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US donates 200 ventilators to Health Ministry to fight COVID-19

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The United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated 200 brand-new, state-of-the-art ventilators to Sri Lanka, delivering on President Trump’s offer of critically needed supplies and supporting Sri Lanka’s fight against COVID-19, the US Embassy said yesterday.

A communiqué sent by the US Embassy in Colombo in this regard states: “The ventilators were handed over to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi by the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Alaina Teplitz.

The ventilators, produced in the United States, feature cutting-edge technology. They are compact and easily deployable and will provide Sri Lanka with flexibility in treating patients affected by the virus.

“The United States has had a longstanding commitment to the health and wellness of Sri Lankans. Over the last 20 years, the United States has provided more than $26 million in health assistance to Sri Lanka. Our enduring support continues with another donation from the American people. By harnessing the power of American innovation and private industry, we are happy to provide these state-of-the-art ventilators to Sri Lanka to fight COVID-19 and help save lives,” said Ambassador Teplitz. 

The ventilator donation, along with complementary training and maintenance support, builds on more than $6 million in COVID-19 assistance to Sri Lanka that has provided critical services to communities most affected by the pandemic. The U.S. funding is helping to mitigate negative economic impacts, as well as to support the Sri Lankan Government’s efforts to deploy technical expertise for response and preparedness, conduct risk-communications, and prevent and control infectious diseases in health facilities.

The U.S. Government has been providing development and humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka since 1956 and has invested more than $2 billion to improve the lives of all Sri Lankans.

For decades, the United States has been the world’s largest provider of bilateral assistance in health. Since 2009, the American people have generously funded more than $100 billion in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance around the world.

Through an All-of-America approach, the United States is providing life-saving support by coordinating with the Government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders to identify priority areas for investment.

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Foreign qualified medical students protest

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A group of foreign medical degree holders protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23) requesting that tangible measures be taken to conduct the Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine (ERPM) without further delay.

They alleged that over 1,500 students had been deprived of the opportunity to sit the examination due to the fault of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, which is now under investigation by a committee, appointed by Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi.

Photo: A section of the protesting students (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

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SJB insists referendum necessary besides 2/3 majority in Parliament

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Supreme Court moved against 20A

By Chitra Weerarathne

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, yesterday (23) filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution was inconsistent with the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by people at a referendum for passage, the SJV has argued.

The SJB says 20A violates people’s sovereignty and franchise enshrined in Article (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions in clause 55 of the Bill are inconsistent with the public trust doctrine and the principle of checks and balances and would prejudicially affect public finance.

 The clause 54 of the Bill seeks to repeal Article 156 A of the Constitution, which provides constitutional recognition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption, the petition says.

 The petition says 20A seeks to repeal the prohibition on dual citizens being elected to Parliament and to the post of President.

The power of the Auditor General to audit the state institutions has been curtailed, the petition says, arguing that it could be detrimental to the economy.

It will be detrimental to the country if the Constitutional Council is replaced by a Parliamentary Council, the SJB General Secretary’s has contended in his petition.

Clause 20 (2) of the proposed 20A has restricted the powers of the Election Commission as regards the conduct of elections, the petitioner has argued.

The 20A states that an omission by the President could no longer be challenged through a fundamental rights violation petitions in the Supreme Court, the petitioner has said, adding that the Bill seeks to further enhance the powers of the President by allowing him to unilaterally remove the Prime Minister. The President would not be accountable to Parliament, the petition says.

The 20A would repeal Article 70/ (1) of the Constitution and enable the President to dissolve Parliament even immediately after a general election, the SJB General Secretary argues.

The respondent to the petition is the Attorney General.

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Lawyer Hijaz’s foundation received funds from banned foreign outfit – CID tells court

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By A.J.A.A beynayake and Kasuni Rebecca

The CID yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage that Save the Pearls Trust run by lawyer Hijaz Hisbullah, now in custody for allegedly aiding and abetting one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had received Rs.13 million from a banned organisation named the Caliphate of Qatar.

The CID told court that according to the bank accounts of the trust the money had been received by it during the last few years and the police had launched an investigation to ascertain whether the funds had been used for terrorist activities.

The CID told court the investigation had been launched under the Money Laundering Act and a psychologist’s opinion had been sought on the book titled “Navarasam” found in a madrasa (school teaching Islam) run by Save the Pearls Trust in Puttalam.

The Magistrate order the CID to submit to court a Sinhala translation of the book and examine whether the contents of the book promoted terrorism.

The case will be taken up again on October 7.

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