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Request made to bring 22,500 vials when 56,000 were available

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Supplier Sudath Janaka Fernando, Director of the Medical Supplies Division Dr Kapila Wickramanayake, Assistant Director Deva Shanthi Solomon, Accountant (Supplier) Neran Dhananjaya and Stores Controller Sujith Kumara and former Health Ministry Secretary Janaka Sri Chandraguptha who were arrested in connection with the import of substandard immunoglobulin vials to the Medical Supplies Division, were ordered to be further remanded till January 10 by Maligakanda Magistrate Lochana Abeywickrama yesterday.

The prison had presented five suspects including the former Health Secretary to court, and it was informed that the director of the Medical Supplies Department, Dr.Kapila Wickramanayake, was being treated at the Colombo National Hospital due to an illness.

The Magistrate ordered the Criminal Investigation Department to obtain a statement from the first suspect in this incident, Sudath Janaka Fernando, who is the minor drug supplier, as per his statement.

Although the bail orders for the suspects were to be announced, the magistrate noted that the bail order would be postponed to the next day based on the facts presented, and informed that the bail order would be announced before hearing the further report on that day.

The magistrate had ordered the prison superintendent to detain all the suspects separately in the prison and if they are admitted to the prison hospital, to detain them there.

The submissions were made for more than five hours, whereupon the former Health Secretary Janaka Sri Chandragupta informed that he was fainting, the magistrate instructed the prison to keep him in a separate seat in the dock.

Former Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was severely criticized by the lawyers who appeared for suspects for giving statements to the criminal investigation department.The Magistrate ordered the CID to to follow a common practice in obtaining statements on behalf of all the suspects.

Informing the court of the progress of the further investigation regarding this incident, the Deputy Solicitor General of the Attorney General’s Department, Mini Girihagama, informed the court that the foremr Health Secretary by importing 56,000 vials of human immunoglobulin at the expense of Rs.1,444 lakhs of government money, has committed an offence under the Public Property Act. The Deputy Solicitor General said that the investigation is still in its preliminary stages and informed court that she was against granting bail to the suspects.

The Deputy Solicitor General said the Criminal Investigation Department went to the house of former Health Minister Rambukwella based on his request and obtained a statement from him on Tuesday. She also informed the court that a related report would be submitted to the court.

The Deputy Solicitor General said that although the first suspect requested permission to import seven thousand five hundred vaccine vials according to the tender form, he was given permission to import 22500 vials and if he imported 22500 vials of vaccine, he would have to pay a sum of one billion rupees.

The Magistrate who appointed an Acting Magistrate to monitor Dr. Kapila Wickramanayake who is undergoing treatment at the National Hospital informed that the bail order will be announced for him in the next day.

The lawyer who appeared for him informed court that the wife and two children of Dr.Kapila Wickramanayake, currently undergoing treatmentin Ward 80 of the National Hospital, are undergoing treatment due to a stressful situation and asked him to consider the matter as a special case and grant him bail.

Deputy Solicitor General said that even if a farmer is in jail, his family also gets this stressful situation. Acknowledging that such matters are exceptional, she also informed that if bail is granted, bail should be granted to all those who are in prison.

The Deputy Solicitor General noted that the first suspect was not given any permission to manufacture vaccines. Since March 2020, permission has not been given to import pioneering chemicals into Sri Lanka. In such a background, tenders have been arranged and medicine bottles, water purification chemicals and equipment have been brought through the Customs. The Magistrate gave permission to issue an order to the Director General of Customs to submit the relevant documents.

Under the controversial procurement process, the manufacturer has been given permission to import these drugs under the emergency procurement process. According to the documents obtained from the Deputy Director General Saman Ratnayake, purchase annexes have been issued by the Medical Supply Unit on 12.13.2022 to bring the vaccines related to colon cancer to Sri Lanka.

Under the Indian Credit Line , the selected orders procured in 2006 and 2007 have been forwarded to the relevant sub-committee.

Anil Silva PC who appeared for Former Health Secretary said an emergency procurement committee was appointed. My client, Treasury Secretary, Chairman of the State Drug Regulatory Authority and others were there. It was appointed by the Cabinet. My client is an administrator. He did it out of spite. Doctors U.S.K. Dhanawatta, A.P. Sudarshan, Deputy Director of Medical Supply Division, Dr. Jayanath Buthpitiya and others were there.

The tender was awarded to the lowest bid after the committee decided. Order delays were reported. The money has been paid only after lengthy process. He has nothing to do with the payment. He has just sat on the procurement committee of the cabinet. Even when the former health minister said not to pay the money, the money was paid.

The case was fixed for January 10.

(dailynews.lk)

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Additional Health Secy. to Court

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Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Health Dr. Saman Rathnayake who was arrested and remanded over the medicine procurement scandal was escorted to the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court, to provide a confidential or In Camera statement.

Saman Ratnayake, who was interrogated for over seven hours, was arrested at the Criminal Investigation Department last Friday.

He was presented before the Maligakanda court last Saturday.

When the case was called, the magistrate remanded the suspect until March 14, considering the facts presented by the Deputy Solicitor General Lakmini Girihagama.

The suspect thereafter informed court via counsel of his willingness to provide a statement In Camera.

Therefore, the magistrate ordered the suspect to appear before the court on March 4, today, to deliver the confidential statement.

(News 1st)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by News 1st has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Electricity, petroleum supply, declared essential services

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An Extraordinary Gazette has been issued declaring all activities related to the supply of electricity and petroleum products as essential services.

The relevant gazette has been issued by the Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake on Sunday (03) by order of the President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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Fuel price revision likely tonight?

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A fuel price revision is likely to take place tonight (04), as per sources.

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) stated that although the fuel price was slated to be revised at the end of February, the price revision will possibly take place today.

The CPC amends the fuel prices monthly as per the pricing formula. Accordingly, the prices were last revised on January 31, where the prices of octane 92 petrol, octane 95 petrol, super diesel and kerosene were increased.

Against this backdrop, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has issued an Extraordinary Gazette declaring all services connected to the supply of electricity and the supply or distribution of petroleum products and fuel as essential services with effect from 03 March 2024. 

Accordingly, the proclamation states that the services specified have been declared as Essential Public Service considering it necessary that the services provided by any Public Corporation or Government Department or Local Authority or Co-operative Society or any branch thereof being a Department or Corporation or Local Authority or Co-operative Society, which is engaged in provision of the services specified, is essential to the life of the community and is likely to be impeded or interrupted.

In the meantime, the Fuel Distributors’ Association alleges that the CPC has taken steps to incur a usage fee of 35% of the monthly rebate amount received by the fuel distributors. President of the association Shelton Fernando claimed that through this action, it will not be possible for them to even meet the daily expenses for the distribution activities.(adaderana.lk)

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