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JVP invites rioting in streets?



By Saman Indrajith

JVP last week called on people to come out to the streets against the government that cannot control market prices of essential items.

Addressing a press conference held at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, party’s national organizer and former MP Bimal Ratnayake said that recent fuel price hike was unjust and it would result in further increases in prices of all goods and services in the coming days putting pandemic-hit economy out of the frying pan into the fire.

“This is the highest ever price hike in fuel in the country’s history. As per an announcement by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Octane 92 petrol price has been increased by Rs 20, Octane 95 by Rs 23, diesel by Rs 10, Super diesel by Rs15 and kerosene by Rs 10. The reason for the price revision has been attributed to the world market price change of fuel. It cannot be accepted. There had been many previous occasions when the world market price of fuel increased more than this. In 2013 the price of a barrel of oil was at USD 97. For years the price was at USD 100 a barrel. There had been some increase in price in the world market but following the spread of the Omicron variant there were travel limitations in Europe and price of fuel decreased. There is a presumption that the price of an oil barrel would be around USD 60 owing to the Omicron effect.  Then the truth is that the government jacked up fuel prices at a time when the world market prices are going down.

“The CPC and Petroleum minister have become puppets of the ruling cabal. Discussion for fuel price increase started by the government on Dec 13 soon after the budget. Yet Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa did not allow the prices to increase while he was still in the country. He wanted to show that the price increases took place in his absence. His intention was to apportion the blame on the petroleum minister and the acting finance minister. Yet the truth has come out and now it is a known fact that the CPC increased the prices last night on a directive from the Finance Ministry.  It is clear that the finance minister plotted to place the blame on others. This is a well-known tactic of Rajapaksa family. The rest of the ministers are used by them as puppets.

“Government spokesman Minister Dullas Alahapperuma says that the fuel prices were increased to save the foreign exchange reserves. We cannot understand how the government could save dollars by increasing the fuel prices in the local market. The government could have instead asked people to stay at home to save fuel.

“Bakery owners are planning to increase the prices of their products. Three wheel operators say that they would increase their starting price per km from Rs 30 to Rs 80. Bus owners demand to increase the minimum fee to Rs 25. Likewise, the prices of various services and goods would go up in the coming days. The government has lost control of prices and the market. There are shortages of various items. The standards of available consumables are questionable. Traders fleece consumers at will. While the government is fleecing people it has let several big-time companies fleece money from the people. People can identify those companies because it was they who recorded unprecedented profits in the third quarter of this year. Some banks recorded 312 percent profit in the said period. There are two main companies running supermarket chains. One says it received a Rs 3,500 million profit after tax and the other has raked in Rs 1,387 million profit in the third quarter. These profits came at a time when the economy was down. They have earned profits by increasing the prices at their will. Rice prices in the market are decided by the millers. The government has lost control of the prices in the market. We call on people to raise their voice and stand with us against this government”, Ratnayake said.

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“Foreign bond holders more important to govt. than hard-pressed people”



SJB slams GR’s policy speech

The main opposition SJB says that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Policy Speech delivered in Parliament on Jan 18 failed to provide solutions to the crises faced by the country.

Addressing a press briefing held at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo on Thursday, SJB MP Eran Wickremaratne said that the crises with regard to economic management and governance had gone beyond the control of the government subjecting the masses to severe hardships without essential goods and services.

Wickremaratne said that  there had been no increase in the value of  GDP supporting the domestic and foreign borrowings by this government during the last two years.

He accused the government of giving priority to paying off debts of foreign cronies while  starving the people without essential foods inclusive of fuel for electricity generation.

“People who could not afford to basic necessities despite having cash in hand due to the shortage of dollars and foreign exchange now had to stay in the dark for several hours a day without electricity due to lack of fuel as the govt has not been able to maintain a supply chain properly. But the government, having crossed its wires, gives priority to repaying the loan to its cronies while mounting pressure on its citizens,” Wickremaratne said.

“President Rajapaksa’s Throne Speech did not provide answers to any of  the current problems  facing the country. Although the country faced two major problems, there was no answer to either of them in the President’s policy statement.

“First, rising commodity prices push up inflation increasing  vegetable prices. Secondly, the import of essential commodities has come to a complete standstill due to the foreign exchange deficit. There is a shortage not only for  food and fuel but also for  medicines for the people.”

He said only 25% of the country’s essential medicines are produced locally and the rest are imported. There is also a shortage of essential medicines due to lack of dollars for imports.

At a time when the people are under so much of  pressure, the government is  boasting of servicing   international sovereign bonds on time. People need to be told the secret of why foreign debtors are more important to the government than the citizens of the country, Wickremaratne said.

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COVID-19 on the rise again; 800+ new cases a second day running



(Economynext) New COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Sri Lanka, with health authorities detecting over 800 new infections on Thursday (20) for a second consecutive day.

With the 827 new cases, total cases in the country have gone up to 599,363, official data showed.

Around 15,279 patients are currently receiving treatment in hospital or at home.

With 12 deaths reported in the last 24 hour period, the island nation’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 15,243.

Health authorities warned that the sector could face challenges managing new patients if daily cases continue to surge.

Officials are also concerned about an apparent hesitance for the booster dose of the vaccine that was largely absent in the initial rollout.

“We have provided the opportunity to get the booster countrywide. But because the fatality rate is now low people may think taking it is no longer necessary,” State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production Channa Jayasumana said speaking to journalists on Friday (21).

“Sri Lanka will go back to the previous state with people not taking the booster dose,” he warned.

The booster rate is very low compared to Sri Lanka’s otherwise impressive vaccination numbers, said Jayasumana.

“Only 4.8 million have taken the booster so far, and only 26,796 came forward yesterday to get it.

“With the increase of patients, even though the fatality rate is low, it can be overwhelming for the health sector if patient numbers in hospital wards and ICUs go up.”

Sri Lanka has so far vaccinated 16.3 with the first dose while 13.8 have received both doses.

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Prevention, cooperation, mutual assistance essential to counter connected nature of terrorists in South Asia – Army Chief



Prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential to counter the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in the South Asian region, said Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander General Shavendra Silva on Thursday, emphasising on the need of law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies.”

“In the legitimate government efforts to fight terrorism or organised crimes, in this regard, a possible South Asian regional treaty could promote counter-terrorism and anti-crime measures by promoting institutional structures and decision-making processes to promote cooperation, coordination, shared expertise and common legal approaches,” said Silva while virtually addressing the “Countering use of Crypto Currencies to Finance Terrorism” event on Thursday.

“Due to the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in our region, prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential,” he added.

The General also said that there are avenues for collaboration by establishing information exchange at customs, imposing immigration barriers and commonly agreeing on the regulation of transporting and stockpiling of weapons and drugs, dangerous goods or potential warlike equipment.

Emphasising that mutual assistance can be enhanced by extending measures for collecting evidence of suspects, exchange of wanted personnel and etc, Silva said that enhancing the capacities of regional countries to handle terrorism and criminals would depend extensively on the training of law enforcement agencies.

“Apart from training for military personnel, of a particular country, it is also essential to carry out joint training for various armed forces of the South Asian region. Conducting counter-terrorism operations at a regional scale would also require regional funding. It is understood that funding counter-terrorism campaigns in recent times has become quite expensive due to the sophistication of insurgence,” Silva added.

The General also said that “this is where we need cooperation as very experience armies, who have long been engaging in counter-terrorism operations, we have specialities, therefore we can share each other’s specialities to counter each other’s imitations.”

“Law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies and principles in the regional countries feel enhanced the compatibility between the countries in fighting transnational crimes and terrorism,” he added. (ANI)

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