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Lankan Agriculture at crossroads?



By Lasitha Duminda

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa undoubtedly would leave a legacy behind three critical decisions he has made.

• Rapid Vaccination carried out and ongoing with one of the world’s best percentage of population covered (As of Oct 6, fully vaccinated is 54.6% and at least one dose is 66.7%) is one.

• Renewable energy drive currently underway to generate as much as 70% of the nation’s power requirement from renewable sources which is another revolution making Sri Lanka a catalyst towards a greener world and putting the name of our country on top of the list of most countries if not all.

• Carbonic agriculture is the third bold initiative taken amidst all odds gaining lot of global praise for the President and Sri Lanka.

There were lot of quarters who wanted to sabotage all above ground breaking initiatives spending lot of time and effort to discredit Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime. It is not a secret that the opposition is not coming simply from the opposition. Currently the one that is at the biggest risk is converting Sri Lanka to organic farming that would pave the way for a healthier nation void of lot of diseases such as chronic kidney complications and cancer.

The threat seems to be not coming only from the chemical fertilizer associated mafia so to say. The amount of negative publicity given in media and the amount of people involved in the sabotage mission clearly suggests that it has become more or less a geopolitical operation.

The Chinese samples are getting rejected leaving lot of gaps in the credibility aspect of such reports to a level the matter getting referred to even the criminal investigation department.

Surprisingly, these reports reach media even before they are ready. Ironically so many different labs both in Sri Lanka and overseas report contradictory results. Sri Lankan authorities that claim the presence of certain harmful bacteria, are not willing to get the legitimate samples attested by independent international laboratories.

Yet another interesting point is the absence of any kind of intervention by the Chinese Diplomatic mission in Sri Lanka letting the people to believe that it is the Chinese that are behind the contamination of fertilizer.

India on the other hand, emerged all of a sudden short circuiting the available procurement process and becoming the favorites of the agencies responsible for the application of organic fertilizer with no knowledge of the public as to how Indian companies entered the procurement process while the contract between the Chinese supplier and the government is still valid.

Public has the right to know as to who is playing what? Who wants to discredit the President and fail him? Is it only the people in the frontline or have they become a cat’s paw for someone else? If so, who is it actually behind this game changer?

If Chinese are innocent, why are they not coming forward to prove their innocence or is someone deliberately blocking that process?

Mr. President, this is worth of your immediate attention as it is the food security of Sri Lanka is at compromise otherwise with the ‘Maha’ season approaching within a matter of few weeks.

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SJB MP slams police double standards



“Why one law for Ponnambalam and another for Gamage?”

The police have failed to display the same efficiency they displayed in arresting Jaffna District MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam with regard to arresting State Minister Diana Gamage, who should have been spending her time at the Mirihana Immigration Detention Centre, Kurunegala District SJB MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha told Parliament on Friday.

“If the police had displayed the same efficacy, Diana Gamage should have been at the Mirihana Detention Centre at this time. Instead she comes to parliament and issues threats to other MPs. The courts have clearly stated that the CID could take her into custody because she had been using two passports.

“The Immigration Controller himself has reported to the courts that she had been a UK citizen since 2004 and using a UK passport since then. She has not revoked her UK citizenship. In addition she has obtained anther passport through the Secretary General of Parliament. The Speaker too should have a responsibility to prevent a foreign citizen sitting unlawfully in the House,” he said.

Jayamaha said that Gamage had no right to sit in parliament. “The case against her regarding her having forged passports is postponed again and again. The law is not implemented. My colleague Mujibur Rahuman tabled a document in this House that the Defence Secretary had been informed of the illegality of Gamage’s presence in Parliament. I tabled the same again today.

“She recently told a TV talk-show that she had applied for the revocation of her UK citizenship. We do not know whether she has two tongues,” the MP said.

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Sarath Weerasekera opposes SLT share sale on security grounds



Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), which owns a fixed and mobile telecom group, which is partly foreign owned and listed should not be privatized, the head of a parliamentary committee on national security has said.

Government MP, Retd. Admiral Sarath Weerasekara who chairs the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security told parliament Friday that divestment of the 49.5 percent stake in SLT held by the government could “expose the country’s strategic communication infrastructure and sensitive information to private companies that are motivated by profit, which could pose a threat to national security”.

Weerasekara also said that any individual or organization proscribed or otherwise that “aided terrorists or extremists” must not be allowed to purchase shares or control Sri Lanka’s national assets.

The claim comes despite satellite links and international cables connecting the country being built and managed by foreign conglomerates in which many connected countries are also shareholders. SLT is also a shareholder in some global cable companies.

Weerasekara suggested that the government retain the right to repurchase shares held by the majority shareholder of SLT.SLT’s second biggest shareholder, behind the Sri Lanka government, is Malaysia-based Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd with a 44.9 percents take in the company.

Most Sri Lanka’s mobile firms were also built and owned not just by private firm but foreign ones. SLT’s own mobile network, Mobitel was a build operate transfer project by Australia’s Telstra.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers in March 2023 listed Sri Lanka Telecom among several state companies to be re-structured.SLT currently enjoys market leadership in fixed-line services and is the second-largest operator in mobile. It also owns an extensive optical fibre network.The company was placed on watch for a possible rating upgrade by Fitch Ratings in March 2023 after the government announced the restructuring. (EconomyNext)

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Cardinal hits out at government demanding local elections



By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has urged the government to hold local elections to secure the democratic rights of the people.

“Voting is a right of the people that we must all enjoy. It is a right that every person over 18 -years of age is entitled to to determine the future of the country,” he said on Thursday.

“Today justice as been turned into injustice, governance to dictatorship and law into lawlessness,” the 75-year-old cardinal told a gathering of hundreds of people at a function at St. Anthony’s College in Kochchikade.

Local polls to elect 340 councils were slated for April 25 but the election commission postponed it, citing a lack of funds.

“The government said earlier that it doesn’t have money to hold an election, now it’s saying that it has money. If the government has the money, please give an opportunity to the people to vote and let the people express their wishes. How much of what came from the IMF was used for agriculture? How much for the fishing industry? And what about education?” the cardinal queried.

Rather than improving the lives of people, “politicians import goods, and bring in what we need and what we don’t need, destroying our economic independence, leading us to depend on foreign countries,” he said.

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