The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 3

3
Sunday, March 8, 2015
news
Continued from page 1
Minority parties...
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) also confirmed
that the government has not consulted the party yet. At the
compilationof theDineshGunawardenaCommitteeReport
on Electoral Reform in 2003 the SLMC was consulted ac-
cording to Assistant General Secretary of the party Nizam
Kariapper. “However this time around we have not been
asked to put forth proposals on the reforms as yet” he said.
Kariapper however added that the SLMC is supportive of
the proposed mixed system as long as it ensures actual
representation of minor and minority parties.
The government, despite promising in its 100-Day pro-
gram that it will set up an all party committee to present
proposals for electoral reforms, it has failed to do. This is
despite a cabinet announcement that the next general
elections will be held under a new electoral system. Both
the parties were not happy with the government’s move
and noted that if the next election is to be held in June, it
would create a complex situation even among voters.
The Nation contacted SLFP
General Secretary Anura Priya-
darshana Yapa, National Organiz-
er Susil Premajayantha, Treasurer
S.B. Nawinne and newly appoint-
ed media spokesman MP Dilan
Perera for clarification regard-
ing what action would be taken
against the politicians who defied
the ban, but none were available
for comment. MP Dilum Amunu-
gama was the notable SLFP MP
on the stage and sources said MP
Salinda Dissanayake was also
among the audience.
Moratuwa Municipal Council
Mayor Saman Lal Fernando who
attended the rally said that he
and others were not informed that
they will be facing any action if
they participated. “We were not
told or sent any verbal or written
statement of any such disciplinary
action if we take part in the rally
and till now we have not received
anything with regards to that,” he
said.
Fernando reiterated the fact that
the rally was not organized to split
the SLFP, but to gather people
to defeat Ranil Wickremesinghe
at the upcoming general elec-
tion. UPFA Provincial Councilor
Samanmalee Sakalasuriya ex-
pressed that she went for the
meeting on behalf of the patron of
their party.
Commenting on whether she
has been informed of any disci-
plinary action taken against her
for attending the rally, she said
“There are a lot of people who
are answerable for the manner in
which they have been acting thus
far. I think the party should take
disciplinary action against them
first before deciding whether they
should take action against us.”
SLFP bigwigs...
He (Hashim) also informed me
that a new appointment will be
made to the University Grants
Commission and I can have a look
at the list of the names at the Prime
Minister’s office. Though I was not
surprised, I questioned why the list
is lying at the Temple Trees, while
it should come under the purview
of the President. I am clueless how
things are happening” he said.
He also said that there was an
agreement that Cabinet portfolios
will be given to all the political par-
ties which supported the forming of
the Maithripala Government. “They
neglected my party; Liberal Party
as well as the Up-Country People’s
Front,” Wijesinha said. He further
said that he remained in the gov-
ernment, as he needs to clean the
system, but decided to vacate the
ministerial post because he real-
ized that it was embarrassing to
hold on to it.
He also said that Minister Hashim
had offered his cabinet portfolio
to him (Wijesinha) during the last
phone conversation they had, but
that was not a requirement.
‘I am clueless...
He also remarked that this can also be considered as
a way to privatize the Health Sector.
He added, “According to 100-Day program, the Na-
tional Drug Policy was due to be passed on March 13
after 35 days’ debating. But the Cabinet approval was
given on February 6. Also the Government Medical
Officers’ Association (GMOA) and trade unions were
prevented from going through the bill. The proposed
amendments were also not accepted.”
He also alleged that the new policy does not include
clauses about price controlling or limiting the use of
brand names while affirming that the policy will help
exploit the public. Meanwhile, Galle MP Ajith Kumara
who represents FLSP in Parliament and who was the
only MP to vote against the bill said it has many weak
points.
According to the MP, the bill will include an authority
which will include 13 officials which the Prime Minis-
ter will have power to remove and appoint any time.
