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Fallout of Covid-19 drives egg prices to an all-time high

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by SURESH PERERA

The price of eggs has shot up to an all-time high of between 24 and 25 rupees each in the local market due to what an industry player described as the “fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, which virtually devastated the trade”.

Thousands of birds had to be culled as the demand for both chicken and eggs plummeted with sales points closed and the distribution network largely disrupted during the lockdown, he said.

Wherever it was possible to dispose of stocks on a limited scale through private traders operating mobile units with police permission at the time, chicken was sold by farms far below Rs. 200 per kilogram and eggs at Rs. 3 each, the official said.

With hotels, restaurants and eateries also closed, suppliers who procured big stocks for distribution also kept away resulting in unsold quantities piling up, he recounted. “With limited storage facilities, the industry was tottering”.

Even immediately after the worst was over and Covid-19 related restrictions were eased, the demand for chicken and eggs didn’t pick up as the buying power of the people had diminished with the drop in personal incomes, he explained.

 

Fallout

 

The situation has now boiled down to inadequate layer birds to produce enough eggs to go around, the official explained.

A wholesale trader in Colombo said eggs are being sold at between Rs. 21/50 and Rs. 22/50 each, an unprecedented increase in relation to pre-Covid-19 times.

“That’s why retail prices have jumped to between Rs. 24 and 25”, he noted, while predicting that the upward trend is bound to continue until supplies normalize.

The high price of fish and seafood has also contributed towards the demand for eggs, he further said.

Some supermarkets are also offering substantial discounts on whole dressed chicken as they want to dispose of existing stocks.

“We don’t want to keep the birds in cold rooms for too long as sales are not as good as they used to be”, an official said.

There is a demand for eggs but many customers avoid buying broiler chicken claiming that “the use of steroids have turned the birds into tasteless lumps”.

That’s a misconception, the manager of a farm countered. “The use of hormones and steroids in poultry is banned under the law”.

He said that under modern breeding techniques, vitamins are added to the poultry feed, 60% of which contains maize, and the birds are slaughtered within 40 to 45 days according to the required weight.

“If we are to inject costly hormones, we will have to sell a kilogram of chicken for Rs. 1,500 to make a profit”, he asserted.

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Hemasiri’s counsel complains to PCoI against ex-President Sirisena’s media statement

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… says it has placed the life of his client at risk

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former President Maithripala Sirisena had placed ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s life at risk by issuing a media statement that the evidence given by the latter before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was “malicious and fictitious”, Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing for Fernando said yesterday.

Jayasuriya told the PCoI that by issuing that statement Sirisena had also undermined the PCoI.

Sirisena, on Sunday, issued a press release claiming that the testimony given by Fernando at the PCoI about his behavior was completely false.

“I vehemently deny what was said at the Commission by Fernando. These are malicious and fictitious statements and I wish to reiterate to the public that Fernando’s statements are false,” Sirisena said.

Counsel Jayasuriya pointed out that by disseminating such an idea, the former President was trying to intimidate the former Defence Secretary who was still testifying before the PCoI. Sirisena, who was a former President, a current Parliamentarian and a party leader, was powerful and thus, there were now concerns about the security of his client, Jayasuriya said.

The counsel said that it was up to the Commission to decide whether Fernando’s evidence was true or false.

Issuing of a statement undermining Fernando by Sirisena, who was the Commander-in-Chief, the Minister of Defence and the Minister in charge of law and order at the time of the Easter Sunday attacks, was a very bad precedent, the counsel for the ex-Defence Secretary said.

“The former President has been given the opportunity to crossexamine Fernando. However, he has issued press releases. People will be afraid to tell the truth openly if powerful people start issuing press releases on judicial matters,” counsel Jayasuriya added.

Jayasuriya requested the Commission that Sirisena’s Personal Secretary, Sameera de Silva, who issued this media statement, be summoned before the Commission. Silva should explain why he should not be charged with contempt of court. He also requested the Commission to take measures to ensure the safety of his client.

When the Commission asked the counsel appearing for the former President if he had anything to say in that regard, he said that he had not received any advice from his client. Accordingly, the Chairman of the Commission ordered that if there was anything to be said by Sirisena in that regard, it be presented before the Commission today through his legal representatives.

The Additional Solicitor General, who is leading Fernando’s evidence, also informed the Commission that she hoped to comment on the matter once the explanations were made by the former President.

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Kandy tragedy:

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What remains of the building that collapsed

Ill-fated building constructed on loose soil

By Ifham Nizam

Structural engineers’ approval was essential for the construction of building in hilly areas, a senior scientist said.

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) Director (Landslide Research and Risk Management Division) R.M.S. Bandara told The Island to ascertain the real cause of the building collapse in Kandy on Sunday, an investigation would be conducted within the course of this week. “Initially we thought that could be done in two days or so,” he said

Bandara said that they would work with the Kandy Municipal Council Building Department to find out whether the original plan of the structure had been changed.

According to Senior Chartered Geologist Laksiri Indritilake, who was at the site, the NBRO team was carrying out the technical inquiry into the incident. He said as per their observations the collapsed building was an ad-hoc construction which had been erected blocking a valley path.

“Water flows from above grounds via a valley path. From our preliminary observations, it was evident that this building has been constructed blocking such a valley path. No safety precautions had been taken.”

“The multi-storyed building has been constructed on loose layers of soil in the respective valley region, and the building had caved-in, as the soil layers could not bear the weight of the construction,” said Samantha Bogahapitiya – NBRO’s Geologist in-charge of the Kandy district.

According to him, four families in the area have been were temporarily relocated as a precaution measure.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Geological and Mines Bureau, Anura Walpola said that the collapse had not been caused by a tremor.

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SJB MPs decide unanimously to oppose 20A

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by Akitha Perera

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) would oppose the 20th amendment to the constitution to be presented to Parliament, today, Chief Opposition Whip, MP Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.

The SJB had studied all the proposed amendment in detail and they couldn’t agree with any of them, he said. Therefore, the SJB had no choice but to work with like-minded forces inside and outside parliament to prevent the bill from becoming law, the MP said.

Kiriella said that SJB MPs HAS met yesterday in Parliament to discuss the matter and they unanimously agreed to oppose the amendment given the weakening of checks and balances imposed by the 19th amendment to the Constitution.

The Chief Opposition Whip said that the replacement of the constitutional council with a parliamentary council, the weakening of the independent commissions, increasing the powers of the executive presidency and removing a number of key institutions from the purview of the auditor general were proposals that would not be accepted by any democratic minded person.

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