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Govt institutions permitted to use private banks

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Minister of State for Finance Mr. Shehan Semasinghe claims that for the first time, government institutions have been allowed to use the services of private banks.

“We authorised them because we cannot afford to allow any breakdown in the country’s financial processes,” he said. “The Government will take every precaution to ensure that trade union strikes do not disrupt the normal life of the people.”

The Government will not allow any trade union actions to disrupt the financial processes involved in obtaining essential items, including food, fuel, and coal, he said. The Minister was responding to the recent strikes by certain trade unions and how the Government will face them if they continue such trade union action.

“When the IMF negotiations were taking place last year, they blocked the gates of the Finance Ministry. They did so to prevent the Secretary to the Treasury from joining the IMF-Government discussions and to delay the progress in IMF bailout talks,” the Minister said.

“When the IMF’s Managing Director announced that they are looking at Sri Lanka positively and recognised the Government’s commitment, determination, and transparency, in the last eight days, the trade unions have come out on the streets for demonstrations.

We also asked him if these Trade union actions were causing any revenue losses. “Yes, undue trade union actions will affect the economy. These trade union actions are unfair. What the people in this country experience now differs from what they experienced eight months ago.”

He said all should be genuine enough to understand the country’s improvement. These trade union actions have nothing to do with taxes or Government reforms.

“It is evident that on the verge of receiving IMF approval, many political authorities and Opposition party leaders have become uncertain about their chances of accomplishing their political ambitions,” said Semasinghe.

He said they would only be able to promote their political ideology with much lower intensity than they had about eight months ago. However, they might spread their political ideology by ensuring the people suffer as much as possible.

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SLFP to support no-confidence motion against the Speaker

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The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has announced its endorsement of the no-confidence motion to be brought against the Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Accordingly, the SLFP announced that it will support the motion being brought against the Speaker by the opposition, and will vote in favour of it.

On Monday (26 Feb.), several Opposition members, led by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa, signed a motion of no confidence against the Speaker, claiming that he had violated the Constitution.

As such, a group of MPs belonging to the opposition in Parliament including M. A. Sumanthiran, Lakshman Kiriella, Prof. G. L. Pieris, Tissa Attanayake, Chandima Weerakkody and Shan Wijayalal de Silva, had inked the motion for approving the much-disputed Online Safety Bill amidst ‘irregular procedures’.

The no-confidence motion pointed out that the Speaker had ignored the Supreme Court’s recommendations pertaining to Sections 13, 17, 20, 33 (6), 34 (1), 35 (1), 21, 22 and 33 of the Online Safety Bill.

Earlier this month, Opposition Leader charged that the Speaker had ignored nine recommendations given by the Supreme Court while enacting the Online Safety Act, adding that they no longer have faith in him.

(adaderana.lk)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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