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US wants Sri Lanka to go ahead with elections

COLOMBO (News 1st); US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said it is important for Sri Lanka to go ahead with the March elections.She spoke to reporters in Colombo and said that the people of Sri Lanka must be allowed to have a voice in their future."It is vital time for Sri Lanka to strengthen its democracy, its governance, and its reconciliation.

This includes proceeding with local elections this March, giving people across the country a voice in their future," she said on Wednesday (1).She also noted that it is paramount to initiate the national dialogue on reconciliation and it needs to show results for all Sri Lankans whilst also proceeding with the reforms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act so that it meets international standards. A Gazette notification has already been issued announcing that the Local Government election will be held on the 9th of March from 9 am to 4 pm. The District Returning Officers issued this extraordinary gazette notification in accordance with of sub-section 38/1/c of ​​the Local Government Elections Ordinance.Returning Officers from 24 electoral districts have issued 24 gazettes relating to the local government election. 

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Sri Lankans - Ranil Wickremesinghe - Julie Chung - US pledges support for Sri Lanka’s recovery efforts - newsfirst.lk - Usa - Sri Lanka
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US pledges support for Sri Lanka’s recovery efforts
COLOMBO (News 1st) –  Victoria Nuland, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States, called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo on Wednesday (1).She is on an official visit to the country, and she discussed the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, and the ongoing US assistance to the Sri Lankan people.US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung accompanied Nuland for the meeting, where both sides further discussed ways both the United States of America and Sri Lanka are working together toward an inclusive, prosperous and secure future for all Sri Lankans.According to the President's Media Division, the President in his meeting with Victoria Nuland, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States, thanked the US Government for their support during difficult times. Under-Secretary Nuland had pledged the US Government’s support for Sri Lanka's ongoing recovery efforts.The discussion also focussed on the on-going discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while the U.S. pledged to continue to support the negotiations with the aim of swiftly resolving the issues.The President outlined the measures being taken in regard to the reconciliation talks with the minority parties in Sri Lanka, including the full implementation of the 13th Amendment.Discussions also focussed on the on-going efforts to combat the growing narcotics trade, with the U.S.
Bandula Gunawardena - Ranil Wickremesinghe - President orders to further curtail government expenditure - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka
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President orders to further curtail government expenditure
COLOMBO (News 1st); In a note to the Cabinet, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, had stated that the Government revenue at present is far below the monthly expenditure for the month of January 2023.The President's Media Division, and Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Bandula Gunawardena confirmed that the President had instructed on further curtailing government expenses.The President had noted that the Treasury finds it challenging to meet all expenditures at this moment, except for payments for salaries, pensions, welfare, pharmaceuticals and debt servicing.Therefore, President Wickremesinghe had pointed out that the Government expenditure will have to be curtailed further / postponed until planned revenue to be raised on the recent tax revisions is realized, reported the President's Media Division.He had noted that the Treasury will formulate a priority criterion for this purpose.Furthermore, the President had pointed out that public officers should refrain from obtaining goods/services on credit basis, and any officer who violates this will be held personally responsible for such expenditure, said the PMD."The President informed the Cabinet of Ministers that the revenue for January collected from the Inland Revenue Department, Sri Lanka Customs and the Excise Department was Rs. 158.7 Billion.
Release Wasantha! 12,000 affidavits handed over to Attorney General - newsfirst.lk
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Release Wasantha! 12,000 affidavits handed over to Attorney General
COLOMBO (News 1st) – 12,000 affidavits signed seeking the release of Wasantha Mudalige, the convener of the Inter-University Student's Federation who remains in remand custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, were handed over to the Attorney General on Monday (30).Student activists from the Inter-University Student's Federation along with activists from Mass Organizations visited the Attorney General's Department on Monday (30) morning to hand over 12,000 affidavits that were signed seeking the release of Wasantha MudaligeThese 12,000 affidavits claim that the signees were also engaged in the public protests that took place since March 2022 to bring about change by ending a corrupt and inefficient governance that burdened the people with a failed economy.The signees also claim they were involved in the protests that took place on the 9th of July 2022.They also note that the Inter-University Student's Federation was just one organization among many that took part in those protests, and that Wasantha Mudalige is just one student leader who took part in the demonstrations.These 12,000 affidavits claim that they too should be treated in the same manner as Wasantha Mudalige.The group attempted to hand over these affidavits from the back entrance to the Attorney General's Department, however, those attempts were futile.Thereafter, two representatives were allowed to enter the Attorney General's Department and the affidavits were taken inside the using a Police Jeep."If Wasantha Mudalige is a terrorist for his involvement in the Aragalaya, then the millions who joined the protests are also terrorists.
Threatening calls to NEC members originated from Dubai – CID - newsfirst.lk - city Dubai
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Threatening calls to NEC members originated from Dubai – CID
COLOMBO (News 1st) – The National Election Commission said that it cannot be satisfied with the status of investigations taking place with regard to the death threats made to three members of the NEC.A senior official at the National Election Commission speaking to News 1st said that various factions are continuing to make undue influence on the NEC in order to delay the Local Government Elections.He added that certain state officials, attached to several State Institutions that should be involved in ensuring a Free & Fair election takes place, are neglecting their duties.The Senior Official said that those who appointed the state officials who are neglecting their duties must be held accountable for the dereliction of duty.The Chairman of the National Election Commission, Attorney Nimal Punshihewa has requested the President to intervene over the death threats made to the members of the National Election Commission.The NEC Chairman in a letter to the President requested that an environment favourable to conduct a free and fair election be created.News 1st also inquired from the Criminal Investigations Department on the progress made with regard to the investigations on the death threats made to members of the National Election Commission.A Senior Official at the CID said that investigations revealed that the threatening phone calls were made from Dubai.He said that a telecommunication analysis reports has been called for from the service providers.
