Parliament | Daily News


COPE recommendations will be implemented – Minister Namal

Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa said that the recommendations by the COPE Committee will be implemented. He said that as the Sports Minister, he is duty bound to implement the COPE recommendations.

The Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLCB) was summoned before the COPE Committee yesterday.

Responding to a question by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Buddhika Pathirana in Parliament yesterday, he said that the country has no regulation regarding the qualifications of trainers. He said that sports trainers’ qualifications need to be regulated. “It is required to look into whether these trainers are regulated through a parent club or according to the international standards. However, it is regretful that there is an issue regarding the qualifications of sports trainers and their competency,” the Minister said.

He, therefore, said that discussions have been held with the parent clubs and these trainers should have a proper training. “Today what is happening is that anyone can put a team together and train them informally. This is a serious injustice to these athletes.”

The Minister said that gyms or the fitness trainers have not been regulated. He said that these trainers need to have required qualifications. The Minister said the future activities could be implemented. He said that apart from trainers who are registered with certain parent clubs, a large number of trainers have not been properly registered. “This matter needs to be addressed,” the Minister said.

The Minister responded to MP Pathirana that athletes should be provided with insurance. “The legitimate trainers, too, need to be provided with a insurance cover. Minister Rajapaksa said that only cricketers are insured. He said that discussions are underway to insure all athletes including sports trainers.

Meanwhile, MP Rauff Hakeem pointed out that while there are many issues related to the country’s hockey administration and facilities, only Colombo has an artificial turf to conduct hockey matches. “Even the Matale turf is destroyed. At least in Kandy and Matale where hockey is being played, you must give us an assurance that you will build artificial turfs,” he urged Minister Namal Rajapaksa.

In response, Minister Namal Rajapaksa said that Rs. 50 million had been allocated to the Sri Lanka Army to refurbish the Matale hockey turf within this year. The Colombo turf would be done with the Asian Hockey Federation, he said. “Unfortunately, the Hockey Federation has a lot of internal problems. So on Wednesday we issued instructions to the DG Sports to conduct the elections within the next two months. Once the elections are held and the new administration is appointed, we will allocate Rs. 100 million from our side and with the Asian Hockey Federation. Also in Kandy, we want to have a normal turf and not an artificial turf,” he said.

Decision making is open to everyone who is willing to contribute – Minister Ali Sabry, PC

Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC, said that a massive transformation of the Justice System is underway, in which 3 full-time sub-committees are at work to reform the Criminal Law, Civil Law and the Commercial Law and another committee of experts is involved in drafting the new Constitution.

The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Justice was held yesterday in Parliament with special emphasis on the transformation of the Criminal Justice System.

The discussion on Community based correction was set in motion following the presentation by Assistant Secretary-General of Parliament Tikiri K. Jayathilake.

The Assistant Secretary-General said at the committee that the Criminal Law and the notion of justice are entwined and it is important to integrate individuals into society as responsible citizens rather than labelling them as criminals.

Assistant Secretary-General Tikiri K. Jayathilake said that the objective could be done by the Consultative Committee via two tiers. One being the political tier inclusive of the political leadership in stirring towards the requisite reforms and the second tier includes officials and professionals representing various fields contributing their expertise towards the formulation and development of relevant reforms.

The Minister said that it is the intention of the Ministry to involve everyone who is willing to contribute to the decision-making.

The Minister said that before COVID and under normal circumstances, approximately 30,000 to 33, 000 have been in prison whereas the capacity of those is only for 11,000. The Minister said that a vast majority of them are remand prisoners and only 8,000 were convicts. He

said that 90 per cent or more in remand prison are drug addicts - not drug-related criminals.

The Minister said that when the 2018-2019 statistics were called for from the Government Analyst Department, only 114 cases were against those who had a pure quantity of drugs. He said that 99 per cent of those who were arrested - approximately 3,300, had 2-5g of drugs when they were arrested. The Minister explained how large-scale drug cases are stagnated as the High Courts have been clogged by minor cases.

Minister Ali Sabry said that rehabilitating such individuals through community-based correction is important rather than allowing them to mingle with drug criminals paving way for them to convert into a drug-related criminals.

Prison Management and Rehabilitation State Minister Lohan Ratwatte said that 250 acres have been given by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and measures have been taken to relocate the prisons such as the Welikada Prison, Women’s Prison, Magazine New Remand Prison to Horana in commercial areas to increase the capacity of prisons to 10-fold.

