By Rathindra Kuruwita
Various private laboratories are setting up tents in the BIA car park to test those going to the Middle East despite the existence of two high tech labs at the Airport, College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh complained yesterday.
Kumudesh told The Island that it was an attempt to fleece poor Sri Lankan workers leaving for West Asia.
“On 02 November the Airport and Aviation Services (AAS) issued a tender for conducting PCR tests on passengers travelling to West Asia on Emirates flights. AAS has also asked for Rs. 1,000 each as commission from tests conducted by private labs. All this is happening while two state-of-the-art labs, one operated by the Health Ministry and the other under the Tourism Ministry, are functioning at the airport,” he said.
Several private labs were putting up tents at the airport car park for PCR testing, Kumudesh said. “These institutions have been allowed to use the car park because they are backed by powerful politicians and officials,” he said.
“The labs at the airport can test a person and provide a report in less than three hours. However, when Emirates informed the Health Ministry a few months ago that they required passengers to have a PCR done within six hours before getting into the airport, the senior officials said that the government had no capacity to do so. In fact, a senior Health Ministry official issued a circular specifying certain machines that should be used for these rapid PCR tests. These machines have not been approved by the NMRA,” he said.
Kumudesh said that at the end of the day, those private labs would charge Sri Lankan migrant workers leaving for Wes Asia exorbitant amounts for the PCR tests. At a time when Sri Lanka desperately needed foreign remittances, fleecing Sri Lankan workers couldn’t be condoned, he said.
“It is doubtful where the tests conducted by private labs are accurate. A few months ago, China blacklisted a Sri Lankan PCR lab for providing inaccurate reports.
Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine
Industry leader has sought court intervention
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.
Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.
Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.
Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.
The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.
Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.
In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”
The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.
Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.
Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours
Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.
Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).
The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.
Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.
President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today
by Saman Indrajith
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).
He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.
Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.
The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.
To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.
Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.
President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.
The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.
At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.
The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.
Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.
After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).
Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.
Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine
Nissanka targets improved rankings in 2022
Decolonising education and critical thinking
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
7-billion-rupee diamond heist; Madush splls the beans before being shot
News6 days ago
Female suspect dies after allegedly jumping from CID fifth floor
Sports4 days ago
Wellalage grabs four for none as Sri Lanka cruise to crushing win
News5 days ago
Welikada killings: Prisons Chief sentenced to death, IP acquitted
Features3 days ago
A nation caught in the 20-Trap
Sports3 days ago
Mendis to open in Zimbabwe ODIs
News3 days ago
Easter Sunday carnage cannot be blamed on Muslim extremists alone – Cardinal
Features3 days ago
News1 day ago
NGO to move SC against acquittal and discharge of first accused