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Cabraal stresses need to be mindful of country’s economic health

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‘Govt. has proved doomsayers wrong by taking appropriate action’

by Saman Indrajith

State Finance Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal told parliament on Friday (23) that while dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, the country should be mindful of the sustenance of its economy as well.

Cabraal noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had taken the world by surprise. “It was a great shock to the entire world. No one was prepared for it and it was a big question in everyone’s mind how we should deal with it, what effects it would have on the economy, etc. However, we had to take certain short-term measures Had these decisions not been taken, it would have been a grave hindrance to the country’s progress.”

Minister Cabraal said the government had wasted no time in identifying the priorities and understood that the pandemic would not end anytime soon. But, the issue of how the government was going to address the economic repercussions had also come up, he said.

“That is the reason we had to impose certain import restrictions. It was important to take some tough decisions in order to maintain our economic stability. Many thought that it would not be possible to manage the economy and the rupee would devalue and the economy would collapse.”

Some wished for the collapse of the economy while shedding crocodile tears, he said, adding that even during the war some people had expected the economy to go belly up.

Minister Cabraal said that today there was a new normal and the country needed to adapt to it. “Sometimes, we may have to change our attitudes. We were able to overcome these adversities and even relax some of the import restrictions. Although many thought we could not handle it we have managed to do so. We have also managed to pay back our debts and even get the required medical supplies.”

The Minister pointed out that despite bleak predictions by many that the country would crumble in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government had managed to steer the country through it all and overcome those challenges. “The IMF, World Bank and ADB had made bleak predictions in their regional reports regarding Sri Lanka’s ability to face the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, they had predicted Sri Lanka would record poor exports, tourist arrivals, foreign earnings from migrant workers, high interest rates, higher trade deficit and inability to meet foreign debt repayments, etc. However, despite these predictions, the government and all state institutions worked hard and took measures to face this situation. As a result, these institutions have exceeded expectations and produced results. The rupee did not collapse the way they expected. We continued to pay back loans.”

The Minister added that even the unemployment rate had decreased from 5.7 to 5.4, according to the second quarter statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department. He noted that exports had grown to pre-COVID levels.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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