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PM will decide on next SLPP leader at right moment – Prasanna

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Dispute in SLPP settled by President and Premier

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, on the invitation of Industries Minister and National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, on Saturday (13) visited the ‘Made in Sri Lanka exhibition’ at the BMICH as the SLPP and the NFF tried to settle a simmering dispute caused by Minister Weerawansa calling for a decision-making role for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the ruling party.

Minister Weerawansa emphasized that as President Mahinda Rajapaksa had proved that terrorism could be defeated. He underscored President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s leadership role in building the Hambantota Port, Colombo Port City, new power stations and transforming the country.

He also pointed out that current political strategies adopted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government wouldn’t have been possible without the strong foundation laid during the decade of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure as the President – 2005-2015.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, who attended the opening of the exhibition on the invitation of Minister Weerawansa, the previous day, said that the dispute over the latter’s statement had been settled by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The SLPP launched a scathing attack on Weerawansa after the NFF leader called for an important position for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the decision making SLPP hierarchy. The SLPP accused Weerawansa’s party of having persons with connections with foreign intelligence services in its ranks. Weerawansa, in a statement issued subsequently denied the accusation while requesting the President to initiate an inquiry.

Minister Ranatunga said it was Mahinda Rajapaksa who had made Gotabaya Rajapaksa the SLPP presidential candidate. Declaring that the SLPP didn’t require the advice of anyone to make President Gotabaya Rakapaksa the leader of the party, Minister Ranatunga said that the Premier would take that decision at the right time.

The Gampaha District SLPP heavyweight said that if not for former Minister Basil Rajapaksa forming the party, they would have been in serious trouble today. The Minister insisted that smaller parties had no say in SLPP leadership issue and it would be entirely up to the party. The former SLFPer said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had accepted Prime Minister’s leadership. According to him, no one in the government could politically survive by criticizing either the Premier or the President.

Minister Ranatunga said that smaller parties had no political future without the SLPP. The Minister, however acknowledged the smaller parties’ right to conduct a political dialogue among themselves. The minister however warned that smaller parties weren’t in a position to threaten the SLPP. The NFF has six lawmakers including one National List member in the government. The government parliament group consists of 145 members.

Since the eruption of protests over controversial moves to hand over the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo harbour, Minister Weerawansa twice called meetings at his Colombo residence on January 30 and February 11 to discuss the ECT matter and then the controversy over his advice to the SLPP, respectively. Sources close to Minister Weerawansa told The Island that the SLPP couldn’t continue delaying a decision on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s formal role in the SLPP decision making process.



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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