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USD 3.76mn contracts for empty LPG cylinders:



Not a political decision says co-cabinet spokesman

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Co-cabinet spokesperson, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila told post-cabinet media briefing on Thursday (10) at the Information Department that contract for the supply of four types of empty metal cylinder containers to the Litro Gas Lanka had been awarded in keeping with guidelines issued by the Department of Public Finance.

Lawmaker Gammanpila, who is also the leader of Pivuthu Hela Urumaya, said that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa proposed the awarding of the contracts to the cabinet on the recommendation of the Cabinet-appointed Standing Procurement Committee.

 Having explained the decision making process, the lawmaker emphasized that it was not a political decision. The minister said that the English note as regards the awarding of contracts had differed from the Sinhala statement, hence the confusion.

Minister Gammanpila said so when The Island sought an explanation as regards the contradictory nature of notes in Sinhala and English made available to journalists at the commencement of the press conference.

According to a cabinet decision taken on September 9, a contract worth USD 2.18 mn had been awarded to M/S Metal Mate Company Limited for the supply of 22,000 (2.3 kg), 105,056 (12.5 kg) and 1,260 (37.5 kg) whereas Sahamitr Containers Public Company Limited won USD 1.58 mn worth contract for the supply of 117,040 cylinders (5kg).

During the question and answer session, Minister Gammanpila as well as Minister Keheliya Rambukwella explained the circumstances under which the government was seeking to re-schedule foreign debt. The media was told of continuing difficulties experienced due to major economies, too, being affected by the corona pandemic. Minister Gammanpila said that the country was in dire straits for want of sufficient dollars. The minister pointed out that the imports had to be drastically restricted due to the crisis situation. The minister said that the current policy had to be continued until the problem could be settled. If the status of the Rupee deteriorated further the situation would be far worse.



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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