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Action will be taken against corruption – Minister Chamal

Irrigation Minister and National Security Disaster Management and Home Affairs State Minister Chamal Rajapaksa yesterday said that the Government will take action against corruption and urged the Opposition to keep the Government informed of such activities with facts.

The Minister said that he is also vigilant on the alleged incident of demanding money to construct a tank in Puttlam and that he will take action once a complaint is properly made.

Minister Dinesh was responding to Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Nalin Bandara Jayamaha when he said that according to Arundika Fernando and Priyankara Jayaratne that a Minister had demanded money to construct a tank. Then Minister Arundika Fernando said that he had not made such a statement.

Minister Rajapaksa said that it seems to be a false allegation. The Minister added that if any needed to sell the sand and the soil from the tank bed, they can pay the Government's due and sell it.

The Minister was speaking during the Round of Questions in response to a query by MP Jayamaha.

 


President has saved Rs.1.7 billion in 2020 – Minister Aluthgamage

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has saved Rs. 1.7 billion in 2020 compared to the previous year and a comparative analysis is essential to see the improvements, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage yesterday said.

The Minister added that it was his right to appreciate the same matter in a situation when the Opposition deliberately neglects the topic.

Minister Aluthgamage was responding to statements made by State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara and former President and MP Maithripala Sirisena in the morning yesterday. They were referring to Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage's speech at the Committee Stage Debate under the Financial Head of the President on Tuesday.

Minister Aluthgamage said that he got a letter from the Public Services Ministry Secretary that C61, C62 and B14 at the Paget Road are not a single house but three houses. The Minister added that they were resided by former President D. B. Wijethunga, Ministers Sarath Amunugama and Keheliya Rambukwella respectively.

The Minister said that during the Good Governance Government, the fertilizer concession was removed. “The farmers could sell a kilo of paddy at Rs. 25. But under this Government, the fertilizer subsidy is given and still a farmer is given Rs. 80 per kilo of paddy. The Minister added that he will stand with the fertilizer policy even though he could lose his seat.

Minister Aluthgamage said further that he did not have any personal issue with any political party leader, but he was analysing the genuine situation of the financial heads of the President's Office in 2019 and 2020. The Minister added that he had no issue with former President Maithripala Sirisena or Dayasiri Jayasekara.

“The President could save Rs. 1.7 billion this year compared to the President's expenditure in 2019. The Minister added that the President in 2019 had spent Rs 57 million whereas the incumbent President spent only Rs 377,000. The previous year, the President had used Rs. 271 million for fuel whereas the incumbent President spent Rs. 90 million in 2020. Minister Aluthgamage added that these commendable moves should be appreciated as the President initiated a change.

The Minister further said that State Minister Dayasiri said that if the well was dug deeper, it would stink. “It is true because the cheques of Arjuna Aloysius, too, would come out.

Former President and MP Maithripala Sirisena then said that he had no issue with the facts that were presented comparing the financial heads of the President in 2019 and 2020. The Former President added, however, if the savings of the President's finance head in 2019 and 2020 is compared, he could compare the expenditure with his predecessor, too, which would prove that he was the better one.

The Former President also said that it was not healthy to have conflict within the Government between parties and added that the two thirds majority is made with all the parties in the Government side. The former President added that the consequences of conflicts between the parties in the Government have been experienced since 1947 and all should comprehend this matter intelligently. The Former President also said that with the COVID pandemic, the foreign tours of the leaders of the countries have been limited.

 


Former Presidents have not been belittled by appreciating present Leader – Minister Dinesh

The appreciation that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was given at the Committee Stage Debate on the Financial Head of the President, for being exemplary by minimising the waste and corruption, does not belittle the service of the other former Presidents of the country, Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said in Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was appreciated because he reduced the expenditure by billions of Rupees by reducing the number of employees at the President Secretariat and vehicles by directing them to other institutions.

The Minister was responding to Bathik, Handloom and Local Apparel Products State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, who spoke referring to Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s speech on the day of the Committee Stage Debate on the financial head of the President, stating that criticising the former President and SLFP leader was not acceptable.

Minister Gunawardena said that it was the tradition of Parliament to inform the MP to be present in the House if another is intending to criticise his statement. The Minister added that State Minister Jayasekara had not done so and had not duly informed Minister Aluthgamage. “Had he done so, Aluthgamage could have come and replied, the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardena said that the exemplary measures by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to change the existing system was appreciated that day and former President Sirisena's name was not mentioned in the House. The Minister added that it was the practice to speak of the Office of President and the President on the Debate on Financial Head of the President. The Ministere added that it is the tradition not to speak on the conduct of the President, but today members spoke neglecting those traditions. “If one wants to talk of the President, one does so only after consulting the Speaker,” he said.

Minister Gunawardena further said that there is no issue between the Government and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has set a great example with regard to his financial head and number of employees. The Minister added that the President declared openly that he would not take an unnecessary number of officers to overseas tours. “He had accompanied only a very few number of employees. If he had to take a family member, he would have spent his own money. The Minster added that those statement have been recorded and those could be discussed anywhere including in Parliament.

 


Lanka has rendered great service to set up United Nations – Foreign Minister

Sri Lanka, as a founding member of the United Nations (UN), has rendered a great service to set it up and the Government accepts the UN Human Rights Council and its Secretary General, Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday said.

The Minister was making his reply speech at the Committee State Debate on the Budget proposals under the Financial Heads of the Foreign Ministry, Regional Corporation State Ministry and Mass Media Ministry.

Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris responding to Opposition member Lakshman Kiriella said that the Sri Lankan Government is not isolated in the international community but further strengthens the cooperation that it has with the foreign countries.

Minister Peiris responding to MP Bakeer Markar said that Sri Lanka stands as a dignified nation and procure information to the UN. He added that soon two representatives of the UN HRC arrive in the country, and they will be allowed to travel anywhere and a genuine situation will be revealed to them. The Minister also added that the Government will not accept the special mechanism to take Sri Lanka before an international tribunal by finding evidence against Sri Lanka. The Minister said that as a country, all cannot be accepted.

Minister Prof. Peiris further said that at the 48th session of the UN HRC, the HRC Secretary General said that there was 120,000 pieces of evidence against Sri Lanka. The Minister added that the State needs to know who gave those evidence, when and where. The Minister added that the UN cannot act on anonymous evidence against a sovereign government. Minister Prof. Peiris also said that according to the traditions and the customs of the UN, the HRC has to pave the way for the local institutions to work on them.

"For those who ask me what I am going to say at Geneva in March, We have a convincing story to tell. There is real progress on the ground with regard to those issues and what we all ask for is a sense of objectivity in evaluating the progress, which has been made," the Minister said.

Minister Prof. Peiris further said that according to MP Harini Amarasooriya, the Government is considering the Civil Institutions as the traitors, which is not true. The Minister added that representatives of all the Civil Organisations are coming to meet me this Saturday and added that in policy making, we take their views, too.

The Minister said further in reply to Dr. Harsha Silva and Eran Wickramaratne that the Prevention of Terrorism Act is 42 years old and should be amended. The Minister added that the same is not going to be removed since it is needed for national security. The Minister added that those amendments will be presented soon.

The Minister said that the Government has discussions with South Korea to send more employees there and added that following the COVID 19 issue, Korea limited the Sri Lankans who had once worked there. “The Government had discussions to send others as well. The Minister added that the Kuwait Premier had appreciated the Sri Lankans working there and promised to open more room for Sri Lankans to work there.

 


State machinery should not be made enemy of digital space – Prof. Herath

Mass Media and Information Ministry Former Secretary, MP Prof. Charitha Herath said in Parliament yesterday that the State machinery should not be made an enemy of the digital space but it should enter the social media space as soon as possible.

The MP was speaking at the commencement of the Debate on the finance head of the Mass Media and Information Ministry.

He said that in the media field, State institutions had prepared a model to work without being a burden to the State and that the State institutions were handed over to the Government in 2015 as a for-profit institutional system. However, he said, by 2019, the institutional system had collapsed. He also said that ITN, Rupavahini had been made into profit making institutions.

Prof. Herath said that it was appropriate to appoint the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and the Rupavahini Corporation as an institution controlled by the Trust Fund and that it was a challenge for the Mass Media and Information Minister to manage and move this institution forward.

He further said that the Independent Television Network (ITN) and Lake House should be brought forward as two separate entities and that the ITN has the potential to make a profit and that Lake House is an institution, which has drafted important laws.

He also said that the Departments of Information, Post and Printing should be brought under one model 3D administration.

He also said that the Press Council Act should be updated with the digital space without further delay. “There was a lot of talk about regulating the digital space, and therefore, measures should be taken in this regard,” he further said.

MP Prof. Charitha Herath said that the Freedom of Information Act will be further strengthened and that the Television Digitization Program will be implemented. He requested the Mass Media and Information Minister to pay attention to this as well.

He also thanked the Minister for making journalism a ‘Chartered Profession’.

 


EC Chairman notified of MP Samarasinghe’s resignation

The Secretary General of Parliament has informed the Election Commission Chairman in writing that Mahinda Samarasinghe has resigned from his post.

The letter states the resignation will take effect from today (25).

This notice was given in terms of Section 64 (1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act No. 1 of 1981.

 


Art of Media should be re-organised – MP Priyadarshana Yapa

Former Mass Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said that the Art of Media should be re-organised and it should be innovative.

He commenced the Budget Debate in Parliament yesterday when the Expenditure Heads of the Mass Media Ministry was taken up for debate.

He said that a country’s democracy is amply manifested by its Media Freedom.

MP Yapa said that there should not be a separation between State and private media and added that today State media institutions are largely loss-making establishments.

He said that the country has a long history of using the media and the latter has been informing the public about the use of taxes since the days of royalty.

MP Anura PriyadarshanaYapa also said that the Right to Freedom of Expression has been inherited over a long period by society and the media. “Therefore, the Government should be able to respond clearly to statements against them without getting excited,” the MP said.

 


Country’s Non-aligned Foreign Policy questionable – SJB MP Imitiyaz

It is questionable if the Government is maintaining the Non-aligned Foreign Policy, which Sri Lanka had earlier, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Imitiyaz Bakeer Markar yesterday said.

The SJB MP added that China, Japan, India and Pakistan were Sri Lanka's traditional allies.

The MP was participating in the Committee State Debate on the Budget proposals under the Financial Heads of the Foreign Ministry, regional Corporation State Ministry and the Mass Media Ministry.

MP Markar also said that a sound foreign policy is required for the betterment of the country and to build its image internationally. He added that today, however, it is used to build up economic and trade relationships.

The MP also said that the Government should focus on setting up think tanks with independent members that study and research on policies that would bring betterment to the nation.

MP Markar also emphasised the need of a mid career entry system that will enable talented persons from the private sector and development sector to be absorbed into the Foreign Service. He added that there are allegations at all times that the Foreign Service has been politicised.

 

 

 


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