By Saman Indrajith
Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was passed in parliament yesterday with a majority of 91 votes. The bill received 149 votes in favour and 58 voted against.
The SJB, the JVP and the TNA voted against the bill.
A vote was taken at the end of the second reading stage of the bill. There were 148 votes for the bill and 59 against. Accordingly, the second reading of the bill was passed by a majority of 89 votes. Thereafter, the government introduced amendments to the bill during the committee stage known as the third and final reading of the bill.
The Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was presented to Parliament on April 8 by Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena. The bill provides for the establishment of a commission empowered to grant registrations, licences, authorisations, and other approvals to carry on businesses and other activities in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be established within the Colombo Port City.
The Supreme Court on April 23 concluded the consideration of petitions filed challenging the bill and announced that the determination would be directed to the Speaker.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced the Supreme Court determination in the House on May 18.
A two-day debate on the bill commenced on Tuesday. Opening the two-day debate on the bill, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said the Port City project was expected to attract over $ 15 billion worth of investments in the next five years and that it was essential to bring in a legal framework to help achieve that goal.
“Today, there is much competition among countries to attract investors and to make our country attractive we have to offer incentives, facilities, and services. We should also have a single window investment facilitation process to attract foreign investment,” the PM said.
Strong earthquake hits south-eastern Turkey near Syria border
BBC reported that a powerful earthquake has hit Gaziantep in south-eastern Turkey, near the border with Syria.
The US Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep.
The quake was felt in the capital Ankara and other Turkish cities, and also across the region.
Reports are coming in that several buildings have collapsed, and a number of people may be trapped.
A BBC Turkish correspondent in Diyarbakir reports that a shopping mall in the city collapsed.
Rushdi Abualouf, a BBC producer in the Gaza Strip, said there was about 45 seconds of shaking in the house he was staying in.
Turkish seismologists estimated the strength of the quake to be 7.4 magnitude.
They said that a second tremor hit the region just minutes later.
13 A: Political parties miss Ranil’s Feb. 04 deadline for submitting their proposals
Udaya compares constitutional threat with Indonesian crisis in late ’90s
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The government hasn’t received proposals from political parties regarding President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution fully.
President Wickremesinghe, on January 26, requested party leaders to furnish their suggestions, if any, by Feb. 04 as he intended to brief Parliament on Feb. 08 as regards the implementation of land and police powers.
Political parties, represented in Parliament, had not responded to President Wickremesinghe’s request so far, authoritative sources told The Island. Responding to another query, sources said that the President’s Office hadn’t received proposals in support of President Wickremesinghe’s declaration or against it.
Several political parties, including the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) spurned the President’s invitation.
Having declared his intention to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, enacted in Nov. 1987, during Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15th, 2023, President Wickremesinghe warned party leaders on January 26 he would go ahead with plans unless the parliament repealed it. Both declarations were made in the presence of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.
Sources noted that though several political parties declared opposition and some issued statements supportive of the President’s move, they haven’t submitted proposals in writing.
President Wickremesinghe prorogued Parliament, on January 27, the day after setting Feb. 04 as the deadline for political parties to submit proposals. The new session of Parliament begins on Feb. 08.Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary, Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, told The Island that the decision to fully implement the controversial amendment shouldn’t be taken hastily.
“We are certainly not opposed to the devolution of power. However, we cannot under any circumstances support an agenda that may cause chaos,” National List MP said.
The Attorney-at-Law said so when The Island asked him whether the ruling party submitted its proposals to President Wickremesinghe.The lawmaker said that there was no requirement to do so as he on behalf of the SLPP explained to the January 26 meeting chaired by President Wickremesinghe why 13th Amendment shouldn’t be fully implemented without examining the ground situation.
“Seven past Presidents didn’t do that. Why didn’t they do so? We’ll have to study why they refrained from granting police and land powers in spite of them being part of that Amendment. If the reasons that compelled them not to do so no longer exist, we can consider the proposals,” lawmaker Kariyawasam said.
Declaring SLPP’s commitment to maximum possible devolution, MP Kariyawasam warned of dire consequences if decisions were made on the basis of language and religion.The SLPP that secured 145 seats at the last general election remains the largest party in parliament though over two dozen MPs quit the government group.
MP Kariyawasam emphasized that they couldn’t act recklessly on the issue at hand.Those who quit the SLPP parliamentary group, too, have strongly opposed the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila, MP, compared the developing crisis here with Western project that divided Indonesia in the late 90s.Attorney-at-Law Gammanpila explained how Western countries exploited the economic crisis in Indonesia to compel Jakarta to grant independence to East Timor.
Addressing a public rally at Dehiwela on Feb. 02 in support of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya contesting March 09 Local Government polls, former Power and Energy Minister said that the challenge faced by Sri Lanka owing to the continuing balance of payments and debt crises was very much similar to the circumstances leading to East Timor independence.
The 13th Amendment would split Sri Lanka on ethnic lines, the Colombo District MP warned.The MP recalled how external powers created an environment that compelled Indonesian President Suharto to resign in May 1998 to pave the way for Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri to win the next presidential election. The MP said that Sukarnoputri granted independence to East Timor.
Gas prices up
State-owned Litro has increased the price of domestic gas with effect from midnight yesterday.
Chairman of Litro Company Muditha Peiris said the price of a 12.5 kg domestic gas cylinder would be increased by Rs 334, the price of a 5 kg gas cylinder by Rs 135 and the price of a 2.3 kg gas cylinder by Rs 61 .The 12.5 kg cylinder is Rs 4,743.
Strong earthquake hits south-eastern Turkey near Syria border
Protesters among prisoners pardoned by Iran leader
Weekend avalanches kill 10 in Austria and Switzerland
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
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