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Parliament

Jobs for graduates offered in transparent manner - PM

The government followed a fair and transparent procedure in offering jobs to the unemployed graduates specially considering the year they completed their degree, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament yesterday.

Premier Wickremesinghe stated that in two phases the government offered 3,200 and 16,800 jobs to unemployed graduates who number 54,825 in total.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe further said the government took measures to grant jobs to graduates who had completed their degrees internally from a government university by December 31, 2016 and those graduates who completed their degrees externally from a government university as at December 31, 2011.

The Prime Minister was speaking in response to a query made by UNP Parliamentarian Harshana Rajakaruna during the round of questions to be raised from the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe further said that measures would be taken to fill the positions that have fallen vacant by non acceptance of employment by those selected during the second phase in the programme.

According to a Cabinet decision taken on May 25, 2018, the first batch was recruited on August 20, last year and the second batch on July 30 and 31 this year.

 


Shantha Bandara tenders resignation

UPFA National List Parliamentarian Shantha Bandara tendered his resignation from the post, Parliament was informed yesterday. Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri making the Speaker’s Announcements in Parliament said that MP Bandara had submitted the letter of resignation dated Aug 5.

 

 


For signing agreement as Hira Foundation chair and govt MP: Hizbullah in violation of MP’s status since June 2013 - Ashu

One-time UPFA government minister and former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah has been disqualified from being a Member of Parliament from as far back as 11 June 2013, the head of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education & Human Resource Development UNP MP Professor Ashu Marasinghe told Parliament yesterday.

Quoting the Attorney General’s Department, Marasinghe said that in terms of Article 91 (1) (e) of the Constitution, M.L.A.M. Hizbullah has been disqualified from being a Member of Parliament with effect from 11 June 2013, considering the conflict of interest pertaining to the Memorandum of Understanding between Sri Lanka Hira Foundation and the government which was signed by Hizbullah as Hira Foundation’s Chairman while holding a government portfolio.

Marasinghe said that the AG’s Department has observed that there would have been a conflict of interest when Hisbullah signed the said MOU while holding a government portfolio as “no person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or sit and vote in parliament if he has any such interest in and such contract made by or on behalf of the State or a public corporation as Parliament shall by law.”

Marasinghe pointed out that the AG’s Department has also said that in the aforesaid circumstances, action could be initiated against Hizbullah under Article 100 of the Constitution to impose a penalty on him. Accordingly, Professor Marasinghe requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to communicate with the Attorney General’s Department about taking further action against Hizbullah.

Marasinghe made these observations joining the adjournment motion moved by JVP MP Nalinda Jayatissa proposing that the government takes over the Batticaloa Sharia Campus and make it a part of the Eastern University.

According to Marasinghe, the AG’s Department made these observations when the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education & Human Resource Development sought legal advice on several issues relating to the establishment of the non-state higher educational institute generally known as Batticaloa Sharia Campus.

Marasinghe also said that the National Secretariat for Non-Government Organizations has informed Hizbullah in 2012 that they are “not in a position to register the Hira Foundation as a NGO since the Intelligance Agencies have not recommended the registration of the organization”.

Marasinghe also denied the allegations made by Hizbulla suggesting that the investigation on the Sharia Campus is a personal or a political vendetta. “If someone suggests that the report of this Sectoral Oversight Committee is an opinion of only just one person that is a completely wrong assumption. I spoke about this Campus submitting a private member bill. A private member bill too deals with national problems in this country. We don’t talk about our personal matters through them.”

Marasinghe also requested that the issue relating to the Batticaloa Sharia Campus should not be given a racist definition. “Certain people are trying to make the Batticaloa Campus issue look like a problem which followed the Easter Sunday carnage. The Sectoral Oversight Committee commenced investigating into this campus several months before the terrorist attack. We don’t want any kind of racism anywhere near this issue. This is not a matter of racism in this country, this is a matter of some people trying to manipulate their way by not adhering to the legal system of this country.” he added.

Marasinghe also said that the Sectoral Oversight Committee has forwarded all the 15 recommendations given on the Batticaloa Sharia Campus to the Attorney General’s Department for legal advice. In reply to a point of order raised by JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake, Professor Marasinghe said that the Committee will take measures to lodge complaints with government investigation bodies such as the Criminal Investigation Department and Financial Criminal Investigation Department on the Batticaloa Sharia Campus after it receives legal advice from the AG’s Department. Marasinghe also observed that the government should carry out a comprehensive investigation into the process of establishing the Sharia Campus as well.

