Wednesday, 20 June 2018 06:54

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Former CB Governor Cabraal deliberately misleading the public:Eran

Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne hit out at former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivaard Cabraal in Parliament yesterday, over the latter’s claim that the Government was hiding the country’s debt situation.

Joining in the Adjournment debate on the reports of the Committee on Public Accounts, the State Minister exposed that the former CB Governor’s claims were aimed at deliberately misleading the public.

He pointed out that the understatement of debt had actually happened in 2010-2013 as the then Government had removed the loans obtained to construct the Hambantota Port Phase I and II, Norochcholai Power Plant and the Mattala Airport from the State debt in an attempt to window dress the financial statements. Instead those loans had been credited to the Ports Authority, Lanka Coal Company Pvt. Ltd., and Airport and Aviation Services Ltd., respectively.

“The Finance Ministry and the Central Bank said the Government’s total debt as at the end of 2017, stood at Rs 10,313 billion and it was 77.6 percent of the GDP. The Auditor General in his audit statement correctly said the total debt should be Rs 10,702 billion and it was 80.5 percent of the GDP.
This discrepancy of Rs 389 billion was because the former President and then Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa got Cabinet approval to divert the debt obtained for the above mentioned projects to various subsidiary companies and thereby hide them from State debt. This had been continued by the Finance Ministry. We had no intention of covering up the real debt of the country,” Wickramaratne explained.

“Former CB Governor Cabraal is suffering from dementia today. These rogues who cheated the country while in office, are now trying to do the same after their retirement. They must be exposed,” he added.
BUDDHIKA WINDS UP WITH LAST QUESTION BEFORE NEW POST

UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana told Parliament yesterday that he postponed his swearing in as a Deputy Minister because he wanted to attend Parliament seeking an answer to a question he had placed in the Order Paper.

He said he was asked to be present at the Presidential Secretariat in the morning to take oaths as a Deputy Minister but he got it postponed till evening as he wanted a response to a question he had raised.

The question was related to extorting money from buses at Colombo Central Bus Terminal, Gunasinghepura Private Bus Terminal and the Bastian Mawatha Private Bus Terminal.Transport and Civil Aviation Deputy Minister Asoka Abeysinghe requested a month’s time to respond. He also observed that it would be the last question of MP Pathirana because those in Government ranks are not allowed to ask questions for oral answers in Parliament.

“Considering the many number of questions MP Pathirana has raised, we heard that he is going to be appointed as the Minister of Parliamentary Questions,” Abeysinghe quipped.

MP Pathirana however agitated that he wants an immediate answer to his question as it would be removed from the Order Paper next time. “Taking extortion from buses in our area is a serious problem. I came to Parliament today postponing my appointment as a deputy minister because of this question,” he said.

The Deputy Minister replied that he would take measures to look in the matter and provide a reply to MP Pathirana.
Decision to hold PC Elections to be taken up at Party Leaders’ meeting

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said a decision on holding Provincial Council Elections would be taken up at a Party Leaders’ Meeting scheduled on Thursday.
He said Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha had been asked to be present at this meeting.

“The Subject Minister has to provide an explicit answer in holding the PC Elections at the Party Leaders’ Meeting on Thursday, after inquiring into the positions of the President and Prime Minister. Otherwise I will have to question him on that matter,” the Speaker said.

He made these observations in reply to a question raised by Joint Opposition MP Dullas Alahapperuma, who brought the attention of the House to the delay in PC elections. He also requested a day’s debate on the PC elections.

The Speaker said a date for the requested debate would also be decided at the meeting on Thursday.
Improvement in performances of public institutions

The performances of the public institutions have improved by an 8.78% in 2016 in comparative to 2015, the report of the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) revealed yesterday. The public institutions include ministries, departments, Provincial Councils and Local Government bodies.

The report observed that it is an impressive development and that it implicates the successful operation of COPA.

COPA report assessing the financial management and performance of 837 institutions covering the financial year 2016 was tabled in Parliament by committee’s chairman Finance and Mass Media Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna yesterday.

Performances of the state institutes have been assessed by an extensive, well-constructed questioner forwarded by the COPA.

The answers have been assessed by the scores they received.

According to the scores recorded by the 831 state institutes, COPA observed that the number of institutes that have scored less than 50 marks have decreased by 80% in 2016 when compared with 2015.

There have been 104 state institutes that have received below 50 marks in 2015 while in 2016 the number has decreased to a 22.

According to the COPA report, the overall performances of government institutes have increased from 67% to a 73.54% which shows a rise of 18.9%. The Local Governments records a performance enhancement of a 12.5, town councils a 10.2 and Government Special Expenditure Units by a 16 percent.

The report's findings also show that 29 institutes have failed in responding to the audit inquiries on time while 29 ministries have not complied in disposing of condemned vehicles within the stipulated period.

The Committee has examined 19 Government Special Spending Units, 51 Ministries, 92 Government Departments, 25 District Secretariats, nine Provincial Councils, 215 Provincial Council Special Spending Units and Departments, 46 Provincial Council authorities and Statutory Institutions, 23 Municipal Councils, 41 Urban Councils and 271 Pradeshiya Sabhas.
Do not appoint MPs with ‘Prima facie’ cases of corruption as COPE members

Dy Minister Ranjan tells Speaker, COPE Chairman, Party Leaders
Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake yesterday, requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti and Leaders of all Political Parties to avoid appointing MPs with “prima facie cases of corruption,” as COPE members.