State Minister Susil Premajayantha said that there is a considerable delay in receiving the Government Analyst’s reports, which causes a delay in hearings. The Justice Minister said that measures have been taken to resolve the issue.

Parliamentarian Weerasumana Weerasinghe said that it is mandatory to include subjects related to Law, Crime and Conviction to the school syllabus since children should be educated in this regard from an early age.

Government did not unfairly increase Grade 5 Scholarship Exam Cut-off-Marks – Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris

The Government has not unfairly increased the Cut-off-Marks for the admission of students to schools for 2021 on the results of the Grade 5 Scholarship Exam, Education Professor G.L. Peiris yesterday said in Parliament.

The Cut-off-Marks are determined in accordance with the students’ performances at the exam, Minister Prof. Peiris said.

The Minister was responding to Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa under the Standing Order 27/2 regarding the Cut-off-Marks for the Grade 5 Scholarship Exam.

“Based on the exam results, the Cut-off-Marks for admission to schools for 2021 have been raised abnormally. As a result, the dreams of many children have shattered. Their parents have been frustrated. This situation has arisen because of an increase in the number of marks required for admission to the National Schools from 6 to 10. Therefore, to enter a leading school in Colombo, one has to obtain over 160 and over 82 for one subject. Such a large change in the Cut-off-Marks is problematic and the Government should pay special attention to it,” the Opposition Leader said.

Minister Prof. Peiris said in reply that Cut-off-Marks is determined by the skills of the children. He said that the marks are determined transparently.

Each Grama Niladari Division will be granted Rs. 2 mn for development – Minister Rathnayake

The Government will grant Rs 2 million to the 14,022 Gramaseva Niladari Divisions each to implement rural development projects in parallel to the Government's strategy to increase the production to get rid of the economic issues, Wildlife and Forest Conservation Minister C. B. Rathnayake said in Parliament yesterday.

He was moving four regulations under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act for the approval of the House.

The Minister said that in respect of the farmers' issue in Weragodayaya in Polonnaruwa, he would inform State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe whether the problem could be resolved in 24 hours, and whether the issue arose on a gazette notification.

He said that the Government took measures to reduce the tax and the interest rate on loans. “The benefits of them to the public and the businessmen have been forgotten. The Government had addressed the unemployment issue. By now, 67,000 graduates of 100,000 have already been recruited. Each Grama Seva Niladari Division of 14,022 has been given Rs 2 million for development,” he said.

"We are doing all these things while experiencing a global pandemic that has killed over 2.6 million people all over the world," Minister Rathnayake said. "The entire world's production is affected. When we attempt to increase the local production, we have to face many issues and the regulations that I moved today are supposed to address those issues," he said.

Minister Rathnayake said that the country is facing such a challenge along with the entire world and the country handled the matter successfully compared to other countries.

AG’s instructions sought to resolve Veragodayaya farmers’ issue – State Minister Wimalaweera

The Attorney General's instructions are sought to resolve the issue of the farmers in Veragodayaya in Polonnaruwa whose lands were acquired by the Forest Department following a court order, Wildlife Protection, Adoption of Safety Measures including the Construction of Electrical Fences and Trenches and Reforestation and Forest Resource Development State Minister Wimalaweera Dissanayake said.

The State Minister said that the farmers who had been working for over 60 years would be allowed to cultivate. He said that the Wildlife Department cannot issue these lands as those had been granted to the Department by way of a Court Order. He said it could be a Contempt of Court if it was done.

The State Minister was responding to State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe who said that the farmers have commenced a fast unto death.

MP Ranasinghe said that the farmers had been cultivating there for more than 60 years but the Forest Department acquired the land. The Department officers do not allow them to work on these lands despite the orders by the President and the legislature. He urged the Government to resolve the matter soon.

Ban on imports severely affected economy – MP Eran

Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne said in Parliament yesterday that the ban on imports has severe repercussions on the economy.

He was participating in the debate on four regulations under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act presented in Parliament for the approval of the House.

He said that the ban on import was reversing the economy. “It takes us back to the economy during 1970 to 1977,” he said.

He said that the debt burden in the country is around Rs. 15 trillion, with which we cannot go any further. When the Middle Income were taken into account, Sri Lanka is within the two countries that have the highest loan rate in accordance with their GDP. The other is Lebanon, which is bankrupt.

“The future of Sri Lanka is critically dangerous,” he said. 


