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JVP fires 10 pointed covid- related questions at govt.



by Saman Indrajith

People are dying in their hundreds daily owing to the blunders of the government which did not listen to the experts, the JVP said on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference held at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, former Kalutara District JVP MP Dr Nalinda Jayatiss said that the reasons were to be found in an inability to learn from what was known about the virus and to act accordingly. Mistakes could have been avoided if the government had listened to the health experts and WHO, drawn on a wider range of expertise, and been curious about experience in other countries.

“We have serious doubts on the motives of the government’s failure because it committed blunders that would not have been committed even by a common man. It is not the manner a government would have acted. We have ten questions to ask from the government and hope that it will be able to answer them,” the former MP said.

Dr Jayatissa said that the ten specific questions over the present state of the country, to the government, were as follows;

01. Who decided to deviate from the National Vaccination Plan, prepared by the Health Ministry on the 18th of January 2021, and not prioritize the vaccination of the over 60 population?

02. Who were the officials at the NMRA and the specialist committee on vaccinations, responsible for the delay in importing the Sinopharm vaccine to Sri Lanka? What were the steps taken against them?

03. The vaccination program was delayed. The faith placed in vaccines was ridiculed by the promotion of so-called miracle tonics, namely the Dhammika Paniya. Government Hospitals were used for this purpose. Will the state officials, state ministers, members of parliament, and heads of media institutions who promoted this tonic be held accountable?

04. Who decided not to provide sufficient vaccine doses to designated MOH areas and thus create a rift among the health officers and the public?

Who decided the type of vaccine that will be administered in a particular area?

05. Will the government record statements over data discrepancies from those who make the allegations and also those at the receiving end of those allegations?

06. Approximately 1.1 million files mysteriously disappeared from the eNMRA cloud. These are matters related to health and national security. Who will be held responsible for this?

07. What is the position of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 prevention with regard to allegations over the pricing of PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests?

08. Why hasn’t the government decided to increase the number of PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests?

09. Health Professionals such as Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Dr. Paba Palihawadana, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, Dr. Jayaruwan Bandara, Dr. Amal Harsha, Dr. Palitha Abeyakoon, Dr. Asitha De Silva, and several others were removed from their positions. When these high ranking officials in the health sector were gaining experience on how to face this pandemic, who decided to replace or fire them?

10. There are serious warnings made over the new South African Variant. So, who decided to allow Indians to come to Sri Lanka, while such a threat exists?

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GL follows up Udaya’s initiative, negotiates concessionary crude oil supplies with UAE



Balance-of-payment crisis continues to stagger govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The United Arab Emirates (UAD) has agreed to discuss a possible arrangement to provide Sri Lanka crude oil on concessionary terms in the face of the country experiencing a severe balance-of-payments crisis, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris took up the matter with UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to the UNGA.

In late August, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila sought the intervention of the Acting Head of the UAE Embassy in Sri Lanka, Saif Alanofy. Minister Gammanpila also met the Iranian Ambassador in Colombo in a bid to explore the possibility of obtaining oil from Iran on concessionary arrangements.

The Foreign Ministry statement on Prof. Peiris meeting with the UAE Minister dealt with the financial crisis experienced by the country. “Foreign Minister Peiris explained the challenges Sri Lanka is experiencing in respect of its external budget, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Peiris focused in particular on the country’s requirement for oil and requested concessionary arrangements from the UAE.”

The Foreign Ministry quoted Minister Al Jaber as having said that the UAE would be happy to assist and proposed the establishment of a strategic framework to take the process forward.”

The ministry stressed that both sides agreed to follow-up rapidly.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila earlier told The Island that concessionary arrangements were required to procure oil as part of an overall strategy to overcome the developing crisis.

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that increase in fuel prices in the second week of June this year was only a part of the government’s response to heavy pressure on foreign reserves. Minister Gammanpila said that the decision was taken close on the heels of dire warning from the Central Bank.

Minister Gammanpila said that in spite of foreign currency crisis, the government ensured an uninterrupted supply of fuel. According to him, Sri Lanka spent as much as USD 3.5 to 5 bn annually on oil imports depending on the world market prices.

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President attends 9/11 commemoration in NY



President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday attended the special commemorative event near the Manhattan Memorial in the United States to mark the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

The terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001, targeting the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence.

Coinciding with the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the 9/11 Memorial Museum jointly organised the event. Other Heads of State and government representatives, who were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, were also present at the event to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in those attacks.

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FSP calls on govt. allies not to pretend to oppose adverse deal with US firm



By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

Due to the secret agreement signed with US firm New Fortress Energy, Sri Lanka would soon face a situation akin to the one already faced by Ukraine, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) predicted yesterday.

“Sri Lanka is trying to reduce its dependency on coal and switch over to LNG. With this in mind, several coal and diesel power plants are to be converted into LNG in the coming decade. Now, we will entirely depend on the US to provide us with LNG to power these plants. Given that the US intends to control the seas in which Sri Lanka is placed strategically, they will not let us off the hook once they establish their foothold here. We are in deep trouble,” FSP Propaganda Secretary, Duminda Nagamuwa said.

Nagamuwa said that some constituents of the government were pretending that they opposed the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy. “But this is not the time for theatrics but for concrete action”, he said.

Nagamuwa said that the agreement between the government and US Company New Fortress Energy to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal at Kerawalapitiya as well as the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant had to be scrapped.

“Even government ministers agree that the agreement was not discussed with them. Several affiliates of the government are trying to convince the people that they are fighting this decision from inside. However, past experience has shown that when push comes to shove they will stay with the government. They must show the leaders of the government that they are not puppets,” he said.

Nagamuwa said that if those affiliated to the government were serious in their opposition to undermining Sri Lanka’s energy security they should show their commitment by doing something concrete.

The Yugadanavi Power Station at Kerawalapitiya already produced 300 MWs of energy and there was a plan to build another 350 MW plant there. The US Company had now been allowed to build an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal and to provide LNG to the existing Power Station and the new 350 MW power plant to be built, he said.

“Now we are under the power of the US. We will soon be facing the plight of Ukraine,” he said.

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