JVP takes govt. to task over high prices of essentials
By Saman Indrajith
The government is all mouth no trousers when it comes to controlling the prices of essential food items, says the JVP.
JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath told the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte yesterday said that traders would not bring down prices of goods just because the government ministers give voice cuts to TV channels, calling for price reductions. “They go to economic centres and markets and stand near vegetable stalls and give voice cuts to TV vowing that prices would be brought down. But the traders will not reduce the prices. The ministers also vow that they will arrest traders who sell above the stipulated prices but no such arrests have been made so far. This government is only big talk, but no action. The price of a kilo of rice is now at Rs 140 that is very much above the stipulated price. The government keeps issuing gazettes announcing price controls but no trader gives any consideration to those gazettes.”
He said that the process of economic collapse started prior to the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. “The government tries to take cover behind the pandemic, for its failure to manage the economy that is another indication of its failure. The collapse of the economy started long before the COVID-19. For example, the agriculture sector output dropped by 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2020. The drop of the industrial sector output was 7.8 percent and the service sector contracted by 1.6 percent during the same time period. The country went to lockdowns after March 19. So, it shows that the first quarter of this year did not have the impact of the pandemic.
“Prices of essential commodities have reached unprecedented heights under this government within one year. The government has failed to control the prices and manage the economy. Those who came to parliament in bicycles demanding the then government to bring down fuel prices are now ruling the country but they did not bring down the prices at least by five cents”.
“I have the official price lists issued by the Central Bank on Nov 20, 2019 and Dec 23, 2020. In Nov 2019 price of a kilo of samba rice was at Rs 95, now it’s between Rs 132 and 140. This government issued at least five gazettes on rice prices alone for the past one year, but none has had any effect. Big onion price was Rs 147 a kilo now it’s Rs 160. Price of dry chillies was Rs 480 a kilo then now it’s Rs 550. A coconut was then Rs 58 now it’s higher than Rs 85. Lentil that the President promised in his address to the nation at Rs 65 a kilo was Rs 110 in Nov, 2019 and now it’s Rs 180. In that address to the nation there were promises to give canned fish at Rs 100 and big onion at Rs 150. It’s known now there are no such items for such prices. Finally the address to the nation became a big joke. Price of sprats a kilo was at Rs 600 now it’s Rs 850. Price of coconut oil has increased from Rs 320 to 480. Sugar price increased from Rs 100 to 135. These are the Central Bank figures that give an idea of the plight of the people after one year under this government. I do not bring the prices of vegetables to this but it’s a known fact that their prices too have increased to unknown heights. For the first time in history a gazette was issued on Sept 25, this year to control the prices of coconut. Nowhere one can find coconuts for that price now. The government has proven that it has lost control of prices in the market. It has failed miserably and people suffer as a consequence.”
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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