Minister predicts bread going up to Rs.
Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula
Gunawardena has predicted that wheat flour
prices will continue to increase in the
local market and that it was beyond the
government’s control, as it was a result of
the global food crisis.
He said, as a result of the price
increase bread could go up to Rs. 100 per
Gunawardena’s comment was made in
response to the possibility of Prima Ceylon
Ltd., increasing wheat flour prices by Rs.10
Gunawardena said that the price of wheat
flour could see a further increase and that
it was beyond the government’s control.
He also said that as predicted by him on
a previous occasion, the price of bread
might go up to Rs. 100.
Addressing a public gathering previously,
he said that at the rate the price of wheat
flour was rising not even Vaima the son of
Sakka could stop a loaf of bread rising to
Rs. 100 in Sri Lanka in the future.
Last week, Chairman, Consumer Affairs
Authority (CAA), Rumi Marzook said that
although it is the CAA that has the
authority to authorise any consumer price
hike in the country, Prima has never
obtained the approval of the CAA for any of
their price hikes in the past.
"Prima has never sought CAA permission to
increase the price of wheat flour even on
previous occasions. They always increased
prices arbitrarily. I was told that they
have said that an application had been
submitted to the CAA for the approval of a
price revision but they have not done so,"
Gunawardena said the only answer to the
problem was to reduce wheat flour
consumption by resorting to consuming more
rice. He said that due to the global food
crisis the wheat flour prices would continue
According to Gunawardena, it was the
people from the estate sector who consumed a
large amount of wheat flour, and in order to
encourage them to consume rice instead, the
government was providing them rice Rs. 10
lesser than the market price.
Rice prices to
Rice prices, already recording increases
between 60 and 90%, will come under more
pressure due to the losses in the Maha
harvest with the recent rains.
According to the Department of
Agriculture, an anticipated shortfall of 10%
between local production and demand had now
increased to 12.5% after the rains. Rains
from March 12 have been lashing the main
rice producing districts of the country
including Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura
and Mannar and has left 2.5% of the total
harvest in ruins.
The rains and the subsequent floods are
also likely to affect the quality of the
rice as well the availability of seed paddy
for the next season, especially in the
Rice prices have been on an upward trend
in the last 12 months some varieties have
recorded gains over 90% compared to last
year. According to the recent prices put out
by the Department of Census and Statistics,
samba rice that was between Rs. 36
and Rs. 43 per kilo a year ago had increased
to between Rs. 73 to Rs. 80, an year on year
increase of between 86 to 99%. Even
varieties like nadu and raw rice have
recorded increases between 60 to 75%.
Last year mid March, the cheapest rice in
the market according to the Department of
Census and Statistics was raw (white)
variety at Rs. 32 per kilo. The same variety
is now going at Rs. 75.
clash over CM post
President Mahinda Rajapakse and Pillayan
had a heated exchange of words last week
over the chief ministerial candidate of the
UPFA in the Eastern Provincial Council
elections, it is learned.
The verbal battle between the duo had
taken place at Temple Trees during a
discussion on the eastern provincial polls.
Although the Presidential Secretariat had
extended an invitation to the Pillayan Group
to visit Colombo following their victory at
the local government polls in Batticaloa,
Pillayan did not join the delegation that
arrived in Colombo. It is learnt that he
refused to visit Colombo since he was not
sent a separate vehicle to travel in.
Pillayan had refused to travel in the
luxury air-conditioned coach sent by the
Presidential Secretariat for the group to
travel to Colombo.
Pillayan it is learnt had said that the
government should send him a separate
vehicle if they wished him to arrive in
The Presidential Secretariat on a later
date sent a separate luxury vehicle to
Batticaloa for Pillayan to travel to
Once he arrived in Colombo, during his
discussion with the President, Pillayan has
said that if he was to contest the eastern
provincial polls with the government, he
should be named as the chief ministerial
Rajapakse had objected to the request
outright and it is learnt that the President
had also warned Pillayan that he was going
overboard with his actions.
