Parliament | Daily News



Kuragala will be provided with power in four days – Ravi

Power, Energy and Business Development Minister Ravi Karunanayake said he will provide electricity to the Kuragala archaeological site and the sacred area even if ongoing talks for the purpose with the Department of Archaeology are unsuccessful.

He was speaking in Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said he will get the support of the Police to provide electricity to the site for the benefit of those who visit the sacred area.

The Minister said his ministry officials were in talks with the representatives of the Archaeology Department to construct a power supply line to the Kuragala site from the Balangoda-Badulla Road. “Electricity was provided now for four kilometres of the road. A further stretch needs 26 lamp posts to provide electricity to the site. That will be completed in four working days,” the Minister said.

The Minister said the project was abandoned on an order from the top levels of the government.

“Many MPs and NayakaTheras have requested electricity to the Kuragala site. If the Department of Archaeology gives its approval, we can complete the task in four working days. An order came to suspend the work. But we will complete it since we received many requests. I took up this matter at the Cabinet meeting. I was informed that two religious sides will clash if the area is developed. I can complete the task with the Police and there will be no clashes,” the Minister said.


Direct procedure will be set up to resolve CEB salary anomalies - Ravi

A straightforward procedure will be implemented to resolve salary anomalies of the electricity workers, said Power and Energy and Business Development Minister Ravi Karunanayake in Parliament yesterday.

Minister Karunanayake was responding to a question by MP Thushara Indunil in the question round for oral answers.

He said the programme will be implemented before August 30. The Minister said it is not the government’s policy to privatise the Electricity Board.

Minister Karunanayake said society has wrong notion about renewable energy. He said the country needs a stable power generation programme.

He said a mixed power generation programme should be pursued and a more organised mechanism will be implemented in the future.

He said a genuine mechanism will be implemented to resolve CEB workers’ wage issues.


Opposition will not allow MLA to be amended – Mahinda

The Monetary Law Act (MLA) has to be amended based on the recommendations of an intellectual committee, and the Opposition will not allow the government to amend it as they please, said Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He was addressing a media briefing at the Parliamentary complex yesterday.

The Opposition Leader said one purpose behind the removal of the Central Bank from the Ministry was so that the government could get their hands on the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF).Rajapaksa said the government has brought about a draft bill to amend the Finance Act to remove the Central Bank from the purview of the Finance Ministry.

The Central Bank had continued to operate under the Finance Ministry as per the provisions of the Finance Act. The Secretary to the Finance Ministry who is also a member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank managed to implement the state finance policies. As per the provisions envisaged in the draft bill, the Secretary of the Finance Ministry was removed from the Monetary Board of the Central Bank. The Central Bank could then function as a separate entity, he said.

“The Central Bank is involved in printing currency notes, deciding the interest rates and managing the reserves as per the fiscal policies of the Finance Ministry. If the amendment is made, all such tasks of the Central Bank would be handled by a separate group of officials without being answerable to the Finance Ministry. That is a dangerous situation,” Rajapaksa said.

If the government needed to amend the Monetary Law Act to suit the needs of the present times, then it should be done after those proposed changes were studied by a committee of experts, he said. “There is no urgency to do so. The urgency is because there is a hidden agenda behind the proposed change,” he said.

MP Bandula Gunawardena said the Draft Bill should be studied by a committee appointed by the President. The President should make sure that the bill would not proceed without his approval. Amending the Monetary Law Act is a serious affair, and the President should not let the government to do it for their advantage.

The government is trying to get hold of the EPF monies. As per information we have, the government has plans to rush it through the Cabinet and to submit it to the Sectoral Oversight Committee of the Finance Ministry on July 18,” he said.

MP Gunawardena said the Joint Opposition would seek the support of other parties and organisations against the proposed draft bill and to defeat the government’s move to grab the EPF.


Government will be stronger than ever after NCM – Akila

Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the government, after defeating the No Confidence Motion (NCM), can move forward stronger than ever before.

Minister Kariyawasam was participating in the day two of the debate on the No Confidence Motion moved by the JVP against the government.

The Minister said the government took every possible step to curtail the Islamic extremist terrorism following the Easter Sunday carnage. He said the government implemented an extensive programme to bring the economy, tourism and other sectors affected in the incident back to normal.

Minister Kariyawasam said the Opposition is trying to create “a boogeyman” out of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) for political purposes.

“Opposition members speak as if these are some military agreements. When Gotabhaya Rajapaksa signed the same agreements in 2007, they were silent. When we want to update them, we are wrong. These politicians are taking our people for fools,” Kariyawasam said.

The Minister said Opposition’s political agenda is solely based on racism and religious animosity.

He said the Opposition is criticising the government’s programme to give land deeds to the people because it is politically a disadvantage for them.


Opposition failed to bring solid evidence against PM, Cabinet – Ajith

Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perea yesterday said the Opposition failed to bring any solid evidence against the Prime Minister and the Cabinet in the debate on the No Confidence Motion against the government. He said that many speeches included allegations and not evidence.

Perera was speaking as the last speaker in the debate on the NCM before the government called for a division.

“The NCM suggested that Prime Minister and the Cabinet received information on the Easter Sunday carnage. However, nobody brought forward any evidence proving the allegation,” Perera said.

