Colombo, February 23 (newsin.asia): In its first reform act after the humiliating defeat it suffered in the local bodies elections held on February 10, the National Unity Government (NUG) led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, has temporarily lifted the ban on the use of glyphosate by the tea and rubber plantations in the country.
Government has also decided to change the present method of providing fertilizer subsidy and ensure that there is no shortage of fertilizers in the country.
The decision was taken at the last meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) held here on February 21.
The ban had been imposed at the instance of an environmentalist friend of the President’s. But it badly hurt the tea and rubber plantations which are leading contributors to the foreign exchange kitty of the country.
The planters’ protests went unheeded until the local bodies’ election results came out to show that the NUG was unpopular across the board.
NUG has now decided to allow the use of glyphosate for tea and rubber cultivation lands and suggested formulation of a new policy after thoroughly examining the pros and cons.
NEC debated the issue of rising cost of living. It proposed to take immediate steps to further control the rising prices of food items, including rice and coconut.
The Minister of Megapolis Patali Champika Ranawaka pointed out that it is difficult to attract foreign investment without developing essential infrastructure facilities including water supply, transport, power and energy. He said that Sri Lanka should further invest in IT.
Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that due to the severe rush at the Katunayaka International Airport, steps should be taken to construct a new terminal to accommodate more passengers. Even though the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has agreed to provide assistance to construct the new terminal, due to higher construction costs, it has been decided to build a temporary terminal.
Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa pointed out the importance of formulating a National Policy regarding payments to builders and contractors working on government projects.
Minister Sarath Amunugama stated that more attention should be given to the fields which can draw foreign revenue and emphasized the need of a economic policy which gives priority to sectors such as foreign employment, textile and tourism.
The National Economic Council is looking forward to formulate short term, medium term and long term national policy covering various sectors of the economy.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe, and Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Sarath Amunugama, Rauff Hakeem, John Seneviratne, Sajith Premadasa, Duminda Dissanayake, Faizer Mustapha, Mahinda Amraweera, Malik Samarawickrma, Patali Champika Ranawaka, and as the officers holding positions in National Economic Council, Secretary to the President Austin Fernando, Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake, Governor of Central Bank Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Secretary- General and Chief Economist of the National Economic Council Prof.Lalith Samarakoon took part in the proceedings.
(The featured image at the top shows rubber tapping in Sri Lanka)