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Vasu alleges SJB’s role in Basil’s plan to save Mahinda and govt.

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… main Opposition party denies charge

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Close on the heels of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader MP Udaya Gammanpila’s declaration that the SLPP rebels and the SJB had the required strength to move a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) against the government, fellow rebel lawmaker Vasudeva Nanayakkara has accused the SJB of trying to save the incumbent dispensation.

 The General Secretary of the Democratic Left Front (DLF) Nanayakkara yesterday (26) told a hastily arranged media briefing, at his Maradana office, how the SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa had cooperated with the SLPP strongman Basil Rajapaksa to undermine their efforts to move the proposed NCM.

Fielding questions, former Water Supply Minister Nanayakkara claimed that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, too, appeared to have been involved in the conspiracy.

 The Opposition Leader’s Office dismissed MP Nanayakkara’s allegations.

Referring to UNP leader Wickremesinghe’s recent statement in Parliament where he had urged members to delay whatever action until Finance Minister Ali Sabry, PC, briefed the House of the outcome of his talks with the IMF, lawmaker Nanayakkara accused the ex-PM of interfering with their strategy.

 Those who had been asking the current dispensation to quit were now playing a different tune, Nanayakkara said, questioning the SJB leader’s attitude towards the moves underway to get rid of the government.

 Responding to another query, MP Nanayakkara said that SJB leader Premadasa desperately wanted an early general election. However, MP Premadasa appeared to have sought an assurance from SLPP founder Basil Rajapaksa to provide the required support to form a government as the SJB on its own couldn’t muster a simple majority, MP Nanayakkara said.

 Nanayakkara said that the SLPP rebel group would go it alone at the next general election.

 Asked how Basil wielded so much power as various groups pulled in different directions, MP Nanayakkara alleged the former Finance continued to interfere in their efforts to compel the entire Cabinet of Ministers including PM Mahinda Rajapaksa to quit.

 The DLF General Secretary said while a group of protesters sustained a high profile ‘Gota Go Home’ protest opposite the Presidential Secretariat, Basil Rajapaksa continued to protect the PM.

When it was pointed out that both Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa remained in office in spite of the growing demands for their immediate resignations, MP Nanayyakara urged the public to send in postcards to the Premier asking him to leave. According to him, Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa remained in office after having promised to step down on more than one occasion.

Nanayakkara said that the government in an obvious bid to appease the International Monetary Fund (IMF) even before an agreement could be reached with the outfit, had depreciated the rupee, abolished price controls and increased interest rates, thereby causing the sudden increase in prices of all commodities and services.

Nanayakkara said the SLPP was now down to 106 members.

At the last general election, the SLPP secured 145 seats and the SJB 54.



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Weerawansa’s wife sentenced to RI

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Lawyers appearing for Shashi Weerawansa, MP Wimal Weerawansa’s wife, yesterday (27) appealed against a Colombo Magistrate’s Court decision to sentence their client to two years rigorous imprisonment.Colombo Chief Magistrate, Buddhika Sri Ragala found her guilty of submitting forged documents to obtain a diplomatic passport circa 2010. The Colombo Magistrate’s Court also imposed a fine of Rs. 100,000 on Mrs. Weerawansa. If the fine is not paid she will have to serve an extra six months.

Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawala announced that the appeal would be called for consideration on 30 May.The case against Mrs. Weerawansa was filed by the CID after a complaint was lodged on 23 January 2015 by Chaminda Perera, a resident of Battaramulla.

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Unions predict end of energy sovereignty

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A government decision to allow all privately-owned bunker fuel operators to import and distribute diesel and fuel oil to various industries was a rollback of the nationalisation of the country’s petroleum industry and another severe blow to energy sovereignty of the country, trade union activist of the SJB Ananda Palitha said yesterday.Earlier, Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera Tweeted that ‘approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations provided in bulk’.Commenting on the decision, Palitha said that according to the existing law those companies only had the power to import, store and distribute fuel for ships. Those companies did not have the authority to distribute fuel inside the country, Palitha said.

“Only the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) can distribute fuel inside the country. There is a controversy about the licence given to the LIOC as well. If the government wants other companies to import fuel, it needs to change the laws. The Minister does not have the power to make these decisions. A few months ago the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration used to rush Bills that adversely affected the country through Parliament. Now, since they don’t have a majority in parliament, they are using the Cabinet to make decisions that are detrimental to the country’s interests.”

Palitha said that the controversial government move would further weaken the CPC, and that the ultimate aim of the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe government was to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) purchase fuel from private distributors. With a weakened CPC and a CEB under the mercy of private companies, the Sri Lankan state would have little control over the country’s energy sector, he warned.

“The CEB already can’t pay the CPC, and therefore how can it pay private companies? It will have to sell its assets. This is another step in the road to fully privatise the energy sector. When this happens no government will be able to control inflation or strategically drive production through fuel and energy tariffs. The people will be at the mercy of businessmen and the government will only be a bystander,” he said.

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US Ambassador calls on Speaker

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U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung yesterday (27) called on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena at the Parliament Premises.The U.S. Ambassador said that she hopes the government, including the new Prime Minister, would be able to bring about political stability and overcome the current economic crisis. The Ambassador also emphasized the need to carry out the political reforms desired by the people and to safeguard democracy in the country.

She also hoped to enhance relations between the two countries through the Sri Lanka-USA Parliamentary Friendship Association. She appreciated the role played by the Women Parliamentarians Caucus and discussed the need to increase the representation of women.The Speaker also expressed his gratitude to the United States of America for its continued support to strengthening democracy in Sri Lanka.This is the first meeting between Ambassador Chung and Speaker Abeywardena since her appointment as US Ambassador to Sri Lanka.Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake was also present on the occasion.

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