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LSSP wants the Government to provide food to the hungry as its first priority

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May Day Message

Working people also continue to suffer a loss of income and a drop in real wages, while at the same time facing a steep rise in the price of goods, especially essentials, through capitalist manipulation, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) said in a message to mark May Day.

The capitalists are getting richer while the workers are getting poorer. In Sri Lanka, malnutrition has risen to 18% and the number of families below the poverty line is 60%. It is hunger for the many and luxury for the elite few. Therefore, the celebration of this May Day is a prelude to overcoming these problems as well as the defeat of the threats of the Covid 19 epidemic, attempt (via MCC and SOFA agreements) of the USA to make Sri Lanka a neo-colony and military base, and get buried in the IMF led debt trap, LSSP leader, Prof. Tissa Vitarana said.

The capitalist class is faced with a global economic and social crisis, but without bearing the burden it is passing this on to the working people. The capitalists should support the workers out of the massive profits made in the past from the sweat of the workers, and share some of the burden with the Government, which is attempting to help the workers. But instead, to preserve the profits made or being made, factories and workplaces are being closed down, staff is being thrown out of employment and salaries are being cut, most often without compensation, the message further said.

This is occurring in the advanced capitalist countries like the USA as well as in small countries like Sri Lanka. But the impact is worse in small countries as the purchase of goods from our countries by the developed countries is also on the decline. Thus, when the USA/UK companies cut the purchase of garments from Sri Lanka our factories suffer and they even have to shut down. In addition the capitalist middlemen (such as traders) keep on raising their profits, so that both producers and consumers suffer. The outcome is a continual steep rise in prices and hunger for the vast mass of the people, it noted.

The LSSP demands that the Government provides food for the hungry as its first priority. The indirect tax burden on the poor should also be reduced by getting the super-rich to share the burden by increasing the upper limit of income tax from the paltry 14% to at least 50%, preferably 70% (as NM did in 1972). To control prices, revive the Multi-purpose Cooperatives, specially of farmers, and sell directly to better functioning consumer cooperatives, as in 1972, getting rid of the middleman’s profit.

The state must engage in the bulk of trade by reviving the Food Department, the CWE and Sathosa. If the private sector continues to profiteer, then apply the “solidarity economic policy”, where in all failed enterprises, private (plantations included) or Government, the ownership is transferred to the employees on the solidarity cooperative principle. Then we can have a really happy May Day, replacing capitalist ownership by employee/worker ownership, the message noted.

The LSSP extended its warm greetings and best wishes to the working class of Sri Lanka, and the rest of the world on May Day. Our fraternal greetings go to all political parties and trade unions defending worker’s rights. The role of trade unions and the respect for labour laws that the LSSP achieved have been undermined by the “contractor system of employment” now in vogue. The fight to abolish this system is a major objective of this May Day, it added.

 

 



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AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament

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Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.

 

 

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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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