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JVP: Has govt. done anything to have Mahendran brought here?

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By Saman Indrajith

The Central Bank annual did not reflect the economic realities prevailing in the country, where many suffered and could not make ends meet, while the government boasted of improvement and development, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament on Tuesday (8).

 Participating in a debate on the Central Bank 2019 report at the time of adjournment of the House, MP Dissanayake said: “The Central Bank report would show you plusses and minuses. Although it contains a rosy picture of a country that is on the path of development, the prevailing reality is otherwise. There are many schools in the country without basic facilities. There are thousands of farmers unable to have proper prices for their produce and unable to find fertilizer required for their crops. There are many fishers with sighs of frustration at the end of the day because they cannot get a decent price for their catch which is taken away from them by the middlemen in the fishing industry.

“The Central Bank bond scam was one of the main issues that had been in discussion in this country. What action has this government done to get former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran who is responsible for the scam, brought here? He is there in Singapore. His name has been changed but the person is the same.

“We know the place of a person in a court after he has been sentenced to death. He is not even kept in the normal cells. He should be in death row cells. They are given a different dress in the prison. But now we have a person who has been sentenced to death among us. This impunity is not a joke. It is not a simple matter when a government plays with the laws of the land. A person who is convicted and given death sentence could commit any other offence because he has already been given the capital punishment and nothing more could be given to him.

State Minister Sisira Jayakody: When an accused has filed a case before the Court of Appeal he is only a suspect. He has the right to be considered innocent till the judgment comes.

MP Dissanayake: Just because you shout loud that does not rectify the error. What would be the situation of this country when a death row convict participates in law making process? How would the government justify such an immoral act?

Speaking of the Central Bank report, I would like to ask from the government what action they had taken on the contents of the Central Bank reports from 2007 to 2012?

Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando: Why do you not speak of the Central Bank reports of the time when the yahapalana government was there?

MP Dissanayake: If I have the powers to punish fraudsters and cheats, many of those in this House today will be in jails. If I had such powers, I do not think there would be a Johnston Fernando in this Chamber today to point fingers at me. If I had such powers, there would be none of those who involved in the central bank bond scam roaming free. Just because you wear white, you are not clean. If you want I can take each of you one by one and list the offences you had committed to misappropriate public funds.

Government rank MPs shouted and demanded MP Dissanayake to speak of the JVP led 1989-90 insurgency and damage inflicted by the JVP members on national assets.

MP Dissanayake: It has been estimated that the loss caused by investing EPF monies during 2007-2012 period was more than 11 billion rupees. Would the government speak of that too?

State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal raising a point of order: It is the JVP that inflicted heaviest economic loss to this country.

The Chair said that it was not a point of order.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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