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Those who bankrupted country should resign – Eran

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The country has gone bankrupt due to shortages of fuel, electricity and essential commodities as there were no dollars, said SJB MP Eran Wickremaratne.

Addressing the media at the Economic Policy Centre at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, in Colombo, the Member of Parliament also stated as follows: When there is no war or terrorism in the country, there are long queues at petrol stations without diesel. The Central Bank does not have the dollars to bring in fuel from vessels anchored outside the port. But the Central Bank governor is saying there is no shortage of dollars in the country is an irony.

Also, people are suffering from not being able to buy gas, milk powder, wheat flour and other essential commodities. In addition, there has never been a crisis in the history of independent Sri Lanka where people have been left without electricity, for want of diesel to run power plants.

Meanwhile, education of schoolchildren may be disrupted as no arrangements have yet been made to refuel the more than 30,000 school vans and buses carrying children during the second school term starting on the 7th. This is another blow to school education, already affected by Covid-19

Since the government does not have dollars, oil is purchased on a reloading process. Now the country is bankrupt as there is now a dollar shortage event to buy on a reload system.

The Opposition realised from the beginning that this government, which is greedier for power than the country, has no solution to these problems.

Therefore, even though the Opposition told the government to give priority to spending foreign reserves to meet the country’s needs, instead of using it for debt repayments, the government’s priority was to repay the debts on time to its allies who had bought the international sovereign bonds in the secondary market.

Now a situation has arisen where investors do not come forward to buy our international sovereign bonds.

Under this backdrop, the macroeconomic system has become unmanageable and weakening the banking system, and making it vulnerable to external economic pressures as a country.

Wickremaratne stressed that those who are responsible for the collapse of the country’s economic icons, the Central Bank, and the Ministry of Finance, should be removed from their posts and sent home.

“The Central Bank officials instead of discharging their responsibilities of maintaining inflation and financial stability are engaged in having discussions on how to counter the Opposition views on economy.” he said

He added that instead of the influx of foreign investors, due to the current economic situation in Sri Lanka, there is a tendency for local investors to shift their investments to other countries.

He said it was unfortunate that Sri Lankan investors, engaged in the tourism sector, have now shifted their investments to the Maldives as the country did not see any improvement in the aftermath of the Corona epidemic.

The government, which tried to hide behind the corona about the bankruptcy of the country’s economy, is now making use of the Russian war for the same.

There is no response from the responsible parties of the government to the present economic crises. The Minister of Finance does not even come to Parliament to answer questions raised by the Opposition in Parliament.

When asked why he was not coming, it was said that he was preparing to go to India, but it is reported that Basil Rajapaksa has been informed by India not to undertake the visit to India at the moment.

Wickremaratne stressed that the government should give priority to meeting the needs of the people, even by delaying or restructuring the debt-repayment in order to rebuild the country, which was in crisis due to government giving prominence to settle the ISBs which is reported to have been purchased by its cronies in the secondary market aimed at 100 percent profit.



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Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.

Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.

“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.

Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.

The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.

“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.

About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.

Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.

“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.

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JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.

“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.

He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.

“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.

Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.

“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.

When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.

He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.

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Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code

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by Ifham Nizam

Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.

The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.

It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.

The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.

However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.

Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.

The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.

The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.

PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.

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