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Materials worth Rs. 12 mn. from consumer goods warehouse, misplaced

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The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) met recently under the chairmanship of the State Minister Hon. Lasantha Alagiyawanna and the Auditor General’s reports for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 and the current performance of the Ministry of Defence were discussed.

Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General (retired) Kamal Gunaratne and a group of officers participated in this meeting.

Expedite amendment of Firearms Act

COPA had directed the officials of the Ministry of Defence to expedite the amendment of the Firearms (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1996 and the Explosives (Amendment) Act, which have been delayed for many years.
Although the committee had recommended to amend the Firearms (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1996 and the Explosives (Amendment) Act since 2012, it was revealed that it has been delayed due to various reasons. Officials also said that so far about 37,000 firearms have been licensed in the country. The officials mentioned that the amendment of the Act is in the final stage and the draft bill will be completed soon. The committee emphasized the need to speed up the process as the license fees should be revised and the state revenue will be lost due to this delay. Accordingly, it was also advised to submit a report on the progress.

Although it was mentioned in the constitution that the revenues generated by the services provided to external parties by the armed forces should be credited to the consolidated fund, attention was also drawn to the fact that it was not implemented properly. Although it was previously informed to prepare a proper system related to it and report to the committee, the committee asked about the fact that it has not yet been prepared. The Auditor General’s Department pointed out that since most of the income goes to the welfare associations, a proper system should be set up. Although the services are being successfully carried out, the committee also advised to prepare a clear system in this regard. He also instructed the ministry officials to review this process extensively.

Procurement of food itemsSpecial attention was also paid to the procurement of food items for the three-armed forces. It was revealed at the committee that although earlier recommendations had been given to set up an information management system connecting all the institutions involved in the food items procurement process for the three-armed forces, it is being implemented only in the Navy and the Air Force. Accordingly, the officers were ordered to expedite the preparation of the system for the Army and to submit a report on this. Also, it was emphasized in the committee that parties including the soldiers should receive a meal commensurate with the money spent by the government.

There was also a discussion regarding hiring a housing complex with 24 house units on a lease agreement for 72 million rupees, in order to provide accommodation for the 31 officers participating in the course of the National Defence Academy. Instead of getting houses on such a rent, the Committee Chair advised to pay attention to the possibility of providing accommodation facilities by constructing a new building. The Defence Secretary pointed out that since the construction has been stopped due to the current economic situation, measures will be taken in the future.

Materials worth Rs. 12 mn. misplaced!Attention was also drawn to the misplacement of materials worth 12 million rupees in the consumer goods warehouse. The officials said that all those persons related to this have been suspended and steps have been taken to collect the related money from the storekeeper. It was discussed why this incident was not revealed by the internal audit until it was uncovered by the audit of the Auditor General’s Department.

Apart from this, attention was also paid to the strategic communication network project, procurement process, role of Disaster Management Centre (DMC) etc.

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Alka Yagnik diagnosed with “rare sensory hearing loss

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Veteran Bollywood singer Alka Yagnik, who revealed that she has been diagnosed with a “rare sensory hearing loss” due to a viral attack, has suffered a type of hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways that transmit sound from the ear to the brain.

According to Dr Manish Munjal, Vice Chairman, ENT, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, sudden sensory hearing loss is a medical emergency as it can become irreversible if not aggressively treated in 48-72 hours.

“The centre of the problem is the inner ear organ called Cochlea, where it happens due to damage to the hair cells,” Munjal told IANS on Tuesday.

The causes may range from simple viruses like Herpes, Varicella, and Mumps or sudden loud exposure to noise levels above 85 decibel (dB).

Munjal also mentioned that this disorder may also result from more serious causes like painkiller overdose, chemotherapy, tumour compression, meningitis and stroke.

“The need of the hour is usually to rush to an ENT specialist to get the necessary ear examination done as well as get an audiometry test. Once diagnosed, the treatment may require a cocktail of antivirals, oral and intratympanic steroids, as well as rest from noisy environments,” he stated.

According to the doctor, once the treatment is initiated, the chances of recovery are usually 70 per cent and above.

The disorder affects only 1 per cent in bilateral ears as compared to single ear, Munjal noted.

(IANS)

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President apologizes over compulsory cremations during Covid-19 pandemic

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has apologized for making cremation compulsory during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During this time there was a lot of pain, mainly felt not only by the Muslims, but also Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, I know who also prefer burial,” President Wickremesinghe said in Parliament.

He said that a committee appointed to look into the matter at the time had recommended cremation, a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court as well. So, that had to be followed. There was no other alternative during that time, he said.

He assured that Sri Lanka will bring in a law that will allow the right of burial, right of cremation or gifting one’s body to medical institutions.

(Excerpts : dailymirror.lk)

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Postage stamp to be increased to Rs. 100 in July

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A proposal has been made to increase the price of an ordinary postage stamp to Rs. 100 by July, Mass Media Ministry Secretary Anusha Palpita said.

He told the Daily Mirror that the Postal Department is currently incurring an annual loss of Rs. 7,000 million.

“Last year, the loss was reduced to Rs. 3,200 million. However, with a salary increase for postal employees costing Rs. 2,800 million this year, the Postal Department’s loss will rise again to Rs. 7,000 million.” he said.

“If the losses continue to increase, it might reach Rs. 5 billion by 2025. Less than 1.5 million people use postage stamps, yet the entire country bears the burden of the Postal Department’s losses,” he added.

The price of a stamp was Rs. 15 until 2022, and the current price is Rs. 50.

“We are awaiting approval from the Treasury to raise the price of a postage stamp. This decision is necessary due to the ongoing losses of the Postal Department,” Palpita said.

(dailymirror.lk)

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

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