The UPFA has informed Pillayan they will
not announce the chief minister candidate
until the election is concluded to ensure
the Muslim vote will not go entirely to the
SLMC and UNP.
It is also learnt that efforts made by
the JHU to resolve the misunderstanding
between the President and Pillayan have so
far been a failure.
TMVP opposes Muslim
unit in east
The Pillayan led TMVP will oppose any
move to carve out a separate Muslim unit in
TMVP media spokesperson Azath Moulana
told The Sunday Leader that the east
belonged to all three communities and a
separate unit for the Muslims would result
in conflict between the communities.
He stated that the unity of the
Sinhalese, Tamils and the Muslims, who have
been living in the east together, would be
harmed if measures were taken to carve a
separate unit for the Muslims.
"All three communities have been living
in the east for a long time. The east
belongs to the people of all communities. We
are against measures taken to give a
separate unit for the Muslims. We will not
endorse that," Moulana said.
The APRC last week came out with a
proposal for a north-east merger subject to
a separate Muslim unit.
fighting in north without any goals charges
The military lacks operational goals on
the northern battlefronts, LTTE military
spokesperson Rasiah Ilanthirayan was quoted
as saying in an interview to the Australian
Tamil Broadcasting Corporation last week.
He had said the military had been
fighting in the northern battle front with
no specific goals or strategies and added
that such operations for a long time with no
successes, would result in personnel being
"They have no goals. They don’t know what
their goal is. They don’t know when or where
it would end," he had said.
"This was evident when a soldier had shot
his superior when he was not granted leave,"
he had also said.
Ilanthirayan in his interview had further
said that the Mahinda Rajapakse government
was in a state where it could not end the
war it had started.
He added that the government had
miscalculated that defeating the LTTE was
"Mahinda had the war as an option when he
took over the country. But, it has become
his full-time job now. He has made the same
mistake made by earlier Presidents and
Ilanthirayan also stated that the
military had not achieved successes in the
northern front despite using its maximum
He had stated that the military was
facing heavy resistance by the LTTE in Weli
Oya as well.
He also added the recent attack on the
Navy in Mullaithivu would affect the
transportation of goods to the military in
"Even a sack of rice goes through the
area. This path is used for 80% of the goods
transportation to the military in the
peninsula," Ilanthirayan had also said.
Ilanthirayan further stated that the
observers were aware that the LTTE had not
been weakened considering the attacks on
Anuradhapura air base and Katunayake air
"On the other hand our operations such as
Unceasing Waves 1, 2 and 3 are still in the
minds of everyone. The observers have now
started warning the government that the LTTE
has not lost its abilities to carry out such
operations," he had said.
OPA issues President
a Red Notice
The Organisation of Professional
Associations (OPA) has called upon President
Mahinda Rajapakse not to make any further
appointments to the Supreme and Appeal
Courts bypassing the Constitutional Council
if he wishes to pre-empt further action by
the professionals’ body.
The letter signed by OPA President
Attorney Elmore Perera also draws the
attention of President Rajapakse to a
quotation by King Solomon — " if a ruler
listens to lies, all his officials become
The OPA has pointed out that the
appointment of the Chief Justice and judges
of the Supreme Court, the president and
members of the Court of Appeal, the members
of the Judicial Service Commission, the
Attorney General, the Auditor General, the
Inspector General of Police, the Ombudsman
and the Secretary General of Parliament are
all subject to Article 41C (1) of the
Constitution which provides that "No person
shall be appointed by the President to any
of the above posts, unless such appointment
has been approved by the Council upon a
recommendation made to the Council by the
The OPA has further said "it is
abundantly clear, therefore, that no lay
person, no lawyer and not even the Attorney
General, can truthfully and lawfully advise
Your Excellency that making any appointment
to the above-mentioned posts, without first
getting the approval of the Constitutional
Council, is legally valid and is not an
intentional violation of the constitution."
