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Cabraal asks Sajith why they were silent when Rs 10 bn was released to PTL in 10 minutes

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…nothing wrong with Rs 3.1 bn loan to D.S.Gunasekera

By Saman Indrajith

State Minister of Finance, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Parliament yesterday that there was nothing wrong in the Bank of Ceylon releasing a Rs 3.1 billion loan facility to D.S. Gunasekera Company.

“The BoC has adhered to its procedures and followed all accepted methods in releasing that loan. Nothing wrong has happened in that transaction,” said Minister Cabraal, responding to a series of questions raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa on the loan facility.  “However, when 10 billion rupees was released in 10 minutes from the same bank to the Perpetual Treasuries in 2015 by a government in which you were a Cabinet minister, all of you kept silent. You should have raised questions then.”

Minister Cabraal said that the D.S. Gunasekera Company was operating in the North Central, Eastern, Central and the Southern Provinces. The company had its accounts at the Katuwana Branch of the BoC since 2015.  The company had been a customer of the BoC for 62 years since 1958. As per the audit reports of recent years, the company has shown an income increasing by 10 billion rupees in the years of 2017, 2018 and 2019.  The BoC has released the loan facility of Rs 3.1 billion considering the long standing relationship between the bank and the company and the latter’s financial feasibility. The bank had followed all accepted guidelines and procedures in releasing a pledge loan. The company used a sum of Rs 2.1 billion for stockpiling. In releasing the loan the bank had kept the stockpile as a pledge and it has been released in installments as the company settled their loan in installments.

Opposition leader Premadasa made a special statement alleging that the company named D.S. Gunasekara (Pvt.) Ltd. had obtained a sum of Rs. 3.1 billion from the BoC Katuwana branch as a pledge loan.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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