Sirisena said that SriLankan Airlines incurred a huge loss due to the actions of the leaders of the previous regime. He also said that he had ended an era where public funds were wasted.He made these remarks while participating in a ceremony to declare open the newly constructed building complex for the Ministry of Finance, today. “At present I have taken steps to cut down on the expenditures of the Presidential Secretariat by 60%,” the President said, adding that he has never used charter flights for his foreign tours and that he travelled economy class with a small number of delegates. President Maithripala Sirisena says he travels only economy class during his official foreign trips.The President also said that he has fulfilled his duties and responsibilities in an appropriate manner during the last one year. He says as President he has ensured financial discipline and also proper management of the country. “It is the responsibility of the politicians and public officials to pay more attention to the idea of financial discipline and management,” he added.The President pointed out the importance of maintaining strict financial discipline and management in implementing development projects and the importance of fulfilling responsibilities from the very beginning of the year to achieve the annual goals. (Colombo Gazette) read more

In his second major intervention in recent months,  Rabbi Mirvis had written an open letter to Labour warning that it risks being on the “wrong side of the fight” against racism unless the party endorses the international definition of anti-Semitism. Jeremy Corbyn was called an “anti-Semite and a racist” by a veteran Labour MP on Tuesday night as the party was plunged into a fresh anti-Semitism row.Margaret Hodge, a well respected Jewish MP and former minister, subjected the Labour leader to an expletive ridden rant in Parliament following the party’s decision to reject an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism.In an extraordinary tirade, Ms Hodge vented her fury over the decision by Labour’s national executive committee to flout the advice of Jewish MPs, leaders and the Chief Rabbi, all of whom had urged the party to reconsider its new code of conduct.Ms Hodge told Mr Corbyn: “You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party.”Mr Corbyn is believed to have responded flatly, telling her: “I’m sorry you feel like that”. Ms Hodge’s grandmother and uncle were murdered in the Holocaust. Margaret Hodge, former Labour minister and veteran MP But Labour has opted to alter four specific examples given in the guidance, provoking a backlash from MPs and Jewish leaders, who have accused Labour of treating anti-Semitism differently to other forms of racism.According to sources present at a meeting of the committee on Tuesday afternoon, a number of senior Labour figures urged the party to listen to concerns of the Jewish community. In his letter, circulated on Monday evening,  Rabbi Mirvis said: “The IHRA definition has been accepted and preferred by governments around the world, including our own.  “Those who vote for anything but the full IHRA definition will be placing themselves on the wrong side of the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance.”Echoing his comments, Wes Streeting MP, chair of the all party parliamentary group for British Jews, said the decision taken by the NEC had been “utterly contemptible”.”The damage it will inflict on our credibility as an anti-racist political party is the leadership’s responsibility – and their alone,” he told The Telegraph.”Jeremy Corbyn and his team were warned time and time again of the devastating damage this would inflict on Labour’s relationship with the Jewish community. They cannot claim to not have understood the profound consequences of this decision.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Those who vote for anything but the full IHRA definition will be placing themselves on the wrong side of the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and intoleranceEphraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi Margaret Hodge, former Labour minister and veteran MP They included Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, and Margaret Beckett, a veteran Labour MP, both of whom made impassioned speeches warning that the party’s reputation would be stained if it proceeded as planned.However, the NEC refused to relent and voted to ratify heir definition instead, meaning it is now official Labour policy. The committee has agreed to open a consultation about potential changes to the code in the future.Their decision was swiftly condemned by Jewish groups across the country, with the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and Community Secretary Trust expressing a “mixture of incredulity and outrage”.Separately, the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, had warned the previous evening that a failure to adopt the IHRA’s definition would send an  “unprecedented message of contempt” to British Jews. Describing the choice facing Mr Corbyn’s party as a “watershed moment”,  Rabbi Mirvis urged it to “make the right decision for Britain” by replacing its new guidance with a version used by governments and public bodies around the world.Taking aim at Labour’s national executive committee,  Rabbi Mirvis said it was “astonishing” that the party believed it was “more qualified” than British Jews to determine what constitutes anti-Semitism. A Labour spokesman insisted the new code was not attempting to “redefine anti-Semitism”, adding that the party had produced the “most detailed and comprehensive guidelines” of any political party.They added: “The NEC upheld the adoption of the code of conduct on anti-Semitism, but in recognition of the serious concerns expressed, agreed to reopen the development of the code, in consultation with Jewish community organisations and groups”. The confrontation came three hours after the party’s governing body decided to ignore the pleas of the Jewish community and sign-off on a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism which differed from the internationally recognised version created by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.The original definition has been implemented in-full by the Government, the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, the Crown Prosecution service and 124 local authorities. read more