Suspended police sergeant in Thebuwana reinstated

Hours after President Maithripala Sirisena met and donated Rs.1 million to the family members of Police sergeant Sanath Gunawardena who was suspended following his violent behavior with a T-56 in the Thebuwana area on October 3, he has been reinstated by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara last evening.

President Sirisena yesterday donated Rs 1.million to the family members of sergeant Gunawardena when the sergeant and his family members met the President at the Presidential Secretariat last evening.

The Sergeant was arrested following his violent behavior while being armed with a T-56 in the Thebuwana on October 4 and suspended from duty.

He was attached to the Thebuwana Police Station and had been furious when he heard that the lorry driver he arrested on September 29 for transporting sand sans a permit, was not going to be produced in court as scheduled allegedly on the orders of the police hierarchy.

Prez – PM showdown at Cabinet

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are reported to have had a showdown at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting over the proposal to develop the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port as an Indian investment.

At the meeting, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe submitted a Cabinet memorandum on developing the terminal by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).

However, the Prime Minister, backed by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, insisted that it should be on the basis of an Indian investment.

Apparently incensed by the Prime Minister’s remarks, the President was reported to have said that it was vital to keep the sea port within the ambit of the Sri Lankan Government and that as a country Sri Lanka would lose its sovereignty in the event of alienating sea ports to external parties.

The President is also reported to have been critical of the leasing of the Hambantota Port to a Chinese Company and said he had discussed the development of the Colombo Port with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he met him on the sidelines of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

“Indian Prime Minister is not opposed to the development of the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port by Sri Lanka,” he said.

However, the Prime Minister had persisted in saying that a bulk of container traffic for the Colombo Port originated from India and therefore, it was all the more important to develop it with India.

Sources said the President and the Prime Minister had continued hurling arguments at each other.

Johnston Fernando acquitted of all charges

Former Minister Johnston Fernando, his private secretary Sakeer Mohamed and former Sathosa Chairman Nalin Fernando, who were remanded on September 3 in connection with the misappropriation of SATHOSA funds worth Rs. 5.2 million in 2013, were acquitted of all charges by the Kurunegala High Court today.

Johnston Fernando, a former minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade, and two others were remanded over misappropriation of funds, belonging to the SATHOSA, in the run up to the elections to the North-Western Provincial Council in 2013.

Countering ‘Awa’: Security tightened in Jaffna

The Police have taken steps to strengthen the security in Jaffna town as a means of putting an end to the attacks and robberies allegedly committed by the “AWA” group.

They have set up road blocks and check points where random checks would be carried out on vehicles and their occupants.

Police said some 40 people were arrested during raids conducted by 500 police personnel in Jaffna, Manipay, Chunnakam and Kopai. They said among were some who had arrest warrants against them, some who were and absconding courts and drunken drivers.

Referring to the security situation in the North, Northern Provincial Council Chairman C.V.K. Sivagnanam said the security forces should take steps to arrest those who pose a threat to the people’s freedom but it should not cause any harassment to innocent people.

“When the residents of Jaffna are living in fear of the AWA and other armed groups, the steps taken by the police to check the people, their bags and the identities has created a situation similar to the one that prevailed during the war. If this situation is allowed the battalions now confined to barracks also could enter the roadways and intensify these raids. Therefore the police should adopt a more people-friendly action to counter the threats posed by the so-called armed groups,” Mr. Sivagnanam said.

Sugar imports suspended temporarily

Sugar Importers’ Association yesterday said that they would have to stop importing sugar temporarily, due to world market and Indian market sugar price hike.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror Sugar Importers’ Association member Priyantha Senavirathne said after imposing an extra control price on sugar imports, an extra loss had to be incurred when importing.

“The price of a sugar metric ton in the Indian market was at US$ 340 by yesterday. It costs US$ 400 in the London market and US$ 390 in New York Market,” he said.

Accordingly, a sugar importer should have to pay Rs.44.50 tax as customs tax and Rs.58.50 when unloading a kilo of sugar from the Port. Another Rs.3.00 had to be spent on transport and service tax.

When importing a kilo of sugar, importer had to spent Rs.106. When issuing sugar as bulk under the government imposed control price, Rs.92 had to be paid. Rs.100 had to be paid in retail prices. Rs.105 had to be paid when packaging. Extra Rs.14 had to incur as a loss.

When the Government amended the sugar taxes, one ton of sugar in the Indian market was at US$300, but it was US$ 340 by yesterday, Mr Senavirathne said.

The association had to bare a loss of Rs.14 when importing sugar. Therefore, the Association thought to stop importing sugar temporarily. Also, the loss had been increased due to the drastic depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US Dollar.

Mr Senavirathne said the association had requested a discussion with the Finance Ministry today. Also said if the Ministry will take a decision to reduce the customs duty on sugar imports, sugar can be issued under the government control price.

After stopping the sugar imports, there would be a sugar shortage in the country in the upcoming festive season, he said.

“The sugar consumption in the country recorded as 40,000 to 50,000 metric tons per month and it would be doubled in the next months due to the festive season. The prevailing stock is only sufficient for a month,” he said

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