1st April 2001
The CEB's ex-chairman Arjun Deraniyagala has cited several reason for the crisis and described the current financial crisis as not being due to mismanagement and corruption.
Mr. Deraniyagala said the huge increase in the use of expensive thermal power due to the unprecedented failure of three successive monsoons in the catchment areas, the tripling of world oil prices over the past two years, which was aggravated by a 15% depreciation of the rupee and the delay in the implementation of two thermal plants had resulted in the crisis.
"In the situation that prevailed over the past 15 years the CEB has had to pay a heavy price for the government's decision to avert power cuts, which would have resulted in a huge economic loss to the country'
Mr. Deraniyagala said it was this combination that precipitated the financial crisis which had now given rise to accusations of mismanagement.
'These accusation are levelled at the CEB by parties who obviously are not in possession of the correct facts, or do not wish to recognise the real cause for the financial crisis, or simply wish to discredit the CEB's management'
Mr. Deraniyagala who dismissed the allegations of mismanagement said annual accounts of the CEB had been certified by internationally renowned private auditors and by the Auditor General who had a permanent unit operating full time within the organisation.
"When my term in office expired in March last year the minister reappointed me presumably with the concurrence of the President. Again after the general elections I submitted my resignation to enable the minister to appoint a new chairman and reconstitute the board of directors. The fact that I was reappointed in November bears testimony to the sustained confidence reposed in me. Therefore, gross mismanagement by the chairman as alleged must have occurred in the very recent past'
The former chairman stated he had offered his fullest cooperation to the Auditor General who had been commissioned by the minister to inquire into the allegations against the CEB's management and himself.
The chairman dismissing the allegations of influencing the selection
process of important tenders said the CEB followed government procedures
that provided for a Cabinet Appointed Tender Board.
Why not defend the baby?Government benches continuously tried to silence Rajitha Senaratne when he started reading in parliament extracts from Thilan Wijesinghe's petition to the Supreme Court.
Not used to taking things lying down, Dr. Senaratne retorted, "He was a child nursed, fed and brought up by the government and today he is down in the dumps. Why aren't you all defending him today?"
It's party time again for SBMinister S. B. Dissanayake's house down Stanmore Crescent was a hive of activity on Sunday night.
After the sober and solemn Weera Lanka Matha ceremony in the afternoon, a gala dinner was hosted by him for his close associates.
Before the party, the garden was spruced up by a team of workmen who even went to the extent of fumigating it to get rid of mosquitoes.
Neighbours are now getting used to the minister's late night parties.
Mind your businessSriLankan AirLines has sent out a tough warning to its employees not to dabble in management matters.
The warning comes in the wake of a spate of leaflets being circulated
among staff members alleging mismanagement and corruption in the higher
Los Angeles County Coroner Barbara Nelson said the death was possibly due to natural causes, but a final verdict would be delivered after four to eight weeks, the Colombo Page website reported yesterday.
She said the singer's body did not have any external injuries indicating any fall or assault or signs of an electric shock as some media in Sri Lanka had speculated. "I do not know where they got this. They never contacted me," she said.
Ms. Nelson said though no cause of death had yet been established, it "looks like she died of natural causes."
"Tissues and blood samples have been taken by the pathologist, Dr. Penya of the Los Angeles County Coroners office, for further examination. The verdict on the cause of death will be deferred until investigations are over."
A brief pansakula ceremony in memory of Ms. Bulathsinhala was presided over by Venerable Walpola Piyananda Thero. It was organized by the staff of the Sri Lankan Consul Generals Office.
Meanwhile Ms. Bulathsinhala's body will be flown to Sri Lanka tonight.
The funeral will take place on Wednesday at the Borella General Cemetery.
The body will be taken to Ms. Bulathsinhala's home in Mattegoda on Monday
and will be taken to the Art Gallery on Wednesday for the public to pay
their last respects.
By Laila NasryFormer Medical Research Institute Director Tissa Vitharana apologised and agreed to pay legal cost to Dr. Maya Atapattu, a former Deputy Director of the same institute, in a civil defamation case before the Colombo District Court.
The case was withdrawn after Dr. Vitharana made the apology before District Judge Kanthi Wanigasekea and agreed to pay the legal cost.
Dr. Atapattu filed the case following Dr. Vitharana's allegations against her in a newspaper article. The allegations were later found to be false.
Dr. Vitharana through his lawyer apologised for the unwarranted insult and pain caused by the allegations he levelled against her.
He further added that his wanton charges were not born of malicious
intent but a direct result of believing the accusations to be true though
he now saw them as untrue.
By Chandani KirindeTruth is the first casualty not only in times of war but it also becomes a casualty quite often in Parliament especially when the issue of press freedom is debated, with the two main parties claiming to be its champions.
Hence when the votes of the Ministry of Information and Media came up for debate on Friday, UNP's Badulla district MP W.J.M.Lokubandara who moved the ten rupees token cut from the Ministry's vote accused the Government of exploiting the state media to attack political opponents.
Some of the allegations made by him were almost the same words spoken by the members of the SLFP led opposition during the time of the UNP government before 1994.
Mr.Lokubandara pleaded with Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa to break away from the "Mangala Samaraweera era" and take over from the end of another media minister,the late Dharmasiri Senanayake.
"We are taking steps to abolish laws that stifle journalists. Journalists can now say and write what they want without fear. We will give the fullest freedom to the journalists as long as they don't regard themselves as being above the law," Mr.Yapa said.
