Ranil stays put as UNP leader
Vajira new Chairman, Ravi, Naveen not among new office-bearers
No decision yet on NL slot
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The UNP Working Committee yesterday (13) unanimously appointed former Galle District lawmaker Vajira Abeywardena the party Chairman.
The WC met at Sirikotha under the leadership of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. The meeting lasted for about one hour.
Abeywardena succeeded Kabir Hashim, who switched his allegiance to the then UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa in the run-up to the last parliamentary polls in August 2020, which they contested from the new party they formed, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.
Premadasa now leads the breakaway UNP faction SJB, which was immediately recognised by the Election Commission.
Among other key appointments WC reached consensus on were Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene, General Secretary Range Bandara, Assistant Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Treasurer attorney-at-law Misbah??, Senior Deputy Chairman former minister D.M. Swaminathan and three Deputy Chairpersons, former ministers Sagala Ratnayake, Daya Gamage and Sunethra Ranasinghe.
However, defeated Colombo District candidate at the last parliamentary election Ranil Wickremesinghe retained the leadership, while the party still refrained from naming its solitary National List MP though some sections of the media speculated that former Gampaha District MP and former State Defence Minister Wijewardena would receive it. Ironically the newly formed breakaway rival SJB won 54 seats, including seven National List slots.
Sagala Ratnayake did not contest the last general election.
Interestingly former MP Navin Dissanayake, who served as the National Organizer of the party is not among those who received appointments yesterday. Former Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake, too, had been left out, political sources said, pointing out that former minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne was also not among the recipients of positions in the party.
Other appointments were Deputy General Secretary Nalaka Kolonne, Assistant Secretary former lawmaker Anoma Gamage, Chairman policy and research former Minister and ex-Ambassador in China Karunasena Kodituwakku, Legal Secretary Nissanka Nanayakkara, PC, international affairs and Local Government former MP Sandith Samarasinghe and head of Finance Committee former lawmaker Ananda Kularatna.
Abeywardena, the first UNPer from the South to receive the Chairmanship entered parliament in 1994 after having served three terms as a Southern provincial Councillor since 1988. Abeywardena retained his parliamentary seat till his defeat at the last general election in which the party failed to win a single seat. The UNP is yet to reach consensus on its single National List slot.
Political sources said that the post of the National Organizer remained vacant and there was likelihood of the party reaching an understanding with the former minister Navin Dissanayake????. Sources said that in spite of some disagreements, efforts to re-build the party were continuing.
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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