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Many incidents mistakenly perceived as religious or ethnic violence: PM

Some incidents which had taken places of worship and business institutions during the recent past had mistakenly perceived to be incidents of ethnic and religious violences, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe made this observation yesterday, in response to a question raised by MP S M Marikar during the round of questions to be raised from the Premier.

He also said that there had been instances where some business establishments had caught fire due to power leakages and due to accidents, though perceived to be burnt by extremist forces. The Premier further said there were few incidents where one of two persons had set fire to a few shops. The Premier added that those who had been behind those incidents have been already arrested.

“There have been no state patronage to these incidents as it was during the previous regime,” he said.

“Those incidents increased during the previous regime as there was state patronage to those incidents. Even now, there are some persons who try to spread ethnic and religious hatred. We should beware of those forces and people. Those who had lost power are doing so.” The Premier also said that the government would take steps against such persons and nobody need to protect them. “Some sections in the media too are spreading ethnic and religious hatred,” the Prime Minister further said.

He said there are others who use extremists to gain political power. He assured that the government would never move away from its responsibility of bringing about reconciliation.

The premier further informed

that those who had died and who were injured in the Aluthgama incident have already been compensated.

Govt. presents Inland Revenue Bill to House for first reading

The Government yesterday in Parliament, presented the Inland Revenue Bill for first reading.

Chief Government Whip and Minister Gayantha Karunathilake presented the Bill to the House. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the new Bill has hindered the space for tax evasion removing certain loopholes in the Act.

Chief Opposition Whip and JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake requested the Government to facilitate a discussion between Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and representatives of Trade Unions and other relevant public institutions before taking up the Bill for debate in Parliament.

“The new Inland Revenue Bill has subjected to controversy. Discussions in this regard with the former Finance Minister were fruitless. This is an important Bill that affects the economy of the country,” he added.

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella replying said, “There is no law in Parliament that legislation should be discussed with TUs.” MP Dissanayake said he made the request to pave way for the smooth passage of the Bill. Kiriella agreed to bring the request to the attention of Minister Samaraweera.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe pointed out the Bill was prepared by Ministry officials, adding that any concerned party could go before Court now over its content. He also proposed drafting Bills in simple English language to make it easy for the ordinary public to understand the contents. “Many other countries have adopted similar measures now,” he said.

The new Inland Revenue Bill consists of 22 Chapters running to 218 pages. The Bill is to provide for the imposition of Income Tax for any year of assessment commencing on or after April 1, 2017.

Chief Prelates’ position on Constitutional Reforms:

Steering Committee to issue statement

The Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly will issue a statement today concerning the position of the Chief Prelates of the three Buddhist Chapters on Constitutional reforms, Parliamentary sources said.

The Steering Committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met at the Parliamentary Complex yesterday, to finalize the interim report.

Following the meeting, Deputy Secretary General Neil Iddawala, who is also the Secretary to the Steering Committee, issued a press release denying media reports that the Maha Sangha including the Most Ven. Maha Nayake thera of the Asgiriya Chapter or his representative was not invited to the Conference on Constitutional Reforms held on June 28 at the BMICH.

“The Steering Committee wishes to clarify that invitations were duly conveyed to the Most Ven. Maha Nayake Theros of the three Nikayas (Siyam, Amarapuara and Ramanya) as well as to other religious dignitaries. The invitation cards were sent by speed post on June 21,” the release stated. The press release added the Constitutional Assembly Secretariat was later informed by the respective offices of the Asgiriya, Amarapura, Ramanya and Malwatte Chapters of the inability of the Chief Prelates to attend the conference, but some of them nominated representatives to deputize the Maha Nayake theras.

ISIS threat on US Embassy:

Police advised to investigate and act accordingly: PM

The Police have been advised to conduct an investigation on the alleged threat on the US Embassy in Colombo by the ISIS, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament yesterday.

He said that the Police had been advised to find out if the media institution that carried the news item that the US Embassy in Colombo had threats by the ISIS, had any special information on the matter and to take steps accordingly to provide security if there was such threats.

