SL struggles to repay debts as economy suffers setback

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This is causing the island nation to repay the huge debt at the same time the nation is struggling to recover from the pandemic crisis….reports Asian Lite News

 The Sri Lankan government has slashed imports of farm chemicals, cars and even its staple spice turmeric as its foreign exchange reserves dwindle, media reported.

This is causing the island nation to repay the huge debt at the same time the nation is struggling to recover from the pandemic crisis.

According to AP report, toothbrush handles, venetian blinds, strawberries, vinegar, wet wipes and sugar are among the hundreds of foreign-made goods that were banned or made subject to special licensing requirements meant to chip away at a trade deficit that has been deepening the country’s financial quandary for years.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government said it would compensate local fishermen who were affected by the burning of the X-Press Pearl container ship in May, from an interim claim of $40 million it hopes to claim from the vessel’s operators.

In a statement on Monday, State Minister of Fisheries Kanchana Wijesekera said the compensation would be deposited to the fishermen’s bank accounts, reports Xinhua news agency.

He said beneficiaries of the compensation will be verified by officials from the fisheries, divisional secretariats and fishing associations.

The Sri Lankan fishermen were one of the worst affected by the burning of the X-Press Pearl vessel last month which caused a massive environmental disaster.

The government has confirmed that 176 turtles, four whales, and 20 dolphins had died and washed ashore on the country’s beaches up to July 7 as a result of the disaster.

The Singapore-flagged X-Press Pearl ship was carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tonnes of nitric acid and several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15.

The vessel sent out a distress call while being close to the Colombo Port on May 20, and soon caught fire.

A criminal probe is presently underway in finding out how the fire on board the container ship started.

Sinopharm vax administered to teachers

Sri Lankan authorities have started administering the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines against Covid-19 to teachers and school staff across the country, with an aim to re-open schools as soon as possible.

Minister of Education G.L. Peiris, who was present at one of the vaccination centres in Colombo on Monday along with Army Commander Shavendra Silva, said they hoped to complete vaccinating teachers, principals, and non-academic employees within a week, reports Xinhua news agency.

Accordingly, arrangements have been made to vaccinate all school employees of 10,155 schools in the country under this program, Peiris said.

The Minister added that this program had been launched directly under the directives of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, following which discussions were held with all the provincial governors, chief secretaries, provincial directors of education, and the health division.

Peiris said continuing to keep schools closed in this manner due to the pandemic was not possible and expressed confidence that this vaccination program would be completed soon.

Health authorities said that following the arrival of a batch of Sinopharm vaccine on Sunday morning, doses had been distributed to the respective districts to begin vaccinating teachers.

According to official statistics from the Health Ministry, nearly 3 million people in Sri Lanka, above the age of 30 years, have received the Sinopharm vaccines to date.

Out of the nearly 3 million people jabbed, over 1 million have received their second injections as well, Health Ministry statistics showed.

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