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Kiriella warns govt. of time bomb in Kandy City

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By Saman indRajith

The government has placed the Kandy City and lives of its people in danger by keeping inmates afflicted with COVID-19 in the Bogambara prison, says Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, yesterday, MP Kiriella said that the quarantine centre at former Bogambara prison in the middle of the Kandy City posed health risks and urged the government to shift the infected inmates.

“During Yahapalana government we decided to shut down the Bogambara prison and converted it into a cultural park. We shifted prisoners to other places such as Pallekele and started to develop the premises that had been a prison since colonial times. Now, the incumbent government put the project on hold and brought infected inmates from all prisons to the Bogambara facility. First about 100 inmates were brought, but now as per the latest reports there are over 800 persons in the Bogambara prison quarantine centre. This place is in the middle of the city.”

Kiriella said that the prison premises were to be converted into a tourist attraction with an open-air theatre to promote upcountry handicraft industry and create employment opportunities for about 5,000 people. “Now, all that is over. The place has been turned into a quarantine centre and is like a primed time bomb.”

Kiriella accused the government of having mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic and let it develop into a national health crisis. “During the recent months, the government was preoccupied with winning the general election and having the 20th Amendment ratified by Parliament. Controlling COVID-19 pandemic was third on its list of priorities. The government should have thought of people’s lives rather than consolidating its power. Look at Taiwan, an island nation like ours with a population number closer to ours located very close to China. Since January there have been only 602 infected cases and only seven deaths. There had been no reports of new cases for the past 200 days. The main reason for that was the decision by Taiwan to shut down its airports. We too told the government on or around Jan 22 to close down the airport. They did not listen to us. They acted arbitrarily then and now blame the people for the spread of the virus. It is so sad to notice that there is not a single world leader blaming his country’s people for the spread of the virus but we have one. When the first wave of the pandemic was controlled to some extent, the government got the credit for it, but after the failure to control the second wave the blame was shifted on to the people.”



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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