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Thursday, 23 February 2012

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PARLIAMENT

Vote of appreciation:

'Dhammika Kithulgoda maintained procedure of the House'

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa presided yesterday, when Parliament met at 1 p.m. After presentation of papers and oral questions, the House took up the Vote of Appreciation of the Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Kithulgoda on his retirement. Minister Dinesh Gunawardena moved the vote of appreciation.

Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena: Dhammika Kitulgoda was reappointed to the post of Secretary General of Parliament on August 28, 2010 and retired on February 14,2012.

He was first appointed as the Secretary General of Parliament on February 15,1999 and remained till July 31,2002. He was Acting Secretary General of Parliament from March 31,2008 to August 27,2010.

He joined the Judicial Service and was a Magistrate before he was appointed Secretary General of Parliament. He was also appointed as the Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission in 1988.

During his service as Magistrate and Secretary to JSC he rendered a great service to reduce the backlog of cases. He also took measures to obtain international aid as well to take measures to reduce the backlog of cases. He obtained US Aid to train personnel in the Judicial Service for this purpose.

As a law student at the Law College, he was an outstanding student. He was a talented player in many games such as Rugby, Hockey and Table Tennis. He was also awarded with colours as the best player of the year.

As a student in Royal College in Colombo, he also was a member of the Sinhala Literary Association. He led the debating team of the school.

Another remarkable feature of Dhammika Kitulgoda was that he was the only public servant who was employed in three main organs in the country, Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary.

He was appointed to the Judicial Service as the youngest Magistrate and the District Judge.

He was also appointed as the Secretary to the Constitutional Council and also the Secretary General of Parliament.

He rendered his service when the Parliament flooded in the year 2010, not as a staff member of Parliament but as a volunteer who worked to function the procedure of the Parliament.

His wife, Dhammika and two daughters are also attorneys. We wish him good health in his retirement.

First instance where a JSC member became SG of Parliament, Opp. Leader

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe: We had many Secretary Generals of Parliament who came from the Attorney General's Department. But this was the first instance where a member of the Judicial Service joined Parliament as the Secretary General.

Dhammika Kitulgoda had been instrumental in handling Parliamentary delegation with the coordination of the Speaker. He made a contribution to ensure that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association session would be held in Sri Lanka. The position he held was a very significant position in the country. I wish him a long life and wish him the best. I also welcome new Secretary General Dhammika Dissanayake to the House.

He had earned many accolades for his impartiality

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena: We must pay due respect for the person who deserves it. The post of Secretary General of Parliament is an impartial position. It is the conduct of the person who holds it, that depicts the impartiality of the post.

Former Secretary General of Parliament Kitulgoda, had earned many accolades for his impartiality and middle path during critical junctures. He has a vast experience in the political arena for a long period.

Kitulgoda is a matured official who committed himself to work. According to traditions and laws in the government service, public servants should retire at the age of 60. We have to consider this rule once again. Many officials have to retire at an age when they reach the peak period of their service. This deprives the country of their prolonged service which is very much in need.

He earned the goodwill of his staff

John Amaratunga (UNP): As Chief Opposition Whip, I am extremely happy to join this debate to bid farewell to the former Secretary General of Parliament. Dhammika Kitulgoda was a unique personality.

His service was extended not only to the members of both sides of Parliament, but also to the Parliamentary staff. He had earned the goodwill of all the staff. He had always been fair and reasonable. We also welcome the new Secretary General who is another Dhammika.

Chandrakumar Murugesu (UPFA): Dhammika Kitulgoda being a person with vast experience and knowledge in the judiciary and constitution, was the right person to be appointed as the Secretary General of Parliament. This was a very responsible post. There had been times where he had to take instant and critical decisions. He earned the appreciation of all for being very fair. He was a very courteous person.

He had to take difficult decisions as the Secretary General of Parliament than when he was a magistrate.

He had fulfilled his task to his best.

Deputy Chairman of Committees Chandrakumar Murugesu takes the Chair.

Human Resources Senior Minister DEW Gunasekara: I got to know him when he was a young lawyer. He became popular within a short period, during his stint as a lawyer. Many thought that he would enter politics. He had his own political thoughts and policies. Working as the Secretary General of Parliament, is not easy under the current political scenario. The work of this position is very complex. The Secretary General of Parliament constantly provides advice to newly elected young MPs.

Kitulgoda's last official meeting as the Secretary General of Parliament was the COPE meeting with secretaries of the ministries and COPE members. This meeting was very successful and it laid the foundation for a new political tradition.

Kitulgoda was able to fill his duties to a great extent.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake (DNA): Parliament is a democratic institution which has the room for different ideologies and thoughts. Therefore, Parliament is often a very active place where heated arguments take place. In this context, the Secretary General of Parliament has a crucial role to play. To a great extent, Kitulgoda could fulfill his duties fairly well during his tenure. We appreciate his service.