Sri Lanka Government threatens legal action against the state’s own Human Rights Commission - newsfirst.lk - Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka Government threatens legal action against the state’s own Human Rights Commission
Colombo (News 1st) – Sri Lanka’s Government has taken the extraordinary decision to ‘definitely prosecute’ members of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the state’s own human rights protection body, a key government minister announced Sunday (29th).In addition, on the same matter, the government is preparing charges to remove the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, the controlling body for electricity distribution, a decision that ruling party MPs have approved, the minister said.The dispute swirls around an order by the Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) that the state-owned power company, Ceylon Electricity Board, which has a monopoly on power supply nationwide, should not impose power cuts during a 2-week period in January when high school senior students are sitting their main exams, the GCE Advanced Level, as it infringes upon the children’s right to education.The Advanced Level exams are crucial in that they determine entrance into the state university system. Entry into Sri Lanka’s state universities is fiercely competitive, with only about 25,000 students gaining admission annually although over 300,000 sit the exams.Last week the HRCSL acted upon a large number of complaints from parents of students and summoned the Secretary of the Ministry of Power and Energy, the members of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), both of which are governing bodies of the power company, and several other related bodies, and obtained a promise that there would be no power cuts.However, the Ceylon Electricity Board flouted the order of the HRCSL and the PUCSL and went ahead with the power cuts.
Parliament to be prorogued from Friday (27); New Session on 8th February - newsfirst.lk
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Parliament to be prorogued from Friday (27); New Session on 8th February
COLOMBO (News 1st) – The President's Office has reserved a slot with the Government Printer to issue the Proclamation to Prorogue Parliament with effect from midnight on Friday (27).President's Secretary Saman Ekanayake confirmed to News 1st that the respective gazette was sent to the Government Printer as per a decision taken by the President to prorogue parliament with effect from midnight on Friday (27).He said that the new session of Parliament will take place on the 8th of February 2023 at 10 AM.A Senior Official at the Government Printer confirmed to News 1st that the respective gazette was received to go ahead with printing.What is prorogation?To prorogue Parliament means to prolong it,or toput it off for a later day.It is basically a temporary recess of Parliament.Parliament ordinarily functions over a series of sitting days which make up what is called a session; when Parliament is prorogued, a session comes to an end.Effect of Prorogation in Our Parliament:Constitutional ProvisionsDuring the prorogation the Speaker continues to function and the Members retain their membership even though they do not attend meetings of Parliament. The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current Business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.  A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same Session.
CPC warns of financial issues as fuel is supplied on credit to CEB - newsfirst.lk - China - Sri Lanka
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CPC warns of financial issues as fuel is supplied on credit to CEB
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission has received a letter bearing the signature of the Managing Director of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation stating that the present financial situation at the CPC could lead to a disruption of operations at the country's oil refinery.The letter noted that the CPC is heading towards a situation where future fuel imports will be in jeopardy as fuel is continuously provided on credit.The letter from the CPC Managing Director warns that this could lead to another fuel crisis in the country.The letter bearing the signature of the Managing Director of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation states that it is paramount to ensure the continuous operation of the country's oil refinery when providing a continuous supply of fuel.It noted that though the CPC can provide furnace oil and naphtha to the Ceylon Electricity Board at a cost that is less than what is incurred when importing fuel, an issue is likely to arise in importing new stocks of crude oil and refined petroleum products as the existing stocks are provided on credit, despite the CEB still not settling its dues. The Managing Director of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation states that several rounds of discussions revealed that the Ceylon Electricity Board does not have the funds to procure the fuel.It notes that despite the difficulties experienced, as the supply of electricity is a national requirement, fuel worth Rs.
Black Protest Week: Professionals against unjust tax - newsfirst.lk
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Black Protest Week: Professionals against unjust tax
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Wednesday the 25th of January went down in history as the day in which a majority of the country's public and private sector employees were met with the highest income tax ever-imposed on the monthly salary, and allowances.Some of those working in the public and private sector and got taxes shared horror on social media platforms, noting that in addition to the existing deductions for loans, the new tax had left them with a very low take-home salary.The government's controversial new tax law, the Inland Revenue (Amendment) Act, was passed in Parliament last year.The new tax regime imposes an extraordinary maximum 36% tax bracket on monthly income, with the lowest bracket starting at 6% for those earning over Rs. 100,000/- per month.To protest against the unjust tax policy, a Black Protest Week was launched by the Professionals' Trade Union Alliance, and it will end on Friday (27).Doctors in the public service, university teachers, bank employees, engineers and professionals belonging to 15 organizations that form the Professionals' Trade Union Alliance launched a campaign against the unjust tax regime.The Professionals' Trade Union Alliance warned that if this tax regime continues, the country would experience a mass exodus of its professionals who would seek beneficial employment opportunities elsewhere.Effective from 1st January 2023, the progressive personal income tax rates would be 6%, 12%, 18%, 24%, 30% and 36%.The new tax regime will impose an extraordinary maximum 36% tax bracket on monthly income, with the lowest bracket starting at 6% for those earning over Rs.
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