Parliament | Daily News


Opposition strengthened Government by bringing in NCM – Minister Namal

The Opposition has strengthened the Government by bringing in a No Confidence Motion (NCM) against Minister Udaya Gammanpila, Minister Namal Rajapaksa said in Parliament yesterday (20).

Minister Namal Rajapaksa was speaking on the second day of the debate on the NMC brought by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) against the Energy Minister of the Government.

“We see the NCM as a proposal brought by the Leader of the Opposition to strengthen the Government. As a Cabinet, we stand up for our collective responsibility. The people gave a mandate to implement the Vision of Prosperity. We are working to implement those policies no matter what,” Minister Namal Rajapaksa said.

“When we look at the history of Governments in this country, every Government has faced various challenges. When President Mahinda Rajapaksa took over in 2005, the Government was less than 80. At that time, the Government was formed and a programme was launched to defeat terrorism and develop the economy. During that journey, that government was able to take our country from a negative economy to a positive one. We were also able to bring the unemployment rate in the country to a single digit. We were able to become South Asia’s fastest growing country in terms of economic growth. Certain decisions were made during this period. The Opposition Leader may not have had such an experience. The people of the Hambantota District are well aware of this situation,” he said.


NCM must be meaningful, hold some depth – Minister Dinesh

Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena told the Opposition in Parliament yesterday that when a No Confidence Motion (NCM) is brought against anyone, it must be meaningful and hold some depth.

“An NCM can be brought politically or against the Minister based on the seriousness of certain decisions made on certain matters. That is the tradition,” the Minister said.

“However, in this NCM brought against Minister Udaya Gammanpila, there is no fault on his part. As such, this is a political proposal. I can responsibly state that as Minister Gammanpila pointed out, he pronounced the decision that was made by the sub-committee that was appointed headed by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Finance Minister and other Ministers. The Cabinet decision and the Finance Minister’s decision were all in favour of increasing the fuel prices. Therefore, this NCM brought on by the Opposition is totally baseless and if you look back to the past, it is evident that such decisions have been made on many occasions when the country was facing a financial crisis,” he said.

“It is based on the previous decision made that will determine if the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene or any other commodity used by the public,” the Minister said.

He said that this pricing will be prompt, taking into account the deterioration of the monetary value in the light of international developments and possible future increases.

“Therefore, I think the Opposition has displayed their unsuccessful attempt over the past two days by bringing this motion against the Minister. It is very clear that the Opposition does not have one stand regarding this Motion as we have heard varying views being expressed. Therefore, I think that Minister Gammanpila has rendered a great service in taking the economy forward. The Government has also taken certain decisions to overcome certain difficulties faced at this crucial juncture and to overcome certain shortcomings,” the Minister said.

“When the price of a barrel of oil exceeds US $ 60, there are economic problems that non-oil producing countries like ours have to face. Therefore, these countries could experience crisis. Yet, our Government is trying to give the people every possible relief,” the Minister said.

He said that despite the COVID spreading around the world, our economy is moving forward and the President, Prime Minister and the Government have been able to provide many long term relief measures for the benefit of the people. While the Government has successfully ensured food stability without any crisis, he said, China had rendered huge assistance in our vaccination efforts.

He also thanked India, Russia and the US for their assistance in Sri Lanka’s vaccination efforts.

“The Opposition’s attempts at trying to gain political advantage by slandering the Government with no feelings about the people, shows how insensitive they are,” Minister Gunawardena said.


First Floating Solar Power System near Diyawanna Lake – Minister Dullas

Power Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said in Parliament yesterday that steps will be taken to establish the first Floating Solar Power System near Diyawanna Lake.

He was responding to Parliamentarian Chaminda Wijesiri.

The Minister said that solar panels would be installed on roofs of Government Offices to generate electricity.

Minister Alahapperuma also said that a project worth USD 100 million is being implemented under the Indian Loan Scheme and 80 per cent of it will be allocated for the Project.

The Minister said that solutions should be found to the problems through renewable energy and that the Government led by the President has paid special attention in this regard.


More facilities for bus operators – Minister Lokuge

Buses that operate under proper health regulations are allowed to charge around 20 per cent more, Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge yesterday said in Parliament.

Minister Lokuge said that the Government maintains the Railway Department and the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) as a service.

The Minister was responding to Colombo District MP Jagath Kumara.

The Minister said that although the Government provided various facilities to the private transport sector, they were not sufficient and that further discussions will be held with the Government to provide more relief.

He said that a programme has been initiated to strengthen the freight service and enhance the transport of oil and cement and sand by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). He also said that Prima Company flour is transported by train.