"Vacancies already exist, and more will
occur, in some of the posts referred to
above. Whilst not discounting the many
positive actions initiated by your
Excellency, we strongly urge Your Excellency
to refrain from making any unlawful
appointments to the said posts, until the
Constitutional Council is activated by
forthwith appointing the persons duly
nominated for such appointment, and thereby
pre-empt the need for any further action by
the OPA, in this regard," the OPA has added.
The OPA has also cited a decision of nine
judges of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief
Justice Neville Samarakoon in the case of
Visuvalingam V. Liyanage, in respect of the
immunity granted by Article 35 of the
Constitution, which states as follows:
"Actions of the executive are not above
the law and certainly can be questioned in a
Court of Law. Article 35 of the Constitution
provides only for the personal immunity of
the President during his tenure of office
from proceedings in any court. The President
cannot be summoned to court to justify his
actions. But that is a far cry from saying
that the President’s acts cannot be examined
by a Court of Law. Though the President is
immune from proceedings in court, a party
who invokes the acts of the President in his
support will have to bear the burden of
demonstrating that such acts of the
President are warranted by law. The seal of
the President by itself will not be
sufficient to discharge that burden." (1983
The OPA has said this decision has not,
thereafter, come up for consideration by a
bench of nine or more judges of the Supreme
"Notwithstanding any decisions of the
Court of Appeal or of any Supreme Court
bench of less than nine judges, to the
contrary, Your Excellency well knows that
the above decision is therefore still the
legal position on this matter," the OPA has
further pointed out.
Child rights’ activists
By Nirmala Kannangara
The participation of school children at
the third convention of the JVP affiliated
Socialist Students Union (SSU) held recently
has drawn fire from child rights activists
and human rights activists in the country.
Despite the strict directives of the
Education Ministry that school children
should not be permitted to take part in any
private or state functions due to security
reasons the SSU’s failure to adhere to the
Education Ministry instructions has come
under severe criticism by the Education
Chairman, National Child Protection
Authority (NCPA) Jagath Wellawatte told
The Sunday Leader that this violation of
child rights by a political party clearly
demonstrates as to what their political
plans are and that it was a clear indication
of their political bankruptcy.
"No one has the right to persuade
underage children to take part in political
interaction. The child is a child till he
becomes old enough to take his own
decisions. Why encourage such innocents to
take part at such political functions?"
When asked what action the NCPA would
take regarding the violation of child
rights, Wellawatte told The Sunday Leader
that the NCPA would take action if any child
abuse had taken place. Since this incident
was not connected to child abuse the NCPA
does not have the power to act on the issue.
"But if the parents of a child who had
participated at the convention lodged a
complaint with the NCPA for causing mental
agony to the child, then we could take
action against those responsible,"
Wellawatte further added.
Meanwhile an officer from the Human
Rights Commission on the basis of anonymity
told The Sunday Leader that "This
should be nipped in the bud."
chiefs tell President war will continue till
The President was informed on Friday by the security
forces top brass that the security forces
would take at least till end 2009 to defeat
This message was given to the President by the security
forces top brass when the ground commanders
in the north were summoned for a meeting
with the President on Friday to review the
progress made by the security forces in the
The Sunday Leader learns that the President had inquired from the security
forces top brass why the earlier deadlines
set by the security forces could not be met.
It is learnt that Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka
has said that 1,500 elite troops were now
being trained and it would take time to
deploy them and added that there was also
fierce resistance by the LTTE.
The army commander had earlier gone on public record
stating that 3,000 Tigers would be killed
before August and the LTTE eliminated before
his term ended.
Since that announcement, security forces
according to Defence Ministry statistics
have killed over 2,500 Tigers and is
expected to achieve their targets by mid
Meanwhile, defence analysts queried why it would take
another one and a half years to eliminate
the LTTE if only 500 more Tiger cadres are
left to be eliminated.
