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JVP faults Premier for not touching on Easter Sunday carnage, in address to nation

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… says no truck with main Opposition SJB

By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had, in his address to the nation, spoken of the 1988-89 period and 30-year war but purposefully evaded speaking about the Easter Sunday carnage, the JVP said yesterday.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said Prime Minister Rajapaksa had made use of 1988-89 and war against the LTTE to divert the attention of people from the burning issues. “Yet, he did not touch the issue of the Easter Sunday terror attacks because there are direct charges against them. He had been overly careful not to speak about it even though now we are coming close to three years after the attacks,” MP Herath said.

“Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s speech to the nation contained only three main issues – the 30-year long war, the pandemic and the 1988-89 period. People expected that he would at least speak of possible solutions because already six persons died in petrol queues.

“We as a nation are suffering due to unprecedented shortages and price hikes. Instead of speaking of possible solutions, he tried to save President brother while issuing veiled threats. He evoked the memories of boogeymen, raised various allegations to undermine the actual problem. We do not think the people and especially the youth today would fall for these tricks,” MP Herath said.

The JVP Propaganda Secretary that the country had been robbed by the members of a single family and now the prime minister invited other parties to join them to find solutions. “We will not join any of those thieves. Could a country be saved by joining hands with thieves? Anyone who joined them could do only one thing – that is to rob public funds. We in the JVP are not ready for that. Our stance is that we have no future with this bunch of thieves and we must fight to send them home. We are convinced that this country cannot achieve progress with them as leaders. We will never be able to make our economy stable again with the same bunch of swindlers. The first imperative of rebuilding this nation is to see the Rajapaksas out of politics,” MP Herath said.

Responding to queries, MP Herath said that his party would not close ranks with the SJB’s plans to build the economy. “The SJB plan allows the President to stay on top. This country cannot be rebuilt or the economic problems cannot be solved as long as Gotabaya Rajapaksa remains as the President. We are planning to bring about our own administration with the support of people.”

Asked to comment on demonstrations under the slogan “We are with Gota,” Herath said that it was an attempt by the government to make people fight each other. “The plan was a flop. Everybody has realised that it is nothing but a government trick to set their paid thugs and cronies against people. That will not work. That attempt was an insult to the intelligence of people.”

Responding to a question on the immediate future of the protests against the government, the MP said that the youth have vowed that they would not give up during the New Year holidays too. “We support their fight. It is because of this struggle we could send Basil Rajapaksa and Ajith Nivard Cabaraal home. Whatever reforms and changes are being introduced by this government today are because of the protests the youth launched. So, we have achieved victories. There are further victories waiting for us people and the only way to achieve them is through nothing but struggle.”



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More than 6 bn worth of substandard drugs dispensed to patients

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The Committee of Public Accounts (COPA) has disclosed that Rs. 6,259 million worth of drugs faced a quality failure from 2011 to 2020 due to improper storage. The COPA report has further revealed that 99% of such drugs had already been dispensed to patients when the condition was brought to attention. In that situation, it was not possible to recover the cost of substandard drugs from the suppliers, the Parliament said.

The Committee on Public Accounts has directed the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine to expedite the process of facilitating better storage of drugs to ensure their safety.

It has also been observed that the temperature in the warehouses, owned by the Medical Supplies Division, is maintained properly and that the medical supplies are stored in the corridors of the central drug warehouses and hospitals.

Furthermore, the Secretary to the Ministry has pointed out that if there is a system to detect the failure of drugs as soon as they are received, the loss can be recovered from the suppliers and if the quality testing of 60 drugs can be done by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation, this situation can be avoided to some extent.

These concerns and observations were contained in the first report of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament on COPA, which was tabled in Parliament recently (20) by Prof. Tissa Vitarana, the Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts.

The report contains information about the investigations of seven state institutions summoned before the Committee on Public Accounts and one Special Audit Report during the period from 04.08.2021 to 19.11.2021.

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CBSL Chief: Economy could be stabilised in year or so if …

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The prevailing Balance of Payments (BoP) crisis could lead to a major social crisis as the available foreign reserves were only sufficient for a few weeks’ imports, Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe warned on Monday.

