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New Ministers sworn in before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

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Cabinet Ministers

 1. His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – Defence

2. Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa – Finance

3. Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa – Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs

4. Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa – Urban Development and Housing

5. Nimal Siripala De Silva – Labour

6. G.L Peiris – Education

7. Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi – Health

8. Dinesh Gunawardena – Foreign Relations

9. Douglas Devananda – Fisheries

10. Gamini Lokuge – Transport

11. Bandula Gunawardena – Trade

12. R.M.C.B. Rathnayake – Wildlife and Forest Conservation

13. Janaka Bandara Tennakoon – Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government

14. Keheliya Rambukwella – Mass Media

15. Chamal Rajapaksa – Irrigation

16. Dullas Alahapperuma – Power

17. Johnston Fernando – Highways

18. Wimal Weerawansa – Industries

19. Mahinda Amaraweera – Environment

20. S.M. Chandrasena – Land

21. Mahindananda Aluthgamage – Agriculture

22. Vasudeva Nanayakkara – Water Supply

23. Udaya Prabhath Gammanpila – Energy

24. Ramesh Pathirana – Plantation

25. Prasanna Ranatunga – Tourism

26. Rohitha Abeygunawardena – Ports and Shipping

27. Namal Rajapaksa – Youth and Sports Affairs

28. PC Ali Sabry – Justice

 

State Ministers

 

1. Chamal Rajapaksa – Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management

2. Piyankara Jayaratne – Foreign Employment Promotions and Market Diversification

3. Duminda Dissanayake – Solar, Wind, Grid Power Generation Projects Development

4. Dayasiri Jayasekara -Batik, Handloom Fabrics and Local Apparel Products

5. Lasantha Alagiyawanna – Cooperative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection

6. Sudarshani Fernandopulle -Prisons Reforms and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation

7. Arundika Fernando – Coconut, Fishtail Palm, Palmyra and Rubber product Promotion and Allied Industrial Production and Export Diversification

8. Nimal Lansa – Rural Road and other Infrastructure Facilities

9. Jayantha Samaraweera – Warehouse Facilities, Container Yards, Port Supply Facilities and Boats and Shipping Industry Development

10. Roshan Ranasinghe – Land Management Affairs, State Business Lands and Property Development

11. Kanaka Herath – Company Establishment Reforms, Tea Estate Crops, Tea Factory Modernization and Tea Export Diversification

12. Vidura Wickramanayake – Promotion of National Heritage, Performing Arts and Rural Artists

13. Janaka Wakkumbura – Development of Sugarcane, Maize, Cashew, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Betel Production and Promotion of Allied Products and Export

14. Vijitha Berugoda – Dhamma Schools, Bhikku Education, Pirivenas and Buddhist Universities

15. Shehan Semasinghe – Development of Samurdhi Home Economy, Microfinance, Self-Employment and Businesses and Under-Utilized State Resources

16. Mohan de Silva – Regulation of Fertilizer Production and Supply, use of Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides

17. Lohan Ratwatte – Gem and Jewelry related Industries

18. Dilum Amunugama – Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Carriages and Automotive Industries

19. Wimalaweera Dissanayake – Wildlife Conservation Protection Programmes including Electric Fence and Ditch Construction and Re-Forestation and Wildlife Resources Development

20. Tharaka Balasooriya – Regional Cooperation

21. Indika Anurudda – Rural Home Construction and Building Materials Industry Promotion

22. Kanchana Wijesekera – Ornamental Fish, Freshwater Fish and Shrimp Farming Development, Multi-day Fishing and Fish Export