He said that this will give the prime minister too much
power.
FLSP dismisses...
When questioned on the subject at the Sri
Lanka Legal Summit 2015 attended by the
legal fraternity last Thursday, the Governor
said that his son-in-law, Arjun Aloysius had
resigned as a director of Perpetual ever since
the governor took office. He also promised
that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
will make a statement in Parliament on Fri-
day, given the seriousness of the allegation.
“The Minister has gone into this matter
and given the seriousness of the allegations,
a statement will be made in Parliament to-
morrow (Monday). At this time I am not in
a position to elaborate on this further but all
what I can say during our discussions one of
the issues that even the IMF Team who were
in Sri Lanka raised was how Treasury Bond
markets had veered away from international
norms.
That anomaly was corrected at the last
Bond auction as the 30 year bond saw a in-
crease in interest rates which in effect was
a reversal to the situation that existed when
the Bond was auctioned in September 2014
where it was kept artificially down to stimu-
late demand in the economy. So now we are
adopting a policy where Monetary Policy is
conducted on a normal basis,” Mahendran
said.
Meanwhile, responding to questions at the
Sri Lanka Legal Summit 2015, deputy minis-
ter of Economic Affairs and Policy Planning,
Dr. Harsha De Silva said, “We have faith in
the governor of the Central Bank. We expect
the governor to make sure that he carries out
an appropriate investigation into whatever the
incidents that people say have taken place.”
On Friday Harsha de Silva told LBO that the
government will issue a statement through
Prime Minister’s office.
Perpetual Treasuries Limited commenced
business as a Primary Dealer in Government
Securities on December 4,2013.
“Bond prices go down when interest rates
rise. So i m not sure who made any profits.
My son-in-law resigned from Perpetual when
I became the Governor of the Central Bank.
This story is being spread by a mafia who
were controlling the market through private
placements. I did the first 30 year auction
since September 2014 and have banned
private placements since. Interest rates will
fall back to 9pct once the shock recedes” the
Governor told
LankaNewsWeb
in response
to an article citing the allegation.
In February 2013, it was reported that the
Board of Directors of Perpetual comprised
Chairman Geoffrey Aloysius, Arjun Aloysius,
Muthurajah Surendran, Godfrey Aloysius,
Pushya Gunawardhana and Chittha Ranjan
Hulugalle.
During the previous regime too, Perpet-
ual Capital group had also been involved
in controversial stock market deals with the
Employees Provident Fund which have been
questioned before.
Harsha vows...
By Sandun Jayawardana
Education Minister Akila Viraj
Kariyawasam said the Ministry
will regulate international schools
throughout the island and a high lev-
el committee appointed to consider
the matter has already met.
Speaking to
The Nation
, the minis-
ter stated the committee comprised
both education ministry officials and
outsiders, including representatives
of international schools.
Proposals currently under discus-
sion include introducing regulations
that require all international schools
to be registered with the Ministry of
Education as well as the introduc-
tion of a licensing scheme for such
schools, the minister revealed. Cur-
rently, most international schools
are registered under the Companies
Act and operate as businesses.
Kariyawasam observed the previ-
ous government had been pressur-
ized by ‘influential sections’ of the
international school community
who were part of earlier committees
to stop the introduction of a regula-
tory mechanism.
“However, I have told officials not
to let such people into this commit-
tee. There are honest and respectable
people representing international
schools and they will be invited to
participate in the process,” he ex-
plained.
International schools
to be regulated
SL-Indo counterparts cement bonds…
By Sandun Jayawardana
Steps will soon be taken to de-
stroy the consignment of ‘Blood
Ivory’ seized by Sri Lanka Cus-
toms in May, 2012 and held in
custody thus far, Deputy Minister
of Tourism and Sports, Vasantha
Senanayake said. The deputy
minister expressed these views in
response to a query by
The Nation
as to why the consignment contin-
ued to remain at a Customs ware-
house in Colombo Port.
