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Efforts underway to hold PC polls soon: Dinesh

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by Saman Indrajith

Leader of the House, Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena says that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms wanted to hold elections for the provincial councils expeditiously.

The PSC appointed to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments has already made a request to the Attorney General’s Department to obtain their recommendations on the steps to be taken to hold the election at an earliest possible date, said Gunawardena who is also the chairman of the PSC.

The minister said so at a PSC meeting held at the parliamentary complex on Wednesday (22).

MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero who testified on behalf of the ‘Our Power of People Party’ (Ape Janabala Pakshaya) said that it would be appropriate to abolish the existing preferential electoral system completely. He also pointed out the need to have a Member of Parliament responsible for each electoral division.

He urged that the representation of minority parties should be ensured and a culture of ideological politics should be created in the country. He added that criteria should be formulated regarding the control of election expenses and that democratic principles should be introduced to political parties.

Speaking at the committee on behalf of the SJB, the party’s chief executive, former minister Ajith. P. Perera, said that the 20th amendment to the constitution had given power to other parties. He also pointed out that a policy of checks and balances should be implemented between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Perera stated that there is a code of conduct for Members of Parliament and it should be implemented in practice. He also raised the need to formulate a Code of Conduct for Members of Provincial Councils and Local Government bodies.

He also said that in all electoral reforms, the right to vote should be guaranteed as a part of the sovereignty of the people and the principles of democracy should be upheld there.

Perera further said that it was very important that all elections be held freely and fairly. He also emphasized in the Committee that Parliamentary, Provincial Council and Local Government elections should be held under the Proportional Representation System.

New laws should be enacted to regulate the financial expenditure of the election campaign and to ensure the representation of youth and women, he urged; and suggested that dual citizen should be disqualified from contest elections and that a system should be set up for the proper registration of all eligible voters.

The SJB representatives pointed out the need for equal distribution of state and private media airtime between the parties contesting the elections.

MP Kabir Hashim said that there should be an election schedule in the country to ensure the right of the people to vote.

Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Douglas Devananda, Wimal Weerawansa, M.U.M Ali Sabry, MPs Anura Dissanayake, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, M.A Sumanthiran, Rauf Hakeem, Mano Ganesan, Madura Vithanage and Sagara Kariyawasam were also present at the meeting.

Officials from the Delimitation Commission and the Attorney General’s Department also participated in the committee. The next meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee is scheduled to be held on Sept 29, said Secretary to the Select Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera.



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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign

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… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds

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Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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