‘National Diploma holders, graduates will be recruited as schoolteachers’

National Diploma holders and new graduates will be recruited as teachers for 2021 to fill the vacancies at National Schools, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said in Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said that the appointments will be made Divisional Secretariat level. He said that a balance will be drawn between the National Schools and the Provincial Council Schools in the future and plans are afoot to fill the gaps in these schools systematically and allocations are made and the time allotted.

Professor Peiris was responding to MP K. Nelson, who inquired about the steps taken by the Government to develop underprivileged schools in the Polonnaruwa District.

Sanitary facilities have been provided to 11 schools in the Polonnaruwa District last year as a special plan to provide sanitary and other basic facilities to schools, Minister Peiris said.

The Minister said that schools that lack drinking water and sanitary facilities in the Polonnaruwa District will be developed soon.


‘Thriposha production will be increased to 31,000 MT this year’

The Government’s plan is to increase the Thriposha production to 31,000 metric tonnes this year to provide additional nutrition to children, pregnant mothers and lactating mothers to get them rid of malnutrition, Women and Child Development, Preschools and Primary Education, School infrastructure and Education Services State Minister Piyal Nishantha said.

He said that the Government under the ‘istas of Prosperity and Splendour’ policy, has allocated Rs 1,500 million in this regard.

He said that the production capacity of Thriposha was 21,000 MT during the previous Good Governance Government.

He said that a programme is initiated to provide nutritious biscuits to the children in the primary sections to eliminate them rid of malnutrition. He added that the biscuits will be manufactured at the same institutions where Thriposha is produced.

He was responding to Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Buddhika Pathirana during the Round of Questions for Oral Answers.

MP Pathirana said that there should be an attitude change in society that the Thriposha is only for the recipient.

He said that generally, the recipient gets only a little percentage as the same is consumed by the others in the family as well.


Acute drinking water issue in Batticaloa District will be resolved soon

Immediate action will be taken to resolve the acute drinking water problem in many Grama Niladhari Divisions in the Batticaloa District by 2021, Water Supply and Drainage Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said in Parliament yesterday.

Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that the people who live in Palukamam, Weerachchenai, Mayapuram and Wanninagar in the Batticaloa District undergo a severe shortage of drinking water and that at least 40 km of water pipes should be laid to provide drinking water for them.

The Minister was responding to Opposition MP R. Rasamanikkam, who inquired about the drinking water shortage in the Batticaloa District.

MP Rasamanikkam said that if a water treatment plant could be started at the Navagiri Reservoir in the Batticaloa District, a continuous supply of water could be provided to the district. The Minister said that it will be implemented as an alternative programme. Minister Nanayakkara said that the excavation should be referred to the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau after obtaining a recommendation from the Water Resources Board as it could lead to a water shortage in the future as pointed out by the Parliamentarian. MP Mayantha Dissanayake, who presided the Chair, said that there have been two days of floods in Udunuwara and Yatinuwara in his District. Minister Nanayakkara said that immediate action will be taken to resolve the issue of floods.

Minister Nanayakkara said that his Ministry has provided a pamphlet on water projects with proposals to be implemented this year.

The Minister said that if Parliamentarians could study the pamphlet and send their observations and proposals back to the Ministry, it will be of great help to improve the Action Plan of the Ministry.


‘Water will be provided to Huruluwewa, Kanadarawewa through 28-km long tunnel’

The Government will take steps to construct a 28 km long tunnel to provide water to Huruluwewa and Kanadarawewa from the Moragahakanda–Kalu Ganga Development Project, Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa yesterday said.

He said that the construction of the tunnel was inaugurated on February 5 and it is for the first time that such a long tunnel is constructed after independence was achieved.

He said after commissioning the project in 2024, 3,000 tanks in the Anuradhapura District will be provided with water and the water and irrigation water problems in the district will be resolved thereafter.

He was respnding to Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Ishak Rahuman.

Minister Rajapaksa said that earlier, too, there was a project to provide water to Huruluwewa through a canal.

However, as water was taken excessively through 3,500 water pumps in Palugaswewa, the project failed.

He said that the decision was made to irrigate via the tunnel this time.

He said that the Palugaswewa people could use the same water once the project was developed in four years. He said that what the Government expected from the Opposition is their corporation in implementing these projects.

He said that he will provide water to the tanks that opposition member Rahuman asks for.

He said that none of the tanks are excluded in the project.


‘Economy in chaos during Good Governance Government’

The economy in the labyrinth of chaos under the former Good Governance Government was further affected later by the Easter Sunday attacks and the COVID 19 pandemic, which made the Government to monitor the imports, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena said in Parliament yesterday.

He was participating in the debate seeking the parliamentary approval for three regulations under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, two Orders under the Strategic Development Projects Act and a resolution for the Revision of Salary and Allowances of the Director-General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption.

According to these regulations under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, the import of sugar, batik and handloom and fishing boats and other vessels will be monitored while easing the ban on imports on goods that are not manufactured here. The Minister said that these proposals were made on the recommendations by a Committee appointed on mitigating the effect of the COVID 19 pandemic on the Foreign Currency rate. The two orders under the Strategic Development Projects Act are related to commercial function dates of the Shangri-la Hotels Lanka (Private) Limited and Sinolanka Hotels & Spa (Private) Limited due to the Easter Sunday attacks and other reasons.

“The COVID 19 pandemic has affected the economy of all the countries and it is felt by our country as well. The imports and the exports have been affected and finding containers for our exports has become a challenge. Charges for containers have increased by threefold. The effect of the COVID 19 pandemic on the world economy is worse than that of the Second World War.

