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Saturday January 28th, 2023

Sri Lanka opposition MP Harin Fernando summoned to CID over Easter attack speech

image – Harin Fernando Facebook

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka opposition lawmaker Harin Fernando arrived at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters Wednesday (28) morning to record a statement on the 2019 Easter bombings.

The CID had summoned the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP to record a statement on a controversial speech he had made in parliament in April this year.

Speaking to reporters outside the CID, SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa called for an end to the “witch hunt” of SJB parliamentarians.

“The focus should be on who masterminded and helped carry out this attack. That’s what the public wants to know. They’re not interested in a witch hunt of SJB MPs,” said Premadasa.

Fernando has been questioning the official narrative with regard to the masterminds of the Easter bombings, which killed 269 people and injured over 500.

According to Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara, Maulavi (Islamic preacher) Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Naufer and one Rasheed Hajjul Akbar, both of whom are in custody, are the only confirmed masterminds of the attack.

In his speech on April 20, MP Fernando claimed that the Islamic preacher was never brought before a presidential commission of inquiry that probed the Easter bombings.

Fernando also claimed that an intelligence officer who had been arrested in connection with the bombings was transferred to the custody of military intelligence before a statement could be recorded. Investigations by former CID Director Shani Abeysekara had revealed that the suspect had had discussions with the perpetrators of the attack, the MP said.

Recalling Fernando’s revelations in parliament, the opposition leader said the MP had simply voiced the findings of the presidential commission of inquiry that had probed the Easter attack and asked that the government fulfil its pledge to investigate it.

“I ask the government to stop this witch hunt. Let us instead get together and hunt those behind the bombings,” he said.

“Why does the cardinal continue to complain [of the state of the investigation]? The government has failed in keeping its word,” he added.

Premadasa was referring to Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who has been a vocal critic of the pace of the investigations.

On July 13, the cardinal said the Catholic Church is sceptical of a politically compromised law enforcement’s ability to probe the “grand conspiracy” behind the attack.

There can be doubts about finding out what really happened with a “police that acts according to the wishes of the current political leadership, a criminal investigation department (CID) that follows the political leadership’s agenda, and a legal system and law enforcement personnel that political leaders are trying to control,” Ranjith said.

“The former Attorney General had said unequivocally that there was a grand conspiracy behind the attack. We have a right to know what that conspiracy was. Did he make his statement based on the contents of the commission report, or the contents of the 22 volumes that were hidden and submitted later because apparently they could not be released, we do not know,” he said.

Days before his retirement, outgoing Attorney General Dappula de Livera said on Ma 18 this year that there was clear evidence of a grand conspiracy linked to the bombings. (Colombo/Jul28/2021)

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Sri Lanka utility to continue power cuts, regulator says no

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has decided to continue power cuts, as the dry season hits the country despite orders to give 24 hours of power.

The utility said its Board “has decided to continue the demand management programme” and it has informed the regulator of this decision on January 27.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said it had not approved the power cuts “as it violate and affect the rights of 331,000 students sitting for the Advanced Level exams.”

Sri Lanka’s CEB has high running costs due to long term scuttling of planned coal plants by activists and lastly President Maithripala Sirisena.

‘CEB’s costs went up as demand went up since the last coal plant opening and steady collapse of the currency from 131 to 182 to the US dollar due to open market operations unleashed to suppress rates and operate a flexible inflation targeting by the central bank.

Even more aggressive liquidity injections after 2020 to target an output gap then busted the currency from 182 to 360 to the US dollar.

CEB has to use extra fuel from around February to April 2022 as the dry season hits reducing hydro power.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission has ordered the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to supply fuel and banks to give credit for extra power.

Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekera has alleged that CPC officials agreed under duress and threat of jail sentence to supply fuel.

The CEB has to cut power in case demand outstrips supply to maintain frequency at 50 Hz to avoid cascading failures, according to sector analysts. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka president suspends parliament till Feb 08

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has suspended parliament till February 08, according to a gazette notice.

Parliament will re-convene at 1000 am on January 08.

President Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he would make a speech, officially declaring his intention to give effect to the 13th amendment to the constitution on provincial councils.

Provincial councils, a power sharing arrangement backed by India as a solution to the ethnic Tamil have not yet been given police and land powers. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka expects influx of global twins

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s expecting thousands twins and non-twin visitors including at least thirty contestants for a Twins Miss and Mr World 2023 contest, where they will join their counterparts in the country.

“We expect upwards of 4000 participants to arrive in the country for the event,” Founder and Chairperson Vice President Global Twins Multiple Birth Forum, Upuli Gamage told reporters.

“And we very much hope that this number will keep going up in the years to come.”

The country amidst an economic crisis is celebrating the Twins Miss & Mr World 2023 for the first time in the World in Sri Lanka to grab the attention of more than 30 countries.

Prospective Sri Lankan twins can apply for the local contest to be held in May. Winners will go the international event in July.

Twins contests are being held in 30 other countries and three participants will come from each country, according to the organizers.

“This event helps to build a positive image of the country while grabbing the attention of 50 countries,” Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Chalaka Gajabahu said.

“And I heard this can be go as a World record to the genus book, that will give country free PR, free digital media marketing, free social media marketing.”

The Sri Lankan Twins Organization along with the tourism authority has initiated this program including twins of this country as a promotional campaign in hopes of bringing in foreign revenue.

There will be series of events commencing from July 24 to 31 including a business forum for investors to interact. Visitors fro 30 countries are expected.

“Countries like Japan do such programs often and we too should, to grab foreign attention,” Consul General to Japan, Sunil Gamage said.

“This will help to build International bonds. This is an opportunity to bring investors.” (Colombo/Jan27/2022)

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