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JVP: Govt. moving to reward two of its cronies with new liquor manufacturing licences

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The JVP yesterday renewed its accusation that the government was planning to issue two new liquor manufacturing licences to SLPP’s cronies.

Addressing the media at Anuradhapura, JVP Central Committee Member and former MP Wasantha Samarasinghe said one of the licences would be given to a very close friend of the Finance Minister to manufacture liquor.

“The other licence is to be given to a businessman who is already engaged in importing spirit and bottling them here. That licence is given to manufacture wine.”

The JVPer said that the issue had been raised by several others, but the government had failed to give an assurance that no new liquor manufacturing licences would be issued. “The issue has been raised in Parliament, too, but the government is determined to go ahead and give the licences without following proper procedure. “Worst, under the guise of producing local wine, the liquor manufacturer would get tax concessions. He would have to pay only Rs 900 per litre of liquor, which would be labeled as a local product. The actual tax should have been Rs 3,200 per litre. The businessman will have the chance of evading Rs 2,300 per every litre he is going to produce.”

When the issue was raised in Parliament the government promised to look into the matter, but the process of issuing the licences was in progress on the sly, Samarasinghe alleged.

 “We heard the Commissioner General of Excise say at a recent press conference that no new licences would be issued for the manufacture of liquor without the permission of the Finance Minister. The power to issue such licences is with the Minister of finance.”

The JVP Central Committee member said that the Committee on Public Accounts had recently revealed that the liquor producing companies were dodging taxes, causing a loss of Rs 2,380 million to the state coffers. Their surcharges were around Rs 1,900 million. “It is in this context that several leaders in this government are planning to issue new liquor manufacturing licences.”

Samarasinghe said the JVP would remain alert and do everything in its power to stop the government from issuing the licences at issue.



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

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… 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

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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

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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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