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Kiriella pleads with govt. Impose travel restrictions to prevent Delta entering hill country



Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella yesterday requested the government to impose travel restrictions to prevent Delta variant of coronavirus entering the upcountry areas.

MP Kiriella said that the Delta variant was not found the upcountry areas. “The Kandy district and upcountry areas could be saved from this virus variant if the government imposes travel restrictions without further delay,” he said.

The Chief Opposition Whip said: “We, as the opposition, wish that the government’s vaccination drive would be successful. We look beyond party interests and ideological differences because the virus does not discriminate. Therefore, we are willing to support the government’s efforts but its attitude is deplorable.

Kiriella said that in 2020, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa had spoken about coronavirus and warned of a possible pandemic. However, the government had no interest in listening to the Opposition and take action, he said.

“Some of the government MPs ridiculed him. Thereafter he warned of this again on 05 February 2020 and pleaded with the government to take precautions. He said that the virus originated in Wuhan was spreading fast and the countries in our region too were under threat. We are ready to support the national vaccination drive, but the government should change its attitude,” he said.

The MP said that he had received telephone calls from specialist doctors, who said the Delta variant was not found in the upcountry. They believe that if travel restrictions were imposed, those areas could be saved from the highly transmissible variant.

“The government did not close the airports in a timely manner. It kept the airports open while other countries took precautionary measures. Check the statistics and you will find the first 100 cases reported from here were from those who had returned home from abroad. Opposition Leader Premadasa asked for the closure of airports on both 24 January and 05 February 2020, but the airports were kept open till March 17. The government did not heed our warnings, and instead it promoted syrups and other concoctions. They even drank some syrup in this Parliament. They thought the syrup was a miracle cure.”

The Chief Opposition Whip said that the government should appoint a parliamentary committee, consisting of MPs belonging to both the government and the Opposition, and the Disaster Management Act had provision for such action.

“The government is asking for our support but how do you expect us to help if it is not ready to listen to us?

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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