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(This article was originally published in Daily FT on 21st July 2016)

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya yesterday in Parliament rejected the possibility of fraud in the controversial coal tender, saying that he was confident that all transactions were transparent and legal.

Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya

Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya

He accused the Opposition of using the wrong formula to calculate the price impact.

Minister Siyambalapitiya urged Parliament to wait for the newly-appointed committee report due by the end of this month.

“In November 2014, the Government floated a tender for the supply of coal for 2015. According to the Minister, eight companies including the old supplier Nobel and the current supplier Swiss Singapore submitted offers. Nobel’s offer got rejected for failing to meet the 1987 regulations on state contracts. However, the tender board allowed Nobel to contest based on the advice of the Attorney General.

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(This article was originally published in Daily FT on 8th July 2016)

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

The Government has allocated Rs.300 million to compensate those who are affected by the recent natural disasters. According to Prime Minister, suitable lands are being identified to build new houses in safer locations.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, responding to Joint Opposition MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara, confirmed all financial allocations were given to District Secretaries and the completion of the project will take some time due to land acquisition issues.

“District Secretaries are provided with necessary documentation and guidelines to provide relief and compensations to all those who were affected by the natural disasters. The District Secretaries have submitted requests for necessary funds to carry out the reconstruction and relief. So, Colombo was given Rs.109 million, Gampaha Rs.152 million, Puttalam Rs.9 million, Kegalle Rs.20 million, Ratnapura Rs.4 million, and Kalutara Rs.6 million,” said the Prime Minister.

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(This article was originally published in Daily FT on 9th July 2016)

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

The Government has expedited the process to reach a permanent solution for the Indian fishermen illegally engaging in bottom trawling in the Northern and Eastern waters of Sri Lanka. According to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, both Governments are already engaged in finding a solution for some time and would reach a conclusion before the end of this year.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Responding to Chief Opposition Whip, JVP MP Anura Dissanayake during the period allocated for “Ask the Prime Minister”, he said: “Our Minister of Foreign Affairs has taken this matter up with his counterpart in India. In addition, the SL Navy along with the Indian Navy and their coast guard have discussed this issue at their annual conferences. The proposed discussions between the two countries are scheduled to take place this month. All these discussions will provide an important basis for this issue. The Industrial Bottom Trawling Prohibition Bill passed in this House will be published in the Gazette soon.”

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(This article was originally published in Daily FT on 6th July 2016)

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

The Government on Tuesday rejected the Joint Opposition’s charges that economic policies have eroded investor confidence leading the Colombo Stock Exchange to crash significantly last year and to witness a net foreign outflow of Rs.5.3 billion.

Niroshan Perera MP

Niroshan Perera MP

Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera responding to a question for Oral Answer raised by Joint Opposition MP Udaya Gammanpila highlighted a list of macro and micro economic factors which contributed to a volatile market condition.

“This net foreign outflow was due to many global factors including the present world economic crisis, the spillovers from China to other economies, an increase in interest rates by the US Federal Reserve and a continuous decline in the oil prices. As a result of these factors foreign investor exited investment in stock markets and in emerging markets in particular and moved to investments that generate fixed income. In the Sri Lankan scenario speculation that interest rates will climb higher has affected the performance of the CSE,” the Minister clarified.

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