Parliament | Daily News


“Export of medicinal cannabis can bring an income of US$ 3 Bn”

Indigenous Medicine State Minister Sisira Jayakody said in Parliament yesterday that the growth of medicinal cannabis will be implemented as an export industry in Sri Lanka making laws in accordance with the United Nations Charter, preventing it to enter the local market as a drug.

He said that an income of US$ 3 billion can be earned through this project and a national Ayurveda policy is being prepared currently.

The Minister said this while joining the debate on the Third Reading of the budget.

State Minister Jayakody said, “There is a system of knowledge that has existed for thousands of years in the field of indigenous medicine. This medicine is unique to us. It is our responsibility to secure and protect it. A national policy is needed for that. It is currently being prepared. All the traditional medicine doctors, drug manufacturers and compounders in the country are supporting the preparation of this national policy. Ayurvedic hospital system is moving forward even under very low facilities. Rural ayurvedic hospitals and dispensaries are to be newly established on the instructions of the President. The indigenous medicine sector can make a big contribution to earning foreign exchange from the tourism sector. Indigenous medicine and local food can also be exported and earn good income.”

“Steps have been taken to digitize the indigenous medicine field. This project is being carried out under the initiative of the university students who came forward for it. It does not cost the Government money. The Ayurveda Act has now been submitted for amendment. The approval of the Cabinet has been obtained. Kotala Himbutu, which was confiscated by the court and handed over to the Ayurveda Corporation, is also not allowed to be exported by the laws of this country. It happens because of outdated laws. Much of export income has been lost due to this,” the State Minister said.

“A large deposit will be taken from the investors who export medicinal cannabis. Laws will be prepared preventing this entering the market as a drug. If society is harmed in any way, the investor will lose the huge deposit amount. By strengthening the community medicine service in the indigenous medicine field, an answer can be given to the nutritional situation in this country. The nutrition problem in this country can be solved by reviving the plant-based diet. There are more than 200 types of vegetables and herbs in the country. There are 140 types of potatoes in the country. Diseases can be prevented by using the traditional core knowledge system of this country by getting rid of the so-called Western imitation views,” the State Minister said.


“Health Ministry will continue to allocate funds for purchasing drugs”

Health Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella said in Parliament that the Government will continue to allocate funds for purchasing drugs.

The Health Minister said this in response to a question raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa under Standing Order 27/2.

He said that drug prices are determined by a price committee currently.

Responding to the issue of doctors going abroad, the Minister said that doctors who go abroad without proper permission will be treated as if they have left the service, in the future,

The Minister revealed that nearly 500 medical professionals have left the country in the last eight months alone.

The Minister said the health sector itself may collapse if this situation develops further. He also pointed out that the Government has taken many measures to retain medical professionals in the health sector. Doctors are allowed to travel abroad formally and with proper permission. Permission has also been given for medical officers to work abroad for five years.

He said that since they are staff officers, the doctors should get the Prime Minister’s permission before going abroad, otherwise they will be considered to have left the service.


Construction industry: Approved private importers to supply raw materials

Chief Government Whip and Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told Parliament yesterday that the construction industry should have a national policy and the Government is working towards this goal.

A National Council has been established under the leadership of the Prime Minister for this purpose.

Minister Ranatunga stated that a national policy was to be prepared during the previous ‘good governance’ government but it was not done and the current government should be supported by all the parties when it is done.

He said this in response to a question raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa in Parliament under Standing Order 27 (2).

Minister Ranatunga further stated: “The Government has decided to supply the necessary materials needed for the construction sector through private importers registered by the Building Materials Corporation (BMC) with the approval of the Cabinet and the Finance Ministry, due to the shortage of materials required for the construction sector caused by the restriction of imports and the artificial increase in prices during the current economic crisis.

Accordingly, the Building Materials Corporation registered the importers and arranged for them to import cement and tiles. Cabinet approval has been received to implement this until the end of this year, and we are working to submit a request to the Cabinet to extend it until December next year (2023), the Minister said.

A committee headed by a Treasury Deputy Secretary has been appointed to finalize the projects that can be completed for the benefit of the people and terminate projects that cannot be completed on the basis of the agreement of both parties.

Instructions were given to provide concessions to protect contractors and construction workers engaged in that field. The Construction Industry Development Authority (CIDA) has given the necessary instructions to the contractors and service providers to get the due payments for the protection of the contractors in the event of price fluctuations.

Circulars have been prepared and presented at the ministerial level to make it easier for payments that have been agreed upon by contractors and service providers.

“Our Government also understands that it is necessary to make a fair system with transparency to pay the contractors. For that, our Ministry and the regulatory authority CIDA are engaged in introducing the data system making it easier for contractors and service providers to carry out the design work and related payment tasks online. Our government is already working to present the new ID cards with the QR code issued by the CIDA for its registered persons. It is scheduled to be completed in the near future,” Minister Ranatunga said.

Payments are currently being made according to the way money is received to the Treasury considering the amount of work to be completed by the contractors and focusing on their financial difficulties.

“We need to strengthen the contract agreements and to strengthen and update the procedures to solve the problems in order to put an end to the injustice caused to the contractors and service provider and the general public due to halt of these projects before completion,” the Minister said.

“For this, we are already finalizing the strengthening of the Construction Industry Development Act with regard to arbitration, mediation, and conciliation. These activities are scheduled to be completed in the first half of next year. Our intention here is to strengthen the resolution of these disputes without subjecting the construction industry to costly arbitration,” he said.


“No MP has been given free housing at Viyathpura complex”

Chief Government Whip and Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told Parliament yesterday that no Member of Parliament has been given outright ownership of the housing units at the Viyathpura housing complex.

The Minister said this in Parliament yesterday while responding to a question raised by SJB MP Chaminda Wijesiri regarding the provision of houses in the Viyathpura housing complex to MPs whose houses were damaged.

“There was wrong information in the House about the matter related to houses. Viyathpura housing is under my Ministry. Houses have been given to MPs who were victims of recent fires, on a monthly rent for a year. No MP has been given free houses. Letters have been sent to 106 MPs. Of them 76 have been given houses on rent. There are vacant houses. Anyone can buy them,” the Minister said.

“Until today, the 76 MPs whose houses were burnt down have not been given compensation of five cents. Wrong information has been given to society. No compensation has been paid by the Government. No arrangements have been made to provide houses,” he said.

The Minister also said that if necessary, a house can be bought at the government’s assessment amount.


“No shortage of milk powder in the market”

Finance State Minister Dr. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said in Parliament yesterday that there is no cause for any shortage of milk powder in the market.

The State Minister said this while making a special statement regarding the detention of a stock of imported milk powder at the Customs.

He also said that the government always stands with the intention of facilitating importers without putting them into unnecessary trouble. All actions have been taken to protect the quality of the imported materials during the detention.

A stock of milk powder imported from New Zealand has been detained at Customs. This stock of milk powder has been imported in violation of import and export control regulations.



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