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Controversy over C’bo Uni. Chancellor’s SUV: Higher Education Ministry, UGC won’t intervene – Dr. Raghavan

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… Puttalam District lawmaker original owner

By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Higher Education Minister Dr. Suren Raghavan yesterday (19) said the Higher Education Ministry, and the University Grants Commission (UGC), wouldn’t get involved in the ongoing issue pertaining to the sale of SUV by Chancellor of the Colombo University Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda, the chief incumbent of the Abhayarama temple.

Dr. Raghavan emphasised that as it was a private matter there was no need for them to intervene. The SLPP National List MP said so in response to The Island query whether the Ministry would inquire into the allegations regarding the sale of a V-8 by the Chancellor.

Ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Ven. Ananda as Chancellor, last November.

Declaring his commitment to what he called total independence of Universities, the State Minister questioned the current process in selecting Vice Chancellors. The SLPP National List MP said: “I stand for the total independence of all universities, including the selection of their Vice Chancellors. Presidents do not need to appoint them.”

Responding to another query, Dr. Raghavan said that if anyone believed the Ven. Thera had violated the law, that party should move Court.

Chairman, UGC, Prof. Sampath Amaratunga said that the President exercised the power to appoint Chancellors of Universities. Therefore, in his capacity as the Chairman, UGC, he couldn’t comment on the issue at hand.

A simmering controversy erupted over the Ven. Thera’s SUV, after former JVP MP Wasantha Samarasinghe alleged that Thilini Priyamali, proprietor of Thico Group of Companies now in remand custody, in connection with the misappropriation of large sums of money, stole the V-8, used by the Ven. Thera.

Having cleared Thilini Priyamali of stealing the vehicle, Ven. Ananda has revealed that he had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that Colombo Municipal Council member, Priyanka Jayasekera (SLPP), sold the vehicle, on his behalf, but didn’t hand over the proceeds.

At a hastily called media briefing, Councillor Jayasekera contradicted Ven. Thera. Jayasekera said that she sold the V-8, with the blessings of the Ven. Thera, to cover losses, amounting to Rs. 50 mn ,incurred by her, having invested on an enterprise, as requested by the monk. Jayasekera is on record as having said that she provided a Mercedes Benz, belonging to her, to the Ven. Thera, after the sale of the V-8. She said that the V-8 hadn’t been in the name of Ven. Ananda, though the monk claimed its ownership.

The Island

asked Wasantha Samarasinghe, who now heads a trade union collective, led by the JVP, whether he still stood by his original claim that the alleged fraudster Priyamali stole the vehicle, the former lawmaker said that he would respond to the query, after having studied the developments.

Rohan Laksiri, Secretary, Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA), said that as they hadn’t discussed the Chancellor’s issue yet, a statement couldn’t be issued. “We’ll do so once consensus was reached on this matter,” Laksiri said.

Responding to Councillor Jayasekera, Ven. Thera told the media that he decided to sell the V-8 after a philanthropist, based in Japan, offered him another vehicle. Ven. Ananda said that he abandoned the plan as he couldn’t get the heavy tax, on the car, waived off.

Ven. Ananda told The Island yesterday that since 2017 he was the legitimate owner of the V-8, which originally belonged to a Puttalam District Muslim MP. The monk said that he didn’t want to discuss this issue, over the phone, though he was willing to show the documents, in his hands, which proved the accusations wrong.



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Coordinated assistance program supported by multilateral financial institutions is required for Sri Lanka’s recovery – WB, ADB, IMF, AIIB

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World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) representatives decided that a coordinated assistance program supported by the multilateral financial institutions is required for Sri Lanka to recover from the economic crisis the country is currently facing.

They reached the agreement following a lengthy round table discussion held today (06) with President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo where the latter presented Sri Lanka’s development program associated with the economic recovery and growth along with the vision for long term development. The President presented the program at the round table discussion in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies

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Implementation of the National Environmental Action Plan for the period of 2022 – 2030

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Approval was granted at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on 20.06.2022 for the National Environmental Policy. Accordingly, the Ministry of Environment has prepared the National Environmental Action Plan for the period of 2022 – 2030 with the contribution of all relevant parties by paying attention on the environmental challenges in the twenty first century as well as considering the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations in order to implement the National Environmental Policy. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution furnished by the Minister of Environment to implement the said action plan, to take policy decisions at national level in that connection and to establish the consolidated environment and development policy committee with the chairing of the Secretary to the President for monitoring the same.

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Cabinet reshuffle, appointment of more ministers on the cards

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President Wickremesinghe

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Ranil Wickremesinghe will appoint 12 new Cabinet ministers soon after the final vote on his maiden budget, according to sources.

The vote is scheduled to be held on 08 Dec.

Sources say that the SLPP has recommended ministerial portfolios for 10 of its members whereas UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena and SLFP’s Duminda Dissanayake, too, are expected to receive Cabinet positions. Abeywardena is the only UNPer in the current Parliament.

In terms of the Constitution, the Cabinet of Ministers has been restricted to 30 and State Ministers/Deputy Ministers to 40. However, the possibility of the government seeking to make the remaining appointments on a staggered basis and a Cabinet reshuffle, too, couldn’t be ruled out, sources said.

The SLPP would vote for the final vote on the basis of an agreement with the President regarding Cabinet appointments, sources said. The debate on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill commenced on Nov 15.

Having comfortably defeated Dullas Alahapperuma at the presidential contest on July 20, President Wickremesinghe appointed an 18-member Cabinet on July 22. The group included new Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. They were sworn in on July 22 in their old portfolios with the only change being the exit for Foreign Minister G.L. Pieris who seconded Dallas Alahapperuma for President in Parliament.

The group consisted of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena – Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils, and Local Government; Douglas Devananda – Fisheries, Susil Premajayantha – Education, Bandula Gunawardena – Transport, Highways, and Media, Keheliya Rambukwella – Health and Water

Supply, Mahinda Amaraweera – Agriculture, Wildlife, and Forest Conservations, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe – Justice, Prisons, and Constitutional Reforms, Harin Fernando – Tourism and Lands, Ramesh Pathirana – Plantations and Industries, Prasanna Ranatunga – Urban Development and Housing, Ali Sabry – External Affairs, Vidura Wickramanayake – Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, Kanchana Wijesekera – Power and Energy, Nazeer Ahamed – Environment, Roshan Ranasinghe – Sports, Youth Affairs, and Irrigation, Manusha Nanayakkara – Labour and Foreign Employment, Tiran Alles – Public Security, and Nalin Fernando – Trade, Commerce and Food Security.

Except for Douglas Devananda (EPDP), Mahinda Amaraweera (SLFP), Harin Fernando (SJB), Nazeer Ahamed (SLMC) and Manusha Nanayakkara (SJB), all others are SLPP members.

Sources said that the finalization of cabinet appointments couldn’t be further delayed. Sources acknowledged that the SLPP was determined to finalize the process against the backdrop of the main Opposition SJB declining to join the government. President Wickremesinghe, in addition to holding defence and finance portfolios, serves as minister of Investment Promotion, Technology and Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment.

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