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GMOA strike continues

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The countrywide strike launched by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) entered the second day yesterday. Discussions with the Secretary to the Ministry of Health, and GMOA representatives have failed.

GMOA Executive Committee member, Dr. Prasad Colambage said that they would continue their union action until their demands were met.

“We had meetings with senior Ministry officials. They, too, consider our demands fair. They will discuss with the Minister of Health, Keheliya Rambukwella, and get back to us,” he said.

GMOA Secretary Dr. Senal 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 effected 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.

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, Dr.Fernando said.

The Ministry of Health claimed that the strike had greatly inconvenienced the people.

President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that the GMOA had taken union action in a bid to attract post interns to become its members.

“They want to convince the young doctors that they are calling all the shots. The poor people are suffering because of this needless action,” he said.



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Weerawansa’s wife sentenced to RI

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Lawyers appearing for Shashi Weerawansa, MP Wimal Weerawansa’s wife, yesterday (27) appealed against a Colombo Magistrate’s Court decision to sentence their client to two years rigorous imprisonment.Colombo Chief Magistrate, Buddhika Sri Ragala found her guilty of submitting forged documents to obtain a diplomatic passport circa 2010. The Colombo Magistrate’s Court also imposed a fine of Rs. 100,000 on Mrs. Weerawansa. If the fine is not paid she will have to serve an extra six months.

Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawala announced that the appeal would be called for consideration on 30 May.The case against Mrs. Weerawansa was filed by the CID after a complaint was lodged on 23 January 2015 by Chaminda Perera, a resident of Battaramulla.

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Unions predict end of energy sovereignty

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A government decision to allow all privately-owned bunker fuel operators to import and distribute diesel and fuel oil to various industries was a rollback of the nationalisation of the country’s petroleum industry and another severe blow to energy sovereignty of the country, trade union activist of the SJB Ananda Palitha said yesterday.Earlier, Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera Tweeted that ‘approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations provided in bulk’.Commenting on the decision, Palitha said that according to the existing law those companies only had the power to import, store and distribute fuel for ships. Those companies did not have the authority to distribute fuel inside the country, Palitha said.

“Only the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) can distribute fuel inside the country. There is a controversy about the licence given to the LIOC as well. If the government wants other companies to import fuel, it needs to change the laws. The Minister does not have the power to make these decisions. A few months ago the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration used to rush Bills that adversely affected the country through Parliament. Now, since they don’t have a majority in parliament, they are using the Cabinet to make decisions that are detrimental to the country’s interests.”

Palitha said that the controversial government move would further weaken the CPC, and that the ultimate aim of the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe government was to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) purchase fuel from private distributors. With a weakened CPC and a CEB under the mercy of private companies, the Sri Lankan state would have little control over the country’s energy sector, he warned.

“The CEB already can’t pay the CPC, and therefore how can it pay private companies? It will have to sell its assets. This is another step in the road to fully privatise the energy sector. When this happens no government will be able to control inflation or strategically drive production through fuel and energy tariffs. The people will be at the mercy of businessmen and the government will only be a bystander,” he said.

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US Ambassador calls on Speaker

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U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung yesterday (27) called on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena at the Parliament Premises.The U.S. Ambassador said that she hopes the government, including the new Prime Minister, would be able to bring about political stability and overcome the current economic crisis. The Ambassador also emphasized the need to carry out the political reforms desired by the people and to safeguard democracy in the country.

She also hoped to enhance relations between the two countries through the Sri Lanka-USA Parliamentary Friendship Association. She appreciated the role played by the Women Parliamentarians Caucus and discussed the need to increase the representation of women.The Speaker also expressed his gratitude to the United States of America for its continued support to strengthening democracy in Sri Lanka.This is the first meeting between Ambassador Chung and Speaker Abeywardena since her appointment as US Ambassador to Sri Lanka.Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake was also present on the occasion.

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