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Necessary action will be taken against MP Vijayakala : Speaker

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday, informed the House that necessary action would be taken against MP Vijayakala Maheshwaran immediately, after the report of the Attorney General reaches Parliament.

“We spoke about it at the Party Leaders' meeting. The Attorney General is conducting an investigation into it. When I receive his report, I will inform the House about it,” Speaker Jayasuriya said in answer to a query by MP Wimal Weerawansa. Speaker Jayasuriya requested MP Weerawansa not to drag the matter into a debate.

MP Weerawansa charged that Speaker Jayasuriya was deliberately slow in taking action against MP Vijayakala Maheswaran’s controversial statement. The Speaker also requested MP Weerawansa to refrain from unparliamentary language when referring to the Speaker. “Please sit down and lower your voice. You always bring up something unnecessary. I listened to you. It is not relevant to today’s sitting. I am very fair. I am fairer than you are,” Speaker Jayasuriya told MP Weerawansa.

Weerawansa then went on to say that he wanted to know the progress of the AG’s inquiry into the incident. “Are you waiting till eternity to have the Attorney General’s report?” he questioned. In reply, Speaker Jayasuriya quipped, “I’m not waiting till eternity. There is no need for that. You should understand that you cannot act as you wish in these matters. There is a law in this country and you should respect it. I summoned the Attorney General on Monday to discuss the matter. I can’t remove officials in the manner your government did to the Attorney General and Chief Justice in the past.”


Bill to provide for establishment of Office for Reparation, presented in House

The Bill to provide for the establishment of the Office for Reparations was presented in Parliament yesterday for First Reading.

Chief Government Whip and Minister Gayantha Karunathilake, presented the Bill on behalf of the Government. The Bill provides for the provision of individual and collective reparations for aggrieved persons. As per the Bill, “Aggrieved persons” mean persons who have suffered a violation of human rights or humanitarian law, their relatives and missing persons.

The scope of legislation applies to the conflict in the North and the East, as well as “any political unrest or civil disturbance, systematic gross violations of the rights of individuals, groups or communities of people of Sri Lanka and enforced disappearances.”

Under the “individual reparations,” the Bill facilitates any monetary payment or material benefit provided to an aggrieved person, micro-finance and concessionary loans, educational programmes, training and skills development programmes, administrative assistance and welfare services including psycho-social support provided to an aggrieved person, measures of restitution, including the provision of land and housing and other appropriate measures identified by the Office for Reparations.

Under the “Collective reparations,” the Bill facilitates remembrance of deceased persons, including memorials, development of infrastructure, educational programmes, training and skills development programmes, community development programmes or services and other appropriate programmes as identified by the Office of Reparations in consultation with the affected communities.

The Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority Act, No. 29 of 1987, would be repealed by the new Bill.

Within 14 days of presentation of the Bill for first reading, any party can challenge it before the Supreme Court.


To develop country

SLSFTA must be implemented without delay: Sampanthan

The Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) must be implemented without delay to lift the country towards development, said Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan yesterday.

Joining the Adjournment debate on the SLSFTA, Sampanthan urged the government to implement the Agreement subject to any correction needed for the betterment of the country.

While highlighting how far Singapore had economically advanced surpassing Sri Lanka, Sampanthan said it is not a time to “check the teeth to gauge the quality of a horse which was gifted by someone.”

Emphasizing the importance of the SLSFTA, Sampanthan further said that, “Singapore does not need a FTA with us. It is we who need a FTA with Singapore.”

The Opposition Leader identified five principles that had resulted in Singapore economic advancements including meritocracy, ethnic harmony, clean government, rule of law and social equity. He pointed out Sri Lanka had gone backwards, because it did not observe these principles.

Sampanthan also questioned as to why the Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement (ETCA) was not yet signed. “You cannot go on like this. You cannot turn a blind eye to the development taking place in other countries. We cannot move backwards. We should start to co-operate with other countries.”


Harin to visit Geneva in bid to resume Google Loon project

Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando told Parliament yesterday, that he is visiting the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, Switzerland today, in a fresh bid to resume the “Google Loon” project.

Responding to a question by JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake, Minister Fernando said the project had hit a snag as the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC) raised issues with its spectrum license, adding that he would seek a clear decision in that regard from the ITU during his visit. He pointed out that if the problem could be sorted out, the project could be pushed ahead.

The ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world and assists in the development and coordination of worldwide technical standards.

“With the Google Loon project, we have tried to provide 4G facility to the entire country. Sri Lankan born Silicon Valley based venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, supported us in that endeavour. It was a great opportunity Sri Lanka received free of charge from the Google Company, but unfortunately, the Google balloon became a joke to our people. We did not make a solid approach to the project and the TRC raised issues on its license,” the minister explained.

He also reiterated that the Google balloon did not crash as some critiques say, but it made a pre-planned landing with the support of the Civil Aviation Authority. He also said that the Government had not incurred any loss as a result of the Google Loon Project and that the Google Company had not officially stated that it is giving up the project.


Employment for graduates to be completed by end 2019

Providing employment to unemployed graduates would be completed under four stages before the end of 2019, National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said.

He was responding to a question raised by JVP Leader and Chief Opposition Whip Anura Dissanayake, under Standing Order 27(2) in Parliament yesterday.

