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Mangala reveals the fuel pricing formula

The fuel pricing formula was revealed by Minister of Finance and Media Mangala Samaraweera, today (18), during a press conference held at the Treasury. 

Accordingly, the much hyped fuel pricing formula is as follows:

MRP = V1 + V2 + V3 + V4

Samaraweera said that the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) was based on four factors. They are landed cost, processing cost, administrative cost and taxation.

Price E 1

Price E 2

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Jayasuriya responds to ICC charges: I have always conducted myself with integrity and transparency

Sanath Jayasuriya has insisted that he has "always conducted myself with integrity and transparency" after he was with corruption charges by the ICC.

Jayasuriya was charged over two alleged breaches of the ICC's anti-corruption code, relating to a failure to co-operate with and obstruction of an investigation.

The former Sri Lanka captain and ex-member of parliament released a statement today (16), responding to the news.

In it, without denying the charges, he stressed that the ICC's allegations do not relate to "match-fixing or pitch-fixing".

Media reports have claimed that Jayasuriya is being hauled up by the international governing body after failing to present a phone to the Anti-Corruption Unit in a timely manner. 

The 49-year-old's statement read: "Unfortunately, I am not in a position any comments at the moment as I am initially required to submit my response within 14 days.

sana 01Sri Lanka legend Sanath Jayasuriya faces corruption charges

"I am under strict legal advice that no comment in respect of the charges as such a course would offend the ICC rules.

"My legal team is in the process of drafting my response and I would make a further release upon the submission of said response.

"However, I am under advice to state that the charges do not contain any allegations pertaining to match-fixing, pitching fixing or any other similar corrupt activity.

"The charges allege that I have not been cooperative and not assissted their investigations. I have always conducted myself with integrity and transparency with matters concerning the sport and will continue to do so."

sana 02Jayasuriya has 14 days to respond to the two ICC charges

Jayasuriya played 445 one-day internationals and 110 Test matches for Sri Lanka over a long and illustrious career, winning the World Cup in 1996.

He was elected to represent his home district of Matara in the 2010 general election, going on to serve as deputy minister of postal services and then deputy minister of local government and rural development.

Following his retirement in 2011, he went on to chair the national selection panel, a position to which he was appointed in 2013. He resigned from his second stint in the role in 2017.

(The Cricketer)

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Will take legal action against High Speed Railway Corporation: Sujeewa

State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe said that he will resort to legal action against High-Speed Railway Corporation Pvt Ltd, its two project directors as well as several media institutions on defamation charges.  

Senasinghe who held a media conference in Colombo yesterday stressed that he will sue the company and its two directors for making false allegations on soliciting a commission of USD 25 million to provide the Board of Investment's (BOI) approval for the high-speed train project. 

He reiterated that as the State Minister of International Trade, he has no involvement in the approval process of projects under the BOI. 

The credentials of the directors and the company were questionable and they have failed to submit documentary proof relating to their financial status, capability and technical know-how, Senasinghe said.

He said this was the reason for the delay in approving the project by the government's Single Window Investment Approval Committee. 

Senasinghe revealed that he has written to the Bribery and Corruption Investigation Commission, the CID , FCID ,IGP, the President and the Prime Minister to initiate an investigation in to the allegations made by High-Speed Railway Corporation Pvt Ltd, its directors and certain media institutions.

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Finance Ministry amends the Inland Revenue Act

The Ministry of Finance and Media will make several amendments to the Inland Revenue Act, No.24 of 2017, with the intention of easing the economic burden inadvertently placed on certain segments of the society, official sources said.  

The amendments to the Inland Revenue Act,  as proposed by the Minister of Finance, have been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers by the decisions dated 27.03.2018 and 30.05.2018. The Legal Draftsman has been instructed to draft the necessary legal provisions to give effect to the cabinet decisions. Minors who are less than 18 years of age will be exempted from the 5 percent withholding tax imposed on the interest earned on deposits maintained in any financial institution, the ministry said. According to the proposed amendment to the IR Act, the Withholding Tax (WHT) rate applicable to rent will be reduced to 5 percent from 10 percent. 

WHT exemption of the Royalty payments will be made for residents, whose house rent do not exceed LKR.50,000 per month, subject to a maximum of LKR 500,000 per year of assessment. 

WHT exemption will also be granted to the lease rentals paid to non-residents in relation to the leasing of aircrafts, by a resident entity engaged in air transportation.Interest paid to non-residents on loans obtained by any person will be exempted from income tax. 

WHT Exemption will be given to non-residents for any gain including interest, discount or capital gain earned by them on sovereign bonds denominated in local or foreign currency, issued by or on behalf of the Government.

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PM inaugurates U.S. funded monastery restoration in Rajagala 

A stupa restored under a project funded by the U.S. Department of State through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) was inaugurated yesterday by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Funding for the project, initiated in 2013, totals nearly LKR 43 million (USD 250,000), the US Embassy announced.

