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How come Bangladesh has $ 200 million, which Sri Lanka does not?



PM Rajapaksa meeting Bangladeshi PM Hasina


By Dr Tilak Siyambalapitiya

A few weeks ago, Bangladesh told the visiting Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, about how cautious they were in getting loans. Sri Lanka has been “generous” in borrowing and building expressways with little traffic, a port with a few ships and an airport with a few planes, and a conference centre with no events. Each possibly built at double the engineers’ estimate, with money borrowed at commercial rates.

And now, the $ 200 million currency swap with Bangladesh!

The highest savings for Bangladesh have been in the electricity sector. While Sri Lanka’s leaders (2015-2019) were falling over each other, trying to divert our gas terminal tender toward their friends, Bangladesh build two gas terminals by 2020. The result: minimum use of oil to produce electricity; use cheaper imported gas for electricity and industry.

It is with great “pride” that Sri Lanka’s President in 2015 cancelled the Sampur power plant. Sampur was to be a joint venture between Sri Lanka and India. At the same time, Bangladesh was negotiating a similar power plant in a joint venture with India. While the Sri Lankan leader cancelled Sampur and ran behind oil power plant vendors, Bangladesh forged ahead with theirs, beating all odds to get their power plant built.

The name of the Bangladesh power plant is Ramphal, 1320 megawatt; it is now ready to produce electricity. Its sister power plant in Sampur Sri Lanka was killed by Sri Lankan leaders. The annual loss to Sri Lanka is about $ 500 million, to import oil to produce the same electricity. So, you now know why Sri Lanka does not have any more dollars left to buy food or vaccine. Not only this year, but for years to come.

Perhaps next year, we can borrow $ 500 million from Bangladesh to buy more oil to produce electricity at Rs 24 and to pay for that solar panel on your roof at Rs 22 per unit, which is worth only Rs 11.

And another $ 1000 million in 2022.

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Haiti police riot after crime gangs kill 14 officers




Protesters attempted to break into the Haitian prime minister's residence (picture BBC)

BBC reported that Rebel police officers rioted in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday following the killing of more than a dozen colleagues by criminal gangs.

The rioting officers blame the government for not taking action.

More than 100 demonstrators blocked streets, burned tyres, broke security cameras and damaged vehicles.

Local media said several officers broke through the gates of the prime minister’s residence and attempted to enter Haiti’s international airport.

Fourteen officers are thought to have died since the start of the year in various gang attacks on police stations.

Seven officers were killed in shootout on Wednesday alone, according to Haiti’s National Police.

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Gold-covered mummy among latest discoveries in Egyptian tomb




One of four newly discovered tombs at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo (picture BBC)

BBC reported that archaeologists say they have found a gold leaf-covered mummy sealed inside a sarcophagus that had not been opened for 4,300 years.

The mummy, the remains of a man named Hekashepes, is thought to be one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt.

It was discovered down a 15m (50ft) shaft at a burial site south of Cairo, Saqqara, where three other tombs were found.

One tomb belonged to a “secret keeper”.

The largest of the mummies that were unearthed at the ancient necropolis is said to belong to a man called Khnumdjedef – a priest, inspector and supervisor of nobles.

Another belonged to a man called Meri, who was a senior palace official given the title of “secret keeper”, which allowed him to perform special religious rituals.

A judge and writer named Fetek is thought to have been laid to rest in the other tomb, where a collection of what are thought to be the largest statues ever found in the area had been discovered.

Several other items, including pottery, have also been found among the tombs.

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Health crisis: GMOA calls for WHO intervention



Alleging the government has failed to address the developing crisis caused by grave shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has called for WHO’s intervention.In a letter dated January 26, 2023, addressed to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge has raised concerns about shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, escalating prices of medicines and allegations of malpractices and corruption in procurement procedures.

The GMOA has released its letter to the media along with what it called a 10 fold plan formulated by an expert committee set up by the GMOA.

The following are the GMOA’s proposals:

1. To appoint a high-level coordinating committee within the Ministry of Health to ensure effective communications and coordination between following institutions, identified as responsible for the whole exercise. (a) Ministry of Health focal points (b) Medical Supplies Division (MSD) (c) State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) d. State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) e. National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Monthly progress review meetings of aforementioned committees are to be ensured, with Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Health or his representative. Quarterly review with Minister of Health to facilitate arriving at essential policy decisions.

2. To ensure Transparent Procurement Procedures, where every interested citizen should be entitled to know the true facts.

3. To upgrade the available computer software programme to match the current needs and to ensure more efficiency in procurement procedures.

4. To appoint a technical committee to study Auditor General Reports with regard to procurement Procedures of last 5 years and actions to be declared with specific time frame to implement recommendations of the Auditor General.

5. Review the recent Presidential Investigation Commission reports and initiate urgent actions to file legal action against the respondents. Remove all those officials who are accused through these reports of malpractices, from their current posts, until the verdicts are delivered.

6. To minimise emergency purchases of Medicinal drugs and ensure the transparency of that process through progress reports on emergency purchases, which is to be published on a monthly basis.

7. To identify alternative modes for distribution of pharmaceutical drugs to peripheral stations (e.g.: Public Transport services with identified modifications)

8. To open an “Information Desk” at the Ministry of Health to effectively communicate with and guide the donors of pharmaceutical items.

9. To fill the existing vacancies at National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), following stipulated acceptable pathways and activating all the sub committees within NMRA.

10. To declare a relief package to reduce the prices of essential medicinal drugs, through the upcoming interim budget.

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