October 18, 2019
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    Esala festival on a grand scale - PM Featured

    June 19, 2019

    Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe while thanking all those who contributed to celebrating the Poson festival on a grand scale yesterday said the upcoming Esala festival should be celebrated in a similar manner.The Prime Minister in a statement also thanked the Maha Sangha, Ministers, Government officials, Security agencies, Principals, Public and private institutions for their contribution in making the Poson festival a success.He made special mention on the leadership given by the members of Maha Sangha to make this annual event a success.“I made a request to all to celebrate the Poson festival on a grand scale this year while giving pride of place to religious activities on June 5, after having several rounds of discussions with the Maha Sangha of the three Chapters,” the Prime Minister said.

    He said that the Poson festival was celebrated on a grand scale around the country and especially in areas where it received less prominence in the past.“The Esala Festival should also be celebrated on a grand scale too. I hope to have discussions with the Chief Prelates of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters and the Diyawadana Nilame in this regard,” the Prime Minister said.
    Foreign diplomats briefed about country’s security situation - Speaker
    Speaker Karu Jayasuriya explained that foreign diplomats were invited by him to Parliament with the intention of explaining the current situation in the country and putting to rest their concerns regarding the country's security. He said this in Parliament yesterday, in response to a question raised by Joint Opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardena.
    “Muslim diplomats and several Muslim countries issued a statement with regard to the situation that arose in the country. Hence, I invited several diplomats from Muslim countries and briefed them on the situation in the country. The IGP and several Police personnel were also present on this occasion. It was good that we did this because otherwise a huge campaign was going to take place against our country. Several days earlier, even the EU expressed concern regarding the situation in the country. These Ambassadors of Muslim countries were briefed on the current situation as they were concerned. They were called to assure them that the current situation in the country has returned to normal,” the Speaker said.
    The IGP was also brought for this meeting, which is also acceptable, but even the Chief of Intelligence of the country was also present at this meeting and he was seen seated and discussing intelligence information. How come no one adviced you not to do such things? The country's Intelligence Chief who knows all the secrets and very important intelligence investigations that are on, was summoned to your official residence along with the IGP. In bringing the Intelligence Chief in front of foreign dignitaries is not a procedure that has been adopted by any other Speaker. I would like you to clarify these two issues,” he said.
    However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya responded that this is wrong as the meeting was not held at his official residence, but was held in Parliament.Joint Opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardena sought permission from Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to seek a clarification regarding Prasad Kariyawasam who is a diplomat and the former Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is currently the International Affairs Adviser to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya while being paid by the US Government. He also served as the former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States.
    Dinesh Gunawardena retorted, “It is questionable when a person is being paid by a foreign government and is working for Parliament. We have a right to question this. If there is a problem in payment, then have it passed by Parliament. Why are you engaging a former Foreign Ministry Secretary as your advisor? There is an IPU which spends enough money on anyone for advice. Similarly, there is the CPA, the SAARC and all of us pay for that.”
    Pitching in during the exchange of words between the Speaker and MP Dinesh Gunawardena, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “This prestigious Parliament is an independent institution. Hence, if any advisor is being paid by Parliament there is no problem. But the issue here is that a person is being paid by another country and he is serving our Parliament. What MP Gunawardena is pointing out is that no one can be employed by Parliament when he is being paid by another country. If his services are required, make some mechanism where he is paid by this Parliament. Otherwise, a wrong notion would spread among the public that this parliament is being manipulated by foreign entities.”
    The Speaker said, “As for Prasad Kariyawasam, he was the former Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and currently he is coordinating the Parliamentary diplomacy group between 50-60 countries. He assists me in obtaining scholarships for Parliamentarians, coordinating tours to learn about other Parliaments etc. We have no need to provide information to foreign countries. He is not paid by Parliament.”
    “In Parliament's list of positions, there is no such position specified. While he is getting paid by the US Government, how can he be appointed to such a position in this Parliament as your international affairs advisor? Moreover, how can he be paid? This gives rise to suspicion and puts the independence of Parliament in jeopardy,” questioned MP Dinesh Gunawardena.However, the Speaker insisted that there was no foreign interference and that the country’s sovereignty has not been jeopardised in any way.
    Cabinet nod for extended green energy generation programme
    The Cabinet has given approval to an extended programme to encourage green energy generation in the country, Power, Energy and Business Development Minister Ravi Karunanayake said yesterday. Accordingly, the government shall take steps to increase solar power and wind power generation by 500% in the coming years, the Minister pointed out.
    Minister Karunanayake also said that the government shall also promote the 8% concessionary loan scheme for the installation of roof top solar power panels since only a few have actually succeeded in successfully obtaining the said loan. He added that the Cabinet has granted approval for the new system to introduce solar power generation projects below 05 MW.

    Karunanayake pointed out the government is planning to cease power generation from diesel by 2021. Accordingly, the Minister highlighted the importance of having an extended energy plan for the country. He made these observations in reply to a question by JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake under Standing Order 27/2 on the government’s policy on solar power generation.
    Speaking further, Minister Karunanayake stressed that he shall not allow the domestic electricity charges to increase and he, in his capacity as the subject minister, shall take steps to minimize the power generation cost. “There are around 5.7 million house roof tops available in the country. We should add all these roof tops for our power generation system.” he pointed out.
    Speaking on the issue in relation to the methods of payment on roof top solar panel power generation, Minister Karunanayake said that the government is presently discussing on a new payment method which does not include the shortcomings and unfairness resulted by the Net Metering, Net Accounting and Net Plus systems.
    He said that they had lengthy discussions with respective parties on the matter and that they are waiting for the recommendations of the Committee which was appointed to look into the said issue. “We are trying to get the profit of renewable energy generation to the CEB without letting it ending up with private companies. Any decision taken on the payment system will not be affecting the agreements that have already being sealed. Such system will affect only for future agreements,” he pointed out.
    Reported “strike” was media hype - Ravi
    Meanwhile, when Minister Ravi Karunanayake referred to the Cabinet meeting held yesterday, the Opposition backbenchers questioned the Minister “if the strike in the Cabinet has now ended” and “will the Cabinet sit as scheduled”. In reply, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that there was no such “strike” and it was only a rumour hyped by the media.Spend funds allocated for Presidential Election on development - Amaraweera
    SLFP MP Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday said that he supports the abolishing of the Executive Presidency. Amaraweera observed that the funds allocated for the Presidential Election should be spent on development. Speaking further, MP Amaraweera also said that the government is to spend Rs. 300 million unnecessarily for advertising its new programme on the Samurdhi scheme. “The government should not misuse public funds like this. Apparently, Samurdhi banks have been asked to put up cut outs on the programme.”
    MP Amaraweera pointed out that they are supportive of the Enterprise Sri Lanka programme. MP Amaraweera who was critical of the government’s decision to allow importing Chinese cigarettes, said that they support the anti-smoking programmes carried out in the country.Amaraweera demanded the government to complete the compensation programme for the victims of Easter Sunday carnage.
    ‘No political inferences in Cyber Security Act’
    The Cyber Security Act has no political inferences, Digital Infrastructure Facilities and Information Technology Minister Ajith P.Perera said yesterday.Minister Perera observed that the main objective of the Act is to establish hacking, data theft and similar cyber violations as a criminal offense.“The Cyber Security Act will ensure the safety of data and information exchange via the cyber space,” Minister Perera pointed out.
    Minister Perera ensured that the Act will not impose any restrictions on the Right to Information and social media activities. “The Act will be presented in all three languages, eventhough the draft is still only available in English,” Perera also said.


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