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Parliament

PM clarifies tax on vehicles below 1000cc

Tax amendments on vehicles with an engine capacity of less than 1000cc would not affect Letters of Credit (LC) opened before August 1, 2018, while these new taxes are not applicable for vehicles cleared before January 31, 2019, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday informed Parliament.

He also said that the government hoped to revise these amendments in future, depending on trade and economic behavioral changes.

The trade balance increased from a 17% during the first five months of 2018, was due to the significant rise in vehicle importation, PM Wickremesinghe pointed out. The trade balance increase amounted to US$ 4,914 MN, he said. He made these observations in reply to a question raised y JO MP Bandula Gunawardena.

Premier Wickremesinghe also pointed out that the expenditure on imported vehicles for personal use have increased by 110% in the first five months of 2018, compared to the first five months of 2017. In 2017, the expenditure had been US$ 316 MN, where as it had risen to US$ 666 MN in 2018, he explained.

Import of vehicles with an engine capacity of less than 1000cc and hybrid vehicles have contributed immensely to the increase of vehicle import expenditure, PM Wickremesinghe further pointed out. The increase in vehicle imports led to a further expansion of Sri Lanka's trade deficit, which has adversely affected the balance of payments, with high pressure on foreign exchange, he added.

The Import Duty on vehicles less than 1000cc was recently increased up to Rs. 1.5 million and hybrid and electric vehicles less than 1000cc up to Rs.1.25 mn. The price of petrol vehicles with an engine capacity less than 1000cc would be increased by Rs. 3,50,000, while electric and hybrid vehicles less than 1000cc engine capacity would be increased by Rs.4,15,000.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also said that economic sanctions on Iran would affect fuel prices in Sri Lanka, as Sri Lanka purchase Iranian crude oil.

“We don’t know how the USA economic sanctions on Iran will affect our oil prices. We need to be ready to face any changes. It is difficult to predict how it would affect, but we must be ready to manage any situation,” he furthered.


CASC receives Expert Committee report

The Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly (CASC) yesterday received the Expert Committee report with draft Constitutional proposals, Steering Committee sources told the Daily News.

Sources said the 10-member Expert Committee presented one report, but three experts had made their own observations in it. Two experts had submitted one set of observations while another expert had also submitted a separate set of observations.

The Steering Committee, when it met on July 18, asked the Expert Panel to come up with one document as six of its members submitted one document and two of its members submitted another document.

The Steering Committee when it met yesterday decided to take up the expert panel report, which is in the form of a draft, together with the draft Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution prepared by the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee headed by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.

The Steering Committee members were given time to study the two drafts and the next sitting date will be announced later by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.


Recent tense situation in Kandy: Rs.205 mn in property damage caused - PM

The valuation of the property damaged due to the recent tense situation at Kandy amounts to Rs.205 million, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed the House yesterday.

He said that Rs. 18 million of the total compensations has been paid as at July 31, 2018.

“We will pay the total valuation of the property damages as total compensation. If we have to pay more, we are prepared to do that too,” the Prime Minister said.

Minister Rauf Hakeem rose to point out that the Valuation Department has not yet responded to their request asking not to consider normal valuation procedure for those who have lost the legal documentation because their properties had been damaged by fire.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that he will call a meeting with the relevant parties to discuss the matter without any delay.

According to the valuation of property damages caused by the said incident, 20 religious institutes, 280 houses, 223 business places and 65 vehicles have been damaged, the House was informed.


Over 3,850 Lankan refugees in India willing to return - PM

The Government of India has informed that 3,851 refugees who left the country during the war period,and who are now living in Tamil Nadu, have agreed to return to Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told the House.

He also said that the Indian government has agreed to provide naval facilities to transport the goods and belongings of those refugees to Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also said that Sri Lanka's Deputy High Commission in Chennai is preparing the necessary legal documents for the refugees and the children of those refugees who were born in India.

The Prime Minister also said that refugees who are unable to bare expenses for their consular birth certificates will be exempted from the charges and the Gazette Notification relating to the exemption has already been issued.

"All the other necessary logistic and financial facilities will be provided by the Ministry of Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Hindu Affairs, the Premier also said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also offered an open invitation to all the refugees who fled Sri Lanka during the terrorist war to return to the country. The Sri Lankan government has appointed a committee including officials representing the Foreign Ministry, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Ministry, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Sri Lanka Police, Sri Lanka Navy and Registrar General to facilitate all the requirements of refugees who are return to the country.

The Prime Minister also said that the International Organization of Immigration together with the Australian Government had agreed to provide sea passage facilities for the above mentioned refugees to return.

Since the Indian government has extended their support to the matter, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the Foreign Ministry has officially requested the Australian government to divert the promised financial facility to resettlement of those refugees.

Premier Wickremesinghe was replying to a question by MP Charles Nirmalanathan of the Illankei Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) on the government’s position regarding the refugees who are willing to return to Sri Lanka.

It was also noted that 9,509 refugees have already returned to Sri Lanka since 2010.


Parliament sittings limited to 2 hours and 5 minutes

Parliament sittings were limited to two hours and five minutes yesterday, as the Opposition MPs listed to speak at the debate were not present in the Chamber when their names were read out.

Sittings commenced at 1 p.m. and were adjourned at 3.05 p.m. Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri read out the names of Opposition MPs Padma Udayashantha Gunasekera, Kanaka Herath, Indika Anuruddha, Charles Nirmalanathan, Sunil Handunnetti and Douglas Devananda but none of them was present.

The other members who remained in the Chamber showed no interest in speaking at the debate. Hence, the sittings were adjourned three hours and 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled time.

The debate had been scheduled to end at 6.15 pm. The Adjournment Motion was also not moved as JVP MP Nihal Galappatti, who was scheduled to move it, was also not present at that time.

However, the Apartment Ownership (Special Provisions) Bill and regulations imposed under the Construction Industry Development Act were unanimously PASSED before the adjournment of the House.

Housing and Construction Minister Sajith Premadasa moved the Bill and regulations and MPs T.B.Ekanayake and Bandulal Bandarigoda spoke during the debate.


Detection of kidney disease in Rajarata hospitals

Minister asked for special report

Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said he asked for a special report on the opinion of Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital Consultant Nephrologist Dr.Pramil Rajakrishna over the problems in the detection of kidney disease in Rajarata hospitals.

The Minister made this observation in response to a question by JVP MP Dr.Nalinda Jayatissa in Parliament yesterday. MP Jayatissa directed the Minister’s attention to newspaper reports which said the detection of kidney disease had become problematic due to substandard machines in the hospitals in the North Central Province.

The MP citing the report said if the revelation made by the consultant doctor that half of the patients detected with kidney disease are not actually suffering from that illness is true that gives rise to many other concerns.

The minister said what the Consultant had expressed is a new opinion and therefore he requested for a report to know the real situation of the issue.

“We will have to check the biomedical equipment. Sometime back, the Provincial Councils were given the authority and money to directly buy the required number of such equipment. We have changed that decision and now the ministry is purchasing them together because we can get the quantity discount. However, I doubt the claim that there are issues on the standards of the machines purchased as all those who sit on Technical Evaluation Committees are consultant doctors and biomedical engineers,” the Minister said.


 

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