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Sajith requests govt to increase Rs 5000 relief allowance

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By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday (24) requested the government to increase the Rs. 5,000 relief allowance given to people in lockdown areas. He pointed out that the amount was not sufficient to cover monthly expenses of a family.

Making a special statement, Opposition Leader Premadasa said: “There are delays in distributing the Rs. 5,000 allowance to the low income families in lockeddown and isolated areas in Colombo. A Grama Niladhari can distribute the money only to 100 people a day because they do not have enough resources to do that. It is also said that the government would provide a basket of goods worth Rs. 10,000 worth each to the families under quarantine. But people in some areas allege that they have not yet received it. That is why the people in several areas staged protests on roads during the past few days.”

“Even in my election speeches I said that Rs. 5000 was not enough for a family and a family should be given at least Rs. 20,000 a month. Even for a family of two, at least Rs. 15,000 should be spent on meeting basic needs. Now, many people in locked down and isolated areas do not have any income. They have lost their jobs. So the government should grant them relief.”

Premadasa demanded to know whether the government was planning to enhance monetary relief. “How many families live in the locked down and isolated areas in Colombo? Does the government have a plan to provide reliefs to these people without any delay? How many families have got the monetary relief and essential goods packages at the moment? What are the steps you are planning to provide reliefs for people suffering from COVID-19 lockdowns in other Districts in the country?”

In response state Minister Shehan Semasinghe said that a detailed answer to Premadasa’s questions would be provided on Friday (27). “We will provide detailed answers for these questions on Friday. Our government will never let the people down. Until the answers are provided, I request Premadasa not to instigate the people.”

Opposition Leader Premadasa: “I do not instigate anyone. These are the real problems people are facing at the moment. It is sad that the government thinks that speaking about these things instigate the people.”

MP Semasinghe: “You were speaking about giving Rs. 20,000 to a family even during the election time. But people rejected you.”

Opposition Leader Premadasa: “I am glad that Semasinghe accepted that the government has no intention to increase the monetary relief. Thank you for that.”

MP Semasinghe: “Now, you are twisting what I said to mislead the people. I did not say that we would not increase relief. Ours is a responsible government. People voted for us because they believe we can protect them. We will not let them down.”



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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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