Meanwhile, referring to the Article 100 of the Contitution Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa said that a fine of Rs. 500 could be imposed on Hizbulla lest he would be considered disqualified to remain an MP in Parliament from the date he signed the said MOU.

“Any person who – (a) having been elected a Member of Parliament but not having been at the time of such election qualified to be so elected, shall sit or vote in Parliament; or (b) shall sit or vote in Parliament after his seat therein has become vacant or he has become disqualified from sitting or voting therein; knowing or having reasonable grounds for knowing that he was so disqualified or that his seat has become vacant, as the case may be, shall be liable to a penalty of Five Hundred Rupees for every day upon which he so sits or votes to be recovered as a debt due to the Republic by an action instituted by the Attorney General in the District Court of Colombo.’

“Therefore, all the property belong to this institute should be taken over to the state and operate as a part of the Eastern University of Sri Lanka,’ he added.

 


Government, Opposition MPs debate on Parliamentarians monthly remuneration

Government and Opposition Parliamentarians found fault in President Maithripala Sirisena's statement on the Parliamentarians monthly remuneration, in Parliament yesterday.

President Sirisena on the previous day had stated in public that each MP was drawing Rs. 400,000 month.

Badulla District MP Chaminda Wijesiri said that the President's statement was wrong. He added that the basic salary of an MP is Rs 54,000. "There are other allowances altogether less than Rs.100,000," MP Wijesiri said. "Numerous appointments made by the President to various institutions including the Provincial Councils which are white elephants draining the public funds."

Digamadulla UPFA MP Wimalaweera Dissanayake said no one is getting that amount. He added that all allowances together are less than Rs.300,000. "That is including the attendance allowance, fuel allowance and telephone allowance etc," MP Wimalaweera Dissanayake said. "The total comes around Rs. 260,000 for me because my fuel allowance is calculated according to the distance from Digamadulla."

Matale District UNP MP Rohini Kumari Wijeratna said that the statement was not only wrong but it is malicious too. "His intention seems to put us in difficulty in the eyes of the people. We do not get that much," MP Wijeratne said. "But we do not know whether the MPs representing him have been given such payment."

Kurunegala District UNP MP Thushara Indunil Amarasena said that the President humiliated MPs. He added that they have to spend out of their pockets. "The take home salary does not help us to pass at least two weeks of the month," MP Amarasena said.

Leader of the House Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella promised the House that he would bring the matter to the notice of the President.

 


JVP leader speaks on salary annomalies of government employees’

The salaries and allowances of semi government employees' are totally different from that of the government employees and hence the Rs.2,500 interim allowance paid to government employees could not be paid to the semi government employees, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament yesterday.

He also said that the interim allowance was paid to government employees in line with the recommendations of the Special Wages Committee appointed by the President to make recommendations on the salary anomalies of government employees.

He added that the same Committee recommended that government servants be paid an interim allowance of Rs.2,500 with effect from July 1 this year until the recommendations of the said committee are fully implemented.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was speaking in response to a query made by Opposition MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake during the round of questions to be raised from the Prime Minister. He queried as to why the interim allowance paid to government employees from July 1 is not being paid to the Semi Government employees.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe further said that Semi Government employees are being paid comparatively higher salaries. One the other hand they are being granted salary increments and allowances on different occasions even when the government employees are not being paid. He added that there is a considerable disparity of the medical facilities, gratuity and other allowances between the government and semi government facilities.

The Prime Minister said hence the interim allowance could not be paid to the semi government employees, he would inform the Finance Minister about MP Dissanayake's suggestion and would later inform (Dissanayake).

 


Degree courses to be made private sector job oriented - PM

The attention of the government has been drawn to change the content of the degree courses in government universities to make them private sector job oriented, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe said in Parliament yesterday.

He also said that following the next election, the government expects to speed up the governments development programmes and to work creating more jobs in the private sector for the graduates than in the government sector. Hence, the government expects to produce able graduates to fill those employment opportunities.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was speaking in response to a query by Opposition Parliamentarian C.B.Rathnayake during the round of questions to be raised from the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister further said the government initiated the one million employment creation programme to empower the unemployed youth. In addition to it, various loan schemes such as Enterprise Sri Lanka have produced a number of new entrepreneurs in the country. He added that a large number of direct and indirect job opportunities were created with the creation of the Special Economic Zone in Hambantota.

