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COPA reveals 272 vacancies in Dept. of Immigration and Emigration

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The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) says there are 272 vacancies in the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

This was disclosed at the Committee on Public Accounts held in Parliament last Tuesday (16) under the chairmanship of  Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Member of Parliament.

It was revealed that there were 18 senior level posts, 113 tertiary level posts, 121 secondary level posts, 19 primary level posts and one vacancy under the ‘other ‘category. The officials of the Immigration and Emigration Department were also of the view that such vacancies would hinder the performance of the department. The officials further stated that requests have already been made to fill these vacancies.

According to the Parliament Communication Department, it was also discussed that the “Electronic Travel Approval” system, which has been activated in collaboration with Mobitel since 2012, has not been updated with the aim of providing a more comprehensive and attractive tourist service. Therefore, the committee questioned the modernisation of the system and the need to update it to suit the modern world. Accordingly, the system is already under consideration to be updated and will be done in the future, officials said. The Chairman of the COPA Tissa Vitarana recommended that a report be submitted within two months.

It was also revealed that two vehicles owned by the department in 2012 and 2015 had been involved in an accident a few years ago and are yet to be repaired and used. The officials said that this situation has arisen due to a problem with the insurance company and that an agreement has been reached with the insurance company regarding the repairs.

Discussions also focused on the display of the official logo of a private telephone company on a web page owned by the department, the registration of persons with dual citizenship, and foreigners residing in Sri Lanka illegally.

State Ministers Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Prasanna Ranaweera and Members of Parliament B.Y.G Ratnasekera, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Dr. Upul Galappaththi, Mohamed Muzammil and Prof. Ranjith Bandara were present at this committee meeting.



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Businesses can collapse due to electricity tariff increase next year– Patali

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Patali Champika Ranawaka

The Cabinet has approved increase in electricity tariffs in two stages in January and June 2023.

The disclosure was made on Tuesday (29) at a meeting of the Sub Committee on Identifying the Short & Medium-Term Programmes, related to Economic Stabilisation of the National Council.

The government increased power tariffs in August this year.

Parliament announced that although the electricity tariffs had been increased in the recent past, the CEB was still running at a loss.

The representatives of the government and private institutions related to the power sector were called before the Committee to obtain proposals for the purpose of solving the issues in the power sector.

In order to cover the current losses of the CEB, electricity tariffs had to be increased by about 70%, the statement issued by Parliament quoted CEB representatives as having said.

The statement quoted Chairman of the Committee, Patali Champika Ranawaka, as having said that if electricity tariffs were increased to cover CEB’s losses, businesses could collapse as a result.

It was also disclosed that the CEB currently owed nearly 650 billion rupees as outstanding debt to various parties including banks and electricity suppliers. The Electricity Board representative stated that out of the amount to be paid, nearly Rs. 35 billion were to be paid to the organisations that supplied renewable energy, and 75 billion rupees are to be paid to Thermal power suppliers. Thus, it expects to pay at least part of what it owes the suppliers from the 50-billion-rupee loan to be received. (SF)

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PMD claims President’s response misinterpreted

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe denied recent media reports stating that the Provincial Councils will be replaced with the District Development Committees.

Issuing a press release his media division said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s response in Parliament on Tuesday has been misinterpreted.

Wickremesinghe’s media Division said that in response to a statement by former President Maithripala Sirisena, the President stated that the District Development Committees (DDCs) would be established within the Provincial Councils.

The DDCs would provide a platform for coordination between thegovernment, the Provincial Councils and the Local Government bodies for all executive decisions, the Media Division said.

“This will ensure the process is not duplicated and will reduce financial wastage. Apart from that, the president has not made any statement about the dissolution of provincial councils.”

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Kumudesh: Top bureaucrat demands service extension from Minister’s daughter to approve shady deal

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A senior official of the Ministry of Health has asked the daughter of a Cabinet Minister to help him obtain a service extension in return for approving a controversial tender for medical supplies, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) Ravi Kumudesh says.

Kumudesh told The Island yesterday that the Minister’s daughter was working for a company that supplied oxygen generators.

“The official told the Minister’s daughter that he would grant the tender to a company of his choice to ensure a comfortable retirement and if her company wanted to secure the contract he should be given an extension in service.”

Kumudesh said the money for the medical equipment was to be paid through the grants from the Global Fund. The World Bank is a major contributor to the Global Fund.

“Officials can grant these tenders to companies of their choice by changing criteria. They make small technical specifications to ensure that only one company qualifies. These officials are a law unto themselves.”

Health Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

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