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Deletion of NMRA data: SLPP MPs accused of protecting culprits

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balaveya (SJB) lawmaker Manusha Nanayakkara says a section of the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) parliamentary group is trying to save those responsible for deleting NMRA (National Medicines Regulatory Authority) data.

Galle District MP Nanayakkara questioned the rationale behind SLPP MPs highly publicized visit to NMRA at a time the institution was under fire over deleted cloud data. The former UNPer accused the SLPP of working overtime to protect crooks, instead of having the institution investigated.

The NMRA regulates the issuance of licenses to pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and pharmacies in the country.

SLPP MPs met top NMRA representatives in the wake of Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella’s assurance that the CID would inquire into the issue at hand and submit a report in this regard. The assurance was given on August 30 at a meeting with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka. Among those participants were State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana, the Number two at the German embassy Oliver Malchow, section head of the German Delegation Andreas Hergenroether, Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, DGHS, Dr Asela Gunawardena and NMRA Chief Dr. Rasitha Wijewantha.

Lawmaker Nanayakkara emphasized that the government shouldn’t try to absolve itself of the responsibility by diverting public attention.  The SJB spokesman maintained that the SLPP was engaged in an effort to suppress the controversy through propaganda means. According to him, only four persons had the required pass word to access to the erased data.

Therefore, at least one of them had to be involved in the deletion of data, MP Nanayakkara, said, urging the government to name those responsible for it.

Lawmaker Nanayakkara compared SLPP MPs’ visit to NMRA with their earlier similar high-profile performances to hoodwink the public like the demand that the Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila should resign over fuel price increase, over 100 SLPP MPs writing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the releasing of Riyaj Bathiudeen, a section of the government calling for a three-week lockdown and sharp split over the East Container Terminal.

MP Nanayakkara alleged that the SLPP was pursuing a political strategy to deceive the people.

MP Nanayakkara said that it wouldn’t be difficult to establish the identity of the person behind the clandestine operation. But the issue at hand was whether the government had the political will to go the whole hog, the MP said, vowing to raise the issue both in and outside parliament.

Lawmaker Nanayakkara asked who would benefit from deleting NMRA data. According to him, those who sought to cripple it wouldn’t have proceeded unless they were sure of political backing.

The group of SLPP MPs who visited NMRA addressed the media outside the authority and subsequently at the Government Information Department. The ruling party basically blamed the previous government for the current situation on the basis the system was established during that period. The group insisted all data pertaining to Sri Lanka’s covid-19 response was intact as such information had been manually recorded.

MP Nanayakkara said that the SLPP had proved over and over again the new administration couldn’t be trusted. The handling of investigations into 2019 Easter Sunday carnage showed the government’s response to such a sensitive issue, the MP said, urging the public not to be deceived by the present lot ruling the country.



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Explanation sought over Monetary Board Secy.’s sudden transfer

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Rohini calls for social media campaign against govt. move

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has sought an explanation from the government over the sudden removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, K.M.A.N. Daulagala on16 Sept.

Matale District lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne yesterday (19) questioned the rationale behind Assistant Governor Daulagala’s removal. The former UNP MP emphasised that Daulagala had played a critically important role in the Central Bank’s response in the wake of Treasury bond scams perpetrated in 2015 and 2016. Therefore, her removal was quite suspicious and might facilitate efforts to suppress those scams as well as future frauds as well.

MP Kaviratne represented the UNP during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime Minister (2015-2019).

Declaring that Daulagaha had been at the forefront of the efforts to create a clean administration, Kaviratne stressed that she was second only to Rohini Nanayakkara of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) and earned the respect of all for courageously taking a stand against fraudulent practices.

The SJB spokesperson said that Daulagala, in her capacity as the head of the non-banking sector financial institutions, handled the ETI investigation at the onset (2010-2012) of the probe. In the wake of her recommendations pertaining to the ETI being rejected by the Central Bank, she received a transfer to another section, MP Kaviratne said.

The Monetary Board is responsible for making all policy decisions related to the management, operation and administration of the Central Bank. It comprises Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Sanjeeva Jayawardena, PC, Dr (Mrs) Ranee Jaymaha and Samantha Kumarasinghe.

Cabraal, who served as the Governor (2006-2014) recently replaced W.D. Lakshman on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request.