Only one hour should be given for Round of Questions for Oral Answers – Minister Johnston

Highways Minister and Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando yesterday said that Parliament should allocate only one hour for the Round of Questions for Oral Answers with immediate effect.

He was responding to Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Harsha de Silva when the latter said that only one hour is allocated for the Round of Questions for Oral Answers in accordance with the Standing Orders of Parliament. He said that Parliament should abide by the Standing Orders.

Harsha de Silva brought the Standing Orders to the notice of the House when Chief Opposition Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella said that the first question and answer had consumed half an hour.

He said that the members were attempting to get highlighted to the President and the Prime Minister who were present in the House.

SJB MP Hesha Withanage raised the first question and State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal responded.

However, Withanage’s supplementary question consumed more time and the Government side members objected. Then the Government side and the opposition side exchanged remarks.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena responded to MP Kiriella that if all were abided by the Standing Orders, the time could be saved. “The Opposition members should not make speeches on irrelevant matters when raising questions and supplementary questions. They should not try to make the Question Round a platform for debate,” he said.


National Policy should be set up on granting country’s assets – MP Withanage

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Ratnapura District Parliamentarian Hesha Withanage yesterday said that the Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should set up a national policy on matters such as handing the Hambantota Port and the Colombo Port Eastern Terminal over to foreign companies depriving the country of massive revenues.

Then Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal responded that the Government’s policy is not to give strategically important assets to foreign companies.

He said that the grant of the Hambantota Port was incorrect no matter whoever did it and there should be a national policy in this regard. “However, the Hambantota Port was given during the previous United National Party (UNP) Good Governance Government,” he said.

He was responding while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was present in the House. The President arrived in the House preceded by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and followed by many other Ministers, State Minister and Parliamentarians during the Round of Questions for Oral Answers. When the President was arriving in the house, MP Withanage was raising the question for State Minister Cabraal.

State Minister Cabraal said that the Eastern Terminal will not be given to any other country and it will be operated 100 per cent by the country. “The Government has clearly expressed the Government’s policy that it would not grant or sell the strategically important assets to the overseas companies,” he said.

He agreed with MP Hesha Withanage that it was important to set up a mechanism to allow foreign investors to get approvals and certificates under one roof before they invest here.

MP Hesha Withanage said that such a mechanism would prevent acts of corruption like those happened during the previous regimes. He said that this is much important as foreign investments have become an effective solution for developing the economy.


Previous regime granted H’tota Port to China for 90 years to get meagre income – Minister Rohitha

The revenue that the country would earn during the next 99 years by granting the Hambantota Port to China by the previous Good Governance Government have been estimated as Rs 18.5 million, Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena yesterday said in Parliament.

He was responding on the invitation of State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal, to MP Hesha Withanage.

He said that the previous UNP Government granted the Hambantota Port for such a meager income and it has given nothing for the country.

“Those who were silent then are speaking today on a groundless issue regarding the Eastern Terminal. He said that an employee and a media person were assaulted during a protest during the previous regime. He said that the Cabinet has already decided to operate the Eastern Terminal through the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).

The Minister said that the Former UNP government had granted not only the Port but also another 1,188 hectares to the Chinese Company for 99 years.

He said that the former government had entered into two agreements with India and Japan on operation of the Eastern Terminal. He said that those agreements cannot be terminated soon since they did not agree with our conditions. The Minister said that the Government has decided to develop the Western Terminal.


PMB will buy 300,00 tonnes of paddy directly from farmers – Minister Aluthgamage

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said in Parliament yesterday that for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, 300,000 metric tonnes of paddy will be bought directly by the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) during the Maha season. Minister Aluthgamage said that Rs. 16,000 million has been allocated in this regard.

Minister Aluthgamage was responding to a question by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Thushara Indunil during the Oral Question Round.

He said that a very systematic programme has been set up to buy paddy to protect the farmer, PMB and the consumer.

Minister Aluthgamage said that he believed the Board could buy around 500,000 metric tonnes of paddy, not 300,000 metric tonnes. He assured that there will not be any fraud while paddy is bought.

He said that a number of corrupt transactions have taken place at institutions including at Sathosa that are affiliated to the Ministry during the previous Yahapalana regime.

A number of discrepancies had occurred when buying paddy during the last season and although money was given to buy paddy through the Government Agent, it has not been collected properly, Minister Aluthgamage said.

“We have inspected the Economic Centres recently. Thereafter, we decided to provide stalls at the Centres for farmers to sell their vegetables without a mediator,” the Minister said.