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SJB takes ‘sugar racket’ to CIABOC, demands PCoI

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The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) youth movement yesterday (1) lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), calling for an investigation into the alleged sugar fraud, which it says caused a loss of Rs. 11 billion to the state coffers.

Filing the complaint, Samagi Tharuna Balawegaya Chairman MP Mayantha Dissanayake said that in addition to the bribery investigation, a Presidential Commission of Inquiry should also be appointed to probe every aspect of the alleged fraud and the persons involved in it. 

Samagi Tharuna Balawegaya Propaganda Secretary Rasika Jayakody, National Organiser Chamith Wijesundera and Attorney-at-Law Madhawa Jayawardena were present to file the complaint.

“Approximately, a consignment of 75,000 MT of sugar was imported by a powerful businessman after the import duty on sugar was reduced to 25 cents per kilo. Several other consignments of sugar are still arriving. Despite the drastic reduction in duty, there was no significance decrease in the sugar prices in the market. The state-owned Sathosa purchased sugar at higher prices and sold it at Rs. 85 per kilogram. We suspect that some racketeers with links to the government made huge profits.

“The impact of the alleged sugar fraud was two-fold. On the one hand, it deprived the government of a staggering amount of tax revenue. According to our calculations, this amounts to Rs. 11 billion. On the other hand, the benefit of the duty reduction was not passed on to consumers.

“We urged the Bribery Commission to probe the alleged involvement of former Sathosa Chairman Nushad Perera’s in this and his connection with Sajad Mowzoon, the owner of the company which imported sugar. When we raised the matter in Parliament, no member of the ruling party came out with a proper answer.” 

The MP said the alleged sugar fraud was similar to the Treasury Bonds scams which took place under the yahapalanaya government. “At least President Sirisena appointed a Presidential Commission to investigate the scam and the legal proceedings were initiated based on the report. We hope President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa will have the courage to investigate the corruption allegation faced by his own officials and supporters.” 

Dissanayake said the SJB, as the main opposition, would continue to monitor the progress of the bribery investigation. “Our struggle will not stop here. We will continue to raise this issue in Parliament and demand answers. This staggering deal should not be swept under the carpet. Everyone involved in this deal, irrespective of their positions or allegiance, should be brought to justice.”



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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