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Parliament

EPF funds well managed under Central Bank - Kiriella

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella yesterday assured that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is well managed, the government is responsible for its protection.

Kiriella said the Central Bank’s Financial Board has earned profits by investing EPF money in Treasury Bonds and if the Opposition still has issues with the EPF, the government was ready to give them a day’s debate on the matter.

The Minister stated that a Rs 9.8 million profit was earned in 1998 by investing the EPF money in the Stock Market and since then millions of profits had earned since then until 2016. He added that a Rs 82.53 million profit had been earned in 2000 and Rs 114.40 million profit the next year. He also pointed out that a Rs 4,714 million profit earned in 2014 and Rs 3,894 million the following year.

Minister Kiriella made these observations in response to a query made by JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake under standing order 27(2) on a previous day.

Minister Kiriella further said that the 95 percent of the EPF money has been invested in Treasury Bills and a CID investigation was in progress on the Central Bank Bond investment in 2015.

 


Heavy fines for speed fiends under new laws

Drivers who exceed a speed limit by a 50% will be fined Rs. 25,000, Transport and Civil Aviation State Minister Ashoka Abeysinghe said yesterday.

Opening the debate on the second reading of the Motor Traffic Amendment Bill, Abeysinghe said drivers who exceed a speed limit by a 20%, will be imposed a fine between Rs.3000 to Rs. 5000. “The drivers who exceed a speed limit by 20% to 30% will be fined between Rs.5000 to 10,000. When speed limit would be exceeded by 30%-50%, the fine shall be between Rs.10,000 to 15,000. When a driver exceeds the speed limit by 50%, they will be fined Rs. 25,000.” he said.

He said the government will impose heavy fines on drivers who violate road rules, not because it wants to earn revenue from it. “Some people allege that we increase fines to gain revenue for the government. But that is not the case.We strengthen rules to lessen accidents.” he observed. He said 3,154 persons have died of road accidents in 2017 while 3,113 have died of the same in 2018.

“There are 400,000 motorcycles registered in the country.They fall victim to these road accidents the most. Even the World Health Organization has raised concerns over this matter.The government will introduce a new programme to discipline drivers to lessen road accidents.” Abeysinghe added. He said the government has taken a decision to provide a concessionary loan with an interest rate of 3.5%, for private bus owners to purchase luxury buses.

 


Ensure security of Muslim community - Mustapha

SLFP MP Faizer Mustapha said he agrees with the government Muslim Ministers and Deputies who resigned from their portfolios in the best interest of the Muslim community.

“If I was holding a portfolio in this government, I would have stepped down too, he said.

“The Muslim MPs stepped down from their posts when the Muslim community questioned if these leaders could actually provide them security against the communal violence. So the Muslim MPs decided on stepping down.If you can’t give security to your community, there is no use of being leaders,” he said.

Speaking of the present situation in the country, Mustapha said “Being a racist is not being a patriot. I have been to many countries but there are no better people than Sinhala Buddhists in this world with such peace loving character traits. National security is for all communities, not for just one party. We saw communal violence instigated in Minuwangoda while there was emergency law. Such acts should not happen.”

“The Muslim community is against terrorism.We did not give these terrorists burial rights. So it is not fair to target the Muslim community. All should stand by what is right, not by political success.We Muslims have never requested any part of this land.The LTTE banned Muslims from their lands.We worked with the government to defeat terrorism. Some people allege, the Muslim community has distanced themselves from mainstream society, but don’t make us terrorists because of that. Just because we grow a beard, cover the face, do not call us terrorists. We have sacrificed by agreeing with banning the Burka for national security. Religion is personal.It should not be a threat national security nor should it create communal violence. The Muslim community is frightened, we request all of you to help us to put a stop to the hatred instigated against us and to secure the future of this country,” Mustapha also said.

 


Review decision on carpentry, timber sheds - MR

Opposition Leader, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday requested President Maithripala Sirisena to reconsider the decision to halt the registration of new carpentry sheds.

