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 Compensation granted for nearly all victims of Easter Sunday attacks – Kiriella

 

 

 

 

About 95 per cent of the Easter Sunday victims’ families were paid compensation now, said Leader of the House, Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella.

Responding to a point of order raised by UPFA Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekara on the payment of compensation for Easter Sunday victims, he said that the opposition could ask for a debate in the House on the issue, so that they could produce their figures and the government could explain the real situation.

“As far as I know, about 95 per cent of the victims were compensated,” the Minister said.

Lands and Parliamentary Reforms Deputy Minister Edward Gunasekara explained that the family members of the victims at the Katuwapitiya church blast were compensated but five families. “Those five families cannot be located as either all family members are victims or they cannot be located and that is the reason for them not being paid,” he said.

UPFA Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera, raising a point of order, said that the kith and kin of the Easter Sunday victims continue to suffer since the government has failed to compensate them.

He said the government had promised to pay Rs. 500,000 each to the 264 persons killed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks. “It was revealed in Court that only 20 were compensated. Of the 101 injured persons, only six or seven were compensated. His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and other religious leaders have repeatedly raised the issue. But the government continues to say that they compensated them all. Now the real figures are revealed in court. Attorney-at-Law Chamil Perera has filed a fundamental rights petition with these figures. It was filed at the Supreme Court seeking compensation for those who were killed or injured in the Easter Sunday attacks which took place because of the negligence of officials. Everybody is cursing all of us including the President, Prime Minister, Ministers and all 225 MPs. People say Parliament should have been bombed. Why does the government delay compensating them? The family members are still suffering the loss of their loved ones. If the government could compensate them, it would at least be some solace to them,” MP Jayasekera said.

When Minister Kiriella said a debate could be requested to address these issues in Parliament, MP Jayasekera responded that there is no point in debating it in Parliament. “What should be done is expedite the paying of compensations. What is the point of giving those figures here? Go before Supreme Court and tell court if you have figures different from the ones in the petition,” he added.

Gampaha District MP Nimal Lanza said that as a Catholic, he was ashamed to say that the government did nothing for the victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks. “There is a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to safeguard those responsible for the crime. The families were left helpless because of the death of their breadwinners. The Cardinal, too, has raised this issue many a time, but no one takes notice or acts upon it,” the MP said.

UNP National list MP Prof. Ashu Marasinghe said the PSC was preparing the drafts of its report. “We have identified those responsible for the crime on the testimonies. We would submit our report recommending structural changes that would prevent the recurrence of similar incidents,” he said.

UPFA Hambantota District MP Mahinda Amaraweera said President Maithripala Sirisena could have easily avoided the PSC, but being a leader upholding democratic and parliamentary values, the President had decided to testify before the PSC.



‘Premier has instructed government members to give priority to parliamentary affairs’

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has instructed the government members to give priority to parliamentary affairs at party meetings and party leaders’ meetings, said Leader of the House Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella in Parliament yesterday.

Agreeing with government and opposition sides members, he pointed out that the ministers were not present in the House to answer the questions raised in the round of questions for oral answers.

He said that despite Prime Minister’s instructions, the government members are not attending Parliament.

“Not a single question out of 15 listed for ministers to answer during this question round was answered yesterday because of Ministers’ absence. Minister Kiriella had to seek additional time or table the responses except for one question which was re-directed to a different ministry.

JVP Parliamentarian Bimal Rathnayake said that yesterday would go down in the annals of Sri Lankan parliamentary history as the darkest day since there was no single minister to answer the questions. He added that this parliament may continue only for one more month. He said that the questions listed in the order paper have been there for such a long time that some of them are more than one year old. “Now the government is asking for additional time. These questions would never be answered,” the MP Rathnayake said.

Leader of the House Minister Kiriella said he agreed with the concern raised by the opposition. “Our party leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has instructed to all MPs and Ministers that they should be present in the House. They have been told to give priority to parliamentary affairs over any other matter,” Minister Kiriella said.

