UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Saturday that the government was begging money from businessmen to import the COVID-19 vaccine.
Addressing a meeting of UNP youth members at Nugegoda, the former Prime Minister said that the government had asked for USD 10 million from exporters to buy the vaccine. “Why the government has to go after businessmen begging money when it can allocate funds from the budget?”
Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka was a nation that provided free health care to its citizens, and therefore the government should be able to allocate funds for the vaccine.
The ex-PM said that he didn’t think that the COVID-19 pandemic would come to an end soon. “I don’t think COVID-19 will end this year. Several waves keep coming repeatedly, one after the other.”
Some countries had already launched vaccination programmes, but Sri Lanka had no such plan, he claimed.
“The government earlier said that we would get the vaccine in March. India has said it will give only 20 million vaccines to SAARC countries and that is not enough. I’m not aware whether we have entered into an agreement with China to get a vaccine. In the meantime, the government has requested 10 million US dollars from exporters to buy the vaccine. We can find that money from the budget without begging from businessmen”.
(Source: The Island)