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FSP to crank up union action until govt, fulfils promises to workers

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By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) yesterday said it would carry out a series of trade union action this month to force the government to fulfil its promises to the workers, FSP Propaganda Secretary, Duminda Nagamuwa told The Island yesterday.

Nagamuwa said the government had promised to increase the daily wage of estate workers to Rs. 1,000, confirm the recently recruited development officers in service and increase teacher salaries. The FSP would continue labour agitation until the demands were granted, he added.

“The government makes a lot of promises. It promised to give 100, 000 jobs and increase the daily wage of estate workers in March 2020. But it has reneged on its promises. The government has also made policy blunders that have adversely affected the factory workers and farmers.

“The MCC agreement has fallen through, but the government is rapidly opening up land for large scale private companies. Land laws were being relaxed and small farmers have been reduced to penury as a result.

“Steps are being taken to sell our land to foreign companies. Successive governments have sold all our assets and now only land is left to be sold. There is no plan to extricate the country from the debt trap.”

Nagamuwa also said that the government had distracted people from its proposals to increase the retirement age of the private sector to 60. The aim of the government was to delay EPF withdrawals for a few years.

“This shows how desperate they are. EPF funds have been continuously misused to bridge budget deficits. The interest rate paid to the workers is coming down. We need to educate the people on these developments.”



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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