Sri Lanka’s Amb. in Myanmar calls for scrapping of PCs
SLPP reiterated its commitment to fresh elections
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Election Commission Chief attorney-at-law Nimal Punchihewa yesterday (16) said that the government could easily pave the way for Provincial Council polls by effecting a simple amendment to the Provincial Councils Act.
Punchihewa said so in response to The Island query whether the EC was making preparations for PC polls in the wake of its five members meeting Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Punchihewa said that as a new Act in respect of PCs had been endorsed in Parliament during the previous administration, polls couldn’t be held in the absence of a delimitation process.
Therefore, the polls couldn’t be conducted in terms of the new Act in the foreseeable future, the EC Chairman said. The only feasible strategy was to introduce an amendment to suspend the new Act pending the conclusion of polls in terms of the previous Act, the lawyer said.
Asked how fast the EC could move in case they secured the parliamentary approval as suggested by him, a confident Punchihewa said that arrangements could be finalized within 10 to 12 weeks.
Punchihewa said that the required amendment could be approved with a simple majority.
The top official explained that the PC system had been fully functional though elections weren’t held for any of the nine councils.
“In spite of the absence of elected representatives, respective Governors and relevant officials operate the system,” Punchihewa said. The EC Chief dismissed the much-touted claim that the PC system had collapsed for want of elections.
Punchihewa emphasized that the decision on PC polls rested with the government. The official expressed the view that the continuation of the Governors reflected the actual situation.
However, some of those who backed the SLPP at the 2019 presidential and 2020 general elections were strongly opposed to PC polls.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Myanmar Prof. Nalin de Silva has called for scrapping of what he called an utterly wasteful system. Ambassador de Silva declared that in the absence of elected PCs, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution had been automatically abolished. Therefore, the much controversial 13th plus proposal, too, had been done away, Ambassador de Silva said, declaring there was no basis for assertion that democracy could be achieved by way of implementation of the PCs system.
Ambassador de Silva also questioned the proposed PC polls against the backdrop of the government undertaking a high profile project to introduce a new Constitution.
The retired Professor said that Sri Lanka shouldn’t bend backwards to appease India hell-bent on pursuing its despicable strategy here though it failed to implement the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.
Against the backdrop of India’s failure to disarm the LTTE within the stipulated time, there was no point in talking about the so called Indo-Lanka Accord, the academic said.
Declaring that the PCs didn’t serve any purpose, Ambassador de Silva pointed out that the PC system accommodated hundreds of politicians and paved the way for some to enter Parliament.
Referring to Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kutani leader C.W. Wigneswaran’s entry into parliamentary politics, Ambassador de Silva pointed out how the former Supreme Court judge exploited his position as the Northern province Chief Minister to launch a political party.
The Ambassador urged the government not to succumb to Indian pressure as the 13th Amendment lacked any legal status in the absence of functioning PCs.
SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, explained that as long as the 13th Amendment remained part of the Constitution, elections would have to be conducted and PCs empowered fully to serve the people. National List MP Kariyawasam pointed out that the government allocated a significant amount of funds for the PCs through the annual budget. Pointing out that funds had been allocated through the 2021 budget to PCs, too, lawmaker Kariyawasam emphasized that functioning PCs couldn’t be indefinitely run by Governors and officials, therefore polls would have to be held.
MP Kariyawasam stressed that the SLPP’s position on PCs was clear. There was absolutely no ambiguity in respect of the SLPP’s desire to conduct PC polls as quickly as possible to ensure proper public participation in the process.
CEBEU guns for ex-Chairman Ferdinando
by Ifham Nizam
The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) Friday said that they are in the process of collecting evidence against former Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando over the recent statement he made on a proposed power project with India.
A senior engineer said that there is a high possibility that the seasoned civil servant dragged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to disrepute because he didn’t see eye to eye with the President.
Eng. Isuru Kasthuriratne, a committee member of the CEBEU and Project Engineer – Mannar Wind Power Project of the Board said they would never allow former chairman to get away easily.