While accusing the UNP of shedding crocodile tears for the media, the minister said journalists should themselves work to enhance their image by getting together and practicing a professional code of conduct for which the government would extend their fullest support.
The JVP's lone speaker on the Media Ministry votes Wimal Weerawansa spoke on the hidden agenda of the G 8 countries to disseminate information to the so called Third world by using advanced technology to sell their culture, concepts and products.
"IT can be more dangerous than any other product because it plays with our senses and our minds," he warned.
Responding to the Government argument that there was more press freedom today than under any previous regimes, Mr.Weerawansa said that was no excuse to stifle the media and prevent the freedom of expression.
A number of opposition members spoke on the plight of the state media institutions - the Rupavahini Corporation, the Independent Television Network and the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (Lake House).
Tyronne Fernando, a former Minister of information -, the last one before the UNP lost power - charged that the state media had become propaganda machines of the government.
He also spoke out against criminal defamation saying such laws had been abolished in most countries except for a few such has Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone. "This is an outdated notion. If someone defames you, they must pay damages but don't send them to jail. Bring defamation under the civil laws," he urged.
There was a word of praise for journalists from Labour Minister Alavi Moulana who said they were among the most poorly paid workers .
"Journalists must be looked after. Their housing and pensions must be looked into," he said.
Temperatures in the Chamber rose when UNP's Kalutara district MP Rajitha Senaratne began reading out a document detailing the import of a part of machinery for the printing press at Lake House which was subsequently shelved after Rs50 million was paid as an advance. He drew the ire of Urban Development Minister Mangala Samaraweera and a shouting match ensued between PA and UNP members and Mr.Senaratne was told he had exhausted the time allocated for him to speak.
But it did not end there as the next speaker Harendra Corea, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister who recently crossed over to the PA from the UNP launched a scathing attack on the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
"You talk of press freedom. There will be no press freedom as long as the Leader of the Opposition is there. He is a dictator," he shouted amidst angry protests from UNP benches.
The debates on the votes of several other ministries taken up this week, were conducted in a subdued manner.
They included the ministries of Education, Transport, Highways, Women's Affairs, Ministry Without Portfolio, Co-operative Development, Science and Technology, Airport and Aviation, Samurdhi, Rural Development ,Parliamentary Affairs and Up-Country Development, Higher Education, Plan Implementation and Vocational Training.
One of the main constraints for the MPs was the lack of time allocated to each member to speak with some speakers including several ministers having only five to ten minutes to speak. With 47 separate ministries coming up for debate, at least three subjects are being debated on a single day thus causing a time constraint on all members.
The privatisation of universities were among the issues raised by the Opposition during the debate on the Education Ministry.
However Higher Education and Information Technology Minister Indika Gunawardene said none of the existing universities would be privatized but said there would be more private sector participation in the education sector.
The Minister's remarks just before the vote on the Heads of the Higher Education and Information Technology Ministry prompted the JVP to call for a division on the voting as a mark of protest against government moves to privatise the education sector. The UNP abstained from voting while the JVP members voted against it.
When the votes the Samurdhi Ministry were taken up, UNP R.A.D.Sirisena alleged that the movement had become a government within a government meant only for PA cronies.
The son of former president Ranasinghe Premadasa - the architect of the Janasaviya program - Sajith Premnadasa said the Samurdhi programme was the same as Janasaviya with a different name.
" The Janasaviya programme was meant to help bridge the gap between the haves and have nots. My father was the person who introduced the word poverty alleviation to the political vocabulary in this country," he said delivering a forceful speech reminiscent of the speeches made by the late President.
He said that Janasaviya was a non political programme to help people become self reliant and had even won the praise of international organizations. Referring to himself as a "new, progressive politician, Mr.Premadasa said his aim was not to criticize the Samurdhi programme but to make proposals that would help the needy help themselves.
When the votes on the Airports and Aviation Ministry were taken the management of SriLanka airlines by Emirates came in for criticism from UNP Kotte MP Ravi Karunanayke who said the airline was flying non-profitable routes and the Sri Lanka flag had almost disappeared now.
SLMC Digamadulla district MP U.L.M.Mohideen who followed referred to Mr.Karunanayake as the "prophet of gloom" and said he sang a different tune when he was on their side. He dismissed the UNPers remarks that the UNP was ready to take over the country which is on the brink of economic collapse and salvage it. "The UNP may be ready but the people are not prepared to hand over the reins of power to the UNP," he said. Mr.Mohideen also criticized the treatment of local tourists at the BIA saying that locals were treated as refugees while foreigners were treated well and that the administration at the airport needed to be re-vamped.
Aviation Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle who replied his critics said steps have been taken to improve the facilities at the airport .
The vote on the Ministry without Portfolio also drew a lot of steam in the House with UNPer D.Rajitha Senaratne asking its Minister Wijeyapala Mendis to look into complaints of corruption against various ministers and officials.
"It was the minister himself who said in an interview that he has the power to look into the working of all ministries. I am challenging him to do that now," he said.
Being the seasoned politicians that he is, Mr. Mendis said he would definitely look into the findings of the various commissions that were appointed by this Government and were lying idle and then proceeded to read from the findings from the Batalanda Commission with specific reference to the Leader of the Opposition.
Amidst shouts from the opposition that he was reading from an illegal document, Mr. Mendis was forced to wrap up his speech just as many other members were forced to do so during their speeches due to time constraint.
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