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CoPF questions action taken to recover losses incurred by the Sugar Tax Scam

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The Committee on Public Finance questioned the officials representing the Ministry of Finance regarding the action taken to recover the loss incurred by the Sugar Tax Scam in Sri Lanka.

The Committee expressed its displeasure as the Ministry of Finance has failed to take action in this regard as yet.

The matter arose at the Committee on Public Finance held recently (08) in Parliament under the Chairmanship of the protem Chair Patali Champika Ranawaka, in the absence of its Chair Dr. Harsha de Silva.

The Committee questioned as to why the Inland Revenue Department in consultation with the Attorney General has not yet taken action on this regard. Accordingly, officials representing the Ministry of Finance stated that they have been updating the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) regarding the progress and that the Attorney General’s Department has advised that as there was a case pending on this regard, proceeding forth would follow post the determination.

The Committee then inquired whether action could be instituted if the relevant parties withdrew the pending case in court. Accordingly, the Committee requested the Attorney General’s Department to have the Committee informed regarding the stated concern with immediate effect.

The Committee also raised concerns over the failure of the Ministry of Finance to have the Committee informed regarding the issues raised previously pertaining to the Regulations published in the Gazette issued under the Regulations under the Imports and Exports Controls Act on wheat flour.

Furthermore, the Regulations under the Imports and Exports Control Act, No. 1 of 1969, published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2336/45 which was presented to Parliament on 18.07.2023 taken up at the Committee on Public Finance dated 21.07.2023, was also taken up for discussion. The protem Chair Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka stated that unless the order process of wheat flour has begun, license for the importation of wheat flour is restricted and the present context has created a flour duopoly. The Committee inquired the action and progress on this regard.

Moreover, the Committee took into Consideration the Appropriation (Amendment) Bill 2023 and was approved by the Committee.  The borrowing limit of Rs.4,979 billion has been increased to Rs. 13,979 billion under the Appropriation Act No. 43 of 2022. Accordingly, 9,000 billion rupees for re-issuance of debt ceiling needs has been revised. As a provision to the Department of Treasury Operations for repayment of loans Rs. 4,222.23 billion to Rs. 13,222.23 billion expenditure limits will be increased by amending sub-section 2 (4) of the Act and the Second Schedule.

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Decision on water tariff reduction, soon?

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Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development Jeevan Thondaman, announced that the reduction of water tariffs is being studied alongside the new electricity tariff revision, with a decision expected by the end of this week.

The Minister also highlighted that the Water Supply Board, previously experiencing a monthly loss of LKR 2.8 billion, has now achieved a profit of LKR 6.2 billion.

Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development Jeevan Thondaman made these remarks during the ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’ press briefing today (17)  at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC).

Minister Jeevan Thondaman, elaborating further, also stated:

We commend Minister Kanchana Wijesekera for initiating steps to lower electricity tariffs. The water supply sector is closely tied to electricity tariffs, making it likely that this revision will also lead to reduced water tariffs.

Water availability is influenced by various factors. We previously committed to lowering water tariffs in tandem with reductions in electricity charges. Currently, the Ministry is not only focusing on electricity but also assessing the impact of reduced interest rates, down from 26% to 11%. Additionally, we are studying the potential reduction in water tariffs based on changes in the dollar exchange rate. It’s important to note that the cost of chemicals procured by the water supply board is influenced by the dollar exchange rate.

It is expected that by the end of this week, a decision will be made regarding the extent of the reduction in the water tariff. When I assumed office in January 2023, the Ministry faced challenges, unable to even provide 1,000 new water connections. Moreover, I inherited a Ministry burdened with an USD 800 million debt and a Water Supply Board experiencing monthly losses of approximately LKR 2.8 billion. The board’s monthly recurring expenses of LKR 4.5 billion had a significant national impact.

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4 females arrested over brutal assault on child

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Aranayaka Police say that 04 female suspects have been arrested over brutally assaulting a six year old child.

The arrests were made after a video of the incident had gone viral online.

Accordingly, the women including the child’s mother, have been arrested and are to be produced before the Mawanella Magistrate’s Court today (July 17).

The child, who is under the care of his father, is to be produced before the Mawanella Judicial Medical Officer (JMO).

Aranayaka Police is conducting further investigation into the incident.

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Price of several fertilizers to be reduced

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The Minister of Agriculture and Plantation Industries, Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera today (17) instructed the State Fertilizer Company to take steps to significantly reduce the prices of fertilizers used for plantation crops such as cinnamon, tea and coconut.

Accordingly, the President of State Fertilizer Company, Dr. Jagath Perera stated that the prices of 5 types of fertilizers such as APM, YPM, Urea ( Cinnamon), SA ( Cinnamon) and TDM fertilizers produced by State Fertilizer Company will be reduced from Rs.1500 to Rs.2000 with immediate effect.

A discussion was held today at the Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries regarding the reduction of fertilizer prices. The minister gave these instructions during the discussion.

(dailynews.lk)

 (This story, originally published by dailynews.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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