Parliament | Daily News



VAT, NBT tax cuts for school uniforms: Siyambalapitiya

The government is planning to add the benefit of Value-added Tax (VAT) and Nation-building Tax (NBT) tax cuts to school uniform vouchers, Education Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said. He made this observation in Parliament, yesterday, while denying allegations that the value of the school uniform vouchers was lessened.

“The VAT and nation-building taxes are included in the value of the vouchers. Following the tax cuts, we believe that the benefit should go to the students.” Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

He added that the government is to swiftly look into the difficulties faced by the teachers and students at the Polonnaruwa National College of Education. People's Liberation Front MP Bimal Rathnayake, during the oral question round, informed the Education Minister that there is a serious lack of facilities at the Polonnaruwa National College of Education. “Apparently, there is a serious water shortage in the college, and sanitary facilities are not in operation either. I would like the Education Minister to quickly look into this matter,” MP Rathnayake said.

In reply, Minister Siyambalapitiya said he would quickly address any issues at the training college.

Following a question raised by United National Party MP Hesha Withana, Minister Siyambalapitiya assured that the government is planning to carry out the recruitment process of teaching assistants to government schools in a transparent manner.

The minister said the recruitment process would most probably include a competitive examination, as usual.

“We are yet to finalise how the process would take place, and I assure that it will be a transparent one,” he said.


‘Agriculture Ministry to return to Govijana Mandiraya by month’s end’

Agriculture Minister Chamal Rajapaksa affirmed that the Agriculture Ministry would be shifted by the end of the month from the DPJ building in Rajagiriya to its original building, the Govijana Mandiraya.

He said negotiations are under way with the owners of this building, and that legal provisions are being looked at to see if the owners of the building could be persuaded to end the lease and release the Agriculture Ministry from the agreement, which is due to lapse in March 2021.

Addressing a media briefing in Parliament, yesterday, the minister said that despite the agreement signed by the previous government to obtain this building for a colossal rent of Rs.24.4 million per month, and having obtained Cabinet approval for it, this building lacks adequate parking space—and most of the vehicles have to be parked on the narrow side road nearby, or on the main road. He also noted that despite this high rent, all the partitioning and furnishing had been done on the government’s expense.

The previous government is said to have paid off the lease for the building in Rajagiriya, which has so far housed the Agriculture Ministry, until the end of the term in March 2021, it is reported. According to the agreement, even if the tenants vacate the building prior to the end of the 5-year lease term, the owner would not return the money paid for the entire period.

He said that in the event the owners of the building does not agree to terminate the lease agreement, the Agriculture Ministry would still vacate the building and move to the Govijana Mandiraya; but another state institution occupying private premises where their lease agreement is about to expire, would be relocated to at the DPJ building until the lease term ends in 2021. Minister Rajapaksa said that by housing all 25 divisions under the Agriculture Ministry under one roof at the Govijana Mandiraya in Battaramulla, it would make it easier for farmers to get all required services under one roof, without having to waste their time unnecessarily.


Speaker asks for names of COPE, COPA nominees

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, at the Selection Committee meeting held in Parliament, yesterday, requested the government and the Opposition to provide the names of the nominees for committees such as COPE and COPA without delay.

The Selection Committee decided to constitute the Committee of Parliamentary Business on January 23. The Speaker is to table the names of the MPs who will represent the Committee on Parliamentary Business.

The Selection Committee also decided to appoint the Committee on High Posts, today.

Parliamentarians Dinesh Gunawardena, Johnston Fernando, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Sajith Premadasa, John Amaratunga, Mano Ganesan, and Niroshan Perera were also present at the meeting.


Rs.21,708 mn Supplementary Allocation presented to Parliament

A Supplementary Allocation of Rs.21,708 million was presented to Parliament, yesterday, seeking House approval for the expenses incurred from November 1 to 30, provisioning 73 different programmes and purposes.

In order to meet the additional allocation provided to meet the increased cost of fuel, vehicles, plant and machinery maintenance, postal and communication, and electricity and water supply for the President, the government has also sought House approval for an additional allocation of Rs.330 million using the Supplementary Allocation.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation, and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development has been allocated an additional sum of Rs.350 million for the capital expenses of the Agriculture Sector Modernisation Project, and an additional Rs.240 million for the expenses on Climate Smart Irrigated Agriculture Project.

Rs.2.4 billion was allocated to the Treasury to meet the shortfall of provisions for interest payments on bank overdraft and other debt, followed by Rs.2 billion to the Department of Pensions to shoulder the revision of pensions.

The Sri Lanka Railways Department has been allocated Rs.450 million to pay Customs Import Duty, Nation Building Tax, Value Added Tax for purchasing three sets of diesel electrical locomotives.

Rs.3.1 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine to settle the bills relating to medical supplies to State Pharmaceutical Corporation and State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation.

The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development has been allocated Rs.4.5 billion to implement town development in nine provinces, restoration of water quality in the Beira Lake, restoration of the Jaffna Town Hall, the Sahasra Bus Programme, the Metro Colombo Solid Waste Management System, and the Urban Regeneration Programme.

Supplementary allocations are being provided in terms of Clause 6 (1) of the Appropriation Act, as required.

These are provided strictly for the purposes specified in approved Budget Estimates to relevant spending agencies, having carried out a needs assessment while giving consideration to the relevant financial regulations and approved procedures.

However, the supplementary provision presented yesterday did not change the approved total expenditure limits of the annual estimate by Parliament.

The allocation of such purposes has been made under the Project of Budgetary Support Services and Contingent Liabilities of the Department of National Budget, and it is under the limit of the Approved Annual Budget.

Therefore, either the borrowing limit or the maximum limit of the total expenditure will not be increased due to the granting of these supplementary provisions.

The purpose of this provision is to facilitate the smooth conduct of public finance management in a more efficient and effective manner.


Ranjan’s telephone conversations: Hemapala gives statement to CCD

Baddegama Magistrate Dhammika Hemapala, who was interdicted as part of ongoing investigations into the alleged telephone conversations he had with Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake, yesterday arrived at the Colombo Crimes Division to give statement. The CCD official has recorded a statement in connection with the telephone conversation from him for over two hours. Hemapala left the CCD premises around 5.15 p.m.

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