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NCCSL warns of fertiliser shortage snowballing into a national food crisis



By Steve A. Morrell

The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) expressed disappointment that in the present crisis in education, the government is focusing on a controversial single venture that undermines the University Act.

Drawing attention to a national consensus on the principles of higher education and the continuing trend of militarization, NCCSL representatives on Friday said the proposed Kotelawala Defence University Bill has raised many matters of concern that at the very least should be further discussed with all relevant stakeholders.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo, they also referred to the lack of mainstream opportunities in the plantation sector. The system of education is dislocated in rural Sri Lanka with teachers suffering an injustice as a result of not being accorded equal opportunities to do their job.

The NCC representatives, which included the Bishops of Colombo, Kurunegala and Jaffna, also expressed concern over the victimization of farmers due to the lack of fertilizer which jeopardized the farming community and their future as well as farm produce, particularly rice production.

The end result of the looming fertilizer crisis will be a drastic drop in national food production to the detriment of the country and its economy, they warned.

They said that although Sri Lanka moved to the middle income bracket, the plantation community remains isolated, lacking minimum access to health care, education and equal opportunities for personal advancement.

Although positive there were plus situations in the country, the plantation community was generally ignored and deprived of allied advantages connected to such areas of economic growth. Plantation workers are singularly responsible for economic growth as a key foreign exchange earner, the estate community continues to suffer as the most vulnerable group of people generally ignored by the body politic of the country, they pointed out.

Plantation youth migrate to urban locations expecting better life standards, but the tragic situation of under-aged children being employed as domestic aides is not beneficial, as witnessed by recent incidents, they said.

They also called for concerted measures to curb the spread of the Covid pandemic and warned that its transmission to the plantation community could have serious implications.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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