UNP queries delay over acting Ministerial appt. | Daily News

UNP queries delay over acting Ministerial appt.

The United National Party (UNP) has urged the Government to explain to the public why there was a delay in appointing an acting Minister of Health during the COVID-19 crisis.

Former Member of Parliament for the UNP, Sandith Samarasinghe, addressing the media at Sirikotha, charged the Government of failing in their duties to ensure the health and safety of the public. On the 23rd of January 2021, the Minister of Health was diagnosed with COVID-19 and on the 28th of January she was admitted to the IDH and was subsequently transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.

Her hospitalization left her incapable of carrying out her duties. However, the Government delayed the appointment of an Acting Minister of Health for 19 days. It was only on February 16 that the State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production was appointed as the Acting Minister of Health.

Samarasinghe highlighted the fact that during the ensuing 19 days of the country having no Minister of Health, 98 people died from the COVID-19 virus. This figure amounts to nearly a quarter of the total death toll that has resulted from the pandemic.

Despite the rising number of infections and growing death toll, the Government’s failure to appoint an acting Minister of Health demonstrated their indifference to the pandemic. With the absence of a head of the medical authorities, the UNP urges the Government to explain who was making the necessary decisions on the administration of the health sector. Without a Minister of Health, who has ensured that the medical authorities in the country were kept in line with the Government’s policies?

Furthermore, during this period the Government has been in the process of obtaining the necessary COVID-19 vaccines for the country. Without a Minister of Health in office, who was responsible for ensuring that the President and the Cabinet of Ministers were kept abreast of developments regarding this vital procurement?

Samarasinghe also drew attention to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks. During the hearings allegations were levelled against former President Maithripala Sirisena that he failed in his duties by not appointing an acting Minister of Defence in his absence. The former M.P. questioned whether or not the current President had also failed in his duties in this regard.