China to call for vote on UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka
Govt. committed to domestic mechanisms to address grievances whatever the Geneva outcome – GL
By Shamindra Ferdinando
SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (22) declared that regardless of the outcome of the vote on a new accountability resolution against Sri Lanka at the Geneva based UNHRC, the government was committed to domestic mechanisms to address the grievances of those affected.
Addressing the media at the Waters Edge, one-time External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris emphasized that foreign interventions weren’t acceptable.
Prof. Peiris addressed the media several hours before the Geneva vote was to take place.
At the onset of the briefing, Prof. Peiris said that China would ask for a vote on the new resolution.
Alleging that a section of the international community acted indiscriminately as regards alleged accountability issues, Prof. Peiris revealed that the resolution received the backing of nearly 40 countries.
Minister Peiris questioned the rationale in so much Western focus on Sri Lanka. Prof. Peiris alleged that foreign governments, political parties and Tamil Diaspora with unlimited funds pursued a hostile agenda against Sri Lanka.
Claiming that moving the UNHRC had been an external requirement, Prof. Peiris explained how those targeting Sri Lanka adopted an entirely different strategy during the previous administration.
Prof. Peiris said that those gunning for Sri Lanka also found fault with the incumbent government for the delay in conducting Provincial Council polls. The minister said that they never had any issue with the previous government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that cooperated with the UNP to put off the polls. According to him, the UN adopted two different stands in respect of the incumbent government and the previous administration.
Sri Lanka finally decided to seek a vote after talks with the UK led Core Group failed to pave the way for a consensus on the resolution.
While reiterating Sri Lanka’s commitment to friendly relations with members of the UNHRC and international law whatever the outcome of the Geneva vote, Prof. Peiris flayed the Office of Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet for pursuing an anti-Sri Lanka strategy. The former Law Professor alleged that the HC’s Office acted beyond its mandate. Prof. Peiris questioned HC’s right to question the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, call to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and inclusion of retired military personnel in the administration.
The former External Affairs Minister said that the move to authorize the HC’s Office to gather evidence, examine them and engage in an inquiry threatened the sovereignty not only of Sri Lanka but other targeted countries as well.
The one-time Colombo University Vice Chancellor explained how both the US and UK resorted to extraordinary legal and other measures to protect their armed forces deployed overseas whereas they found fault with the Sri Lankan military for neutralizing a domestic threat. The minister said that the government wouldn’t hesitate to introduce new law and even provide constitutional safeguards to armed forces in the face of threats posed by UNHRC action
Overtime gravy train for public sector back
Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy
By Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.
The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.
Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.
Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.
Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.
Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.
One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.
Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee
Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.
Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.
Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.
Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.
The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)
Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.
The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.
They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.
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