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If people want a radical change, they should vote for NPP – Dr. Jayatissa

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By Saman Indrajith

People now have make a vital decision about their future at the Aug 5 election, says NPP Kalutara District candidate Dr Nalinda Jayatissa in a brief interview with The Island. “If they want their new parliament to be something akin to what they had earlier, they have several parties to vote for, but if they are desirous of a radical change, then they have to vote for the NPP. We hear that the public servants have wisely cast their postal votes. I think people will do so at the upcoming election.”

“The last parliament was like a prison. It was full of those who should have been serving jail terms. There was the biggest narcotic dealer as an MP. Another MP was the biggest illegal sand and miner. We had the biggest bookie owner.

“There were members involved in timber rackets that destroyed our forests. There were also many who should have been behind bars for the biggest financial scam ever in the known history of this country – the Central Bank Treasury Bond scams. There were MPs with links to the beedi industry. Many of them should have been in prison. If people want such a parliament then there are many to be chosen.”

Asked how the NPP would expect to better its electoral performance at the past few elections, Dr Jayatissa said: “The situation is changing and it is changing faster. In response to that change, political consciousness of the people change. There is nothing static in politics, which is a process. I think people now know that candidates of two main parties promise everything and anything to them to get their votes. The ruling party won the presidential polls promising to punish the wrongdoers including those who misappropriated public funds. They also promised one law for the country. They promised to jail the corrupt and thieves especially those who robbed the Central Bank. They did nothing of the sort. The UNP and the SJB would not change this political culture. The votes cast for these two parties would finally help Mahinda Mahaththaya (Mahinda Rajapaksa), who is planning to effect crossovers. People thought Sajith Premadasa had a political future when they saw media reports of him distributing houses and many other things among the Hambantota people. He has got exposed. People who watched him on TV thought that he had actually done something. The real story is known to only people in Hambantota. They gave loans to people to build houses and with the amount they spent on one house, eight houses could have been constructed. He has no vision and he would say anything that comes to his mouth. I think by this time entire country knows that SJB would do no better than the SLPP or UNP in power. So now it’s up to the people to decide what is good for them.

“See for an example in the recent issue of destruction to archaeologically important site at Kurnegala. It is said by experts that the building at the site was built by King Buvenekabahu II. There are reports that it has been demolished. This is a national crime.

The demolition occurred at Kurnegala and the site belongs to the Department of Archaeology that comes under the purview of the Prime Minister, who is contesting from the same district. In such a situation, they seem hell bent on re-writing the history to save their man responsible for this crime. They have vowed in public to ensure that not even a hair of the criminal would be harmed. There is a criminal act and the culprit is known and can easily be identified but no action has been taken. This administration shields its men at any cost. It is to change that political culture, the people should vote for the JVP led NPP.”

Asked to explain his party’s promise to develop the national economy which according to him is in tatters, Dr Jayatissa said that only the NPP had a plan to do so. “We have put forward a sound economic plan and people would see that it is the only plan which could help build a national economy. The country’s economy should be replaced with a new national economy to do away with disparities. We do not think it is practical to envision that an economy of a country alone would revive all by itself while all other sectors are in a mess. An economy does not exist in a vacuum. It is on the basis of those realities that we have formulated NPP’s economic policy plan.

“We propose the revival of three main areas to improve the economy. They will act like pillars bearing an economy. The first of these pillars signify the changes that we intend to introduce to change the existing political culture. Today, politics has become a business. It should be transformed into a public service. The second stands for our drive to restore and strengthen democracy and rule of law. Third pillar is the commitment to achieving national reconciliation by promoting the idea of a pan-Sri Lankan national identity. We do not think that a sound economy would exist in this country without improving the imperatives from those three main areas.

“In developing the Sri Lankan economy, we should take into consideration the country’s geo-strategic location, its resources and its human resource. We plan to formulate policies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of resources in a manner that would ensure national interests.

Our plan envisions that economic policies for this country should focus on four main ills our national economy is suffering from. The first is the debt crisis. The revenue received by the Treasury is not sufficient to pay loan installments. The second is the mismatch between the country’s imports and exports. We spend around 20 billion US dollars on imports while our exports amount to only to 10 billion US dollars. The third problem is the collapse of our industrial sector. The fourth factor to be taken into consideration in formulating economic policies is the inequitable distribution of the national wealth. If you read it you would understand that we have covered all angles to develop this country’s economy – things that could be done.”

 



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PMB declines to release Rs 1.2 bn FD for paddy purchasing

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Treasury forced to bear responsibility for Rs 2 bn in loans

By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said that the State Banks weren’t in a position to release funds to the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) as the enterprise owed them a staggering sum, running to over Rs 20 bn.

Due to the failure on the part of the state enterprise to settle previous loans, the Treasury has been compelled to accept the responsibility for repaying them, the State Minister said.

