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US$ 750mn World Bank loan delayed: Samurdhi recipient list not verified



A US$ 750 million loan from the World Bank has been delayed as verification of welfare beneficiaries has not been completed, among other pre-requisites, the Sunday Times learns.

The verification of the beneficiaries was due to be completed by Friday, March 31, but has now been deferred till April 10, thereby delaying the process of applying for the facility.

Under the programme, the recipients will be entitled to Rs 14,000 a month. Both, the IMF and the World Bank have pointed out that several Samurdhi beneficiaries are not below the poverty line and, therefore, not entitled to the benefits. The Government has been asked to prepare a list of ‘genuine’ beneficiaries.

The welfare beneficiary scheme is among six prerequisites to obtain the USD 750 million loan, following the IMF facility obtained two weeks ago.

Among the other pre-conditions are the opening of a Budget office in Parliament, the digitalisation of revenue collection and payments of Inland Revenue, and reforms in the Central Bank.  

A senior government official confirmed these were World Bank prerequisites that had yet to be fulfilled. He said that all the requirements could be completed soon with some of them already in the process of being completed.

The Government also needs to introduce a Social Security Bill under which the welfare payments would be made.

A senior Treasury official said the bill was due to be presented in Parliament this month and the programme could begin in June.

Welfare Benefits Board Chairman B. Wijeratne told the Sunday Times that 3.7 million applications had been received so far for social benefits and 2.4 million applicants had been verified up to date.

“There are several processes to complete the verification. They include an appeal process. We are trying to keep to the schedule,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Government had carried out a trial run of the new system by trying to disburse welfare benefits on the existing beneficiary list and found that Rs 500 million had been overclaimed, indicating that some of the beneficiaries had registered more than once. The new system is to be monitored by a QR code system.

(Sunday Times)


Senior female cops stuck in same post for years




A statement from the Parliament of Sri Lanka has revealed that there has been injustice to police officers in the promotion of the Sri Lanka Police Service.

This was revealed when the ‘Select Committee of Parliament to look into and report to Parliament its recommendations to ensure gender equity and equality with special emphasis on looking into gender based discriminations and violations of women’s rights in Sri Lanka’ met in parliament recently, it added on Facebook.

MP Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle is the chairperson of this Select Committee.

It had been  disclosed that there are 92 female chief inspectors who have completed twenty-six years of service and completed four years in the position of chief police inspector, but no specific system or vacancies have been identified regarding their promotion.

The statement added that the method of recruitment of these female officers, and the salary level is the same as the male officers and the training is done together in the same training school without any difference, the deployment after the training is done in the same way without any difference, while the  the method of retirement is also the same.

However, aggrieved police officers pointed out that there is no problem related to promotions to male officers, and only female officers have issues related to vacant positions.

The Parliament of Sri Lanka said that during the committee session it was disclosed that a remedy for this issue not been prepared so far, and for that reason, female officers have to stay in the same position for a long time while male officers with less seniority are promoted.

Furthermore, to avoid this situation of concern, since more than 15% of the Sri Lanka Police are female officers, it was proposed to create vacancies for 15% female representation in all positions.

The Committee Chair recommended to the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security that 15% of the total force of the Police Service is currently employed by female officers, so that 15% of the available vacancies should be reserved for female officers to solve this problem.

(News 1st)

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Egg prices on the rise again




Egg prices in the local market have been increased despite the festive season being just around the corner.

Although the price of an white egg was around Rs. 40 – 42 in the last week of November, it rose to Rs. 44 – 46 last week before increasing again to Rs. 55 – 60.

The price of a white egg and brown egg at the Narahenpita Economic Centre is priced at Rs. 50 and Rs. 52 respectively.

It is speculated that the prices will continue to spike, resulting in the price hike of bakery and confectionary products.

Experts in the field allege that Trade Minister – Nalin Fernando’s short sighted decisions are to be blamed for his.

The minister had recently halted egg imports from India, stating that the local egg industry has been stabilized.

However, experts say that the minister had initially imported eggs when the demand was low and had left the local market to depend entirely on the local market when the demand was at its peak, to secure another future chance to import eggs from India.

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Parliament votes to debate VAT bill today




The Sri Lankan Parliament has voted to debate the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill on today (Nov. 11).

The ruling party proposed that the VAT (Amendment) Bill be taken up for debate today, following the third reading of the appropriation bill.

However, as the opposition rejected the government’s move, the Speaker of parliament decided to call for a vote on whether the VAT (Amendment) Bill will be taken up for debate today.

Accordingly, a vote took place shortly after 9:30 am, with 92 votes in favour, 41 votes against and 01 abstention.

Earlier, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in a statement announced that they will vote against the VAT Bill.

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