Motion for Parliamentary Select Committee on Election Law Reforms

The motion to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to identify appropriate Election Law reforms and recommend necessary amendments was presented by Foreign Affairs Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in Parliament, yesterday.

Following the motion presentation, Opposition Chief Organiser Lakshman Kiriella questioned whether the Cabinet decision regarding the amendment of Election Law or the recommendations of the new Committee would be prioritised during a finalisation of the amendments to the Electoral System.

Minister Gunawardena said that it is normal for a new government to appoint a Parliament Committee to look into a complex matter such as the Electoral System. “When we decided to appoint a committee, the Opposition also agreed. Whatever amendments are brought in, we will seek the Opposition’s opinion as well,” Gunawardena said.


Those who misused Samurdhi Funds to be punished: Semasinghe

Action will be taken against those who misused Samurdhi Funds during the previous government, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said in Parliament, yesterday. He said so in reply to a question raised by Government MP Jagath Kumara. Semasinghe said the ministry and the Samurdhi Development Department are conducting a joint investigation on it.

“In the previous Presidential Election, we saw that Samurdhi Funds were used for campaigns. A committee will investigate the matter,” he added.

MP Kumara also drew attention to the unresolved issues of Samurdhi officers. The state minister assured that steps would be taken to solve those issues as well.


‘Previous Government spent Rs.41.57 billion on timber imports’

The previous government spent Rs.41.57 billion on timber imports from 2015 to 2019, Money and Capital Market State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal said in Parliament, yesterday. He was responding to a question raised by Government MP Mohamed Muzammil.

The said timber had been imported from 59 countries, the minister said, adding that the Government is focusing on a method to produce wood by pressing wood dust.


PM provided Rs.5 billion for development of provincial hospitals: Pavithra

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has provided Rs.5 billion for the development of provincial hospitals, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said in Parliament, yesterday. She said this in response to a question raised by MP Shantha Bandara.

The minister requested MP Bandara to meet the Kurunegala District Health Director and present his recommendations on the matter.

Wanniarachchi added that if there are any proposals regarding the matter, they should be submitted through the respective District Development Committees.


‘Steps have been taken to conserve Kuragala’

The Government has taken steps to conserve the Kuragala archaeological site, National Heritage State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake said in Parliament, yesterday. He said so in reply to a question raised by Opposition MP Hesha Vithanage.

The state minister said Kuragala is also a site of prehistoric importance as a 16,000-year-old skeleton had been found there.

“In 2013, with the intervention of the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, illegal buildings in Kuragala were removed. However, there is another such construction there,” he added.

Wickramanayake said Ven. Wathurakumbure Dhammaratana Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter has requested the construction of a dagoba at the site, and that it has been approved by the Archaeological Advisory Council.


‘Programme to provide apartments to people on rent launched’

A programme was launched recently to provide persons living on rent with flats at a minimum price, Rural Housing State Minister Indika Anuruddha said in Parliament, yesterday. He said this in response to a question raised by SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman. Anuruddha said a housing project for low-income families has also been launched, adding that 9,972 houses are under construction.


‘Coconut land released to set up Volkswagen factory needs investigating’

The release of a Kurunegala coconut cultivation land to set up a Volkswagen factory during the previous government’s rule needs investigating, Lands Minister S.M. Chandrasena said in Parliament, yesterday. He said so in response to a question raised by Government MP Samanpriya Herath.

MP Herath said the Trustee Department had handed over the land to the Board of Investment. He questioned whether the department had the jurisdiction for it.

The minister also drew attention to the felling of over 1,000 coconut trees, as well as ‘Mee’ and ‘Kumbuk’ trees.


‘Rs. 500 rise in senior citizens’ monthly allowance’

The monthly allowance for senior citizens would soon be increased from Rs.2,000 to Rs.2,500, Primary Healthcare State Minister Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said in Parliament, yesterday.

She said so in reply to a question raised by SJB MP Gayantha Karunatilleka.

Dr. Fernandopulle noted that of the 416,677 senior citizens who receive the allowance, 238,640 would be given the increased amount first.

The Government is also discussing with banks about the provision of interest-free loans for senior citizens to go on pilgrimages, she added.


Appointment of retired Security Forces personnel to civil positions

State Minister questions Opposition’s objection

Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe questioned as to why the Opposition objects the appointment of retired Security Forces personnel to the civil positions. He was responding to SJB Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne.

The state minister said that considering their duties during the 30-year conflict, the Security Forces personnel would be valuable assets to such institutions.

MP Wickramaratne asked whether there were no other capable persons for the positions and State Minister Perera said that even the previous government did the same with General Janaka Perera and Shantha Kottegoda.


Minister questions Opposition’s interest in ASP Eric Perera’s transfer

Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Sarath Weerasekara queried as to why the Opposition was concerned over the transfer of ASP Eric Perera from Puttalam to Negombo.

He was responding to question raised by SJB Parliamentarian Mujiber Rahuman.

The minister added that it was normal for officers to be transferred from time to time, and that ASP Perera had asked to be transferred.


‘Looking to enroll all primary students of a school to Ruwanwella Central College’

Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said in Parliament yesterday that he would look into the enrollment of all the students of a primary school into the Ruwanwella Central College, irrespective of their education qualifications.

He was responding to a question raised by SJB Parliamentarian Sujith Sanjaya Perera.

MP Perera said that all students of a primary school in the area have been recruited to Grade 6 of the said school, adding that it was unfair to the students who passed the Grade 5 Scholarship Examination. He added Central Colleges were set up to provide education for such students.

MP Perera said that the issue has affected students from Yatiyanthota, Deraniyagala, Dehiovata, and Bulathkohupitiya.