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.
GL: Suspension of IMF bailout highlights failure to meet anticipated revenue targets
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Top Opposition spokesperson Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (02) said that the government should take full responsibility for the suspension of USD 2.9 bn IMF bailout over Sri Lanka’s failure to achieve the anticipated revenue mobilisation.
The former External Affairs Minister found fault with the government for tax concessions granted to investors and the failure on its part to collect taxes, in spite of reaching an agreement with the IMF in that regard.
Referring to the declaration made by IMF delegation head Peter Breuer that the second tranche of about $330m would be delayed pending Staff-Level Agreement, Prof. Peiris pointed out that Sri Lanka and the lending agency had reached a staff-level agreement in early September last year.
Sri Lanka received the first tranche of USD 330 mn in the third week of March this year in terms of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), spread over a period of four years.
While pointing out that revenue mobilisation had improved, the IMF said revenue was expected to fall short of initial projections by nearly 15 percent by the end of this year.
Addressing the media at the Nawala Office of Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa, Prof. Peiris said that though the government tried to put on a brave face, the consequences of the indefinite delay could be quite catastrophic. He said the suspension of the programme could undermine debt restructuring talks with external creditors, governments, lending agencies and the commercial market.
Prof. Peiris said that the suspension of the programme, just after the release of the first tranche, was a matter for serious concern as the unexpected development could cause further erosion of investors’ confidence in the Sri Lankan economy.
Sri Lanka has obtained IMF assistance on 16 occasions.
Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Economic and Physical Plans Mahindananda Aluthgamage on Sunday told The Island the country was paying a very heavy price for the failure on the part of the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise Department to collect the due taxes. Alleging that unpaid income taxes alone, over the past 15 years, amounted to a staggering Rs 904 bn, whereas revenue collecting authorities so far managed to collect Rs 1,643 bn though they were given a target of Rs. 3,101 bn for this year.
Prof. Peiris said that corruption in the public sector procurement process undermined the economic recovery process. The government defeated the Opposition moved no-confidence motion against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella over corruption in the public health sector, Prof. Peiris said, asserting that the IMF must be aware of how the government encouraged waste, corruption, irregularities and mismanagement.
Prof. Peiris urged the government to take tangible measures to address the concerns of the IMF. Unfortunately, the government sought to deceive the public by claiming that the process was on track and would proceed following staff-level agreement, he said. He asked whether the government wanted the people to believe there would be staff-level agreements before the release of each tranche.
Prof. Peiris said that the government should correctly identify the warning issued by the IMF. It would be the responsibility of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government to take remedial measures without further delay.
LPBOA demands bus fare hike
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) head, Gemunu Wijeratna on Monday (02) said they needed a five percent increase in bus fares following Sunday’s diesel price hike.
On Sunday, CPC, LIOC and Sinopec increased diesel prices by 10 rupees per litre.
Wijeratna said that the private bus owners had not increased bus fares when diesel prices were increased by 35 rupees per litre recently.
“With the latest price increase, short distance buses will lose Rs 1,000 a day. Long distance buses will lose Rs 2,500 a day. We can’t lose money like this. We want at least a five percent bus fare hike,” he said.
School transport providers have decided not to increase their charges.
Discourse on crisis in Lankan health sector at CSR
A discourse on the crisis in Sri Lankan health sector, under the theme ‘What ails the health sector? What solutions?’ is scheduled to be held at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday, 05 October 2023, at the Centre for Society & Religion (CSR) Auditorium, 281, Deans Road, Colombo 10, under the auspices of the Socialist Study Circle. The speakers will be Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Consultant Community Physician, President, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, Consultant Physician, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Ravi Kumudesh President, Academy of Health Professionals. The discourse is open to the public.
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