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Fuel price hike in the pipeline

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by Saman Gamage

Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Sumith Wijesinghe says his institution is left with no alternative but to increase fuel prices because of the rising crude oil prices in the world market.

Wijesinghe said that the CPC was suffering huge losses owing to the prevailing situation and he would be compelled to ask the government for fuel price revisions.

Wijesinghe said that the CPC had suffered losses amounting to Rs. 70 billion as at Aug 31. The price of a barrel of crude oil had been USD 85 at the beginning of October in the world market, but during the past 11 days it had increased to USD 92.

Commenting on the situation, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said he would discuss the issue of fuel prices with the Cabinet of Ministers. If the government could provide some relief to the CPC and help it mitigate losses, then there would be no need to increase fuel prices, he said, adding that fuel prices had been increased in June on the basis of prices prevailing in the world market in May.

The government increased the prices of fuel with effect from midnight June 11, claiming that the move was aimed at mitigating the losses caused by oil price increases in the market.



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Trade Minister urged to initiate process of taking over SLIIT

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Sirisena as President presented Cabinet for divestiture

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Communist Party lawmaker Weerakumara Weerasinghe says Bandula Gunawardena, in his capacity as the Trade Minister, should take the lead in regaining the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) divested through fraudulent means.

Appreciating the manner in which the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), under the leadership of Prof. Charitha Herath, had handled the inquiry into the SLIIT acquisition, Matara District lawmaker Weerasinghe said the onus was on the government to take remedial measures immediately.

 “We should go the whole hog,” MP Weerasinghe said, adding that the Cabinet could take over the SLIIT on its own or through an Act of Parliament. Asked to explain why the Communist Party felt Minister Gunawardena should initiate the process of reacquiring the SLIIT, MP Weerasinghe pointed out that the Mahapola Higher Education Trust Fund coming under the purview of the Trade Ministry had made the initial investment amounting to Rs 500mn in the project.

SLIIT has been described as a leading non-state higher education institute approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the Universities Act.

MP Weerasinghe pointed out COPE disclosure that the SLIIT had declined to appear before the parliamentary watchdog committee. According to the COPE, Julius& Creasy Law firm has informed Parliament that SLIIT is not legally bound to do so. The COPE decided to summon the law firm to resolve the matter.

The Board of Directors of SLIIT consists of Prof. Lakshman L. Ratnayake (Chairman), Prof. Lalith Gamage (President/CEO), Prof. Nimal Rajapakse, Thilan M. Wijesinghe, Reshan Dewapura, Jehan Amaratunga and Fr. Harsha Cabral.

Responding to another query, MP Weerasinghe said that he had dealt with the issues at hand in Parliament last Friday (22) during the adjournment debate moved by the government on COPE reports submitted on March 10, 2021 and April 06, 2021.

MP Weerasinghe told Parliament Minister Gunawardena should immediately act on COPE disclosure. “All of us should be ashamed of what is going on in this country. In spite of repeated promises to eliminate waste, corruption and irregularities, corruption is on the march,” Weerasinghe said.

Responding to another query, MP Weerasinghe said that the privatisation process had been initiated in2003 during the UNP-led UNF administration. That process had been completed during the UNP-SLFP administration, the CP member said, pointing out that the then President Maithripala Sirisena had submitted the relevant Cabinet paper.

MP Weerasinghe said that the two COPE reports that had been debated in Parliament should be submitted to the Cabinet of ministers. According to him, the Education Minister, in his capacity as the Leader of the House, could submit those reports to the Cabinet of ministers to pave the way for their direct intervention.

Weerasinghe paid a glowing tribute to the Office of the Attorney General and COPE chiefs such as D. E. W. Gunasekera, Sunil Handunetti and incumbent Prof. Charitha Herath for taking action to curb waste, corruption and irregularities.

Lawmaker Weerasinghe said that parliamentary watchdog committees should ensure follow-up action on their disclosures. MP Weerasinghe said that a section of the then UNP governments (2002-2003 and 2015-2019) facilitated the gradual SLIIT takeover contrary to what was proposed by Ministers Kingsley T. Wickramanayake and Richard Pathirana way back in 1998. MP Weerasinghe said that the original plan was to make the SLIIT part of the University of Moratuwa. The governing board was to be represented by representatives from the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, Internal and International Commerce and Food, University of Moratuwa and the Mahapola Trust Fund.

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Indian fisher’s body handed over

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By Norman Palihawadane

The body of an Indian fisherman, who drowned due to an accident while the victim was engaged in illegal fishing, was handed over to Indian authorities near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) on Saturday (23) morning. A search and rescue (SAR) operation mounted by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), led to the recovery of the body of the missing fisherman who had been onboard a trawler that sank northwest of the Kovilan Lighthouse in Sri Lankan waters in the evening of 18 Oct., the Navy said.

An SLN Fast Attack Craft transferred the corpse and formally handed it over to the Indian Coast Guard at the IMBL yesterday. Meanwhile, onward legal proceedings regarding the two fishermen rescued by the Navy from the peril are currently underway at the Kayts Magistrate Court.

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ASPs directed to ensure cops’ welfare, eliminate corruption

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Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd) Sarath Weerasekera says it is the duty of senior police officers to prevent bribe taking of junior rank officers and find solutions for their welfare problems.

Speaking at a meeting of newly promoted ASPs at the Ministry auditorium, Minister Weerasekera said that an ASP was assigned to supervise around three police stations under him or her. “If an OIC in such a station takes bribes, demanding sexual bribes from ranks below them and engages in corrupt deals, the ASP should be able to make use of intelligence units to find evidence against such corrupt elements. If an ASP fails to do, we will have to take action against that ASP. We deploy intelligence unit operatives separately to assess the conduct of OICs. If they find that a particular OIC is corrupt and takes bribes, the ASP above him too should be ready to face the punishment,” the Minister said.

“With your promotions you have to shoulder the responsibility of making the police people-friendly service. While you are keeping an eye on the wrongdoings of OICs under you, you are also bound by the duty to provide for the welfare facilities of the ranks coming below you. I have visited many police stations and most of them do not have proper barracks or sanitary facilities. A policeman working eight hours in traffic duties should be able to bathe and sleep comfortably when he returns to his station. These are the bare necessities. The OICs and ASPs should ensure the policemen’s welfare.”

Secretary to the Ministry Maj Gen (Retd) Jagath Alwis, IGP Chandana Wickramaratne and other senior police officers were also present.

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