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Accused of cronyism, Kirielle dares govt. members to reveal information about their bank accounts

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy and District MP Lakshman Kiriella, speaking in Parliament, on Tuesday (8), challenged the government MPs and Ministers to reveal details of their bank accounts.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella said: “Can any of the MPs and Ministers in the government ranks tell this House how much money he or she has in his or her bank account? Is there at least a single MP who can do that? At the time of our government during a budget debate I revealed how much money I have in my bank account.

“I did that and even got faulted by my wife for doing so. She asked me why I had revealed it to the House because it consisted of what had been earned from practising law for over 20 years and inherited.”

Kiriella said so after SLPP Gampaha District MP Milan Jayatilaka, participating in the budget debate on the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Highways, accused the former of having allocated funds for the Ministry of Higher Education at the expense of the Highways Ministry. “MP Kirirella was the Minister of Higher Education and highways under the yahapalana government. While allocating Rs. 134 billion for highways, only Rs 77 billion was allocated for higher education. He gave road construction to a company by the name of Olympus, which did nothing but took away the money. There is a company called Kandy Construction. Its directors are his relatives, who controlled all construction contracts, the MP said.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella said: If you have any suspicion you can complain to the COPE. He mentioned a company called Kandy Constructions. I do not know of a company by that name and request that member to submit the names of the directors to Parliament so that we could see whether I have my relatives there. These are lies. Usually, when a backbencher speaks, others feed him with information. We too had the same experience. I sympathise with you. In 2017, the JVP brought a motion against me, making various allegations. In response to them, I revealed the figures of all money I have in bank accounts. Can you do the same?”

Opposition MPs shouted that they could.

Kiriella: So get up and tell the House how much you have in your account.

Transport Services State Minister Dilum Amunugama: There are many issues and problems before the COPE as regards the Highways Ministry. I do not know whether you are responsible for them, but there are issues.

Kiriella: So we can have a debate on the COPE report.

Hambantota District SLPP MP Dr Upul Galappaththi: We are ready to reveal the details of our bank accounts. Can you ask the former ministers who are now in the Opposition as MPs to do the same?

Badulla District SLPP MP Chamara Sampath Dassanayake: We have given declarations of assets when we became MPs.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: I am challenging you to get up here and tell the House.

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando: I respect our chief opposition whip, but what he is asking for is meaningless. Can anyone expect those who steal money to keep it in bank accounts?



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CEBEU guns for ex-Chairman Ferdinando

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by Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) Friday  said that they are in the process of collecting evidence against former Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando over the recent statement he made on a proposed power project with India.

A senior engineer said that there is a high possibility that the seasoned civil servant dragged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to disrepute because he didn’t see eye to eye with the President.

Eng. Isuru Kasthuriratne, a committee member of the CEBEU and Project Engineer – Mannar Wind Power Project of the Board said they would never allow former chairman to get away easily.

“There are always controversies about him. We would not let this case go. We are in touch with all bodies,” he said.

Kasthuriratne said that very relevant documents were authored and authorized by the former chairman and “he cannot simply say he is not aware of this and that.”

Ferdinando on June 11, tendered his resignation following the controversy he sparked over the planned 500 MW unsolicited wind power project here by India’s Adani group.

“The Adani group at first proposed to sell power to the CEB at 6.50 US cents per unit,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told journalists recently.

Despite numerous attempts, the former CEB chairman was not available for comment.

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Dilshan Wirasekara, new CSE Chairman

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announced the appointment of Dilshan Wirasekara as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSE with effect from Friday (24).

Wirasekara has served on the Board of the CSE since 21st November 2017 and succeeds Dumith Fernando, who steps down as the Chairman after completing his two-year tenure.

Wirasekara is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading investment banking firms, First Capital Holdings PLC, offering a diverse range of financial services in Government Securities, Corporate Finance and Advisory, Asset Management and Stock Brokering, which he has been part of since 2013.

He currently is the chairman of the Investment Subcommittee of the CSE and also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of the CSE as well as the CSE/SEC joint committees on Digitalization and the Central Counter Party System (CCP).

An Investment banker by profession with a career spanning over 26 years, comprising diversified expertise in financial services, including banking, treasury and investment management, capital market strategy, and corporate finance advisory services.

Wirasekara specializes in Asset and Liability Risk Management, having secured the accolade of leading and representing two Sri Lankan companies in winning the International Bank Asset and Liability competition organized annually by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), German Investment Corporation (DEG), and Proparco – a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Development (AFD).

Wirasekara is an alumnus of INSEAD, having completed his Executive Professional Education at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. He is also an alumnus of AOTS, Tokyo, Japan.

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NCE on Govt’s focus on directing public servants to private sector employment

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National Chamber of Exporters has given the a proposal to the Prime Minister and copied it to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government on providing employment opportunities to government servants in the private sector companies for a specified period.

The Chamber said in a release: Through Media sources we got to know that The Ministry of Public Administration has appointed a committee to look into the possibility of granting five years of leave to government employees to work in the private sector.

Its states that a seven-member committee has been appointed for this purpose and that the said committee is to submit its report to the Cabinet of Ministers within two weeks.

Sri Lankan exporters are proposing to absorb public sector employees for employment in the sector to relieve the burden of wages and related costs on the Government.

The Export Sector has been able to sustain business and has also reached the pre pandemic level of an average of USD.01 billion export revenue during the period January to April 2022. Before the dawn of the pandemic, exporters were facing difficulties with lack of skilled workers. However, during the pandemic, many exporters were compelled to downsize operations and lay off employees which has created a vacuum in crucial areas of operations.

In current scenario, considering the financial burden and the reportedly excessive workforce attached to the public sector, NCE member exporters are proposing following options in reaching a win-win agreement for both government and the export sector. It is to be noted that labour requirements of exporters vary according to the relevant industry, yet in general all categories could be considered.

1. Any government employee in the permanent carder is eligible to apply for employment in the export sector, excluding from following institutions as they are involved in law enforcement in the country which may lead to conflict of interests.

a) Department of Police

b) Department of Inland Revenue

c) Department of Customs

d) Department of Excise

 2.Government to grant unpaid leave up to a maximum of 59 months.

 3.Employer will offer a “Temporary Labour Contract “to such selected individuals which include: –

 a) Period of contract for 59 months (because on completion of the 60th month, the employee will be eligible for Gratuity.)

b) Their employment will be in accordance with the laws and statutes under which the respective private sector company’s  employees of similar cadre is employed.

c) Leave entitlement as per employer’s policy on leave

d) Employment contract can be terminated with either party giving 30 days’ written notice.

e) In case of maternity leave, a number of stipulated days will be available as unpaid leave.

f)  At the end of 59 months, the government to absorb such individuals back to the public sector employment as per pertinent rules and regulations.

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