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PARLIAMENT - Per capita income has doubled

Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody presided when Parliament met at 1 p.m. yesterday.

After presentation of papers and oral questions, the House took up the second reading of the Excise (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Bill and three orders under the Special Commodity Levy Act.

Rural Affairs Senior Minister Athauda Seneviratne: We presented necessary amendments to facilitate the Budget proposals yesterday and also today, and we also presented several Bills today.

We have doubled the per capita income during the last five years. Within the next five years, we hope to double this amount once again. Necessary measures have been taken to reach this target.

The country's inflation has decreased. We have encouraged the investors by reducing bank loan interests.

The development we have ushered in the national level has now reached the villages. The majority of people owns mobile phones. This can be seen even in rural villages. Not only mobile phones, but even three-wheelers and tractors have become popular among the village community, while the motorbicycle has become the family vehicle.

A H M Azwer takes the Chair.

Even in rural villages, the infrastructure has been improved on a large scale. Today there is no sufficient sand for the construction of houses. Therefore attention is now to excavate sand from the sea. Due to its high demand, the price of a cube of sand has increased.

Today, 1 kilo of rubber is sold at Rs 700, while 1 kg of tea is Rs 75 in the market. Likewise, cardamom and pepper are sold at high prices.

It is true that the prices of coconuts have skyrocketed. There are segments in our society who make massive profits due to this.

Even a person with three or four coconut trees is able to make a good profit.

The President has come forward to facilitate the farmer with fertilizer subsidy. He has built up a country with ample food stocks. People need not be concerned about a food crisis.

The 'Divi Neguma' program launched islandwide to ensure the food security in the country. This will benefit our economy and nutritious levels. People will learn to grow their vegetables in their compounds through this program. It will usher in a complete transition in our country.

The UNP leadership has continuously betrayed the country by obstructing the positive moves of the country.

The people have embraced the policies of the Mahinda Chinthana which was proved during the recent election results.

Dayasiri Jayasekera (UNP): Today what we have to concentrate on is the Special Commodity Levy Act.

The Senior Minister's speech was out of the topic. This shows their desperation. The 'Divi Neguma' program was initiated on a grand scale, aimed at the Local Government elections.

Massive propaganda was launched for this project, which was more like an election propaganda. If anybody thinks that the household economy can be uplifted by these means, it is a joke. Only a small quantity of seeds and fertilizer had been distributed among selected families. The farmers are waiting until the rest of the plants and fertilizer are distributed to them to begin cultivation. This is humiliating.

The Hambantota Port was opened on a grand scale. No ship had entered the port and only paper boats can be seen in this port.

National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara: What I have to say in response to the speech made by Dayasiri Jayasekara is that what matters at last is the mandate of the people. The UNP is unable to tolerate the massive blow given to them by the people at the last election.

Our Government is an alliance made up of many groups. The UNP is unable to understand its importance.

We have made a revolutionary change in this country.

Now we will consider the Excise Amendment Bill. We monthly approve many Cabinet papers. We allocate large sums of money for various projects like water, electricity etc. which need millions of money. We earn them through tax. We increase tax on some items and reduce on other items.

The other matter of concern is Dayasiri's claim of corruption. There are many mechanisms to investigate into these corruptions, including the Attorney-General's Department. Without drawing the attention of those institutions on these matters, it is pointless just making allegations.

Dayasiri has distorted the real picture of the tax impositions. Sometimes we increase taxes on particular items when their prices drop in the world market. Although we have no control over fluctuation of the prices of these items in the world market, when the prices increase we reduce the tax on them. It is by such means that we maintain price of those items stable in our market. Sometimes, the Government sell items at a loss. President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that we sell a litre of kerosene oil at a loss of Rs 24. We give that relief to the people of low income.

So I request the Opposition to stop making false allegations by submerging reality.

Ravi Karunanayake (UNP): The Government promised to construct one million houses within five years. If so, 200,000 houses should have been completed in a year.

The Government has not allocated money for the construction of houses, but blames the UNP.

Now when we consider education, it is a very important sector in our country.

The number of schools have been reduced to 8,924. The university education system is being privatized.

Perumal Rajathurei takes the chair.

Deputy Chairman of Committees Chandrakumar Murugesu takes the chair.

Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem: Before coming to the topic, I would like to thank the voters who placed their faith in the SLMC and the governing UPFA to give us power in many Local Government bodies.

Ravi Karunanayake MP, asked me to justify the enormous amount of money spent on developing the port as the former Ports Minister.

I would like to humbly recall that the President has achieved massive support from the people to carry out the development activities which the UNP could not do during their regime. Now the President is engaged in this task. Therefore, this kind of criticizing is not fair. Not only the Hambantota Port, but also many other ports and terminals in the country are being upgraded. It takes time for this task since it should be done gradually.

Sri Lanka is in a geographically strategic position and port development can usher many benefits to the country. The Hambantota Port was opened only last year. Let it be developed further. I will guarantee that it will become the cheapest port service in the region in time to come.

While dealing with the most ferocious terrorist organization in the world, the President simultaneously carried out development work in the country.

Our port system was not developed for 20 years. Development work on our port lags behind 20 years. Therefore this initiative is far more important. The golden era of port development was ushered during President Rajapaksa's period.

In the near future the two major ports, Colombo and Hambantota will be fully operational. This will usher in a new era in port related activities.

We also hope to open the Oluwil Port very soon. The entire port development strategy followed by the President is very efficient and farsighted.

Jayantha Ketagoda (DNA): Today's subject is about the Special Commodity Levy Act. It includes several essential items. I don't refer to the levy charged on them. However, I must note that the burden of these taxes ultimately rest upon the ordinary people of this country.

