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MEP calls for a mixed electoral system



Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena presiding yesterday’s meeting of the Select Committee of Parliament to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments. Deputy Secretary General of Parliament and Chief of Staff Kushani Rohanadheera is also in the picture

By Saman Indrajith

The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna yesterday said that the country’s electoral system should be changed to introduce a mixed electoral system comprising the features of both the first-past-the-post system and the proportional representation system.

Presenting the MEP’s proposals to the Select Committee of Parliament to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments, MEP Deputy Secretary State Minister Sisira Jayakody said that the existing number of MPs in the House should be maintained. So there would be 225 MPs of which 140 to be elected under the first-past-the-post system and 70 from the district wise proportional system, while 15 seats should be allocated for the National List MPs.

The MEP Deputy Secretary said that the new reforms to the electoral system should ensure clear representation of the constituencies.

MEP MP Yadamini Gunawardena said that the reforms should ensure the people’s ability to cast their votes without influence of the political administration and it should not also be permitted to decide the dates of elections.

EPDP representatives at the PSC pointed out the need for ensuring the rights of all communities in a new electoral system. They said that 65 percent of MPs should be elected from the first-past-the-post system, while the remaining 35 percent should be elected under the proportional representation.

Desha Vimukthi Janatha Party also submitted their proposals at the PSC meeting held at the parliamentary complex.

The meeting was held with Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena presiding. Minister Gunawardena is also the Leader of the MEP. It was attended by Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Douglas Devananda, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Ali Sabry and MPs Mano Ganesan, Madhura Withanage and Sagara Kariyawasam.

Chairman of the Expert Committee appointed for the purpose of analysing proposals for reforming the election structure and election laws in the country, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura Prof. Sudantha Liyanage was also present. Dr. Anura Karunathilake, Suren Fernando, Prof. P. Balasundarampillai and Gautham Balachandran were the other members appointed to the Committee.

The next meeting of the PSC would be held today (7), Deputy Secretary General of Parliament and Chief of Staff Kushani Rohanadheera said.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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