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Patali calls for report on progress of school meal programme

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MP Patali Champika Ranawaka, Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means has stated that a report on whether there has been an increase in student attendance in primary schools.

He has also called to provide a report on schools with less than 100 students with the mid-day meal program and to provide the number of students in primary grades and number of students given meals in schools where there are only less than 100 students. Apart from the said, the Committee Chair instructed the Ministry of Education to give a report on the progress regarding the entire program.

The above matters were discussed when the Parliamentary Committee on Methods and Procedures met at the Parliament premises under the chairmanship of MP Ranawaka.

It was disclosed during the Committee on Ways and Means which took into account that the meal provided to school children in government schools has increased from eleven hundred thousand to sixteen hundred thousand in 2024. Accordingly, the Rs. 80 allotted for each child has been increased to 110.

It was also disclosed that the criteria have been prepared regarding the quality of the meal and the follow-up regarding the meal program will is done by the Provincial Department of Education, Regional Educational Services officers and public health inspectors.

It was reported that 600,000 school students come to school without breakfast, and after the implementation of this meal program, the attendance of school children has increased.

It was also stated that 16.6 billion rupees are spent on school meals per year, but there is a shortfall of about 4 billion rupees. The Chair stated that although Sri Lankans abroad are very willing to provide assistance for the program of providing meals to school children, they are reluctant to provide such assistance directly to the government. The Chair therefore instructed to find out whether there is any legal obstacle for providing such assistance to teachers’ unions and school development societies. Furthermore, the Chair instructed to prepare a system for receiving complaints based on social media and stated to use a system such as regular reporting on the quality of food provided through WhatsApp.

In addition to the said, it was stated that under the Aswasuma welfare program, payments to nearly 1,000,000 families in May 2024, out of which payments have been paid to 313,947 families and 653,047 families under the category of extreme poor and poor respectively was made.

It was also revealed that 200,000 eligible people have not been able to receive such payments despite being eligible for such due to various reasons such as problems with national ID cards and accounts. Further, the Committee inquired about the progress in resolution of appeals.

The Chairman of the Committee recommended to the Welfare Benefits Board to provide a report on the methodology and criteria inclusive of the the correct information pertaining to the amount paid under each category in May this year, the number of benefited families, the number of appeals submitted, the number of new beneficiaries to be selected, etc.

Moreover, since there is an issue as to which category of official is responsible for implementing Aswesuma in the Grama Niladhari domain, a report on the said, and a report on the statistics of those who have provided false information to get the benefits, as it has been revealed that a large number of people have given false information and obtained the benefits from Aswesuma was requested to be provided by the Committee Chair.

The Committee Chair inquired how the instructions given earlier by the Ways and Means Committee to connect the loan scheme for small and medium scale industries of the development centers and commercial banks to this program have been implemented. The Chair asked to provide an information report on the proposed family enforcement program with relevant time limits to his committee.

The monthly stipend given to the elderly was also discussed and the chairman instructed to give a detailed report on the cost of the monthly stipend to the kidney patients to the Committee on ways and means.

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India in talks with Sri Lanka to acquire graphite mines

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India is in talks with Sri Lanka to acquire graphite mines in the island nation.

The demand for graphite is steadily increasing, as it is the most common material used for anodes in lithium-ion and other batteries.

The Indian government had discussions with the government of Sri Lanka on acquiring graphite mines there, sources said.

(PTI)

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Karapitiya Hospital to be a National Hospital

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The Cabinet has approved the proposal to develop the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital as a National Hospital.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet briefing that took place today (May 23), Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane said that this will be the third National Hospital in addition to the two National Hospitals in Colombo and Kandy.

The relevant Cabinet paper had been presented by Health Minister Ramesh Pathirana.

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36,900 power breakdowns due to inclement weather

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The Ceylon Electricity Board has reported over 36,900 breakdowns resulting in power interruptions to more than 300,000 consumers in the last 3 days due to inclement weather, says Power and Energy Minister – Kanchana Wijesekera.

Taking to X, the minister notes that additional service staff has been assigned to attend the breakdowns and the CEB management & service staff are working 24 hours to restore power to the affected consumers.

If consumers are unable to repot power interruptions through the CEB hotline 1987, they can use the SMS option to 1987 with BD and the electricity consumer number to follow, use the CEB Care app or through http://cebcare.ceb.lk, he adds.

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