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JVP on plight of worst affected lost in macro picture

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By Saman Indrajith

Communities worst affected by Covid-19 and its consequences were the most marginalised and most vulnerable sections in the society, JVP led NPP MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya told Parliament.

 Participating in a debate on the Nation Building Tax (Amendment) bill on Wednesday, Dr Amarasuriya said that 64 Lankan migrant workers had died abroad from Covid-19 and it was larger than the number of deaths in Sri Lanka. “The country successfully dealt with the first wave of the virus. And yes, we acknowledge the role played by the government in the battle.

But, it was not just the government that achieved that goal. We also have to acknowledge the role of the health sector and the people of this country who followed the health regulations.”

“So clearly the virus does not affect all of us equally. The steps taken to respond to the virus also does not affect all of us equally.

Not all of us have the luxury of working from home and not all of us have the ability to use private transport to move around and do our grocery shopping online. Most of the people of this country have to deal with the consequences of this virus and of the measures taken in ways very different to the few of us.”

She said that the issue here was that when they talked about the financial regulations and policies, their focus was on the economic growth. “Although we argue across this isle we often fail to think who actually benefits from these measures and whose lives have improved. If we really look at some of these measures or consequences of some of these economic decisions that have been reached in this chamber, we can clearly see that not everyone has benefited equally. If we look at these conventional indicators used to measure economic success, or economic prosperity, and if we replace some of these indicators looking at the wellbeing and happiness of the people of this country, we will have to acknowledge that over the last several decades, the lives of the majority of the people of this country have in fact become more insecure, more uncertain and more precarious.”

She said that it was unfortunate that the worst affected by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country were women employed in the most exploited sector in the country. “One employer, one factory or one person cannot be held responsible for this. What these figures reveal to us is that our systems and our structures have failed and unless we address the systemic failures, we will be continuing to reinforce the vulnerabilities of one of the most marginalised groups in our society,” she said.



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Nightlife is essential without hindrance to other tourists, residents and businesses – Diana Gamage

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Minister of State for Tourism  Diana Gamage acknowledged that events that emanated noise should be conducted within a soundproof environment without causing any inconvenience or disturbance to other tourists who are here to relax, residents of the area and other businesses inasmuch its necessity to boost the economy by generating revenue.

She made this comment speaking at a press conference themed ‘Collective path to a stable country’ at the Presidential Media Centre today (22),

As debates continue regarding the regulation of nightlife, she urged stakeholders to consider the broader economic implications and the vital role that nightlife plays in driving economic activity and sustaining national finances. She further emphasized the importance of providing entertainment options to tourists, particularly in beach areas, which are major attractions for visitors. According to her, nightlife plays a crucial role in catering to the needs of tourists, not only in beach areas but also in urban centres like Colombo. The Minister noted that current regulations often restrict entertainment options, citing examples such as early last orders in hotels and restaurants, which may not align with the preferences of international tourists.

Drawing attention to the diverse origins of tourists, including those from the UK, France, and Germany, the State Minister Diana Gamage emphasized the need for flexibility in entertainment hours to accommodate varying cultural norms and preferences.

As discussions on tourism regulations continue, stakeholders are encouraged to consider the perspectives of tourists and the potential economic benefits of promoting a vibrant nightlife scene. The Minister’s remarks underscore the importance of striking a balance between regulation and the provision of entertainment options to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors to Sri Lanka.

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All vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka should be consolidated into a single vocational college – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an observation tour at the Ratmalana Lalith Athulathmudali Vocational Training Centre, this morning (22) , outlined plans to consolidate all vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka into a single vocational college, offering contemporary subject-related courses.

He said that the restructuring of vocational education was  essential to align with the demands of the modern world, ensuring that the youth of the country are equipped to excel in the competitive global job market.

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Opposition threatens to move no-faith motion against Speaker over OSB

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Speaker Abeywardena

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premnadasa told Parliament yesterday that the Online Safety Bill had been passed in violation of the law and unless remedial action was taken, a no-faith motion would be brought against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Premadasa said that Article 123(4) of the Constitution says, “Where any Bill, or the provision of any Bill, has been determined, or is deemed to have been determined, to be inconsistent with the Constitution, such Bill or such provision shall not be passed except in the manner stated in the determination of the Supreme Court.”

Premadasa said: “It is illegal to pass a Bill without adhering to this constitutional provision. There were nine instances where the government overlooked the Supreme Court determination on the Bill. The Speaker allowed that to happen despite our protests. The Justice Minister, too, has admitted that there are flaws in the Act. How could that happen? Rectify them immediately, or we will bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.”

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that even if the Supreme Court determined that a section or clause of a draft Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, a Bill could be passed by Parliament. It could be done with either a two-thirds majority or two-thirds majority plus people’s approval from a referendum. A case cannot be filed against the way the Speaker or an MP behaved in this House as they have immunity. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, too, has given a ruling on this issue and we still consider it as a precedent to be upheld. With regard to the Online Safety Bill, the Attorney General has instructed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to incorporate some amendments as per the Supreme Court determination and to bring other recommended amendments in the form of a separate Amendment Bill. I was not a party to that discussion. This Amendment Bill was presented to the Cabinet and approval was granted and now is at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Thereafter, it would be referred to the Cabinet again and with that approval we can have it here in this House for consideration,” the Minister said.

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