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President appoints members of Port City Commission: TN police placed on high alert fearing disturbances



President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday appointed the members of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission while India put the Tamil Nadu police on high alert.

The Hindu reported that the Indian police were concerned about the possibility of some pro-LTTE group agitating in Tamil Nadu against Sri Lanka and China over the Colombo Port City.

Gamini Marapana, PC has been appointed the Chairman of the commission comprising Treasury Secretary S. R. Attygalle, Secretary to the Ministry of Water Supply Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama, Ex-BOI Chairman Saliya Wickramasuriya, Managing Director,Orel Corporation Kushan Kodituwakku, Managing Director of Mercantile Investments and Finance PLC Gerard George Ondaatjie and Chairman/Managing Director of McLarens Group Rohan De Silva.

Parliament last week passed a law for the forming of the commission to govern the China-funded $1.4 billion Colombo Port City, being constructed on reclaimed land by the Colombo’s sea front.


As per the provisions of the bill the President has the powers to create the commission which would be a single-window management committee for the special economic zone, which is on 269 hectares of reclaimed land along with tax and duty concessions for both domestic and foreign investors.

Meanwhile, The Hindu yesterday said that the Tamil Nadu police have been put on high alert after Sri Lanka passed the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill giving “complete control” of the Port City, coming up in the capital, to China.

The report, quoting sources, said that passing of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was a major diplomatic and strategic concern for India as China’s footprint would increase in the neighbouring countries, the sources said the move evoked instant protests from not only Opposition parties in Sri Lanka but other organisations like the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. “Acting on intelligence inputs, Director-General of Police J.K. Tripathy instructed senior police officers across Tamil Nadu to intensify vigil to thwart any attempt to stage protests in front of Sri Lankan or Chinese establishments in the State.

“Referring to statements of a Tamil nationalist group leader that the silence of the international community on the issues in Sri Lanka had caused “great unrest and outrage among Tamils”, the police chief said there were possibilities that members of the pro-Tamil organisations or sympathisers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may condemn the Sri Lankan government for approving the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill and attempt agitations targeting Sri Lankan and Chinese establishments.”


Haiti police riot after crime gangs kill 14 officers




Protesters attempted to break into the Haitian prime minister's residence (picture BBC)

BBC reported that Rebel police officers rioted in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday following the killing of more than a dozen colleagues by criminal gangs.

The rioting officers blame the government for not taking action.

More than 100 demonstrators blocked streets, burned tyres, broke security cameras and damaged vehicles.

Local media said several officers broke through the gates of the prime minister’s residence and attempted to enter Haiti’s international airport.

Fourteen officers are thought to have died since the start of the year in various gang attacks on police stations.

Seven officers were killed in shootout on Wednesday alone, according to Haiti’s National Police.

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Gold-covered mummy among latest discoveries in Egyptian tomb




One of four newly discovered tombs at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo (picture BBC)

BBC reported that archaeologists say they have found a gold leaf-covered mummy sealed inside a sarcophagus that had not been opened for 4,300 years.

The mummy, the remains of a man named Hekashepes, is thought to be one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt.

It was discovered down a 15m (50ft) shaft at a burial site south of Cairo, Saqqara, where three other tombs were found.

One tomb belonged to a “secret keeper”.

The largest of the mummies that were unearthed at the ancient necropolis is said to belong to a man called Khnumdjedef – a priest, inspector and supervisor of nobles.

Another belonged to a man called Meri, who was a senior palace official given the title of “secret keeper”, which allowed him to perform special religious rituals.

A judge and writer named Fetek is thought to have been laid to rest in the other tomb, where a collection of what are thought to be the largest statues ever found in the area had been discovered.

Several other items, including pottery, have also been found among the tombs.

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Health crisis: GMOA calls for WHO intervention



Alleging the government has failed to address the developing crisis caused by grave shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has called for WHO’s intervention.In a letter dated January 26, 2023, addressed to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge has raised concerns about shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, escalating prices of medicines and allegations of malpractices and corruption in procurement procedures.

The GMOA has released its letter to the media along with what it called a 10 fold plan formulated by an expert committee set up by the GMOA.

The following are the GMOA’s proposals:

1. To appoint a high-level coordinating committee within the Ministry of Health to ensure effective communications and coordination between following institutions, identified as responsible for the whole exercise. (a) Ministry of Health focal points (b) Medical Supplies Division (MSD) (c) State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) d. State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) e. National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Monthly progress review meetings of aforementioned committees are to be ensured, with Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Health or his representative. Quarterly review with Minister of Health to facilitate arriving at essential policy decisions.

2. To ensure Transparent Procurement Procedures, where every interested citizen should be entitled to know the true facts.

3. To upgrade the available computer software programme to match the current needs and to ensure more efficiency in procurement procedures.

4. To appoint a technical committee to study Auditor General Reports with regard to procurement Procedures of last 5 years and actions to be declared with specific time frame to implement recommendations of the Auditor General.

5. Review the recent Presidential Investigation Commission reports and initiate urgent actions to file legal action against the respondents. Remove all those officials who are accused through these reports of malpractices, from their current posts, until the verdicts are delivered.

6. To minimise emergency purchases of Medicinal drugs and ensure the transparency of that process through progress reports on emergency purchases, which is to be published on a monthly basis.

7. To identify alternative modes for distribution of pharmaceutical drugs to peripheral stations (e.g.: Public Transport services with identified modifications)

8. To open an “Information Desk” at the Ministry of Health to effectively communicate with and guide the donors of pharmaceutical items.

9. To fill the existing vacancies at National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), following stipulated acceptable pathways and activating all the sub committees within NMRA.

10. To declare a relief package to reduce the prices of essential medicinal drugs, through the upcoming interim budget.

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