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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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Cabinet decision to suspend ‘Parate Executions’

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All Parate Executions have been suspended until Dec. 15, as per a Cabinet decision made today (26 Feb.).

The relevant proposal was furnished by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, following a request made by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, and Minister of Industries Ramesh Pathirana.

Accordingly, the relevant amendments are due to be presented before the Parliament soon.

State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya had informed Parliament last week that steps will be taken to suspend the powers of the ‘Parate execution’ law for a certain period for the purpose of protecting the small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs).

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Parate execution law to be suspended: Siyambalapitiya

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Deshabandu Tennakoon appointed as IGP

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Deshabandu Tennakoon has been appointed as 36th Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka.

President’s Secretary, Saman Ekanayake had handed over his appointment letter earlier today afternoon (Feb. 26).

Since Nov. 29, 2023, Tennakoon served as the Acting IGP. Deshabandu Tennakoon joined the police service in 1998 as an Assistant Superintendent of Police.

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Palestinian PM resigns

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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has announced the resignation of his government, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank, due to the escalating violence in the occupied territory and the war on Gaza.

“The decision to resign came in light of the unprecedented escalation in the West Bank and Jerusalem and the war, genocide and starvation in the Gaza Strip,” said Shtayyeh, who submitted his resignation to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday.

“I see that the next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in Gaza and the need for a Palestinian-Palestinian consensus based on Palestinian unity and the extension of unity of authority over the land of Palestine,” he said.

Shtayyeh’s comments come as US pressure grows on Abbas to shake up the PA and begin work on a political structure that can govern a Palestinian state following the war.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has on numerous occasions rejected calls for the PA under Abbas to take control of a Palestinian state and govern Gaza.

Last week, Israeli lawmakers backed Netanyahu’s rejection of any “unilateral” recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The Knesset came together in an overwhelming majority against the attempt to impose on us the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would not only fail to bring peace but would endanger the state of Israel,” said Netanyahu.

(Aljazeera)

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