Usually, essential items are not taxed. It is the accepted custom of the world. When prices of these essential items are increased, it affects the nutritious level of our nation.

As the Government claims, inflation has not gone down during the recent past. The prices of essential items have doubled. The Government has to think of ways and means to provide essential food items at reduced rates to the poor people.

If it cannot provide relief, at least it should not charge taxes on these items.

Health Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake: MP Ketagoda said that former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake offered one measure of rice free. His aim was to make this country self-sufficient in rice. However, he could not fulfill this target. President Rajapaksa while providing leadership to defeat terrorism in the country, initiated fertilizer subsidy to grant fertilizer at Rs 350 to the farmers. This is while spending a huge amount of money on the war. In this way, he had been able to make this country self-sufficient in rice. He has a practical vision. MPs like Ravi Karunanayake are unable to understand this vision.

Today MP Karunanayake is talking about the Shangrila Agreement. But it is he who sold 'Sathosa' buildings without calling for tenders.

People are aware of this reality. That is why we have achieved this final election result at the Local Government polls. People know that the country is moving in the right direction. Opposition members are jealous of it. The UNP cannot even appoint a suitable leader. So the people are in doubt as to how such a party can rule a country.

Under the amendments presented today, the import levy of 12 essential items are revised.

A H M Azwer (UPFA): A point of order Sir. Not a single Opposition member is present in the House. No member from the UNP and no member from the JVP. Has the Opposition abandoned Parliamentary sessions?

Social Services Minister Felix Perera: Several amendments have been introduced to the tax proceeding to simplify the whole system. Even though the Opposition demands to lift the taxes, there is no country that does not tax the people.

Every country needs taxes to run the economy properly. Today several taxes are imposed on several essential items which are important.

In the past, chillies and onion cultivation was carried out on a larger-scale in Jaffna before the war erupted. Now again these crops are being cultivated in Jaffna and they reach Colombo market.

Therefore, imposing a levy on these items when importing is fair. This action safeguards local farmers.

Adjournment Motion

A H M Azwer moving an adjournment motion against the air strikes in Libya states: The military attack presently carried on in the Libyan Jamahiriyia, has caused great consternation and bewilderment throughout the world.

The indiscriminate bombing by the Western Alliance has already caused loss of human life and destruction to places of worship and other buildings.

The military intervention in Libya by the joint forces of America, UK and France, has raised a huge uproar. This is an act of blatant violation of the UN charter. Some of these countries responsible for the death of over a million civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, were also accomplices in crimes against the Palestinian people. They stand by and watch as the Israelis massacre innocent Palestinians. The International Media opines that the military intervention in Libya is directed both to secure access to oil and to bring strong military presence in regions which would be a potential danger to the Arab and Muslim world in future.

The conscience of the world community is highly disturbed by this deliberate violation of human rights and the violation of the United Nation Charter on Non interference on the internal affairs of other countries.

This Parliament therefore appeals to people and governments to cry for an immediate halt to the attack carried out by the Western Alliance on Libya and also recognize the honour, dignity and the free will of the people of the Libyan Jamahiriyia to decide their future course of action by themselves.

Ven Ellawala Medananda Thera (UPFA): There are certain Western countries that intervene into the affairs of other countries so as to create chaos.

Now those countries have intervened to create a problem in Libya. The attack on Libya is illegal as only 22 countries of NATO have approved the attack. The President of that country has been duly elected by the people of the country.

The same Western countries have attempted to disrupt our move to eliminate terrorism.

Human Resources Senior Minister D E W Gunasekara:The head of NATO has suddenly decided to strike Libya first after a dinner party.

Now the Middle East countries are awakening.

The biggest oil ridges are situated in Libya and they have decided to attack Libya.

Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem: What is happening in Libya is nothing but imperialist aggression. This is an attempt to destabilize and retard the development that is taking place in Asian continent.

I join my colleagues in condemning this barbaric action.

National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara: This attack should be condemned. This is being done to control the protests of the people who have stood against the puppet leaders created by the West.

We stand with the revolutionary people in Arab countries.

Scientific Affairs Senior Minister Professor Tissa Vitarana: With this Libya matter, the US Security Council has given permission only to take measures to protect civilians. But what is really happening is that the civilian are attacked to topple the rule of Mohamed Gadafi.

Ranjith de Soyza (UPFA): The civil rights of the Libyan people are being violated today.

Child Development and Women's Affairs Minister L A M Hisbullah: We are unable to accept the undemocratic attacks lashed on Libya by America. The bombardment should be stopped immediately.

Excise (Special Provisions) Amendment Bill was passed without amendments.

The orders under the Special Commodity Levy Act were approved.

Parliament was adjourned until 1 pm today.

***********

Reforms to civil procedure code

Parliament Corrs

The Justice Ministry is drafting a new Sentencing Act and formulating reforms to the Civil Procedure Code to combat law delays, said Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in Parliament yesterday.

He said that these measures would also help reduce congestion in prisons while eliminating inappropriate penalties.

He was responding to a question raised by UPFA MP Rajiva Wijesinha.

He also said that the Justice Ministry was conducting training programs for Judges, Magistrates and Police officers regarding child protection, trafficking and mediation. The Justice Ministry has appointed nine committees to recommend changes in laws and regulations.

Among them, three committees have submitted the reports. They are the committees on legal education, juvenile justice and family law.

The other committees are on legal education, arbitration, laws related to prison administration, title registration, Muslim matrimonial law and Thesawalame.

These committees have also been requested to submit their reports, at their earliest.

***********

Courtesy: DailyNews

Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011 @ 08:50:35 LKT by

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