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Govt. response to Easter Carnage: Vatican Ambassador meets FM

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Envoy suggests powwow with Catholic Bishops Conference

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, on Tuesday (31), briefed His Eminence Archbishop Brian Udaigwe, Apostolic Nuncio (the Vatican Ambassador) to Sri Lanka, on the ongoing investigation into the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage. The meeting took place at the Foreign Ministry, ahead of the Foreign Minister’s meeting with Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith expected to take place soon.

Prof. Peiris told The Island that the government was determined to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice.

During the meeting, the Foreign Minister explained that one of his first duties, in his previous portfolio as Minister of Education, was to confer degree-awarding status to the Benedict XVI Catholic Institute at Bolawalana, Negombo, which was built by the then Defence Secretary, and present President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the armed forces. The Minister highlighted the importance of setting up the institution in not only imparting education but also developing social equity for the less privileged segments of society.

The Minister also expressed deep sorrow on the calamitous and horrendous tragedy, and the great deal of pain and suffering undergone by the Catholic Church, and his understanding of the sentiments of the Catholic Church, and the need for justice to bring all those who were responsible before the law.

Alluding to the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation, the Minister emphasized the need to have an informed discussion with a view to facilitating to resolve the matters with His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and the Catholic Bishop’s Conference at the earliest juncture.

The Minister said that the Government understood perfectly the sincere motivation and unendurable anguish of the Catholic Church and its purest of motives.

The Minister drew attention to certain groups who were trying to exploit the situation for their own purposes which he asserted were contrary to the genuine motives of the Catholic Church, highlighting the upcoming session of the United Nations Human Rights Council scheduled to commence on 12 September, and the United Nations General Assembly which is to be held on 21 September, 2021.

The Minister remarked that every endeavour should be made to ensure that the purest motives of the Catholic Church were not hijacked, either locally or internationally.

While expressing his sincere appreciation for the attention being received by the Catholic Church and Catholics in Sri Lanka, though they are a minority, the Papal Nuncio indicated that he had not witnessed similar recognition given to Catholics in other countries.

The Apostolic Nuncio suggested that a meeting could be arranged at an early date with a Committee of the Bishop’s Conference, so that the Government could discuss the relevant issues with representatives of the Church.

The Minister expressed appreciation of this opportunity, and said that the government was collecting all particulars from the Attorney General’s Department, the Police and other relevant State agencies to be able to provide the fullest information at the discussion with the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio wished the Minister of Foreign Affairs every success in his new assignment.



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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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