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Daya quite surprised by sudden removal



SLPA imbroglio:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired General Daya Ratnayake says his unceremonious removal as Chairman, SLPA, took place at a time the state enterprise was undergoing an unprecedented transformation.

 Ratnayake insisted that he hadn’t been specifically told why he had been suddenly replaced over a week before.

Asked whether disciplinary action taken in respect of a female doctor recently, attached to the SLPA, had caused his transfer, General Ratnayake answered in the negative.

Gen. Ratnayake said that during his tenure as the Chairman, SLPA, he had never hesitated to take decisions for the betterment of the vital state enterprise, the SLPA.

Declaring that no one could find fault with him for trying to take the SLPA to the next level, Gen. Ratnayake said, underscoring the importance of a disciplined enterprise.

There was no point in denying the fact that the SLPA had been the grips of corrupt elements at various levels over a long period of time and his appointment sort of disturbed them, Gen. Ratnayake said.

Social media alleged that the lady doctor concerned caused major hiccups by inoculating 12 workers with a single phial of covid vaccine in spite of recommended stipulation that it be limited to just ten.

Gen. Ratnayake declined to comment on speculation in social media posts.

Daya Ratnayake served as the Commander of the Army during the 2013-2015 period. The wartime Eastern Commander served as the Army Chief at the time the change of government took place in January 2015.

Gen. Ratanayake said that he opted to serve as SLPA Chairman instead of Secretary to a ministry as he didn’t want restrictions on work he was engaged in, both here and abroad at the time 2019 change of government took place. Gen. Ratnayake received the SLPA chairmanship in late Dec 2019 with the blessings of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Commenting on the situation at the time he received the appointment as SLPA Chairman, Gen. Ratnayake told The Island that the enterprise had been in a structurally broken status and administration at every level in turmoil.

One time harbour Master and Managing Director, SLPA Captain Nihal Keppetipola has succeeded Gen. Ratnayake whereas Upul Jayatissa received appointment as the Managing Director. New appointments were made on June 21.

Gen. Ratnayake explained the difficulties experienced by him in introducing changes. It hadn’t been an easy task to change the mindset of the management as well as workers as years of politicization, waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence had caused irreparable damage to the state enterprise. The decision making process had been chaotic and those responsible routinely engaged in malpractices and the operation was run in a shoddy manner, the former Army Commander said.

However, the management as well as the workers largely accepted and appreciated the changes introduced in the wake of 2019 change of administration, Gen Ratnayake said, adding that some of those who had been languishing in same positions for over 10, 20 years received new appointments.

Responding to another query, Gen. Ratnayake said that the introduction of what he called a board system to ensure transparency in appointments received the appreciation of the vast majority though far reaching changes irked some.

Gen. Ratnayake didn’t repudiate the possibility of those who had been irked by the transformation attempted at the SLPA seeking his ouster. Whatever the circumstances, the General emphasized that his duty and responsibility were to run the enterprise without interruption especially during the current crisis.

The former Army Commander paid a glowing tribute to SLPA workers who ensure uninterrupted services during unprecedented crisis caused by the rampaging Covid-19 epidemic. Gen. Ratnayake said that 30 odd trade unions active in the port backed efforts to improve and expand the Colombo harbour. Without their support, the SLPA couldn’t have sustained port operations without major delays, Gen. Ratnayake said.

Whatever the circumstances under which he had to leave the institution, the vast majority of workers appreciated his efforts, he said.

The retired Army Chief didn’t find fault with trade unions for the problems caused over the recent abortive bid to bring in Indian investment to the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo harbour.

Gen. Ratnayake alleged that some sections strongly opposed introduction of technology as it impeded their activities. Declaring that the Colombo port cleared approximately 1,500 containers on a daily basis, Gen. Ratnayake alleged that unscrupulous elements received about Rs 7,000 from every container carrier leaving the port.

 Referring to the heavy burden of running the costly Colombo port kitchen, Gen. Ratnayake said that the SLPA spent as much as R 120 mn annually and he made successful effort to bring the expenditure down. Alleging that sections of workers opposed changes for obvious reasons, Gen. Ratnayake revealed the difficulty in introducing state of the art systems when project to build 100,000 square feet warehouse got underway.

Gen. Ratnayake said that influential sections opposed new systems, improvements and introduction of technology as they feared that would deprive them of an opportunity to pack the SLPA with their supporters.

Of course jobs had to be provided though such endeavors shouldn’t be at the expense of national assets, the former Army Chief said.

Gen. Ratnayake said that he accepted the appointment as Secretary to the Industries Ministry, a post previously held by Anusha Palpita. Palpita received appointment as Chairman of the Development Lotteries Board. Interestingly, Gen. Ratnayake has been brought in as the Secretary, Industries Ministry in the wake of Lanka Phosphate Ltd, a highly lucrative state enterprise that had been under the Industries Ministry being shifted to the Agriculture Ministry.

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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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