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CoPF displeased over no show of Finance Ministry officials

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The Committee on Public Finance (CoPF) chaired by Dr. Harsha de Silva expressed displeasure over the absence of the officials responsible who had been summoned before the Committee. 

The Committee was of the view that where matters pertaining to the Ministry is taken up for discussions, heads of the Ministry who are responsible and answerable to Parliament should be present before the Committee in order to proceed forth.

This was stated when the Mid-Year Fiscal Position Report 2023 issued under Section 10 of the Fiscal Management (Responsibility) Act, No. 3 of 2003, by the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies was taken up for consideration at the Committee meeting held yesterday (25) in Parliament.

MoF presented the fiscal status as of the end of June 2023. According to this report, the primary balance of the budget had a surplus of 0.1%. Revenue collection has increased by 41.9% YoY to 1,317 Bn, mainly as a result of the substantial increase in VAT on goods and services. Expenditure for the first half was 2,560 Bn, which witnessed an increase of 40.5% YoY. The biggest increase was in domestic interest expense, which rose by 51.6% to 1,273 Bn in the first half of this year.

The Committee members raised various questions regarding the fiscal position, Economic performance, expenditure and the performance of the state-owned enterprises based on the statistics presented by the officials present. Key concerns raised by the member of CoPF were regarding the 11.5 percent contraction in the first quarter of 2023. The Committee questioned the root causes of such contraction and the specific measures taken to address such root causes preventing further economic downturns

The Committee further questioned the sustainable plan of the Ministry to achieve growth in line with the President’s vision 2048. Though there was a substantial discussion on the plan for growth to reach a developed country, it was disclosed that there was no coherent strategy.

The Committee was of the notion that the response to the Committee queries by the officials who were present, were ineffective and in lacks clarity. The Committee also queried the increase of taxes due naturally to inflation vs policy changes in taxes.

Whilst expressing the importance of being prepared with adequate data and statistics when presenting before the Committee, the CoPF also emphasized that the officials to the Ministry of Finance should be more responsible and have a proper vision along with a focused team to achieve the goal of a sustainable economy.

State Ministers Dr. Suren Raghavan, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Madhura Withanage, Harshana Rajakaruna, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Mayantha Dissanayake were present at the Committee meeting held.

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Electricity tariffs reduced

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The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) has approved a reduction of electricity tariffs by 22.5 per cent overall, PUCSL chairman Prof. Manjula Fernando said today (July 15).

The tariff revision, which will be effective from midnight today, is as follows :

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FR petition filed over Presidential Election dismissed with costs

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The Supreme Court has dismissed the Fundamental Rights (FR) petition filed seeking an order to prevent holding of the Presidential Election as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution has not been properly passed in Parliament, subject to costs.

This verdict was issued when the relevant petition filed by Attorney-at-Law Aruna Laksiri was taken up for consideration today (15) before a Supreme Court judge bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Arjuna Obeysekara and Priyantha Fernando.

Accordingly, the court ordered the petition dismissed with costs of Rs 500,000 to be paid by the petitioner before July 31, 2024.

The petition argued that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was not properly passed in Parliament and therefore called for a referendum to ensure its proper passage.

The Election Commission and its members, the General Secretary of Parliament and the Attorney General had been named as respondents of this petition.

The petitioner claimed that through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, Article 70 of the Constitution has been amended to deprive the President of the power to dissolve an elected Parliament after one year has passed.

The petitioner asserted that the amendment has not been approved by a referendum, even though a Supreme Court bench ruled that the amendment should be referred to a referendum.

The petitioner pointed out that the amendment cannot be considered as a law because it has not been approved by a referendum and signed by the President.

Therefore, the petitioner had argued that it is wrong to continue to accept the 19th Amendment as a law.

(adaderana.lk)

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Sabry to visit Romania & Poland

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Foreign Minister Ali Sabry will pay official visits to Romania and Poland from 16 to 19 July 2024.  

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo, he will meet with his counterparts and other senior government ministers and officials.

Minister Sabry will also formally open the new Sri Lanka Embassy in Bucharest which commenced operation in 2023.

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