Parliament | Daily News


Consultative Committee agrees to SLRC (Amendment) Bill

The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Mass Media has given its approval to present the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) (Amendment) Bill to Parliament for its Second Reading yesterday (16).

The approval for the Bill was obtained at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Mass Media, which met in Parliament under the chairmanship of the Dr. Bandula Gunawardena.

This Bill aims to amend the SLRC Act No. 6 of 1982. On September 22, the SLRC (Amendment) Bill will be passed in Parliament following the second reading debate.

Discussions were also held regarding the need to make the National Film Corporation profitable and the need to bring forward the independent television service and the SLRC ahead in its rating reports. Discussion was also held regarding the spread of misleading news by various media organisations and the measures that can be taken in this regard.

State Ministers Shantha Bandara, Kanaka Herath, Siripala Gamlath, Geetha Kumarasinghe and Members of Parliament S. M. Marikkar, Sanjeeva Edirimanna, Upul Mahendra Rajapaksha, Asanka Navaratne, Mohomad Muzammil, UK Sumith Udukumbura, Madhura Withanage, Jagath Kumara and Yadamini Gunawardena were present.

National Council resolution presented to House yesterday – PM Gunawardena

The ‘National Council’ which strives for unanimously agreed upon national policies, will become a part of the Parliamentary system, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said in Parliament yesterday (20).

Prime Minister Gunawardena made this observation presenting the resolution on the National Council to the House yesterday (20) morning.

Gunawardena noted that the decision on establishing the National Council was taken following three rounds of discussions with all the political parties that represent the House.

Explaining the powers and common responsibilities of the National Council, the Premier stated that setting common priorities for Parliament to guide short, medium, and long-term national policy-making is one of them.

Establishing consensus on economic stabilization and on medium-term common programmes is another responsibility of the Council, the Prime Minister explained. Organizing activities for special meetings attended by Cabinet Ministers, National Council, Chairpersons of Special Committees and observers of Youth Organizations is another such responsibility, he added.

PM Gunawardena also said that the National Council has the power to summon reports from Sectoral Oversight Committees, Committee on Government Finance, Committee on Public Accounts, Committee on Public Enterprises and any committee exercising control over Government finances.

PM Gunawardena said, “In particular, we believe that this committee will be able to discuss and guide policy measures to secure and support the lives of the common people, which are the most serious national challenge in recent times, namely the economic crisis, the financial crisis, the debt payment crisis and the social issues.”

Govt. plans to provide housing units for all estate dwellers

The Chief Government Whip and Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said in Parliament yesterday that the government has planned to provide housing units for all estate dwellers in the country.

“We have also focused attention on issuing them lands deeds,” he added.

The Minister stated this while replying to an oral question raised by Matale District SJB MP Rohini Kumari Kaviratne.

Matale District SJB MP Rohini Kumari Kaviratne said that the Yahapalana government provided a plot of 7-perch land for the estate workers. However, permits issued for these lands have been collected and new permits have been issued again last week.

It has been about 200 years since the life of the plantation people was confined to the small line rooms. Their human rights have violated. Is it possible to provide a long-term loan to the plantation workers to build houses? Or can you provide the deeds of the lands?

Chief Government Whip and Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that the name lists for the ownership of housing units are prepared by Estate companies. After the document is approved, estate workers are provided with Indian aid or government allocations to build houses. We won’t be able to build houses for them completely.

But we are of the position that houses should be built according to the allocations received.

Matale District SJB MP Rohini Kumari Kaviratne said that all those who live in line rooms are not employees of plantation companies. These houses are built only for workers attached to the plantation companies.

The current plantation houses are not suitable for living. Therefore, can these people be given a long-term loan to build houses on abandoned lands owned by the government?

Govt. planning to introduce new tax structure for tobacco, alcohol

Finance State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Parliament yesterday that the government is planning to introduce a new tax structure for tobacco and alcohol.

He further said this move will help to increase exercise duty collection further.

The Minister also pointed out that 19 percent of the total tax revenue in 2021 has been received from tobacco and alcohol.

The Minister said this while answering the question raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.

Leader of the opposition Sajith Premadasa said that the government is losing a lot of tax revenue due to the lack of a firm policy on alcohol and tobacco taxation in the country and corruption taking place in tax calculations as well as irregularities committed by tobacco and alcohol manufacturing companies in the payment of taxes to the government.

State Minister Siyambalapitiya emphasized that instead of a more complicated price formula, a price index for tobacco and alcohol is expected to be introduced as soon as possible.

In addition, he also said that a new Android mobile phone application has been introduced to complain about programs that promote cigarettes.

Country losses due to lack of solid policy on taxing tobacco, liquor

The Government loses revenue since it has no solid policy regarding taxes on tobacco and liquor, the Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said in Parliament yesterday (20).

Malpractices of the tobacco and liquor companies and corruption in tax calculation have caused such losses.

Opposition Leader Premadasa raised a question under the standing order 27/2 in this regard.

He said that a national policy regarding taxation is vital and it is an issue of national interest.

Govt. needs to come up with scientific plan to resolve hunger problem

Fathers of hungry children would lead the next wave of protests in the country, MP Wimal Weerawansa stated in Parliament yesterday (20).

Thus the government need to come up with a scientific plan to resolve the problem of hunger before the country is dragged into further darkness, MP Weerawansa pointed out.

“Earlier, the people who joined the protests are the ones who suffered due to the fuel shortage. Next in line would be the fathers of hungry children. The country will fall into darkness if it happens. So the government needs to prepare a scientific plan on solving the food crisis. People have a right to ask what plan the government has to solve these issues,” Weerawansa noted.

MP Weerawansa was critical about the President’s tour to England. He pointed out that India sent only an envoy to the Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

Proposal to set up National Council is political ploy

The proposal to establish a National Council is not a solution to the economic crisis but a political ploy, independent MP Dullas Alahapperuma said in Parliament yesterday (20).

MP Alahapperuma was participating in the debate on the proposal to establish a National Council.

He said that the ‘National Government’ is not a new concept and the Constitution does not contain any detail on the ‘National Council’. The ‘National Council’ does not hold any executive powers. Therefore, as the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) independent MPs group, we do not accept this National Council, Alahapperuma said.

“Through this council, the idea of an all-party government is realised. However, the Government is presenting this concept after appointing a list of State Ministers. They are using this concept as a cover up.

This is only a political gimmick. Millions of students are suffering from food crisis. The Government has failed to provide meals to them. It is misusing the economic crisis and the concept of a national council.

If the Government wants to get all the political parties together, it should have an honest approach,” he added.

NPP will not join National Council - AKD

National People’s Power (NPP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka said that the NPP will not join the National Council.

Dissanayaka noted that the government has planned to establish a National Council only to convince the international community that all the political parties are working with the government. Dissanayaka made these observations joining the debate on the proposal to establish a National Council in Parliament yesterday (20).

Dissanayaka furthered that the government has no genuine intention to find solution to the economic crisis.

“The government is now trying to alleviate local and international pressure by setting up a national council and showing international organisations that the government is working with all political parties. It is of no use joining such a council. So, we will not join it,” Dissanayaka said.

“The national council proposed by the opposition requested for an interim government. However, no such government was established. It was proposed to appoint key positions including the Prime Minister, Cabinet with the agreement of the political party leaders in the national council. However, all those positions have already been filled,” he furthered.


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