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Contradictory figures in proposals show govt.’s inability to prepare annual budget – Rajitha Senaratne



by Saman Indrajith

SJB Kalutara District MP Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says that the government’s budget proposals with contradictory figures is a testimony to the government’s inability to prepare the annual budget.

Participating in the second reading stage debate on the budget proposals, the MP said on page 51 of the budget report, government expenditure has been mentioned as Rs. 3,525 billion but on the very next page, on Page 52, government expenditure has been given as Rs 3,594 billion.

“The difference between the revenue and the expenditure is mentioned on Page 51 as Rs. 1,564 billion and on Page 52 as Rs. 1,665 billion.  The deficit is mentioned as Rs. 23.9 billion on Page 5, but Annexure III mentions it as 3.2 billion,” he said.

Dr. Senaratne said the budget proposals and allocations are not realistic. There is a proposal to build 50,000 kilometers of carpeted roads. The allocation for the purpose is Rs 20,000 million. Usually the cost for one km of carpeted road is around 12 million rupees. Accordingly the allocation would be sufficient only to build 1,600 km.

“There is another proposal to build 10,000 bridges and Rs. 7,000 million has been allocated. The cost per bridge would be around 70 million so they could build only 100 bridges. In the 2019 budget, we allocated Rs. 654 billion for relief and subsidies but this government has allocated only Rs. 581 billion by cutting off Rs. 73 billions. The government cannot release figures of the growth rate for the second and third quarters of this year because they know the figures would come in minus double digits”, he said.

The economy is on a fast track towards total collapse. So far around 45,000 Lankan workers have returned home and there are around 100,000 more to come. They would contribute to the increase in the number of unemployed which is 483,000 at present. There are around 86,000 industries in the country and of them 30,000 have faced the threat of closure,” he said.

Dr. Senaratne said that the government has proposed building pharmaceutical manufacturing institutions as if it is their own concept. “It was during our time that we started the process. We signed agreements for pharmaceutical manufacturing companies and 18 have already commenced work,” he said.

“The government gave a Rs 5,000 allowance twice as COVID-19 relief. It amounted to 0.003 percent of government revenue. Other governments in the world paid salaries to their people for months,” the Kalutara District MP said.

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary



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



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



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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