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Political victimisation PCoI report not President’s private property, JVP leader says, demanding its immediate release



By Saman Indrajith

The JVP yesterday called on the government to release the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Political Victimization immediately.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said: “The PCoI report on political victimization is not family property of the President to keep it to himself. We have asked the government umpteen times to make it public. I made many requests at the party leaders’ meeting and Parliament sessions to that effect. We have made requests to the Speaker. Under the provisions of the Right to Information Act we made a request to the Presidential Secretariat on Jan 21. The Information Officer of the Presidential Secretariat on Feb 08 informed us that the report could not be made available. Thereafter, we made an appeal for the purpose on Feb 22. My legal counsel too made a request on Jan 29. On Feb 12 our Attorney-at- Law Sunil Watagala made another request but so far no response.

“The report contains information about cases of corruption and malpractices that took place prior to 2015. People have a right to know the report’s contents. Further, it contains information about cases of killings and abductions and massive frauds. Therefore we demand that the report be immediately made available to the public.”

The JVP leader alleged that soon after the incumbent government had come to power a PCoI was appointed under the Chairmanship of retired Supreme Court Justice Upali Abeyratne to inquire into the incidents of political victimisation. “The commission was in operation from Jan 2020 to Nov 26, 2020 and handed over its report to the President on Dec 08, 2020. Thereafter, an addendum containing 48 more pages was handed over to the President. On Jan 15 ,President Gotabaya Rajapaksa obtained Cabinet approval for directing the Attorney General to withdraw certain number of cases mentioned in the PCoI report. Among these cases are the one against Udayanga Weeratunga, who is the main accused of the infamous MiG aircraft deal, one against Udaya Gammanpila charged for defrauding an Australian businessman in a private transaction, case against Basil Rajapaksa and Thiru Nadesan about Malwana luxury house, case against Yoshita Rajapaksa as regards funds for CSN channel, case against Jaliya Wickremasuriya’s alleged purchasing of a building for the Sri Lanka’s Embassy in the US, case against Nalaka Godahewa giving funds of Securities and Exchange Commission to the Tharunyata Hetak movement, the case regarding killing and abduction of 11 youth for extortion of money, case against Pillayan on killing of Joseph Pararajasingham, the MP Raviraj murder case, case on Lasantha Wickramatunga assassination, cases on abducting and assaulting journalists Keith Noyahr, Upali Tennakoon, Poddala Jayantha and others, cases against misappropriation of public funds, Avant Garde case etc. This is nothing but trying to save fraudsters, corrupt officials and murderers using victimisation as an excuse to release them from a number of court cases.

“People have a right to know and the government should not hide the PCoI report made by the commission using public funds. The report should be made public immediately,” Dissanayake said.

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Amendments to be incorporated into Colombo Port City Bill – GL



By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP Chairman Prof. G. L. Peiris says amendments proposed by government lawyers in respect of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill submitted to the Supreme Court, through the Attorney General’s Department, would be incorporated into the Bill along with the amendments proposed by the Supreme Court.

Education Minister Peiris, one of the intervening parties in support of the Bill, says the government is confident of the passage of it in Parliament this week.

Prof. Peiris discussed the upcoming two-day debate on May 19 and 20 at the regular SLPP media briefing at their Nelum Mawatha Office in Battaramulla.

The former internationally distinguished law professor and Colombo University Vice Chancellor said that the government was determined to go ahead with the mega project as part of their overall efforts to attract investment. The Minister explained the need to go ahead with planned projects, regardless of difficulties caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister briefly described the procedures adopted in the passage of the Bill.

Petitioners that challenged the Bill included the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera represented by SLPP Colombo District lawmaker Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC. Petitioners asked for the Bill to be approved by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and at a referendum.

The only MP other than former Justice Minister Rajapakse to express concern over some provisions in the Bill was Yuthukama leader and SLPP National List parliamentarian Gevindu Cumaratunga.

At the onset of the briefing Prof. Peiris said the government was continuing with a vaccination drive to bring the Covid-19 situation under control. The minister acknowledged the difficulty in procuring the required number of covishield doses for those who required the second dose. The SLPP Chairman said that the government was discussing the issue at hand with both governments and the private sector in a bid to obtain the required stock.

Prof. Peiris placed the shortage of covishield vaccines at over 400,000 whereas the health ministry earlier estimated the shortfall at over 600,000.

