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Govt. will ensure national security - Minister Chamal

The Government has instructed all the relevant institutions to ensure national security not to repeat the challenges faced by the public due to the threats that were faced by national security during the tenure of the Good Governance Government, said Irrigation Minister, National Security and Disaster Management and Home Affairs State Minister Chamal Rajapaksa in Parliament yesterday.

He added that the Government upholds the peoples' trust placed in the Government that it would ensure national security. Since being elected to power in 2019, the Government has implemented a number of short term, long term and medium term mechanisms to achieve this target.

He made these observations joining the Committee Stage Debate on the Budget proposal for financial year 2022 under the financial heads of Defence Ministry, Public Security Ministry, National Security and Disaster Management State Ministry, Home Affairs State Ministry and Community Police Service State Ministry.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the Defence Ministry is reviewing the existing National Security policies and to amend them in order to address the grave National Security ISSUES.

He added that the drafted National Intelligence Act is being reviewed by an Expert Committee. He also added that discussions are in progress with the relevant institutions to implement the recommendations by the Presidential Commission on the Easter Sunday Attacks.

Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said that due to the strategic geographic location of Sri Lanka, it will have to face non-traditional challenges and hence steps are taken to strengthen marine security, the Army and the Air Force. He added in this endeavour, the Government will purchase a 110 m security marine vessel. In addition, there are many other measures to be taken to strengthen security. The Drone Regiment introduced by the Army recently was very much fruitful in carrying out pandemic control programmes.

He added that the improved Engineering Unit in the Army would be helpful in the Nation Building Programme. He added that the new Agriculture Unit would be very beneficial to the country. A new Cyber Unit has also been set up by the Army to face Cyber Warfare.

He said further improvement of the AN-32 transport aircraft and the improvement of the Kfirs are commendable achievements by the Air Force. He added that the Air Force plans to improve UAV technology to strengthen Cyber Security. He added that the allocations are made to purchase two Y-121Vs and four training helicopters and repair a few fighter jets during 2021-2024 period.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the Security Forces and other related institutions have seized 24,500 kilogrammes of drugs, including Heroin, Cannabis, Cocaine, Hashish etc. and arrested 135,310 people during the last two years. They are working to prevent drug smuggling to the country and for storing, distribution and trading purposes.

He added under the guidance of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, steps have been taken to address the long standing salary anomalies issues and pension anomalies of the Security Forces and Police involved to combat terrorist activities in the country.

He said in addition to many services related to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Tri-Forces have vaccinated more than 5 million people.

He added that the Government is taking measures to widen the 'e-grama-niladari' project to empower the Grama Niladaris in all the 14,022 with technology to serve the people.

The Minister said that 233,198 families and 875,244 people have been affected by disasters since November 15,2021 and the Government has provided Rs.609.27 million to provide relief to them.

 


Good Governance Govt. ruined Cooperative Movement- Johnston

It is humourous to hear Mmbers of the Opposition, who were a part of the former Good Governance Government whose subject Minister allegedly stole Rs.10 billion and driving it to bankruptcy, shedding crocodile tears about the current state of the Cooperative Movement, said Highways and Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday.

He made this observation raising a Point of Order following the responses of Minister Bandula Gunawardena and State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna responding to Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MPs Hesha Vithanage and Chaminda Wijesiri during the round of questions.

When Minister Gunawardena answered in the negative to the question whether the mobile marketing programme called “Gamata Saviya – Sathosa Badiya” commenced by the Cooperative Wholesale Establishment is operative at present, MP Hesha Vithanage said that it was a project that targeted the Election in 2014 spending Rs. 26.9 million. Responding to it Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that it was a commendable project that was initiated to serve the nation with 100 Batta lorries. However, the Good Governance Government giving vent to hate politics, brought it to an end without considering its benefits. He added that if the Good Governance Government had increased it to 1,000 lorries, the service could have been a great solace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Minister Gunawardena said that it was the subject of State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna, MP Chaminda Wijesiri said that as the Cabinet Minister, it was not fair to pass the blame to the State Minister. MP Wijesiri also said that the Government was attempting to bankrupt the Sathosa and the Cooperative Movement.

State Minister Alagiyawanna said that even though there are a few flaws, the Cooperatives is a massive movement with an annual turnover of Rs.75 billion.

Minister Johnston Fernando responding to the MPs, said that during the tenure of the previous Good Governance Government the State Ministers were appointed without been assigned any work. But, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa published the State Ministers jobs in the Gazette and they have their responsibilities assigned to them. Even the Ministers do not interfere with them.

 


All Police Stations to be digitalized - Namal

All Police Stations would be digitalized next year, said Youth and Sports Minister, Development Coordination and Monitoring Minister and Digital Technology and Enterprise Development State Minister Namal Rajapaksa in Parliament yesterday.

He further said the Police Headquarters has already been digitized under the First Phase of the programme. He added that anyone could obtain a Police Report online. He also said that the digital system would be introduced without delay enabling spot payments online.

He made these observations joining the Committee Stage Debate on the budget proposal for the Financial Year 2022 under the Financial Heads of the Defence Ministry, Public Security Ministry, National Security and Disaster Management State Ministry, Home Affairs State Ministry and Community Police Service State Ministry.

