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JVP tells people to ensure their own protection instead of waiting for lockdowns



By Saman Indrajith

The JVP yesterday called on people to adopt all possible measures to ensure their protection without waiting till the government to impose lockdowns.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that the government continued to keep the country open against the advice of doctors and health experts, and people should take action necessary for their protection.

“The government is adamant to keep the country open while people die in their hundreds. We call on people to stay at home. We call on public servants not to report to work even if their institutions threaten to sack them. We tell people that they can find jobs if they live and there is no purpose of having a job but dying because of the virus. We saw people in several towns, including Ambalantota, move themselves for self -lockdowns. Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle and the PHIs’ Union too have asked the people to do the same,” Dissanayake said.

“We urge public servants to stay at home. We know that you need to respond to calls from your offices, but remember that your job or profession is not your life. None of you deserve to be in the list of the COVID-19 deaths. We are a nation that lost around 45,000 lives because of the tsunami which was a natural disaster. This time our people are losing lives because of the decisions of a stupid ruler. You should move in for self-lockdown. Give priority to your life and health safety. Even if you face inconveniences later on we will stand by you. We must act collectively to adhere individually to precautions of doctors since the government has no regard for our lives.

“We are passing through a most dangerous situation. As per the records, one person dies every nine minutes. The number of deaths increases by five percent every single day. The number of infected per day is now around 3,000. Fifty percent of hospital capacities are now used for COVID-19 patients only. Even if we use the 100 percent capacity of our hospital system we cannot cater to the increasing number of patients. The PHIS’ Union has warned that even if we shut down the country now we would not be able to control the number of deaths for 10 to 12 coming days. Minister Dr. Fernandopulle has called for people to take measures for their own safety. It is reported that Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi has not been allowed to speak of the situation prevailing at the Cabinet meeting. Doctors and WHO experts have called for lockdowns. But the top leaders of the government do not take these warnings seriously. They want to keep the country open. We know that the Prime Minister too has expressed the need to go for lockdowns. The President does not rely on expert opinions but only on information from the intelligence services. He makes decisions such as bringing down the number of participants at a wedding from 150 to 50. They have announced a ban on public places for those who do not get all doses of the vaccine. People do not reject vaccine. They will go for anything for their safety. For example, people in their thousands gathered to get the Dhammika Peniya (syrup) when the government approved it. Same happened when a state TV channel introduced the Ravana Peniya and when Minister Channa Jayasumana promoted Sudarshana Peniya. This shows that the people will go for anything that the government recommends as the medicine for COVID-19 virus. They will take the vaccine but it was the government that started the vaccination after delaying for months. The government should have purchased the vaccines early,” Dissanayake said.

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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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