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Sumanthiran stresses need for proper laws to tackle public health emergency

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By Saman Indrajith

TNA Jaffna District MP MA Sumanthiran told Parliament yesterday that the issues related to importation of rapid antigen test kits were due to the absence of proper laws to deal with public health emergencies.

 Participating in the adjournment debate on COVID-19 second wave, the MP said that the health sector, particularly the public health sector, had often asked for laws that could help deal with such situations. “I heard state minister Jayasumana used the phrase ‘public health emergencies’ several times in his speech.

We don’t have a law to deal with public health emergencies. We have outdated laws like the Auarantine Act. etc. Laws are insufficient to deal with the current crisis. I will deal with only one example, the issue of this quarantine curfew. On May 3 I wrote to the Human Rights Commission expressing the view that lockdowns and curfews were necessary at certain times, times like this. But we don’t have sufficient glows to deal with this and what is being done is not lawful.

“On June 8 the Human Rights Commission wrote to the Secretary to the President and sent me a copy of that letter making certain recommendations. In that letter, they have very clearly stated that what is being imposed in the country calling it curfew is not lawful. We need laws.”

The government has been advised under the Human Rights Commission Act section 10 officially. They analysed all the laws in the country at present and made certain recommendations.

“There is no proper law to deal with this public health emergency. Even with regard to the importation of rapid antigen test kits, and all of that, all these issues have arisen because there are no proper laws.

Finally, this is the month of November in which the people in the world over remember fallen heroes who have participated in wars. Our country has also had to unfortunately go through a three-decade war. But our parents are not allowed to remember their dead. I urge the government in this debate because I believe the authorities are using Covid-19 as a ruse to stop people from visiting the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried.”



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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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