7th January 2001
Graduates of the Army Staff College — which was set
By Chris KamalendranLuxury vehicles given to ministers and officials are being insured at high cost through agents despite state institutions being able to insure these vehicles at lower costs.
On Friday, a luxury vehicle valued at Rs. 3.5 million belonging to the Ministry of Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the North was insured by paying a premium of Rs. 110,000 a year through an agent.
The Insurance Corporation of Sri Lanka (ICSL) had sought clarification from the ministry as to why the vehicle was not insured directly but the Ministry secretary had replied he was not aware of it.
Insurance sources claimed a large number of such luxury vehicles given to ministers were being insured at high costs through agents.
ICSL General Manager M. Kandasamy said that according to a Finance Ministry directive all state institutions were expected to obtain insurance policies directly from the ICSL or the National Insurance Corporation, but most of them violated the directive. "If the state institutions come directly they would be entitled to a 10 per cent rebate, but almost all of them come through agents and brokers who are entitled to a commission of 11 to 15 percent," he said.
The General Manager said that as a result of coming through agents and
brokers the ministries or other state institutions paid the full premium.
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had also renewed its fire policy
insurance through a broker resulting in a huge brokerage being paid, insurance
Ministry acts on security at maligawa
By Shane SeneviratneActing on last week's Sunday Times lead story, the Defence Ministry has brushed aside a letter from the Police Department and agreed to meet security requirements of the Dalada Maligawa amidst a controversy over delays or failure to provide the necessary equipment.
As the controversy swirled over who was responsible for what, the ministry has asked the Central Province Governor to make available a list of the required equipment and the estimated cost.
The Sunday Times last week highlighted the crisis where Buddhism's most hallowed shrine — attacked by terrorists three years ago — lay vulnerable again while government bureaucrats sat on the funding and security programmes.
The Ministry's Additional Secretary, W.A.S. Perera, in a letter to the Governor has asked him to make available the list of equipment and the quotations as soon as possible.
The Ministry's letter came three days after The Sunday Times reported that the Central Province Deputy Inspector General Mahinda Balasuriya had in a letter to the Mahanayake Theras and the Diyawadana Nilame said that the Police did not have sufficient funds to purchase the necessary equipment. The DIG had advised the prelates and the Diyawadana Nilame to make appeals and raise the funds from state and private organisations.
Following the Defence Ministry letter, the Governor's Secretary, M.M. Samathilaka, has written to the Diyawadana Nilame asking for the list.
However Diyawadana Nilame Neranjan Wijeratne told The Sunday Times the security authorities should make the assessment of the needs and the cost.
Earlier in the week the Ven Rambukwelle Sri Vipassi Mahanayake Thera of the Malwatte Chapter had rejected the Police appeal for the prelates to take the initiative in raising funds.
The Mahanayake said that providing security was the responsibility of state authorities and they could not palm it off.
DIG Balasuriya also called a news conference on Monday and in an apparent attempt to undermine our lead story had said he had not spoken to our correspondent whom he did not know and had never met. But The Sunday Times lead story was clearly based not on what the DIG told our correspondent but what he said in the letter to the Mahanayakes and the Diyawadana Nilame.
DIG Balasuriya also sent a letter to The Sunday Times Correspondent.
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Telecom will increase its rental, tariff and call charges by 15% as stipulated in the agreement, he said.
Meanwhile, all bus fares went up by 15 percent from today , sending the cost of living soaring further in the aftermath of double price hikes of diesel and gas last month.
Officials have also warned of impending hikes in electricity and water rates while prices of almost everything from plain tea to plane tickets have soared in recent days and weeks.
Water Board Chairman M. L. M. Hisbullah told The Sunday Times that he
was awaiting the President's approval to increase water rates by 5-20%
from next week.
By Shelani de Silva and Dilrukshi HandunnettiThe fate of the Western provincial council hit by an administrative crisis hung in the balance with President Chandrika Kumaratunga threatening to dissolve the council and the UNP declaring it was prepared to face fresh elections.
UNPer Dixon J Perera who claims he was duly elected as chairman of the WPC and obtained a court order on Friday to back his claim, said his party would oppose moves by President Kumaratunga to dissolve the council and possibly bring it under Governor's rule as in the north-east.
Mr. Perera told The Sunday Times the UNP would agree to a dissolution and fresh elections but would never agree to an imposition of governor's rule.
He was responding to reports that President Kumaratunga had told PA members she would be forced to impose governor's rule as she believed the people were tired of so many elections and in any event local government polls had to be held first.
Mr. Perera rejected the President's position, insisting that the PA was trying some other act because it was afraid of losing the elections.
The council is due to meet tomorrow and the PA was expected to move for a fresh vote to elect the chairman. but on Friday, the Colombo District Court issued an enjoining order preventing any new vote till a ruling was made on Mr. Perera's petition.
The dispute erupted last month when the chairman — the equivalent of a Speaker in parliament — resigned and a vote was taken to elect a successor. In a secret ballot the vote went to a second round where Mr. Perera got 43 votes and the PA's John Fernando 40. But the WPC secretary refused to declare Mr. Perera as elected saying that according to the law the candidate must get at least 50 of the hundred votes in the council.
Chief Minister Reginald Cooray told The Sunday Times the council would be dissolved only if the dispute over the election of the chairman could not be sorted out.
Mr. Cooray said the PA was ready to agree on a UNP member as a common candidate for the chairmanship as done in parliament recently, but it did not want Mr. Perera who he believed was not moderate.
However, the UNP has been insisting that Mr. Perera must be its candidate. UNP Assistant Leader Gamini Atukorale said there would be no compromise and the party would insist on Mr. Perera taking the post. Meanwhile, the JVP which has a decisive vote but abstained in the election of the chairman said yesterday it might reconsider its position as the legal dispute grew.
Party spokesman Wimal Weerawansa said they would change their course
of action but he did not elaborate.
A spokesman for the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) said trained police personnel of the Children and Women's Desk had been deployed to provide protection for ministers and state functions. The lack of incentives was another reason for the shortage of trained personnel at the Children and Women's Desk.
Meantime, the Children and Women Bureau director Premila Divakara told The Sunday Times steps were being taken to remedy the situation.
Each of the 33 Children and Women's Desk in the country was manned by five police personnel while the head office in Colombo had a total of 40 police personnel, she said.
As part of the training, police personnel were given handbooks on child abuse which comprehensively explained the procedures adopted in child abuse cases.
Early last year, foreign trainers were in the country to train police personnel. Presently, a trainer from the Voluntary Services Organisation in the United Kingdom was here to train them, she said.
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