Opposition Leader Rajapaksa pointed out that it is important to secure the environment while facilitating the carpentry industry.

Rajapaksa said that thousands of people are at the risk of losing their traditional jobs due to this restriction. “At this rate, we won’t be able to create even a coffin now.” he observed. Rajapaksa made these observations at a press brief held at Parliamentary premises yesterday afternoon.

UPFA MP Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said that under a government led by their leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, they will take a decision to allow importing timber with bark from countries such as Malaysia under duty free facility.

MP Gunawardena observed that a sudden decision to ban carpentry sheds will make life difficult for people who are already severely affected by the recent terror attacks.

In a future government we shall encourage the carpentry industry while taking all measures for environmental protection and reforestation.

MP Susil Premajayantha who also spoke at the press brief said that they can win any election under the leadership of their leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 


UNP backbenchers want dress code circular withdrawn

The UNP backbenchers have requested that the Circular making it mandatory to wear official government attire (either Saree or the Osari) for female employees be withdrawn, UNP MP Hesha Withanage yesterday said.

MP Withanage also said that they have forwarded a request concerning the matter at the government MPs’ meeting. He made this observation at a press brief held at Parliament premises yesterday morning.

“We do not agree with this Circular. It has created unnecessary problems.We believe that it should be withdrawn.We hope the responsible Ministry Secretary would take necessary steps to withdraw it. A decent outfit is a reasonable option for Public Officers to conduct their duties.We don’t need to burden them with these dress codes,” Withanage further observed.

 


Special Presidential Commission report on Easter Sunday attacks ready soon:

To be handed over to Attorney General for action

The report of the Special Presidential Commission to investigate the Easter Sunday attacks is being finalised and will be handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena soon, Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunathilake said.

He said that once the same report is handed over to the Attorney General, forward action would be taken without delay.

Karunathilake was reading answers sent from the Presidential Secretariat in response to queries by JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake in his special statement made under standing order 27(2).

Making the statement Dissanayake said that President Sirisena appointed a Special Three Member Committee to investigate into the Easter Sunday attacks, the following day. He added that the President said at the SLFP May Day Rally that he had received an interim report of the investigation.”The President said that he would discuss with the Attorney General on the Interim Report and take future action,” MP Dissanayake said.”It was said that recording evidence was over and the report would be submitted within two weeks.”

Dissanayake queried as to when the report be submitted and if it would be presented before Parliament.

 


Agreements on national assets should be signed after two thirds vote - UPFA, JVP

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday urged the government that Sri Lanka’s agreements with foreign countries which are related to the economy and national security of the country should be presented to Parliament and approved by a two thirds majority.

Opening the adjournment motion moved by the Joint Opposition on concerns in relation to country’s economic sovereignty, selling off of national assets and on national security, the UPFA MP Dinesh Gunwardena alleged that the government signed the agreement to hand over 200 acres from Trincomalee to Colombo Port to the USA without even informing it to Parliament.

“The other thing is handing over terminals in Colombo Ports to foreign countries. Both of these agreements have direct connections with our national security.These are very crucial assets to us. But the government has handed over them to foreign countries without even consulting Parliament. This is a grave threat to the national security.Therefore, I suggest that these types of agreement should be presented to Parliament and approved by 2/3 majority before signing,” he added.

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake on the same matter said that they cannot accept the government signing agreements with foreign countries about national assets in secret.

“When you are in power, some countries and some powerful companies might force you to come to certain agreements with them. That is the nature of today’s politics. But you do not need to kneel in front of them and do whatever they want you to do. You have duties and obligations to the people of thi country. How can you sign agreements with foreign countries in secrete? What right you have to do something like that?” he queried.

“That is why we came up with this suggestion. Before signing with sensitive agreements with foreign countries you should present them to Parliament and get approval of a two thirds majority. By doing so you can tell foreign countries that you cannot enter agreements with them because Parliament rejected the agreements. You may not have a backbone to reject foreign offers directly. That is fine. But in this manner you can get away from their pressure,” he further added.

 

 


 

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