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MP Pathirana exposes how Excise helps artificial toddy producers to rob govt. revenue and poison people

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By Saman Indrajith

Matara District SJB MP Buddhika Pathirana yesterday informed Parliament that Excise Department officers colluded with artificial toddy makers to deprive the state coffers Rs. 80 billion a year while poisoning people with toxic vinegar, its by-product.

MP Pathirana said that the Excise Department officials had helped the artificial toddy producers to operate without paying taxes. The government lost at least Rs. 80 billion per year as the artificial toddy makers bypassed the laws. “I have a list of names and a confession by such a businessman who is willing to admit to his offence and pay the fine and expose the corrupt officials. This businessman is accused of producing artificial toddy and not paying the due taxes. He wrote a letter to the Commissioner General of Excise, admitting to his fault and naming five officers who had helped him by giving him technical points to evade taxes. The businessman is Chandrakanthan Ruban of No 174A, Palali Road, Kondawil. He, in his letter dated Sept 06, 2019, addressed to the Excise Commissioner General H.G. Sumanasinghe, states how he has been assisted by Excise officers in flouting the regulations in return for money. The Excise Department officers have helped other artificial toddy makers too to flout the laws. Therefore, there is a need to amend these regulations. The letter states that the businessman was been assisted by Excise OIC S. Sirimanne, Deputy Commissioners N. Sothinathan, K. Kumarsinghe, B. Warnasuriya and W. Dissanayake. The offender states he had committed an offence with the help of those officials and was ready to pay the fine for his offence. I table this letter.”

Pathirana said that following his recent exposures in Parliament, media spokesman of the Excise Department had issued a press release stating that artificial toddy was not used to produce vinegar. The very same officer had once admitted in a TV talk show that artificial toddy was used to produce vinegar. He had also stated there that the gazettes pertaining to the toddy industry had helped increase the production of artificial toddy. “This is a serious issue; the government loses 80 billion rupees annually because of this industry,” MP Pathirana said, adding that artificial toddy was made using sugar, yeast, ammonia, water and the batteries of old mobile phones.



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Enactment of Ontario’s Genocide Bill subject to Lt. Governor General’s approval

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‘Actions of a few shouldn’t be allowed to jeopardize bilateral relations’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government has requested Canada not to enact Bill 104 recently adopted by the Ontario Provincial Parliament that resolved that Sri Lanka had committed genocide during the war.

Authoritative sources said that in terms of the Canadian Law in spite of the passage of the controversial Bill 104 moved by Member of Parliament Vijay Thanigasalam (Scarborough—Rouge Park) of Sri Lankan origin, it wouldn’t be enacted until Ontario Lieutenant Governor General Elizabeth Dowdeswell gave her consent on behalf of the Canadian Government. Thanigasalam represents the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.  The Lt. Governor General is appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Sources said that Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena would meet Canadian High Commissioner David McKinnon to discuss this matter. If Ontario Legislative Assembly succeeded in its high profile project, it would lead to similar propaganda operations in other parts of the world, sources said.

Sources said that Sri Lanka’s Counsel General in Toronto and the High Commission in Ottawa on numerous occasions raised the issue with relevant authorities as part of overall efforts to thwart Thanigasalam’s move. Sources said that contrary to reports, Bill 104 had been carried through without a vote in the Toronto Legislative Assembly on May 6 taking advantage of the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic that restricted the participation of the majority of members.

Responding to a query, sources said that Thanigasalam’s project had been facilitated by the Committee on Regulations and Private Bills coming under the purview of Logan Kanapathi also of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (Markham—Thornhill). Sources said that actions of a few Canadians of Sri Lankan origin shouldn’t be allowed to undermine relations between the two countries.

In the wake of the passage of Bill 104, the government roundly condemned the Ontario Provincial Parliament’s move, pointing out so called ‘Tamil Genocide Education Week’ is based on what the Foreign Ministry asserted ‘a flawed premise, unfounded assumptions and blatant lies.’

The government emphasized that the UN or other foreign governments never blamed Sri Lanka for genocide.  

Meanwhile, informed sources said that Sri Lanka’s former High Commissioner in Ottawa Asoka Girihagama yet to return in spite of being recalled after the change of government in Nov 2019 took over the mission in the year before soon after his retirement from Foreign Service. Sri Lanka is yet to name a High Commissioner in the wake of Canada’s refusal to accept retired Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias and outgoing Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, turning down the plum diplomatic post.

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FM conveys SL’s serious concern to Canadian HC

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Minister Gunawardena meets HC McKinnon (pic courtesy FM)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena  yesterday (10) conveyed Sri Lanka’s deep concern over the adoption of Private Member Bill 104 on ‘Tamil Genocide Education Week’ by the Ontario Legislative Assembly on 06 May 2021 to  Canadian High Commissioner David McKinnon.

The meeting took place at the Foreign Ministry. Pointing out that the position taken by the Ontario Legislative Assembly contradicted the Canadian government’s stand, Gunawardena sought immediate intervention of the Canadian government to stop Royal Assent by Lt. Governor of Ontario to the controversial Bill.

Joining the meeting, Foreign Secretary Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage elaborated on the potential harm the Bill 104 could cause to the reconciliation process, peace building and the bilateral relations between the two countries. The Foreign Minister, while thanking the Canadian Government for the continuous support extended to Sri Lanka on multiple fronts, also discussed with the High Commissioner a wide range of bilateral issues.

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South Korea boosts SL economy with USD 500 million low interest loan

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In the wake of China granting a USD 500 million loan, the Government of South Korea had agreed to provide concessional loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) of the Export Import Bank of Korea (KEximbank), the Finance Ministry said yesterday.

Accordingly, the Government of Republic of Korea and the Government of Sri Lanka have agreed to sign a new Framework Arrangement for the period of 2020-2022 to obtain loans through EDCF up to an aggregate commitment amount of USD 500 million to finance projects mutually agreed.

The loan interest rate on this concessional loan is about as low as 0.15% -0.20% and the loan has a repayment period of about 40 years with a grace period of 10 years, a statement from the ministry said.

In addition, the two sides agreed to continue the Korean Exim Bank Representative Office, which was opened in Colombo in January 2016 by its Chairman, to further implement the projects in a well-coordinated manner.

The Framework Arrangement was signed yesterday (May 10) by S.R. Attygalle, Secretary, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, and Woonjin Jeong, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, representing the Republic of Korea.

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