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Food stuck in Colombo Port to be released immediately

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By Ifham Nizam

Steps would be taken to release all cargo containers carrying food currently stuck in port warehouses. The decision was announced when Sri Lanka Freedom Party members met Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa yesterday.

“During the discussion the Finance Minister informed us that as there were a large number of food containers in our port at present, steps would be taken to release those stocks to the market immediately,” Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said responding to journalists.

He said government was taking steps to address the shortage of certain food items due to the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic in the country.

“The government will never allow a food shortage in the country. Due to rising prices in the world market, some traders have restricted their wholesale market share. The situation created by price increases in the world market is beyond our control. This is the case with some essential commodities such sugar, gas and milk powder,” he said.

Minister Amaraweera said the prices of sugar and milk powder in the world market had gone up, but the government had taken steps to provide relief to the public by waiving the import levy on milk powder imports.

“Accordingly, the large tax imposed on milk powder was reduced. However, the companies that import milk powder say that they are still incurring losses”, the minister said.

The Finance Minister also informed the SLFP MPs that steps would be taken to provide the required foreign exchange through the Treasury.

“So, we are confident that by next week, the shortage of certain food items as well as gas will be over. It was emphasised during the discussion that ships carrying gas were on the way. As a government, we will take steps to provide the people with what they need without any shortage despite the problematic situation,” Amaraweera added.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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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.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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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

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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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