12th October 1997


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LTTE already outlawed here, says FM

By Imran Vittachi


Mr Kadirgarmar: Diplomatic victory

Washington’s designation of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation has given Sri Lanka a psychological edge in its war against the Tamil separatists, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said on Friday.

The two-year ban on suspected LTTE fund-raising activities and infiltration into the United States are a significant breakthrough, he told journalists in Colombo, representing a strong signal to the LTTE by the “sole superpower left.”

“It has an enormous psychological impact, because it’s the United States,” he said.

Mr. Kadirgamar had just returned from Washington, where the U.S. State Department announced on Oct. 8 that the LTTE now figured among 30 foreign militant groups to fall under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996.

“Our message to anyone who comes into our country intending to raise money for a terrorist organisation is, you risk going to jail,” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright,” declared to the world on Wednesday. “And our message to anyone who is part of a terrorist organisation and who wants to enter the United States is, you are not welcome here.”

At Friday’s media briefing, Mr. Kadirgamar elaborated on the worldwide implications of the ban. “From now on, the law enforcement agencies of the United States, such as the FBI, and the various criminal investigation authorities... will be concerned to discover whether there are any violations of this declaration,” he said.

There would probably be repurcussions in other countries with large Tamil expatirate communities, where fund-raising would no longer be “conducive” towards the ends of terror and rebellion, he said.

“Other governments will be requested by the government of the United States to give due heed to this declaration, and to take supportive measures in their own countries,” he said.

But, unlike Washington’s global crusade against narcotics, Mr. Kadirgamar noted that the Americans would limit their anti-LTTE probes within the United States.

“I don’t think the United States is going to deploy teams all over the world to look into LTTE activities,” he said. “They will primarily be concerned, I think, with LTTE activities in the United States.”

Mr. Kadirgamar said although a United Nations convention against terrorism could be adopted, even before the conclusion of 1997’s session of the U.N. General Assembly, many countries still lacked laws to book, prosecute, and convict foreign terrorist groups operating on their soil.

“In a number of countries, there are, in fact, no laws to combat terrorism, because terrorism is a relatively modern phenomenon,” he said.

Asked whether Sri Lanka would also ban the LTTE, the Foreign Minister replied that this would be illogical.

The LTTE is already outlawed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, he noted, and the war against the Tigers could be seen as the ultimate manifestation of the government’s rejection of their call for a separate state.

“One has to weigh up the advantages against the disadvantages,” he said. “There could be an argument that if you ban the LTTE, you are sending a signal at this moment that you are shutting the door to the possibility of any kind of negotiations.”

He added: “We have made it very clear... over and over again... that the question of talking to the LTTE really depends, in a sentence, on the LTTE providing us, discretely or otherwise, with credible evidence that it is willing to adopt the path of peace, rather than war.”

Mr. Kadirgamar also expressed the hope that LTTE-backers living overseas would now ask themselves if there was a point in continuing to put money into waging war in the North and terrorising the South.

“[They] might wish to pause for thought on the question of where this war is taking the Tamil community...,” he said.

“The Tamil expatriates might well wish to consider, at this point in time, whether it would not be a much better contribution to the welfare of the Tamil community in this country, if they were to use whatever financial resources they have to rebuild and reconstruct the Northern peninsula of this country and those parts of the East that are affected by war, to rehabilitate the lives of the Tamil people, to use that money for reconstruction and rehabilitation, and not for bombs and bullets.”

The government may well have claimed a psychological victory last week against the LTTE, but already the LTTE appears to be unfazed by the Washington declaration.

On Friday, Mr. Kadirgamar paused to read an excerpt from a Reuters dispatch faxed to his ministry from London.

“It is regrettable that the U.S. has taken this step as it will only help prolong the war,” an LTTE spokesman was quoted as saying.

Politicians richer - pensioners poorer

As a pre-1988 pensioner, I was surprised to read the news item in a Sunday newspaper dated 07/09/1997. It is stated that the PA unable to pay the CoL arrears due to the aged pensioners.

