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Mass Media Minister promises to probe ITN losses since 2016

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By Saman Indrajith

Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Parliament yesterday that the Independent Television Network had been a loss-making institute since 2016.

Responding to a question raised by SJB Ratnapura District MP Hesha Withanage, the Minister said that there had been reports on various malpractices at the ITN and allegations would be investigated and legal action taken against those responsible for turning the institute into a loss-making enterprise.

The Minister said that the ITN made profits of Rs 495.32 million in 2010, Rs 682 million in 2011, Rs 799 million in 2012, Rs 847.24 million in 2014, Rs 638 million in 2015. However, since 2016 the institution had been making losses. The ITN made losses to the tune of Rs 69 million in 2016, Rs 287.25 million in 2017, Rs 622 million in 2018 and Rs 597 million in 2019. In 2020, the ITN had suffered a loss of Rs 320 million, the Minister said.

Since 2015, the ITN had recruited 139 employees and their names, addresses and educational qualifications would be tabled in Parliament, the Minister said.

Minister Rambukwella said that up to 2015 the ITN had been earning profits and as at the end of that year it had Rs 2.7 billion in its fixed deposit. In 2014, the ITN had been able to give bonus to 694 employees. But owing to mismanagement and irregularities the ITN had now accumulated debts to the tune of Rs 500 million. The ITN had continuously obtained funds from the Treasury to maintain its services for the past five years. During that period the ITN had recruited 13 consultants and seven Chairmen.

The incumbent management had taken action to bring in resource persons without considering their political backgrounds, the Minister said.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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