The Transport Minister said that about 60 per cent of the CPC oil will be transported by train in the future.

He said that 600 single door buses have been ordered and these will be deployed for service soon.


Action will be taken over girl’s death at MP Rishad’s house – Minister Dr. Weerasekara

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara said in Parliament yesterday that immediate action will be taken regarding the death of a 16- year-old girl at the house of MP Rishad Bathiudeen.

He was responding to Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Minister Weerasekera said that the report of the forensic pathologist clearly states that the 16-year-old girl has been sexually abused regularly and that the Police have commenced an extensive investigation into the matter. He said that the Police had now visited the girl’s house and that immediate action would be taken.


Twenty Seven per cent of teachers have been vaccinated – State Minister Premajayantha

The Government has taken steps to vaccinate 27 per cent of teachers against COVID-19, State Minister Susil Premajayantha said in Parliament yesterday. The Vaccination of schoolchildren will be done on the instructions of the health authorities, State Minister Premajayantha said.

“As of Monday (19), 97 per cent teachers of the Western Province, 73 per cent of the Uva Province, 60 per cent of the Northern Province, 60 per cent of the Central, 27 per cent of the Eastern, 93 per cent of the Southern, 59 per cent of the North Western, 60 per cent of the Sabaragamuwa Province have been vaccinated, making a total of 193,440 teachers who have been fully vaccinated, State Minister Premajayantha said. The State Minister was responding to the Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa under the Standing Order 27/2.

“Although the syllabus of all schools is not fully covered, the Government is expecting to give the second vaccination to school academic and non-academic staff and to start schools at two phases,” he said. State Minister Premajayantha informed the House that he hopes to give priority to A/L students and students to sit for the Scholarship Examination and to cover the syllabus by the end of October.”

“The practical training required for the Advanced Level subjects will be completed after the commencement of schools and the practical examinations will be conducted after the written test for the aesthetic subjects as has been done so far. All arrangements have been made to cover practical activities that are not currently covered in all science subjects using video technology,” State Minister Premajayantha added.


Debt issues in Tourism Sector will be resolved – State Minister Cabraal

The Government is ready to provide a sustainable solution to the debts incurred by the Tourism Industry, Finance State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal said in Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to MP Buddhika Pathirana. The State Minister said that the Tourism Industry is facing problems due to the pandemic.

“Not only the COVID pandemic but also the 2019 Easter bombings affected the Tourism Industry. Therefore, as a responsible Government, we gave them a certain concession period to pay back their loans and later we extended this period. Now, we have to reconsider it again, as they will not be able to make profits no sooner the Tourism Sector is reopened. Therefore, we will have to offer them some relief during this period until business picks up again.”

MP Pathirana asked Minister Cabraal whether amendments would be made to the Excise Ordinance. State Minister Cabraal said that no action would be taken to change the licensing system for the sale of alcohol.

“If any amendments are made to the Excise Ordinance, its purpose is only to generate revenue,” he added.


Irregularities, wrong policies deprived Government of due revenue – Prof. Vitharana

Presenting the first report of the Committee on Public Accounts, MP Professor Tissa Vitharana said that money that should be coming into the Government is deprived due to irregularities and wrong policies.

“With regard to a large number of irregularities that COPA Committee on the basis of the report presented regarding the institutions, there are a number of irregularities. Some of them appear to be due to defects of Acts. Others are due to definite connivances between officials and members of the public, which has led to a considerable loss of revenue to the Government and the people. These have to be rectified and we have made extensive recommendations,” Prof. Vitharana said.

He said that large companies with proper auditing and accounts, too, had not paid their taxes to the Department of Inland Revenue for over five years. “When we looked into the matter, there is provision for them to appeal three times against the amount that has been asked from them. But, there is no need for the same department to have three boards of appeal. This has dragged on the process and at the end of the process the matter is taken up in court dragging it on further,” MP Prof. Vitharana said.

This, he said, has resulted in the money due to come into the Government coffers, not happening.

“The question of having three Boards of Appeal should be done away with and the change of acts is needed. One appeal is quite enough and the period of appeal should be limited to around six months instead of being allowed to be dragged on. What is happening is that those big companies are allowed to have access to large amounts of money for their use without having to pay any interest on it. There should be a provision of interest payment also put into this,” he said, citing this issue as one example.

“There are also examples of wrong policies, he said, citing the issue of human-elephant conflict. He said that while the cost incurred in resolving this issue has been mounting, there was no result and in fact, it had increased the number of human and elephant deaths. “So obviously the policy was wrong. The policy was to try to herd the elephants to a restricted area of the forest. So, we suggested to the authorities to come up with new policies.”


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