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Yugadanavi dispute: Govt. ready for dialogue with dissidents

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JVP frowns on CEB Chairman’s role

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has said that the government is prepared to consider dissenting views expressed by various parties critical of the agreement on the Yugadanavi Power Plant situated at Kerawalapitiya.

The Gampaha District SLPP heavyweight said that the government would take, what he called, a comparatively good decision after examining concerns expressed as regards the agreement.

Minister Ranatunga said so yesterday (15) after opening the newly constructed Samurdhi Bank at Kerawalapitiya.

In addition to the JVP and the SJB, a section, within the SLPP parliamentary group, as well as Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thera of Ape Janabala Pakshaya have launched a high profile campaign against the energy deal. All of them have moved court against the agreement with an American company.

A nationalist civil society group, led by Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, too, has resorted to legal action.

Declaring the government’s readiness to reach a consensus with the dissident group, Minister Ranatunga said that the copies of the agreement had been made available to the leaders of the constituent parties of the government to facilitate a dialogue.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake tabled the secret Yugadanavi agreement in Parliament on Dec 10. The government on Sept 17, 2021 finalised the agreement though in spite of repeated requests refrained from tabling it in Parliament.

Minister Ranatunga said that party leaders could express their views on the issue at hand. If the Yugadanavi deal could provide relief to the people, the government should go ahead with it, lawmaker Ranatunga said, underscoring the importance of the relevant ministries briefing the pubic of the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement.

Minister Ranatunga said that the continuing accidental explosions caused by domestic gas cylinders, too, was a major problem. Once the investigations into the incidents were brought to a successful conclusion, the Attorney General could initiate legal proceedings, the minister said.

The Minister alleged that the Opposition was trying to exploit current developments to its advantage.

Former JVP MP Sunil Handunetti yesterday (15) told The Island that consultations among political parties represented in the government parliamentary group as well as others in Parliament should have taken place ahead of the signing of the agreement.

Alleging that Yugadanavi deal was nothing but a clandestine operation, one-time Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Handunetti asked the rationale of the CEB Chairman M.C. Ferdinando signed as a witness in his other capacity as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

Pointing out that Ferdinando had declared at a media conference arranged by the Presidential Media Division (PMD) that the signing of the agreement was delayed as they awaited the Attorney General’s approval, Handunetti urged the government to explain the developments in the wake of cabinet granting approval to Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle to sign what was called a framework agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka.

The role of the AG as well as the Chief Government Valuer in the Yugadanavi project should be examined, the ex-MP said.

Handunetti said that the government had been in an indecent hurry to finalize the agreement. Referring to a Finance Ministry Cabinet Memorandum dated Sept.06, Handunetti said that the cabinet has authorized Attygalle on July 5, 2021 and the framework agreement signed on July 7, 2021. The share sales/ purchase agreement has been signed over a week after the relevant cabinet memorandum, the former lawmaker said, adding that the government swiftly and decisively moved this matter after the change at the Finance Ministry in July this year.

Responding to another query, Handunetti emphasized that until JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake presented a certified copy of the agreement to the Parliament on Dec 10, the government made a desperate attempt to suppress it.

Before the signing of the Yugadanavi deal, the government brought M. C. Ferdinando as the Chairman of the CEB and engaged in a clandestine operation for over five months until the exposure of the deal. Handunetti said that the Yugadanavi deal was as bad as the treasury bond scams if not far worse as those responsible manipulated the whole political and administrative setup to achieve their sinister goal.

The former MP said that the SLPP couldn’t suppress the ugly truth by proroguing the Parliament. The Yugadanavi fiasco should be examined taking into consideration other major issues, including the decision to pay the Chinese USD 6.7 mn having rejected consignment of carbonic fertiliser and the import of liquid fertiliser from India under controversial circumstances.

The JVPer said that the government on its own had caused so much turmoil at a time the country was struggling to meet its financial obligations, both here and abroad.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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