The Kegalle District lawmaker said so on the live political programme, Salakuna, telecast on Hiru on Monday night. The State Minister was responding to interviewer Chamuditha Samarawickrema’s query regarding the inordinate delay on the part of the government to implement the paddy purchasing scheme.

Referring to Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera’s abortive efforts to obtain the required funding, lawmaker Siyambalapitiya said that the Treasury was helpless.

State Minister Siyambalapitiya said the PMB couldn’t be faulted for the crisis as successive governments had directed the state enterprise to purchase paddy at a higher price, then ordered it to sell at a much lower price, thereby causing staggering losses.

The State Minister also acknowledged management level shortcomings and political interventions caused the ruination of the PMB.

The PMB owed the Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank Rs 1,600 mn and Rs 690 mn, respectively.

The State Minister acknowledged that the issue couldn’t be resolved in spite of interventions made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Premier Dinesh Gunawardena. Referring to a subsequent discussion he had with the Secretary to the Treasury Mahinda Siriwardana, lawmaker Siyambalapitiya said that the BOC has asked for Rs 1.2 bn fixed deposit as security though the PMB declined to do so. According to the State Minister the PMB asserted that it couldn’t forgo the fixed deposit as the

interest received was utilized for day to day running of its operations.

The State Minister said that the banks could release the required funding on the basis of a guarantee given by the Treasury. The lawmaker explained the inability on the part of the Treasury to give such a guarantee as further deterioration of public finance could have a devastating impact on the banking sector. Such an eventuality couldn’t be allowed, the SLFPer said.

The Minister acknowledged that the failure on the part of the government to launch a paddy purchasing scheme would dishearten the farmer community.

Chamuditha Samarawickrema pointed out that the private sector had managed their ‘operations’ in a much better way.

The State Minister said that the situation was so bad that of the recent Rs 93 mn public sector salary bill, the government could meet Rs 82 mn. The government had no option but to ask those state enterprises to pay salaries from their funds, pending repayment, the MP said, reiterating the Treasury couldn’t help the PMD at the moment.

Responding to further questions, the State Minister said that the government would definitely give priority to the PMD issue once they finalized public sector salary payments. The Minister urged the media not to pursue an agenda detrimental to the government’s recovery efforts. Asked to explain, the State Minister said that there had been accusations the government didn’t purchase paddy to clear the field for the private sector. The Hiru team pointed out that the banks had released substantial amounts to the private sector to purchase paddy. The Minister explained the banks tried their best to help but circumstances were such the government couldn’t help at the moment.

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PSC proposes amendment to Children and Young Persons Ordinance

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A meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee to ensure gender equality in progress. Among those present were lawmakers Rohini Kaviratne, Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Dr. Seetha Arambepola and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Kushani Rohanadeera (pic courtesy Parliament)

The Parliamentary Select Committee to ensure gender equality has decided to propose amendments to the Children and Young Persons Ordinance to consider all those below 18 years as children.

The PSC presided by its Chairperson Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle that met in the Parliamentary Complex last week also decided to replace the reference ‘young persons’ in the Ordinance and to rename it as the Children’s Ordinance.

As per the amendments every reference to “Children and Young Persons Ordinance”, “children and young persons”, “child or young person” and “age of sixteen years” in any regulation or rule made under the principal enactment or notice, notification, contract, communication or other document issued under the principal enactment shall be read and construed as a reference respectively, to “Children’s Ordinance”, “children”, “child” and “age of eighteen years.

Section 71 of the Ordinance will be amended, by the repeal of subsection (6) of that section establishing that “nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the right of any parent, teacher or legal guardian to punish a child or youth”.

The purpose of the Children and Young Persons Ordinance Clause 23 is to make orders for the establishment of Juvenile Courts for the supervision of juvenile offenders for the protection of children and young persons.

State Minister Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Members of Parliament Thalatha Atukorala, Rohini Kaviratne, Eran Wickramaratne, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Manjula Dissanayake, Secretary to the Committee and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Kushani Rohanadeera and senior officials representing the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms were present at the PSC meeting.

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80 houses destroyed in fire at Thotalanga

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The scene of the fire(pic by Jude Denzil Pathiraja)

At least 80 houses were destroyed due to a fire that broke out in a highly congested area in Colombo on Tuesday (27) night. Around 220 people had been displaced, the police said.

The fire broke out at Kajeemawatte in Thotalanga at around 8 pm on Tuesday and it took firefighters several hours to bring the fire under control. Twelve fire engines were deployed, but many of the dwellings had been burnt out as approach roads were not wide enough for the vehicles to reach the fire.

Those who are affected are now housed in community centres and places of worship.

No casualties were reported in the incident. The police are yet to determine the cause of fire and the total damage to property has not been estimated still.

Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is on an official visit to Japan, has instructed Presidential Secretary Saman Ekanayake to take steps to provide immediate relief to all victims of the fire.

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