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If tourists can be allowed into the country knowing risks, why aren’t burials permitted?

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The Sri Lankan medical authorities had permited planeloads of Ukranian tourists to land in Sri Lanka and visit multiple places in the country, knowing very well that the risk of spreading Covid-19 is very high, and, therefore, there is no acceptable reason to deny Sri Lankans the choice of a person’s right to a dignified burial for their loved ones, who die due to Covid 19, former PA National List MP M. M. Zuhair said in a statement issued yesterday.

 Against the backdrop of established scientific knowledge, that there is no provable risk in burials,  permitted and practised, for close upon one year now, in 190 countries world- wide, the former Ambassador in Iran said.

The former State Counsel said: “Without in any manner belittling the government’s efforts to revive the much affected tourist and hospitality industries, by restoring to a semblance of normalcy, notwithstanding the dangerous risk of a foreign Covid cluster emerging, we need to raise certain questions. Is it not true that at least five of these tourists were Covid-19 infected? Is not the ‘bubble’ concept of exclusivity an explodable bubble?  What is it that prevents the Sri Lankan health authorities restoring their credibility as a scientific community by permitting what the large majority amongst them had clearly declared that burial poses no threat of coronavirus spreading?

Schools must reopen notwithstanding the foreseeable risk of Covid 19 spreading! Offices must function notwithstanding the risks! Airports must reopen, ports must function, buses and trains must operate, even though the virus may spread. But why then sit only on burials with not even 1% of the above risks, unless some persons want to showcase to the world that in Sri Lanka majoritarian extremism controls science. In the process, why strengthen extremists amongst minorities?

In the case of Covid-19 vaccines and other health issues we follow the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO). But not in the case of burials, thereby giving the impression that tribalism holds sway. The government appointed expert committee headed by Senior Professor in Microbiology Prof. Jennifer Perera and comprising virologists, immunologists and microbiologists has recommended that both cremation and burials can be allowed. Following their report the expert committee is being discredited as a sub-committee! The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) has announced that burials can also be accepted as a mode of disposal of the bodies of Covid-19 victims. The College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL) has also supported burial as an acceptable option for Covid-19 victims.

The Committee chaired by Consultant JMO, Dr Channa Perera, Forensic Pathologist, needs to take a fresh look at the reports of the other experts and pave the way for permitting burials under the recommended guidelines. A large number of experts, political leaders, religious heads, journalists, civil activists and others have spoken loudly enough to provide for both options.

Sri Lankan laws allow both options. The Health Ministry regulations are in contravention of provisions permitting both options. It has exposed the widely appreciated work by Sri Lanka’s medical and health personnel to international criticism. They can be exposed to claims of damages both here and abroad by the kith and kin of Covid- 19 victims who have refused to consent to cremation.

Meanwhile certain British lawyers are reportedly examining legal remedies in this regard. The matter is also due to be raised in the Canadian Parliament. Internationalising this matter is the last thing that Sri Lanka needs at this point of time.”



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CEBEU guns for ex-Chairman Ferdinando

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by Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) Friday  said that they are in the process of collecting evidence against former Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando over the recent statement he made on a proposed power project with India.

A senior engineer said that there is a high possibility that the seasoned civil servant dragged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to disrepute because he didn’t see eye to eye with the President.

Eng. Isuru Kasthuriratne, a committee member of the CEBEU and Project Engineer – Mannar Wind Power Project of the Board said they would never allow former chairman to get away easily.

“There are always controversies about him. We would not let this case go. We are in touch with all bodies,” he said.

Kasthuriratne said that very relevant documents were authored and authorized by the former chairman and “he cannot simply say he is not aware of this and that.”

Ferdinando on June 11, tendered his resignation following the controversy he sparked over the planned 500 MW unsolicited wind power project here by India’s Adani group.

“The Adani group at first proposed to sell power to the CEB at 6.50 US cents per unit,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told journalists recently.

Despite numerous attempts, the former CEB chairman was not available for comment.

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Dilshan Wirasekara, new CSE Chairman

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announced the appointment of Dilshan Wirasekara as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSE with effect from Friday (24).

Wirasekara has served on the Board of the CSE since 21st November 2017 and succeeds Dumith Fernando, who steps down as the Chairman after completing his two-year tenure.

Wirasekara is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading investment banking firms, First Capital Holdings PLC, offering a diverse range of financial services in Government Securities, Corporate Finance and Advisory, Asset Management and Stock Brokering, which he has been part of since 2013.

He currently is the chairman of the Investment Subcommittee of the CSE and also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of the CSE as well as the CSE/SEC joint committees on Digitalization and the Central Counter Party System (CCP).

An Investment banker by profession with a career spanning over 26 years, comprising diversified expertise in financial services, including banking, treasury and investment management, capital market strategy, and corporate finance advisory services.

Wirasekara specializes in Asset and Liability Risk Management, having secured the accolade of leading and representing two Sri Lankan companies in winning the International Bank Asset and Liability competition organized annually by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), German Investment Corporation (DEG), and Proparco – a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Development (AFD).

Wirasekara is an alumnus of INSEAD, having completed his Executive Professional Education at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. He is also an alumnus of AOTS, Tokyo, Japan.

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NCE on Govt’s focus on directing public servants to private sector employment

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National Chamber of Exporters has given the a proposal to the Prime Minister and copied it to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government on providing employment opportunities to government servants in the private sector companies for a specified period.

The Chamber said in a release: Through Media sources we got to know that The Ministry of Public Administration has appointed a committee to look into the possibility of granting five years of leave to government employees to work in the private sector.

Its states that a seven-member committee has been appointed for this purpose and that the said committee is to submit its report to the Cabinet of Ministers within two weeks.

Sri Lankan exporters are proposing to absorb public sector employees for employment in the sector to relieve the burden of wages and related costs on the Government.

The Export Sector has been able to sustain business and has also reached the pre pandemic level of an average of USD.01 billion export revenue during the period January to April 2022. Before the dawn of the pandemic, exporters were facing difficulties with lack of skilled workers. However, during the pandemic, many exporters were compelled to downsize operations and lay off employees which has created a vacuum in crucial areas of operations.

In current scenario, considering the financial burden and the reportedly excessive workforce attached to the public sector, NCE member exporters are proposing following options in reaching a win-win agreement for both government and the export sector. It is to be noted that labour requirements of exporters vary according to the relevant industry, yet in general all categories could be considered.

1. Any government employee in the permanent carder is eligible to apply for employment in the export sector, excluding from following institutions as they are involved in law enforcement in the country which may lead to conflict of interests.

a) Department of Police

b) Department of Inland Revenue

c) Department of Customs

d) Department of Excise

 2.Government to grant unpaid leave up to a maximum of 59 months.

 3.Employer will offer a “Temporary Labour Contract “to such selected individuals which include: –

 a) Period of contract for 59 months (because on completion of the 60th month, the employee will be eligible for Gratuity.)

b) Their employment will be in accordance with the laws and statutes under which the respective private sector company’s  employees of similar cadre is employed.

c) Leave entitlement as per employer’s policy on leave

d) Employment contract can be terminated with either party giving 30 days’ written notice.

e) In case of maternity leave, a number of stipulated days will be available as unpaid leave.

f)  At the end of 59 months, the government to absorb such individuals back to the public sector employment as per pertinent rules and regulations.

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