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Kiriella wants ex-SIS Head indicted as main accused

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella yesterday demanded in Parliament that former SIS head Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena be named an accused in respect of the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Participating in the third reading debate on the budget, the Chief Opposition Whip said that SDIG Jayawardena, who had allegedly failed to prevent the terror attacks and now was a state witness, should be indicted as an accused and prosecuted.

“The court has that power to name him an accused. Actually, he should be the main suspect. He received the information about the impending terror attacks more than ten days in advance. He has said he did not pass that information to the President, who was the Defence Minister. Suppose that we accept his version. Then he has committed an offence as per the provisions of the Penal Code. But today he has been set free. When Nilantha Jayawardena was asked to surrender his phone to the investigators he deleted all information that had been stored in it. That deletion shows that there was something to be hidden. It amounts to suppression of evidence. That offence would have alone been sufficient to name him a suspect.

“Today we are debating the expenditure heads of the independent commissions, Supreme Court, Judicial Service Commission etc. None of these commissions are independent owing to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. If one could recall the way the former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris tried to woo the former President Maithripala Sirisena to stay in the post of Chief Justice the way the justice is done could be understood. Peiris pleaded with the President to let him continue as the Chief Justice and promised to give the judgments to the liking of the President. The judges in the Supreme Court should not forget that instance which showed the erosion of all standards of justice and independence of the judiciary. I was shocked to hear of that offer by a Chief Justice. I am a lawyer and all my family members including my wife and two children are lawyers. We need an independent judiciary, not one that danced to the tune of the government. We have a proud history of judges upholding the dignity of the Supreme Court. In 1977 the then government tried to control the judiciary but the then Chief Justice Victor Tennakoon opposed it. He did not succumb to government pressure. When a commission tried to strip Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s civic rights, the court opposed it. The government had to come back to parliament to amend the laws to get it done. When the 19th Amendment was in force the judiciary had its independence. We can remember the most recent instance when President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved Parliament and we went before the court challenging that decision. Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Vijith Malalgoda, Prasanna Jayawardena, Buvaneka Aluwihare and Sisira de Abrew stood for justice and ruled against the government. They did not succumb to the power of politicians. They could give that judgment then because independence of judiciary was there,” MP Kiriella said.



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Forex crisis will lead to power cuts, warns Ranil

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Udaya pooh-poohs warning

By Saman indrajith

UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that the country would face power cuts soon if the government did not resolve the foreign exchange crisis urgently.

Participating in the third reading debate on Budget 2022, the UNP leader said the forex issue could result in Sri Lanka running out of money to import fuel.

Wickremesinghe called on the government to make a statement on the current situation.

The UNP leader pointed out that Sri Lanka had only Rs. 1.5 billion in foreign reserves, out of which Rs. 300 million were gold reserves, which meant only Rs. 1.2 billion was the liquid amount in foreign reserves.

The former PM said the low foreign reserves could lead to the country facing power issues in the future as there would be no funds left for fuel imports. However, the Minister of Power, Udaya Gammanpila, assured that Sri Lanka had enough fuel stocks.

The Minister said it was reasonable for people to assume that there would be power cuts in the future due to the foreign exchange crisis.

Reiterating that Sri Lanka had necessary fuel stocks, Minister Gammanpila said the fuel in hand was sufficient for the next 40 days.

Although the Sapugaskanda Oil refinery had been closed for 50 days, measures would be taken to resume operations at an early date, the Minister added, assuring that the foreign exchange crisis would not result in power cuts.

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State Minister Ranasinghe assures farmers using organic fertiliser compensation in event of losses

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Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat yesterday

Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday assured that the government would compensate any paddy farmer who suffered losses due to adopting organic fertiliser.

Speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat, the Minister said that even if the government had not proposed to allocate funds in the Budget proposals for possible losses to paddy farmers using organic fertiliser, funds would be obtained from a supplementary estimate for the purpose.

Ranasinghe said that it was wrong to state that the government shifted from chemical to organic fertiliser abruptly. The government had promised to do so in its election manifesto and people had approved it by giving a two-third majority of votes for that. The UNP too had planned to adopt organic fertilisers in place of chemical fertilisers some 30 years back.

The State Minister said that during the past 30 years all the governments had spent billions of rupees to increase awareness of organic fertilisers among officials and the general public. In addition, there had been numerous projects introduced with the assistance of the World Bank to promote organic cultivation in the country.

Minister Ranasinghe said that there were chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides and there was information that some traders sell them at exorbitant prices. The government would get the Consumer Affairs Authority and police to implement the law against the black marketers.

He said that some farmers had raised concern that nano-nitrogen fertiliser would be washed away owing to the heavy rains, but the government would supply that fertiliser again as it was promised by State Minister of Organic Fertilizer Sashindra Rajapaksa.

The meeting was attended by ministry officials and representatives of the farmers’ associations in the Polonnaruwa District.

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Arjuna quits UNP

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World Cup winning captain and former minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday quit the UNP over its failure to get its act together

Ranatunga has communicated his decision to leave the UNP to the Leader, Secretary, Deputy Leader, and the Assistant Leader of the UNP.

Ranatunga said, in a letter to the UNP leadership, that he decided to join the United National Front ahead of the 2015 presidential election to make a change for the common good.

He has said as the first step towards that objective he contested the 2015 general election and secured the highest number of votes from the Gampaha District.

Ranatunga said that when many left the party in 2020, he remained with the UNP in order to protect it.

He said in 2020 the UNP suffered a massive loss, “and what is required is to prepare a programme to overcome the present and future challenges”.

“However, as there seems to be no such preparation there appears to be no purpose in remaining with the party”, Ranatunga said.

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