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Champika: Pandemic has become beggar’s sore for inefficient govt.

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“The government is citing the COVID-19 as the reason for all its failures today”

 

By Saman Indrajith

Statistical lies would not help the government hide the mega financial crisis, foreign debt and recession in the country, former Minister SJB MP Patali Champika Ranawaka said on Monday evening.

Addressing the media at the SJB Headquarters in Pitakotte, MP Ranawaka said the incumbent government soon before the advent of COVID-19 crisis, had given a neoliberal tax relief to the rich and that had boomeranged. “That tax relief yielded no positive result for the economy.

MP Ranawaka said that the incumbent government had made two main election pledges. One was to ensure national security and the other to usher in development. “Have they been able to fulfil those two promises or are there any signs that they will do so during the remaining time of their term?”

MP Ranawaka said that two main accusations that led to the end of the yahapalana government were the Bond Scams and its failure to prevent Eastern Sunday carnage. “Those allegations had some sort of base and rationale but other accusations such as MCC deal, Dr Shabdeen episode, and allowing Hizbullah to promote Islam extremism were baseless. Now, the President says that he can solve problems of national security but not so the problems pertaining to other crises such as COVID-19. What about the unfulfilled election pledges? What about Arjun Mahendran? They promised to get the former Central Bank Governor extradited to stand trial. One year has passed sine but nothing has been done to deliver those promises. They could not even bring him down but also failed even to land Arjun Aloysius and others in prison. There are reports that Zahran Hashim had the support of two powerful leaders of the incumbent government. Will the government take those politicians into custody? Dr Jayaruwan Bandara said that the government would not be able to control COVID-19 in Colombo city and he was sacked for that. The current crisis cannot be solved with the help of media circuses. There should be a scientific approach to these problems. The government blames the COVID-19 for all its failures. Reserves are fast dwindling. The government is producing contradictory reports and statistics about the economy. So, the Department of Census and Statistics is not able to present figures related to economic development in the second and third quarters of this year. While the Central Bank has predicted a minus 1.7 economic growth for this year, the Finance Ministry has submitted reports to Parliament, claiming a positive economic growth. It’s high time the government learned that these statistical gimmicks would not help solve the burning problems.”

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary

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There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.

GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.

Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”

“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.

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Hizbullah denies links with Zahran

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But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.

Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.

Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.

The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.

“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.

Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.

Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.

The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.

In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.

Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.

Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.

“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.

“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.

The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.

The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.

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CA annuls summons issued on President

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The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.

Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.

President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.

 

 

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