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Nirupama overseas, yet to appear before CIABOC

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TISL considering fresh complaint as regards Paskaralingam

Pandora Papers:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) inquiring into Pandora Papers’ disclosure of assets held by Thirukumar Nadesan and his wife, Nirupama Rajapaksa hasn’t been able to record her statement yet as she is overseas.

The CIABOC questioned Nadesan for two days. Well-informed sources told The Island that Thirukumar Nadesan had informed the CIABOC of his wife’s inability to appear before the outfit as she was abroad for medical reasons. Nadesan has assured that once returned she would appear before the CIABOC.

The Pandora Papers revealed assets held offshore by former Deputy Minister of Water Supply and Drainage Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan. As the investigation progresses, Pandora Papers have revealed how Ramalingam Paskaralingam one-time advisor to slain President Ranasinghe Premadasa, the late President Dingiri Banda Wijetunga and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe created trusts and companies in the British Virgin Islands to hold millions of dollars, invested in the private Horizon College situated at Malabe and buy property in the U.K.

Sources said that an interim report on the issue at hand prepared by the CIABOC would be soon shared with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as requested by the Director General of the Presidential Legal Division, Attorney-at-Law Harigupta Rohanadeera.

The President’s Office asked for a report from the CIABOC by Nov 06, 2021 in the wake of the Pandora Papers disclosures.

The CIABOC comprises retired Supreme Court Justice Eva Wanasundera, retired Court of Appeal Justice Deepali Wijesundera and retired DIG Chandra Nimal Wakista. The retired top policeman had served as the head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) during the previous Rajapaksa administration.

In terms of the 20A to the Constitution, the Commissioners are named by the President.

Sources said that the CIABOC had received several complaints as regards the Pandora exposures in addition to the request made by the President’s Office. Responding to another query, sources said that their own investigation unit would continue to probe and was in touch with the relevant authorities.

Sources said the local case had taken a new turn with the disclosure of the Paskaralingam’s involvement as he served as an economic adviser to Wickremesinghe during the yahapalana administration. Paskaralingam also served Wickremesinghe from 2002 to 2004.

Transparency International Sri Lanka executive Director attorney-at-law Nadishani Perera yesterday told The Island that in the wake of Pandora Papers disclosure of Paskaralingam, the outfit would consider further steps in addition to the complaint lodged with the CIABOC as regards Nadesan and Nirupama Rajapaksa. Asked whether they would lodge another complaint, Perera said that it was an option. The top TISL spokesperson said that a much wider investigation involving relevant authorities was needed to probe the revelations properly.

TISL has written to the President, the Speaker of Parliament and the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka calling for the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities of Former Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa. The request was made under the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities law (1975) and the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities (Amendment) law (1988).



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Countrywide power outage act of sabotage, claim TU, officials

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Unions suspect sinister attempt to call in military

Engineers say technical fault caused power failure

CEBEU suspends work-to-rule protest

By Ifham Nizam

The government was trying to pin the blame for yesterday’s countrywide power outage on the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions in a bid to call in the military, Joint Trade Union Alliance Convener Ranjan Jayalal said yesterday.

Jayalal told The Island the government’s attempt would tarnish the image of the military and that of the country, but such intimidatory tactics would not deter the CEB unions from continuing with their action against the questionable agreement between the government and the US energy firm, New Fortress, which has been allowed to acquire a 40% stake in the Yugadanavi power plant. “The government is trying to derail our trade union action, scheduled for December 08. Definitely the power outage was an act of sabotage. Two units of the Norochcholai coal-fired power plant and the one at Sapugaskanda had failed,” he added, insisting that the trade unions had nothing do with the power outage. He said union activists had sprung into action to restore power despite their work-to-rule, for the sake of the country and its people.

A senior independent electrical engineer said the power failure was an act of sabotage or attempt at sabotage. “It could have been a rehearsal that misfired,” he added.

Electricity supply in several areas in Colombo and its suburbs were restored around 2.00 p.m. Subsequently, the power supply on Anuradhapura-Habarana, Laxapana-Athurugiriya and Kotmale-Biyagama transmission lines was restored. However, even at 5.30 p.m. most parts of the Gamapaha District experiencing power failures.

CEB General Manager, Eng. M R Ranatunga sand disruptions to the power supply could be considered sabotage. He said CEBEU activists had been dragging their feet on power restoration.

State Minister of National Security & Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa said necessary action would be taken against the CEB engineers if it was revealed that the power outage was an act of sabotage.

Major disruptions to the electricity supply were reported across the country around 11.30 a.m. yesterday owing to a breakdown in transmission lines.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) said the water supply in several areas of Colombo and suburbs had been disrupted due to the breakdown in the power supply as the NWS&D is dependent on the national grid for pumping purposes.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) last night said it had received a favourable response from the government to its demands and therefore decided to suspend its work-to-rule campaign.

The Island learns that President’s Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundara will meet a CEBEU delegation, next week.

A senior electrical engineer expressed concern about CEB General Manager’s statement that the power outage was an act of sabotage by the engineers’ union. He denied as baseless the official’s claim.

CEBEU Secretary Dhammike Wimalarathne confirmed that his union had decided to suspend trade union action following an undertaking given by the government to have talks with them.

Meanwhile, CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu, addressing the media, yesterday, insisted that the power outage had been due to a technical problem.

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Chamal tells Parliament if power failure is due to sabotage, culprits will be dealt with severely

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By Saman Indrajith

Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that the government was investigating the causes of yesterday’s countrywide power outage and if it was due to sabotage those responsible would be severely dealt with.

Responding to a question by Anuradhapura District SJB MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake during the third reading stage debate on Budget 2022 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Defence, the Minister said that the government would not tolerate sabotage.

MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake said that while the national security was being debated in Parliament the entire country was experiencing a power outage which could be considered a serious threat to national security.

He said all reservoirs were brimful and there was sufficient water to generate hydro power.

Colombo District SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the entire country was in dark and Parliament was sitting thanks to power supplied by generators.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the government had already called for an investigation and it would not hesitate to take necessary action on the findings of the probe.

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Committee on Public Finance meeting: one-third drop in next Yala harvest predicted

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Members of the Committee on Public Finance recently recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be lifted, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the coming Yala harvest.

The Chairman of the Committee on Finance Anura Priyadharshana Yapa pointed out that under the prevailing circumstances, the interest of the paddy farmers and consumers had to be taken into consideration.

In response to MP Yapa’s comment, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that, according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year.

MP Nalin Fernando pointed out that if businessmen were allowed to import rice freely, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than necessary, driving the paddy prices down and affecting the farming community badly. Hence, the Ministry of Finance should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. MP Fernando also pointed out to the officials of the Ministry of Finance that it was important to make rice freely available at reasonable prices. Sri Lankans did not like rice imported from neighbouring countries, he said.

The Committee on Public Finance was urged to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Minister of Finance. MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said officials had to investigate the macro economic impact of such orders given without a proper procedural or logical assessment.

The committee members inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Finance who were present at the Committee meeting whether the 2021 Budget forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the committee observed that if only local funds were used to repay all debts, there would be an increase in interest rates in the near future and that would adversely affect the local private sector, (Dr.) Harsha de Silva said.

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