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President’s fund increases medical allowances to 100%

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As per President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directives, measures have been initiated to enhance the medical allowances provided by the President’s Fund, increasing them from 50% to 100%, effective from January 01, 2024.

Mr. Sarath Kumara, the Secretary of the President’s Fund, announced that in line with the President’s guidance, services offered to the public by the President’s Fund will be expanded from the year 2024.

To achieve this, previously uncovered medical conditions have been identified, and assistance has commenced for those diseases. Notably, starting this year, medical aid will cover eye surgeries for individuals under 21 years of age, performed in private or semi-public hospitals.

In an effort to minimize the influx of patients seeking medical assistance in the city, a streamlined registration system within the President’s Fund for hospitals across the island has been implemented from 2024.

Furthermore, the stipend for post-working hours heart surgeries at Karapitiya Hospital will be increased this year, with plans to extend this system to other hospitals. Additionally, starting this year, medical aid payments of up to Rs. 01 million will be provided for liver transplant surgeries for young children at the Ragama Hospital.

Recognizing a gap in coverage, medical aid will now be extended to cover cancer surgeries performed in private or semi-public hospitals. Moreover, both private or semi-public hospitals and government hospitals will offer medical aid for medical tests conducted externally before and after bone marrow transplant surgery, effective this year.

Starting this year, the President’s Fund raises the monthly income limit for medical aid from Rs.150,000 to 200,000 , aiding middle-class individuals. Secretary Mr. Sarath Kumara notes the Fund’s adherence to the President’s directives in providing prompt services in 2023.
In that year, over 8,000 pending medical aid applications were addressed, spending 1,342 million rupees. Additionally, 3458 applications received in 2023 were processed, with Rs. 844.7 million disbursed.

Further, as per the instructions of the President, the President’s Fund has implemented the program of providing scholarships for the students who have passed the G.E.C. O/L exam and who need to be given relief in order to continue their education.

In the meantime, students who have passed the General Certificate of Education A Level Examination with top marks in the last two years have been selected at the district level and national level to provide financial assistance to those students. Accordingly, Rs. 31.5 million financial assistance has been given to 90 selected students.

The President’s Fund also implemented a program to provide financial and material assistance through the divisional secretaries of the island to uplift family units that are suffering from poverty but can engage in self-employment. Also, programs to provide monthly financial and material support through regional secretariats were successfully implemented in 2023 to identify family units suffering from poverty but unable to engage in self-employment or other work. Financial contribution has been provided for maintaining religious harmony as well as for religious activities and other social activities.

Meanwhile, in order to avoid unnecessary delays in the payment of medical aid, the application form for reimbursement of medical aid was updated and the necessary arrangements are being made to make payments within three working days for a medical aid application that is duly completed and delivered to the Presidential Fund without defects.

In 2022, a scholarship program commenced for G.E.C. exam-passed students. From each of the  education divisions across the island, students were selected. Monthly, within the first two days of work, funds are credited to their bank accounts, and SMS notifications are sent. Currently, these students have received 10 monthly instalments.

This year, another initiative began for high-achieving students facing financial challenges after passing the GCE (A/L).  Fifty students from one education division and a total of 5000 students from 100 education divisions are granted 6000 rupees monthly for 24 months to support their General Certificate of Education studies.

The Fund extended support through regional secretaries, aiding impoverished family units and implementing successful monthly assistance programs in 2023. Financial contributions were made for religious harmony and social activities.

Efforts are underway to swiftly provide warranty certificates for hospitalized patients undergoing surgery or treatment. Upon admission, hospitals will deduct the agreed-upon fund amount from medical bills, streamlining the process. Secretary Mr. Sarath Kumara ensures that a single visit to the President’s Fund is sufficient for patients, minimizing unnecessary calls or inconveniences.

Furthermore, a ceremonial event took place at the office premises yesterday, blessing the President’s Fund staff for their new-year duties in 2024.

Venerable Kirinde Assaji from the Hunupitiya Gangaramaya, Colombo, led the Pancha Sheela group in a solemn ceremony attended by dignitaries such as Secretary to the President Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr. Anura Dissanayake and others.

(President’s Media Division)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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Lankan convict in Gandhi assassination case passes away

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Santhan alias T Suthendiraraja, a Sri Lankan national who was one of the six convicts released in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, died on Wednesday morning at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital (RGGH) in Chennai.

Santhan, who was released by the Indian Supreme Court in November 2022, was kept at the special camp near the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison.

Last week, the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai issued an order to deport Santhan to Sri Lanka, however, he was admitted to the RGGH for treatment for a kidney-related ailment.

Addressing the reports, E Thenirajan, Dean, RGGH, said that based on the directions of the Tiruchirapalli district collector, Santhan was admitted to the hospital on January 27.

Thenirajan said a team of doctors were treating him at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and constantly monitoring him. He said Santhan was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis or a liver disease.

“He suffered a setback to his health yesterday (Tuesday) night. He had lost consciousness and we were providing treatment. Around 4.30 am today (Wednesday), he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was revived following a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) procedure and was on ventilator support. However, he failed to respond to further treatment and passed away at 7.50 am,” he said.

Thenirajan said they would carry out the post-mortem procedures now and take further measures to send his body to Sri Lanka.

According to court documents, Santhan is believed to have fled then strife-torn Sri Lanka in 1991 and reached India by boat, along with Sivarasan, who led the assassination team and was never caught alive, and a few others. According to the Supreme Court order, Santhan’s role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was direct and active.

Santhan was initially sentenced to death for his involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, however, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in November 2022, along with five other convicts, after spending over three decades in prison.

(The Indian Express)

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