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President tells govt. top brass to address nurses’ issues considering financial crisis facing country

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Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle at yesterday's meeting (pic courtesy PMD)

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that nurses’ issues should be addressed also taking into consideration the financial crisis. Their problems should be solved in a way that didn’t affect the entire public service, the President said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said so at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (17) at the request of the Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU).

Establishment of the Nursing University, promotion of Nursing Officers from Grade ll to Grade I with retrospective effect by backdating the promotion, 36 hours of duty to be treated as 30 hours duty of 5 days a week, providing of Rs. 10,000 allowance proportionate to the DTA allowance of Rs. 35,000 to medical professionals, the issuance of the Uniform Allowance Circular and the Additional Service Allowance at the rate of 1/100 of the basic salary were discussed during the meeting.

The President instructed the University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunga, to amend the Higher Education Act and present it to the Parliament expeditiously, and to take further necessary steps to merge nursing colleges in order to create a national university. Mr. Amaratunga stated that the Higher Education Act would be presented to the Parliament by April and the Nursing University would be established before the end of May.

President Rajapaksa also instructed the Secretaries of Health and Finance to make arrangements to backdate the promotions from Grade II to Grade I and grant the uniform allowance.

Despite the difficulties, steps were taken to pay an allowance of Rs. 5,000 to all public sector employees from January. When delivering the requests of one group, another group makes a matching request.

However, it is important for everyone to understand that not all demands can be considered in the midst of the current financial crisis, he has said.

Therefore, the President instructed the officials to discuss with the Ministry of Finance and other institutions and pay attention to the requests of nurses in a manner that does not affect the entire public service.

The President of the Public Service United Nurses Union, Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella, Secretary to the President Gamini Senarath, Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Health Secretary Major General Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena, Director General of the National Budget Jude Nilukshan, Director General of the Public Service Commission Hiransa Kaluthanthri, Secretary of the National Salaries Commission Chandrani Senaratne and members of the PSUNU were present at the occasion.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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