23. Sanath Nishantha – Development of Rural and Regional Drinking Water Supply Projects

24. Siripala Gamlath – Development of Common Infrastructure Facilities of Settlements and Canals in Mahaweli Zones

25. Sarath Weerasekara – Provincial Councils and Local Government Affairs

26. Anuradha Jayaratne – Development of Rural Paddy Fields and Associated Tanks, Reservoirs and Irrigation

27. Sadasivam Viyalendran – Professional Development of Postal Services and Mass Media

28. Thenuka Vidanagamage – Rural and School Sports Infrastructure Promotion

29. Sisira Jayakody – Promotion of Indigenous Medicine, Development of Rural Ayurvedic Hospitals and Community Health

30. Piyal Nishantha de Silva – Women and Child Development, Pre-School and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and School Services

31. Prasanna Ranaweera – Cane, Brass, Clay Furniture and Rural Industry Promotion

32. D. V. Chanaka – Development of Aviation and Export Zones

33. D. B. Herath – Livestock and Farm Promotion and Dairy and Eggs Related Industries

34. Shasheendra Rajapaksa – Paddy and Cereals, Organic Food, Vegetables, Fruits, Chilies, Onions and Potatoes, Seed Production and High Tech Agriculture

35. Nalaka Godahewa – Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal and Public Sanitation

36. Jeewan Thondaman – Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure Facilities

37. Ajith Nivard Cabraal – Finance and Capital Markets and Public Enterprise Reforms

38. Seetha Arambepola – Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation

39. Channa Jayasumana – Pharmaceutical Production, Supply and Regulation

 

District Coordinating Committee Chairmen:

 

1. Pradeep Udugoda – Colombo

2. Sahan Pradeep Vithana – Gampaha

3. Sanjeewa Edirimanna – Kalutara

4. Wasantha Yapa Bandara -Kandy

5. N. Nalaka Bandara Kottegoda – Matale

6. S.B. Dissanayake – Nuwara Eliya

7. Sampath Athukorala – Galle

8. Nipuna Ranawaka -Matara

9. Upul Galappaththi -Hambantota

10. Angajan Ramanathan -Jaffna

11. Douglas Devananda -Kilinochchi

12. K. Dileepa – Vavuniya

13 K. Kader Masthan -Mannar and Mullaitivu

14. D. Weerasinghe – Ampara

15. Kapila Athukorala -Trincomalee

16 Gunapala Rathnasekara -Kurunegala

17. Ashoka Priyantha – Puttalam

18. H. Nandasena -Anuradhapura

19. Amarakeerthi Athukorala – Polonnaruwa

20. Sudarshana Denipitiya – Badulla

21. Kumarasiri Rathnayaka – Monaragala

22. Akila Ellawala – Ratnapura

23 Rajika Wickramasinghe – Kegalla

 

 



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PMB declines to release Rs 1.2 bn FD for paddy purchasing

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Treasury forced to bear responsibility for Rs 2 bn in loans

By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said that the State Banks weren’t in a position to release funds to the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) as the enterprise owed them a staggering sum, running to over Rs 20 bn.

Due to the failure on the part of the state enterprise to settle previous loans, the Treasury has been compelled to accept the responsibility for repaying them, the State Minister said.

The Kegalle District lawmaker said so on the live political programme, Salakuna, telecast on Hiru on Monday night. The State Minister was responding to interviewer Chamuditha Samarawickrema’s query regarding the inordinate delay on the part of the government to implement the paddy purchasing scheme.

Referring to Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera’s abortive efforts to obtain the required funding, lawmaker Siyambalapitiya said that the Treasury was helpless.

State Minister Siyambalapitiya said the PMB couldn’t be faulted for the crisis as successive governments had directed the state enterprise to purchase paddy at a higher price, then ordered it to sell at a much lower price, thereby causing staggering losses.

The State Minister also acknowledged management level shortcomings and political interventions caused the ruination of the PMB.

The PMB owed the Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank Rs 1,600 mn and Rs 690 mn, respectively.

