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With institutional and personal donations and direct deposits the balance of the COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund reached Rs. 1,668,379,121.74 as of 31.10.2020. Until today (10.11.2020) Rs. 402,190.701 out of the said amount has been allocated/spent for the following activities.

Activities approved by the Management Committee:

Activity   Allocated (Rs.) Actual Expenditure (Rs.) Implementing Agency
PCR Testing   100,000,000 42,605,812 Ministry of Health &University Grants Commission
Advocacy Programme   100,000,000 24,364,800 Ministry of Health
Quarantine Facilities   86,528,701 38,031,065​ Ministry of Health & Ministry of Defence
Lab Facilities of Batticaloa Teaching Hospital   112,140,000 Confirmation is anticipated Ministry of Health
Upgrade of Rapid Test Kit   3,522,000 Confirmation is anticipated

SLINTEC

The Fund was established on 23.03.2020 following a decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers on 18.03.2020. The management of the Healthcare and Social Security Fund is carried out by  a board of highly skilled professionals representing areas of administration, finance and banking. The board comprises Ministry Secretaries, Director General of Health Services, audit and banking experts.

The board is headed by the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Prof. W. D. Lakshman.

When an institution requires funds for activities related to controlling COVID, with the approval of the committee, the money is spent by the relevant institution in accordance with the government procurement regulations. Thereafter the Fund reimburses the particular amount. Under no circumstances the committee engages in a direct purchase or direct expenditure. The Accounts Branch of the Presidential Secretariat is entrusted with the responsibility of auditing the Fund and these activities are subjected to comprensive auditing by the Auditor General.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday said the country’s health sector is capable of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and what is needed is the support of the people.

The COVID pandemic is a health issue. The responsibility of protecting the people against the virus and steering the country forward lies with the health sector and the Government.

The President said that he strongly believes that Sri Lankan doctors and the health sector, one of the best in the world, can easily achieve the target.

President Rajapaksa made these remarks during the daily discussion with the members of the Task Force on COVID Prevention held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday(9).

“We have three options in the face of the spread of the pandemic. The first is to lock down the entire country by imposing curfew. The second is not to do anything at all. Carrying our normal activities while controlling the disease is the third option and we opted for that,” the President added.

“Our doctors and the hospital staff were able to diagnose COVID infected in the first stage and treat them accordingly. Therefore, intensive care services were not required. People must also extend their support in controlling the spread of the disease and preventing infection.”

 
 

The President reiterated that media are responsible and duty bound to communicate health guidelines that need to be followed to the public.

“Following the successful containment of the virus, the media as well as the people have forgotten everything and shirked responsibility. The result is the current situation. The country cannot remain closed until the pandemic is wiped out from the world. We have to understand the ground reality and act accordingly. Infected persons are reported daily even from areas that have been closed for nearly 40 days. This shows that the pandemic cannot be controlled by lockdowns alone,” the President said.

“Closing down the country is the easiest solution. But people have to live. It is my responsibility to keep the economy going while ensuring all the activities including employment, agriculture and fishing move forward. The daily expenditure by the Government for PCR tests exceeds Rs.60 million. A huge sum of money is spent daily on the entire process including quarantine. It is a personal responsibility of the people to comprehend this situation and avoid falling prey to the disease,” the President noted.

Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Keheliya Rambukwella, Member of Parliament Madura Vithanage, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga and members of the Task Force were present during the discussion.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Zoom yesterday. The two leaders shared their experience on administrative matters according to reports.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane, Education Minister and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Prof.G.L. Peiris, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam and several Provincial Councillers participated in this discussion.

Head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China, Song Tao, Communist Party Secretary of Hainan province Liu Cigui and several other officials participated.

The State Katina ceremony was held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the historic Somawathi sacred premises in Polonnaruwa today (8).

This is considered to be the first occasion since the reign of King Parakramabahu II to hold a Katina ceremony sponsored by the state.

It is the tradition since the days of ancient kings to cultivate cotton, spin yarn and use the cotton cloth woven from yarn to sew the Cheevara (Bhikkus robe) and presented to Maha Sangha.

Arriving at the Katina Cheevara Pooja ceremony organized with the approval of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa , President Rajapaksa met the Chief Incumbent of Somawathi Raja Maha Vihara Ven. Pahamune Sumangala Thero and received blessings.

After observing religious rituals President attended the ceremony.

Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara brought the Katina Cheevara followed by the alms giving.

President bequeathed it to Maha Sangha.

Anu Nayaka Thero of Malwatta Chapter Ven. Dimbulkumbure Wimaladhamma Thero delivered the main sermon.

