Lotteries Board crisis: Govt. Printer awaits AGís decision

by Dilanthi Jayamanne

The crisis on the Development Lotteries Board (DLB) loomed large with government Printer Neville Nanayakkara awaiting a decision by the Attorney General whether to print or not the Gazette notification bringing the DLB under the President.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga who left for Nuwara Eliya on Friday after issuing the controversial order returned to Colombo on Sunday. The Presidentís Office was adamant that the Gazette notification should be printed and the Development Lotteries Board be brought under the President.

Despite the deadlock on the issue between the President and the government, work began at the Government Press in Borella yesterday morning and a large contingent of policeman guarded the premises of the press. Government Printer Neville Nanayakkara said that a majority of the workers reported to work . "Most of them are holding discussions with their unions," he said.

However the Printer said that he awaited the Attorney Generals (AG) ruling to go ahead with the printing of the gazette notification or not.

The Government Printer had not received the AGís ruling at the time this edition went to press.

When contacted by "The Island" Attorney General, K.C. Kamalasabeyson said he would not talk to the press adding he would inform his client of his decision as the matter lay between himself and his client who is the government printer. He refused to say as to when the decision would be sent to the government printer.

The Government Press was sealed after a large crowd stormed into its premises on Friday night and damaged three vehicles and the area leading to the porch. Nanayakkara said that several glass panels had been broken and would have to be replaced while the repairs of the vehicles damaged in the incident would be costly.

On Sunday the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, S.B.Dissanayake pointed out that UNP party supporters "who were enraged" by the printing of the gazette notification issued by the President would have caused the damage.

There had been no damage caused to the machinery, he said adding that the Police had remained near the gate of the Government Press on his request

Nanayakkara held that he would wait for the AG ruling to take the next step.

Presidentís Media Spokesman Janadasa Peiris when contacted said that the Government Press had to print the gazette notification, "they have no other alternative."

Meanwhile, the Cabinet of Ministers at a meeting with the Prime Minister had unanimously said that this was a move by the President to sabotage the peace process and the Tokyo Donor conference to be held in June, government sources said. They had called on the Prime Minister to take action against what they called the unconstitutional act of the President. However, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had responded saying that he wanted to resolve the problem through discussions.

The stand-off between the President and the government on the Development Lotteries Board began on Friday with President Chandrika Kumaratunga issuing an order to bring the board under the President. The Development Lotteries Board came under the Ministry of Economic Reforms held by Minister Milinda Moragoda. But Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe rejecting the Presidentís Directive wrote to her saying the order was a violation of article 44 of the constitution.