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Johnston: Govt. did not let pandemic hinder road development programme



Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando says the bane of this country is an Opposition that is in the habit of criticising the government for the sake of doing so.

Speaking at the Mandaduwa Grounds in Weeraketiya where the government opened 1,500 roads after being newly constructed or rehabilitated on Saturday, Minister Fernando said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and incumbent government would be known in future as the only administration that delivered all its promises to the people. “Despite the pandemic we continued to work and deliver what we pledged to people. The President in his manifesto promised to develop 100,000 km of roads. We have identified 68,000 roads for development and of them work is in progress in 14,000 roads. Today we declare open 1,500 roads completed within three months. Within the next three months we’ll complete the work of 2,500 more roads. It is of paramount importance for economic development to enable people to go within a couple of hours from one end to the other. These roads will help agriproducts coming to the market and children to go to schools as well as patients to go to hospitals. They will increase connectivity and they would serve as a springboard promoting development,” the Minister said.

“Three months after the inauguration of President Rajapaksa, the country was affected by the pandemic. Our detractors said that we would not be able to get vaccines. Now we have completed vaccinating almost 70 percent of our population. Sri Lanka is among the top ten countries in the world in vaccination success. Despite criticism we continued to work. Despite the effects of pandemic, our government continued to pay our loans while we developed the country.

“We have launched projects to give water and improve other infrastructure to develop this economy.  In the meantime, the process of converting this into a green economy is in progress. We will provide organic fertiliser instead of chemical fertilisers. The Opposition could go on shouting but when the time comes people will understand who did what. The second phase of the Central Expressway and the New Kelani Bridge would be opened by the end of this month.

“I thank World Bank Vice President for South Asian region Hartwig Schafer and Asian Development Bank’s country representative Dr Chen Chen who are with us today to witness the opening of new roads. Our thanks go to the World Bank for giving us USD 500 million to develop the road network of this country.

“There is one Opposition party which cannot find anything good in what we do. They pose themselves as the guardians of suppressed people and instigate people against capitalism. Leaders of that party of the proletarians have billions of rupees in their bank accounts. People have realised their duplicity and double games so their number of seats came down from six to three. Such bankrupt Opposition parties are the bane of this nation,” the Minister said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and other ministers were also present on the occasion.

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Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine



Industry leader has sought court intervention

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.

Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.

Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.

Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.

The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.

Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.

In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”

The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.

Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.

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Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours



Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.

Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).

The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most  scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.

Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.

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President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today



by Saman Indrajith

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).

He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.

Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.

The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.

To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.

Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.

President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.

At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.

The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.

Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.

After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).

Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

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