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Docs on countrywide strike today



Dr. Senal

Accident wards, maternity units,  paediatric, cancer and kidney hospitals spared

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) would launch a countrywide strike today, GMOA Secretary Dr. Senal Fernando said yesterday.

Dr. Fernando said that they had held a token strike on Monday as the post-internship appointments had been made by the Ministry of Health arbitrarily.

“On Monday, the Central Committee of the GMOA met and decided that the transfers of specialist doctors and grade doctors had been done without following the correct procedure. The 2022 annual transfer list hasn’t even been published yet and the various issues created during the time of Rajitha Senaratne have not been addressed despite a Cabinet Decision,” he said.

The Health Ministry had not issued a gazette on the Sri Lanka Medical Council and officials had also violated the national salary policy, the GMOA Secretary said.

“However, doctors attached to accident wards, paediatric hospitals, maternity wards, cancer and CKDu hospitals will continue to work. COVID vaccination and other affiliated services too will continue,” he said.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry said that GMOA’s trade union action was an act of sabotage. Speaking to the media, Deputy Director General of Health Ministry (Medical Services) Dr. G. Wijesuriya said that there were no issues in the transfers or appointment of doctors.

“Neither the Health Minister nor the Secretary to the Ministry can influence the internship appointments. These are based on vacancy list and service requirements. In fact, a representative of the GMOA had signed the vacancy list. We have based the appointments on this list”, Dr. Wijesuriya said.

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Pro-Ranil SLPP group flays NPP, SJB for not presenting any action plan



A section of the gathering at the Hyde Park meeting (pix courtesy New Alliance)

Susil claims 50 lawmakers expected to attend their next meeting

The ‘New Alliance’ (NA), comprising dissident SLPP MPs, on Saturday (24) stepped up attacks on the JVP-led NPP and the SJB, alleging that they didn’t propose any tangible action plan to facilitate economic recovery.

The NA alleged that the JJB sought to deceive the public again on its much touted anti-corruption campaign whereas the SJB reiterated all sorts of promises though the country lacked the wherewithal to implement them.

The NA held its second public meeting at Hyde Park with the participation of two Cabinet ministers, Nalin Fernando and Education Minister Susil Premjayantha, who is also the Leader of the House. Other speakers included Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Nimal Lanza, who initiated the group that openly advocated pro-Wickremesinghe stand soon after the SLPP disintegrated.

Pointing out that the JVP repeatedly declared those who robbed the country would be hauled up before courts in the run-up to the 2015 presidential poll, MP Lanza said that the economy was in such a precarious situation that promises couldn’t be made. The Gampaha district MP said that the current crisis couldn’t be overcome by printing money and taking more loans.

MP Lanza challenged the JJB and SJB to present their economic action plans without depending on political rhetoric meant to manipulate the masses. The MP claimed that by March this year, the New Alliance would have the support of a significant number of MPs, as well as large groups of supporters. Declaring their intention to hold a major public rally in May this year, MP Lanza said that the Hyde Park meeting would be followed by rallies in Hambantota, Badulla and Monaragala.

The NA campaign began with a public meeting held at Ja-Ela last month.

Lanza flayed the JVP over its recent visit to India. The SLPP dissident asked how the JVP justified its change of attitude towards India after having followed an extremely anti-India stand over the past several decades.

Declaring that the JVP posed no threat to them politically, MP Lanza claimed that Messrs Sajith Premadasa, Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Namal Rajapaksa are fighting for the Opposition Leader’s post.

Minister Premjayantha declared that their next public meeting would attract as many as 50 sitting MPs. Minister Premjayantha as well as MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Sugeeswara Bandara, former private secretary to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fiercely attacked the JVP reccalling the violence the during 1971 and 1987-1990 insurgencies. (SF)

MP Lanza addressing the Hyde Park rally

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US enhances its role further with fourth Offshore Patrol Vessel and funding for deepwater shipping container terminal



Deputy Secretary Richard Verma and U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung at the Colombo West International Terminal (CWIT) site with CWIT staff

Sri Lanka Navy will receive another US vessel to further strengthen its fleet. It’ll be the fourth US vessel to join the SLN since 2004/2005.A US Embassy statement quoted Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma as having said, on Friday (23), aboard the SLNS Vijayabahu, one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters transferred by the United States to Sri Lanka, that he was pleased to announce that the Department of State has notified Congress of their intent to transfer a fourth medium endurance cutter to Sri Lanka.

Verma said: “The Department obligated $9 million in Foreign Military Financing to support this effort. We look forward to offering the cutter, pending the completion of Congress’ notification period. If completed, this transfer would further strengthen defence cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka. The ship would increase Sri Lanka’s ability to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone, monitor its search and rescue area, and provide additional security for ships from all nations that transit the busy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.”

During his Feb 23-24 visit to Colombo Verma told government, civil society and economic leaders that the United States remained committed to the economic growth and prosperity of Sri Lanka.

Verma met President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry to discuss progress on Sri Lanka’s IMF programme, including inclusive economic and governance reforms aimed at keeping Sri Lanka on the path to sustainable economic growth. Deputy Secretary Verma stressed the vital need to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. They also explored opportunities to deepen defence and maritime cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka, including strengthening the Sri Lanka Navy’s capabilities to safeguard national security and promote a more stable Indo-Pacific region.

Participating in the announcement at the Colombo Port were Sri Lanka State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, who remarked, “The United States has previously transferred three cutters to the Sri Lankan Navy, which deploys these ships for maritime operations and law enforcement missions, countering human trafficking and drug trafficking, while supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts. The eventual transfer of a fourth vessel would be just one more point in a long history of cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United States in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Deputy Secretary Verma also visited the site of the West Container Terminal (WCT), a deepwater shipping container terminal in the Port of Colombo. The WCT, currently being constructed by Colombo West International Terminal (CWIT) Private Limited with $553 million in financing from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, will provide critical infrastructure for the South Asian region. Operating near capacity since 2021, the Port of Colombo’s new addition will be the Port’s deepest terminal and aims to boost Colombo’s shipping capacity, expanding its role as a premiere logistics hub connecting major routes and markets, boosting prosperity for Sri Lanka without adding to its sovereign debt.

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Delays in departure of flights at BIA: UL clears ground staff



In response to an allegation that the BIA ground staff caused the delay in the departure of four flights yesterday (25), SriLankan Airlines has issued a clarification on the delay experienced at the check-in counters. It has said the delays were caused due to what it called temporary, unplanned operational conditions at the airport and not due to any type of trade union action.

“The check-in counter operations have been stabilised and returned to normal as of now. SriLankan Airlines would like to apologize to any passengers inconvenienced by these operational delays, while the airline continues to monitor the situation and take steps to avoid a recurrence.”

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