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Ratwatte has forfeited right to hold any government office says BASL

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“By resigning he has accepted responsibility”

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) says that by tendering his resignation, State Minister of Prison Management Lohan Ratwatte has accepted responsibility for his conduct and has thus forfeited his moral right to hold any government office.

The BASL in a statement has called for an investigation, requesting the Attorney General and law enforcement authorities to “act forthwith in dealing with these serious acts of impunity allegedly committed by Ratwatte”.

“The allegations against him are such that Mr Ratwatte can no longer command the trust or responsibility of not only a government minister charged with duties in respect of prisons, but also as a minister holding any other portfolio and as a Member of Parliament,” the statement said.

Full text of the BASL statement signed by BASL Secretary, Rajeev Amarasuriya: “The Bar Association of Sri Lanka is deeply disturbed at the reports of the alleged criminal conduct on the part of the State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Affairs and Gem and Jewellery related Industries Mr. Lohan Ratwatte which seriously calls into question his eligibility to hold office in the government any longer.

“The BASL understands that Mr. Ratwatte has now tendered his resignation from the office of State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Affairs but not from the office of State Minister of Gem and Jewellery related Industries.

“The allegations that Mr. Ratwatte forcibly entered the prisons at Welikada with other persons and that he flew to Anuradhapura and forcibly entered the prison there and intimidated prisoners at that prison are acts of gross impunity and a threat to the rule of law.

“The allegations against him are such that Mr. Ratwatte can no longer command the trust or responsibility of not only a government minister charged with duties in respect of prisons, but also as a minister holding any other portfolio and as a Member of Parliament.

“Such acts of impunity are ones which should be investigated fully and impartially and if proved be visited with penal consequences. It is imperative that independent and impartial investigations into these alleged criminal acts are conducted expeditiously. The BASL has noted time and again that the State has a duty to protect prisoners in their custody.

“By tendering his resignation Mr. Ratwatte has accepted responsibility for his conduct and therefore he has forfeited his moral right to hold any office in government, ministerial or otherwise.

“The BASL furthermore calls upon all relevant authorities including the Hon. Attorney General and the law enforcement authorities to act forthwith in dealing with these serious acts of impunity allegedly committed by Mr. Ratwatte.”



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Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine

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Industry leader has sought court intervention

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.

Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.

Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.

Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.

The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.

Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.

In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”

The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.

Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.

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Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.

Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).

The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most  scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.

Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.

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President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today

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by Saman Indrajith

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).

He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.

Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.

The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.

To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.

Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.

President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.

At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.

The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.

Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.

After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).

Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

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