The Deputy Minister said the lack of evidence proves that the government is not at the receiving end of the Easter Sunday carnage.

Perera said that neither the Prime Minister nor the Cabinet received any information on the terror attacks prior to April 21. “Following the 52-day political coup, certain developments prevented us from getting certain information. Only the President was privy to such information. Therefore, accusing the Prime Minister and the Cabinet is unacceptable,” Perera said.


Small-scale rice mill owners will be safeguarded - Harrison

A special programme will be set up to facilitate small-scale rice mill owners, said Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister P. Harrison yesterday.

The Minister was responding to a supplementary question by Badulla District UNP MP Chaminda Wijesekara in Parliament yesterday.

The Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) will sell rice stock to small-scale mill owners via the District Secretariats. It will safeguard them against the rice monopoly in the country, Harrison said.

Minister Harrison said the government has started a programme where rice stocks are bought via the District Secretariats without buying from open market auctions. The government resorted to this option considering the numerous discrepancies in purchasing rice, Harrison said.


TNA has to be cautious about supporting NCM – Sampanthan

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan said that despite having complaints about the government, his party has to be cautious about supporting a No Confidence Motion against them.

He said, there is no question that the government needs to be condemned for their failure to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks despite intimation to the government by a friendly neighbouring country.

“We are concerned that governance is related to a wide range of issues. One important question that does arise is what happens to the government once it loses the confidence of the House. Under the constitution, the government must remit office.”

At the 2015 General election, he noted, the people changed the government and their president. “There were several reasons why this happened. There were serious human rights violations and that is why the people wanted a change. The minority Tamil people were largely victimised. They had a reason to vote the way they did. The position of the present government is perhaps on certain fronts, particularly human rights, better than under the former government. It may not be to our complete satisfaction. However, if the government is to be changed, we don’t know what the policies of the new government are. President Mahinda Rajapaksa may aspire to come to office, but he has not outlined to the public, especially the Tamils, who were victimised under his regime, what the policies of this new government would be. Then how can we make a decision consciously to defeat the government?”

He said the general elections are due in a short while, and the people will decide who will govern then.

He said his party has nothing against the SLFP. He said they are unaware of the SLPP policies and called upon the SLPP to enunciate their policies especially to the Tamil people of the North and East. He said the SLPP had so far failed to do so.


Had MR brought NCM on October 26, JVP would have supported – Handunnetti

Had Mahinda Rajapaksa and the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) brought a No-confidence Motion (NCM) against the government without attempting to overthrow it violating the Constitution on October 26, 2018, the JVP would have definitely supported that NCM, said Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Sunil Handunnetti.

He was participating in the debate on the JVP’s NCM against the government in Parliament yesterday over their failure to avoid Easter Sunday terror attacks.

“Many people are blaming us for opposing the illegal attempt to overthrow the government on October 26. We did that because it is a violation of the Constitution. That whole attempt was illegal. How could we support such an attempt? We brought this NCM because it is the democratic way to overthrow a government. If the UPFA did that on October 26, we would have definitely supported them,” the JVP MP said.

He said Rajapaksa and the UPFA are fortunate that they did not succeed in their October 26 attempt to overthrow the government because had they succeeded, they would have to deal with all the issues the government is facing today. “In fact, Rajapaksa had admitted recently that the political coup was wrong,” Handunnetti said.


Opposition Leader is attempting to protect government – Bimal

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake yesterday accused Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa of trying to protect the government.

He was participating in the debate on the No Confidence Motion brought by the JVP against the government.

MP Rathnayake said Rajapaksa has voted only once against the budgets presented by the government. He said the Chief Organiser of the Opposition, UPFA MP Mahinda Amaraweera has never voted against a budget presented by the government.

“We brought this NCM against the government to hold them responsible for allowing Sahran and his group to operate in this country. After we presented the NCM, the government and the opposition are blaming us. It implies that we are in the right position,” Rathnayake said.

“One way of toppling a government is to defeat the budget. But Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and his followers continuously supported the government. When this government was involved in major corruptions, they saved it. Now they allege that this NCM is a political deal. The government has 106 votes in its favour. There are 103 votes in favour of the NCM. The Opposition Leader has not even deliver a speech in this debate yet,” he said.


Country needs proper counter terrorism mechanism – Patali

The country needs a proper counter terrorism mechanism, and the intelligence units should be restructured to be better equipped to face modern terror threats, said Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka.

He was participating in the debate in Parliament yesterday on the No Confidence Motion brought against the government by the JVP.

He said that whenever the country faced a terror attack, it has been a practice throughout to blame someone and indirectly support terrorists.

“When you look into the Easter Sunday terror attacks. the government and the intelligence units cannot escape the blame. Is the answer is that the government should resign? Don’t we further plunge the country in this way into chaos and allow international terrorism to creep in? We have to make the decision whether we look at this issue beyond political scope and all parties, irrespective of their political stand, should unite to implement a united national mechanism to defeat terrorism,” he said.

Minister Ranawaka said that what the country needs is an efficient counter terrorism mechanism. “Today the world is experiencing a new economy and new technology. Similarly, there are new terror threats worldwide. Therefore, we need to restructure our intelligence units and come up with more efficient security operations to defeat threats,” he said.


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