What a pathetic state of affairs! CoL arrears is the pensioners’ legitimate dues. The pensioners have contributed four percent of their salaries to the Widows and Orphans Pension scheme. (W&OP)

I for one, served for 37 years under various governments and retired on the Class I maximum on June 8, 1984. I am paid an all inclusive monthly pension of Rs 3756/- which is not sufficient to make ends meet. This money is not enough to meet the food bill.

On the other hand, the front page news of the “Sunday Divaina” states that salaries of Ministers and Members of Parliament are to be increased. The politicians are a privileged lot.

They are enjoying the best at the expense of the rate- payers and the nation. The PA govt. has conveniently forgotten that the pensioners gave their fullest support at the last General Elections. The present govt. has misadventured in politics.

J. Wickremasuriya,


History of the Hike

It was Sir D.B.Jayatileke in 1931 who first proposed that legislators be paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 400. This was vehemently opposed by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who claimed that those rendering an honourary service should not take money for it, and that angry constituents would probably want to destroy the impressive State Council building with their own hands, a comment greeted with a flippant reply from Sir D.B.Jayatileke.

However, D.S. Senanayake and several others favoured the proposal, and finally in 1933, for the first time in the legislative history of Sri Lanka, MPs were paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 400 which continued to be effective for the next fourteen years. The necessity to revise this was taken up in 1947, and the allowance was increased to Rs.600 with another special payment of Rs. 75 being added on.

During the 1958 Bandaranaike regime, this was increased to Rs. 825 with a Rs. 100 allowance for a clerk and Rs. 50 per sitting being added.

Fifteen years later in 1973, this allowance was increased to Rs. 1,000. It was also decided to increase the clerk’s payment from Rs. 100 to Rs.325 which was paid directly by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

The revisions made in 1976 came in two occasions. First, the payment of Rs.50 per sitting was increased to Rs. 100. In November, nine additional allowances were also added to the package which totalled Rs. 3,645. Since 1978, all the allowances were exempted from taxes, and MPs also became entitled to all salary increases granted to public servants since 1977.

During President Jayawardene’s period, the necessity to increase the allowance was discussed many times. But the revisions which also included new perks for the legislators finally came into effect only in 1985, increasing the payment to Rs. 7020. By this time, members were paid Rs.200 per Parliamentary sitting and Rs.200 for various Committee sittings barring Consultative Committee sittings for which were made.

From time to time, there were requests to increase Parliamentarians salaries according to the judiciary’s scales. As the request gathered momentum, in 1988 it was decided to appoint a Cabinet Sub Committee to look into the subject of MPs’ salaries and allowances.

As a result, in 1989, the legislators’ salaries were raised to Rs. 10,000. District, Project and Deputy Ministers, Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chairman of Committees received Rs. 12, 500 while Cabinet Ministers and the Speaker were paid Rs. 13,500. The Prime Minister’s revised salary was Rs. 15,000.

The same year, the Minister of Trade and Shipping A.R. Munsoor recommended the provision of purchasing new jeeps to all 225 members of Parliament taking into consideration that MP’s no longer were electorate-based, but had a district base which required them to travel more than before.

This recommendation gave priority to first time MPs, and they had to pay Rs. 8,000 monthly for the vehicle. At the end of the term of five years, they became entitled to own the vehicle by paying the balance money. They were also allowed to purchase certain necessary items at a concessionary rate.

Further, the MP’s fuel allowance of Rs. 1,500 was increased to Rs. Rs.2,500, approximately 1 1/2 gallons per day. The second time elected became eligible to purchase a new vehicle on a 25% duty free permit under the financial ceiling of 25,000 dollars

The Rs. 450 monthly allowance paid for the driver was also increased to 1,500 and an entertainment allowance of Rs.250 was also included.

The current scales came with the 1993 salary revision, and the MPs’ salaries shot up to Rs. 13,250. In addition, they received a monthly entertainment allowance of Rs.250, driver’s allowance of Rs. 1,500 and a fuel allowance of Rs. 2,500 totalling Rs. 17,500. They were also paid Rs. 200 each time they attended Parliamentary sittings and sat on any Parliamentary Committee.

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