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Ranawaka wants country’s defence strategy focused on Navy

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By Samna Indrajith

SJB Colombo District MP Patali Champika Ranawaka said, on Thursday, that Sri Lanka’s defence strategy should have its focus on developing the Navy.

Participating in the third reading debate on Budget 2021 under the expenditure heads of ministries of Defence and Public Security, MP Ranawaka said that countries with a bigger landmass prepared their defence strategies focussed on ground forces, while smaller countries such as Britain and the Netherlands concentrated more on their naval power. “Sri Lanka with a sea area 23 times larger than its landmass too should think on the same lines. The United Nations is going to announce the exclusive sea zone belonging to Sri Lanka in the future. Therefore, I propose that our defence strategy, too, should be prepared giving more weight to the Navy.

“We must not forget how the LTTE could make use of our foreign policy that was changed under the JR Jayewardene government to become a pro-American country during the times when Russia and the US were in a power struggle. Again a similar situation is cropping up. We recently saw the QUAD security arrangement. A new strategic alliance by the name of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was formed by the United States,  Japan,  Australia  and India. This is against the Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean. It has been dubbed the Asian NATO. If we are going to take sides in this struggle of a new cold war our security and economy will be in danger. We should therefore maintain a non-aligned policy. I think that all our governments should follow Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike government’s policy of keeping Indian Ocean a peace zone.

At the time of the end of the war, our Navy gained international attention by maintaining a reliable sea supply route. It maintained those supplies amidst Sea Tiger attacks. The Navy could convert that fame into a successful revenue earning venture but it was handed over to a private businessman in 2012. He pocketed over Rs. 12,000 million. When we came to power we got it transferred to the navy. We hope that the fame the Navy won by dedicative service would not be allowed to be exploited by businessmen again. Today, the Somalia pirate problem is not that strong but our naval force still could become the strongest Navy in providing security services in this region.

“Today, technology plays a pivotal role in defence affairs the world over. Recently, the leading nuclear expert of Iran was assassinated. Prior to that Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iranian Quds Force was assassinated. Both assassinations were not carried out by persons but automatic electronic devices. The defence forces must get ready to be aware of digital technology and latest innovations of cyber warfare. But in our country if our authorities get hold of such technology it would be used to hunt opposition politicians and to listen to their telephone conversations,.”

Ranawaka said that the head of State and Chief Executive holding the defence portfolio was better for the national interest and it was a positive sign that confusion caused by the President not holding those portfolios had been put to an end.

 

 



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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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