Appreciations he earned depict his impartiality

National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara: Dhammika Kitulgoda is stepping into a period of relaxation and happiness with his retirement. Considering his duties, it can be seen that it was not only a job that he did, but an enormous service. From his retirement onwards he would not be subjected to this burden anymore.

Kitulgoda had a very good heart. His ambition was to see that all parties were meted out justice. Criticisms he earned from both at the time of his work and the appreciations he earned at his retirement depicts his impartiality. We extend our blessings to the newly appointed Secretary General too.

Joseph Micheal Perera (UNP): Dhammika Kitulgoda was one of my intimate friends. We worked with a good understanding and rapport. He had earned the respect of everybody. He had to face stressful period but he was able to maintain goodwill with all. The person who bears this post must undergo tremendous responsibility. Kitulgoda did a yeoman service to Parliament.

Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe (UPFA): The post of Secretary General of Parliament is the most important position in Parliament, next to the post of Speaker. Being an MP of the House, I now understand the importance of the duties he holds more than ever. I commend his unfailing courtesy when dealing with the Parliamentary Staff as well as with Parliamentarians.

Dayasiri Jayasekara (UNP): Dhammika Kitulgoda was initially a lawyer and later became a magistrate and served in several magistrate courts in the country.

His performance was always applauded. Maturity and knowledge were critical in handling the post of Secretary General of Parliament. Former Secretary General of Parliament Kitulgoda had these qualities more than many others who held this post prior to him.

He had cordial relations with the staff from higher level to the lowest level. He was highly concerned over the problems of minor staff of the Parliament as well.

J R P Suriyapperuma (UPFA): The post of Speaker was introduced in 1931. The strength behind this post was the post of clerk to the Speaker. Later on, this post was renamed as the Secretary General of Parliament. The person who holds this post has a key role to play.

We are proud to have had Dhammika Kitulgoda as the Secretary General of Parliament over the past many years. One specialty of his was that he was always with a smiling face.

V S Radhakrishnan (UPFA): We wish Dhammika Kitulgoda a happy retired life. Even though I did not have the opportunity to associate him closely, by listening to the speeches of other members, I became to understand that we were losing a very prestigious person.

I wish him a long life in the future. His service to Parliament should not come to a standstill after retirement, but it should be continued in the future too.

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena (UNP): Kitulgoda's service in the field of judiciary is applaudable and if he continued in this field he could have ended as the Chief Justice of the country. However, he was appointed as the Secretary General of Parliament and he did his best while holding the duties of this post.

He was serving as the Secretary General of Parliament when the 17th and 18th Amendments to the Constitution were implemented.

Scientific Affairs Minister Prof Tissa Vitarana: Dhammika Kitulgoda was appointed to the post of Secretary General of Parliament on two occasions. There had been difficult situations confronting in the House and Kitulgoda had provided his assistance to the Speaker on each and every occasion during the past, when his assistance was crucial.

Kitulgoda with his maturity and experience, had the ability to manage and handle difficult situations. He acted very fairly during these occasions.

Gayantha Karunathilake (UNP): Dhammika Kitulgoda was born on February 15, 1952. As a person who shares the same birthday with him, I am privileged that I got the opportunity to associate him.

I would also like to note that former President D B Wijetunga and former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike were also born on February 15. Kitulgoda was a humble and practical person. During the recent floods in which the Parliament was inundated, he worked tirelessly with other parliamentary staff to bring the situation under control.

A H M Azwer (UPFA): According to past documents, the Clerk of the House appointed by the Crown was a very significant post. He was responsible for the conduct of the members of the House. Dhammika Kitulgoda held a unique post. He became the youngest magistrate in the country. He worked tirelessly to ensure the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting in Sri Lanka in September this year. Those delegations would visit the country in the coming months. Kitulgoda also initiated a scholarship programme for the children of the Parliamentary staff.

Kitulgoda was impartial, fair and just

Palitha Range Bandara (UNP): While one Dhammika was leaving, another Dhammika has been appointed. While Kitulgoda was working as a magistrate, he had earned the respect of the people for his impartial, fair and just decisions. He had immense commitments to his duty. He worked honestly and with a strong backbone. He could be reached easily even though he was very busy.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sumedha Jayasena: As the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, I worked with him with good coordination. He earned the goodwill of the staff and was always cordial to everyone. When a large number of schoolchildren were visiting the House, he took necessary measures to provide them with the necessary facilities.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa takes the Chair.

Urban Affairs Senior Minister A H M Fowzie: I appreciate the services rendered by Dhammika Kitulgoda, who retired from the position of the Secretary General of Parliament. He had about two decades experience in the judiciary before being appointed to this post. His experience helped him to carry out his duties well. He is a person of excellence.

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: I am happy that I was able to join in the Vote of Appreciation on Dhammika Kitulgoda. He was a very friendly secretary general and a very knowledgeable person, who rendered his services for the smooth functioning of the proceedings of Parliament.

Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera: I have known Dhammika Kitulgoda for a very long period, as he too hailed from my area. I knew him as an attorney. Everybody knew him as a people- friendly attorney. He helped the people by appearing for their cases free of charge. His service to Parliament had been remarkable.

I am sure that the knowledge he had gained in various fields would be used in the field of politics after his retirement.

Rural Affairs Senior Minister Athauda Senevirate: I am sure that knowledge and instructions during times when pandemonium broke out in Parliament would stand him to good stead in his retirement. His experience was a great support to the Speaker. Parliament was a massive institute with a large number of people. Among them, there were people of various calibre.

Some had problems and grievances and somehow it had been a challenge to cope with them.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa: I agree with the Chief Government Whip, Opposition Leader and all other members who joined in the Vote of Appreciation on the retirement of Dhammika Kitulgoda from the office of Secretary General of Parliament.

I also take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the Members of Parliament and staff, for the valuable services he had performed.

At adjournment

Fuel adjustment charges will be removed

Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday stated in Parliament that the fuel adjustment charges added to the electricity bill would be removed or reduced when the fuel prices in the world market dropped to provide relief to electricity consumers.

He made this observation in response to an adjournment motion moved by UPFA MP Shantha Bandara.

Sriyani Wijewickrama takes the Chair

Shantha Bandara (UPFA): A fuel adjustment charge due to the increase of fuel prices in the world market had to be added to the electrcity bills. But it seems that various people and groups attempt to spread distorted stories with regard to them. Their attempt was to support foreign communities that are inimical to Sri Lanka and attempt to seek opportunities to reverse the victories of Sri Lanka.

So I think that it was better that Power and Energy Minister make a statement explaining the fuel adjustment charges that had been added to the electricity bill.

Y G Padmasiri (UPFA): This motion was a timely one. There were various groups who attempt to take petty political gains under whatever unchangable situation.

Palitha Range Bandara (UNP): If electricity bills were increased when fuel prices were increased in the world market, when fuel then the electricity bills should be reduced.

Ajith P Perera: The price of fuel in the world market has increased. The fuel adjustment charges had been added to the electricity bill. The reality was that yet even a drop of fuel at that increased rate was not imported.

On the other hand, another five months period will take for us to feel the issue in Iran.

Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka: About 1,130,369 people have to pay an additional charge of Rs 22.50 monthly. About 3.3 million people use electricity below 90 units. So, their fuel adjustment charges at maximum would be below Rs 182.40 monthly.

Even in 2008, a fuel adjustment charge to the electricity bills had been removed when the fuel prices in the world market had been reduced. Due to the increase of fuel prices in the world market, the CEB had to spend an excess amount of Rs 39,841 million in 2012.

The CEB's income had been Rs 141.6 billion and 88 percent had been spent to generate electricity. The estimated cost of electricity generation in 2012 had been 96 percent of its income.

The Power and Energy Ministry has decided to reduce the expenditure of the ministry. The CEB had run at a loss for 15 years and now it was making profits. The LECO too could be made profitable.

We are unable to depend on fossil fuel to generate electricity. The fossil fuel will last only for another four decades.

If people switched off one bulb between 6 pm to 9.30 pm we are able to save 120 mw.

We have appointed an expert committee to solve the technical problems at Norochcholai Power Plant within two months. If this power plant had not been set up, we would not have been able to provide electricity around the clock. The people should remember that our country was the only one that provides electricity around the clock in our region.

Parliament was adjourned until 1 p.m today.

To be continued


Govt earns Rs 15.7m from Ranmihitenna Tele Village productions

The government has earned Rs 15.7 million from productions at the newly constructed Ranmihitenna Tele Village in Hambantota from last September upto now, Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene told Parliament on Tuesday.

The deputy minister said that 15 productions including five teledramas, two local films, one foreign film and seven musical documentaries had been produced at the Ranmihitenna Tele Village upto now. Meanwhile, the government had spent Rs 569 million for the construction of the village.

Deputy Minister Abeywardene was replying to an oral question raised by DNA MP Sunil Hadunnetti.


Foreign cigarette brands cause loss in revenue

Health Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake told Parliament on Tuesday that the country loses around Rs 150 million daily in revenue due to the sale of cigarettes belonging to foreign brands by several foreign companies

He said most of the money was earned from low and middle income people in the country.

The deputy minister said notices to the effect that the government has prohibited the sale of cigarettes to persons under 21 years are displayed in business establishments and restaurants to make the public aware. However, complaints have been received regarding the sale of cigarettes to persons under 18 years at several business establishments and restaurants, the deputy minister said. He said Public Health Inspectors have been informed to take legal action against these business establishments and restaurants.

Deputy Minister Dissanayake was responding to an oral question raised by UPFA MP A H M Azwer.

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