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Japan donates 388 MT canned fish for school meals program

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GOSL and WFP welcomes gift02

The Government of Japan has donated a large shipment of canned fish, weighing 388 MT and worth JPY 300 million (LKR 519 million), to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Sri Lanka, to meet the protein needs of school children covered by the national school meal programme a jhoint press release from WFP and the Japanese Embassy here said on Friday..

The donation was formalized at a ceremony held at the Japanese Ambassadors residence in Colombo, at which the Exchange of Notes were signed by Kitamura Toshihiro, Charge dAffaires ad interim of Japan to Sri Lanka and Andrea Berardo, WFP Deputy Country Director of Sri Lanka.

The event was chaired by N.H.M. Chitrananda, Secretary of the Ministry of Education, L.M.W. Darmasena, Additional Secretary, School Activities of the Ministry of Education and Renuka Peiris, Director, Health and Nutrition of the Ministry of Education.

The Governments of Sri Lanka and Japan have had a strong bond with a mutually supportive relationship between the people of our countries for many years, said Toshihiro. The Government of Sri Lanka and its people demonstrated their solidarity to Japan in the immediate aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, through a cash donation of US$ 1 million and 3 million tea bags.

The canned fish provided by Japan is sourced from the areas supported by Sri Lanka, as an extension of the continuous supply provided by Japan, reflecting our appreciation of our Sri Lankan friends for lending a hand to Japan in times of need. We will continue to support Sri Lanka, in the spirit of unity and solidarity in our joint battle against the effects of Covid-19, the release said.

Through this agreement, the Government of Japan commits to making available to the Government of Sri Lanka – through WFP – 388 MT of canned fish, enough for the preparation of 19 million nutritious meals, rich in protein, for 270,000 school children. This latest contribution ensures that canned fish will continue to be offered to school children, for the period 2021 2022, in addition to the previous consignment of canned fish supplied by the Government of Japan which will last up to mid next year, it added.

Nutritious meals are the foundation to good health, especially for children, said Andrea Berardo, WFP Deputy Country Director in Sri Lanka. This generous contribution from Japan comes at a crucial time when so many Sri Lankan families are hard hit by COVID-19 with reduced incomes and job loss. Fish is a great source of protein and by including it in school meals, we can be certain that children are getting the right nutrients they need to grow and develop.

Lack of adequate protein intake could result in several health issues amongst children, including slow growth, poor concentration and decreased immunity. In Sri Lanka, nutrition surveys have indicated that 40% of primary-level school children were too thin before Covid-19. Consumption of protein-rich foods such as fish is vital to help children meet their dietary requirements.

The Government of Sri Lanka has been conducting the National School Meal Programme for several decades, said the Secretary of the Ministry of Education, N.H.M. Chitrananda. The programme was developed with the objective of ensuring that children are healthy and can optimally benefit from educational opportunities provided to them. We are thankful to the Government of Japan and WFP for providing canned fish to supplement the school meal programme and for supporting us in enhancing the nutritional status of school children.

The National School Meal Programme which WFP has supported since 2003 was disrupted by Covid-19-induced school closures in March 2020. The Government of Japan, through WFP, has been supporting the programme since 2011, with approximately 1,500 MT of canned fish worth more than JPY 1 billion, to supplement school meals twice a week, adding diversity, nutrition and taste. WFP, together with the Government of Japan, will continue to support the Government of Sri Lanka in its efforts to scale up and enhance the National School Meal Programme.

 



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About Rs 3 bn paid as OT during past few months

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Overtime gravy train for CPC refinery workers:

By Saman Indrajith

About Rs. 3,000 million had been paid as overtime for the employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation oil refinery, during the past few months, Parliament was told yesterday.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that he had asked for a detailed report as to whom and on what grounds the overtime payments had been made and it would be submitted to Parliament.

Fielding a question asked by Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, Minister Wijesekera said instructions had been issued to regulate overtime.

MP Kiriella demanded to know why overtime had been paid to employees of an institution that had been shut down. “There are reports that over Rs 4,000 million has been paid as overtime to the workers of the refinery that was not functioning owing to the non-availability of crude oil. This is a crime,” Kiriella said.

Minister Wijesekera: “I made inquiries after I saw newspaper reports on payment of overtime to refinery workers. I inquired from the Finance Manager of the CPC. I was told that a sum between Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion had been paid as overtime. The refinery was not closed during the months of March and April. It was closed only during the last month. They had issued refined fuel on all seven days of the week continuously. When an institution operates full time in such a manner the employees would have to be paid for their overtime work. However, I admit that could have been done with some level of management in the payment process,” the Minister said.

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Wigneswaran claims RW accepted all his demands

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Head of the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK), C. V. Wigneswaran told the media recently that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to all demands he had made, including the release of Tamil ‘political prisoners’, to secure his vote during last month’s Parliament election, to elect a President.

He made this statement following a meeting with the President in Colombo to discuss the establishment of an all-party government.

“We have made several requests and if the President is ready to comply with them, we will consider taking part in the all party government,” he said.

“We met him when he was Prime Minister. Before the parliamentary vote to elect the President, I made these demands and he agreed to them. That is why I voted for him. Now, it is for him to keep his promises. I am here to remind him of this,” Wigenswaran said.

Wickremesinghe, as the Prime Minister in the yahapalana government, vehemently denied that there were Tamil ‘political prisoners’ in the country. (RK)

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MPs are not immune from country’s laws – SJB

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By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the MPs were not immune from the Penal Code despite the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

Premadasa said Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane had claimed that incidents in Parliament could not be dealt with under the regular law.

“This claim sends the wrong message to people. Aren’t the provisions of the Penal Code or the Offences against Public Property Act applicable to the MPs? There were incidents in this Chamber during the 52-day coup conspiracy; some MPs damaged public property. There were investigations by the CID and also by Parliament.

The Secretary General announced the cost of the damage. When the process was on to prosecute those MPs responsible for the damage, political influence was exerted on the CID not to file cases against the culprits. It is against this background that Minister Gunawardane, in his position as the Cabinet spokesman, makes this false claim. His statement is sending a message saying that there is one law inside the Parliament and another outside it.

“He also claims that the Speaker decides whether these laws are applicable to Parliament or not,” Premadasa said.

Colombo District SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said that people were already against the MPs and this new wrong message would further exacerbate their anger against elected members. “The Cabinet Spokesman says that the MPs have a different set of laws while the people are dealt with by the country’s laws. That is wrong. We are also liable for criminal offences that we commit,” Rahuman said.

“The CID conducted an investigation and was prepared to file cases, but that was prevented through political influence. The Cabinet Spokesman’s statement is fueling public hatred towards the MPs. Please, request the Cabinet Spokesman to refrain from making such statements,” he said.

Minister Gunawardane said that he was only responding to a question raised by a journalist and the question was about fairness of cracking down on protesters for destroying public property, during anti-government protests, when MPs, who damaged Parliament, property under the former government, are yet to be apprehended.

Minister Gunawardane said as a public representative in Parliament for the last 33 years he had only explained that the law would be implemented against those engaged in violent activities during peaceful protests.

“I said MPs had Parliament privileges and the Parliament law. I also explained that MPs attending Parliament cannot be arrested as they are engaged in legislative activities,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said that the MPs had no such legal immunity. and Parliament privileges only cover MPs from being arrested while they are on their way to attend and when they leave Parliament. “Therefore, there is no law that says they are exempt from other laws of the country,” Kiriella said.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, agreeing with Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella, said that all other laws in the country applied to the MPs.

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