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Opposition Leader tells Minister Wimalaweera to apologise to settle dispute with officers

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By Saman Indrajith

State Minister of Wildlife Wimalaweera Dissanayake should tender an apology to wildlife officials and solve the dispute between them through negotiation, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday.

“There was a recent incident between the Wildlife State Minister and two Wildlife officials. What happened could not be approved. The two officers involved in this incident are known for their exemplary services. Among the two officers was one by the name of Wijekoon. He always worked for the protection of jungles and forests. There was an attempt on his life by businessmen who cut trees. They broke his legs in 2005. Once they tried to knock him down using a vehicle. Wijekoon was not even compensated properly so he returned the compensation to the Wildlife fund. He served bravely during the LTTE times to find a place where the LTTE cadres killed 16 elephants and recovered the tusks. In recognition of his services he was given the Wanajeevi Prasadini award.

The other officer by the name of Wasala took the lead in filing over 100 cases against those who destroyed forests. After the incidents both officers have been transferred to Giritale by a radio message. We have information that the dispute between the Minister and officers was not on the basis of a road through the jungle to a village but issues related to illegal sand mining. Instead of solving the issue through negotiation we have heard some talk of bribe taking Wildlife officers. Not all public servants take bribes. Such statements are an insult to public servants numbering around 1.5 million. We in the SJB have decided to stand for justice and in protection of the two Wildlife officers and demand that the government solve the matter through negotiations. It can ask its Minister to tender an apology and speak to the officers to get the matter solved,” Opposition leader Premadasa said.



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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