ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s opposition leader Sajith Premadasa has yet to formally inform the government of any aid or assistance he has secured from the international community in combating COVID-19, a top minister said.
Co-cabinet spokesman Minister Udaya Gammanpila told reporters at the weekly cabinet press briefing this morning (11) that if Premadasa has any connections with foreign governments, he has so far not used those connections to help the government at any point in the one and a half years since the pandemic emerged.
“If the opposition does have such connections, the government will happily accept their assistance,” said Gammanpila.
The minster was referring to a meeting Premadasa had with a number of ambassadors in Colombo requesting their support to Sri Lanka’s health sector through the ongoing crisis.
Sri Lanka has seen a surge in daily COVID-19 cases since the April New Year holidays, a majority of which experts say are infections of the fast-spreading B.1.1.7 strain. Hospitals are running out of intensive care units (ICUs) as younger people with severe symptoms are admitted.
Premadasa said he had telephoned a number of foreign diplomats seeking their assistance in securing more vaccines, PCR testing equipment and mobile field hospitals – particularly from countries like the US, the UK and Australia.
As a responsible opposition party, he said, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB)’s objective is to extend its fullest support to the government to keep Sri Lankans alive.
Gammanpila said today that the government is ready to talk to any ambassadors who Premadasa said he had secured aid and assistance from. However, Premadasa has yet to convey these assurances to the government, he said.
Meanwhile, SJB MP Kabir Hashim called for an all-party conference yesterday to discuss measures to be taken against Sri Lanka’s surging COVID-19 cases.
Commenting on this, Gammanipla said the government will take a decision on the main opposition party’s request.
“We had two all-party conferences when the pandemic first broke out in the country,” he added. (Colombo/May11/2021)