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Lockdown country for two weeks – Ranil

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Instead of wasting time to secure vaccines, the government must take steps to control the rapid spread of COVID-19, UNP leader and former PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

Wickremesinghe said that when the UK variant, first appeared, Britain had closed the country for a month. At least the country should be locked down for two weeks, the former PM said.

“There is no point in pondering the impact of the lockdown on our economy. Sri Lankan economy is already in deep trouble. The government must now decide whether human lives are more important than money,” he said.

The former PM said that the government had locked down the country at a time when there was no need for such a measure. Now, when the country needs to be locked down, it is making people go to work in crowded buses and trains, he said.

“The rupee didn’t collapse because of COVID-19. If we don’t control the spread of the virus, the economy will shrink further. The government needs to understand that daily workers are already suffering and keeping the country open will only prolong their suffering.”

Wickremesinghe said that England had managed to get things under control by closing the country down for a month. He added that a number of people including himself had asked the government to order vaccines by January 2021. China has either donated or sold 250 million of their vaccines and a number of countries benefited from placing early orders, he said.

“Even countries like Myanmar got enough vaccines. Because the Rajapaksa administration had no plan, we are short of vaccines and we don’t have a plan to control the virus. Only USD 200 million is needed to vaccinate all Sri Lankans. The government must somehow find the money,” he said.



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Debt-ridden CEB goes ahead with shocking pay hike amidst pandemic

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Workers offered 25% increase this year…12% annually over three-year period
 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Two days after the Presidential Secretariat stated that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) owed two state banks––Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank, a staggering Rs 85 bn, the cash-strapped enterprise announced an annual 12 percent salary increase to its employees.

Vijitha Herath, Chairman, of the CEB, yesterday (15) said that the salary increase in terms of the collective agreement for 2021-2023 period would enable the workers to receive 25 per cent in the first year whereas annually it would be 12 percent over a period of three years.

The ministry said that in spite of severe difficulties caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic, the salary increment was granted in response to workers’ request.

Declaring that the Cabinet and the Board of Directors of the CEB had approved the salary increase, the ministry has sought cooperation of the CEB trade unions to finalise the collective agreement.

The ministry claimed that CEB workers had been granted a spate of privileges not given to other state sector employees hence consensus on collective agreement was expected soon.

The Presidential Secretariat on Sunday explained that one reason for the banking sector crisis was the failure on the part of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the CEB to settle Rs 562 bn and Rs 85 bn, respectively.

The Presidential Secretariat issued the statement in the wake of SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, triggering a political storm by demanding Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila’s immediate resignation over recent increase in fuel prices.

The CEB Chairman also claimed that they had been able to bring down the accumulated losses to Rs 56 bn last year from Rs 97 bn in the previous year.

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Indian fishers riled by SL moves to create new fish breeding grounds

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

 

Fishermen from Rameswaran will hold a protest today (16) against Sri Lanka’s decision to submerge 20 old buses in the seas off Jaffna to create breeding grounds for fish.

Members of 17 fisheries associations in Tamil Nadu and Rameswaran claim that this will affect their yield as more fish will be attracted to the breeding grounds created by submerged buses.

The Ministry said that sinking those buses was nothing new and that such buses provided a hard surface for invertebrates to live on, some of which could not live on the sand bottom that is naturally there.

“Some fish are not fast swimmers, so they need a structure to provide both food and shelter; they wouldn’t, for example, be able to outswim a shark, but they could duck into the shelter instead,” a Sri Lankan fisheries association representative said.

However N. Devadas, the head of the Indian fishermen’s association in Rameswaram, said that they would also hand over a petition against that decision to the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka has been submerging old SLTB buses in the deep sea for many years as a part of the Deep Sea Fish Development Project.

 

 

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Three more weeks needed to see drop in COVID deaths – Dr. Fernandopulle

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It would take at least three more weeks to see a drop in COVID-19 related deaths in the country, Minister of COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle said yesterday.

There had been a drop in the number of cases reported already, she said.

“The number of patients is coming down but there has been an increase in deaths. However, this too will come down.

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