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Details of 13 Cabinet decisions taken this week

Cabinet Co-Spokesman Ministers Bandula Gunawardana today announced 13 Cabinet decisions taken during yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

01) Loans, grants and material donations received by the government of Sri Lanka as the initial assistance for responding the COVID – 19 pandemic conditions.

The Cabinet of Ministers considered the information furnished by the Hon. Prime Minister as the Minister of Finance, Economy and Policy development in relation to the contributions received during the period up to 12th June 2020 as loans, grants and material donations by the government of Sri Lanka from several countries and international organizations for the initial steps to be taken in relation to the control of the global pandemic conditions of COVID – 19.

Accordingly, the World bank has agreed to provide US dollars 128.6 million for the project to prepare the emergency responding and preparation of health systems for COVID – 19 in Sri Lanka while another US dollar 45 million to be provided under the social security network project.

The Cabinet of Ministers paid attention on the fact that both US dollars 57.5 million out of the agreed amount under the project to prepare the emergency responding and preparation of health systems for COVID – 19 as well as the provision of US dollar 45 million agreed under the social security network project have been received to the country by now.

In addition to that, the Cabinet of Ministers paid attention on the donations to the value of approximately US dollars 75 million and another stock of material good to the value of about US dollars 8 million too have been received by the government up to the above – mentioned date.

02) Obtaining allocation for the payment of the salary of the employees in the Central Cultural Fund.

The Central Cultural Fund has encountered a grave financial crisis by now and it has led to difficulties in bearing the salaries of the employees and other expenditure. Therefore, the request made by the Fund for obtaining a provision of Rupees 135 million monthly under the prevailing circumstances was brought into the attention of the cabinet of Ministers by the Prime Minister as the Minister of Buddha Sasana, Culture and Religious Affairs. Accordingly, the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted to facilitate for obtaining a short term loan grant from a local bank with the mediation of the General Treasury as a remedy to the issues confronted by the aforementioned fund and furnish with the necessary facilities for settling down the so mentioned loan grant by increasing the income of the Central Cultural Fund once tourism is recovered in the time to come.

03) Procurement of food for the Department of prisons – 2019 / 2020

Although the contract to procure food items to the Department of prisons for the year 2019 / 2020 is to be ended from 31.07.2020, procurement process for selection of suppliers could not be taken place due to Covid – 19 pandemic conditions. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal furnished by the Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Legal Reformation for awarding the contract to supply food items required by the Department of prisons to the current supplier itself from 01.08.2020 to 31.01.2021, considering the present situation experienced by the country as well as the current market conditions; as recommended by the Cabinet appointed Standing Procurement Committee.

04) Procurement of fertilizer – 2020(for the month of July)

International competitive bids have been invited for the procurement of fertilizer for Lanka Fertilizer Limited [Lak Pohora) and Colombo commercial Fertilizer Limited for the requirement of fertilizer during the month of fully 2020. The Cabinet of Ministers has given the consent to the proposal submitted by the Minister of Mahaveli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development for awarding the procurement of fertilizer supply as mentioned below subject to the recommendation given by the standing procurement committee appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers with regard to those prices.

o To procure 9,000 + 5% metric tons of Urea [Graniula) from Agri Commodities and Finance FZE for a sum of US dollars 260.00 per metric ton.

o To procure 6,000 + 5% metric tons of Triple Super phosphate from Aries Fertilizers Group Pvt. Limited for a sum of US dollars 249.07 per metric ton.

05. Re – establishment of the Ministry of Mahaveli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development in the ‘Govijana Mandiraya,

Necessary actions have been taken by now to re – establish the Ministry of Mahaveli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development in the ,Govijana Mandiraya’ in terms of the approval given by the Cabinet of Ministers on the l8th December 201’9. However, the fabrication of the building should be re – attended to and the electricity system should be renovated. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal submitted by the Minister of Mahaveli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development for the direct awarding the contract of consultation services relevant to the said renovation activities to the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) while the contract for the construction activities to Central Engineering Services [Pvt) Limited since the relevant activities should be attended with immediate effect.

06) Allowing the purchase of chemical fertilizer for paddy cultivation for agricultural purposes.

Fertilizer is issued under the fertilizer subsidy for paddy cultivation up to 05 acres under the programme to provide fertilizer subsidy implemented at present while the fertilizer required for the extent of land exceeding the said amount should be purchased from the open market. Under these circumstances, a shortage of fertilizer used for other crops has been created in the open market whereas the demand for fertilizer has been increased due to the escalation of the extent of land under cultivation especially as a result of C0vid -19 pandemic conditions’ Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers considered the information furnished by the Minister of Mahaveli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development on the actions taken for purchasing stocks of remaining fertilizer by the Agrarian Development Centres imported under the fertilizer subsidy programme for paddy cultivation by the government fertilizer companies and marketing a sack of fertilizer consisted of 50 kg to a sum of Rs. 1000 to the cultivators so that the cultivators can purchase the fertilizer stocks required without creating any inconvenience to the government.

07) Extension of the period of the loan grant applicable to the Northern Highway connection Project financed by the Asian Development Bank.

Renovation of national highways and provincial roads and newly construction of selected bridges of the northern and north central provinces are being performed under the Northern Highway Connection Project financed by the Asian Development Bank. Funds up to US dollars 98 million are provided by the Asian Development Bank for the purpose. Two (02 J additional packages of contracts of the Medavachchiya – Horowpathatna road have been awarded in the month of March 2019 from the balances of the loan grant while, the construction work mentioned above could not be completed before 30th June 2020 which is the valid day of the loan grant. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers has approved the proposal submitted by the Minister of Roads and Highways for extending the period of the relevant loan grant up to 31st December 2020.

08) Project to re – inaugurate the manufacturing activities of Oddusudan factory under the restructuring of Lanka Tile Corporation.

Approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was given on 05th February 2020 for performing necessary actions for re – initiating the productions of the brick and tile factory of Oddusudan coming under the purview of Lanka Tile Corporation together with Sampson Rajarata Tiles (fvt.1 Ltd. However, Lanka Tile Corporation has already carried out renovation activities with the objective of re – opening the factory and has planned to inaugurate the production without any participation of a private venture in the future. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal of the Minister of Industries and Supply Management; and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Development for performing the production activities of Lanka Tile Corporation by themselves without a participation of a private investor.

09) The need to transfer the lands, which are considered as state residual forests to District /Divisional Secretaries

Administrations of the state Residual Forests, which managed by Divisional secretaries has been brought under the Department of Forest conservation in terms of the provisions of the circular No. 05/2001 dated 10.09.2001 issued by the secretary to the then Ministry of Forest Resources and Environment. As per the provisions of the said circular, a long procedure should be adopted for the use of such lands for other purposes’ Therefore; the farmers who are engaged in chena cultivation in the residual jungles are greatly inconvenienced. This is also a barrier to use the said lands for economically productive purposes.

The Cabinet of Ministers discussed the matters above and decided to request the Minister of Environment to look into the matter and furnish an appropriate mechanism for vesting powers in the District secretaries to engage such lands temporarily for other purposes. ln this mechanism, the government ownership should be retained and the residual forest environment and wildlife should not be harmed.

Await more details.