The Premier made this observation yesterday, in response to a question raised by MP Mumibur Rahuman as to what measures would the government take against the media institutions that carried an incorrect news item. MP Rahuman said that a media institution had carried a news recently that the US Embassy in Colombo had threats by the ISIS which the US Embassy denied saying that they had not received such information. The MP questioned as to what measures would the government take against institutions that make such incorrect news.

“The Police have been advised to get information from those in the newspaper which reported that the US embassy had received a threat from ISIS and to take measures accordingly,” the Prime Minister said.

Speaker says views expressed by religious groups on national unity will be directed to President, PM

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya together with the Party Leaders met a group of religious representatives at the Parliamentary Complex to discuss several key issues affecting the country.

The meeting was facilitated following a request by an all-religious group to express their opinion on several key contemporary matters.

The Speaker’s Media Division issuing a press release yesterday, said the importance of unity and mutual understanding between the political authority and religious leaders towards national unity and reconciliation was stressed at the meeting. Attention had also been paid towards the on-going Constitutional reforms process.

Speaker Jayasuriya said the views expressed by the religious representatives would be directed to the urgent attention of the President and Prime Minister. The all-religious group consisted of Buddhist, Catholic, Christian, Muslim and Hindu representatives.

Opposition Leader R Sampanthan, Ministers Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Ravi Karunanayake, Rauf Hakeem and Mano Ganesan, Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, MPs Douglas Devananda and M A Sumanthiran took part in the meeting together with the Speaker.

Int’l. Convention for Protection Of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill to be taken up later: PM

The Government yesterday, informed Parliament that the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill would be taken up at a future date after further discussions.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said there was a request at the Government Group meeting to facilitate room for more discussions on the Bill.

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella, informing the House that the Bill would not be moved for debate, said it would be taken up again shortly.

The Bill is to give effect to the ‘International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance’ to which Sri Lanka became a signatory on December 10, 2015.

Several parties raised their concerns lately over certain clauses contained in the Bill.

Tense situation at question time

A heated argument erupted yesterday between the government side members and JVP Parliamentarians during the round of questions for oral answers on the appointment of persons other than public representatives to the Chairmen and Co-chairmen to the District and Divisional Coordinating Committees in Parliament yesterday.

The tense situation erupted while the Policy Planning and Economic Development Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva was responding to a question raised by JVP MP Nalinda Jayathissa from the Prime Minister and the National Policies and Economic Affairs Minister. The JVP MP inquired the names and designations of persons who are holding positions of Chairmen and Co chairmen in the district and divisional coordinating committees that are functioning throughout the country.

Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva said that there were 25 District Committees and 331 Divisional Coordinating Committees and tabled the list of names of the Chairmen. He added that there were 82 chairmen and co chairmen who were not public representatives.

Nalinda Jayathissa said that SLFP and UNP organizers who were not members have been appointed as chairmen. “There is no such law that prevents those persons other than public representatives being appointed as chairmen,” Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva said.

At this stage Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that there was no issue if they were party committees. “But these are committees to oversee the implementation of the development projects of the government in the respective areas,” JVP MP Dissanayake said. “So public representatives should be appointed to chair those committees.”

At this stage, Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said the previous circular had said that public representatives should chair those committees. “But it was amended by including the representatives of the President and Prime Minister could be appointed as the Chairmen and the Co-chairmen,” Minister Abeywardena said. “It was done as the Constitution was decided to be amended and many other reasons. On the other hand if the JVP needs, they could nominate their representatives and we can appoint them as co-chairmen”.

“Those who were defeated at the elections have been appointed as chairmen of those committees,” Anura Dissanayake said. “Some Parliamentarians sit as members of those District and Divisional Coordinating Committees, while those who lost the elections and persons who did not at least contest, chair the committees.”

At this stage Sydney Jayaratne raising a point of order, said the JVP had no right to talk of the scenario as it had appointed persons to Parliament who did not contest at the election leaving aside those who contested at the election.

“It cannot be allowed, It is not a point of order,” observed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

“We have asked the question from the Ministers,” said Anura Kumara Dissanayake. “We know as to how naked women were in the double cab when it collided. How does an MP answer a question.”

“I stopped the point of order,” observed the Speaker. (Daily News)

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