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‘Crisis not solely due to pandemic’



BY Saman Indrajith

The failure of the government to solve problems facing the people was not solely due to the inabilities of the incumbent president, but also because of the failures of those surrounding him, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissnayake said yesterday.

Speaking at a meeting held at the Solis Hall, in Pitakotte, the JVP leader said the SLPP’s mammoth victory at the last presidential election and two-third majority at the general election subsequently were due to the people’s trust in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the utter incompetence of the government from 2015 to 2019.

“However, one and a half years on, the people have realised they made a mistake and their hopes will not be realised under this government. Public outcry against the government is increasing because of the frustration caused by the failure of the government. The failure of the government is mainly due to the economic and political policies the country has followed for a long time. The current dispensation has aggravated the situation. Under these political and economic policies the people of this country have no future. We are heading towards the biggest ever economic crisis of this country. The Treasury is almost bankrupt and the total government revenue is not sufficient even for the settlement of loan installments. The government is printing money apace. It is said that the government after coming to power has printed over one trillion rupees. On a day of this week over 200 billion rupees have been printed,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the government was now seeking loans from China, India and even Bangladesh. “In the face of this crisis, the government has to either borrow for high interest rates or to sell off remaining national assets. Apart from this economic crisis, there are many social problems. There is a bleak future and we must come up with a plan to steer this nation out of this quagmire,” he said.

General Secretary of the United Left Front, senior lawyer Lal Wijenayake said: “The current crisis is not solely due to the pandemic. This is the result of the total sum of actions by the governments of the past 73 years and their economic and political policies. We must change these policies. We must make a course correction. In order to do so we need leaders who are willing to change the policies of governing the country. Socio-economic problems have created a social crisis and in the meantime corruption is increasing. People have lost faith in this system.

NPP MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya said: “People have been duped continuously by the rulers. They got the votes of people by promising good governance in 2015 and today people abhor those concepts of good governance. In 2019, the people were promised national security, and today we do not see such a thing in existence. This is what has happened in this country for the past 73 years. We must stop repeating the same mistakes.

Prof Hiniduma Sunil Senevi of the Sabaragamuwa University said: “Since 1948 this country has been ruled by green and blue parties alternately but people have not gained anything except have lost their independence, dignity and rights. There is an agitation countrywide coming out of the frustration of people.

Prof Liyanage Amarakeerthi of the Peradeniya University also addressed the meeting.



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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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