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SLAF aerial surveillance to curb deforestation – Defence Secretary

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Special unit set up to arrest land grabbers

Raising concern over widespread illegal forest resources degradation, Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne said that attention into deforestation is imperative and it is vital to identify such attempts at logging.

“The President has alerted Tri-forces and Police to thwart such attempts and, therefore, it would be monitored using aerial assets of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF)”, he noted.

The Defence Secretary was addressing District Secretaries/Government Agents at the Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management State Ministry in Narahenpita last week.

“We must safeguard our resources for future generations”, he stressed.

He asked District Secretaries/Government Agents to be vigilant and stand against the deterioration of the environment leading to depletion of forest resources.

Referring to the recent upsurge in land grabbing incidents, the Defence Secretary said a special unit has been set up to take deterrent action against persons involved in land grabbing.

He commended District Secretaries in areas, where the transmission level was low, for their efforts to limit the further spread of the virus.

Gunaratne said that District Secretaries/Government Agents of Colombo, Kalutara and Gampaha districts have also taken prompt action after consulting the state authorities and National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Highlighting the complete recovery of the Covid-19 cluster within the Navy, the Defence Secretary outlined that the spread of the virus within the Bogambara Prison has also been brought under control so far as the inmates were not exposed to the outside community.



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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