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JVP: Govt. using brawn, not brains

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By Saman Indrajith

The incumbent government is headed by those who use their brawn instead of brains to solve problems, says the JVP.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, addressing the media at the party headquarters, in Pelawatte yesterday said that problems confronted by the people and their grievances could not be solved by muscle power, but the rulers needed to put their heads together to work out solutions.

“The ministers try to solve people’s problems using their muscle power. The best example was the recent raids carried out against rice millers. The government vowed to break down the so-called rice mafia and got its men to raid warehouses and stores and showed those raids on TV with drama and suspense. The raids could recover only eight hundred kilos of rice. The amount recovered had no significance because the country’s daily consumption of rice was at six million kilos a day. The show of coercive power has not yielded significant results,” Dissanayake said.

“In purchasing paddy the government introduced a controlled price instead of a certified price. If the government had introduced a certified price, the farmers could have made use of that price as the bottom price and could have sold their harvest to a higher price. As a result of controlled prices, they had to sell their paddy at 50 rupees a kilo. After the farmers have sold their paddy, a new price of 55 rupees a kilo has been introduced. Farmers lost five rupees from each kilo because of that jumbling of prices.

“Tea industry is now in its last legs because the plantations could not get chemical input. Tea smallholders have found that they could not yield their normal produce using organic fertilisers. Similarly the maize cultivations too are on the verge of collapse because maize seeds need chemical inputs. Usually, this country imports 1,500 metric tonnes of maize seed. Owing to uncertainty this year the imports decreased to 600 metric tonnes. Of that only around 150 metric tonnes have been sold for cultivation. This shows the uncertainty in the minds of farmers to cultivate maize. This will have direct repercussions on agriculture-output.

“The government promised to help 200,000 farmers, using organic fertilisers. They promised to give each farmer Rs 210,000 to start with. The government put up advertisements promising that. It revised the number of 200,000 farmers to 100,000. Thereafter it announced that each farmer would be paid Rs 150,000. Thereafter the number of farmers to receive the government incentive was reduced from 100,000 to 10,000 and the amount of funds promised decreased to Rs 110,000. Finally the government revised its numbers again and said that one farmer from each Agrarian Service Centre would be given the incentive. There are around 560 such centres in the country. That was how the number of farmers using organic fertiliser was brought down from 200,000 to 560. The senior ministers should have had their heads examined before launching such projects.”



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Vasu defends constituents’ right to differ

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Prez chairs govt. group meeting:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara has strongly defended the right of the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) constituents’ to take up contentious issues in public.

Minister Nanayakkara told SLPP parliamentary group meeting at the President’s House on Sunday night (24) that their right to differ on matters of public interest shouldn’t be questioned.

Nanayakkara said so when Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena and MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi faulted some constituent parties for dissenting views on certain issues.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was present at the meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The meeting lasted for about two hours.

The SLPP held Sunday’s meet in the wake of some constituent parties of the ruling coalition asking for a discussion on the questionable agreement between the government and the US New Fortress Energy Company over the Yugadanavi power plant, etc. Sources said that initially, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa indicated that the issue could be discussed with the Premier but subsequently arrangements were made for the Sunday’s meeting.

The New Fortress recently announced that a definitive agreement had been executed for the external investment in West Coast Power Limited (WCP).

WCP owns the 310 megawatts Yugadanavi Power Plant based in Colombo. The deal is also for the rights to develop a new LNG Terminal off the coast of Colombo. In terms of the agreement, New Fortress will acquire a 40 per cent ownership stake in WCP. The US energy firm plans to build an offshore LNG terminal located off the coast of Colombo.

Minister Nanayakkara has said it is not unusual for members of a coalition to hold different views depending on the issues as they also represent the interests of the public.

Nanayakkara has pointed out how the left parties remained with the UPFA though they didn’t agree with the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to enact the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Parliament passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution with a two-thirds majority on 08 Sept. 2010, enabling the President to seek a third term among other things.

The SLPP constituents have differed with the government on several issues such as fuel price increases announced by Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila on 12 June as well as the abortive bid to transfer 49 percent of shares of the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo port to India and Japan.

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa spearheaded the constituents’ campaign. He sought an explanation particularly as regards Cabinet approval for the controversial energy deal with the US firm, without a discussion among ministers.

NFF sources told The Island that their leader felt the urgent need to take up the matter to prevent further deterioration of relations among the coalition members.

Several parties including government ally the Jathika Sanvidhana Ekamuthuwa moved the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, respectively against the secretive energy deal with the US firm.

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‘Those who hesitate to get vaccinated pose a threat to others’

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath said yesterday a significant number of people had not received the Covid-19 vaccine, and posed a threat to society.

“No matter what your age category is, you will be at a higher risk of being infected and spreading it to others. So please get vaccinated,” he urged.

The DDGHS said that a booster shot would be given to people from 01 Nov.

The Health Ministry would carry out the ongoing vaccination drive until everyone got the first two doses, he said.

“However, we won’t keep hundreds of vaccination centres open. Most likely, those who have not got vaccinated will have to go to designated locations to receive the vaccine.”

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School attendance high as parents have faith in teachers – CTU head

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Teachers and principals protested at Colombo Fort yesterday urging the government to rectify their salary anomalies. The protesters marched from the Fort Railway Station towards the Presidential Secretariat but police did not permit them to proceed beyond the Telecom rounadbout. Pic by Nishan S Priyantha

By Rathindra Kuruwita

School attendance was high Despite inter-provincial travel restrictions, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said yesterday. “The government announced on 22 October that primary sections of all schools would be reopened on 25 October. Despite the short notice the attendance was high, and this is testament to the faith parents have in teachers,” he said.Primary sections of 9,155 schools recommenced yesterday.

“However, we will only teach. Teachers do a lot of additional work instead of teaching and most people who slander us have no idea about this,” he said.

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath urged relevant authorities to provide safe and adequate transport facilities to students. It was vital that those vehicles were ventilated, and social distancing was maintained.

“We urge parents to buy reusable face masks for kids. If your child has any symptoms of COVID such as fever and cold, don’t send him/her to school until you are certain this is not COVID. Teach your child the importance of washing hands, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. This is the way we can ensure there is no spread in the school system,” Dr. Herath said.

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