Joining in the Adjournment debate in Parliament yesterday, the Deputy Minister said the officials who are being summoned before the COPE, quip that those appointed to nab rogues are a worse set of rogues.

Deputy Minister Ramanayake also submitted an affidavit, stating that he had not obtained any money, property or benefit directly or indirectly by Perpetual Treasuries Ltd., any of its affiliated companies, Arjun Aloysius or any of his agents.

He urged that his “prima facie case of contempt of Court” be heard properly, adding that such a move would expose that he was speaking truth.

Referring to the refusal of four Supreme Court Judges from the Fundamental Rights petition filed by former Defence Secretary, he questioned how the Government could commit to a course of “nabbing thieves,” when Supreme Court Judges “start fleeing” when they see Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. He charged that the law was only implemented against the poor and innocent, while large scale thieves sought “anticipatory bail” to prevent their arrest. “Is this a fault of the Government?” he questioned, while stressing that there had been no other Government in the country’s history that was committed to punish wrong doers to the extent this Government had done.

He went on to question how the Government could “nab thieves” when certain Buddhist monks organize ‘Pindapatha’ to pay the fine of those rogues and when certain Buddhist monks tie ‘pirith nool’ to bless them when they come out of Courts.
National Museum CCTV camera system still out of order:Nalinda

No steps have been taken to restore the CCTV camera system of the Colombo National Museum, JVP MP Nalinda Jayatissa said yesterday.

He pointed out that it had been 5 years since the National Museum was broken into. The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) had conducted an investigation into the break and theft of artifacts that took place in 2012.

He pointed out that the camera system used by the National Museum has still no night vision facility.

Jayatissa further pointed out that it had been revealed that the camera system had not been functioning when the theft took place at the Museum.

Absence of any steps to restore the camera system in the museum was equal to the crime of the theft itself, MP Jayatissa pointed out.

MP Jayatissa questioned what was the purpose of COPA/COPE investigating and providing recommendations if respective authorities disregard them.

“COPA or COPE could not take any legal action against persons involved in misappropriations. We could not even hold them accountable. We should at least be able to prevent misfortunes as these happening in the future,” MP Jayatissa pointed out.
Ravi complains of inconvenience caused travelling to Parliament

UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake yesterday, said that MPs should be permitted to enter the Parliament premises without any interference. He pointed out that it took him more than an hour to reach the Parliament premises.

He was referring to a demonstration held on the Parliament road at 1.00 p.m. yesterday.

“Is this democracy? We were given power to restore this country, not to be shut down by some people holding boards. I could not come to Parliament on time. Many more MPs are blocked by the protest. It is the duty of the Police to ensure that MPs would not be affected on their way to Parliament. The Speaker should call on the IGP and get the Police to clear the roads,” Karunanayake said.

Presiding Member UPFA MP Shehan Semasinghe assured that the Speaker would be notified of the matter and the IGP would take the necessary steps to see that MPs are not inconvenienced when travelling to Parliament.
Govt has failed to prevent controversial building being rented out to Agriculture Ministry:Dr. Nalinda

COPA has failed in preventing the controversial building rented out to the Agriculture Ministry, JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa yesterday said.

Moving an Adjournment Motion on the five reports submitted by COPA, Jayatissa said COPA investigation and recommendations concerning the building rented out to the Agriculture Ministry, had not been taken into consideration by the government.

He pointed out that the Committee on Public Accounts had specifically mentioned that their approval was not granted for the said act in concern. Jayatissa said that COPA had no provision to stop the government from signing the agreement pertaining to the rent of the building.

He also pointed out that COPA was not able to take any legal steps against the misuse of public funds. “It is like a toothless mouth. It can frown but cannot bite,” Jayatissa said. Jayatissa also pointed out that there had been a misuse of the Employment Provident Fund amounting to Rs. 6,310 million in 2010 against which COPA could not take any action. He also said that COPA could not even hold a person accountable for certain misappropriations.

“In 2014, an additional payment of Rs. 833,460 had been done for the Higher Education Minister on electricity and water bills. Three extra vehicles were also used by the same minister. An additional sum of Rs.1 million had been paid as fuel allowance to these vehicles. The Secretary to the Ministry had sent reasons for these additional payments. According to these explanations, the utility bills have gone up because there was a series of discussions held at the official residence of the then Higher Education Minister.
Issues pertaining to Postal workers’ strike will be solved: Minister Kiriella

Issues pertaining to the postal workers’ strike will be solved immediately, Minister Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday. An extensive discussion with regard to the matter had already taken place at the Cabinet, Minister Kiriella pointed out yesterday.

Minister Kiriella was replying to concerns raised by MP Dinesh Gunawardena on trade union action taken by the Postal workers. MP Gunawardena condemned the Post Master General’s statement that postal workers who are involved in the strike would be considered to have left their positions. Gunawardena requested that the statement be withdrawn.

MP Gunawardena pointed out that there are thousands of airmails in suspension at the Airport due to the strike. He also said that the circulation of 250,000 mails have also been disrupted.
Gazettes Extraordinary presented in House

The Government presented a series of Gazettes Extraordinary in Parliament yesterday, to recognize Degree Awarding Status of four higher education institutes.

Accordingly, Horizon College of Business and Technology Pvt. Ltd., Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College Pvt. Ltd., Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (Guarantee) Ltd. and National School of Business Management Ltd., have been recognized as degree awarding institutes.

Chief Government Whip and Minister Gayantha Karunathilake presented the Gazettes Extraordinary issued by the Higher Education Minister at the commencement of sittings.
(Daily News)

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