He said applications from graduates who had completed their basic degree by June 30, 2018, would be considered for appointments. He added that the maximum age limit which was 35 years, had presently been increased to 45 years, following requests by graduates.

He said the Government planned to complete the first and second stages by this year and third and fourth stages by next year. He said recruitment as Development Officers would be made under the first stage.

He said the Cabinet is in favour of giving priority to internal graduates in these appointments.


Govt. presents Bill to amend Medical Ordinance

The Government presented a Bill to amend the Medical Ordinance (Chapter 105) in Parliament yesterday, to increase the number of members of the Medical Council by including three medical specialists and one dental specialist into it.

The Bill was presented by Chief Government Whip and Minister Gayantha Karunathilake for First Reading.

The Bill has also made provisions enabling the Registrar of the Medical Council to maintain a register including the names of medical and dental specialists.

New clauses have been inserted to the Ordinance to specify the qualifications required for a medical or dental specialist to be registered, to provide for the Medical Council to register the medical and dental specialists with specified qualifications and to provide for making the registration to be compulsory for practicing as a medical or dental specialist.


JO opposed to lifting of Glyphosate ban : Dinesh

Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said in Parliament yesterday, that they are strongly opposed to the lifting of Glyphosate ban.

“We are in favour of the ban. Thousands of people are suffering from kidney disease. The ban was imposed with Cabinet approval after studying the research outcomes. How could it be lifted without Cabinet approval simply because a few officials wanted it?” he questioned.

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella intervening at this point, reminded that the substandard fertilizer imported by the previous Government, contributed largely to the spread of the kidney disease. “Under the pretext of fertilizer subsidy, low quality chemical fertilizer was distributed for many years. You made it a political tool to win elections,” he said.

MP Gunawardena also queried whether the Government had also removed the ban on Cholopyrifos and Carbofuran, in addition to Glyphosate. MP Ven. Rathana Thera also severely criticized the Government over its move to lift the Glyphosate ban. He also questioned the non-availability of the relevant Gazette on the tables of the MPs for them to peruse?


Civil Society against Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka appoinment

The High Post Committee yesterday, delayed granting approval to the diplomatic posting of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka as Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Russia, observing that it needed going into more details.

The High Post Committee chaired by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, interviewed Dr Jayatilleka when it met at 3pm at the Parliament Complex yesterday.

“The Committee paid attention to the petition received to the Committee carrying signatures of 115 Civil Society activists and organisations requesting for the rejection of Dr Jayatilleka’s nomination as Ambassador to Russia. This was the first time the High Post Committee received a petition signed by such a large number of people. Among them were respected individuals whose representations we needed to consider seriously,” a Committee member who attended the meeting told the Daily News.

He said the Committee also considered the fact that Dr Jayatilleka was recalled to the country in 2009, when he was serving as Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva. The Committee has also taken serious note of Dr Jayatilleka’s active political involvement, as at present he was openly campaigning hard for former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

“The Committee was of the opinion that it needed to study this nomination in detail before granting approval,” a Committee member said.

Committee members Dinesh Gunawardena, John Amaratunga, Lakshman Kiriella, M A Sumanthiran, Vijitha Herath, Bimal Rathnayaka and Eran Wickremaratne attended the meeting yesterday.


SLSFTA:Sri Lanka has violated Int’l. trade agreements: Dinesh

Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Leader and Joint Opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardena urged the Government to discontinue the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and to draft a new agreement that is not destructive to the local industries of the country.

MP Gunawardena said that local industries would undergo dire consequences due to the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. He said that local industry owners are threatened by the agreement and that they are fearful of its activation. He also said that the agreement also puts professionals of the country at risk as well.

MP Gunawardena made these observations opening the Adjournment Debate on the Sri Lanka- Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) yesterday.

According to MP Gunawardena, the Sri Lanka-Singapore FTA is invalid. He pointed out that there had been no Cabinet approval pertaining to signing of the agreement. He said that there was only a Cabinet memorandum. MP Gunawardena also said that there was no approval from Parliament to the agreement either and thus it violates the Constitution. “If there is no approval from Parliament, there is no validity in the agreement.” he pointed out.

MP Gunawardena also alleged that there have been no discussions with any relevant parties with regards to the trade agreement. “When a country introduces new changes to trade policies, they hold lengthy discussions and take years to proceed. With whom did you hold discussions?” MP Gunawardena questioned. MP Gunawardena also said that Sri Lanka has also violated international trade agreements from signing this agreement.


‘Aava gang not a terrorist outfit’

The Aava gang operating in the North is not a terrorist outfit and its members are juveniles who need rehabilitation, Law and Order Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara told Parliament yesterday.

The Deputy Minister pointed out that many of its members are under 18 years. They have been influenced by watching South Indian films.

“They try to imitate the action in them. Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara and I toured Jaffna last week to look into the security situation in the area.

There had been many arrests of Aava Group members lately. The Aava group had not been involved any murder so far,” he commented.

The Deputy Minister was responding to a question raised by Joint Opposition MP Udaya Padma Shantha Gunasekera, who demanded a full report be furnished to the House on criminal activities carried out by the Aava gang and the steps taken by the Government to control them.

“The Aava Group has been painted as devils by some sections in the South. Some of those children of the Aava group who were in Police custody had been crying. We have identified them and we will rehabilitate them. There are gangs worse than the Aava gang operating in the South,” he said.

(Daily News)

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