Environmentalists have raised
issue regarding the continued de-
lay in destroying the consignment
of 359 elephant tusks, which is
said to be the largest such con-
signment of blood ivory detected
in South Asia. These tusks are
thought to have been removed
from African elephants in Kenya
that were killed by poachers.
When contacted, Senanayake
said he had directed the Depart-
ment of Wildlife Conservation
(DWC) to hold an inter-departmen-
tal meeting with Sri Lanka Cus-
toms in order to discuss the pos-
sibility of the DWC taking charge
of the consignment in order to
dispose of it. The deputy minister
said he was ‘hopeful’ that the dis-
cussions would be a success and
that the ivory would be destroyed
very soon.
Customs Media Spokesman
Leslie Gamini, however, said Sri
Lanka Customs was yet to receive
any official directive or request
for cooperation in destroying the
blood ivory.
Coordinator Operations at Fed-
eration of Environmental Orga-
nizations (FEO) Vinod Malwatte
stated the FEO had been urging
authorities to burn the blood ivory
as Sri Lanka is obligated to do so
under the Convention on Interna-
tional Trade in Endangered Spe-
cies (CITES) which it is a party to.
The stock of blood ivory has
caused controversy since its de-
tection. In December, 2012, a let-
ter was sent by the Presidential
Secretariat directing the Director
General of Customs to release the
tusks to be ‘donated’ to the Dalada
Maligawa and other temples. The
letter was signed by former Presi-
dent Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Chief
of Staff, Gamini Senarath. The di-
rective was never carried out due
to intense protests by environmen-
talists and customs officials.
‘Blood Ivory’ to go up
in flames
By Ashani Jayasundara
Assistant Secretary of the
Government Medical Officers’
Association (GMOA), Dr. Nalin-
da Herath said that GMOA had
received a favorable response
from the Ministry of Finance and
Planning to implement allowance
increment due to them according
to the 2015 Budget. The GMOA
held discussions with the Sec-
retary to the Ministry of Finance
and Planning, Secretary to the
Ministry of Health, Secretary of
Public Administration and Sec-
retary of Salary Commission on
Friday (March 6) about the basic
salary revision according to the
2015 Budget approved in 2014
October.
Dr. Nalinda Herath said, “The
Ministry of Finance and Planning
agreed to grant the allowance
increment. To implement the al-
lowance increment with effect
from March, the circular will be
issued tomorrow (March 9). We
expect that the allowance incre-
ment to be implemented from
this month.”
Dr. Herath also said that the
GMOA would call off the strike
that they had planned to initiate
on March 10. He added, “We
don’t like to harass the general
public by initiating a trade union
action.”
Meanwhile the Chairman of
the Government Nursing Officers
Association, Saman Rathnapriya
said that nearly 45,000 nurses
and paramedical officers would
launch an island-wide strike on
March 12, if the allowance incre-
ment is given only to the Govern-
ment Medical officers and not to
other government professions.
Allowance increment dispute
Doctors call off strike, nurses call
for strike
Representatives of Northern
fishermen have requested the
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to
facilitate a meeting with Indian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
during his visit this week.
Secretary of the Jaffna Fish-
ermen’s Federation, K. Raja-
chandran said they had put
forward the request to TNA Par-
liamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.
He said they had asked him to
facilitate a meeting to discuss
fishermen’s issues with Prime
Minister Modi or alternatively,
for the TNA to bring it up when it
meets Modi later this week.
Rajachandran revealed their
federation had requested a
meeting with Northern Province
Governor H.M.G.S. Palihakkara
on Tuesday (March 10) to dis-
cuss their issues with him but
were yet to receive a response.
