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SJB lambastes LPL series

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By Saman Indrajith

Peolple hit by the pandemic were struggling to dull the pangs of hunger, but the Sports Ministry was holding carnivals by playing premier league cricket, the SJB said yesterday.

SJB Badulla District MP Chaminda Wijesiri, participating in the third reading debate on the budget 2021, said that the urgent need of the people was not premier league cricket tournaments, which cost billions of rupees. “They cannot even watch those matches on TV because of the mounting electricity bills during the recent months. It is no secret that these carnivals cost billions of rupees. What we do not know so far is from where that money is coming from.”

“Under a previous Rajapaksa government, the present Sports Minister organised car races opposite the Dalada Maligawa, Kandy. We remember how sand bags were put up closing down some roads in Kandy as Minister Namal Rajapaksa wanted to hold car races and carnivals with foreign dancers. It seems Minister Namal Rajapaksa has not learned a lesson yet.”

 Kandy District SLPP MP Wasantha Yapa Bandara: How do you say that Minister Rajapaksa participated in the race? He did not participate in the race. You should withdraw that statement.

MP Wijesiri: Some drove their cars while some others danced with foreign dancers. Those who danced at that time are now shouting. Do not forget how people responded to those extravagances. Those were the reasons they voted you out last time. While MP Namal Rajapaksa was in the Opposition, we saw him moving with people, attending funerals, and working with them on their fields. He was in shorts helping people affected by floods and painting their houses. We thought that he had learnt his lessons but now we are sure we were mistaken. Several days ago, there was an archery competition and the chief guest was Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa. The first and second places of the competition went to his brothers. It seems that we are back on the same track again. The premier league carnival confirms it. A minister of Sports could render an immense service to the people. During the time of our government Minister Harin Fernando served that district and helped the players.

Minister Namal Rajapaksa: What did Harin Fernando do for the benefit of the sports sector? What did he do?

 MP Wijesiri: Do not ask me. You are the sports minister and you should know what your predecessor did for the sports. You can ask from ministry officials. Harin Fernando did not go around opening buildings. Now, tell me who is the owner of the biggest shop in the Mahiyangana? Tell me if you can. Harin Fernando worked for the people. People have not voted to see you and friends to see you and your friends enjoy life. You just passed one year. If this is your record for a year, we can’t even imagine what you would do in time to come.



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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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