By Saman Indrajith
The New constitution to be framed should abolish the provincial councils without thinking of holding elections to them, SLPP MP Genvindu Cumaratunga told parliament yesterday.
Participating in a debate at the time of adjournment of the House on the Financial Commission, the MP said that the Commission had been introduced under the 13th Amendment resultant from the 1987 Indo-Lanka Peace Accord that had been forced on Sri Lanka by India. “The Financial Commission’s objective is to allocate funds for the provincial councils. In 2015, the amount of funds allocated for the provincial councils was Rs 198.1 billion. In 2016 it was Rs 195.1 billion. As a percentage of national expenditure in 2015 it was 8.65 per cent. In 2016 it was 8.36 percent. That means the average percentage of the allocation for the provincial councils was 8.5. The question is whether it is fair to waste public funds on the PCs at a time when people are concerned about the amount of funds spent on maintaining elected representatives. We have an education minister in this assembly and nine other education ministers in the provinces. What is their use? Why should we spend public funds to maintain those so-called public representatives? Why should we spend public funds to maintain 437 other public representatives while the entire nation is represented here in this House by 225 members?”
MP Cumaratunga said that the UNP, TNA and the SLMC which had been known for championing the cause of devolution of powers had got together to prevent the elections to the Provincial Councils under the previous government. “It is a known fact that those three parties worked together during that time. They made the PCs dysfunctional by not holding elections thereto. We demand that the new Constitution be brought instead of holding the PC polls. The new Constitution should abolish the provincial council system. There is no need for reviving now defunct PCs.”
MP Cumaratunga said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had pointed out that the government had been able to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic successfully without any backing from the PCs. Had there been PCs in existence we would not have been able to do so. We know that the operation of counter-pandemic measures from the government alone could solve that problem. “Had there been PCs, we would have witnessed power struggles between the government and the PCs.”
MP Cumaratunga said that people had approved the government’s one-country-one-law policy. “The existence of PCs as subordinate legislatures making laws different from parliament is against that mandate. Therefore, the time has come to abolish the PCs.”
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
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