Former President Maithripala Sirisena, State Ministers Siripala Gamlath and Roshan Ranasinghe and several others were present on the occasion.

Cabinet approval has been granted to the proposal made by Youth and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa to provide a loan subject to a maximum of one million rupees for the implementation of new small and medium scale projects.

This loan scheme is aimed at empowering young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 40 to further their business ventures. Young Entrepreneurs who engage in Information technology (IT), agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry, tourism promotion related projects and innovative and machinery design projects can apply for this loan up to maximum of Rs. 1 million.

At the suggestion of Minister Namal Rajapaksa, this loan scheme operates under the “Small Business Development Division” of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed officials to strictly monitor the self-quarantine process now under way to contain the spread of COVID -19 virus even after the curfew is lifted.

All families identified as having close contacts with COVID infected were directed to self-quarantine at their homes. Their number is closer to 84,000 in 31,457 houses islandwide. In the Western Province 40,676 belong to 13,911 families are currently undergoing self-quarantine.

President Rajapaksa issued these directives during the daily meeting with the members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Prevention held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (5).

While paying special attention to close associates and the areas they belong to in the event infected persons are found in the community, and if necessary, President advised to declare those areas as isolated. Importance of concentrating on estates and flats was discussed in length.

It was decided to restrict the economic centers to wholesale trade only. President noted that trade activities should continue while strictly adhering to health guidelines and continuously conducting PCR tests.

There is no need to obtain curfew passes for lorries transporting essential goods such as vegetables and fruits between districts.

Every step has been taken to continue operations at the Free Trade Zone in Katunayake. The President also instructed to carry out random and continuous PCR tests in the trade zone under the supervision of the Health Ministry and Sri Lanka Navy with the assistance of private hospitals.

Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, MP Madura Vithanage, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga and members of the Presidential Task Force were present during the meeting.

Ambassador of France in Sri Lanka Eric Lavertu paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees yesterday. Discussions focused on bilateral trade and investment

At a meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa this evening, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervos, commended the Sri Lankan Government for how it has dealt with the Coronavirus outbreak.
 
Expressing “deep gratitude for the relationship” that Sri Lanka and the World Bank share, Hadad-Zervos congratulated the Prime Minister “not only on the election (victory) but how Sri Lanka has managed the pandemic.”
 
“We wish you a speedy exit from this situation,” he said. He was accompanied by the World Bank Country Manager for Maldives and Sri Lanka, Chiyo Kanda.
 
The Sri Lankan delegation thanked the World Bank for the many years of close cooperation and assured that the new government will continue that relationship. It also appreciated the Bank for the various assistance programs during the pandemic. The World Bank was the first donor agency to come forward with assistance when the pandemic first broke out early this year.
 
The Country Director said the World Bank will assess how best to support Sri Lanka and to “see how we can turn this crisis into an opportunity.”
Asked about Sri Lanka’s priorities, Prime Minister Rajapaksa responded by pointing to several key sectors the Government would like to priorities after the current outbreak situation is under control: Economic development, roads, drinking water, sanitation, and agriculture.
 
In the area of agriculture, the two delegations explored how farmers could be more empowered to produce value-added products that could be marketed internationally as uniquely Sri Lankan brands. The World Bank Country Director highlights Sri Lanka’s Ayurveda sector, noting that there is a great international demand for Ayurvedic products.
 
Another area that was discussed was film tourism. With a very well-developed tourism sector, Hadad-Zervos said a possible next step for countries like Sri Lanka to increase tourism even further is to attract the entertainment industry from around the world to use Sri Lanka as the location for productions. Studies have shown that seeing a location in a movie or television can have a significant impact on the number of tourists visiting that location. One of the most successful examples of film-induced tourism in New Zealand after being featured in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
 
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said the Ranminithenna Tele Cinema Village was established — during his presidency — with film tourism in mind. However, it was not put to good use during the past few years. While there are examples of some popular films shot in Sri Lanka — such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Indiana Jones, and the Temple of Doom and Water — there is a lot of potential for growth, the two delegations agreed. The Prime Minister expressed a keen interest in further collaborating with the World Bank in this area.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday requested from Maha Sangha to chant Rathana Suthra at every temple to invoke blessings on the public and the country during this pandemic situation. Observing that it is a trying time for the country and all other nations in the world, PM Rajapaksa requested Maha Sangha to chant Rathana Suthra every day to bless people’s health and good life.

Chanting of Rathana Suthraya is presently carried out by many temples in the country.

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