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Army Chief explains at Investment Forum strategy of battling Covid-19

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Army Commander General Shavendra Silva says the ongoing inoculation project which is the main focus of the government is being carried out covering the entire country andcordial diplomatic ties have facilitated efforts to procure vaccines.

General Silva, who is also the Head, National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) says the government intends to shield the entire population by the end of 2021 to early 2022 to enable the restoration of stability.

 “We have effectively managed the first and second wave of the COVID-19, and we are so far in the process of controlling the third wave successfully.”

General Silva was participating at virtual online sessions at the Sri Lanka Investment  Forum (SLIF) yesterday.

Excerpts of General Silva’s speech: “Sri Lanka’s response strategy is based on firstly, breaking the chain of spread; secondly, curbing the spread by separating the infected from uninfected and isolating the exposed and vulnerable population; thirdly, treatment of infected personnel minimizing the loss of lives; fourthly, minimizing citizen suffering from associated loss of earnings, travel restrictions and difficulties to access medical and other necessities; fifthly, achieving the population immunity through vaccination which is the accepted best mean of defence against the virus; and finally, maintaining and progressing the economy and livelihood during and post-pandemic.

 “This strategy is operationalised by distancing rules, encouraging best practices, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine process. Military and National intelligence are extensively utilised for contact tracing supported by the public health authorities for subsequent monitoring and evacuation. Military, assisted by health authorities, spearheads the isolation and quarantine process, where Security Forces build and maintain quarantine facilities and provide security and medical assistance to run the quarantine centres island-wide.

 “In curbing the spread by separating the infected from uninfected and isolating the exposed and vulnerable population, the military assists in establishing and managing the Intermediate Care Centres under the guidelines of the health care authorities. Also, it is important to note that we have never neglected the tourists, foreign nationals and business partners living in Sri Lanka. We have had special consideration for such personnel from the beginning of the Pandemic, and we have taken care of them and assured their wellbeing as Sri Lankan citizens.

 “As of today, healthcare authorities make a tremendous effort to minimise the loss of lives. We have been able to manage all infected cases giving best possible treatments and facilities to save their lives.

 “It has to be understood that COVID-19 is not merely a health issue. Managing the Pandemic is essentially managing the economy and livelihood as well.  Also, the resilience in a Pandemic is essentially the resilience in the economy too. Therefore, the Government has never underestimated the importance of local and international economic activities to run the country’s economy. 

 “Preserving the National Economy has been a decisive factor for Sri Lanka before the Pandemic, during the Pandemic and will be in post-pandemic too. We have given equal emphasis to external and internal aspects of the National Economy. Let me emphasize that despite having imposed travel restrictions to control the spreading of COVID 19, the country was never closed for economic and economic-related activities.

“We have emphasised on safe tourism, giving the guarantee to long-and short-term tourists that Sri Lanka is a safe destination. We are in the process of developing and improving the ‘Bio Secure Bubble’ in tourism, sports, and diplomatic visits. Sri Lanka has proven its competencies in providing a bio secure environment from the port of landing back to the departure. In this aspect, we have readjusted infrastructure, transport, food and beverage and health facilities to provide cutting edge and quality service.

“Also, by now, we are focusing on enhancing Sri Lanka’s potential in facilitating MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism. Considering the situation in and around the world, we expect the relatively safer situation in Sri Lanka will give a boost to this market in time to come.

 “Despite the restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka has been committed to continuing the building of necessary infrastructure and service facilities for industrial and business advancement, which is a significant prerequisite for external and internal economic partnerships. Sri Lanka’s major development projects and infrastructure projects were not delayed due to the Pandemic, and also, the health and safety of the workers have never been compromised.



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DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL

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by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Election Commission (EC) has expressed its disappointment at controversial statements made by some public officials about elections. It says some top government official, including the Director General of Government Information, are not familiar with the basic election laws and regulations laid down in the Constitution.

The EC says it may be due to his ignorance that the Director General of Government Information has issued the Special News Release, on 29 January, claiming that ‘the gazette notification, with the signatures of the Chairman, and other members of the Election Commission, required for the commencement of the Local Government Election process, has not yet been sent to the Government Press for printing’. The EC has said such notices have to be signed and sent by the relevant Returning Officers in accordance with section 38 of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment Act) No 16 of 2017, and not by the members of the EC.

