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Two new factories to produce pharmaceuticals and tyres to be set up in Hambantota district – Minister

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by Raja Waidyasekara

Irrigation, Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management Minister, Chamal Rajapaksa unveiled plans to start a new pharmaceuticals factory in the Hambantota district to produce medicines locally.

In addition, a new facility to produce tyres will also be established in the district. Rubber is being grown in the Katuwana, Middeniya and Sooriyawewa areas of the region. However, instead of giving a boost to the local industry, the previous government was comfortable with merely importing rubber from Malaysia, the Minister told a meeting at Tissamaharama recently.

He said the proposed diversion of the Gin ganga and Nilwala ganga is on the cards as it will help farmers in a big way to cultivate their fields during both the Maha and Yala seasons.

“We need to encourage farmers to use carbonic fertilizer as far as possible”, Minister Rajapaksa stressed.

“It was during our tenure of government that we built an airport and a sea port in Hambantota. The previous regime failed to develop these two facilities to attract more business”, he further said.

The Minister said that a commercial aircraft pilot has an income of Rs. 500,000 monthly while an executive chef of a five-star hotel such as Shangri-la earns a monthly salary of Rs.150,000. There are more such jobs the youth of Hambantota and adjoining districts can easily fit into after undergoing training.

Continuing, he noted that the government has already restricted the import of 16 non-essential consumer commodities which can be produced locally. This gives an opportunity to local farmers to earn a substantial income by cultivating these crops.

The education sector is also being reformed on par with modern trends. An educated generation should be raised to take over the country’s future, he emphasized.

There is no fear psychosis in the country after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected to office, the Minister added, while however cautioning that certain politicians defeated by the people are trying to fuel flames of racism.

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EC member Hoole moves SC against 20A

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Petitions challenging 20A before five-judge bench of SC today 

By Chitra Weerarathne

Petitions filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, will be called before a five-judge bench today.

These petitions have said that people’s approval at a referendum as well as a two-thirds majority in Parliament will be needed to enact the Bill.

All the petitions have basically said that the Bill has a section, which says a dual citizen can contest to enter the Parliament of Sri Lanka and run for President threatened national security.

The petitions challenge the powers vested in the President. The President could sack the Prime Minister and the Ministers. Once the Bill becomes law, fundamental rights petitions could not be filed to challenge an act of the President, the petitions have pointed out.

The investigating powers of the Auditor General have been curtailed. The powers vested in the Elections Commission when an election is on is also limited, the petitioners have argued.

The petitions have requested the Supreme Court to declare that a two-thirds majority in Parliament and people’s approval at a referendum will be needed to enact the proposed amendment.

Among the petitioners are Elections Commission member Ratnajeevan Hoole, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, Attorney-at-Law Indika Gallage, Mayantha Dissanayake, S. J. B. Member of Parliament for the Kandy District and also the President of the Youth League of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

The Supreme Court bench will comprise the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice S. Thurairajah and Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda.

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Senasinghe announces quitting politics

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By Akitha Perera

Former non-cabinet minister of the yahapalana government Sujeewa Senasinghe announced yesterday that he would quit politics. 

He had also stepped down as the SJB Deputy Secretary, Senasinghe said. 

Senasinghe said that he intended to focus on his business in the future and that he would commence work on his PhD from January 2021. 

He unsuccessfully contested the Aug 05 general election from the Colombo district on SJB ticket.

Senasinghe commenced his political career as a member of the Western Provincial Council of the UNP. He was elected to Parliament twice from the same party. 

He earned notoriety by publishing a book denying the bond scam ever took place.

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Pujith insists his hands were tied during crucial period 

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

He had been aware that the activities and preaching of Islamists would have an impact on reconciliation, but those in higher positions were convinced otherwise, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, yesterday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The ex-IGP said that although he too had received information about activities of Islamic extremists by late 2018, he had been barred from the National Security Council (NSC) by then.

“I couldn’t share the information I had and I didn’t know what was discussed there. I couldn’t even assign a senior officer to represent me there.”

Jayasundara added that after he had received, on April 09, a report from State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Nilantha Jayawardena about a possible terrorist attack, he forwarded the report to SDIG of Western Province, Nandana Munasinghe, SDIG crimes and STF M.R. Latheef, DIG special protection range Priyalal Dasanayake and Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division, Waruna Jayasundara and spoke to them over the phone.

Jayasundara said that he had also phoned all SDIGs in charge of provinces. The witness added that he had wanted to ensure that there would not be a leak, causing unnecessary problems in society.

“For example, the letter I sent to the Special Protection Range (SPR) was leaked to the media after the attacks.”

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