No need to hoard rice stocks – Agriculture Minister
The harvest from the previous (21/22) Maha Season was 1,862,901 metric tons compared to the Maha season of (20/21) which was 3,061,394 metric tons, said Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.
He said this in response to questions raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa in Parliament yesterday under Standing Orders 27/2.
Amaraweera said that this was a reduction in harvest of around 39-40%.
He said that the country’s situation is not as bad as everyone thought and once the initiatives taken by the Government and himself after taking over as the Minister in charge, have contributed to ending a food crisis in the country.
However, he said that the people are still worried due to earlier claims that there would be a food shortage and they are stocking up as a result.
“People are stocking up on rice and some are stocking up on paddy, but they are unaware that after a few months, these will perish. We have already imported 339,000 metric tons of rice and if at all there would be some shortage only towards the end of the year. Therefore, there is no need to panic as there will be no shortage of rice in the country,” the minister assured. He said that the Minister of Trade had already taken steps to import another stock of rice to meet the shortage that may arise by the end of the year.”
“I have also instructed the Paddy Marketing Board to take steps to utilize the paddy stocks and ensure rice is available to the people at less than Rs. 200 per kilo. Therefore, there is no need to hoard rice stocks. By stocking unnecessarily these stocks would go to waste and insects could destroy it.”
He said that by February next year the next harvest will be available and there would not be a shortage of rice in the country.
The minister also noted that once the fertilizer is provided to the farmers an agriculture revolution had commenced in the country far exceeding everyone’s expectations and the country would not need to import rice next year.
The minister called on all Parliamentarians to join hands to carry out the programmes to ensure the country is self sufficient in rice.
Mega renewable energy projects, a solution to current power crisis – Dr. Harsha
Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva said that he totally agrees with the Government’s proposal to commence mega renewable energy projects as a solution to the current power crisis which also contributes to the economic crisis today.
He said that it is essential to reduce the cost of electricity generation by way of switching to renewable energy means which would in turn reduce the amounts of fuel used in thermal power plants.
He added he agrees with the fact that it would stop the outflow of foreign currency.
He made these observations joining the Second Reading debate on the Electricity Amendment Bill which was moved by Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara.
MP Silva further said that what the Opposition objects to is the non-availability of the competitiveness for the Mega projects of the Renewable Energy generation.
He added that the competitiveness in such mega projects is a compulsory feature. He added that they never question the non-availability of competitiveness for small renewable energy projects. They should not be dragged on for months to get approval.
However, mega projects such as 25 mw, 50 mw 100 mw and above projects should have competitiveness. He challenged the Government to show if there is any country which has commenced such massive renewable energy projects without creating competitiveness.
He added that hence the Opposition proposed to exclude renewable energy projects upto 10 mw from competitiveness.
Speaker, Chief Opposition Whip clash in House
A tense situation arose in Parliament yesterday while Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella accused the Speaker of engaging in politics and acting partially in favour of the Government and handing over Chairmanship of the Public Finance Committee to a Government MP.
“You are occupying the seat of the Speaker and engaging in politics. You are the one who created all the problems in this country,” Kiriella told the Speaker.
Kiriella said that Standing Order 121/1 clearly states that the Chairman of the Public Finance Committee should be a Member of the Opposition, but the Speaker suspended the Standing Orders and transferred the post to the Government.
“Therefore, now rectify this as you have committed a grave wrong,” Kiriella said.
However, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena refuted these allegations and said, “This is not something that I did. It is a decision taken by you in the House. Do not blame me for that.”
Kiriella said, “You secretly put it through when not many of us were in Parliament.”
But, the Speaker said that he was not in a position to know when members were more or less in Parliament and urged Kiriella not to sling such allegations against him.
But, Kiriella continued to accuse the Speaker of engaging in politics and being partial towards the Government. “You should not engage in politics as the Speaker, but you connived with other officials and gave the post to a government MP. You have destroyed parliament. It is shameful. We wanted to propose Harsha de Silva as he is an economist. But you played an underhand game with the officials.”
Meanwhile, MP Harsha de Silva said that his name has been proposed for the position and at a time when the country is facing a crisis, he urged the Speaker to allow them to help the country.
Rs 14.04 bn indebted to CPC by various government institutions – Minister Wijesekara
A sum of Rs 14.04 billion is indebted to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) by various government institutions as at April 30, this year, said Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara yesterday. He made this observation in Parliament in response to a query made by SJB Parliamentarian Mayantha Dissanayake during the round of questions for oral answers.
He said hence the SriLankan Airlines has to pay a sum of Rs 9.58 billion to the CPC while CEB a sum of Rs 4.03 billion. He added that the Army, Railway Department, the Navy, the Air Force have to pay sums of Rs 0.13 billion, Rs 0.11 billion, Rs 0.09 billion, Rs 0.04 billion, Rs 0.01 billion respectively. In the meantime the SLTB, the Police, the STF and several other institutions have to pay the rest.