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Ranil makes pitch on behalf of Lankan students hit by forex limitations

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By Saman Indrajith

Prevailing foreign exchange scarcity in the country was taking a heavy toll on foreign tuition payment, as many parents and guardians complain of difficulty in paying school fees of their children in foreign universities, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

“Thousands of parents now have to buy dollars in the black-market as local banks have no foreign currency” the UNP leader said, addressing the UNP leaders via Zoom.

Wickrmesinghe said that there were many Sri Lankan students in foreign universities having completed their courses of studies halfway and the were in need of foreign currency to pay their dues to continue their education. “Banks do not sell at least USD 25,000. Thousands of parents are now in a quandary,” he said.

In the face of this economic crisis, the government was left with no alternative but to seek the assistance of the International Monetary Fund, the former Prime Minister said, adding that the government had to pay USD 1.5 billion as loan payments in the first quarter of next year. There was the danger of the economy collapsing. There was a possibility of Lanka receiving 400 million USD from the SAARC Fund and another 800 million USD from IMF as relief given to the pandemic affected countries. Then there is 200 million USD due from Bangladesh. Apart from that, there is no other institution to give dollars to this country except the IMF, he said, adding that if Sri Lanka could secure an IMF guarantee it could obtain a loan from another source.

China would give us a USD 1.5 billion as a loan but it would be given in Yuan and of that amount USD 350 million would have to be used only for development projects. When the funds from the SAARC fund and the IMF relief are spent on fuel, the government would not have anything left,” Wickremesinghe said.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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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.

(SF)

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

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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

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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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