Kiriella says government lacks dollars to buy vaccines

Lakshman Kiriella

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella yesterday said the government had no funds to buy vaccines for the people as the dollar reserves were extremely low.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo, MP Kiriella said that the pandemic had been ravaging the nations all over the world for more than one and a half years. “The vaccine against the virus was produced in May last year. The manufacturing companies obtained orders from that time, but the SLPP government has not been able to place an order for enough jabs the past one year. The government could get funds approved in the Cabinet meeting but it does not have money. Although the Cabinet passes funds, there are no dollars in the Central Bank. That was the reason that the government was dragging its feet on ordering vaccines for one year. The government should either go for vaccination or impose strict travel restrictions.

“The government now has obtained a loan of USD 80.5 million. This has vindicated our position that it was without funds. It was only after receiving the World Bank loan that the government started placing orders for the vaccines. It could have obtained the vaccines from India, which exports 40 percent of its vaccine production. We missed that chance because the government antagonised India.

“We must first save the lives of the people. We can salvage and rebuild the economy later.

“No one has been vaccinated in my area. PCR tests are conducted in Kandy and the Central Province. There is only one PCR machine for the entire Central Province.

“At the party leaders’ meeting, we urged the government to postpone the Port City Commission Bill debate considering the prevailing situation in the country, but the government did not listen to us. They want to pass the Bill, come what may.”

MP Kiriella said that the government is considering treating the Covid patients at home because the hospitals were overflowing. “There is not enough oxygen in hospitals. We need pressure-type ventilators to treat Covid patients gasping for oxygen. The entire Central Province has only one such machine.”

(Source: The Island)