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Vasu: Basil advancing US agenda

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… says ready to be sacked

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara yesterday (16) alleged that Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa was bent on furthering US interests in Sri Lanka.

Addressing the media at Dr. N. M. Perera Centre, Cotta Road, Borella, the General Secretary of the Democratic Left Front (DLF) said the rebel group, within the ruling coalition, was sure of its assessment.

Ratnapura District lawmaker Nanayakkara said that they couldn’t have remained silent as the incumbent dispensation quite controversially opted for what he called, neo-liberal policies at the expense of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s manifesto, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.’

Having opposed the controversial Yugadanavi deal with the US-based energy firm, New Fortress Energy, in September 2021, the dissident group had launched an alternative economic recovery plan, on 02 March, this year, lawmaker Nanayakkara said.

MP Nanayakkara explained how they had tried to prevent the government from departing from its original plans. Their failure to reverse the government decision on Yugadanavi had prompted them to oppose it in public.

The government had given a boost to their campaign by removing NFF leader Wimal Weerawans, and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila from the Cabinet on 03 March following the unveiling of alternative proposals, the veteran leftist said.

Nanayakkara endorsed allegations his colleagues, Weerawansa and Gammanpila, levelled against Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has declared that the Finance Minister wouldn’t be removed under any circumstances.

Minister Nanayakkara said their future course of action would be influenced by the government’s reaction to their campaign.

Declaring that he wouldn’t attend Cabinet meetings or carry out ministerial duties and functions, MP Nanayakkara said that it was up to the government to respond. He urged the government to sack him.

Nanayakkara said they had opposed to the 20th Amendment, which enabled dual citizens to enter Parliament. He recalled how they had discussed the matter with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

President Rajapaksa had assured the dissent group that the purpose of the constitutional amendment was to counter the yahapalana attempt to prevent him from contesting the 2019 presidential election.

President Rajapaksa stressed that the change had been made as a matter of principle. But contrary to the assurance given by the President, Basil Rajapaksa had brought into Parliament in July last year and made the Finance Minister, MP Nayakkara said.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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