Head of the Media Centre for National
Security, Lakshman Hulugalle told The
Sunday Leader that he could not make any
comments on the meeting between the
President and the forces chiefs as notes
were not taken of such security council
auditors raise query over Taj TV rights
By Kshanika Argent
auditors of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have in
a confidential report raised queries
regarding the sale of matching rights to Taj
The letter by SJMS Associates written on March 12, 2008,
have asked SLC Chief Executive Duleep Mendis
why the SLC had not called for competitive
bids from other TV broadcasters before
entering the contract with Taj TV, which has
been signed for the period of January 2009
to December 2012.
The auditors have inquired if the draft addendums were
placed before the Interim Committee (IC) for
approval prior to being signed.
SJMS also pointed out in their letter that the rights being
granted to Taj TV for an indefinite period
was of concern.
The SJMS said, “An indefinite period has been set out in
the addendum which is not beneficial to SLC,”
with regard to the addendum that states that
until all tours and matches contemplated in
the said agreements are played and further
until a new contract is entered into, in
respect of television and other rights the
said agreement shall stand extended.
The auditors have also asked if the SLC sought legal advice
from SLC lawyers before the signing of the
According to the auditors findings, the SLC has not yet
received the sum of USD 300,000 in relation
to the agreement, and stated that though the
payment was to be made in installments, they
were not clear about the value the
The auditor have also stated in their letter that they have
yet to see a letter of approval from the
Sports Ministry, if such an approval exists,
with regard to the contract.
The SJMS also asked for an update on the
suspension of the agreement, which was
directed by the Sports Ministry on November
30, 2007, which was to come into effect from
Internal split in the JVP surfaces again
JVP politburo member and parliamentarian K.D. Lalkantha has
said the Pillayan group should be disarmed
and that those within the JVP who could not
stand by the majority decision should leave
Lalkantha made this comment a few days after JVP’s
Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa
addressing a media briefing of the Patriotic
National Movement said it would be a crime
to disarm the Pillayan group and that those
who say the group should be disarmed need to
get their heads tested.
JVP Leader Somawansa Amerasinghe and politburo members
Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Lalkantha have
stated that the Pillayan group should be
disarmed before the Eastern Provincial
Addressing a gathering of party members in Rattota, Matale
last week Lalkantha said that those who
cannot respect the majority decision simply
because it is not in line with their
personal ideas were weak people whom
President Mahinda Rajapakse sought for his
“President Mahinda Rajapakse’s politics now revolve around
identifying such weak people in the party to
carry out a separate political agenda,” he
He has also said that Rajapakse needed to
engage in political activities with the JVP
as a party and not with individuals and has
warned that if the trend continues,
Rajapakse would loose the JVP.
Religious ceremonies to invoke
blessings on forces
Lak Jaya Foundation will hold religious
ceremonies at Ruwanweliseya and Sri Jaya
Maha Bodhi to invoke blessings on the armed
forces on April 5 at 9 a.m.
War affected families are invited to
assemble near the Ruwanweliseya at 8 30 a.m
with a photograph of the family member
killed in action.
Religious ceremonies will take place at
the Uda Maluwa of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
followed by the distribution of Sunday
school uniforms to 1000 orphaned children.
"These children are orphaned due to
different reasons— not just the war. Our
motto is to work towards a Greater Nation.’
The Foundation seeks to bring together the
members of this fragmented society, divided
on ethnic, religious and political lines,"
said President, Lak Jaya Foundation, Gen.
Peradeniya academics write to
A letter signed by 91 academic staff
members connected to the University of
Peradeniya urging the appointment of the
Constitutional Council (CC) was sent to
President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday (28).
The staff members had endorsed the
appeals made by the religious leaders, civil
and professional organisations, including
the Organisation of Professional
Associations to the President urging the
immediate appointment of the CC in
conformity with the 17th Amendment to the
"We believe this to be an issue of
national importance where members of the
academic community would be exercising a
civic responsibility by expressing an
opinion," the letter stated.