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Independent engineers express fears over moves to block solar power projects



by Ifham Nizam

Independent engineers and retired Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) expressed fears over some members of the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) trying to block initiatives on solar power.

Solar power is the future, an independent engineer stressed. “We look forward to proposals for rooftop solar and a substation 100kW ground mounted solar system with Indian funding soon, but the CEBEU is trying to block it”.

“I feel sad about what is happening. With the scrapping of the PUCSL (Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka), the power sector regulator, the credit rating of Sri Lanka will fall and no decent investor will put money on new projects”, a retired CEB engineer opined.

Businessmen are now experiencing difficulties in importing essential commodities and other items needed for their value added products on credit terms as foreign banks could refuse their Letters of Credit (LCs) opened in local banks, several business leaders complained.

Three LCs opened in a state-run bank have been rejected by banks in the UK, Switzerland and New Zealand last week, which pointed to the country’s weak credit profile, they asserted.

Apart from the prohibition of opening new LCs, banks have been directed to suspend the payment for LCs opened before the enforcement of the import ban, they said, pointing out that it breaches Uniform Customs and Practice (UCP 600) regulations that govern international trade of banking, they claimed.

Meanwhile, Power and Energy Minister Dullas Allhaperuma said that the government has already decided to establish an alternate organization similar to the PUCSL. New members are also scheduled to be appointed to the institution and names have already been suggested.

Commenting on the reason to suspend the PUCSL, the Minister said several issues, especially with regard to the CEB were identified over the last one year.

Attempts to disregard the national policy of the Government were noted during this period, while the government also came across various projects being delayed purposely without valid reason, he said.

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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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