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Sumanthiran claims govt. has violated Constitution by spending money without parliament sanction



By Saman Indrajith

The Appropriation Bill 2020 was a cover-up for various illegal acts committed by the government during the recent past, TNA Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran said in Parliament on Thursday (12).

 Participating in the debate on the bill, the MP said: “Today we are debating a very strange Bill. It is called the Appropriation Bill for 2020, and we are debating it in the month of November 2020.”

 He said that an Appropriation Bill should have been debated and approved prior to the financial year concerned. “It is only then the executive obtains the approval of Parliament to draw from the consolidated fund, borrow and generally administer the finances of the country. Article 148 of the Constitution very clearly says that the Parliament will have full control over public finance. No tax rate or any other levy will be imposed by any local authority or any other public authority except by or under the authority of law passed by Parliament or of any existing law. So, there is no law for the financial year 2020.

“So, what can a resolution under Article 150 sub article 2 authorize? It can only authorise the drawing from the Consolidated Fund for public services only. That too is for specified public services only, as stated in Article 152. Those funds cannot be used for any developmental work.

“Now during this financial year, we have had two such resolutions passed. One covering the periods 1st Jan 2020 until 30th April 2020 passed in October last year, and another covering the period 1st Sept 2020 to 31st December 2020. Now even those two resolutions passed by this House can only be used for specified public services and not anything else.

“All of us know that this is not how finances have been handled in the country for this year. There has been a severe need to give the general public who were affected in several areas Rs. 5000 each in the month of April and May. None of those were public services. But all those expenditures were met and developmental activities carried out. All this was in violation of the very strict limitation imposed by the Constitution.

“This is a blatant violation of the Constitution by the government. We are trying to legitimise grave illegal and unconstitutional acts that have been purported in this country. The Appropriation Bill 2020 before the House today is not a covering approval; it is not ratification. It is something that can only be done legally. If something is done legally then you can ratify and grant covering approval for it. But illegal acts cannot be handled in that manner. This is the sorry state we are in today.”

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released



… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine



Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL



By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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