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China wants issue resolved amicably

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Controversy over harmful organic fertiliser:

Amidst a simmering controversy both in and outside Parliament over accusations the SLPP government planned to import harmful organic fertiliser from China, the Chinese Embassy, in Colombo, has urged Sri Lanka and Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group to resolve this issue promptly, and address differences through dialogue, in good faith, for the mutual benefits of the China-Sri Lanka cooperation.

Both the Samagi Jana Balavegaya and the JVP have slammed the government over the moves to import organic fertiliser from China.

The following is the text of the Chinese Embassy statement: “It has been noticed that recently there are several news reports and statements in Sri Lanka claiming that the organic fertilizer to be imported from China contains harmful bacteria. In this regard, the Embassy of China in Sri Lanka contacted the product supplier, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. to examine the said issue, and found out that these reports and statements, which have already harmed the reputation of the company in question, directly contradict the facts. The Embassy would like to clarify as follows:

* Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. (hereafter referred to as Seawin), is a high-tech enterprise focusing in the production of new-type seaweed organic fertilizer, found in 2000 with a registered capital of 132 million RMB (approximately 4.1 billion LKR). Its products, which have passed the EU ECOCERT Organic Certification, OMRI Certification, REACH Certification, and Australian Organic Input Certification etc., have been exported to more than 50 countries and regions in the world, including Europe and the United States. It also set up overseas branch companies in the U.S. and Australia.

* Seawin was selected by the Ministry of Agriculture of Sri Lanka through open tender to supply the urgently needed organic fertilizer.

* The company has undertaken obligations strictly in accordance with the signed contract. In their production process, the organic fertilizer must be sterilized at 600 ?, thus all harmful microorganisms are killed by the high temperature, which is in line with the standards required in the bidding documents, the contract, the letters of credit as well as the widely accepted international standards for organic fertilizers.

* In the process of enforcing the contract, however, the Sri Lanka National Plant Quarantine Services (NPQS) claimed that the sample received contained harmful bacteria including Erwinia, after only THREE (3) days of test and analysis, which lead to the above-mentioned news reports. It is noted that, according to the International Plant Protection Convention, it will take at least SIX (6) days to detect Erwinia. The hasty conclusion made by NPQS lacks scientific basis. As such, the decision made by the authorities to reject Seawin’s organic fertilizer based on the NPQS report is not only questionable but also causing great financial loss to the company.

* Therefore, the Embassy hopes that the related parties on the Sri Lankan side and the Chinese company could coordinate on the principles of respecting science and facts and the spirit of contract with the view to resolving this issue promptly, and address differences through dialogue in good faith for the mutual benefits of the China-Sri Lanka cooperation.”



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Vasu defends constituents’ right to differ

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Prez chairs govt. group meeting:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara has strongly defended the right of the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) constituents’ to take up contentious issues in public.

Minister Nanayakkara told SLPP parliamentary group meeting at the President’s House on Sunday night (24) that their right to differ on matters of public interest shouldn’t be questioned.

Nanayakkara said so when Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena and MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi faulted some constituent parties for dissenting views on certain issues.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was present at the meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The meeting lasted for about two hours.

The SLPP held Sunday’s meet in the wake of some constituent parties of the ruling coalition asking for a discussion on the questionable agreement between the government and the US New Fortress Energy Company over the Yugadanavi power plant, etc. Sources said that initially, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa indicated that the issue could be discussed with the Premier but subsequently arrangements were made for the Sunday’s meeting.

The New Fortress recently announced that a definitive agreement had been executed for the external investment in West Coast Power Limited (WCP).

WCP owns the 310 megawatts Yugadanavi Power Plant based in Colombo. The deal is also for the rights to develop a new LNG Terminal off the coast of Colombo. In terms of the agreement, New Fortress will acquire a 40 per cent ownership stake in WCP. The US energy firm plans to build an offshore LNG terminal located off the coast of Colombo.

Minister Nanayakkara has said it is not unusual for members of a coalition to hold different views depending on the issues as they also represent the interests of the public.

Nanayakkara has pointed out how the left parties remained with the UPFA though they didn’t agree with the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to enact the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Parliament passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution with a two-thirds majority on 08 Sept. 2010, enabling the President to seek a third term among other things.

The SLPP constituents have differed with the government on several issues such as fuel price increases announced by Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila on 12 June as well as the abortive bid to transfer 49 percent of shares of the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo port to India and Japan.

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa spearheaded the constituents’ campaign. He sought an explanation particularly as regards Cabinet approval for the controversial energy deal with the US firm, without a discussion among ministers.

NFF sources told The Island that their leader felt the urgent need to take up the matter to prevent further deterioration of relations among the coalition members.

Several parties including government ally the Jathika Sanvidhana Ekamuthuwa moved the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, respectively against the secretive energy deal with the US firm.

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‘Those who hesitate to get vaccinated pose a threat to others’

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath said yesterday a significant number of people had not received the Covid-19 vaccine, and posed a threat to society.

“No matter what your age category is, you will be at a higher risk of being infected and spreading it to others. So please get vaccinated,” he urged.

The DDGHS said that a booster shot would be given to people from 01 Nov.

The Health Ministry would carry out the ongoing vaccination drive until everyone got the first two doses, he said.

“However, we won’t keep hundreds of vaccination centres open. Most likely, those who have not got vaccinated will have to go to designated locations to receive the vaccine.”

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School attendance high as parents have faith in teachers – CTU head

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Teachers and principals protested at Colombo Fort yesterday urging the government to rectify their salary anomalies. The protesters marched from the Fort Railway Station towards the Presidential Secretariat but police did not permit them to proceed beyond the Telecom rounadbout. Pic by Nishan S Priyantha

By Rathindra Kuruwita

School attendance was high Despite inter-provincial travel restrictions, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said yesterday. “The government announced on 22 October that primary sections of all schools would be reopened on 25 October. Despite the short notice the attendance was high, and this is testament to the faith parents have in teachers,” he said.Primary sections of 9,155 schools recommenced yesterday.

“However, we will only teach. Teachers do a lot of additional work instead of teaching and most people who slander us have no idea about this,” he said.

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath urged relevant authorities to provide safe and adequate transport facilities to students. It was vital that those vehicles were ventilated, and social distancing was maintained.

“We urge parents to buy reusable face masks for kids. If your child has any symptoms of COVID such as fever and cold, don’t send him/her to school until you are certain this is not COVID. Teach your child the importance of washing hands, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. This is the way we can ensure there is no spread in the school system,” Dr. Herath said.

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