Parliament | Daily News


Registrar of Pesticides removed for undermining State Policy – Minister Aluthgamage

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that the Registrar of Pesticides was removed from his position as he has acted in a manner that undermined the State Policy by overruling the ban on Glyphosate along with several other chemicals.

Minister Aluthgamage said in Parliament yesterday that the Registrar of Pesticides who had issued a gazette notification lifting the ban on glyphosate, had been instructed to be removed from the post immediately.

The Minister said that it was completely illegal for the Registrar of Pesticides to issue a gazette notification lifting the ban on glyphosate.

The Minister was making a statement at the commencement of Parliament proceedings that he had instructed to remove the official from the post yesterday and that steps were being taken to re-impose the ban on glyphosate.

Minister Aluthgamage said that a disciplinary inquiry was being conducted against the Registrar of Pesticides Dr. J. A. Sumith over the importing of pesticides as required by a particular chemical company and that he had been favouring a certain company in importing pesticides.

The Minister further said that some officials of the Department of Agriculture have been working with chemical fertilizer companies in the recent past

Glyphosate weed killers have been banned in Sri Lanka for the past seven years, and Aluthgamage confirmed that this decision will not be changed.


Sri Lanka’s overall performance has improved – Minister Dinesh

The overall performance of Sri Lanka has improved to 87 out of 165 countries in 2021 according to an international report issued yesterday, Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said in Parliament yesterday. The Minister made these observations during the reply speech he made joining the Committee Stage Debate on the Budget Proposals for 2022.

Minister Gunawardena also said that the overall performance of Sri Lanka was in the 94th place in 2020 and added that it was improved by the Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amidst the COVID 19 pandemic and amidst the non-corporation of the Opposition as well. The Minister invited the Opposition to support the Government for the sake of the country and the people.

He invited them to be realistic and not to follow petty politics.


President will free country from economic labyrinth – Minister Rohitha

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will free the country from the economic labyrinth, Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena said in Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said that the independence of the Judiciary was worst affected under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution by the previous Good Governance Government tenure and it is healthy with the passage of the 20th Amendment under the Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Minister said that the President at the Cabinet meetings had strongly advised that the independence of the judiciary is of paramount importance.

Minister Abeygunawardene was participating in the Committee Stage Debate on the Budget Proposals 2022.

Minister Abeygunawardena said that Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella said in the morning that the independence of the Judiciary is affected under the 20th Amendment to the Constitution unlike under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The Minister said that the entire country heard the recordings of the discussions between former Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, former CID Head Shani Abeysekara and the then Court of Appeal Judge who heard the case against MP Duminda Silva even under the 19th Amendment. The Minister added that the incident damaged the image of the Judiciary and became a clear evidence for lack of independence of the Judiciary.

The Minister said further that in another incident against Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa during the Good Governance Government tenure, the Kaduwela Magistrate Court was kept open until 8.30 pm.


‘Special investigation into Kinniya ferry incident’

A special investigation will be carried out regarding the Kinniya ferry accident and on the approval given by the Kinniya Municipal Council for the use of a ferry across the Kuranjankarni Lagoon, Rural Roads and Other Infrastructure State Minister Nimal Lanza said in parliament yesterday (23).

State Minister Lanza also said that the Opposition should not blame the Government for the unfortunate incident. “The Road Development Authority (RDA) has nothing to do with the decision on using the ferry across the lagoon,” State Minister Lanza said.

State Minister Lanza was responding to Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa in Parliament regarding the unfortunate ferry accident in Kinniya.

State Minister Lanza said that the Government would like to express its deep regret over the loss of lives due in this unfortunate incident and a formal investigation will be carried out in this regard.


‘First container with local textiles to USA today’

Batik, Handloom and Local Apparel Products State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara told Parliament yesterday that the first container carrying locally manufactured textiles are being shipped to the USA today.

The State Minister also said that agreements have been signed with five other countries to export products manufactured in Sri Lanka including handloom materials and batiks.

“These countries, including the USA, UK, Japan and Dubai have signed agreements with Laksala.”

The State Minister was responding to Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Mayantha Dissanayake. He asked the State Minister if there was any issue in importing the raw materials required by the local producers under the present dollar crisis and what measures had been taken to export the locally produced goods.

State Minister Jayasekara said that the imports of raw materials is handled by the private sector but discussions are underway to see if yarn and dye required for to manufacture local fabrics can be done by Laksala. “If this can be done, we could obtain yarn and dyes at a cheaper rate,” the State Minister said.

The State Minister said that the biggest issue faced by the local producers is obtaining the raw materials.


President sets example by reducing his finance head expenditure – Minister Dinesh

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, setting an example to prevent waste, proposed to reduce the expenditure of the finance head of the President by 81 per cent in 2022 compared to that of 2019, Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said in Parliament yesterday.

Minister Dinesh said that the number of the vehicles under the Presidential Secretariat has been reduced to 386 from 928 by deploying them to the other ministries. The Minister added that it was a difficult decision as all the other Presidents had functioned with them.

The Minister said further that however hard, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has commenced a new chapter in the politics in the country by being exemplary to prevent waste and to save for the people. He added that however the Opposition who attempted to gain political mileage did not see these positive changes that have taken place for the first time in Sri Lankan history. “They were waiting to see the Government fail in the COVID 19 pandemic,: the Minister said.


Samarasinghe disowns MP status to accept Ambassador Post US

Kalutara District MP Mahinda Samarasinghe said in Parliament yesterday (23) that he will step down from his post to take up the post of the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States.

MP Samarasinghe also said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had requested him to accept the post and that he had accepted the request.

