Prez reminds Opposition of findings of Easter Sunday PCoI
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday attacks (2019) appointed by the previous gvernment had held the then government including the then President, Prime Minister and the Cabinet responsible for the lapses that led to the attacks, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said at the opening of the new Kelani Bridge named “Golden Gate Kalyani” in Peliyagoda, on Wednesday (24).
The President’s Office said in a media statement: “The President said the PCoI report had been referred to Parliament, the Attorney General, and the CID for action to be taken. He added that through an Act of Parliament, a law could be enforced against the culprits named by the Commission.”
The President urged the Opposition to be careful when it tried to deceive the people. The new bridge was constructed to ease traffic congestion on the old Kelani Bridge due to the large number of vehicles entering and leaving Colombo.
The government of Sri Lanka and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) prepared the initial plans for the bridge in 2012, and its feasibility study was conducted in 2013. The Cabinet approved the construction of the bridge in 2014. The relevant agreements were also signed in the same year. Construction work began in 2017 after providing alternative shelter for the affected people providing alternative places for the public and private institutions affected by the project. The cost of the project is Rs. 55,000 million. The Bridge consists of six lanes from the entrance of the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway towards the Bandaranaike Roundabout and from that point onwards, the flyover will be four lanes towards Orugodawatte and the Ingurukade Junction. This will enable access to the elevated expressways from Ingurukade Junction to the Colombo Port City and from Orugodawatta to Athurugiriya.
The bridge has been constructed in such a way that it does not obstruct the flow of the Kelani River, and plants, including Koboneela, Esala, May-Mara, Mee and Kumbuk, have been planted on both sides of the main road.
“During the tenure of President Mahinda Rajapaksa from 2005 to 2010, massive development took place in the country. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of infrastructure development projects have been initiated. All development activities will continue, and all the promised projects will be completed if there are no other lockdowns in the country in the future,” the President said.
Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that the Opposition should not be allowed to sabotage the development programmes being carried out by the government. He added that during the tenure of President Mahinda Rajapaksa plans were made to build a Bridge in Kinniya.
Overtime gravy train for public sector back
Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy
By Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.
The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.
Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.
Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.
Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.
Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.
One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.
Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee
Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.
Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.
Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.
Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.
The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)
Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.
The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.
They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.
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