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Govt.’s economic mismanagement root cause of all crises – JVP

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Former JVP MP Wasantha Samarasinghe reiterates his original accusations as regards planned construction of the next phase of the Central Expressway. JVP trade union leader Samarasinghe called a media briefing yesterday (22) in Colombo Fort where he attacked Highways Minister Johnston Fernando over controversial handling of what he called flawed tender procedures (pic by Nimal Dayaratne)

JVP MP Vijitha Herath told Parliament yesterday that the fuel prices would be increased again, soon.

The MP said that the economic mismanagement of the government had resulted in a crisis situation.

“Plantations Minister said that he hoped to develop tea cultivation and earn USD 500 million profit for the country. The question is whether the prevailing realities would permit the achievement of such objectives. Tea cultivators are facing unprecedented problems because they do not have fertiliser. The government failed to make available quality fertiliser. Tea production has decreased continuously as there is no fertiliser. From a cultivation where 500 kilos of tea leaves were plucked in the past, only around 200-300 kilos can be plucked at present. Tea cultivators in person forwarded their grievances to the President recently. You may have lofty aims and estimates but the reality is that the tea industry which fetched the highest amount of dollars as an agriculture product is in death throes now. Tea cultivators are facing a crisis. Some have started moving out of the industry. The situation in the rubber industry is quite the same. The government distribute rubber and cinnamon saplings from time to time according to a list given by the MPs of the government. Only those who have their names on the MP’s list benefit from this scheme.

“The Plantations Minister said a few minutes ago in this House that the government gave Rs 1,000 allowance to plantation workers. The reality is that not even the workers in state-managed plantations get that allowance. That the private plantation owners do not receive the allowance goes without saying. Will the private plantation owners pay their workers when the government is not paying theirs? The government is duty bound to implement its policy decision of giving that allowance to plantation workers. Since the government promised this allowance two years back, prices of sugar, dhal, flour and rice have increased. The plantation workers cannot even consume dhal and roti with that allowance. That allowance should be doubled.

We remember how the Minister of Agriculture vowed in this House that not a single grain of rice would be imported. He said that he would resign from the post if at least a single grain of rice was imported. For the past three months, 350 million kilos of rice have been imported. Today, rice imports have started but the Minister stays put. Rice imports have badly impacted the small and medium scale rice mill owners.

“The biggest problem in the country is the shortage of fuel. There are queues outside filling station. Without fuel there are power cuts. From this evening, there are going to be two-hour power cuts. There has been a fuel ship at the Colombo Port for the past three days but it cannot unload its cargo as bills have not been settled. Within a couple of days, the fuel prices will have to go up again.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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