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Bangladesh Foreign Minister ticks off Chinese envoy for commenting on host country’s foreign policy



Dhaka, May 11 ( Alo): The Bangladesh Foreign Minister, A. K. Abdul Momen, on Tuesday asked foreign envoys based in Dhaka to maintain decency and decorum when speaking in public.

“FM Dr. Momen told the media here that Bangladesh is a sovereign country which will determine the course of its foreign policy in the interest of its people. He urged foreign envoys in Dhaka to maintain decency and decorum while speaking in public,” the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry tweeted.

Though Momen did not name any envoy, it was obvious that he was referring to Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming’s statement to the media on May 10 that Sino-Bangladesh relations will be “substantially damaged” if Bangladesh joins the ‘Quad’ which he described as an “anti-China group” comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia.

Ambassador Li Jiming said that the Quad is not an economic group as it claimed to be, but is an anti-China security group. He quoted Japan and the US as saying so.

Asked by Prothom Alo’s Diplomatic Correspondent Raheed Ejaz to comment on the prospects of Bangladesh joining the Quad, Li said that the Quad is a “small group” which, though portraying itself as an economic group, is actually an anti-China security group.

The Ambassador then went on to warn: “It will not be a good idea for Bangladesh to participate in this group. Bangladesh-China bilateral relations will be substantially damaged if Bangladesh joins this small group.”

Reacting to this Momen said: “The Chinese ambassador has talked about his country’s stand. The organisation he was talking about has not approached us as yet. This was a bit of overstepping. But we have nothing special to say about this.”

The minister further said generally China does not interfere in the affairs of other countries.

“I never heard them talking so aggressively to anyone. This is a matter of regret. Another country is trying to dictate what we should or should not do. We’ll do whatever is beneficial for the country.”

The foreign minister further said the government did not expect such behaviour from China.

Responding to a question about whether any message would be given to the Chinese ambassador for his remarks, the foreign minister said: “We do not tell the media about what we do. We have ways of doing things. We know what we’ll do. We can’t reveal everything.”



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Debt-ridden CEB goes ahead with shocking pay hike amidst pandemic



Workers offered 25% increase this year…12% annually over three-year period

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Two days after the Presidential Secretariat stated that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) owed two state banks––Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank, a staggering Rs 85 bn, the cash-strapped enterprise announced an annual 12 percent salary increase to its employees.

Vijitha Herath, Chairman, of the CEB, yesterday (15) said that the salary increase in terms of the collective agreement for 2021-2023 period would enable the workers to receive 25 per cent in the first year whereas annually it would be 12 percent over a period of three years.

The ministry said that in spite of severe difficulties caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic, the salary increment was granted in response to workers’ request.

Declaring that the Cabinet and the Board of Directors of the CEB had approved the salary increase, the ministry has sought cooperation of the CEB trade unions to finalise the collective agreement.

The ministry claimed that CEB workers had been granted a spate of privileges not given to other state sector employees hence consensus on collective agreement was expected soon.

The Presidential Secretariat on Sunday explained that one reason for the banking sector crisis was the failure on the part of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the CEB to settle Rs 562 bn and Rs 85 bn, respectively.

The Presidential Secretariat issued the statement in the wake of SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, triggering a political storm by demanding Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila’s immediate resignation over recent increase in fuel prices.

The CEB Chairman also claimed that they had been able to bring down the accumulated losses to Rs 56 bn last year from Rs 97 bn in the previous year.

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Indian fishers riled by SL moves to create new fish breeding grounds



By Dinasena Ratugamage


Fishermen from Rameswaran will hold a protest today (16) against Sri Lanka’s decision to submerge 20 old buses in the seas off Jaffna to create breeding grounds for fish.

Members of 17 fisheries associations in Tamil Nadu and Rameswaran claim that this will affect their yield as more fish will be attracted to the breeding grounds created by submerged buses.

The Ministry said that sinking those buses was nothing new and that such buses provided a hard surface for invertebrates to live on, some of which could not live on the sand bottom that is naturally there.

“Some fish are not fast swimmers, so they need a structure to provide both food and shelter; they wouldn’t, for example, be able to outswim a shark, but they could duck into the shelter instead,” a Sri Lankan fisheries association representative said.

However N. Devadas, the head of the Indian fishermen’s association in Rameswaram, said that they would also hand over a petition against that decision to the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka has been submerging old SLTB buses in the deep sea for many years as a part of the Deep Sea Fish Development Project.



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Three more weeks needed to see drop in COVID deaths – Dr. Fernandopulle



It would take at least three more weeks to see a drop in COVID-19 related deaths in the country, Minister of COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle said yesterday.

There had been a drop in the number of cases reported already, she said.

“The number of patients is coming down but there has been an increase in deaths. However, this too will come down.

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