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Kiriella: What is the point in govt issuing gazettes to control price of rice when they are ignored?

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament yesterday that the government had published more gazettes than the number of cassettes released by popular singer HR Jothipala.

Opening the third reading debate on the budget 2021 form the opposition, MP Kiriella said: “Although the government printed gazettes on price control, there is no price control in the market. During the time of our government we had a rice company, called Ape Shakthi, to control the rice market. This government dissolved it after coming to power. Now, the rice mafia of Polonnaruwa determines rice prices arbitrarily.”

 MP Kiriella said that the government was undoing democracy by implementing the provisions of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. “Today, the separation of powers is not to be seen especially with regard to the list of institutions whose budgetary allocations are being debated today. The Supreme Court, the Appeal Court, the Human Rights Commission, the Police Commission, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and the Finance Commission were independent under the 19th Amendment. The Constitutional Council had the power to reject even a nomination by the President. Its successor the Parliament Council does not have that power. It has just to endorse the nominations made by the President. The President can make appointments to 75 top posts in key institutions. Even in the US, the Senate has the power to reject persons nominated by the President. Those nominated to top posts have to come before the Senate and respond to thousands of questions and those sessions are aired live on TV. Imagine what will happen under the present system here now. Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake gave a ruling on Divi Neguma Bill against the government wish, she was summoned to parliament and removed.

 Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando: We do not see anything wrong in that process. We stand by what we did because whatever we did we did so in accordance with the constitutional provisions. We followed the process outlined in the Constitution to remove her. But what you did when your government removed Shirani Bandaranayake’s successor Mohan Peiris. Soon after you formed the government Azath Sally went to his house and told him to resign within one hour and threatened to throw him out otherwise. That was the procedure you followed.

MP Kiriella: I am not aware of such a thing. There are many instances that could be taken from the Indian Supreme Court rulings. Now, laws could be passed to change the status quo of separation of powers. Today, there is no separation of powers here.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated that military men are not suitable to rule a country. It is there on the web. You can show a mountain to the military and order them to capture it. They would duly follow the order and capture it but they cannot rule. Because they do not know how to maintain a dialogue and discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. Unfortunately, today there is no dialogue. We are sliding towards the abyss of authoritarianism.



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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