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



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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CB Governor: Lanka now in a position to pay for essentials



‘Inflation will not be as high as initially expected’

Inflation will not be as high as initially expected and there are signs of economy stabilising, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says.Dr. Weerasinghe said that during the past few months a number of initiatives had been made to improve the economy and they were yielding the desired results.

“During the last review, we thought the inflation would reach 70%. However, now we believe that the inflation will not be that high even with the electricity tariff hike,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the severity of the shortage of foreign currency had lessened. The country was now in a position to import fuel, gas and medicines.

“This has become possible because of the decisions we took. Imports have decreased. Export revenue has somewhat increased. Even without short-term loans we have been able to meet our basic needs. This is a positive development,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.The CB Governor said that inflation driven by demand had lessened because the expansion of loans had been curtailed.The supply side inflation too would drop with price and foreign exchange stabilisation.

“Still the inflation is about 60% and that’s why we need to maintain the current high policy rates. Once the government adjusts the fiscal policy, tax, and presents the new budget, things will improve. I think you can also see this. We are seeing positives,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe also urged exporters to bring back the foreign exchange earnings, and that the Central Bank had taken steps to ensure that exporters abided by the CB regulations.

“The irregularities due to open accounts, hawala and undial are being controlled and the black market premium is dropping. The foreign exchange liquidity in the banking sector has increased,” he said.

The Governor added that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made good progress. An IMF delegation was expected to visit Sri Lanka by the end of August to reach a staff-level agreement.After Sri Lanka reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF, it had to start engaging with its creditors on debt restructuring.

“Once we reach an agreement with the IMF the situation will improve further,” he added. (RK)

(See related stories in the business section)

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CID arrests Mervyn 15 years after he forcibly entered Rupavahini



By Norman Palihawadana

Former Minister Mervyn Silva was yesterday arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for forcibly entering the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and attacking some employees there in 2007.On 27 Dec. 2007, Silva and his associates entered the SLRC premises and assaulted its news director for not airing a speech he had made in Matara.

SLRC employees held Silva incommunicado for hours, and the police intervened to secure his release. A few weeks later, some of the workers involved in the incident came under goon attacks.Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at the time.

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Aeroflot affair: flights yet to resume; MP questions status of probe into detention of SU 289



ByShamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka hadn’t been able yet to convince Russia to resume Aeroflot flights and tourists from there to Sri Lanka suspended in the wake of the detention of SU 289 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on the afternoon of June 02, authoritative sources said.

Sri Lanka grappling with an unprecedented foreign exchange shortage desperately needs tourists from an important destination like Russia, which earlier accounted for a sizeable share of the incoming traffic. Responding to The Island queries, sources said that relevant authorities were in the process of looking into the issue at hand.Having summoned Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Moscow Janitha Abeywickrema Liyanage soon after the incident at the BIA, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning over the incident.

In the wake of the Russian warning, the then government took measures to lift restrictions imposed on the aircraft that was to be detained till June 16. The detained SU 289 was allowed to leave on June 06.Former Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (18) told The Island that no holds barred investigation was required to ascertain the truth.

Lawmaker Weerasekera said that the government should inform the Parliament of the progress of the investigation and what steps it intended to take as well as measures already taken to mend relations with Russia.

The retired Navy Chief of Staff said that those in authority should investigate whether a court ruling issued in respect of a case filed by Ireland-based Celestial Aviation Trading Company Ltd., against Aeroflot had been manipulated by interested parties.

It transpired that no sooner High Court Judge, S. M. H. S.P. Sethunge, in the Commercial High Court of the Western Province, Attorney-at-Law Aruna de Silva accompanied a fiscal officer of the same Court to the BIA at lightning speed to deliver the ruling.

Lawyer de Silva appeared for the plaintiff with Avindra Rodrigo, PC, (litigation) of FJ & Saram, leading law firm from the colonial times. The law firm has previously declined to comment on this matter.High Court judge Sethunga is on record as having said that he didn’t order the BIA not to permit Aeroflot SU 289 to take off on the afternoon of June 02.

Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nagasena, Coordinating Secretary to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC yesterday (18) said that the Justice Ministry recommended action against the Attorney-at-Law to the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC. Nagasena said that the fiscal officer who served the Justice Ministry had been interdicted, pending further investigations. As regards the lawyer, it would be handled on the advice of the CJ, the official said. Responding to another query, the official said that the Justice Ministry hadn’t been informed yet of the progress of the investigations.

Ports, Shipping and Aviation Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra yesterday said that ministry officials on Wednesday (17) discussed ways and means of resuming Aeroflot flights with relevant authorities, including the Russian embassy. Ruwanchandra said they were hopeful reaching a consensus on this matter soon. The official said so in response to The Island queries.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Pieris, PC, yesterday said that they could initiate an inquiry only on the basis of a formal complaint. He said so when The Island asked him whether the BASL initiated an inquiry into the lawyer’s conduct in this regard. The President’s Counsel said that normally the BASL wouldn’t launch an investigation into a matter inquired into by the CJ.

At the time of the BIA incident, Prof. G.L. Peiris had been the minister in charge of foreign affairs. Since the change of government, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has sworn in Ali Sabry, PC, as the new minister of foreign affairs.

Russia has pointed out that action was taken against SU 289 in spite of an assurance given by Sri Lanka in respect of regular flights to Colombo.Sri Lankan Airlines in late March suspended flights to Moscow in the wake of imposition of what the airline called operational restrictions in the wake of war between Russia and Ukraine.

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