Kaviratne asked who had benefited from the removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board?

MP Kaviratne said that Daulagala had been involved in the internal process following the first Treasury bond scam and the subsequent developments, including the coordination between the Central Bank and the Attorney General’s Department pertaining to the Treasury bond scams. Urging women’s organsations, civil society and law abiding citizens to take up Daulagala’s removal through social media, lawmaker Kaviratne said that the issue at hand should receive attention of the parliament.

“The Parliament is responsible for public finance. The Parliament cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on in the Central Bank. The national economy is in such a perilous state every effort should be made to investigate past frauds and thwart future adventures,” the MP said.

MP Kaviratne also recalled the role played by Deepa Seneviratne, Superintendent of Public Debt at the time of the first Treasury bond scam in exposing the then Governor’s culpability. “Unfortunately, we seem to be unable to change the direction regardless of exposure of past misdeeds,” she said.

Declaring that she had no intention of protecting any wrongdoer under any circumstances, MP Kaviratne said that the incumbent government should ensure transparency and accountability in public finance.

Examination of COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), COPA (Committee on Public Accounts) and COPF (Committee on Public Finance) proceedings revealed a frightening picture, lawmaker Kaviratne said. Shocking revelations made by the watchdog committee should be examined against the backdrop of overall deterioration of the national economy over the past several years, the MP said.

She said that it would be a grave mistake on the government’s part to blame the current crisis on the raging Covid-19 epidemic. Acknowledging the difficulties caused by the economic downturn, MP Kaviratne said that the country was paying a huge price for unbridled waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence.

The MP asserted that the citizenry could play a bigger role in a political campaign on social media. The vast majority of those who use social media strengthened democratic opposition, she said. Removal of Daulagala could be a rallying point, she said, urging public onslaught on the SLPP government.

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Those responsible for Easter carnage will be haunted eternally – Bishop Galle

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Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Chief Celebrant of the 114th annual feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara, Bishop of the Diocese of Galle, Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickremasinghe told a virtual congregation that the conscience of those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage would never be at peace and it would haunt them eternally.

 The celebrations of the 114th annual Feast of the National shrine of Our Lady of Matara commenced on 05 September with the raising of the flagstaff and ended on Sunday 12 September. This year’s feast was held in keeping with strict health guidelines sans public participation.

 Rev Dr. Wickremasinghe reiterated that it was the wish of the general public, especially all Christians that those who carried out and those masterminded and those who knew but did not prevent the Easter Sunday carnage would be exposed and Justice served. “It is our prayer that the divine father guides the authorities in their endeavours” the Bishop added

 Rev. Wickremesinghe also called upon every person including decision-makers to heed the advice of the experts and act intelligently to overcome the pandemic.

 The Marian procession carrying the miraculous statue of our lady of Matara. accompanied by clergy and security personnel paraded the town, concluding this year’s festivities.

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Wild jumbos destroy houses in search of newly harvested paddy

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BY CYRIL WIMALASURENDRE

KANDY— Herds of wild elephants raid Ududumbara and Minipe area sdestroying houses in search of newly harvested paddy.

Farmers of Minipe, Hasalaka and Udadumbara keep paddy in their houses as they are without proper storage facilities.

Kandy District Secretary Chandana Tennakoon visited the house of a farmer destroyed by elepheants in Kongahaela, Hasalaka.

The victim informed the District Secretary Tennakoon that a herd of elephants including young ones were roaming had attacked his house.

Similar complaints were made to the District Secretary by farmers at Minipe, Hasalaka, Welgala, Ulpathagama and Udunuwara.

The farmers said at least they should be provided with an adequate number of elephant crackers to scare the elephants away. The farmers had to travel about 30 km to the Randenigala Wildlife Office office to receive one cracker each, they said, adding that they needed many more.

District secretary Tennakoon told the farmers that steps would be taken to resolve the issue this year by putting up an elephant  fence around the affected villages of Ududumbara, Medsadumbara, Minipe and Hasalaka sector.

The project would cost about Rs. 100 million. The length of the fence would be about 43 km, he said.

Divisional Secretary of Minipe Nuwan Hemachandra and Deputy Director of Plan Implementation Palitha Rajapakse were present.

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