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UNP proposes ‘identical’ electoral system for parliament, provincial councils and local govt institutions

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The UNP has pointed out that a general election system should be introduced for parliament, provincial councils and local government institutions, parliament sources said.

Testifying before the Select Committee of Parliament to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments, the UNP has recommended that 65 percent of the members should be elected under the divisional system and 25 percent under the proportional representation system.

They also suggested that the number of members elected to local government bodies should be reduced by reducing the number of divisions.

Whilst stating that 25 percent of the members elected to local government bodies should be women, the UNP also pointed out to the Committee the need to ensure the representation of minorities.

Leader of the House, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena presided over the meeting.

Former Minister Sagala Ratnayaka, who testified on behalf of the UNP, further stated that Parliament should be an institution with genuine representation in various electorates in Sri Lanka.

The UNP also stated that dual citizens or persons affiliated with another state should be restricted or barred from contesting at the general elections in Sri Lanka.

The party pointed out that the composition of the Parliament should reflect the demographics of the eligible voters to vote in the election as practically as possible and accordingly the members of Parliament should be elected by the voters and from the national list.

The UNP also said that the sources of funding for parties and independent groups at the general election should be revealed.

They also pointed out that the expenses incurred by political parties and candidates at an election should be limited.

They were also of the view that changing parties should not be allowed and if a member does change the party, he or she should automatically be removed from the party list.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Senior Professor Sudantha Liyanage, member of the Committee of Experts appointed to analyze the proposals, presented to the Parliamentary Select Committee several models related to the local government election system at the Committee.

Prof. Sudantha Liyanage also pointed out the need to reduce the existing large number of seats in local government bodies.

The Committee Chair, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stated that the general opinion is that the country needs a better mixed electoral system. He also pointed out the need to have a Member of Parliament responsible for a division.

Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Douglas Devananda, Members of Parliament Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Mano Ganesan, M. A. Sumanthiran, Madhura Withanage and Sagara Kariyawasam were present at the meeting.

Officials from the Delimitation Commission and the Attorney General’s Department were also present.

The next meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee is scheduled to be held on the 13th of September, said the Secretary to the Select Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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