The continuing dry spell adds to the woes of the CEB, while wheat flour price hikes have added to the woes of bakery owners (and consumers of bread, in general). In better news, the RTI Bill has been approved by all Provincial Councils. In foreign news, however, Europe has been hit by yet another wave of terror, this time in Brussels, while in Russia a plane crash killed all on board.
RTI Approved By PCs
The Right to Information (RTI) Bill has been approved by all Provincial Councils (PCs), and was presented to Parliament by Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka yesterday (24).
President Maithripala Sirisena, bringing up the matter in Parliament on Wednesday informed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya that a few PCs have sought amendments to the Bill.
The RTI Bill was to be tabled in Parliament on March 8, but was delayed as the Northern Provincial Council was yet to give its support to the Bill.
Bread Prices Up
The price of a 450g of loaf of bread was increased by Rs. 4 with effect from midnight Monday (21), according to the All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association.
The decision to raise bread prices was taken after the recent increase in wheat flour prices. The prices of other bakery products are also expected to increase accordingly.
The Prima Company increased the price of one kilogram of wheat flour by Rs. 7.20 from March 12, following the increase in tax imposed on wheat flour imports. Accordingly, the price of a kilogram of imported wheat flour is now Rs. 97.20.
The new price of a 450g loaf of bread would be Rs. 58, according to the Association.
In response to bread price hike, the All Island Canteen Owners’ Association said they would file a court case against the Bakery Owners’ Association, claiming that the price increase is unfair to customers and restaurant owners.
Blackout Sri Lanka: Power Crisis Expected
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) this week noted that, should the prevailing bad weather continue over the next few months, it could result in further power crisis.
CEB General Manager M.C. Wickramasinghe told media on Wednesday (23) that priority had been given to thermal and coal power generation. He explained that hydro power generation has been cut down due to reduction in water levels in most reservoirs.
The Daily Mirror reported that as of Wednesday, water levels in most of the reservoirs had reduced by a considerable amount; the water level in Kotmale was 25.3%, Victoria 53.7%, Rantembe 5.3%, Castlereagh 26.1%, Mausakelle 39.4%, Samanalawewa 30.9% and Randenigala 89.4%.
Meanwhile, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) expects the CEB to submit a report on measures taken to provide uninterrupted power supply.
Thajudeen Case: CID Given Two More Months
The Colombo Additional Magistrate Court on Wednesday gave the CID two more months to submit an extensive report on the inquiry into the murder of ruggerite Wasim Thajudeen.
SSC Dilan Ratnayake who appeared for the AG told court that the CID has already sought foreign assistance in examining CCTV footage, and that it may take time since international procedures will have to be followed.
Additional Magistrate Nishantha Peiris postponed the case to May 12, allowing the CID to continue their investigations.
Gota Summoned By Special High Court
Former Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has been summoned to appear before the Special High Court set up to hear the cases connected to LTTE terrorist activities.
Rajapaksa has been asked by Commissioner Irangani Perera to be present in Court to give evidence in the case of an LTTE-led assassination attempt on the former defence secretary.
BIA On Alert
Security at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) was increased by 200 per cent to prevent a possible terrorist attack, according to Defense Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi.
Addressing a press briefing on Wednesday, he assured that security presently in place at the airport was beefed up following the terror attacks at the Brussels Airport in Belgium on Tuesday (22).
Sri Lanka tightened security at the BIA in December 2015 too, following global terror threats.
Belgium: Brussels Rocked By Twin Explosions
An explosion at a Brussels metro station increased fears that the city is under a terror attack, following two blasts at Brussels Airport Tuesday morning.
The blast occurred at Maelbeek metro station, in central Brussels. Maelbeek metro station is close to the European Union building, and authorities closed down all metro stations in the city following the explosion.
The death toll of the explosions was at 13, while 35 people were reported injured.
The ISIS terror outfit claimed responsibility for the attacks, stating that Belgium was targeted as “a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State”.
While Belgium raised its terror threat to the maximum level, there were no reports of any Sri Lankans being injured in the terror attacks, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Russia: Plane Crash
A FlyDubai Boeing 737-800 en route from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don in Russia crashed on Saturday while attempting to land, killing all 62 crew and passengers.
The budget airline on Wednesday released the names of all passengers and crew on board Flight 981.
Ensuing investigations have reportedly revealed that the airline worked its staff to the point of exhaustion, prompting the idea that crew fatigue may have played a role in the plane crash.
Obama In Cuba On Historic Visit
President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba on Sunday (20), marking the first visit to the island nation by a US president in 88 years.
The three-day trip was reported to be the “culmination of a diplomatic opening announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014, ending an estrangement that began when the Cuban revolution ousted a pro-American government in 1959.”
Obama, who abandoned a longtime U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba, wants to make his policy shift irreversible even if a Republican wins the White House in the November 8 election.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the US President had urged Cuba to improve its human rights record, a move that caused Cuban President Raul Castro to react against US “double standards.”