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Parliament

People’s Bank will not be privatised – Kiriella

The government will not privatise the People’s Bank, assured Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella in Parliament yesterday.

He was participating in the second reading debate on the People’s Bank (Amendment) Bill, which was taken up commencing Orders of the Day in Parliament presided by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri.

He said he told this since the debate could deviate from the main topic of the motion. Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne, thereafter, commenced the debate on the Bill.

 


‘Rs. 1 billion granted to state workers for their defaulted EPF, ETF’

Over Rs. 1 billion was granted to state sector workers for their EPF and ETF.

The payment was defaulted over two decades during the presidencies of Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella said in Parliament yesterday.

The Minister was responding to a query by MP Velu Kumar during the round of questions for oral answers.

He said the sum was granted during the 100-day programme of the Good Governance Government. He submitted the Cabinet paper and the approval granted with the assistance of the then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

MP Velu Kumar pointed out that seven-perche lands that the government promised during the election period for the state workers were not provided to them including to the workers of the Hanthana Estate.

Minister Kiriella said the government provided seven-perch lands to state sector workers for the first time in history. “We are proud of it,” Minister Kiriella said. “Only a few remain to be provided with lands,” he said.

The Minister said seven-perch lands were granted even to 500 families of the Hanthana Estate. “Can’t you remember Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and I went along with you to the land distribution ceremony,” Minister Kiriella asked.

 


Bill will help increase PB’s market share – Eran

The People’s Bank (Amendment) Bill will help the bank increase its market share since the state banks are slated to decline, Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne told Parliament yesterday.

He was speaking in the debate on the People’s Bank (Amendment) Bill.

He said the market share of the state banks is 45 per cent, and it would decline in future if proper measures were not taken. He said the amendment bill will enable the banks to overcome the situation.

Nothing would happen to the ownership of the people’s Bank, and it would be with the government, he said.

The State Minister said private banks are expected to overtake state banks’ market share in the next five years. He said the market share of state banks will reduce to 25 per cent in the next five years.

He said the People’s Bank needs capital to maintain its market share. ‘This law would give the People’s Bank freedom to issue debentures to increase its authorised capital to Rs. 50 million. The amendment bill, however, would not lift People’s Bank being monitored by the Central Bank Monitory Board. He said that increasing of the People’s Bank authorised capital was recommended by the Central Bank in 2017.

The State Minister said the People’s Bank’s asset is Rs. 1,750 billion. It has 7,900 employees and 10 million clients. It has granted Rs. 140 billion to the government. The People’s Bank is the second largest bank in the country. Today there are competitions among the banks in the country and foreign banks.

He said the services provided by the state banks are far better than those of the United Kingdom. The People’s Bank Bill would introduce four amendments to increase its market share, he said.

 


JO, MR government always protected state banks - Bandula

UPFA MP Bandula Gunawardena said the Joint Opposition (JO) and the Mahinda Rajapaksa government were always of the stand that state banks should not be privatised, but they should be nurtured and developed.

He was participating in the second reading debate on the People’s Bank (Amendment) Bill in Parliament yesterday.

“During 2001-2004, attempts were made to privatise the People’s Bank and the Bank of Ceylon. I was the Deputy Finance Minister at the time. Luckily the People’s Bank Chairman at the time shared the same stand as us and stood against the attempt,” he said. He said the unions of the Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank and the National Savings Bank were firm on the stand that these banks should not be privatised. “The stability of banks depends on the confidence and faith that the public has in them. If it is lost, then collapse of these banks is inevitable, he said.

“The global financial crisis in 2007 saw the collapse of many banks of the western countries and this affected the Sri Lankan banking system as well. Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Finance Minister at that time and he quickly stepped in to prevent certain private banks from collapsing and took them under the government. The Rajapaksa government goes down in history as a government that prevented the collapse of the country’s banking system,” Gunawardena said.

 


New legislation will push People’s Bank towards privatisation – Bimal

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake said that changing the definition of shareholders as per the section 13 of the People’s Bank through the new legislation would push the bank towards privatisation.

He was participating in the second reading debate on the People’s Bank (Amendment) Bill in Parliament yesterday.

“Who are the shareholders of the People’s Bank if the same section is removed?” he asked.

