Mar 26, 2020

Govt. kick-starts program to deliver household goods

To encourage physical distancing, the Government yesterday launched a special mechanism to deliver essential food items including medicines to homes and included commercial banks in the essential services category to ease financial connectivity.

The new program, titled “Wait for us, stay at home”, will be implemented through a local system in collaboration with Cooperative Societies and supermarket chains, said Head of the Presidential Task Force on Continuous Supply, Operation and Coordination of Essential Services Basil Rajapaksa.

“The entire process should be in line with the coronavirus control initiatives carried out by the health sector. It is imperative to maintain the day-to-day life of the public. Steps have been taken to distribute food items, while protecting domestic farmers and the national economy,” the statement released by the President’s Media Division (PMD) said. Basil Rajapaksa made these observations during a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, where all District Secretaries and Heads of banks and State and private entities tasked with the supply of essential food items were present.

The PMD statement said there was no shortage of rice, coconut, vegetables, eggs, and chicken. Rajapaksa had pointed out the possibility of distributing these items through a combined effort between Cooperative outlets and supermarkets after purchasing from domestic farmers. These items can be packed according to the needs of the people.

Assistance of the Centre for Disaster Management will be obtained for this operation.

A decision was also taken to deliver medicines to the homes of regular patients who have registered at hospitals, with the support of Divisional Secretaries, Public Health Officers, and the security forces.

It was also discussed to implement a system to distribute medicines through a few locally selected pharmacies, to patients who purchase medicines from private pharmacies. Heads of banks were also advised to take action to keep commercial banks open, to facilitate trade and other essential activities.

Basil Rajapaksa requested the authorities to implement a program to supply domestic gas at consumers’ doorsteps, responding to telephone orders.

“The objective of the entire project is to prevent the public from gathering at marketplaces, so that the health sector’s efforts to combat the coronavirus could be a success.”

Divisional Secretaries, Grama Seva Niladharis, Agricultural Research Officers, and Samurdhi Development Officers will assist this distribution process. At present, several countries have completely stopped import and export activities. Building a stable production economy in the country while paying greater attention to the prevailing situation was discussed at length.

It was decided to facilitate cultivation and fisheries activities without any interruption.

The relevant officials were advised to encourage farmers to cultivate vegetables as well as paddy, maize, black gram, green gram, cowpea, and kurakkan.

Ministers Chamal Rajapaksa, Bandula Gunawardana and Douglas Devananda, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundara, Secretary to the Treasury S.R. Attygalle, and Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne participated in this discussion.