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MPs complain of rip-off in supplying meals in parliament

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By Saman Indrajith

Issues related to the costs and prices of heavily subsidised meals provided to the MPs in the Parliament canteen were raised afresh yesterday by SJB Colombo District MP SM Marikkar.

Raising a point of order MP Marikkar said that there were newspaper reports that a meal of an MP cost Rs 3,000. “People ask whether we eat gold here. The fish served this morning in the parliamentary canteen was not fresh. That is the quality of food served to the MPs here; we eat better at home, but in the meantime there are reports that the cost of meal of an MP is Rs 3,000. Someone has to correct this situation and tell the truth. This was mentioned at the orientation programme for MPs at the Parliamentary complex on Tuesday. The correct figures must be given.  I am speaking on behalf of all 225 MPs. The impression the reports created is wrong. I hope the speaker would correct this.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: Were you there at the last session of the Tuesday’s workshop. There I gave the correct figures while making a statement on this matter. 

MP Marikkar: The newspapers have not reported what you said. Hope if you correct it here so that it would be telecast live.

During the workshop on Tuesday Director (Finance) of Parliament A.S. Upananda stated that a meal that costs Rs 3,000 is given to an MP at a rate of Rs 200. He made that statement while speaking on the functions of food and catering and housekeeping departments of parliament. He stated that an MP was charged Rs 100 for breakfast, Rs 200 for lunch and snacks and tea at Rs 50.

Following the statement, young MPs protested.

 State Minister Dr. Seetha Arambepola: We had those meals during the past couple of days. But I am sure that a single meal would not cost that much. The food given is not worth that much.

MPs shouted that the matter should be corrected and it was a shame to state that they eat at Rs 200 what was worth Rs 3,000.

 Colombo District MP Premanath C. Dolawatte: I do not think that this meal costs Rs 3,000. We do not need your food. We could bring food from home.

 State Minister Dr. Arambepola: I looked for where we would have access to Rs 3,000 buffet meal. There is no such thing. Do not publicise wrong facts. That is why people hate MPs.

Deputy Secretary General Neil Iddawela: What we meant here is the cost of a meal.

MPs shouted that the figures of the cost of a meal was wrong and volunteered to calculate the figure by themselves.

Deputy Secretary General Iddawela: In a day around 2,000 persons receive food from parliament and during budget debates the number of persons who took food is around 3,000.

An MP: Is everyone in Parliament given food?

Deputy Secretary General Iddawela: Yes. All working at Police, banks, post office, CEB are given food.

MPs said that it would be better if they brought food from home because there would be no blame on them.

Deputy Secretary General Iddawela: That we could decide in the future. I have just received correct figures from the Audit Branch. A meal with fish costs Rs 950 while a vegetable meal is Rs 629 for an MP.

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COPE meets online for first time in its history

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by Saman Indrajith

The Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) created a history by meeting online for the first time ever on Thursday.

The COPE had Secretaries of three Ministries joining in with its committee meeting through online (ZOOM) becoming the second parliamentary committee holding an online meeting in the country.

Thursday evening’s COPE meeting chaired by its chairman Prof. Charitha Herath connected online with Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H. S. Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W. A. Chulananda Perera and, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J. Ratnasiri via zoom technology.

The Environmental Audit Report on water pollution of the Kelani River was brought before the committee and the meeting held between the Chairman Prof. Herath, Ministers and Members of Parliament and secretaries and other officials continued without any technical hitches.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that facilities have been provided to hold meetings and discussions using online technology in two committee rooms in Parliament.

He said that Parliamentary officials had been working relentlessly for months to install the requisite technological tools and that the efforts have borne fruit and future Parliamentary meetings could be held online as a result.

The Committee on High Posts under the chairmanship of Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also held a discussion with the new Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kenya, who was living in Kampala, using online technology recently.

 

 

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Legatum Prosperity Index highlights SL’s development of education and healthcare sectors

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During the past decade

One of the key highlights of this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index was the improvement in Sri Lanka’s education and healthcare sectors over the past decade. These improvements were key to increase in prosperity within Sri Lanka, it was noted.

The London-based think-tank Legatum Institute launched the 14th Legatum Prosperity Index on November 17 2020.

The event commenced with the welcome address by the Chair of the Legatum Institute, Alan McCormick. 

Addressing the audience, the Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, The Baroness Stroud said that according to the Legatum Index, the global prosperity was at its highest level ever with 147 countries seeing their prosperity rise over the last decade.

Speaking at the launch, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK, Saroja Sirisena said that the end of the terrorist conflict in 2009 and the ensuing peace dividend, led Sri Lanka to achieve steady progress within the last decade.

She highlighted that the universal free education and healthcare policies of the country over seven decades are the pillars on which prosperity is built.

Director of Policy of the Legatum Institute, Dr. Stephen Brien explained to the audience as to how the Legatum Index is used to measure prosperity across the world.

The event was also addressed by the Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Biologist and Writer, Matt Ridley and Ambassador of Georgia in the UK Sophie Katsarava.

Legatum Prosperity Index is a global index that analyses the performance of 167 nations across 65 policy-focused elements, measured by almost 300 country level indicators and it is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on institutional, economic and social wellbeing.

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Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India with Sapna Mehra

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The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, Colombo, will be holding an online cookery demonstration on ‘Snack Time: Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India’ on December 5 at 11.00 am on its FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/ICCRSriLanka.

This festival season, the Cultural Centre will present a virtual cookery demonstration by Sapna Mehra. Cooking has been a passionate hobby of Sapna since her childhood days. Growing up in a large family of 17 members, she was very keen on bringing variety to the dining table, and that’s when her cooking journey began, preparing simple wraps, and snacks.

She now specializes in cooking dishes from a variety of cuisines. Originally from Bangalore, she has lived in many cities across India and Sri Lanka, and at present resides in Delhi.

She has a Postgraduate degree in Marketing and has over 12 years work experience in the professional field.

All are cordially invited to attend. For more details, contact the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on telephone No: 2684698 or Email: iccrcolombo2@gmail.com

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