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Liquor licences for govt. cronies will deprive pregnant mothers, children of Thriposha

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By Saman Indrajith

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) yesterday alleged that the government had issued four liquor manufacturing licences to its cronies who would further worsen the prevailing maize shortage by using those grains for the production of beer and spirit.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo, Kurunegala District SJB MP Thushara Indunil said that there was a shortage of maize in the country. “While there is a severe shortage of maize, the government has surreptitiously issued four licences – two for spirit production, two for beer production, to its crony businessmen. Those businessmen will use the remaining stocks of maize to produce beer and spirit and that will worsen the acute shortage of maize in the country.”

The SJB MP said there was a shortfall in the locally produced maize supply. A portion of the production is used to manufacture nutritional supplements such as Thriposha, a blended and nutrient-rich supplementary food provided to infants and expectant mothers. “Some of the produce is sent to market for people to buy while a portion of the produce is also used for animal food production. The government stopped importing maize without taking action to promote production of the grain in the country. They allowed their crony businessmen to import wheat. Following the suspension of imports, the animal food industry is now in a quandary. In addition, the suspension of importing affected negatively on the poultry industry too because maize is a key ingredient in making poultry feed.”

The Thriposha factory in Ja-Ela had been shut down citing the reason of inability to obtain maize, MP Induni said.

“Now the Thriposha given to low income pregnant women and infants is not available as it is no longer produced. In the coming days the poultry industry too is going to face a crisis. The situation has been aggravated further by the Sena caterpillar destroying much of the maize cultivation during the recent past. While the country is suffering from maize shortage the government has issued beer and spirit manufacturing licences. Those businessmen will buy the remaining maize stocks to produce beer and spirit. Production of spirit and beer requires grains they have to use either rice or maize. Now, the infant children and pregnant women are starving but the government promotes beer and spirit production. This is how the so-called Sinhala Buddhist government behaves.”

“We have information that a spirit production factory is being set up in Passekudah. That factory belongs to one of the leading businessmen that supported this government. We condemn this and demand that the government revoke the licences at least for the sake of saving maize for the production of Thriposha for the low income earning families. We have no problem with the government looking after its friends, but that cannot be permitted at the cost of innocent pregnant women and infants. We are planning to campaign against the issuance of liquor manufacturing licences and hope that the people will stand up with us.”

Badulla District SJB MP Vadivel Suresh also addressed the press.



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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