UNP Colombo District MP M.S. M. Marikkar said MPs raise these questions on behalf of their electorate. “When we are deprived of the opportunity to get answers because of the absence of ministers, our rights are breached,” he said.

UPFA Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera said that it is the UNP ministers who are absent. They all are in Kurunegala. The UNP is troubled being unable to determine a presidential candidate.

Kandy District MP Ananda Aluthgamage said the MPs and ministers in the government ranks do not listen to the Prime Minister.

Deputy Speaker Ananda Kuamrasiri said the matter could be taken up at the party leaders’ meeting. A solution could be found from that meeting.

UNP Badulla District MP Chaminda Wijesiri said the ministers come here and read out the responses prepared by the ministry officials. Some ministry officials do not prepare their responses in time. The Chair should instruct the officials to act promptly on the questions from Parliament.



Although 185 investment agreements signed in 2016, 147 were cancelled next year – Vasudeva

 

 

 

 

Although 185 investment agreements signed in 2016,147 were cancelled in the following year, Opposition Parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara said in Parliament yesterday.

He was speaking in the debate on the regulations under the Sri Lanka Export Development Act moved by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama.

He said that although Minister Samarawickrama said that exports have been increased immensely, how much of it includes imported items should be made known. “We have to consider the face value of the exports to find out the genuine progress,” he said.

“We have to accept that there is a development in the service sector. According to the statistics, the Free Trade Zones incur a losses of billions of rupees. He queried if there are much investments, why the Free Trade Zones suffer losses.

He added that projects were not initiated under the Enterprise Sri Lanka and the economic policy of the government proved a failure. The economic development rate of the country has dropped to 2.6 per cent. For these reasons, the government has curtailed the capital expenditure by 15 per cent, he said.

Minister Malik Samarawickrama said that MP Nanayakkara make baseless statements. He added that the service sector has increased by 13 per cent. There is no any issue with those trade agreements. He added that initiations were taken in 2016 to set up six more Free Trade Zones. The Central Bank report has records the amounts of the Foreign Direct Investments, he said.



Trade, economic agreements reached with other countries ineffective – Bimal

 

 

 

JVP Parliamentarian Bimal Rathnayake said yesterday that trade and economic agreements that Sri Lanka entered into with other countries do not benefit the country.

He was speaking in the debate on the regulations under the Sri Lanka Export Development Act moved by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama.

He said that none of those agreements have been entered into after a thorough study by our officials. “When I inquired from officers at a committee if there were any such agreement that entered into as a result of our proposal, actually there was none,” MP Rathnayake said.

Rathnayake said that although all the facilities are given, only little investments have been approached. He said the sea has eroded a land mass larger than the Colombo Port City. The cinnamon and pepper export has been dropped and the farmers undergo difficulties.


Speaker requested to make public parliamentary expenses

 

 

 

 

The government MPs requested the Speaker yesterday to disclose to the country the detailed expenses of Parliament since all such expenses are credited to the account of the Members of Parliament.

MP S.M. Marrikkar, making a statement in this regard in parliament yesterday, said that expenses of over 1,000 staff members of parliament and all their food expenses, too, is added on to the account of the 112 MPs which is unfair. Parliament spends a colossal sum of money on the provision of meals to parliament staff and MPs. However, Parliament only convenes on eight days of the month. Even on such days, all 225 MPs are not present in parliament. Only on the budget days all 225 MPs are in parliament. In fact they perhaps have two meals in parliament on around four days out of the eight days. And that too is not extravagant food. But the public is made to believe that all this expense is for the benefit of the 225 MPs and as such they are cursing us. Therefore, we urge the Speaker to take measures to reveal to the country the true expenses of parliament,” He sqaid that otherwise the public is made to believe that these 225 MPs are spending such a colossal amount on their meals.

MP Prof. Ashu Marasinghe endorsing Marikkar’s request said that it was of vital importance to clarify to the public the true expenses of parliament and rectify the misconception among the general public about the parliamentary expenses.



