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Price controls removed



By Saman Indrajith

There are no goods in the market at the government stipulated prices, says the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament yesterday that the government had announced maximum retail prices through gazettes but nowhere in the market were goods available at those prices.

“There is a gazette stating the controlled price of sugar at Rs. 88 a kilo but in the market it is Rs. 99 a kilo. This is true of other essential items. There is no place where 27 commodities are sold at the government-stipulated prices.”

Minister Bandula Gunawardane: There is no such gazette. We have withdrawn it.”

MP Kiriella: “When did you withdraw the gazette?”

Minister Gunawardane: We withdrew it today.

Minister Gunawardane said that the gazette on controlled prices had been withdrawn after announcing that the government would maintain fixed prices as regards 27 essential commodities for three months starting Feb 8, subject to foreign exchange rates and any taxes that may be imposed on certain imported goods. As per that directive,  prices of red raw, white raw, white nadu, samba, and kiri samba rice, wheat flour, white sugar, brown sugar, green tea, red dhal-Australian, big onion-Indian, potato-native, potato-Pakistani, chickpea, dried chili, canned fish local and imported, sprats, chicken, salt, milk powder, soybean oil, laundry soap, laundry bar soap, fragrance soap, hand wash liquid, mouthwash will be kept stable for the next three months.

The Minister said that when the sugar price increased in the world market, four gazettes had been issued by the President to remove taxes on four essential items including sugar, but nowhere were those items sold at the revised prices except at Sathosa outlets. Therefore, we withdrew the price control gazette today and introduced the new mechanism.”



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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