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Protests against polls violence were held in Colombo last week. Pic by Sanjeewa Niroshana
Water, telecommunication and other service charges are to be increased soon, Government officials said yesterday.
A Government decision to increase water charges had been taken as far back as October 1996, and an extraordinary Gazette notification regarding the increases was prepared by February 10, but the decision to implement the new charges had been delayed, the sources said.
The new telecommunication charges were to be announced on February 1 this year but in a separate Gazette Extraordinary notification dated February 26 issued on the advice of Telecommunications Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the implementation of the new charges was postponed for April 30.
According to the Gazette notification the new charges were to come into effect from January 1.
National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB), Vice Chairman R.W.M.T. Wijetilleke told The Sunday Times the new tariffs might come into effect from April 1.
He said the charges had been increased mainly due to pressure from the World Bank.
According to the new rates domestic usage and schools, the first 10 units will be charged at 60 cts per unit, 11 to 20 units increased from Rs. 1.30 per unit to Rs. 1.50 per unit, 21 to 25 units increased from Rs. 4.80 to Rs. 5.00 per unit, from 26 to 30 units increased from Rs. 4.80 to Rs. 9.60 per unit, from 31 to 40 units increased from Rs. 9.40 to Rs. 12.50 from 41 to 50 units increased from Rs. 12.00 to Rs. 18.00 per unit while over 51 units will be increased from Rs. 25 per unit to Rs. 32.50 per unit.
The Sunday Times learns that the telecommunication charge increases would also be announced in April.
There is speculation that electricity charges may also go up in the coming months with the government spending heavily on thermal power plants.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundera told a seminar in Colombo yesterday charges for services provided by the government were being progressively raised to increase non-tax revenue so that budget deficit could be reduced.
A section of spectators at the 118th 'Battle of the Blues' between S. Thomas' and Royal annual cricket encounter yesterday ended up in hospitals and police stations after a few violent clashes, including a stabbing case, police said.
At least 26 persons, including students and supporters of both schools, were arrested by the Cinnamon Gardens Police from in and around the SSC grounds after sporadic clashes broke out.
Three persons had OPD treatment and several had minor injuries.
Colombo South Superintendent of Police, D.P.L. Dissanayake said that in addition to the clashes after the match, there were a couple of incidents during the match as well.
One of the injured students, a Thomian, told The Sunday Times that no sooner the match ended than he was chased by a group of supporters of the rival team and beaten up. He said that his friends too were beaten up for no reason.
Violence is going on unabated with just five days to go for the local polls and by Friday night the number of incidents have rocketed to a disturbing 1308, monitors said yesterday.
The centre for monitoring election violence said the trend of violence was increasing with most of the incidents being reported between the two main parties-the PA and the UNP.
From last Sunday upto Friday 363 more cases were reported. According to the centre, so far 310 cases of assault, 358 cases of threats and 226 cases of mischief have been reported since nominations on February 5.
Detectives will leave for the United States shortly to investigate how the police uniform of Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mitra Ariyasinghe, was found in the possession of a Tamil lady doctor leaving the country.
Mr. Ariyasinghe has been sent on complusory leave pending investigations.
According to police sources the CID team is expected to record a statement from the doctor and her contacts.
In a related development the CID yesterday recorded the statement of the DIG's wife for the third time after she reportedly admitted that the uniform had been handed over by her to the doctor.
Mr. Ariyasinghe in a statement had said that he was unaware that the uniform was given to the doctor until the CID called him and questioned him regarding the matter.
Mr. Ariyasinghe, senoir DIG in-charge of Intelligence and Security was due to retire from service on July 20.
The doctor carrying the police uniform was detected at the Katunayake airport last Tuesday. The doctor who had been questioned claimed that she was taking the uniform for a fancy dress parade to be held during the New Year.
The Jeya Container Terminal (JCT) is to be privatised shortly, trade unions affiliated to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) claimed yesterday.
A trade unionist told 'The Sunday Times' that the JCT is being eyed by a group of Koreans and that they are waiting till the tender is advertised. The SLPA recently decided to split itself into three. The JCT company, QEQ company, and the Break Bulk Company.
According to the 1987 privatisation act: a government institution should be first made into a company, before its shares can be sold to private companies.
The Ports and Shipping Ministry which ran into severe criticism and became unpopular for its unrelenting efforts to privatise the Queen Elizabeth Quay (QEQ) will be left with only the Break Bulk Company, a source said.
He said that the JCT and the QEQ generate eighty per cent of the income for the entire SLPA. "If they are to be privatised the SLPA will be left in dire straits and wouldn't be able to function with its massive cadre of nearly 20,000 workers.
He said that this high handed act of the government to privatise the Japanese built container terminal would certainly create an uproar in shipping circles.
Currently the JCT handles 1.3 millions of TEU and has a working force of 1000 workers. "The SLPA has already decided to do away with one hundred of them," the union spokesman said.
Some foreign technicians and engineers in AirLanka, though unqualified if not incompetent are being over paid because they allegedly have secret deals with senior managers, local unions have charged.
Associations of AirLanka Technicians and Engineers have told the management these foreigners are blocking the promotional prospects of local officers who are more competent though they get paid less, a union official said.
He pointed out that the management has been operating an aircraft maintenance department without a training policy for engineers and technicians for the past 18 years.
He said that in the engineers service there were two from India, who were less qualified than the local engineers and did not do anything extra for the huge salary they were getting.
The Chairman was told about a course being conducted for engineers on the Airbus A340 aircraft, attended by a manager on extension of contract, and expatriate Indian engineers who wanted to consolidate their position in the company before AirLanka was privatised, he said.
The union official alleged that some expatriates who were holding key positions were in tow with certain managers in their secret deals, by procuring aircraft parts and overhaul of aircraft and engine components in which they allegedly earned a lot of foreign exchange. However, an AirLanka media spokesman said no meeting had taken place between the Chairman and officials of the unions to discuss these issues.
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