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SJB wants April to Aug.‘unauthorised’ expenditure rectified

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB Colombo District MP Harsha de Silva told Parliament yesterday (28) that the government‘s expenditure from April to August without a warrant from the House should be corrected so that such expenditure would not create a precedent.

Participating in the debate on Vote on Account, MP de Silva said: “We have a problem as to how these funds during the said period of time were allotted and spent without the authorisation of the House. The election was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, there were some legal issues concerning obtaining the funds, however, practically the government, we understand, had to obtain funds to fulfill the needs of people. We never questioned it.  Now that we have brought the pandemic situation under control, we need to legitimise these expenses. If we make it reasonable, it shall not be a precedent for a future President. We don’t know what kind of Presidents shall be elected in the future.”

MP de Silva criticised the government for obtaining more than a trillion rupees as loans within a short period of six months upon its election. In addition, he said that the Vote on Account and some more outside funding had been requested and that would increase the country’s debt stock.

 MP de Silva requested the government to be vigilant when obtaining repo loans against the Treasury bills and bonds in the US Federal Reserve. “I am not saying obtaining loans this way is right or wrong. But as a responsible Opposition, we would like to request the government to be vigilant when obtaining these loans. This facility was introduced for countries affected by the pandemic as a temporary solution.

Now when we issue ISPs in the open market, our sovereignty and jurisdiction are NY Courts. Therefore in case of our inability to repay they can use their jurisdiction or even administration. This government has a great challenge in obtaining loans. If not the above mentioned method, the other way is that the government should obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund. In that case, I would like to ask the government if it is planning to discuss with the IMF. I would also like to ask the government whether it has a plan to meet the debts due in the coming years.”

MP de Silva also requested the government to disclose the balance of the special account recently opened to cater to deposits in any currency such as dollars, yen or other.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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