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JVP takes govt. to task over high prices of essentials

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By Saman Indrajith

The government is all mouth no trousers when it comes to controlling the prices of essential food items, says the JVP.

JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath told the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte yesterday said that traders would not bring down prices of goods just because the government ministers give voice cuts to TV channels, calling for price reductions. “They go to economic centres and markets and stand near vegetable stalls and give voice cuts to TV vowing that prices would be brought down. But the traders will not reduce the prices. The ministers also vow that they will arrest traders who sell above the stipulated prices but no such arrests have been made so far. This government is only big talk, but no action. The price of a kilo of rice is now at Rs 140 that is very much above the stipulated price. The government keeps issuing gazettes announcing price controls but no trader gives any consideration to those gazettes.”

He said that the process of economic collapse started prior to the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. “The government tries to take cover behind the pandemic, for its failure to manage the economy that is another indication of its failure. The collapse of the economy started long before the COVID-19. For example, the agriculture sector output dropped by 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2020. The drop of the industrial sector output was 7.8 percent and the service sector contracted by 1.6 percent during the same time period. The country went to lockdowns after March 19. So, it shows that the first quarter of this year did not have the impact of the pandemic.

“Prices of essential commodities have reached unprecedented heights under this government within one year. The government has failed to control the prices and manage the economy. Those who came to parliament in bicycles demanding the then government to bring down fuel prices are now ruling the country but they did not bring down the prices at least by five cents”.

“I have the official price lists issued by the Central Bank on Nov 20, 2019 and Dec 23, 2020. In Nov 2019 price of a kilo of samba rice was at Rs 95, now it’s between Rs 132 and 140. This government issued at least five gazettes on rice prices alone for the past one year, but none has had any effect. Big onion price was Rs 147 a kilo now it’s Rs 160. Price of dry chillies was Rs 480 a kilo then now it’s Rs 550. A coconut was then Rs 58 now it’s higher than Rs 85. Lentil that the President promised in his address to the nation at Rs 65 a kilo was Rs 110 in Nov, 2019 and now it’s Rs 180. In that address to the nation there were promises to give canned fish at Rs 100 and big onion at Rs 150. It’s known now there are no such items for such prices. Finally the address to the nation became a big joke. Price of sprats a kilo was at Rs 600 now it’s Rs 850. Price of coconut oil has increased from Rs 320 to 480. Sugar price increased from Rs 100 to 135. These are the Central Bank figures that give an idea of the plight of the people after one year under this government. I do not bring the prices of vegetables to this but it’s a known fact that their prices too have increased to unknown heights. For the first time in history a gazette was issued on Sept 25, this year to control the prices of coconut. Nowhere one can find coconuts for that price now. The government has proven that it has lost control of prices in the market. It has failed miserably and people suffer as a consequence.”



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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