The State Minister acknowledged that the issue couldn’t be resolved in spite of interventions made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Premier Dinesh Gunawardena. Referring to a subsequent discussion he had with the Secretary to the Treasury Mahinda Siriwardana, lawmaker Siyambalapitiya said that the BOC has asked for Rs 1.2 bn fixed deposit as security though the PMB declined to do so. According to the State Minister the PMB asserted that it couldn’t forgo the fixed deposit as the

interest received was utilized for day to day running of its operations.

The State Minister said that the banks could release the required funding on the basis of a guarantee given by the Treasury. The lawmaker explained the inability on the part of the Treasury to give such a guarantee as further deterioration of public finance could have a devastating impact on the banking sector. Such an eventuality couldn’t be allowed, the SLFPer said.

The Minister acknowledged that the failure on the part of the government to launch a paddy purchasing scheme would dishearten the farmer community.

Chamuditha Samarawickrema pointed out that the private sector had managed their ‘operations’ in a much better way.

The State Minister said that the situation was so bad that of the recent Rs 93 mn public sector salary bill, the government could meet Rs 82 mn. The government had no option but to ask those state enterprises to pay salaries from their funds, pending repayment, the MP said, reiterating the Treasury couldn’t help the PMD at the moment.

Responding to further questions, the State Minister said that the government would definitely give priority to the PMD issue once they finalized public sector salary payments. The Minister urged the media not to pursue an agenda detrimental to the government’s recovery efforts. Asked to explain, the State Minister said that there had been accusations the government didn’t purchase paddy to clear the field for the private sector. The Hiru team pointed out that the banks had released substantial amounts to the private sector to purchase paddy. The Minister explained the banks tried their best to help but circumstances were such the government couldn’t help at the moment.

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PSC proposes amendment to Children and Young Persons Ordinance

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A meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee to ensure gender equality in progress. Among those present were lawmakers Rohini Kaviratne, Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Dr. Seetha Arambepola and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Kushani Rohanadeera (pic courtesy Parliament)

The Parliamentary Select Committee to ensure gender equality has decided to propose amendments to the Children and Young Persons Ordinance to consider all those below 18 years as children.

The PSC presided by its Chairperson Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle that met in the Parliamentary Complex last week also decided to replace the reference ‘young persons’ in the Ordinance and to rename it as the Children’s Ordinance.

As per the amendments every reference to “Children and Young Persons Ordinance”, “children and young persons”, “child or young person” and “age of sixteen years” in any regulation or rule made under the principal enactment or notice, notification, contract, communication or other document issued under the principal enactment shall be read and construed as a reference respectively, to “Children’s Ordinance”, “children”, “child” and “age of eighteen years.

Section 71 of the Ordinance will be amended, by the repeal of subsection (6) of that section establishing that “nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the right of any parent, teacher or legal guardian to punish a child or youth”.

The purpose of the Children and Young Persons Ordinance Clause 23 is to make orders for the establishment of Juvenile Courts for the supervision of juvenile offenders for the protection of children and young persons.

State Minister Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Members of Parliament Thalatha Atukorala, Rohini Kaviratne, Eran Wickramaratne, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Manjula Dissanayake, Secretary to the Committee and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Kushani Rohanadeera and senior officials representing the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms were present at the PSC meeting.

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80 houses destroyed in fire at Thotalanga

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The scene of the fire(pic by Jude Denzil Pathiraja)

At least 80 houses were destroyed due to a fire that broke out in a highly congested area in Colombo on Tuesday (27) night. Around 220 people had been displaced, the police said.

The fire broke out at Kajeemawatte in Thotalanga at around 8 pm on Tuesday and it took firefighters several hours to bring the fire under control. Twelve fire engines were deployed, but many of the dwellings had been burnt out as approach roads were not wide enough for the vehicles to reach the fire.

Those who are affected are now housed in community centres and places of worship.

No casualties were reported in the incident. The police are yet to determine the cause of fire and the total damage to property has not been estimated still.

Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is on an official visit to Japan, has instructed Presidential Secretary Saman Ekanayake to take steps to provide immediate relief to all victims of the fire.

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