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Norway to sign new agreement with SL on development of fisheries management tools – Ambassador

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Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Trine Jøranli Eskedal, called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees on Thursday.

The envoy congratulated the Prime on winning the parliamentary election and commended the well-organized election held in a peaceful manner in keeping with for Covid-19 guidelines.

She also noted that Sri Lanka has had great success in preventing the spread of Covid-19 with early and rapid mobilization.

Ambassador Eskedal said that Norway is looking forward to working with the new government, and appreciate the good bilateral relationship and long-term partnership with Sri Lanka. She underscored that the two countries have a number of areas of common interest, such as sustainable ocean economies, private sector cooperation, and development.

She also highlighted the potential for further developing the commercial relations between the two countries, as Norwegian investors are especially interested ICT, renewable energy, solar, wind and hydropower, as well as the maritime sector.

The Ambassador noted that from 2013 to 2019, USD 2.3 million has been disbursed to the Sri Lankan fisheries sector, and that in September, Norway expects to sign a new agreement with Sri Lanka on the development of fisheries management tools.  

Prime Minister Rajapaksa and Ambassador Eskedal also discussed the economic impact of Covid-19. Ambassador Eskedal said that in April this year, Norway took the initiative for a UN multi-donor trust fund on Covid-19 to assist countries in need to tackle the long-term socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis. Sri Lanka has received USD 1 million from this fund so far.

She also pointed out that with Covid-19, there is a need to strike the right balance between the national security and individual freedoms.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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