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Cabraal dismisses critics and predicts 5% growth this year



By Saman Indrajith

The country was expected to maintain an economic growth rate of 5 percent in the current year, according to the fiscal policy maintained by the Government, Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal said in Parliament on Tuesday. 

Cabraal said that even the tourism industry could be revived before the year end, boosting the economy for the benefit of the public. He was participating in the Adjournment Motion by JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake on the economic situation in the country.

The State Minister, who is a former Central Bank Governor, said that the Opposition wanted the government to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to find solutions, but there were alternatives that had to be tried first.

Cabraal said that some people only spoke of diseases. However much they exaggerated them, no change happened and they could not find a cure. A fiscal analysis was given by the Central Bank ever fortnight and it made everything clear. However, the member who moved the motion spoke of loans, the Minister said.  

Minister Cabraal said that some politicians had expected the government to default on loan repayment in 2020. But they had been disappointed when the government honoured its obligations. Then they dreamt the government would fail to repay loans in 2021, and they were disappointed again.

They were now hoping and praying that the government will fail to service debt in 2022, or 2023.

“But they are in for another big disappointment,” the State Minister said.

Cabraal said the same group of politicians who wanted the country to fail on the economic front had spread rumours that the government would not be able to purchase COVID-19 vaccines. They had been disappointed once again. The government had been able to buy vaccines due to the proper fiscal management practised by its leaders.

The State Minister said that those who moved the Adjournment Motion couldn’t understand the fact that the indebtedness in 2005 when Mahinda Rajapaksa took over the government had been 91 percent of the state revenue and it had been reduced to 71 percent when he handed over it to the yahapalana government. He added that the national debt of USD 24 billion was increased to USD 35 billion during the yahapalana government, which the JVP had supported.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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