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Problem of drug lords escaping justice using willing fall guys

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By Saman Indrajith

Irrigation Minister and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament, on Thursday (8) that intelligence sleuths had been deployed to trace the drug lords who escaped the law by using willing fall guys who admitted to crimes for money.

The Minister said so in response to a question by Ratnapura District SJB MP Hesha Withanage, who pointed out that anti-narcotic operations would not yield the desired results as long as drug czars had their expendable hirelings to admit to their crimes and go to jail. “Those hirelings admit to the offences of the drug kingpins and go to jail. In return of those services, the narcotic dealers pay and take care of the family members of the hirelings. As long as this practice exists, the government will not be able to eradicate the drug menace.”

Minister Rajapaksa said that the government was aware of the issue raised by the MP. “We have handed over the matter to intelligence units and they will trace the masterminds. There will soon be more arrests. This time the arrests will not be limited to sprats, both sharks and sprats would be in jail.”

The Minister said that the eradication of drug trafficking was one of the main objectives of the present government and Sri Lanka Police would do its utmost to achieve that goal.

MP Withanage demanded to know the results of the raids.

Minister Rajapaksa revealed that in Ratnapura district drugs with a street value of Rs. 110 million had been seized by the police within the last two years following 6,962 raids and 6,957 arrests.

“Everything possible has been done to curtail the drug racket in the Ratnapura district. There have been several drug busts and arrests of suspects. We have taken legal action against the suspects. We have organised special awareness programmes to educate teachers and students on drug rackets targeting schools. We have also taken steps to establish information centres to thwart such attempts of dealing drugs to schoolchildren. There is a 24/7 special operation unit to receive all complaints and alerts on drug dealings of the area at the Senior DIG’s office.”

Asked if the government would arrest main narcotic-traffickers, Minister Rajapaksa noted that there were a number of such drug kingpins already in jail. “If you happen to know more of them, please submit all the information you have got to the police.”

 

 



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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