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Easter Sunday carnage cannot be blamed on Muslim extremists alone – Cardinal

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The Cardinal blessing a victim of the Easter Sunday bombings

‘Dastardly conspiracy gradually unfolding’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Declaring that 2019 Easter Sunday carnage couldn’t be blamed on Muslim extremists alone, the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday (14) questioned the failure on the part of the government to at least implement the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the near simultaneous suicide attacks.

Delivering a sermon at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka where the Catholic Bishops’ Conference organised a special prayer service to mark 1000th day since the Easter Sunday carnage, the Cardinal asked why specific recommendations made by the PSC as regards the State Intelligence apparatus couldn’t be carried out. The Cardinal emphasised the PSC recommendation for comprehensive inquiry into the failure on the part of the State Intelligence apparatus to thwart the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks couldn’t be taken lightly.

Intelligence services primarily consist of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). In addition to them, the Navy, the Air Force and the Special Task Force (STF) have their own intelligence outfits.

Quoting directly from the PSC report, the Cardinal pointed out the gravity in the issue whether the terror project was allowed to go ahead because of the presidential election scheduled for late 2019.

The PSC report couldn’t be ignored under any circumstances, the Cardinal declared while referring to former Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, speculating on the possibility of a conspiracy.

Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith questioned the inordinate delay in taking action against those politicians and law enforcement officers named in the PCoI report.

The then President Maithripala Sirisena appointed five-member PCoI in the run-up to the Nov 2019 presidential election soon after the PSC chaired by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri tabled his report in the Parliament.

Separate blasts claimed the lives of nearly 280 people. Over 500 received injuries. Some of them are bed ridden.

Having reminded how the then government received specific information pertaining to the impending attack from the Indian Intelligence but chose not act, the Archbishop of Colombo said that instead of taking action against those who allowed the massacre to take place, some of them were rewarded.

The Cardinal was referring to the then head of the SIS Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardana, currently the senior officer in charge of the Central Range.

The Cardinal criticized the conduct of Police Spokesperson SSP Nihal Thalduwa for trying to underrate the PSC.

The Cardinal said that whatever the strategies adopted by the government, the heinous Easter Sunday crime couldn’t be suppressed. Reference was also made to the handling of the recovery of a grenade from inside All Saints Church, Borella last Tuesday (11).

The Cardinal compared the handling of the Easter Sunday investigation with that of the Borella incident while attacking successive governments for atrocities perpetrated since independence. Reiterating concerns over wartime accountability issues, the Cardinal underscored the need for justice for the victims.

Commenting on growing difficulties experienced by the public due to shortage of essential food and other items amidst rising cost of living, the Cardinal blamed successive governments for the current crisis.

At the onset of his sermon, the Cardinal said that growing queues for essentials and the ruination of cultivation due to the fertilizer crisis caused by the government reflected the actual situation. In spite of desperate efforts to deceive the public and consolidate power, the current dispensation was in deepening turmoil. There were clear signs of deterioration of their power and the day the public overwhelmed the political establishment was not far away, the Cardinal asserted.

The Church leader said that they were confident that the ongoing campaign could be brought to a successful conclusion. The Cardinal said their campaign would continue until they received justice.



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Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine

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Industry leader has sought court intervention

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.

Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.

Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.

Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.

The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.

Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.

In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”

The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.

Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.

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Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.

Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).

The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most  scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.

Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.

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President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today

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by Saman Indrajith

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).

He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.

Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.

The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.

To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.

Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.

President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.

At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.

The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.

Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.

After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).

Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

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