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Annual school big matches and carnivals: Beer companies banned from sponsorships: Akila

The government has not approved the sponsorship of beer companies for annual big matches and carnivals of leading schools, Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said.

He was responding to a question posed by MP Buddhika Pathirana during the oral question round in Parliament yesterday.

“We have banned obtaining such sponsorships for any tournament at schools. Measures were taken to ban the advertising intoxicants,” The Education Minister said.

MP Buddhika Pathirana said toffees mixed with heroin were sold to schoolchildren.

“Tattoo machines have found their way into schools and during school carnivals beer companies set up stalls. Some past pupils’ associations support this trend,” MP Pathirana said.

Minister Akila Viraj said committees were appointed at school level to address the drug menace and implement a programme to minimise children getting into the habit.

“It is not that easy to deal with the situation since drugs are available outside schools. We are doing our best to control, and we initiated a programme to arrest those engaged in such activities. Those were now minimised,” he said.


Kotte has unapproved high-rise buildings: Harsha

Policy Planning and Economic Development Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said that of 39 high-rise buildings in Kotte constructed in 2015-2016, only four had been approved by the relevant institutions,

The Deputy Minister was speaking at the Committee Stage Debate of Budget 2018 in Parliament yesterday when the Finance Heads of Western Development and Megapolis Ministry were taken up for debate.

He said an audit unearthed the finding.

“We obtained 37 files of the 39 projects after going through a tough process. After evaluating them,we found that 12 were constructed without complying with the Jayewardenapura Kotte Development Plan formulated in 2008 and other building regulations but the relevant licences. Another 15 had not approved by the Central Environmental Authority, Water Supply and Drainage Board, Ceylon Electricity Board, and Civil Aviation Authority but the Kotte Municipal Council. The inquiry said the rest, six projects, would not fall into the category of condominiums,” de Silva said.

He urged the Megapolis Minister to study the procedure taken to give approval for those condominiums thoroughly. He said many of them were in Kotte.

“The country’s capital city does not have a proper sewerage system,” he said and urged the Government to give priority for the Kotte sewerage project planned with the JAICA funds.

He urged Minister Patali Ranawaka to take actions against LG officers who had not adhered to the proper procedure in approving the condominiums.


Petitions against LG polls withdrawn: Musthapha

Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha told the Parliament that the individuals who filed petitions preventing the local government election from being held, agreed to withdraw their petitions.

He said he agreed to provide certain reliefs that the petitioners had pleaded in their petitions.

He was responding to a query made by Chief Opposition Whip and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

The JVP leader said he was informed that the Court had refused the motion, to take the petitions against the LG elections on November 30.

He queried what measures would the Minister take to hold the election without delay.

Minister Musthapha said the petitioners agreed to withdraw the petitions after the Prime Minister’s discussion with them following the Party Leader’s Meeting.

He said the representatives of the Attorney General informed the Court on Thursday that the matter was settled and the petitioners were ready to withdraw the petitions.


‘Previous regime created bubble development’

Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said previous regime developed the country under a debt bubble. “Instead, the good governance government develop the country through direct investments of the private sector,” he said.

He was speaking during the Committee Stage Debate of Budget 2018 in Parliament yesterday when the Finance Heads of Western Development and Megapolis Ministry were taken up for debate.

“During the past two years, nearly 500 projects were initiated throughout the country after conducting proper environmental and social evaluations and following proper tender procedures. In 2014, the construction field developed by 14.9 percent. “Unlike in the past, now construction is streamlined,” he said.

He said the construction sector during the Mahinda-Gota-Basil era developed by a mere 7.5 percent despite the hype they created. In 2014, it was 10.6 percent and in 2015, 2.7 percent and in 2016, 14.9 percent, he said.

“During the first six months of 2017, the GDP growth was 3.9 percent, while the construction field developed by 12.8. If not for the revolution we created in the development field, the GDP could have easily dropped another digit. I do admit that there was a development in the construction field during the previous regime, but that was totally based on borrowing putting a huge debt burden on the country. Instead of the credit capital, now development has forging ahead through equity capital,” Ranawaka said.

The government has initiated projects that strengthen the future generations instead of placing a heavy debt burden on them. Benefits of these projects are enjoyed by all, not just a privileged family, the minister said. He said the government has joined hands with the private sector to initiate development without putting the country into debt.

“The government is democratic. It does not rule with an iron fist. Some were sceptical that without Gota cleanliness in the Colombo city could not be maintained, but we have proved them all wrong and we have achieved the goal of bringing the garbage in Colombo to zero without putting our soldiers to clean up the roads. We achieved our target without threatening the people and sending them white vans. We achieved our goal by educating them and through proper understanding,” he said.


MPs hardly use e-Chamber system: Speaker

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday brought to the notice of Parliament that parliamentarians do not use that much the Chamber Management Information System (e-Chamber) introduced in August 2016.

