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No action taken against suspects of Yala incident: Environmentalists

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Environmentalists have alleged that no legal action has been taken against the people who are accused of causing distress to the animals at the Yala National Park by entering zone number two on October 22 in 35 jeeps.

It was reported that Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Minister Mahinda Amaraweera’s son Pasan is also among the accused.

Meanwhile, Manoj Vidyaratne, the caretaker of Yala National Park, said five vehicles entered zone number two in the morning along with three trackers.

“Another 35 jeeps arrived in the evening and they were given separate permits. We do not have 35 guides for 35 vehicles. Therefore, five vehicles were given to one guide. The people who came in these jeeps have taken other routes inside the park. Seven people from among the visitors have evaded the guides and have gone on their own way and driven vehicles in a way that harasses the animals.”

“It was the off-road team called “Iron Man” that came to Yala. They are residents of different parts of the country. We cannot turn down any park visitors. However, the issue is that the people went inside and caused destruction. Warrants will be issued to the owners of the seven vehicles through the Department of Motor Traffic,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking to the media, “Iron Man” organization’s owner Sam Chandrasoma said that he was also in the Yala National Park on the day of this incident but neither he nor his organization had anything to do with it.

He said that the company’s stickers are requested for the vehicles that have obtained services from his company, and that he cannot make a definite statement whether there were vehicles with those stickers inside the park.

Meanwhile, internal sources of the Wildlife Conservation Department told ‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ that a powerful Cabinet Minister has informed the Director General of Wildlife Conservation to allow these jeeps to enter the National Park. The people who arrived in these jeeps have behaved in a way that causes distress to the animals.

It was reported that the authorities of the Wildlife Conservation Department had also learnt about this incident through social media a day after the incident.

It has been revealed that a group of members of the Wellawaya Motor Vehicle Association and the Nikaweratiya Poultry Farm Owners Association were among the perpetrators.

Wildlife Conservation Director General Chandana Suriyabandara said, “A group has gone inside the park and caused destruction. I informed the officials to file a case. These vehicles have been formally entered into the park but the issue is about their behavior inside the park. They have not entered the park by force.”

Mr. Nayanaka Ranwella, an environmentalist commenting on the incident, said that these perpetrators can be imprisoned for 7 years and imposed a fine of Rs.200,000 each.

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Draft constitution for Sri Lanka cricket board presented to president

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The draft constitution for the Sri Lanka Cricket Board, prepared by the Judge Chitrasiri Committee, was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat today (15). 

The draft was handed over by Committee Chairman, retired Supreme Court Judge K.T. Chitrasiri, alongside other committee members.

The initiative to address challenges faced by Sri Lanka Cricket and provide suitable recommendations led to the appointment of a Cabinet Sub-Committee on November 6, 2023. 

Chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs and President’s Counsel Ali Sabry, the sub-committee included Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekara, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara, and Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles.

After extensive discussions with stakeholders involved in cricket, the sub-committee presented its report to the Cabinet on January 8, 2024. 

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Possible extension of president’s term by one year discussed

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The “Maubima” newspaper has reported ongoing discussions about the possibility of extending the term of office of the President by one year through a two-thirds majority in Parliament, without the need for a referendum.

According to the report, parties loyal to the President have consulted legal experts, who believe there is a legal pathway to extend the presidential tenure from five to six years. 

This mirrors the constitutional change made by the 19th Amendment in 2015, which reduced the presidential term from six to five years without a referendum.

Pratibha Mahanama (lawyer), a former professor at the University of Technology Jamaica, has been cited in the news paper report, stating that just as the term was reduced without a referendum in the past, it can now be extended with a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

However, Article 83(b) of the Constitution stipulates that any bill extending the term of office of the President or Parliament beyond six years must be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and be subjected to a referendum.

The newspaper further mentions that if the President fails to secure a two-thirds majority, the extension could still be put to a national referendum as a matter of significant national importance.

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IMF acknowledges progress in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that there is sufficient progress for Sri Lanka’s Debt Restructuring process to move forward.

However, the IMF further said Sri Lanka’s economy is still vulnerable and the path to debt sustainability remains knife- edged hence the country need to sustain the reform momentum.

Meanwhile, joining the IMF press briefing on Sri Lanka’s second review of EFF program held virtually this morning (14), IMF Senior Mission Chief for Sri Lanka Peter Breuer stated that the IMF fully respect the democratic process for elections to take place in any country and they adapt to the relevant process.

Furthermore, he mentioned that the elections may affect the timing of IMF’s missions they conduct in order to discuss compliance with the programme and reforms going forward.

“We of course fully respect the democratic process for elections to take place in any country and we adapt to that process. So, this may affect a little bit the timing of our missions that we conduct in order to discuss compliance with the programme and reforms going forward”, he said.

“The elections have not been called yet. We will await that and discuss with the authorities how we can adapt our schedule to that of the elections”, Mr. Breuer added.

In response to a question raised by a journalist whether there is scope to adjust the programme and reduce taxes by a newly appointed government following the elections, the IMF Senior Mission Chief for Sri Lanka expressed that it is significant how the reduction in government revenues had contributed to this very severe crisis in Sri Lanka.

He further said: “I just pointed you to these two charts [in the IMF report] to tell the story how the reduction in government revenues had contributed to this very severe crisis to this very severe crisis in Sri Lanka. Re-building these revenues is an important objective of the programme in order to allow Sri Lanka to emerge from the crisis.”

“Of course here we should bring revenue closer to the expenditures that the government is facing to reduce the gap between expenditure and revenue, and that will help to make the debt sustainable again and force Sri Lanka to be able to finance itself at interest rates it can afford and the debt are sustainable.”

“More broadly speaking, we are willing to listen to different views of how the programme objectives can be reached. These need to be realistic and achievable within the time frame of the programme”, he added.

Moreover, the IMF representative also stated that the ‘Public Financial Management’ law has now been sent to Parliament, which will help to strengthen the fiscal framework and enhance fiscal responsibility.

Mr. Breuer highlighted that the law will help to ensure that the funds are being spent by the government as intended.

(adaderana.lk)
(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by adaderana.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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