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Friday March 31st, 2023

Sri Lanka President is not mastermind of Easter attack: Secretary

Police and Ambulances outside the Shrine of St Anthony in Kochchikade after the Easter Sunday attacks

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s top defence official Wednesday announced that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not the “mastermind” of the Easter Sunday carnage that many claim was the catalyst for his ascendency.

General Kamal Gunaratne told a press conference organised by the Presidential Media Division that there was no basis for the allegations against Rajapaksa, a political non-entity at the time, who announced his candidacy two days after the April 2019 suicide bombings that killed at least 279 people.

The attacks were blamed on a group of local jihadists although the bombings were belated claimed by the Islamic State group led at the time by the internationally-wanted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was later killed in a US bombing in Syria six months later.

“There are lot of allegations on social media that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the main mastermind of the Easter attacks,” Gunaratne said. “There is no truth in those allegations. It is a despicable attempt at making political gains”

He also denied allegations that the country’s current head of intelligence, Major General Suresh Sallay, was also involved in instigating the National Thowheed Jamath leader Zahran Hashim to carry out the audacious bombings. Sallay was previous the head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI).

He said many linked Sally to the bombings because he was also a member of the minority Muslim community. Hundreds of Muslims were detained following the Easter Sunday attacks and some are still in detention without charges.

“It is unfair to make those allegations. As far as I know, Sally, a ‘golaya’ (student ) of mine from the time of being a cadet to major general. He can’t speak a word of Tamil or Arabic. He has not read the Koran, only the “Sally” part of his name is Muslim. He is not a radical.

“His two children have Sinhala names. He is married to a Sinhala-Buddhist lady,” Gunaratne said adding that Sallay who currently heads the State Intelligence Service, the country’s premier spy agency, was an asset to the country and the “jaaythiya” (race).

Sallay was performing a ”bodi pooja” at the “Uda maluwa” of Anuradhapura (Sri Maha Bodhi) when Gunaratne went there during the opening of the Sandahiru Seya temple recently, he said.

He also flatly denied that the suicide bomb leader was funded by the directorate of military intelligence (DMI) during a previous Rajapaksa administration when Sallay headed the DMI. Government minister had previously admitted that several Thowheed Jamath groups as well as the BBS, the Bodu Bala Sena group were supported by intelligence agencies. Zahran Hashim had broken away from one such Thowheed Jamath groups and formed his own.

In October, Sallay filed a complaint against Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s spokesman father Cyril Gamini Fernando over allegations that he (Sallay) played a key role in nurturing Zaharan Hashim. (COLOMBO, December 15, 2021)

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  1. Surath 720 says:

    Only a credible judicial process can decide who the masterminds were. In the absence of such a process rumours and loose talk will continue. No amount of character certificates issued by Defence Sec will stop people’s suspicions, fair or not. DS should not act the judge, jury and the executioner.

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  1. Surath 720 says:

    Only a credible judicial process can decide who the masterminds were. In the absence of such a process rumours and loose talk will continue. No amount of character certificates issued by Defence Sec will stop people’s suspicions, fair or not. DS should not act the judge, jury and the executioner.

Sri Lanka tax hike: no response from president, professionals to discuss next steps

GMOA Secretary Haritha Alutghe

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s trade unions and professional associations who have been agitating against an International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed progressive tax hike will meet to discuss further union action after a letter to the president went unanswered.

Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) secretary Dr Haritha Aluthge told reporters on Friday March 31 that the unions will meet as the self-styled Professionals’ Trade Union Alliance (PTUA) collective which have so far been organising strikes and demonstrations demanding a revision of the taxes.

The PTUA has been awaiting a promised meeting with President Ranil Wickremesinghe for some days now. Aluthge previously said on Monday that if the meeting did not materialise, the unions would be compelled to go on strike.

The issue has become stagnant due to government inaction, said Aluthge at Friday’s press conference.

“The PTUA informed the president in writing yesterday for the last time to please understand the gravity of this situation and to immediately give us a meeting and present the government’s interim solution, through which the government can take measures to ease the sense of tension among professionals,” he said.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss an “interim solution” to the professionals’ grievances over the progressive income tax hike until a reported revision that’s due in six months when the country’s recently approved 17th IMF programme comes up for review.

“Sadly, there has still been no response,” the GMOA official said.

All unions and professional associations will meet Friday evening together with a number of other unions to discuss further action, he added.

The privately-owned English-language weekly newspaper The Sunday Times reported on March 26 that the IMF had indicated the possibility of revising some of the taxes imposed as part of the IMF’s staff-level agreement with Sri Lanka when the programme comes up for review in six months.

According to the newspaper, IMF officials had conveyed this to representatives of trade unions during a virtual roundtable held last Friday March 24. The virtual meeting was held on the initiative of the IMF and was attended by trade unions and professional associations representing the PTUA including the GMOA. (Colombo/Mar31/2023)

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Sri Lankan transport associations cut haulage and transportation fees after fuel price cut

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka Association of Container Transporters and fuel bowser owners has decided to reduce the haulage charges and transportation fee, after the government cut the auto diesel prices by 80 rupees, association officials said.

“Due to the recent reduction in Auto Diesel price from March30, 2023, the committee has decided to reduce haulage charges by 7 percent,” association said.

Sri Lanka Private Petroleum Tanker owners has also decided to reduce the transportation fee of fuel by 8 -10 percent from April onwards.

“We will be meeting with the association members and will be deciding on exactly how much we will be reducing,” the General Secretary of the association Nimal Amarasekera told EconomyNext.

“We hope to reduce it by 8-10 percent and will be applied.”

Meanwhile United Lanka Fuel Transport Bowser Owners Association said, the price reduction will be done, and the specific amount will be calculated using the cost per kilometer for a transporting bowser.

“We have different types of bowsers such as 13,200 litre and 19,800 litre likewise,” Association President K.W. Charles told EconomyNext.

“So the cost per kilometer per bowser is different and after we calculate only we can give a specific percentage.

“It will come to effect from this month and the payments for the next month will be based on the new prices.”

Charles said, this is only based on the price reduction of fuel, however several costs as maintenance and spare part costs should also be considered when deciding the transportation cost, which is also being discussed with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

Sri Lanka slashed fuel prices with effect from Wednesday (29) midnight, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said, after a protest by trade unions of state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) resulting in queues at filling stations due to supply disruption.

The price of Petrol 92 Octane will be slashed by 15 percent or 60 rupees to 340, Petrol 95 Octane 95 will be reduced by 26.5 percent or 135 rupees to 375, Auto Diesel by 19.8 percent or 80 rupees to 325, and kerosene by 3.3 percent or 10 rupees to 295. (Colombo/ March31/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up in mid day trade

Stock Market. Free public domain CC0 image.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged up in mid day trade on Friday, Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) data showed.

All Share Price Index was up 1.09 percent or 100.69 points to 9,329.19, while the most liquid index was up 1.23 percent or 32.86 points to 2,697.12.

The market generated a turnover of 895 million rupees.

Top gainers during mid day trade were Commercial Bank, Hatton National Bank and Expolanka. (Colombo/Mar31/2023)


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