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SL will commence exporting smart meters this year: Minister Alahapperuma



Minister Alahapperuma inspects the system control at the Ante LECO factory, also in the picture Power and Energy Ministry Secretary Wasantha Perera

By Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka should be able to dream and realise her dreams; and in so doing, she faced many social and economic challenges, Power and Energy Minister Dullas Alahapperuma yesterday said when he visited Ante LECO Suhuru Manu factory in Bandaragama.

Ante LECO Metering Company (Pvt) Ltd. is a subsidiary of LECO, where 70 per cent of the shares are owned by LECO and 30% by Ante Meter Company Ltd. of China. This is the only Energy Meter Manufacturing Company here and it will supply the total requirement of household electricity meters to the Ceylon Electricity Board and LECO -Lanka Electricity Company.

Since January 2018, Ante LECO has expanded its operations to produce smart meters for the local market here. Its smart meter has been tested and certified by KEMA Laboratory, in the Netherlands.

Minister Alhapperuma said LECO had a unique identity among the state institutions. “As the head of the Electricity family, I am very happy about that. As a vital sector, our biggest challenge is to ensure that the country’s power needs are met so that its development goals can be achieved. It has been almost three decades since the smart meter arrived in Sri Lanka. The world is moving fast.”

Alahapperuma said that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had opened the Ante LECO factory at a time when the country was fighting a war against terrorism. “Today, we should express our gratitude to him for that. As a government, we seek to create a Sri Lanka free from fossil fuel by tapping renewable energy.

The Minister also stressed that the technical challenge of storing energy generated from renewable sources would be handed over to LECO. “This institution was established in 2008 on a concept of then President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a solution to the electricity meter crisis here. The company first started producing electro mechanical meters in 2008. Then in 2014 the company took it to the next level and started manufacturing electronic gauges. In 2017 the company was transformed into a smart meter factory.

“This enabled CEB to produce the required meters and more than 40% of the total meter production process commenced. The company aims to complete the entire gauge manufacturing process in the country this year and export our products to foreign countries, becoming a competitive international gauge manufacturer.”

Wasantha Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy, Athula de Silva, Attorney-at-Law, Chairman of LECO, Dr. Narendra de Silva, General Manager, Ceylon Electricity Board and Nalinda Illangakoon, Deputy Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board were also present on the occasion.

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About Rs 3 bn paid as OT during past few months



Overtime gravy train for CPC refinery workers:

By Saman Indrajith

About Rs. 3,000 million had been paid as overtime for the employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation oil refinery, during the past few months, Parliament was told yesterday.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that he had asked for a detailed report as to whom and on what grounds the overtime payments had been made and it would be submitted to Parliament.

Fielding a question asked by Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, Minister Wijesekera said instructions had been issued to regulate overtime.

MP Kiriella demanded to know why overtime had been paid to employees of an institution that had been shut down. “There are reports that over Rs 4,000 million has been paid as overtime to the workers of the refinery that was not functioning owing to the non-availability of crude oil. This is a crime,” Kiriella said.

Minister Wijesekera: “I made inquiries after I saw newspaper reports on payment of overtime to refinery workers. I inquired from the Finance Manager of the CPC. I was told that a sum between Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion had been paid as overtime. The refinery was not closed during the months of March and April. It was closed only during the last month. They had issued refined fuel on all seven days of the week continuously. When an institution operates full time in such a manner the employees would have to be paid for their overtime work. However, I admit that could have been done with some level of management in the payment process,” the Minister said.

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Wigneswaran claims RW accepted all his demands



Head of the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK), C. V. Wigneswaran told the media recently that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to all demands he had made, including the release of Tamil ‘political prisoners’, to secure his vote during last month’s Parliament election, to elect a President.

He made this statement following a meeting with the President in Colombo to discuss the establishment of an all-party government.

“We have made several requests and if the President is ready to comply with them, we will consider taking part in the all party government,” he said.

“We met him when he was Prime Minister. Before the parliamentary vote to elect the President, I made these demands and he agreed to them. That is why I voted for him. Now, it is for him to keep his promises. I am here to remind him of this,” Wigenswaran said.

Wickremesinghe, as the Prime Minister in the yahapalana government, vehemently denied that there were Tamil ‘political prisoners’ in the country. (RK)

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MPs are not immune from country’s laws – SJB



By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the MPs were not immune from the Penal Code despite the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

Premadasa said Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane had claimed that incidents in Parliament could not be dealt with under the regular law.

“This claim sends the wrong message to people. Aren’t the provisions of the Penal Code or the Offences against Public Property Act applicable to the MPs? There were incidents in this Chamber during the 52-day coup conspiracy; some MPs damaged public property. There were investigations by the CID and also by Parliament.

The Secretary General announced the cost of the damage. When the process was on to prosecute those MPs responsible for the damage, political influence was exerted on the CID not to file cases against the culprits. It is against this background that Minister Gunawardane, in his position as the Cabinet spokesman, makes this false claim. His statement is sending a message saying that there is one law inside the Parliament and another outside it.

“He also claims that the Speaker decides whether these laws are applicable to Parliament or not,” Premadasa said.

Colombo District SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said that people were already against the MPs and this new wrong message would further exacerbate their anger against elected members. “The Cabinet Spokesman says that the MPs have a different set of laws while the people are dealt with by the country’s laws. That is wrong. We are also liable for criminal offences that we commit,” Rahuman said.

“The CID conducted an investigation and was prepared to file cases, but that was prevented through political influence. The Cabinet Spokesman’s statement is fueling public hatred towards the MPs. Please, request the Cabinet Spokesman to refrain from making such statements,” he said.

Minister Gunawardane said that he was only responding to a question raised by a journalist and the question was about fairness of cracking down on protesters for destroying public property, during anti-government protests, when MPs, who damaged Parliament, property under the former government, are yet to be apprehended.

Minister Gunawardane said as a public representative in Parliament for the last 33 years he had only explained that the law would be implemented against those engaged in violent activities during peaceful protests.

“I said MPs had Parliament privileges and the Parliament law. I also explained that MPs attending Parliament cannot be arrested as they are engaged in legislative activities,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said that the MPs had no such legal immunity. and Parliament privileges only cover MPs from being arrested while they are on their way to attend and when they leave Parliament. “Therefore, there is no law that says they are exempt from other laws of the country,” Kiriella said.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, agreeing with Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella, said that all other laws in the country applied to the MPs.

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