“There are always controversies about him. We would not let this case go. We are in touch with all bodies,” he said.
Kasthuriratne said that very relevant documents were authored and authorized by the former chairman and “he cannot simply say he is not aware of this and that.”
Ferdinando on June 11, tendered his resignation following the controversy he sparked over the planned 500 MW unsolicited wind power project here by India’s Adani group.
“The Adani group at first proposed to sell power to the CEB at 6.50 US cents per unit,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told journalists recently.
Despite numerous attempts, the former CEB chairman was not available for comment.
Dilshan Wirasekara, new CSE Chairman
The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announced the appointment of Dilshan Wirasekara as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSE with effect from Friday (24).
Wirasekara has served on the Board of the CSE since 21st November 2017 and succeeds Dumith Fernando, who steps down as the Chairman after completing his two-year tenure.
Wirasekara is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading investment banking firms, First Capital Holdings PLC, offering a diverse range of financial services in Government Securities, Corporate Finance and Advisory, Asset Management and Stock Brokering, which he has been part of since 2013.
He currently is the chairman of the Investment Subcommittee of the CSE and also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of the CSE as well as the CSE/SEC joint committees on Digitalization and the Central Counter Party System (CCP).
An Investment banker by profession with a career spanning over 26 years, comprising diversified expertise in financial services, including banking, treasury and investment management, capital market strategy, and corporate finance advisory services.
Wirasekara specializes in Asset and Liability Risk Management, having secured the accolade of leading and representing two Sri Lankan companies in winning the International Bank Asset and Liability competition organized annually by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), German Investment Corporation (DEG), and Proparco – a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Development (AFD).
Wirasekara is an alumnus of INSEAD, having completed his Executive Professional Education at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. He is also an alumnus of AOTS, Tokyo, Japan.
NCE on Govt’s focus on directing public servants to private sector employment
National Chamber of Exporters has given the a proposal to the Prime Minister and copied it to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government on providing employment opportunities to government servants in the private sector companies for a specified period.
The Chamber said in a release: Through Media sources we got to know that The Ministry of Public Administration has appointed a committee to look into the possibility of granting five years of leave to government employees to work in the private sector.
Its states that a seven-member committee has been appointed for this purpose and that the said committee is to submit its report to the Cabinet of Ministers within two weeks.
Sri Lankan exporters are proposing to absorb public sector employees for employment in the sector to relieve the burden of wages and related costs on the Government.
The Export Sector has been able to sustain business and has also reached the pre pandemic level of an average of USD.01 billion export revenue during the period January to April 2022. Before the dawn of the pandemic, exporters were facing difficulties with lack of skilled workers. However, during the pandemic, many exporters were compelled to downsize operations and lay off employees which has created a vacuum in crucial areas of operations.
In current scenario, considering the financial burden and the reportedly excessive workforce attached to the public sector, NCE member exporters are proposing following options in reaching a win-win agreement for both government and the export sector. It is to be noted that labour requirements of exporters vary according to the relevant industry, yet in general all categories could be considered.
1. Any government employee in the permanent carder is eligible to apply for employment in the export sector, excluding from following institutions as they are involved in law enforcement in the country which may lead to conflict of interests.
a) Department of Police
b) Department of Inland Revenue
c) Department of Customs
d) Department of Excise
2.Government to grant unpaid leave up to a maximum of 59 months.
3.Employer will offer a “Temporary Labour Contract “to such selected individuals which include: –
a) Period of contract for 59 months (because on completion of the 60th month, the employee will be eligible for Gratuity.)
b) Their employment will be in accordance with the laws and statutes under which the respective private sector company’s employees of similar cadre is employed.
c) Leave entitlement as per employer’s policy on leave
d) Employment contract can be terminated with either party giving 30 days’ written notice.
e) In case of maternity leave, a number of stipulated days will be available as unpaid leave.
f) At the end of 59 months, the government to absorb such individuals back to the public sector employment as per pertinent rules and regulations.
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