Muthiyangena Temple land to be acquired through RUPEUUA Bill – Harin



by Zacki Jabbar



Part of the land belonging to the ancient Muthiyangena Temple in Badulla was to be acquired under the Revival of Under Performing Enterprises and Under Utilised Assets Bill, UNP MP Harin Fernando alleged yesterday.


He told The Island that the Chief Priest of the temple Venerable Murudeniya Dharmarathna Thera had informed him in writing of the proposed acquisition under Section 2(3) of the RUPEUUA Bill, which the government was scheduled to table for approval in parliament today, following yesterday’s determination by the Supreme Court that the Bill was consistent with the Constitution.


According to the Chief Priest, a warehouse built on temple land was leased to Colombo Commercial Company in 2005, but since it had failed to settle rents totalling Rs.3 million, the temple management took back the premises and rented it out to other business ventures, which obviously the government was not aware of, Fernando said.


The Thera says that 138 acres which was part of the temple land on which the warehouse stood, was to be acquired under the RUPEUUA Bill, once it became law, Fernando noted.


He observed that the "Mahinda Chintana" had pledged to propogate and protect Buddhism, but the RUPEUUA Bill aims to achieve the exact opposite.


Among the underutilized assets earmarked in the Bill are lands on which the Hilton Hotel, Pelwatte Sugar Industries, Sevanagala Sugar Industries and Ceylinco Leisure Properties are situated.


The Bill describes Underutilized Assets as (a) land, that was owned by the Government or a Government Agency and alienated within a period of twenty years prior to the date of the coming into operation of the proposed RUPEUUA Act, to any person by transferring freehold or leasehold rights or through a divestiture on the basis that the related operations proposed to be carried out on such land will result in generating employment, foreign exchange earnings or savings or economic activities, beneficial to the public, but where such benefits as aforesaid have not accrued, being prejudicial to the national economic and public interest;


(b) land owned by a person that had been granted within a period of twenty years prior to the date of the coming into operation of the proposed RUPEUUA Act, either, any tax incentives under any law relating to the imposition and recovery of any tax, incentives under the Board of Investment Law or regulations framed there under, or any Government Guarantee, on the basis that the related operations proposed to be carried out connected thereto will result in generating employment, foreign exchange earnings or savings or economic activities, beneficial to the public but where such benefits as aforesaid have not accrued, being prejudicial to the national economy and public interest.


Underperforming Enterprises are described in the Bill as a Company or other authority, institution or body established by or under any written law for the time being in force, in which the Government owns shares and where the Government has paid contingent liabilities of such enterprise and the Government is engaged in protracted litigation with regard to such enterprise which is prejudicial to the national economy and public interest.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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