He said that according to the Act, the shareholders of the People’s Bank are the government and cooperatives.

MP Rathnayake said the country could face the global economic recess successfully since the government controlled the finance of the country.

The government assets were sold to private sector all over the world during the past 15 years. “The public institutions that were set up with the tax of the people are bankrupted by politicians and then sold to the private sector,” he said.

He said the proposed bill has taken the initial step to privatise the People’s Bank.

The JVP is not seeing crocodiles in the tea cup, yet it is the truth behind the amendment bill that is discussed, he said.

Responding MP Rathnayake’s query as to who would be the share holders of the People’s Bank following the passage of the Bill, Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne said that he would discuss the matter and answer later.

Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Non Cabinet Minister Harsha de Silva, responding to query, later said the People’s Bank will not be privatised by any means.

 


‘Private sector should not be allowed to get People’s Bank stake’

UPFA Parliamentarian Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene said that increasing the capital of the People’s Bank is not wrong in anyway but the private sector should not be allowed to get a stake of the bank through the debenture issue.

He was participating in the second reading debate on the People’s Bank (Amendment) Bill in Parliament yesterday. He demanded Finance Minister’s assurance that private sector would not be able to get hold of a stake in the People’s Bank.

He said the People’s Bank was set up in 1961 to assist the rural people. When American banks faced bankruptcy, the People’s Bank and the Bank of Ceylon rendered a incomparable service to the nation. We should be concerned when we amend laws on these banks.

He said UNP governments attempted to privatise various government institutions. Strengthening the capital is no issue, but the decisions on debentures should be explained by the Finance Minister. The government should assure that the debentures would not be converted.

 


Independent commission on Easter attacks requested

A group of Catholic Parliamentarians in the Opposition have submitted a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena requesting him to appoint an independent commission to investigate the Easter Sunday attack that claimed over 300 lives and injured around 600 civilians and reveal who was behind the attacks.

They said there are serious concerns among the public regarding the independence of the commissions and investigations.

“The Parliament Select Committee appointed to investigate the Easter Sunday attacks is trying to safeguard real culprits. It is very clear now that appointing the PSC was a mere ploy to prevent the no-confidence motion that was planned against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and cover up the allegations against him,” they stated in the letter.

The PSC has revealed only the identities of the intelligence officers, not the identities of the perpetrators, the letter said.

“Archbishop of Colombo, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has requested on numerous occasions that he and the Christian community have no faith in the manner these investigations are carried out. The victims are thoroughly disappointed knowing that certain political leaders in this government provided political asylum to key accusers of the extremist acts. Therefore, it is important for the public to know who was responsible for the attacks, who neglected carrying out their responsibilities and what or who obstructed responsible authorities from taking necessary actions to prevent this attack on the day,” they noted in the letter.

The opposition legislators also reminded the President that it is upon him, as the Head of State, to ensure that the culprits are properly dealt with and that the public is made aware of what actually happened. MPs Johnston Fernando, Nimal Lanza, Indika Anurudda, Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Sanath Nishantha and Arundika Fernando were the signatories to the letter.

 


‘Kiriella is fit for UNP presidential candidacy’

Kandy District MP Ananda Aluthgamage suggested in Parliament yesterday that Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella is fit for the UNP presidential candidacy.

He made the suggestion when he found Minister Sajith Premadasa was absent in the House to respond questions he raised during the round of question for oral answers.

When Minister Kiriella inquired in a light way would Ananda Aluthgamage help him if he contested, Aluthgamage said several others in the opposition, too, would support him.

MP Aluthgamage said the Housing Minister was not present in the House to answer him on any day but Minister Kiriella and Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunathilaka.

He had submitted some questions on several housing projects carried out by the government and the Chief Government Whip responded to his questions in the absence of Minister Premadasa.

“The minister was not present to answer these questions yesterday and he’s not here today as well.” MP Aluthgamage said. “Ministers Gayantha Karunathilaka and Lakshman Kiriella are always present in the Chamber. In fact, Minister Kiriella should be made the presidential candidate,”

MP Aluthgamage said the Housing Minister is living the Presidential dream. “If he is this difficult to approach as a minister, what could we expect if he becomes the President,” he asked.


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