ECONOMYNEXT – Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, head of the Catholic Church, has expressed doubt that justice will be done for the victims of the 2019 Easter bombings under the present administration.
Anyone who comes to power through the blood of innocents will earn God’s wrath and will not enjoy that power for long, Cardinal Ranjjith said at a commemoration event on Thursday (21) marking 30 months since the 2019 Easter bombings.
“The rule has been brought to ridicule today,” he said. “When friends are accused, they are acquitted. Opponents are punished even where no wrong has been done. In this context, it is clear we will not be able to get the recommendations of the [presidential commission of inquiry on the attack] implemented in the present administrative structure.”
The cardinal, who has been increasingly and scathingly critical of what he claims is the slow pace of government probe into the bombings, once again demanded to know what was happening with the investigations that were promised by the government that came to power in the months that followed the attack.
“If one is innocent, why not allow the freedom to probe it? Why not empower the officials? Why the attempt to sweep this under the carpet?” he asked. “One might do this only if they are guilty, if they realize that their nakedness will be exposed. The guilty try to pin the blame on others and hide.”
He added: “Those who shed the blood of innocents will never know peace. That must be remembered.”
The archbishop has repeatedly expressed frustration over the pace of the investigations and an alleged inability to find the masterminds of the attack, which he has implied on several occasions was the result of a “grand conspiracy” – a claim originally attributed to former Attorney General Dappula de Livera.
The Easter bombings were carried out by a small band of suspected Islamist terrorists, though opposition parties in Sri Lanka, some members of the Catholic community and others have expressed skepticism over the official narrative.
In August this year, the Cardinal also questioned claims that the terrorists had been backed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In July, he said he was skeptical of what he called a politically compromised law enforcement’s ability to probe the “grand conspiracy” behind the bombings.
GL: Suspension of IMF bailout highlights failure to meet anticipated revenue targets
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Top Opposition spokesperson Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (02) said that the government should take full responsibility for the suspension of USD 2.9 bn IMF bailout over Sri Lanka’s failure to achieve the anticipated revenue mobilisation.
The former External Affairs Minister found fault with the government for tax concessions granted to investors and the failure on its part to collect taxes, in spite of reaching an agreement with the IMF in that regard.
Referring to the declaration made by IMF delegation head Peter Breuer that the second tranche of about $330m would be delayed pending Staff-Level Agreement, Prof. Peiris pointed out that Sri Lanka and the lending agency had reached a staff-level agreement in early September last year.
Sri Lanka received the first tranche of USD 330 mn in the third week of March this year in terms of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), spread over a period of four years.
While pointing out that revenue mobilisation had improved, the IMF said revenue was expected to fall short of initial projections by nearly 15 percent by the end of this year.
Addressing the media at the Nawala Office of Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa, Prof. Peiris said that though the government tried to put on a brave face, the consequences of the indefinite delay could be quite catastrophic. He said the suspension of the programme could undermine debt restructuring talks with external creditors, governments, lending agencies and the commercial market.
Prof. Peiris said that the suspension of the programme, just after the release of the first tranche, was a matter for serious concern as the unexpected development could cause further erosion of investors’ confidence in the Sri Lankan economy.
Sri Lanka has obtained IMF assistance on 16 occasions.
Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Economic and Physical Plans Mahindananda Aluthgamage on Sunday told The Island the country was paying a very heavy price for the failure on the part of the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise Department to collect the due taxes. Alleging that unpaid income taxes alone, over the past 15 years, amounted to a staggering Rs 904 bn, whereas revenue collecting authorities so far managed to collect Rs 1,643 bn though they were given a target of Rs. 3,101 bn for this year.
Prof. Peiris said that corruption in the public sector procurement process undermined the economic recovery process. The government defeated the Opposition moved no-confidence motion against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella over corruption in the public health sector, Prof. Peiris said, asserting that the IMF must be aware of how the government encouraged waste, corruption, irregularities and mismanagement.
Prof. Peiris urged the government to take tangible measures to address the concerns of the IMF. Unfortunately, the government sought to deceive the public by claiming that the process was on track and would proceed following staff-level agreement, he said. He asked whether the government wanted the people to believe there would be staff-level agreements before the release of each tranche.
Prof. Peiris said that the government should correctly identify the warning issued by the IMF. It would be the responsibility of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government to take remedial measures without further delay.
LPBOA demands bus fare hike
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) head, Gemunu Wijeratna on Monday (02) said they needed a five percent increase in bus fares following Sunday’s diesel price hike.
On Sunday, CPC, LIOC and Sinopec increased diesel prices by 10 rupees per litre.
Wijeratna said that the private bus owners had not increased bus fares when diesel prices were increased by 35 rupees per litre recently.
“With the latest price increase, short distance buses will lose Rs 1,000 a day. Long distance buses will lose Rs 2,500 a day. We can’t lose money like this. We want at least a five percent bus fare hike,” he said.
School transport providers have decided not to increase their charges.
Discourse on crisis in Lankan health sector at CSR
A discourse on the crisis in Sri Lankan health sector, under the theme ‘What ails the health sector? What solutions?’ is scheduled to be held at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday, 05 October 2023, at the Centre for Society & Religion (CSR) Auditorium, 281, Deans Road, Colombo 10, under the auspices of the Socialist Study Circle. The speakers will be Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Consultant Community Physician, President, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, Consultant Physician, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Ravi Kumudesh President, Academy of Health Professionals. The discourse is open to the public.
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