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Navy intercepts foreign vessel with 250 kilos of hell dust

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by Norman Palihawadane

A foreign fishing vessel carrying more than 250 kilos of heroin was intercepted and six suspects were taken into custody by the Navy during a recent operation conducted in international waters.

The Navy said this operation had been carried out with the assistance of the Police Narcotic Bureau after several days of continuous surveillance in the international waters about 900 nautical miles south of Sri Lanka.

The drug carrying vessel along with six foreign suspects aboard were being escorted ashore by a naval craft at the time this edition went to press.

The Navy said that the vessel was carrying 225 packets of narcotics, contained in nine sacks, weighed over 250 kilos.

In recent anti-drug operations conducted by the Navy, on the high seas, a local multi-day fishing vessel with 290 kilos of heroin was seized on Aug 30.

Similarly, the Navy intercepted two more foreign fishing vessels carrying over 336.1 kilos of heroin in two separate operations on 04 and 10 Sept.

Besides the stock of drug substances seized during the recent operation, the Navy took into custody narcotics worth over Rs. 13.16 billion so far this year.

The foreign vessel and the suspects would be handed over to the Police Narcotic Bureau for investigations and onward legal action, the Navy said, adding that operations would continue.



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Waste galore at State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals – COPA

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By Saman Indrajith

State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals has failed to follow the action plan for pharmaceutical procurement approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, the First Report of the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) reveals.The report was presented to Parliament on Friday by Prof. Tissa Vitarana.The COPA has also observed that the Ministry has failed to maintain the required temperature in the stores owned by the Medical Supplies Division and stored medical supplies in the corridors there as well as in hospitals.The COPA report says the Ministry has purchased certain drugs from the local market at a huge additional cost. Those purchases were made without estimates.

The Ministry has also issued substandard medical supplies to patients, and it does not have a system to find out if a drug has failed a quality test, the COPA says in its report.

“The Ministry also does not have a system to check samples of all the medicines purchased and there is also a propensity for supplies to expire,” the COPA has said, adding that the Ministry tends to purchase branded drugs. It has recommended that purchasing of drugs under trade names be regulated.

“Sri Lanka does not have facilities to check the quality of certain drugs. Therefore, it recommends that a mechanism for checking the quality of each drug be developed, and that the laboratories in the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority should be improved to meet the standards of the World Health Organization,” the COPA said.The COPA has also recommended that medicines should be ordered based on consumption rather than estimates, to minimise waste caused by expiry of drugs. “The Committee emphasised the serious health problems that can result from issuing medicines that have not been registered with the National Medicines Regulatory Authority, and recommended that this be rectified as soon as possible.”

 

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Persons with disabilities educated on their rights

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Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Disability Organisations’ Joint Front (DOJF) has been conducting a series of workshops throughout the country to educate persons with disabilities on their electoral rights with special focus on physical accessibility to polling stations, ability to vote, access to electoral information as well as the targeting of electoral information/voter education to meet the needs of marginalised communities.According to the recent census report 1.8 million people in Sri Lanka are living with disabilities and of this 1.2 million persons are eligible to vote.

The DOJF and its sub-cluster members also plan to address the above issues by identifying the major electoral issues that affect persons with disabilities and other marginalised communities in relation to the electoral process.The key stakeholders in relation to electoral reform in Sri Lanka are the Election Commission, the parliament, and political parties.Commissioner General of Elections Saman Sri Rathnayake, and Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Reforms and Electoral Studies Manjula Gajanayake, were the resource persons at the workshops held in Colombo, Jaffna, Puttalam, Matara and Nuwara Eliya.

Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1975, ratified by Sri Lanka, ensures that disabled persons have the inherent right to have respect for their human dignity.Disabled persons, whatever the origin, nature and seriousness of their handicaps and disabilities, have the same fundamental rights as their fellow-citizens of the same age, which implies first and foremost the right to enjoy a decent life, as normal and full as possible.Disabled persons have the same civil and political rights as other human beings; paragraph seven of the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons applies to any possible limitation or suppression of those rights for mentally disabled persons.

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Fitch downgrades Sri Lanka further

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Fitch Ratings, on Thursday (19), downgraded Sri Lanka’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency (LTFC) Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘RD’ (restricted default) from ‘C’.On April 13, Fitch downgraded Sri Lanka to ‘C’ rating, following the announcement that Sri Lanka has suspended debt servicing of several categories of its external debt, including bonds issued in the international capital markets and foreign currency-denominated loan agreements or credit facilities with commercial banks or institutional lenders.In a statement Fitch said that it downgraded Sri Lanka’s LTFC IDR to ‘RD’ following the expiry of the 30-day grace period on coupon payments that were due on April 18, 2022, on two international sovereign bonds.

“We have downgraded Sri Lanka’s foreign-currency issue ratings to ‘D’ from ‘C’, given the default on the senior unsecured foreign-currency bonds and the cross-default clauses triggered in the other rated international foreign-currency sovereign bonds,” Fitch said.However, the rating agency kept Sri Lanka’s Long-Term Local-Currency IDR at ‘CCC’. Fitch said that the government has continued to service local-currency debt.Sri Lanka’s credit rating has been dropping steadily since late 2019. The ratings dropped from ‘B’ on September 27, 2019, to ‘CCC’ on June 14, 2021. The country’s credit rating was downgraded to ‘CC’ on December 17, 2021.

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