Minister Namal Rajapaksa in response to a question by Samagi Jana Balavegaya Parliamentarian Ranjith Madduma Bandara regarding a Football match played at the Race Course in the presence of the spectators, said that the spectators who were vaccinated,had their vaccination cards with them and underwent PCR tests were allowed in to the stadium to watch the match.

He added that everybody knows that the protesters who participated in Opposition rallies had not undergone PCR tests and most of them had not been vaccinated.

 


Sandahiru Seya constructed to honour Tri-Forces - Rohitha

The Sandahiru Seya (Dagoba) was constructed in appriciation of the yeoman service rendered by the Tri-Forces in elimination of terrorism to unite the country, said Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena in Parliament yesterday.

He recalled that terrorism that could not be eliminated by four former Executive Presidents was eliminated by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the then Secretary Defence and present President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, then Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and Tri-Forces.

The Sandahiru Seya was constructed to appreciate them and MP Sarath Fonseka spoke about it today.

He made these observations joining the Committee Stage Debate on the Budget proposal for the Financial Year 2022 under the Financial Heads of the Defence Ministry, Public Security Ministry, National Security and Disaster Management State Ministry, Home Affairs State Ministry and Community Police Service State Ministry.

Minister Abeygunawardena said that he would be the Defence Minister in the Premadasa's Government. He added that and when Fonseka asked for ammunition from the latters father who was the then President, he had asked if there were that much of terrorists to kill. He added if Mahinda Rajapaksa was not the President in 2009, the country would have been similar to that of Afghanistan today.

The Minister said that the former Good Governance Government gave the Wild Life Ministry to the person who won the war. He said that during the Easter Sunday Attacks a number of lives were lost.

He added that the Good Governance Government could not punish the culprits. He added that although there was intelligence, the catastrophe could not be prevented.

But a father tells the Minister's son not to go to church because the bombs were planned to explode. They attempt to be innocent yet.

He added that the people thank the President for directing the Armed Forces to protect the country, to control the COVID-19 pandemic and to vaccine the people.

 


Treat Tri-Forces members with dignity - Anura

Jathika Jana Balawegaya MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said in Parliament yesterday that it was wrong to use Army personnel to build a hotel owned by Gnana Akka in Anuradhapura.

He said that this shows the manner in which the Army personnel are degraded, appealing to the authorities to treat the soldiers and other lower ranking Tri-Forces members with dignity.

He was speaking during the Committee Stage debate of the Budget on the Expenditure Heads of several Ministries, including the Ministry of Defense.

Dissanayake requested Minister Chamal Rajapaksa to look into the matter immediately and said that he could provide information in this regard.

He added that it was wrong to use soldiers and other military personnel for personal work.

Dissanayake said that lower members of the Army are often used for the work of politicians as well as for private projects and some members of the Navy are also used for private projects in this manner.

He said that the deployment of lower ranking members of The Tri-Forces for private projects should be stopped immediately and the members of the armed forces who have done an important job for the country should be treated with dignity.

He also urged the Minister to pay attention to the food that is provided to these security force personnel.

“Police officers are also under special pressure today and there is a serious shortage of police sergeants and constables,” said Anura Dissanayake.

He pointed out that there is a shortage of 17,500 police personnel.

 


Minister Sarath Weerasekera and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka lock horns in Parliament

Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera (Rtd) and Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, locked horns again in Parliament yesterday afternoon (3) during the Debate on the Ministry of Defense Expenditure Head.

Weerasekera said that Sarath Fonseka had called him a coward adding that the whole country was aware of Fonseka’s cowardice and hypocrisy.

"Don’t blame the Police for being cowards, the whole country knows what a coward and hypocrite you are," Minister Weerasekara said.

He said that Sarath Fonseka, who did not call for the arrest of Tinkering Lasantha, was saddened when he was killed during a search for hidden weapons.

At this point, Sarath Fonseka was seen yelling various allegations at Sarath Weerasekara.

Weerasekara said that Fonseka was vying for the post of Defence Minister. “Even the previous Government did not give it to him because they know who he is. We don’t have the kind of corruption allegations that are against him. He should know not to throw stones while being in a glass house.”

Sarath Fonseka then said that Weerasekara went with criminal Lahiya’s brother to open a building. “He calls me a coward. Ask the country who the coward is, whether it is this Sarath or that Sarath.”

Meanwhile, SJB Parliamentarian Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka during his speech charged, the Government does not have a stringent plan to ensure National Security, when looking at the allocations for the Defence Ministry within next year’s budget.

Speaking during the Committee Stage Debate on the Expenditure Heads for the Defence Ministry, he said the defence expenditure should not be reduced despite the war having ended.

He stressed that the country must be ready to face foreign threats, even if there is peace internally.

Citing Singapore’s defence budget, he pointed out that it is among the highest defence budgets in the Asian region despite there being no war.

He also noted that by the end of the war there was an excess of funds which had been used to purchase tanks to boost the military's capacity. However, he added that some jealous persons had sneaked to the country’s leadership that he was preparing to take over the country. Fonseka noted that he had no such intention.

 


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