Minister Peiris acknowledged that a daily count of approximately 2,500 new Covid-19 cases was quite a challenge though the government sustained efforts to keep the situation under control.

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Covid patients to be treated at centres close to homes



Those diagnosed with COVID-19 would be sent to treatment centres and Intermediate Care Centres closest to their homes, the Health Ministry said yesterday

The decision was taken at a meeting held yesterday at the Health Ministry. Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle and Ministry officials took part in the meeting.

 A Health Minister’s spokesman said the decision had been taken to lessen the psychological trauma on the patient and the family.  

 The Ministry will also supply necessary medical equipment and medical staff to treatment centres that are being built by the government and non- governmental organizations.

 State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) has been instructed to procure AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses required for the second jab as soon as possible. (RK)




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Digitalization way forward for Lanka – World Bank



Healthcare workers in Sri Lanka enter data into the DHIS2 COVID-19 surveillance system(Pic courtesy World Bank)

Digitalization is the way forward for Sri Lanka to transform into a technology-based society, says the World Bank.

The WB report said that the Government of Sri Lanka has demonstrated its commitment to accelerate digital transformation. In order to reap the benefits of digital technologies, the country now needs to ensure that access to high-speed and affordable Internet is available to all citizens including in remote areas of the country and across income groups and gender. It also needs to ensure that the right policies, laws, and regulatory frameworks are in place to protect the security, data and rights of all especially the vulnerable.

In early 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdown began, Sri Lanka’s food supply chain was significantly disrupted leaving farmers and consumers to face the adverse effects of the pandemic. Wholesale and retail markets were closed and traders were encouraged to deliver food items directly to doorsteps following strict health guidelines.

However, to sell and deliver food items and agricultural products, small traders were required to register at the Divisional Secretariats (DS), local-level administrative units which serve as the primary citizen delivery points.

But government office closures significantly affected this process. Meanwhile, there was no means to submit and process permit requests electronically.

Now, the Government of Sri Lanka, led by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) in collaboration with various stakeholders, has embarked on a highly anticipated digital transformation journey to address such issues.

With support from the World Bank’s Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC), ICTA is planning to bring services online to 10 selected Divisional Secretariats through piloting the ‘’ initiative, a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) platform.

The platform will leverage existing infrastructure such as the Lanka Government Cloud (LGC 2.0), the government’s cloud computing infrastructure, and the Lanka Government Network, the government’s private network which connects 860 government offices across the country.

The proposed solution will offer the general public and businesses the capability to fill and submit relevant information and documents digitally without having to visit government offices.

These pilot services will range from civil registrations (births/deaths) and small business registrations to allowing farmers to process police permits for transporting crops.

Once the system is successfully piloted in selected DS offices, the platform can be scaled to other government organizations, reducing travel and building efficiency in service delivery including in areas outside of urban centres and contributing to Sri Lanka’s green recovery.

“Our biggest objective is to build the digital foundation for the government to continue serving all Sri Lankans during a crisis like this. This is just the beginning of our digital transformation journey” says Mehinda Herath, Chief Executive officer of ICTA.

The CERC will also build resilience in public service delivery by enabling government officials to work remotely.

This will be done through the implementation of a government-wide email and collaboration solution and video conferencing facilities; and by enhancing the capacity of the government cloud infrastructure (LGC 2.0) to support more services.

A disaster recovery site will also be established for LGC 2.0 so that critical data is not lost in times of exogenous shocks, including natural disasters such as flooding and cyclones.

“The vision of ICTA is to improve living conditions and livelihoods across Sri Lanka irrespective of geographical locations and other disparities. This will be done through effectively adopting digital technologies and developing the required enabling environment, including the legal framework, basic infrastructure such as unique digital ID and government wide digital connectivity as well as various other aspects that are required to develop the digital economy,” says Prof. Lilith Gamage, Chairman of ICTA.

Transforming Sri Lanka into a technology-based society is one of the key national policy objectives of the country, as highlighted in the President’s manifesto, Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor. This includes the implementation of a “whole-of-government approach” to digital government to improve the delivery of public services to all Sri Lankans; developing the technology industry for jobs and growth; and supporting digital entrepreneurship and growth of a digitally savvy workforce and population.

The government is developing a foundational digital ID system that is backed by biometrics. ICTA together with the Ministry of Justice has also commenced an initiative to establish a country-wide court management system with the aim of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the judicial system.

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