“But after the Second World War, the International Monetary Fund (MF) and the World Bank established two institutions to protect the global economy,” Minister Gunawardena said. “But today as there is a trade war between the USA and China, it has been impossible to make such a discussion today. Today we have had to talk of such issues rather than taking simple matters here in Parliament,” he said.



Tiles can be imported when foreign exchange status improvesState Minister Cabraal

The Government will lift the ban on tile imports when the country’s foreign exchange status improves, Money and Capital Market State Minister Ajith Nivad Cabral said.

He was esponding to Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa in Prliament yesterday when the latter said that the country was facing a crisis due to the ban on importing tiles.

“I would like to tell the Opposition Leader that when the COVID pandemic struck, there was a huge problem with foreign exchange. They are responsible for that, but it was our Government that had to shoulder that burden,” the State Minister said.

He said hat the Government would take measures to meet the demand for tiles by the end of the next year.

The State Minister said that because of the decision made by the Government to suspend the import of goods that could be locally produced, the local tile manufacturing industry is developing. “This has attracted investors. The Government’s aim is to produce at least 50 per cent of the tile requirement locally and by the end of 2022, the Government will meet the entire tile requirement locally.

He said, however, that in the event there is a need to import tiles, the Government has established a mechanism to facilitate the import of tiles under strict standards.


Local textile industry affected by foreign garment influx State Minister Dayasiri

Batik, Handloom Textiles and Local Apparel Productions State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said in Parliament yesterday that local textile manufacturers are badly affected because of the foreign garments influx in the market.

The Minister said was participating in the debate on eight issues including the regulations under the Import and Export Act, the provisions under the Strategic Development Projects Act and the proposal to revise the salary and allowances of the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption.

He said that a number of factors had contributed to the decline in the production of local handloom textiles and the local handicraft industry collapsed in the importation of large quantities of textiles such as saris, pillows and bedding.

The State Minister said that the local handicraft industry could not be developed because of this issue and the Government is taking steps to revive the batik industry.

The Government plans to provide an incentive of Rs. 5,000 to those in the local handicraft industry. He said that Dhamma school teachers need 76,000 uniforms a year and arrangements have been made to produce the saris locally and provide them to teachers from this year. He added that from this year, local manufacturers have been provided with the opportunity to supply the fabrics for school and security.


Banning palm oil is inadequateMP Buddhika

Banning Palm oil imports is not enough but the products made using palm oil also should be banned, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Buddhika Pathirana said in Parliament yesterday.

He was participating in the debate that sought the approval of Parliament for three Regulations under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, two Orders under the Strategic Development Projects Act and a resolution for the Revision of Salary and Allowances of the Director-General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption. “A letter addressed to the Speaker in 2016 said that the coconut oil used in Parliament for cooking was substandard. The then Speaker said that only pure coconut oil was used in Parliament. When the milk powder matter was raised, the then Speaker said that milk powder was not used in Parliament but fresh milk,” the MP said.

“It meant that the Parliamentarians consume pure food while the public consume food not fitting for consumption,” MP Patrhirana said. “Thereafter, standard of the soup cubes, dhal, palm oil, tinned fish, chilie, rice, and many were questioned,” he said. He said that even the standard of soap was questioned.

Even the Jak and Polos had been found to have added liquids not fitting for consumption.

He said that sweets are added with essences that are not fit for consumption.

The MP said that 78 cancer patients are registered daily while 30 succumbed to their ailments. He said that 20,000 die from smoking tobacco. Therefore, this rate of death is far higher than that of the death rate with the LTTE terrorist activities during the three decades of war.

“The Government has decided to ban import of palm oil and cultivating palm oil trees. He said that it is not enough as it is used in producing many other foods. He said that the Government should take measures to resolve these issues.


Uproar in House over coconut oil

The issue of coconut oil containing harmful substances created an uproar in Parliament yesterday.

The annual coconut oil imports to the country stands at 180,000 metric tonnes, while 90,000 metric tonnes are used for domestic purposes and 90,000 MT is used for industrial purposes as domestic production is insufficient to meet the demand, Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said.

He was responding to Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa in Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said that coconut oil has been imported every year and when the previous government took over, 52,790 metric tonnes of coconut oil had been imported.

Opposition Leader Premadasa asked how much of coconut oil was imported to the country annually and what the local consumption was, how many times have these stocks of imported coconut oil was subjected to testing and if the Government could table the reports of such tests.

Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that in 2016, 48,105 MT of coconut oil were imported and in 2017, 12,798 MT, in 2018, 10,913 MT and in 2019, 44,626 MT.


Independent institution needed for imported food, beverages - MP Herath

The Government should establish an independent institution to scrutinise the quality of all food and beverages imported into the country, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath yesterday said in Parliament.

MP Herath said that it is vital that such an institution should be free of any political influence.

MP Herath said that even if goods are imported by the Government or the private entrepreneurs, the importation should be regulated by the Government. The Sri Lanka Standards Institution did not take the initiative in revealing to the country that the coconut oil contains carcinogens. This was revealed by the Health Ministry. This basically suggests that the responsible institution did not fulfill its task. The Government cannot shirk its responsibility in this regard. It is responsible for regulating and taking appropriate legal action against such importation. If the private sector can import and export what it wants, what is the use of having a government?” he asked.

MP Herath said, “We consider this a serious crime. Do not allow these oil stocks to be re-exported. Do not let people in another country consume this coconut oil. The Government should destroy these stocks of coconut oil, but the government is still wavering because it is intimidated by private companies,” he said.