An Echelon Media Company
Sunday September 24th, 2023

Sri Lanka Pres appoints local panel to probe Channel 4 claim amid foreign inquiry demand

Navy guards at the Kochchikade Shrine of St Anthony shortly after the Easter Sunday attacks/Pathum Dhananjana

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a three-member panel led by a retired Supreme Court Justice to probe the British Channel 4 documentary which said there was an alleged plot linked with the current state intelligence chief behind the attack.

President Wickremesinghe appointed retired Air Force Commander A C M Jayalath Weerakkody and Presidential Counsel Harsha A J  Soza as the other two members of the committee “to investigate Channel-4 allegations about the Easter attacks”, the President’s Media Division said on Friday (15).

The British-based Channel 4 documentary revealed with whistle blowers’ allegations that the Easter Sunday attack on April 21, 2019, was a plot involving the current intelligence chief Suresh Sallay to bring former leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa into power.

Both Sallay and Rajapaksa have rejected the allegations.

In the Channel 4 video, a whistle blower who has already left the country identified as Azad Maulana, a former top aide of current state minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, had spoken of Sallay planning the attacks for about three years to help Rajapaksa come into power.

Riding on a national security threat campaign, Rajapaksa won the presidential poll in November 2019 overwhelmingly. However, he failed to probe into the Easter Sunday attack mastermind as promised during his presidential campaign.

In the video, Maulana and another anonymous source say military intelligence had direct contacts with the suicide bombers, and Maulana stated that he arranged a meeting between Sallay and suicide bombers in 2018.

Opposition parties and rights groups have demanded for an independent, international investigation over the allegation.

Successive Sri Lankan governments have rejected calls for international probes but had agreed for local panels.

Past probes by local panels have hardly yielded anything, analysts say. Instead, they have dragged such investigations for many years.

Sri Lanka is already under a United Nations-led international probe on human rights abuses during the final stage of a 26-year war that ended in 2009 and alleged suppression of religious minorities since then.

However, successive governments have rejected both allegations and repeated requests for an independent international probe.

At least 269 people including over 40 foreigners were killed in a series of suicide bombings by Islamist extremists targeting three luxury hotels and three churches during Easter Sunday services.

Rajapaksa soon after winning the presidential poll, transferred key police officials who spearheaded the Easter Sunday attack.

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ordered early this year former President Maithripala Sirisena, four other officials including then intelligence chief Nilantha Jayawardena to pay compensation totaling 310 million rupees to victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.

Sri Lankan authorities failed to act on warnings issued by an intelligence agency in neighbouring India 17 days before the coordinated suicide bombings, according to several investigations into the attacks.

Accusations of the involvement of Sri Lankan intelligence operatives have already been reported to courts. However, this is the first time Sallay is directly accused of plotting the attacks. (Colombo/September 15/2023)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka India industrial zone around Trinco, maritime links mooted

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had highlighted the desire of both the Governments to work closely to develop the industrial zone at Trincomalee, after accepting an invitation to participate in a maritime summit.

The Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) will be held in India from October 17-19, 2023 at Mumbai where Sri Lanka has been invited at a partner country.

At a curtain raiser event on September 22, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay had said both countries were working on enhancing sea connectivity according to a vision document launched during a recent visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India.

Minister de Silva will lead a delegation from Sri Lanka to the summit.

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, T K Ramachandran said the Global Maritime India Summit aims strengthen the Indian maritime economy by promoting global and regional partnerships and facilitating investments.

The event will give an opportunity to the Government of Sri Lanka to attracting greater investment from India in development of its maritime infrastructure, Ramachandran said.

It will also facilitate greater business to business interactions. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka brings back import para tariff on milk

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has brought back an import para tariff called the Ports and Airports Levy, to several grades of milk powder.

Milk powder has been removed from a list of PAL exemptions, making them liable for a 10 percent tax.

The PAL para tariffs are also a contentious issue in terms of export competitiveness, and the government has previously given undertakings that they will be eliminated.

Trade freedoms of the poor figure in an IMF/World bank reform program with the governments.

Milk is a protein rich food, in a country where children of poor families are facing stunting and malnutrition.

Economic nationalism is seen at high levels in food, with several businessmen are pushing for trade protection, amid an overall autarkist (self-sufficiency) ideology, going directly against policies followed in East Asia, which the same as hold up as examples.

Sri Lanka keeps dairy product prices up ostensibly to bring profits to a domestic dairy company and farmers.

Sri Lanka also keeps maize prices up, ostensibly to give profits to farmers and collectors. (Colombo/Sept22/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka govt warns liquor manufacturers: pay defaulted tax or lose licence

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government which is struggling to raise the state revenue despite   higher taxes, has warned liquor manufacturers to pay defaulted taxes or lose their licence.

The government is now getting tough with past tax defaulters amid concerns over falling short of this year’s revenue target agreed with the International Monetary Fun (IMF).

“Liquor manufacturing firms owe us 660 crore rupees (6.6 billion rupees),” Siyambalapitiya told  reporters on Thursday (21).

“Most of this or around a third is the only excise tax amount to be paid. The rest is penalty. If a liquor manufacturer does not pay on time, we impose a penalty of 3 percent per month This means 36 percent (penalty) per annum,” he said.

“We have given them deadline to repay the basic excise taxes. If they don’t pay, we will cancel their licence.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government committed an ambitious revenue target among many other reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return to a $3 billion loan package.

However, the revenue could face a short fall of 100 billion rupees, State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said.

A new Central Bank Act also has legally prevented the government of printing money at its discretion as  in the past.  (Colombo/September 24/2023)

Continue Reading