Speaker Jayasuriya announced that the e-Chamber staff was on standby for a week from December 4 to assist the members to make changes to their passwords.

The Speaker said the staff were also readty attend to the related needs. He said the members must use their fingerprints as the password to access it. “The MPs can provide their fingerprints to the e-chamber staff in this regard,” he said.

National Policies and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva brought to the notice of the Chair that the e-Chamber system has a major flaw. He said the system was read only and therefore, ineffective. He said a read only facility has no use.

The Speaker said he would bring the matter to the notice of the e-Chamber staff.


Rs. 6000 allowance to be increased to Rs. 10,000: Teacher assistants will be promoted: Minister Akila

Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said teacher assistants recruited in 2015 would be absorbed into the teacher cadre.

He was responding to a query posed by JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake under the standing orders 12(2) in Parliament yesterday.

Dissanayake said that around 3,000 teacher assistants were recruited to underprivileged schools. He said they were paid only a Rs. 6,000 allowance per month.

The sum is insufficient to cover even their travelling expenses,” the JVP MP said.

The Education Minister said the allowance would be increased to Rs. 10,000 from February 2017.

“Teachers who obtained their training certificates in 2017 were absorbed into the 3(1) teacher cadre. Accordingly, 1,013 teachers were recruited to the Sinhala medium and 24 are to be recruited to the Tamil medium this year.

We intend to recruit 589 teachers to the Sinhala medium and 1,605 to the Tamil medium in 2018.

The Sinhala medium will have 164 teachers and the Tamil medium 744 teachers in 2019,” the Minister said.


Inclement weather : Parliament adjourned early

Parliament authorities shortened yesterday’s session by one and half hours due to the inclement weather. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced to the House in the morning that the sittings would be adjourned at 5.30 pm and the House agreed.

“We will have to adjourn the sessions early today, so that the staff can get back to their homes early,” the Speaker said.


Lokuge, Fonseka erupt in verbal battle

A heated exchange of words between Joint Opposition MP Gamini Lokuge and Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka ended up in unparliamentary language yesterday.

The argument erupted in Parliament as MP Lokuge insulted Fonseka on a personal note while he was speaking at the Committee Stage debate on Budget 2018 when the Finance Heads of the Regional Development Ministry were taken up.

The members abused at each other even using names of animals and filthy words. JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake, who was chairing the House at the time, promptly ordered to expunge the unparliamentary language used by the two members.

“What are you two doing? You are insulting Parliament and the people who elected you. Go and have your argument elsewhere,” the presiding member warned.

MP Rathnayake reminded MP Lokuge repetitively to stick to the subject being discussed in the House without provoking other members to stand up and reply.


Basangoda Water Project: Previous regime disregarded engineers’ estimation

The good governance government could save 18.5 percent of the estimated value of the Basangoda Water Project as the previous regime had estimated it higher than the engineers’ estimation, City Planning and Water Supply Minister Rauff Hakeem said in Parliament yesterday.

He said the government had not amended the water bills for a four-year period and has no idea to increase the bills.

He was speaking during the Committee Stage Debate on the Budget Proposal for financial year 2018 under the finance heads on the ministries of Regional Development, Development Assignment, Megapolis and Western Development, and City Planning and Water Supply.

Minister Hakeem said the first phase of the Basangoda project would provide water for 300,000 people and the second for 200,000 people.

The Minister said the Welivita Water Project would commence as a public private partnership to provide water to Colombo and added that many other projects would commence as PPPs.

He said producing High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipesshould be competitive and the government has a policy decision to encourage local manufactures. He said local company only a local producer was no in the business and foreign investors should be brought in the field to create competition. “According to the government’s policy decision, it was not done,” he said..

He said water to Mannar, Pesalei and Udepuram would be provided under the ADB Dry Zone Project and added that water would be provided to Kalmunei, Samanthurei, and Pothuvil among others.


Hambantota port workers will not be deprived of jobs: Samarasinghe

Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the Government had not deprived the Hambantota, Magampura Port workers of their employment.

He was responding yesterday in Parliament to a question raised by MP Dinesh Gunawardena, who alleged that 470 workers of the Hambantota Port were ousted from their jobs and were kept at bay by police.

Minister Samarasinghe said the employees of the Hambantota Port were notified in writing that they could continue work at the port, and they were not deprived of their employments.

“We have, in fact, given them the opportunity to obtain compensations and continue work. We have not put them out of their jobs. What they want to do is up to them now, and they need to inform whether they are willing to continue work,” he said. Labour and Trade Union Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne said a kegutunate company had recruited these workers.

“We have to work within this framework since the courts have accepted the company. The issue is in court; we cannot make a decision until court decides.

The Port Authority chairman had made a decision to prevent the workers from entering the port. This is unacceptable. I will discuss with him and resolve the issue,” he said. 


 

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