As per the powers vested in the President under the Constitution, the responsibility to ensure that the civilian life moves on without any hindrance has been bestowed with the Presidential Task Force established to combat COVID – 19 in Sri Lanka.
The Special Representative of the President Basil Rajapaksa has been appointed as the Chairman of the Task Force while Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister Anton Perera serves as the Secretary.
The membership of the Task Force is 40 including Provincial Governors, several Secretaries to Ministries, Commanders of Tri-Forces, security chiefs including Acting Inspector General of Police, Chairmen of several Departments, Corporations and Authorities and District and Divisional Secretaries.
The President had declared powers and functions of the Task Force through a special gazette notification.
The Task Force should carry out its responsibilities covering every district in the country while giving priority to districts of Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Puttalam, Jaffana, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu which have been identified as fasing a greater risk.
Provision of required facilities to farmers for the production of rice, grams, vegetables, fish, dairy and egg and crops including tea, cinnamon and pepper is one of the main tasks. The Task Force should maintain a proper coordination mechanism with Ports, Customs, corporate banking sector and other State regulatory entities to create a conducive environment to import essential dry food items and medicine and to export goods such as tea and sanitary apparel and implement decisions.
The Task Force will ensure supply food items purchased from producers directly to the consumers while presenting operational reports to the President.
All Government Officers and other relevant persons who may be requested to extend assistance to deliver services shall comply with the instructions in respect of such tasks. The President has instructed government officials and others through circulars that they should provide all necessary assistance and information. The Task Force is also required to report to the President regarding all incidents related to delays or omissions in the discharge of duties and responsibilities by an assigned officer.
Some of the other tasks assigned to the Task Force are,
– Directing and providing facilities to the Department of Agriculture and to the Department of Agrarian Services to provide seeds, plants, fertilizer and equipment required for the farming activities.
– Encourage seed farming, use of organic fertilizers and home gardening as well as to grant loans to farmers through Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, Regional Development Banks and Samurdhi Bank branches.
– Particular attention should be given to women, low income families and vulnerable persons in carrying out the related tasks.
The distribution of rice, vegetables and products to the people of all districts should be streamlined to strengthen the farmer and the local economy. Organizing of Co-operatives, Sathosa, Economic Centers, Cargills, Keells, Arpico and Laugf business networks. Helping farmers for farming and plantation activities the Task Force is empowered to continually sustain the process that required for maintaining the day-to-day life of the community, including the distribution of medicines and the opening of commercial banks.