Northern fishermen want to meet Prime Minister Modi
ITAK’s Sasitharan awaits
disciplinary action
By Sahla Ilham
The Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) is yet
to take action regarding Eastern Provincial Coun-
cilor Anandi Sasitharan, who is also the assistant
leader of the party’s women’s wing. Sasitharan
was under threat of disciplinary action after par-
ticipating in a protest conducted on February 21
in front of the bus depot in Jaffna. She had been
seen transporting an effigy of Parliamentarian
M.A. Sumanthiran’s to the location of the pro-
test in her vehicle. The effigy was later publically
burned by the protestors.
When contacted, MP and ITAK Leader Mavai
Senathirajah said that no action had been taken
thus far regarding the issue. Efforts to contact MP
Sumanthiran regarding the issue proved futile.
Meanwhile,
The Nation
learns that Sasitharan
denies involvement in the incident and claims that
sections of her own party are trying to sabotage
her political career. The protest in question was
held demanding answers regarding people who
had disappeared, the release of political prison-
ers and the release of the United Nations report in
human rights violations without delay. MP Suresh
Premachandran of the Suresh Wing of the Eelam
People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF)
also participated in the protest.
ByManeshka Borham
Victim of the attack by specialist
neurologist, Dr. Maheshi Wijeratne,
Rhonda De Ley is still recovering. She
was able to confirm this when contacted
by
The Nation
. De Ley was attacked on
February 28 at an event held at Hotel
Galadari by a person who was later
identified to be Dr. Maheshi Wijeratne,
the doctor who treated MP Duminda
Silva for his head injuries sustained in the
shooting incident where MP Bharatha
Lakshman Premachandra was shot
dead.
Giving her side of the story through
her
Facebook
account De Ley claims
Dr. Wijeratne was unknown to her at the
time of attack.According to her,Wijeratne
had attacked her for inquiring after an
associate who Wijeratne had been
having an argument with. Reportedly the
argument was with regards to a parking
space. After being discharged from
hospital De Ley had lodged a complaint
at the Fort Police station. While the Fort
Police have also recorded a statement
from Dr. Wijeratne, it is unclear if any
action has been taken against her in this
regard. Many parties have accused Dr.
Wijeratne of getting away due to political
influence and connections. Dr. Wijeratne
is the daughter of the late UNP Minister
Mahendra Wijeratne. It is alleged she
also has close connections to a mega
engineering company Chief who had
close connections with the former
Mahinda Rajapaksa government. Police
Media Unit hasn’t much information
about the case and they said they need
more time to provide information.
Casualty of neurologist’s attack still recovering
They are at it again
Harsha de Silva Deputy Minister for Pol-
icy Planning and Economic Development
speaking to
The Nation
said, “It appears that
the very same people who were engaged in
irregularities concerning the EPF and Public
Debt during the previous government are at
it again. We have taken note of it and will
take serious action to put an end to it.”
With respect to the issue of the allegation
made on the Central Bank Governor and the
Bonds issue, he said that he will make sure a
proper investigation will be carried out, given
the constrains that the Governor of the Cen-
tral Bank is also connected to the issue. The
Deputy Minister said that he will be taking
great pains to get to the bottom of this, as he
himself when in the opposition, had been the
most vocal MP with regard to the EPF issue.
No response
The Nation
attempted to contact several
officials pertaining to the issue.
Former Governor of the Central Bank said
he did not wish to comment on the issue.
The Nation
also attempted to contact the
following:
Deputy Minister of Highways, Higher Edu-
cation and Investment Promotion Highways,
Higher Education and Investment Promo-
tion, Eran Wickramaratne, but there was no
response.
Former Deputy Minister of Finance Dr.
Sarath Amunugama too didn’t respond.
Former head of Transparency Interna-
tional Sri Lanka, J.C. Weliamuna also didn’t
respond.
Indian External Affairs Minister Shrimati Sushma Swaraj who paid a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka
left last evening. During the visit, Swaraj called on President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe. Here, she is at the Foreign Ministry with Minister Mangala Samaraweera and ministry
officials just before her departure from the island
Pic by Chandana Wijesinghe
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