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GL explains need to bring in 20 A in place of 19 A



by Shamindra Ferdinando

Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris on Sunday (30) said that those opposed to the government was busy propagating the lie that enactment of 20th Amendment in place of the 19th would be a massive setback to parliamentary democracy.

Addressing a gathering in Kandy, Prof. Peiris said that it would be the responsibility of the government to inform the people of why the 20 was being brought in.

Prof. Peiris, who is also the Chairman of the ruling SLPP said that their opponents were attempting to mislead the public by claiming either doing away or amending the 19th Amendment, was a treacherous act that undermined democracy.

Prof. Peiris said that the 19th Amendment was meant to cause chaos. The law academic asked whether the decision to deprive legally elected President with a massive mandate from holding defence portfolio or any other portfolio could be justified under any circumstances.

Prof. Peiris pointed out that former President Maithripala Sirisena had been allowed to hold defence and some other portfolios as an interim measure depriving his successor of exercising authority of a minister.

The former law professor emphasized that the depriving the President of the right to hold defence portfolio was even contrary to the Constitution

Referring to the relevant section of Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution, Prof. Peiris that the country’s supreme law was very clear about the powers of the President.

In Article 4 where the sovereignty of the people has been dealt with, specified as follows in Sub Article 4b: “The executive power of the People, including the defence of Sri Lanka, shall be exercised by the President of the Republic elected by the People.”

Prof. Peiris also found fault with the 19th Amendment for denying the government power to introduce emergency bills. The Education Minister said that in such a scenario the government would find it difficult to secure parliamentary approval in a real emergency such as 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.

The SLPP Chairman discussed how the continuing clashes, disputes between the then President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe rapidly deteriorated to such an extent the government conveniently refrained from acting on ‘actionable’ intelligence to thwart near simultaneous suicide attacks.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the battle between them erupted as a result of the 19th Amendment. If not for the 19th Amendment creating an environment of hostility leading to major security lapse, the Easter Sunday attacks could have been prevented, the SLPP Chairman said.

The Education Minister said that the 20th Amendment was needed to give back required powers to the President as the 19th Amendment denied him authority. Prof. Peiris explained how the 10-member Constitutional Council and so-called independent commissions deprived the executive President of powers he was entitled to.

The Education Minister criticized the conduct of member of the Election Commission Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole and Constitutional Council member and attorney-at-law Javid Yusuf for taking stand contrary to their mandate. Prof. Peiris pointed out that in spite of changing of President, Prime Minister and members of the cabinet, those appointed to Independent Commissions remained. They couldn’t be removed, Prof. Peiris said, underscoring the need to educate the public of the actual situation.


Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving



Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest



By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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