“The economy can be stabilised in the next 12 month if the IMF negotiations and debt restructuring are finalised within the next seven to eight months. Until then we have to support the poor people,” Dr. Weerasinghe said, addressing a seminar on the “State of the Economy and Talks with the IMF”. It was organised by the Press Club, together with the Press Institute, at Colombo Hilton.

The CB Governor said the current BoP crisis would worsen and, therefore the economic pain could only be minimised if essential policies and measures were implemented in an expeditious manner. But “IMF technical level virtual meetings are likely to conclude this week, and thereafter further discussion will take place to finalise everything,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.

Dr. Weerasinghe suggested that the monetary and fiscal authorities tighten the monetary policy by higher margins and fiscal policy by restoring tax rates to pre-2020 levels.

The Governor said, “We have three categories of creditors namely International Sovereign Bonds, which raise short term funds from global markets, which account for 35 percent of the government debt, while other two creditors are Paris Club and non-Paris Club (India and China).

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the country’s debt needed to be brought to a sustainable level. “For that purpose a debt sustainability analysis needs to be drafted with a fiscal policy for the IMF bailout”, he said.

Speaking about the country’s worsening economic fundamentals, Dr. Weerasinghe said: “The nation is currently experiencing a historically low economic growth and falling trend of per capita GDP since 2017 with rising levels of poverty. It is also running the highest fiscal deficits since 1988 with the lowest ever government revenue as a percent of GDP.

“Amid those developments Sri Lanka’ poverty level will increase, unemployment level soar and local industries will have to shut down due to restriction of importation of raw material. Therefore, we have to seek humanitarian assistance from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other bilateral and multilateral agencies”, the Governor said.

“We are seeking short-term bridging facilities from official creditors until an agreement is reached with creditors on restructuring,” he said.

In his presentation, Dr. Weerasinghe analysed the links between banking and the currency crises. He pointed out that the problems in the banking sector typically precede a currency crisis with the currency crisis deepening the banking crisis, thus activating a vicious spiral.

Sri Lanka also had the highest-ever government debt which was unsustainable at the moment. Debt dynamics might be worsening in the next few years unless the debt was restructured, he said.

Sri Lanka also recorded the highest rate of inflation in 12 years which was increasing sharply and was experiencing the highest-ever levels of money printing by the CBSL, he added

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Dragonfly thought to be extinct found again

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By Ifham Nizam

Scientists have rediscovered Sri Lankan Clubtail (Anisogomphus ceylonicus), one of the rarest species of dragonflies in the country. The team that made the discovery comprised Amila Sumanapala of the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo, T. Ranasinghe of the Butterfly Conservation Society of Sri Lanka, and D. Sumanapala of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. According to lead scientist Amila Sumanapala Sri Lankan Clubtail is one of the rarest species of dragonflies.

First collected in 1859, it was only known from the original collection and another collection record made a century after in 1962. This species had not been found anywhere in Sri Lanka for close to 60 years until the team encountered a larva during a survey conducted in 2021.

Anisogomphus ceylonicus is one of the few Odonates of Sri Lanka with no photographic records of a living specimen available hitherto.

The present observation provides the first photographs of a live A. ceylonicus larva and the most recent documentation of the species. These observations, coupled with previous work (Lieftinck 1971, Bedjanič & van der Poorten 2013), provide an improved understanding of the species, which might enable further targeted surveys to be made

It was first discovered from Ramboda over 140 years ago based on a female specimen, which was originally described as Gomphus ceylonicus and later assigned to the genus Heliogomphus by F.C. Fraser (Bedjanič & van der Poorten 2013). Almost a century later, Lieftinck (1971) collected an immature male and its exuvia of a clubtail dragonfly from Rambukpath Oya, 10 miles northwest of Hatton in 1962 and described it as Anisogomphus solitaris. However, Bedjanič & van der Poorten (2013) recognized that H. ceylonicus is conspecific with A. solitaris, and thus reassigned it to the genus Anisogomphus. Since the discovery of the species, only these two records have ever been documented (Bedjanič et al. 2014), despite odonatological surveys and numerous biodiversity explorations conducted countrywide.

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