The project includes the conservation and restoration of cave dwellings, monuments, and buildings belonging to the Rajagala Buddhist forest monastery.  The project also restored the walkways that connect stupas, common buildings, caves with meditation paintings, and other significant structures. Additional excavations were conducted that identified a pre-historic human settlement, which were the first-ever research excavations carried out in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka. 

IMG 3
“I am delighted to have joined the Prime Minister in inaugurating the stupa that has been restored with funding from the U.S. Department of State” said Mr. McGuire.  “Rajagala’s heritage is an important reminder of the breadth of the human experience in Sri Lanka.” 

Since 2001, AFCP has funded 13 projects in Sri Lanka, including the conservation of a Buddhist temple, the restoration of the Batticaloa Dutch Fort, the preservation of Buddhist, Hindu, and other collections in the Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum, and the preservation of the intangible heritage of ritual music and dance forms of the Adivasi, Tamil, and Buddhist communities.

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Tamil donors join Army personnel to give blood for Batticaloa patients

Indicative of the Army’s sustained endeavours for the promotion of reconciliation, co-existence and ethnic harmony in the North and East, a crowd of 26 Tamil youths in Batticaloa town area, perhaps for the first after the war ended, voluntarily came forward to donate their blood on account of the 69th Army Anniversary during a programme, held at the 231 Brigade Headquarters in Kallady, Batticaloa on the 'Army Day'.
 
The 26 donors walked straight to the 231 Brigade Headquarters on their own and lined up with other Army personnel, expressing their solidarity with the Army during its milestone anniversary, and enthusiastically donated their blood to the programme, Army Media Unit said. 

122 Army personnel including Officers of the 231 Brigade, 4 Gemunu Watch, 10 Gajaba Regiment and 11 (v) Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment also gave away their blood to the Blood Bank at Batticaloa Teaching Hospital during this mobile arrangement, supported by the Batticaloa Lions Club and the medical team of the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital.

Army Blood 1

Army blood 2

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France provides Euro 30 million for Sri Lanka's Green Power Development

Sri Lanka’s Green Power Development and Energy Efficiency Improvement Investment Program will be receiving French loan facility as its second tranche towards this end. 

French Agency for Development (AFD), France’s inclusive public development bank will provide  a Euro 30 million loan to finance part of the total project cost. The balance will be borne by the Ceylon Electricity Board, the Ministry of Financey announced. 

Dr. R H S Samaratunga, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Mass and Martin Parent, Country Director of AFD Sri Lanka Resident Mission , signed a Credit Facility Agreement on Wednesday (17), in Colombo. 

Total cost of this project is estimated at USD 260 million. Asian Development Bank has already provided USD 150 million loan to finance a part of the project. 

AFD has already provided financing to the tune of Euro 22 million for the implementation of Tranche 1 of the programme. 

The tranche 2 of the Green Power Development and Energy Efficiency Improvement Investment Program will also include three major components; 

It included transmission infrastructure enhancement; (ii) Efficiency improvement of medium voltage network and (iii) demand side management improvement for energy efficiency through development of a smart grid and metering pilot subproject.

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Sanath Jayasuriya charged under ICC Anti-Corruption Code

Sanath Jayasuriya, charged with two counts of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code, has been given 14 days from 15 October 2018 to respond, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said in a media release today.The ICC has charged Jayasuriya with two counts of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. 

Accordingly, Jayasuriya, the former Sri Lanka Cricket Chair of Selectors, has been charged with the following offences under the Code:

1. Article 2.4.6 – Failure or refusal, without compelling justification, to cooperate with any investigation carried out by the ACU, including failure to provide accurately and completely any information and/or documentation requested by the ACU as part of such investigation.

2. Article 2.4.7 – Obstructing or delaying any investigation that may be carried out by the ACU, including concealing, tampering with or destroying any documentation or other information that may be relevant to that investigation and/or that may be evidence or may lead to the discovery of evidence of corrupt conduct under the Anti-Corruption Code.

Jayasuriya has 14 days from 15 October 2018 to respond to the charges. The ICC also said that they will not make any further comment in respect of these charges at this stage.

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Johnston Fernando and two others acquitted in Sathosa case

The Kurunegala High Court today released former minister of cooperatives and internal trade Johnston Fernando and two other defendants, who were charged with misusing Rs. 5 million from the state-owned wholesale network Lanka Sathosa during his tenure as the Co-operatives and Internal Trade Minister.

Johnston Fernando was accused of issuing orders to the Yanthampalawa, Wehera and Mallawapitiya Sathosa Outlets to release a stock of goods worth 5.2 million rupees and that these goods had been used for election propaganda work for his son, Johan Fernando during the last Northwestern Council elections held in September 2013. 

Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) of police arrested Johnston Fernando and two others in May 2015 and charged over the alleged financial misappropriation.

The two other defendants who were remanded along with Former Minister Johnston Fernando are former Sathosa Chairman Nalin Fernando and Johnston Fernando's Private Secretary Raj Mohamed Shakir.

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STF to handle Prison security from today!

The elite Police unit, the Special Task Force (STF) will handle prison security from today Senior Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Prison Reforms, Bandula Jayasinghe said.
 
