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* Presidential Task Force entrusted to provide services, especially food to sustain overall community life in Sri Lanka
Fri, Apr 3, 2020, 11:36 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 03, Colombo: The President in terms of powers vested in him by the Constitution has appointed a Presidential Task Force to direct, coordinate and monitor the delivery of continuous services for the sustenance of overall community life in Sri Lanka in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Presidential Task Force, headed by President’s special envoy Basil Rajapaksa, is established with the objective to control the pandemic and restore the normal lives of the people in Sri Lanka.

The 40-member Task Force comprises Provincial Governors, Ministry Secretaries, Commanders of the Armed Forces, Acting Inspector General of Police, Heads of Departments, Corporations and Authorities, District and Divisional Secretaries.

The President has announced the powers and functions of the Task Force in an Extraordinary Gazette notification issued on 26 March 2020.

Announcing the appointment of the Task Force, the President stated that World Health Organization has indicated to him on a weekly basis that the coronavirus patients in Sri Lanka as well as the number of suspected coronavirus affected persons is increasing practically in all countries and it is the responsibility of the Government to undertake every action necessary for the eradication of coronavirus disease from Sri Lanka by controlling the situation and preventing its escalation to an epidemic status.

Taking note that the Government has taken measures to implement the necessary operations to control the current situation jointly with health, security, food distribution sectors and all other Government and Private Sectors, the President said a need has arisen for Government intervention to manage Government and Private Sectors with proper procedures to provide continuous delivery of public services without disruption to the conduct of normal community life.

The President stated that the food security has become a priority matter due to the emergence of a grave demand for domestic food production in the context of suspension of overseas supplies.

The members of the Presidential Task Force are tasked with direct, coordinate and monitor the delivery of continuous services including the supply of food provisions produced in rural areas and producers direct to consumers giving priority to the Districts of Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Puttalam, Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu which have greater vulnerability in the eradication of coronavirus in Sri Lanka.

The members are tasked with the following functions:

1. Provide facilities required by farmers for farming activities for the production of paddy, cereals, vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, milk and eggs, as well as plantation products such as tea, cinnamon and pepper.

2. Organise and operate Lanka Sathosa, cooperative network, Cargills, Keells, Arpico and Laughs retail network to supply agricultural products direct to customers.

3. Operate the distribution mechanism to supply farm products received at Economic Centres to customers in those areas as well as in towns at household level.

4. Coordinate with Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Sri Lanka Customs, corporate Banking Sector and other Government regulatory agencies and take necessary action to facilitate the import of essential foods and drugs as well as the export of tea, sanitary clothing etc.

5. Provide fuel, security, banking assistance for transport of rice, coconuts, tea, animal feed, domestically produced sanitary clothing and food.

6. Provide health and sanitation facilities to drivers and assistants of vehicles such as lorries, three-wheelers, buses and motor cycles transporting essential services and goods to customers, and keep selected fuel stations of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation open during curfew hours to supply them with fuel.

7. Direct and provide facilities to Agriculture Department, Agrarian Services Department, Samurdhi Authority, Cooperative Farmer Societies, Farmer Organizations, and private seed production organizations to supply seed, seedlings, fertilizer and machinery for farming activities.

8. Direct officials engaged in rural projects to encourage seed farms, popularize organic fertilizer use and encourage production of home crops, and as far as possible, popularize home gardens as a supply for self-consumption.

9. Direct and take measures to provide required loan facilities to farmers via Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, Regional Development Banks and Samurdhi Bank branches.

10. Implement appropriate measures for waste disposal in rural and urban areas and maintain continuous electricity and water supply services.

11. Take steps to focus special attention on women, low-income families and persons directly at risk when undertaking above measures.

12. All bank branches to remain open for a minimum of 04 hours a day utilizing minimum staff to provide essential banking services to customers.

The President required and directed “all public officers and other persons to whom the said Task Force may issue instructions or from whom assistance for provision of services may be requested, to comply with all such instructions, render all such assistance and furnish all such information as may be properly complied with, rendered and furnished on that behalf.”

The President directed the Task Force to report to him, all cases of delay or default on the part of any Public Officer or Officer of any Ministry, Government Department, State Corporation or other similar institution in the discharge of duties and responsibilities assigned to such public officer or such institution.


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