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Kurunegala Mayor facing corruption charges removed

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Kurunegala Mayor, Thushara Sanjeewa Vitharana (SLPP), facing a corruption inquiry, has been removed from office due to his failure to secure approval for the 2023 Budget.

The announcement was made by the Office of the North Western Governor Province Governor Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda. A notification from the NWP Governor’s Office quoted Karannagoda as having said that the Kurunegala Mayor was deemed to have resigned, with effect from Dec 31, 2022.

A high-profile investigation into corruption in the Kurunegala Municipal Council, involving members of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), is underway. Karannagoda ordered the inquiry on the basis of findings made by the National Audit Office.

The ousted Kurunegala Mayor made abortive bids to halt the proceedings. His efforts to move the Kurunegala High Court and the Court of Appeal to nullify a gazette issued by Karannagoda to conduct an inquiry into allegations of corruption against him, failed.

Karannagoda has appointed retired Judicial Officer Lalith Ekanayake to conduct the inquiry. Investigations conducted by the National Audit Office have revealed how members of the government, the Opposition, as well as officers of the Kurunegala MC, brazenly shared shops available at the Kurunegala Central market, main bus stand and the Maligapitiya shopping complex, outside laid down procedures. The report named all recipients, including Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa Vitharana (three shops) and Opposition Leader W. A. Wijayananda Wedisinghe (two shops). (SF)



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President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court

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The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April

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Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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