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Devananda pledges solution to Indian poaching on SL fishing grounds

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By Saman Indrajith

Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda has pledged to provide a prompt solution to prevent Indian fishermen from illegally fishing in the territorial waters of Sri Lanka. He said he would do so after having talks with the Indian Embassy in Colombo and the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi, Parliament sources said yesterday. 

Minister Devnanda made that promise at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Fisheries in the Parliament complex on Tuesday, sources said. 

State Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that Indian fishermen had been fishing illegally not only in the Northern and Eastern territorial waters but also in the Southern territorial waters and thus measures to put an end to such illegal activities had to be adopted with immediate effect. 

Minister Devanda said he had said so in response to a concern raised by MPs Charles Nirmalanathan, S. Sridharan and the Deputy Chairpersons of Committees Angajan Ramanathan. 

State Minister Kanchana Wijesekera, Deputy Chairpersons of Committees Angajan Ramanathan and MPs (Dr.) Upul Galappaththi, Charles Nirmalanathan, S. Sridharan, Kader Masthan, Shantha Bandara, Chandima Weerakkody, H. M. M. Harees were present at the meeting.

Minister Devananda had said that the issue of illegal fishing by Indian fishermen had already been discussed with the Indian HC in Colombo on a number of occasions and that the matter has also been taken up during an online discussion held recently between Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

MP Nirmalanathan and the Deputy Chairpersons of Committees Ramanathan pointed out that the Sri Lankan Navy had intervened in the recent past to prevent Indian fishermen from entering the territorial waters of Sri Lanka, the current COVID situation has led to a large number of Indian fishermen crossing the border illegally. They and requested the Minister to find a solution to the issue even if it requires the intervention of the Navy.

MP Galappaththi requested the Minister to expedite the development of the Kirinda and Hambantota fishing harbours, and the State Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that the Ministry of Fisheries was already working on them.



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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