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Constitution making: SJB won’t make submissions to Expert Committee

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Kiriella: Why should we go to reinvent the wheel?

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chief Opposition Whip and senior Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Lakshman Kiriella yesterday (20) said that his party wouldn’t make representations to the government appointed Expert Committee engaged in formulating constitutional proposals.

The Cabinet appointed the committee in early Sept, less than a month after the general election in Aug 2020. Lawmaker Kiriella said so in response to The Island query whether the SJB would make representations to the nine-member committee chaired by Romesh de Silva, PC. The deadline for submission of proposals is Dec 31, 2020.

The top SJB spokesperson dismissed the committee as a government body engaged in a propaganda exercise. When The Island pointed out that as the Justice Ministry had called for public proposals in that regard therefore the breakaway UNP faction could take advantage of the opportunity, lawmaker Kiriella said that the previous parliament comprehensively dealt with the issue. The then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe spearheaded the process.

“Why should we reinvent the wheel”, MP Kiriella asked, urging what he called the SLPP appointed committee to examine the constitution making process undertaken by the previous parliament. Those who now identified themselves as the SLPP fully participated in the process though that grouping was then called the Joint Opposition, MP Kiriella said. The incumbent government couldn’t simply ignore what had been agreed in the previous parliament, the Kandy District SJB leader said.

“Of course, we reached consensus on some issues though there were differences. But, political parties represented in parliament largely agreed on the proposals. Therefore, the work undertaken by the previous parliament could be quite useful and should be the basis for the ongoing effort,” lawmaker Kiriella asserted.

The Justice Ministry recently called for submissions from the public pertaining to 11 subjects namely (1) nature of the State (2) fundamental rights (3) language (4) directive principles of State policy (5) the executive (President/cabinet of ministers/the Public service) (6) the legislature (7) franchise and elections, including referenda (8) decentralization/devolution of power/power sharing (9) the judiciary (10) public finance and (11) public security. The Justice Ministry also welcomed any other proposals specifically not referred to above.

Asked whether the UNP pushed for early Provincial Council polls, lawmaker Kiriella said that the government, in the run-up to 2019 presidential and August 2020 parliamentary polls repeatedly pledged introduce a new Constitution. So instead rushing to hold PC polls, the government should unveil its constitutional proposals as soon as possible, Kiriella said.

“Let us see how the incumbent administration intended to address the national problem. The UNP introduced 13th Amendment to the Constitution to address the grievances of the minorities. Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his capacity as the war winning President offered 13 plus. Explain what the President, the Prime Minister envisaged in terms of the proposed 13th Amendment,” the former UNPer said.

Kiriella said that the national question couldn’t be settled without sufficient devolution of powers to ensure the minorities felt comfortable and confident living among the majority community. Kiriella, who had served both SLFP and UNP led cabinets, said that during their constitution making process during the previous administration, Chief Ministers representing provinces other than the North and East, pushed for greater powers.

Responding to another query, MP Kiriella said that there hadn’t been a previous instance since JRJ introduced 1978 Constitution, where all political parties participated in a common agenda meant to bring in a new law.

The MP alleged having wasted several months in a high profile bid to secure the passage of the 20 Amendment with a 2/3 majority, the government wasn’t really sure of its strategy.

“Obviously, SLPP is divided over the new constitution making proposals,” MP Kiriella said, pointing out that the SLPP was yet to submit its proposals to its own committee.



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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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