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SJB plans major campaign over dismissal of cases by AG and CIABOC



MP Rahuman addressing the media outside the CIABOC on Monday (8)

Rahuman alleges manipulation at the highest levels

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) would respond to the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) request for information pertaining to the withdrawal indictments and/or court proceedings filed by the outfit or filed for/and on behalf of it since the last presidential election in Nov 2019, a senior official said.

In terms of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in Oct 2020, the appointments to the CIABOC are made by the President.

Secretary to the CIABOC Apsara Caldera said so when The Island asked her whether the commission would reveal information sought by the SJB in terms of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Commissioners would decide on the SJB’s request, Caldera said, adding that an application was received on Monday (8).

The CIABOC comprises retired Supreme Court justice Eva Wanasundera (Chairperson), retired Court of Appeal justice Deepali Wijesundera and one-time head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) DIG Chandra Nimal Wakista.

Colombo District lawmaker Mujibur Rahuman who made the application on behalf of the SJB told The Island that according to the available information the CIABOC alone had

terminated about 45 cases on so called technical grounds. Addressing the media outside the CIABOC, Rahuman questioned the rationale in the CIABOC actions at a time the government was propagating ‘One Country, One Law’ concept. MP Rahuman was flanked by colleagues, J.C. Alawathuwala and Harshana Rajakaruna.

The SJB last week, also in terms of the RTI law sought similar information from the Attorney General. The SJB has submitted the following questions to the CIABOC:

1. How many indictments and/or court proceedings filed by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or filed for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption have been withdrawn after the 19th of November 2019?

2. What are the names of the accused parties in the indictments and/or court proceedings that have been withdrawn by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or withdrawn for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption after the 19th of November 2019?

3. What are the case numbers of the cases that have been withdrawn by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or withdrawn for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption after the 19th of November 2019?

4. On what dates have the indictments and/or court proceedings filed by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or filed for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption after the 19th of November 2019 been withdrawn?

Lawmaker Rahuman said that once they obtained required information from the AG and the CIABOC a detailed study would be done. “We intend to give widest possible coverage to the AG and the CIABOC actions. Altogether over 50 cases have been dismissed on technical grounds. Interestingly all of them happened to be either members of the incumbent administration or those close to the powers that be,” MP Rahuman said.

Responding to another query, MP Rahuman said that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should state its stand on the dismissal of high profile cases on unexplained technical grounds. Political interference in the judiciary would erode public confidence in the system, the former UNP lawmaker said, underscoring the importance of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary working in unison to ensure public confidence in the legal system. MP Rahuman said that right thinking people couldn’t remain silent over the matter. The whole law enforcement process would be a joke if political parties were allowed to manipulate legal procedures at will, MP Rahuman said, the country never experienced a similar situation before. “We expect the BASL to reveal its stand on this matter,” the MP said.


Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine



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



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



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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