The Government will take all measures to import a World Health Organisation (WHO) approved vaccine against the new COVID-19 Coronavirus, when made available, Minister of Youth and Sports Namal Rajapaksa said in Parliament yesterday (20).
However, Minister Rajapaksa pointed out that the Government will not allow the people to be used as guinea pigs for a vaccine that has not yet received WHO approval.
Minister Rajapaksa made these observations in reply to concerns raised by the Opposition, including Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, as to why the Government is not taking steps to import a vaccine which has proven to be 95% successful in curing the new Coronavirus.
Joining the debate on the Budget 2021, Minister Rajapaksa observed, “When the whole world could not control this COVID-19 virus, we managed to control the pandemic together with our medical divisions, public servants, the three Armed Forces and the Police very successfully. According to the decisions taken by the Government led by the President and the Prime Minister, we are successfully controlling the second wave of the pandemic as well. There were concerns raised as to a possible vaccination to cure this virus has not been ordered yet. The WHO has not yet approved this vaccine. No country in the world has tested this either. So we do not want our people to be guinea pigs for a vaccine that has not yet been approved by the WHO. When the WHO gives the necessary approval, we shall get the vaccine for our people.”
Meanwhile, Minister Namal Rajapaksa observed that more Sri Lankan youths should become entrepreneurs in order to revitalize the country’s economy. The Minister who pointed out that only 4% in Sri Lanka are entrepreneurs said that more youths will be encouraged and facilitated by the Government to develop their own businesses.
“You are today criticizing the loans we have taken for development. But, your Government has obtained sovereign bonds over USD 6 billion. What development has been done with this money? Where? Our Government has built 7000 houses. By the end of this year 10,000 houses will be built not by giving loans but by giving necessary facilitation. We have achieved all this in one year since the Government came to power. Yesterday, we signed an agreement for a tyre factory in the Hambantota Port. The First Phase of the investment is USD 300 million.
Another USD 300 million will be invested in the Second Phase. We are presently holding discussions to attract a billion dollar investment for the Port City. These are not loans but investments. We borrowed and we will have to borrow. These loans are to build infrastructure. Investments would come to Sri Lanka only if the infrastructure is built. With the agreement signed at the Hambantota Port, 2000 direct and indirect jobs will be created next year. We can also export 9 million tyres per year. Our expected revenue is USD 300 million in foreign exchange. A factory in the Hambantota Port will be able to contribute 3% of the total foreign exchange in Sri Lanka to our economy.”
Minister Rajapaksa also said, “Our hope is to create entrepreneurs. They are the ones who generate jobs. The young generation of this country should be entrepreneurs. When we went to Mullaitivu, 48% of the people in that district were Samurdhi recipients, while 33% in Matale are Samurdhi recipients. It is not something to be proud of. These people should be freed from depending and made to contribute to the local economy. The percentage of entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka is 4%. We need to build a group that contributes to the economy.”
Minister Rajapaksa also said, “This budget focuses on creating entrepreneurs. Yesterday, we went with Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena and transformed 1000 young entrepreneurs into Q shop entrepreneurs. They can contribute to the village economy and sell local products. We took steps to take this super market concept to the village. By this year we were able to commence work on the Rekawa, Mahawella, Gandara, Kudawella and Beruwala fishing harbors. Funds have been allocated.”