Rural Economic Development Minister P Harrison questioned the statement made by Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva on the decision to store paddy at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA).Harrison dismissed the claim that the paddy had resulted in birds flocking to the airport and causing damages. Minister P. Harrison however says the MRIA was paid to store the paddy and the income it got as a result was more than it was earning on a normal day.He said that Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva should be careful in what he says in public. However he insisted that the comments did not mean there was a rift between the United National Party and Sri Lanka Freedom Party. (Colombo Gazette) The Minister said that the environment at the airport had been damaged as a result of paddy being stored at the airport premises. He said that birds had begun to flock around the airport after paddy was brought to be stored in one of the stores in the airport by the Paddy Marketing Board.The Minister, under who the subject of civil aviation now operates, said that he will give the Paddy Marketing Board time to remove the paddy in stages. Nimal Siripala de Silva had said recently he wants paddy stored at MRIA removed and the airport maintained at international standards.
In a speech prepared for delivery to an anti-poverty event at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, he focused on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were approved at a UN summit in 2000 and which prescribe measurements and targets for the reduction or elimination of current socio-economic ills by 2015. Progress on achieving them will be reviewed at what is expected to be the world’s largest summit ever in September at the UN.“All of you are here because, like me, you know that this is a make-or-break moment for the Millennium Development Goals – and for the world’s poor,” Mr. Annan said. “You know that how we fare for the next 10 years hinges on decisions that must be taken within the next days and months.”Major advances in reducing hunger, improving access to safe drinking water and sending more children to primary school have been offset by women dying needlessly in childbirth, while HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria continue to spread and kill, gender equality is a distant dream for many societies, and environmental damage threatens food, water supplies, livelihoods and homes, he said.“There is no autopilot, no magic of the marketplace, no rising tide in the global economy that will lift all boats. If current trends persist, some of the poorest countries will not be able to meet many – or perhaps any – of the Goals by 2015. Considering how far we have come, such a failure would be a tragic missed opportunity,” Mr. Annan said.What makes the MDGs different from “the bold pledges that became broken promises in the last 50 years” is that rich countries and poor countries have accepted, for the first time, their responsibility to achieve these goals, he said.According to the eighth MDG, he noted, “each developing country has a duty to its people to take charge of its own development” by instituting better governance, fighting corruption, devising measures to strengthen its economy and making real resources available to fund the fight against poverty.If they achieve that, the developed countries must provide more and better quality development assistance, make the global trading system support development and offer wider and deeper debt relief, he said.“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to bring about historic fundamental change. But it will depend on the will of governments and on the commitment of groups and individuals such as you,” Mr. Annan said.“So between now and September, please keep making your voices heard, loud and clear enough to lift the sky. And keep raising your voices after that, to hold governments to their promises and to help translate those promises into action.”