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Nano-nitrogen deal: Opposition calls for probe

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Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella speaking to construction officials at the Getabme Roundabout widening project on Saturday

The allegations of underhand payments in importing nano-nitrogen liquid fertilizer and in government depositing USD 1.275 million to an account of a private company as payment violating the due process should be probed, says Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella.

Speaking to journalists when he made a visit on Saturday to inspect alleged damage the Kandy Children Park has suffered due to the expansion of Getambe Roundabout, the Chief Opposition Whip said there were some who engaged in farming for hobby. Those engaged in farming as a hobby is a very insignificant number compared to the number of those engaged in agriculture as their livelihood. Now, those who are engaged in farming for leisure are making various statements about fertilizer problems and those statements ridicule the farming community. Importing fertilizer has been in practice for decades. Ministers have never been to the port or the airport to receive them. When the stock of nano-nitrogen fertilizer was brought down a minister went to receive it. That action corroborates the allegation that there were secret dealings in this affair. Further to that due process has not been followed in depositing a sum of USD 1.275 to a private company set up within 24 hours.

The Treasury had requested the People’s Bank to release USD 1.275 million as payment for nitrogen fertiliser, on Oct 18. Although the due process for this type of transaction was to make payments from the accounts maintained by the Ceylon Fertiliser Company Ltd., the government had ordered the People’s Bank to open a separate private account at its Town Hall Branch under the name ‘United Farmers Trust Limited’ on 18 Oct., and funds were transferred to a private company account to the tune of USD 1.275 million or Rs. 290 million.

Parliament had not been informed of the matter, the Chief Opposition Whip said.

He said that the Kandy Children Park had been constructed on a request he made to the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga to mark the 50th anniversary of Independence. “I made inquiries from Highways Minister Johnston Fernando in this regard. The minister promised that ongoing constructions would not harm the park. I spoke to the construction company and they too told me that they would re-construct the park once their roundabout widening project is completed,” MP Kiriella said.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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