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SLPP MP draws attention of parliament to many shortcomings in election process

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By Saman Indrajith

The election deposit that must be submitted by an independent candidate to contest an election had remained the same since 1981 while no deposits were required for recognised political parties, Parliament was told on Wednesday (23). 

Opening the adjournment debate on the performance report of the Election Commission, SLPP National List MP Sagara Kariyawasam told Parliament that independent candidates had been required to deposit just Rs. 2,000 when contesting an election since 1981 while recognised political parties did not have to make any deposit. “We need to increase the amount to be deposited by a candidate,” Kariyawasam insisted. 

MP Kariyawasam thanked the Election Commission and its staff for having conducted the 2020 parliamentary election in a free and fair manner and in a peaceful atmosphere. “In addition, the election was held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures were adopted to ensure that the election did not result in the spread of the disease within the country is laudable.”

Nevertheless, he noted that the gazetting of the candidates’ preferential vote numbers had been delayed due to disagreements among the three members of the Election Commission. “The Commission has three members and the quorum for a meeting is also three. As such, it is clear that increasing the number of members of the commission to five is sensible.”

Kariyawasam stressed that due to the severe restrictions imposed on election propaganda, only candidates who had enough financial resources could advertise on electronic and print media. 

MP Kariyawasam also pointed out that many of those engaged in essential services continued to be disenfranchised as they were required to remain at work on election days. “As per current election laws, even those in the health sector such as doctors and nurses, employees working on expressways, staff of aviation services and those in the hotel industry are not entitled to postal voting. As such, it would be better to introduce advance voting for such persons on a day closer to the polling day at their places of work.”

The MP, however, pointed out that a large amount of funds was needed to carry out advance voting, which was one reason why the deposit money should be increased. 

He said that given the massive workforce and effort that is needed to hold an election, it was time to explore the possibility of launching a pilot project on introducing electronic voting. 

The Government Printer, Department of Posts, police and Government employees were yet to be paid for work they had done during the elections, Kariyawasam said.

Kariyawasam drew the attention of Parliament to a large number of rejected votes.

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COPE meets online for first time in its history

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by Saman Indrajith

The Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) created a history by meeting online for the first time ever on Thursday.

The COPE had Secretaries of three Ministries joining in with its committee meeting through online (ZOOM) becoming the second parliamentary committee holding an online meeting in the country.

Thursday evening’s COPE meeting chaired by its chairman Prof. Charitha Herath connected online with Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H. S. Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W. A. Chulananda Perera and, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J. Ratnasiri via zoom technology.

The Environmental Audit Report on water pollution of the Kelani River was brought before the committee and the meeting held between the Chairman Prof. Herath, Ministers and Members of Parliament and secretaries and other officials continued without any technical hitches.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that facilities have been provided to hold meetings and discussions using online technology in two committee rooms in Parliament.

He said that Parliamentary officials had been working relentlessly for months to install the requisite technological tools and that the efforts have borne fruit and future Parliamentary meetings could be held online as a result.

The Committee on High Posts under the chairmanship of Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also held a discussion with the new Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kenya, who was living in Kampala, using online technology recently.

 

 

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Legatum Prosperity Index highlights SL’s development of education and healthcare sectors

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During the past decade

One of the key highlights of this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index was the improvement in Sri Lanka’s education and healthcare sectors over the past decade. These improvements were key to increase in prosperity within Sri Lanka, it was noted.

The London-based think-tank Legatum Institute launched the 14th Legatum Prosperity Index on November 17 2020.

The event commenced with the welcome address by the Chair of the Legatum Institute, Alan McCormick. 

Addressing the audience, the Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, The Baroness Stroud said that according to the Legatum Index, the global prosperity was at its highest level ever with 147 countries seeing their prosperity rise over the last decade.

Speaking at the launch, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK, Saroja Sirisena said that the end of the terrorist conflict in 2009 and the ensuing peace dividend, led Sri Lanka to achieve steady progress within the last decade.

She highlighted that the universal free education and healthcare policies of the country over seven decades are the pillars on which prosperity is built.

Director of Policy of the Legatum Institute, Dr. Stephen Brien explained to the audience as to how the Legatum Index is used to measure prosperity across the world.

The event was also addressed by the Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Biologist and Writer, Matt Ridley and Ambassador of Georgia in the UK Sophie Katsarava.

Legatum Prosperity Index is a global index that analyses the performance of 167 nations across 65 policy-focused elements, measured by almost 300 country level indicators and it is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on institutional, economic and social wellbeing.

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Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India with Sapna Mehra

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The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, Colombo, will be holding an online cookery demonstration on ‘Snack Time: Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India’ on December 5 at 11.00 am on its FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/ICCRSriLanka.

This festival season, the Cultural Centre will present a virtual cookery demonstration by Sapna Mehra. Cooking has been a passionate hobby of Sapna since her childhood days. Growing up in a large family of 17 members, she was very keen on bringing variety to the dining table, and that’s when her cooking journey began, preparing simple wraps, and snacks.

She now specializes in cooking dishes from a variety of cuisines. Originally from Bangalore, she has lived in many cities across India and Sri Lanka, and at present resides in Delhi.

She has a Postgraduate degree in Marketing and has over 12 years work experience in the professional field.

All are cordially invited to attend. For more details, contact the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on telephone No: 2684698 or Email: iccrcolombo2@gmail.com

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