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SJB whips up frenzy over flaws in draft 20A

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By Saman Indrajith

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya had commenced a campaign to safeguard the democratic values of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and named it 19Plus, SJB MP Tissa Attanayake said yesterday.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, MP Attanayake said that the campaign would be launched officially at 4 pm today at the New Town Hall.

He said that the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution by the government had become a fatherless baby. “The Justice Minister says that though he submitted the draft to the Cabinet he does not know who prepared it.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa says that the draft does not have a father. The Prime Minister does not know about it. The Cabinet of Ministers too are in the dark about the persons involved in drafting the Amendment and its content. Not even the Parliamentary group of the government is aware of anything certain about the draft bill.”

MP Attanayake said that the proposed 20th Amendment contained many anti-democratic provisions. “As we go through the draft bill it could be seen that there is provision for increasing the number of Cabinet ministers, dissolving parliament one year after its formation, enabling those with dual citizenship to come to parliament, abolition of independent commissions, etc.. People did not give a mandate to the government for any of these things.”

SJB Kurunegala District MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha said: “This is a very decisive moment. Now, it is clear that the President does not abide by the Constitutional provisions. He exceeded his powers when spending money for COVID-19. He cannot hold the defence portfolio. But he keeps that ministry by force. There is an ongoing opposition within the government ranks  against the 20th Amendment, which has been formulated by a team with the blessings of the President. Now, another team loyal to the Prime Minister is opposing it. Time was when the President and the Prime Minister were at loggerheads. Ranil Wickremesinghe and Maithripala Sirisena pulled the government in two opposite directions. Now the power has been given to a single family and the same tug-o-war is going on between the President and the Prime Minister. The proposed 20th Amendment is something akin to preparing a pitch to play a fraudulent match.”



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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