In the first stage 300 Special Task Force personnel will be deployed in three prisons. Accordingly, 200 STF personnel will be attached to the Welikada and Magazine prisons and 100 will be attached to the Angunakolapelessa Prison from October 15.
 
Jayasinghe says the measure has been taken to prevent illegal items from entering prisons, enhance security and curb racketeering operations and other illegal activities in prisons.
 
Deployment of STF personnel was scheduled to commence on October 1, but due to a delay in repairs of their barracks the deployment to prisons was postponed until October 15, the official said.

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Bandula contradicts himself on the fuel pricing formula

The fuel pricing formula controversy took a new turn yesterday when head of the Economic Research Unit of the Joint Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardena alleged that Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera was implementing a formula introduced by the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) government way back in 2002.

Addressing the media at a temple in Punchi Borella, on Sunday (Oct. 14), Gunawardena displayed half a page advertisement carried in an English daily in its July 29, 2002 edition to back his claim.

Declaring that all governments had slapped taxes on oil imports, Gunawardena, subsequently contradicted his previous statement by alleging that current fuel pricing formula was introduced by the Sirisena- Wickremesinghe administration at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Gunawardena said that the IMF had made an intervention in terms of the agreement that paved the way for Sri Lanka to receive USD 1.5 bn bail-out package in six installments following the 2015 presidential election. Referring to recent claims by the government that pricing formula would be reappraised, Gunawardena insisted that no change was possible without the consent of the IMF.

When The Island pointed out that Gunawardena had made contradictory statements with regard to the pricing formula and whether he couldn’t remember he was a cabinet minister of the then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s short-lived UNF government that introduced the pricing formula published in the media, the Colombo District MP said that the 2002 policy was being implemented.

Gunawardena said that the Rajapaksa administration had never burdened the public by following pricing formula based on international market prices.

Gunawardena pointed out that the Rajapaksa administration had paid USD 105 for a barrel of oil whereas the current price was around USD 80. Responding to media queries, h said that as Sri Lanka paid approximately USD 45 per barrel for 2015, 2016 and 2017 there were substantial savings amounting to over USD 5 bn.

The Island sought an explanation from Gunawardena as to how the Rajapaksa administration had made available petrol, diesel and kerosene without adhering to the pricing formula introduced in 2002, Gunawardena claimed that it had been suspended by the then President.

When it was pointed out that the President couldn’t have taken a unilateral decision in respect of taxes as the parliament was solely responsible for financial decisions as quite often emphasised by Gunawardena himself, the MP claimed there was no need to consult Parliament regarding the suspension of a pricing formula.

The issue was raised after Gunawardena claimed that the Rajapaksa government hadn’t acted on Supreme Court directive issued in late 2008 as regards a pricing formula as the parliament was solely responsible for such matters.

The Supreme Court directed Treasury Secretary to formulate a formula to regulate fuel prices in line with the oil prices in the world market. The directive followed two petitions filed against the then Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Chairman former national cricketer Ashantha de Mel over the signing of controversial hedging agreements with two private banks that finally cost the country dearly.

Asked whether the Joint Opposition had a proper plan to manage the economy, Gunawardena said that they were ready to take up the challenge. The MP said that they had an experienced team capable of addressing economic issues and unlike those enjoying power today the former President’s team proved its capabilities during a very difficult period when the country was fighting a costly war.

Gunawardena said that the media recently quoted some three wheeler drivers as having wished that the parliament might collapse along with its 225 members. Gunwardena was the second lawmaker to make reference to parliament in this regard.

Last week, MP Dayasiri Jayasekera said that the people cursed the entire parliament over extremely difficult economic conditions experienced by them in the wake of the steep depreciation of the Rupee and hike in petrol and diesel prices. The media covering the JO briefing said that they, too, felt the same way.

Gunawardena found it difficult to explain how he could stabilise local oil market prices amidst increase in global prices. Asked whether the JO and Gunawardena as the future Finance Minister of a new government had calculated at what rate a litre of petrol could be sold now, Gunawardena admitted they hadn’t worked that out.

Gunawardena faced a barrage of questions regarding the failure on the part of the Rajapaksa administration to rein in the then Sri Lankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremesinghe, brother-in-law of the President. Gunawardena was asked whether those aspiring to return to power could guarantee the likes of Nishantha Wickramasinghe wouldn’t engage in such abuse again.

Gampaha District MP Sisira Jayakody, seated next to Gunawardena, refrained from commenting on media queries regarding Nishantha Wickramasinghe’s questionable decisions which ruined the national career.

(The Island)

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Jaffna security tightened following a woman’s death 

Police have tightened the security in Jaffna and stepped up operations following the death of a woman in Kopay last night. The 58-year-old woman was killed when she intervened in a clash between two groups of youth near the Development Center in Urelu. Clashes between the Aava group and its various fractions have increased in the recent past. 

Just last week, the Senior DIG of Jaffna Roshan Fernando dismissed concerns regarding the security in Jaffna claiming no deaths have occurred due to Aava group activities. “These are small incidents and not grave crimes” he had said. However, now with the recent death, the Police appear to have stepped up their operations in the area now residents say.

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