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Environment Ministry claims success in banning single use plastics



by Ifham Nizam

The Environment Ministry on Friday claimed success for its campaign to ban plastic sachets (small packages) and lunch sheets, with the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) carrying out intensive raids against the manufacture, sale and distribution of banned polythene and plastic items.

Kore such raids are planned for the rest of the year, officials said.

Sachets worth an estimated Rs. 960 million are sold in the country annually, while the number of lunch sheets released into the environment annually exceeds 5.48 billion, according to a CEA study.

“Polythene will never decompose in nature. It takes 50 to 450 years for it to become invisible to the human eye, turning into micro plastic particles and then nano particles that eventually accumulate in the soil as well as in reservoirs and oceans,” Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

He maintained that the decision to reduce the use of polythene and plastic in the country has been very successful by banning the using of sachets and lunch sheets and their manufacture and distribution.

Controlling even the sale of inflatable toys had proved a success, he claimed.

Sachets caused great damage to the drinking water sources, polluting river systems and reservoirs. Billions of them are dumped indiscriminately countrywide causing enormous damage.

Following the ban on their production, distribution and sale, this menace has been largely overcome according to a CEA study.

Amaraweera has directed the CEA to be continuously vigilant and conduct further raids to determine whether these pollutants continue to be manufactured. Intensive raiding will continue for the rest of the year to detect manufacture of banned plastic products and over 700 officials will be deployed for the purpose

The Minister said that though the ban had been a success, continued vigilance was essential with manufacturing facilities regularly inspected. In an effort to control use of non-degradable plastics, the Ministry of Environment banned five single use polythene and plastics products from March 31, 2021.

The production, distribution and sale of non-perishable lunch sheets made of polythene were also banned from August 1 this year. Subsequently, Cabinet approval was granted to ban eight more polythene and plastic items. The relevant gazette notification will be issued soon, officials said.

The production, distribution and sale of sachets other than those used for packaging food and pharmaceuticals, plastic cotton bud stems and inflated polythene toys have been banned since March 31.

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Chinese contractor obtaining Port City sand for Colombo harbour projects unlawfully: FSP



Front-line Socialist Party (FSP) spokesperson Pubudu Jagoda yesterday (25) alleged that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government had allowed China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to obtain sand unlawfully from the Port City project for the construction of the East and Jaya Container in the Colombo Port.

Addressing the media at the FSP office in Colombo, Jagoda claimed that though in terms of the agreement the sand was to be brought from the Muthurajawela area, the contractors for both projects, CHEC, obtained sand from the Port City project.

Jagoda said that on a monthly basis approximately 4,000 cubes of sand, worth Rs 80 mn, were transported illegally with the government looking the other way.

The breakaway JVP faction said that the government owed an explanation regarding the suitability of sea sand for such large-scale construction and whether the Chinese met the required standards as regards concrete work.

Jagoda also asked whether taxes were paid for the massive loads of sea sand procured by the Chinese. The former JVPer alleged the way CHEC conducted its operations here indicated that it didn’t respect Sri Lanka’s law. (SF)

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CBSL denies 70% pay hike



… seeks opportunity to tell Parliament its side of story

 No salary increases for Central Bank workers until 2027

Trade unions, etc., agreed to pay hikes

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Governing Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), embroiled in an ongoing controversy over recent salary hikes granted to its employees, has sought an opportunity to explain to Parliament what a senior official called the rationale behind the pay hike.

Authoritative CBSL sources told The Island that the request had been made through the Finance Ministry to Parliament seeking an early meeting with the relevant committees.

The Governing Board consists of Dr. P Nandalal Weerasinghe (Chairman), A N Fonseka, Dr. Ravi Ratnayake, Anushka S Wijesinha, Vish Govindasamy, Rajeev Amarasuriya and Manil Jayesinghe.

Responding to queries, sources denied accusations that the CBSL employees had been granted over 70 percent salary increase with effect from January this year. When The Island pointed out that several lawmakers had openly accused the CBSL of doing so and State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya declaring that the government couldn’t intervene due to the enactment of new CBSL Act, sources said that the Parliament could address the issues at hand by giving the CBSL an opportunity to give its side of the story.

Sources said that following the latest salary revision, the monthly salary bill increased by 50 percent. However, those who had been attacking the CBSL, over the salary increase, had conveniently forgotten 24 percent of that amount had been deducted and sent directly to the Inland Revenue Department as PAYE (Pay As you Earn) tax.

Sources pointed out that CBSL staff would not be entitled to salary increase until 2027 whereas the government usually granted pay hikes to workers in the state sector.

Sources denied claims that the latest salary increase has been granted under the new CBSL law. Referring to the relevant legal provision in the law, sources said: “The CBSL followed the same procedure it has been following during the last few decades. This has nothing to do with the new CBSL law. These provisions were there even in the previous law.”

Sources said that those who had received higher salaries paid taxes amounting to 36% to the government, and the latest salary increase had been determined, following consultations between the top management and recognized trade unions of the CBSL. According to sources, the management and trade unions commenced signing of three-year collective agreements, beginning in 2000. The latest agreement covers the 2024-2026 period.

Sources said that instead of asking the CBSL for an explanation, a section of the media had gone on the offensive on the basis of unsubstantiated claims and accusations. “They politicized the issue and sought to direct public anger at the bank at a time it was working overtime to bring about economic recovery,” a senior CBSL official said.

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Wijeyadasa: Presidential election will be held in 2024



Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, over the weekend assured that presidential election scheduled for later this year would be held.This assurance was given at a meeting held at the Batticaloa Divisional Secretariat on Saturday (24).

Referring to his role and that of several unnamed others during the unprecedented 2022 crisis, Minister Rajapakse said that contrary to speculation, claims and reports, presidential poll would be followed by parliamentary polls and other elections.In terms of the Constitution and the presidential election law, election should be held in October 2024.

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