The EC has confirmed that the notices from the Returning Officers were sent to the Government Press on Monday (30).

The EC’s Media release also points out that the DGI may be unaware that Article 104GG of the Constitution states that if any public official refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to comply with the Commission he or she has committed an offence.

Article 104GG of the Constitution says: (1) Any public officer, any employee of any public corporation, business or other undertaking vested in the Government under any other written law and any company registered or deemed to be registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007, in which the Government or any public corporation or local authority holds fifty percent or more of the shares of that company, who – (a) refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to cooperate with the Commission, to secure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of an election or the conduct of a Referendum; or (b) fails without a reasonable cause to comply with any directions or guidelines issued by the Commission under sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) or sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (5), respectively, of Article 104B, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

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AKD says no improvement at Sapugaskanda oil refinery since it went into production in 1969

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The capacity of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery (SOR) has not increased since it was established in 1969, National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says.

Speaking at a public rally recently he that in 1969, the SOR used the most advanced technology available at the time.

“CPC started construction in 1968 and SOR started operations, refining oil, on August 5th, 1969. During that time, the CPC could refine 50,000 MT of crude oil. 55 years later, the capacity remains the same. In 1969, the CPC started with the most advanced technology available at the time. Technology has improved now. We are still refining oil with 1969 technology,” he said.

Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka built a fertiliser factory to use the byproducts of the refinery and, in 1982, a newspaper reported that 5000 MT of urea, produced by that factory, was exported to Pakistan. Today, that factory is closed.

“The CPC also had a nylon factory, as a subsidiary. We built our own nylon thread fish nets. By-products of the refinery were used as pesticides and insecticides for our pineapple and flower production. Those factories were closed, too. We had a candle industry from the by-products, we produced lubricant oil. It was sold to American Caltex. Refinery produced fuel for airplanes. It has the capacity to sell USD 1.4 million worth airplane fuel per day. We can buy crude oil, refine, and sell to ships. These are opportunities we must use to earn foreign currency. Recently this section of the CPC was privatized,” he said.

The ruling class has failed to secure even the most important assets, he said. Agriculture, land, gems, ilmenite, our natural resources, so will these rulers protect what is left, he asked.

“They have absolutely no plan to build this country. Selling our resources, closing down factories and selling valuable machinery is what they know. Every government has taken part in the destruction of the refinery. This is why we need a change in the economy. We need to transform our economy. Only NPP can do that,” he said.

The NPP leader said that the existing constitution concentrates too much power in the hands of the executive president. Sri Lanka has had this executive presidential system for 40 years and executive power was used against the people, repressing them.

“Our economy was destroyed. It has done no good to this country. One man cannot develop the country. Individuals have capacities and limitations. We need to unite our capabilities to govern this country. It’s a collective effort and the NPP is the only party to undertake it. That’s the point of difference. There are talented people from all fields like history, economy, mathematics, law and so on. There are lawyers, university academics and professionals. The government has to unite these capacities and talents to bring optimum results for the country. NPP will do that. For that we have to abolish executive presidency and rewrite the constitution vesting more powers in the Parliament. We will bring about this change,” he said.

Dissanayake said an NPP administration will limit the number of Ministers to 18. He added that crossovers have distorted the democratic system and corrupted the political culture.

“People vote for them in one party but for money and positions they change political allegiance. This has become a public nuisance. Some MPs demand ransom to stay in the party. We will add a provision to the Constitution to ban crossing over,” he said.

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JVP: Where are President’s influential foreign friends?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who assumed duties, claiming that he had very influential friends overseas, now claims he can hardly afford to pay government servants, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath says.

“If anything, things are worse than before. The government is afraid of the people and is trying to postpone elections,” Herath said, adding that the March 09 local council election would mark the beginning of the end for the Ranil-Rajapaksa administration.

Herath said so addressing an NPP election rally recently.

 “They will no longer be able to pretend that the people are with them. Not that they have any legitimacy, locally or internationally, but the level of their unpopularity will be seen on 10 March,, when the poll results are announced” he said.

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