rise of extremism and spoke against the politicization of human rights and selective use of human rights as tools by some parties, and pledged to expand international cooperation in the United Nations and other fora.

The following is the text of the statement issued by the FM: “Foreign Minister Çavusoglu recalled fondly his fruitful two-day visit to Sri Lanka in 2016. The Minister appreciated the arrangements extended to him during the visit. Foreign Minister Peiris also fondly recalled a number of visits to Turkey and commented on the rich experiences he had. The Foreign Minister of Turkey was happy to observe that a Hony Consul of Sri Lanka would take office shortly in his hometown.

In evaluating their mutual visits, the two Foreign Ministers noted that it would be an opportune time to enhance further contacts by visits and interactions at other levels, to strengthen the excellent ties of friendship between the two countries, particularly economic and trade ties. Foreign Minister Çavusoglu noted that despite the two countries being geographically far, the ties between the two were very close.

Foreign Minister Peiris noted the generous assistance given to Sri Lanka from Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic with the provision of ventilators and other equipment and appreciated that Turkey had also extended support in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami where housing was provided. The Ministers appreciated that bilateral trade between the two had steadily increased from US 100 Million and was projected to reach US 200 million in the current year.

Foreign Minister Peiris highlighted that there was a need for Sri Lankan exports to Turkey to diversify from its 80% consisting of tea and noted that there was tremendous potential between the two countries to boost economic, trade and investment in growth areas such as construction and the pharmaceutical industries, where Turkey had expertise and Sri Lanka was looking at developing this area by having specific economic free zones for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals for the local market and beyond. The Turkish Foreign Minister underscored that the Turkish construction sector was the world’s second largest and that they had a number of projects globally and not just in their region.

The two Ministers expressed interest to finalise important agreements on Avoidance of Double Taxation and on Investment Promotion and Protection that could serve to provide opportunities for joint projects, investments and initiatives between both countries.

The Foreign Minister of Turkey noted their experience of successful Private to Public Projects for infrastructure, such as Turkey’s second international airport that would boost their role as an important global international hub.

The two Ministers also discussed enhancing people to people contact, including possibilities of exploring air connectivity between Ankara and Colombo and code-share flights to the region that could boost linkages and ties to new levels, including exchanges between the respective Chambers of Commerce and business sectors. Both sides undertook to expedite respective agreements that had been finalized and were at the last stages of implementation.

Foreign Minister Çavu?o?lu noted that he was to visit Sri Lanka, but that the visit had to be postponed due to the COVID pandemic. Foreign Minister Peiris extended an invitation for the Turkish Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka in the near future.

The two Ministers looked forward to expanding the friendly and close ties and expressed hope that further interaction may commence in the aftermath of the covid pandemic.”

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Shortage of 120,000 Sputnik V second jabs causing heartburn to many in Kandy District resolved

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By Chaminda Silva

Another consignment of the Russian-made Sputnik V anti-Covid vaccine purchased by Sri Lanka was brought to the country on Sunday (19).

A batch of 120,000 doses of the vaccine was flown to the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) by an Emirates cargo plane from Dubai. The consignment was transported from Moscow, Russia, to Dubai, and from there to the BIA.

They were transported to the Colombo Central Vaccine Storage Complex by refrigerated trucks of the Sri Lanka Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Minister of Health Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella last week said the 120,000 doses of Sputnik-V vaccine would be given to the people of the Kandy District who received the Sputnik-V vaccine as the first dose.

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Lanka receives another 20 railway passenger coaches from India

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A railway passenger coach being unloaded from a ship at the Colombo Port.

SriLanka has received another 20 state-of-the-art railway passenger coaches from India as part of the supply of 160 coaches to the Sri Lankan Railways by the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), which is being financed through an Indian Line of Credit.”In line with India’s continuing commitment to assist Sri Lanka in the development of its railway infrastructure, a consignment of 20 railway passenger coaches supplied by Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) Ltd, reached Colombo Port on September 17, 2021,” Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a press release.

It said: This consignment is a part of the contract to supply 160 passenger coaches to Sri Lanka Railways, funded under an Indian Line of Credit of USD 318 million. The value of this contract is USD 82.6 million.With this consignment, a total of 60 coaches out of 160 have been supplied to Sri Lanka and 20 more coaches are ready to be shipped from India. The first lot of passenger coaches had arrived in Sri Lanka in March 2021, following which requisite trials were conducted.

These ‘India-made’ modern passenger coaches have been custom made and built as per the requirements of Sri Lanka Railways. Under the Line of Credit of USD 318 million, RITES Ltd is also scheduled to supply two AC diesel multiple units (DMU) to Sri Lanka Railways. The first AC DMU set (13 coaches) is ready for shipment from India and is waiting for nomination of a ship by Sri Lanka.

Other projects under this line include Up-gradation of the Railway Line from Maho to Omanthai (128 kms), Maho-Anuradhapura Signaling project, Double Tracking of Railway Line from Polgahawela to Kurunegala, etc.

It may be noted that RITES Ltd has previously supplied 6six DMUs (contract completed in October 2019) and 10 Diesel Locomotives Railways (contract completed in June 2020) to Sri Lanka, funded under a separate Line of Credit. India’s overall development assistance to Sri Lanka is close to USD 3.5 billion. This includes projects/initiatives under Lines of Credit as well as grant. Development of railway infrastructure in Sri Lanka is a sector of special focus, in line with the priorities of the Government and people of Sri Lanka.In this connection, reconstruction of railway lines (268 Kms), installation of signal and telecommunication systems (330 Kms), and upgrading of coastal railway line (118 KM) have already been completed. Various other projects are at different stages of implementation.

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