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SLMC hijacked by unionists; public interest ignored: Rajitha

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by Saman Indrajith

Former Health Minister and SJB Kalutara District MP Dr Rajitha Senaratne told Parliament on Tuesday that the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) had been hijacked by medical unionists, posing a threat to academic and professional standards of doctors as well as Sri Lanka’s standing in international forums in the years to come.

Participating in a debate on two regulations under the Medical Ordinance, Dr Senaratne said the SLMC had been set up to protect the health care seekers by ensuring the maintenance of academic and professional standards, discipline and ethical practices.

“While we were in the government we did not interfere with the matters of the SLMC. We let them function the way it wanted to because the SLMC is not there for the sake of medical practitioners and professionals but for the sake of the people. It is there to accept complaints on medical practice, ethical violations by medical practitioners and to ensure maintenance of standards. The medical council is no longer appointed by vote but as per the need of individuals. Trade unions have infiltrated the council. Prof. Colvin Gunaratne resigned from the council because he foresaw this situation. There is one GMOA member there blocking appointments and another with the powers of influencing transfers of doctors. The incumbent health minister will understand the danger very soon.

“Today, the Associations of Medical Specialists have issued a statement on the present crisis in the SLMC. I quote from their statement: We the Associations of Medical Specialists are gravely concerned of the recent developments at the SLMC which we have come to know through mass media. Medical specialists have noticed gradual deterioration of the autonomy and forthrightness of this supreme institution which is to safeguard medical ethics and standards of medical education in this country. We noticed that the current crisis is strongly linked to trade union initialization of the SLMC. There is an imminent threat of the trade unions taking the reins over the SLMC which would mark the beginning of the end of the ethical practice of medicine in Sri Lanka. We also notice that the Hon. Minister of Health has basically been held to ransom with a trade union action notice to get the Assistant Registrar of the SLMC suspended. To our knowledge this is the first time in the history of SLMC where the Minister of Health has used his/her power to suspend a SLMC official”. There ends the quotation.

“This is the current situation. Look at the situation in medical faculties. If the government fails to improve the situation in the medical faculties, we will face a bigger problem in 2023 when the World Federation of Medical Education will remove all recognition of the countries which do not maintain standards. The recognition the Lankan medical practitioners have in EU countries, the US, Australia would be removed. The Ministry should get its act together and improve the situation in medical faculties and get the SLMC free from unionists. I request the Prime Minister to take this matter into serious consideration and strengthen the hands of the Health Minister to save the medical profession and medical education in this country.”



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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