Relief package for public, economy | Daily News


President in Address to the Nation

Relief package for public, economy

Calls for public cooperation to combat Covid -19
Stable Government needed to fulfill pledges

Addressing the Nation yesterday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced a number of concessions to help the public and business enterprises affected by the coronavirus (Covid–19) outbreak.

President Rajapaksa also instructed the banks and financial institutions to offer a six month grace period for loans obtained by business enterprises and provide working capital for loans at 4 percent.

The President said as a concession to the public that he has ordered officials to maintain a maximum retail price of Rs. 65 per kilogramme for dhal and Rs.100 for canned fish from yesterday night.

He said that more concessions will be announced in the future.

President Rajapaksa also called on all Sri Lankans to cooperate with the government to ensure that the threat posed by the virus does not get out of hand.

He also called on the public to continue to have faith in him and also added that he requires a stable Government to do more for the country and to take forward his policies and vision for the country.

The President in his address also gave details of the various measures taken by the government to combat the Coronavirus spread.

President Rajapaksa said that when the global attention was drawn towards the threat posed by the virus, he had taken steps to bring back the 34 students who were at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China. “They were quarantined and allowed to return to their families safely after two weeks,” the President said.

He said even before the first patient was found on Januray 26 a Task Force had been set up to deal with the issue.

“The first Covid-19 patient, a Chinese woman tourist was found in Sri Lanka January 27. She was treated in a government hospital and was released on February 19 after after been completely cured”.

The President went on to say that after the first detection no patient was found in Sri Lasnka for about one month.

He said that the the government had imposed bans on flights arriving from the worst affected countries and also initiated compulsory quarantine procedures for passengers arriving from virus hit countries in government centres and also had initiated self quarantine measures.

“Many of the people infected with the virus were already in quarantine,” he pointed out.

He said flights have been stopped from today as a further measure at controlling the spread.

He called on Sri Lankans returning home to act responsibly and support the quarantine measures initiated by authorities.

He said public holidays were also given as a measure to control the spread. Despite these mesasures the government was also providing essential services and other necessary help to the public.

President Rajapaksa said that after he won the Presidency, he had to function with a minority government.

“The former government had not presented a Budget and we had to work with a Vote on Account. The former government had not approved monies for many essential payments. We tired to get these monies approved through a Vote on Account but the opposition did not support the effort”.”

The President said due to this he could not fully implement the pledges he made to the people.

“In order to fulfil the promises that I made, I need a stable majority government. Therefore, I had to dissolve Parliament at the first opportunity and call for an election,” he added.

The President said after dissolving Parliament he was able to get a Vote on Account approved through the powers vested on him in the Constitution. The President said that is how he found monies to make essential payments and to face the current crisis.

The President while noting that he needs a stable government to carry forward his strategy to develop the country, sought the people’s support to form a stable government with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, a veteran politician and a most beloved leader to fulfill his mandate.

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