The Prime Minister also said in addition unemployed graduates were provided employment.He said that in two phases, the government offered 3,200 and 16,800 jobs for unemployed graduates of the 54,825 in total.

 


‘No Sinhala people resettled in Vavunia after tank renovation’

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament yesterday that the Sinhala people have not been resettled in Vavunia after renovating a tank named Kachchalsamalakkulama in lands within the Forest Conservation Department.

The Prime Minister also said that no steps have been taken to change the demography in each of the districts and if there was any officer who had done so, he requested that he be informed so that stern action can be taken against such people.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was responding to a query made by TNA MP Charles Nirmalanathan during the round of questions to be raised from the Prime Minister. He said that Forest Conservations Department has not granted permission to renovate the Nanchundan Tank in Vavunia although the Prime Minister had granted Rs.40 million for this purpose and promised to grant the rest when the renovation initiated.

Premier Wickremesinghe said the Forest Conservation Department had granted them permission to renovate the same tank on April 10 this year. He added that even the Presidential Task Force had discussed the renovation of this tank and had instructed the Forest Conservation Department to grant permission which was later granted.

 


Some Muslim female students inconvenienced at examination centers - Mujibur

Colombo District UNP MP Mujibur Rahuman participating in the adjournment debate on a motion against Sharia University in Batticaloa pointed out to the House that some Muslim female students had been inconvenienced at examination centers by officials.

"The Muslim female students had gone to the examination centers to sit for the exam wearing the hijab in accordance with the specifications outlined in a circular issued by the Ministry of Education," Rahuman said.

"They did nothing wrong. They had been questioned and obstructed by the invigilators and exam center officials who acted on their own whims. The students had been exercising their right.

We call upon the Ministry of Education to take action and let these students sit for their exams without worrying about their religion," MP Rahuman further said.

When MP Ven. Aturaliya Ratana Thera questioned if the students were wearing their hijab covering their ears or not, MP Rahuman said, "Their ears were open. That is the way outlined in the circular. They cover anything more than what is covered in their pictures in the identity card. We have no problem of following the circular. We agree with it. We do not let them cover their ears. There are some officials who do not respect other religions. They should be prevented implementing their own guidelines."

 


Cabinet Sub Committee should take decision on Batticaloa Sharia Campus - Hakeem

Sr Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Minister Rauff Hakeem yesterday told Parliament that a decision on the controversial Batticaloa Sharia Campus should be taken by the Cabinet Sub Committee appointed to look into the matter.

Joining the adjournment debate on Batticaloa Sharia Campus, Hakeem said that several proposals have been submitted to the sub committee to decide on the future of the said higher education institute.

"I cannot deliver emotional speeches about this topic as some of the MPs did. The sub committee appointed on this matter is presently considering several options. Dr. Harsha de Silva has proposed to let a Cabinet sub committee to continue to oversee this institute. There is another proposal to establish a separate foundation under a public private partnership and carry out Campus's future activities. So, whatever the decision on this Campus, it will come from the Cabinet sub committee." Hakeem said.

Speaking further, Minister Hakeem also said that whatever the decision arrived at in relation to the Campus, it would be a reference in the process of establishing educational institutes or promoting private higher education in the country.

 


Education Director’s transfer withdrawn

The transfer of Education Ministry Supplies Division Director I.B.C.K.Illangasinghe has been withdrawn by the Education Ministry.

Illangasinghe was suddenly transferred after he went before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing allegations of large scale corruption between 2015 and 2018 to give evidence pertaining to a complaint on printing the Education Minister’s picture on school text books.

The Commission, which inquired about this sudden transfer from the Education Ministry Secretary, had asked to cancel it as there was no fair reason for the transfer.

 


Investigating team to tour Mattala paddy storage facility today

An investigating team of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing allegations of large scale corruption between 2015 and 2018 will make an inspection tour today to inquire the alleged loss of storing paddy at Mattala International Airport.

A spokesman of the Commission said several Police officers attached to the Commission and a team of the Government Valuation Department would visit the airport in the morning. The commission the launched the investigation following a complaint received to it.

 


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