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BRI a functional machinery in global economic recovery: Sri Lankan expert

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The continuation of protectionism by America, the largest economy body in the world, will only result in further contraction of the world economy and aggravation of unemployment, poverty and deprivation, said Luxman Siriwardena, president of the Sri Lanka-based Pathfinder Foundation told People’s Daily Online during a recent meeting.

Siriwardena added that the unilateralism and protectionism currently being championed by the American administration goes against the values the West has promoted since the end of World War II.

“When I was undertaking graduate studies at an American university in the 1980s, it would have been totally unacceptable for any of the economic professors to believe that the protectionism in trade and investment would enhance the welfare of the international community,” he said, sharing that since the establishment of formal China-Sri Lankan diplomatic relations, China has been a reliable, all-weather friend of Sri Lanka.

In recent years, Sri Lanka has taken an active role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which, he stressed, is the most logical development strategy for Sri Lanka.

The successful completion of the three major development projects in Sri Lanka under the BRI, namely Colombo Port City Project, Hambantota International Port and proposed Hambantota Industrial Zone, will have a transformative impact on the Sri Lankan economy.

In the post-pandemic era, the BRI is “a functional machinery which can substantially contribute to the recovery of the global economy,” he noted, voicing hope that the initiative will have more inclusive and comprehensive programs encompassing a larger amount of countries.

While this is a decisive year for China to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and to end extreme poverty, according to Siriwardena, China’s development has been “unprecedented” in the history of the entire world.

“The process has been inclusive in the sense that China has uplifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty while achieving advancement in science, technology and culture,” he said, adding that China has addressed the social, economic and environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the recent past, citing the pollution management in the city of Beijing as an example.

Looking ahead, Siriwardena said the two countries will enhance their cooperation in various fields, such as COVID-19 pandemic control and prevention, investment in manufacturing, logistics and services, infrastructure as well as economic digitalization, and people-to-people exchanges.

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, Siriwardena pointed out that both China and Sri Lanka have managed to control the virus with relatively minimal loss of life, and praised China’s commitment to distribute the vaccine to the rest of the world, which will contribute to the vision of building a community of health for all in the near future.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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