MP Samarasinghe also said that he is going there to serve the country and considering the extended experience and exposure he has on international relations, he will do his utmost for the betterment of the country. The MP was speaking during the Budget Committee Debate on the Heads of Expenditure of 25 institutions including the Office of the President and the Prime Minister.


Laws will be brought to ensure justice to Insurance Agents – Minister Nimal Siripala

Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday said in Parliament that he is ready to bring in laws to ensure justice to the insurance agents.“There are legal issues pertaining to whether they could become employees with a fixed salary as they have been recruited as independent agents on commissions. In July, I met them on two occasions, but despite the invitation to the Association of all insurance companies to join the talks, they did not come. As a result, we could not come to any agreement regarding the payment issue of these life insurance agents,” the Minister added. The Minister also said that the Labour Department has decided to pay EPF and ETF to the insurance agents.Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva was responding to Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa under Standing Order 27 (2).


‘Stop playing to the gallery and come up with solutions’

All political parties should stop playing it to the gallery and come up with concrete proposals and solutions to rescue the country from the economic crisis it is facing at the moment, Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC said in Parliament yesterday (23).

Minister Sabry, PC made this observation joining the Committee Stage Debate of the 2022 Budget.

Minister Sabry, PC said that neither the ruling party nor the Opposition should continue with popular politics or the “voice cut culture” and manage public finance as if “distributing lozenges”.

He said that there have been many countries who were at the brink of bankruptcy that later developed as a result of visionary political guidance, unity of people and proper economic management.


Insurance Agents have been deprived of Workers’ Rights, Privileges – Opposition Leader

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday told the House that Insurance Agents have been deprived of workers' rights and privileges by the Insurance Companies and the Government should intervene to do justice to them.

Opposition Leader Premadasa was raising a question under the Standing Order 27/2.

“The leading service providers in the Insurance Industry are Insurance Agents who bring in new investments for the Insurance Companies by selling Insurance Policies. By defining Insurance Agents as "Independent Contractors" by the Insurance Companies, the Insurance Agents have been reduced of their workers' rights and privileges,” the Opposition Leader said.

“Although there are about 45,000 people employed in the Insurance Industry, this seems to be the main reason for the dismissal of nearly 200,000 Trained Insurance Agents. The safety and well-being of the Insurance Agents and their dependents, many of whom work in this field, has been compromised by the lack of legal recognition for their work.” Opposition Leader Premadasa said.

“Life Insurance Agents do not receive a fixed salary, but some other insurance agents are paid a basic salary based on the Insurance Industry Regulation Act No. 43 of 2000. How can two groups that do the same thing be treated differently based on the same bill? Will the Government take steps to pay basic salaries to the Life Insurance Agents as well?” the Opposition Leader asked.


Economic crisis could turn into political flare-up – UNP Leader Ranil

United National Party (UNP) Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe warned in Parliament yesterday that if a solution to the economic crisis faced by the country is not addressed immediately, it could turn into a political flare-up.

UNP Leader Wickremesinghe said that it affects all politicians in Parliament.

He said that the people have lost confidence in the Government and they do not believe that the Opposition has any solution to the economic crisis.

“Powers of Parliament to legislate laws and in relation to State finances should be protected,” he said and added that according to the country’s Constitution, the Cabinet is also answerable to Parliament.

He was speaking in Parliament during the Committee Stage Debate of the 2022 Budget. The UNP Leader said that following the enactment of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, Parliament has faced difficulties in carrying out its functions.

“Today, we see that in certain instances even the Ministry Secretaries are not answerable to the Minister. Then how can the Cabinet be answerable to Parliament? Everyone should be answerable to Parliament,” he said.

He said that even though certain Executive Powers are vested with the President, powers to legislate new laws lie with Parliament and the Cabinet is also responsible for running the country. UNP Leader Wickremesinghe said that certain powers of Parliament have been challenged through the new Constitutional Amendment.


House pays special attention on verbal abuse, harassment against female Parliamentarians

Special attention was paid yesterday (23) by several MPs on verbal abuse and harassment targeting female Parliamentarians inside the Chamber.

Former Prime Minister and United National Party (UNP) Colombo District MP Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he would like to propose to the Speaker that the Women Parliamentarians' Caucus be given the power to take action in the event of any insult or harassment done to any female MP.

MP Wickremesinghe said that he is moving the motion as an issue has arisen regarding the violation of the privileges of a female Member of Parliament at present. He also said that the Forum of Women Parliamentarians should be given the right to take action against the harassment of a female member of Parliament.

The former Prime Minister said that the Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians' Caucus and others should meet the Speaker and discuss the motion further.


People denounce male Parliamentarians’ cheap behaviour – NPP MP Harini

National People’s Power (NPP) MP Harini Amarasuriya said that those who instigate violence against women and those who endorse such violent behaviour by word or action are the same.

NPP MP Dr. Amarasuriya said that the public denounce such cheap behaviour and culture. She questioned if the MPs cannot behave inside the Chamber, how they could follow an acceptable conduct outside. NPP MP Dr. Amarasuriya also said that Parliamentarians are not a privileged group who can act above the law.

“People are utterly disheartened by the behaviour of this House. If you want a better understanding of the level of disgust, you should study social media and what people tell about us. The UN has declared a 16 days programme on abuse and harassment instigated upon women. All the female MPs who are in the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus have been invited to speak on this topic and different sessions and seminars. Unfortunately, we have to speak about the same topic inside this House also. It is an unfortunate situation that we have to express our disappointment over the harassment, especially verbal abuse, that female MPs have to suffer in Parliament. I am not talking about just one person. I have seen several who speak abusive language against female MPs. In our country, female representation in politics is very low. Anyone who support, applause a person who use abusive language in the House should be considered abusers as well. This kind of political culture is shameful,” MP Dr. Amarasuriya said.

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