Vote on regulations under SLEDA postponed

After a long debate over the taking of the vote on the regulations under the Sri Lanka Export Development Act (SLEDA), which was taken up in Parliament yesterday, the Speaker announced that the vote could be taken on some other day.

Members of the government and opposition side were absent yesterday when the debate on the regulations under the Sri Lanka Export Development Act was moved by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, although their names were in the list.

The chair was presided by MP Sriyani Wijewickrama when the issue was created and Speaker Jayasuriya, who presided over later, listened to both sides and adjourned the sittings at 3.36 pm to hold a party leaders meeting as scheduled earlier. The sittings resumed at 4.20 pm and the Speaker announced in agreement with the Party Leaders, the right to ask for a vote lies with the Leader of the House, the vote would be taken on some other day.The issue was created following the presiding member Sriyani Wijewickrama announced around 3.25 pm when UNP Badulla district member Aravinda Kumara wound up his speech, the names of Bandula Gunawardena, W. D. J. Seneviratne, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, S. Premaratne, Ananda Aluthgamage, Cader Masthan, Thureirajasingham, Susantha Punchinilame, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva, Ajith Mannapperuma, A. M. Naseer to join the debate. But none of them were present in the House at the time their names were announced.

The Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella then observed that the government would not ask for a vote. “The government does not ask for vote as no division has been demanded,” Minister Kiriella said. “We asked to take the vote the next day.”

Then a commotion arose in the House and Opposition MP Sujeewa Senasinghe demanded for a division raising a point of order. He demanded the government to withdraw the motion if it could not go for a vote.

Presiding member Sriyani Wijewickrama then said that the debate would be wound and take the debate today (Friday).

The opposition objected and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella said the Government has the right to demand for a division but does not demand for a vote. He demanded to adjourn the sitting until 10.30 am today (Friday)

Then presiding member Sriyani Wijewickrama said that the house would be adjourned and asked to move the adjournment motion and then announced the name of Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who rose to his feet.

Aluthgamage said that it was scheduled to take a vote at 6.00 pm. The government has to go for a vote if there were no MPs to join the debate or has to withdraw the motion. Thereafter, Sriyani Wijewickrama queried under what grounds did the Leader of the House demand to adjourn the sittings until next day and the opposition demand to take a vote.

JVP Parliamentarian Bimal Rathnayake said that according to standing order 23(1), the vote should be taken today. The Leader of the House said the Subject Minister has informed that he has to respond to the Opposition members so that the debate should continue to some other day.

Then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Subject Minister has informed that he has to respond to the Opposition members so that the debate should continue to some other day. He queried of the standing order that said the debate should end the same day.

MP Aluthgamage said that the motion is moved and according to the standing orders, it should be passed or withdrawn.

Then Mujibar Rahuman said that the presiding member had announced the sittings were adjourned and asked to move the adjournment motion too. “So we can’t continue this dialogue any longer as it has no any validity,” he said.

Then the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya came to the seat.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Subject Minister has informed that he has to clarify some matters responding to members so that the debate should continue tomorrow as he is not available in the House. He added that no one has moved under the standing order 46 either. As this is a government motion, it should have the right to decide when to pull the vote. “One member said that there was no growth which is wrong,” Premier said. “Even the Central Bank has said there was a growth and due to the bombing on the Easter Sunday, it was affected. The subject Minister said that he has had to make some such clarifications and we should take this matter tomorrow too.”

MP Bandula Gunawardena said that before the Speaker came to seat the presiding member Sriyani Wijewickrama had ended up everything and had announced to take up a vote.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that if the motion is official, the Minister have to reply if he thinks to do so. “If he does need, it’s a different matter, but here he needs to make some clarification tomorrow,” the Premier said. “As this is a government business, they should decide when to wound up,” he said.

At this stage the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya adjourned the sittings to hold a Party Leaders’ Meeting as scheduled earlier. The sittings resumed at 4.20pm

 The Speaker announced that in agreement with the Party Leaders, the right to ask for a vote lies with the Leader of the House, the vote would be taken on some other day.


 


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