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Sajith reiterates need for resumption of capital punishment



By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the SJB was of the view that the capital punishment should be re-implemented.

 Participating in the second reading debate on the draft 20th Amendment, the Opposition leader said that drafting laws for implementing the death penalty was an urgent need.

 Justice Minister Ali Sabry asked him whether it was his personal standpoint or the position of his party.

 Opposition Leader Premadasa:

We do not have a personal standpoint. We have party standpoints.

 Justice Minister Sabry:

That is good now we know that your party’s position is to implement the death penalty.

Opposition Leader Premadasa:

I do not know why the Justice Minister opposes the re-implementation of death penalty against terrorists and drug dealers.

Justice Minister Sabry: That is fine because your own party men have gone before the Supreme Court against the reimplementation of the capital punishment.

 Opposition Leader Premadasa said that SJB stood for power sharing and not to concentrate power in one organ of the government.

 The Opposition Leader said that the U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people, for the people which meant it was a social contract between the public and the rulers. Montesquieu argued that the tripartite system should be practised to maintain checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial functions of the government in order to prevent one organ of the government dominating others. 

He said that the clauses of the draft 20th amendment to the Constitution would destroy the checks and balances that had been introduced earlier. “When the power to make appointments to top posts is vested in a single person the checks and balances suffer a setback. Those who protested against the executive presidency have forgotten their own protests. 

“Why do you fear the mechanism that was introduced under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to bring about a just society?

 “But this is a struggle for power between the President and Prime Minister. But what is correct is to bring checks and balances between the two institutions.” 

He said that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution was not for the betterment of the public. “What we have got to do is to set up a National Security Council a new Health Act. The death penalty should be brought as regards those who engage in terrorist activities and those who engage in drug trafficking and that is the stance of the SJB”. 

“I request you to listen to the public,” the Opposition Leader said. “I request you to listen to Ven Elle Gunawansa Thera and Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, who associated with my late father, President Ranasinghe Premadasa closely.”  



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Domestic debt restructuring will cripple EPF, ETF – JVP



By Sirimatha Rathnasekera

The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) will lose about 600 billion rupees during the proposed domestic debt structuring, Co-Convener of the JVP affiliated National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) Wasantha Samarasinghe claimed.

Samarasinghe is of the opinion that the government is planning not to pay 20 to 25 percent of the loans it has taken from domestic sources. Successive governments have borrowed significantly from the EPF and ETF, he said.

Samarasinghe said that due to the depreciation of the rupee, the real value of EPF and ETF funds had decreased by half. “In such a context, can these institutions take a 20 percent haircut? This might be a big problem to the workers,” he said.

The NTUC Co-Convener said that a number of domestic banks, too, had lent to the government and domestic debt restructuring might lead to a collapse in the banking system.

However, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says that they are confident of reaching debt sustainability without re-structuring domestic debt, which would lead to problems in the banking sector.

“There have been concerns among domestic bond investors about rupee debt/internal debt to be restructured following comments made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to the effect that financial advisors were looking at domestic debt. However, there has been no request to restructure domestic debt. We are confident that we can make debt sustainable without restructuring domestic debt,” Dr. Weerasinghe told the media at the CBSL’s 6th Review of the Monetary Policy stance for this year, at the CBSL head office auditorium, in Colombo, on Thursday.

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Powerful CEBEU says yes to restructuring but on its terms



Sri Lanka will experience periodic power cuts until 2027 if the government did not take steps to increase electricity production, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) said yesterday.Due to electricity shortages, the Norochcholai Power Plant had been operational non-stop, sometimes even without scheduled maintenance, CEBEU President, Saumya Kumarawadu said.

“A generator is down. We will get it back online within 14 days. We had started maintenance on another plant in June and it was to be back online in September. But it has been delayed till November,” he said.

Kumarawadu said there would be 10-hour power cuts without Norochcholai. However, the power cuts could be reduced in two weeks when the generator was restored, he said.

He added that while they support restructuring of the CEB, they oppose de-bundling and selling the CEB to various private actors.

“Power cuts might have to go on till 2026 or 2027 unless new plants come up. A proposal to build an LNG power plant is still languishing in the Cabinet,” he said.

The CEBEU President also said that the electricity tariff was last increased in 2012. In 2014, the tariff was reduced. Without increasing electricity tariffs, the CEB will have to get increasing amounts of money from the treasury.

“The government should have increased the tariff at regular intervals. We haven’t increased in a decade and suddenly we have increased by a large amount.That’s why it has come as a shock to people,” he said.

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SJB opposes blanket privatisations



… questions logic of selling cash cows like Telecom and Insurance

The SJB was opposed to the privatisation of profit-making government entities, Chief Opposition Whip, MP Lakshman Kiriella, said yesterday, in Colombo.Kiriella said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had told The Economist magazine that they are thinking of privatising Sri Lanka Telecom and Sri Lanka Insurance.

“These are two institutions that make a profit. What is the point in privatising these?” he asked.

MP Kiriella said that they are not opposed to privatizing SriLankan Airlines, which has been making losses for years.

“We can talk about these things in Parliament. Even when we privatize loss making entities we have to take a number of things into consideration. What will happen to the workers? How will we compensate them? How will we re-skill them? We have to talk about these things openly before doing anything,” he said.

The Chief Opposition Whip said that one of the main reasons why people oppose privatization is because everything is done in secrecy.

“People wonder why things are hidden from them. We need to be open and transparent when we restructure,” he said.

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