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Wide powers for Basil’s Jana Sabhas

Mar 20 (ST) Legislation to establish Jana Sabhas countrywide to monitor development work will be presented in Parliament next month, a senior Cabinet Minister said yesterday. These Sabhas will come under the purview of Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development. “They will have powers to draw up their own budgets, development plans and seek financial allocations from the Central Government,” Minister Susil Premajayantha said more..

No competitive sports for U-13s

Mar 20 (SL) A committee has been appointed to look into the possibility of issuing a ban on competitive sports at the national level for children under 13 years of age. Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said discussions to introduce this policy follows complaints and requests from principals of schools and parents. Minister Aluthgamage also cited the physical toll competitive sports took on young children as a reason to discuss such a policy. more..

Conman robs losing candidate

Mar 20 (NS) A former UPFA Habaraduwa Pradeshiya Sabha member and a losing candidate at Thursday’s election U. K. Kaluarachchi ended up being a loser even in the run up to the election when a conman walked off with Rs. 348,000 worth of valuables from his home at Meepe, Habaraduwa. The stuff had been removed by the trickster after winning the confidence of the candidate. The man had come in the guise of hunting for a job and was taken in by the candidate to help him win the election. more..

Police bust biggest counterfeit currency notes scam

Mar 20 (LB) Nuwara Eliya police last week busted the biggest counterfeit currency notes scam so far, in Nuwara Eliya. A youth who was well dressed arrived at a trade store situated at the top floor of the Nuwara Eliya bus terminal on March 14, and he wanted to purchase a bottle of oil tendering a new 1000 rupee note. Having taken the new 1000 rupee note the trader then scratched it with his finger nails as he was used to doing. more..

New Galle Face hotel developers face location approval hurdle

Mar 20 (ST) Hong Kong and Chinese investors of two star-class hotels to be built on the area around the Galle Face Green face another hurdle of getting location approval as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has not been carried out as yet, official sources said. The two companies must submit their architectural plans and other details of sewerage systems to the BOI to enable them to carry out the EIA. In terms of the National Environmental Act, more..

UNP leadership issue to be resolved within two weeks

Mar 20 (NS) The United National Party leadership issue will be resolved within two weeks according to the guidelines laid down in the party’s new constitution and approved by the national convention in December last year, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said yesterday. He dismissed as pure speculation reports about Party Leader summoning a special meeting of the working committee tomorrow to take up the matter and arrive at a final decision. more..

MR hat-trick as UNP loses by 10 wickets

Mar 20 (ST) It was victory for a third time in a row for President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Thursday's LG polls since his re-election last year. The political hat-trick came within 15 months after he convincingly won the Presidential election in January last year. Then he led his UPFA to an unprecedented victory at the April 2010 parliamentary elections. Now he has capped it all by securing over four fifths of the 234 local authorities that went to polls. more..

Academics protest: Demand better salaries

Mar 20 (SL) Academics islandwide took to protesting last Tuesday against what they called ‘unfulfilled government promises.’ Speaking to The Sunday Leader, President, Open University Teachers Association, Dr. Mahim Mendis explained that the token protest was to draw attention to the extremely serious and ‘gentlemanly grievances’ faced by academics islandwide. “The highest qualified in the country are paid like beggars. At most, senior professors get Rs. 57,000 as a basic salary. more..

Coconuts: Prices up demand down

Mar 20 (LB) Coconuts traded at their lowest price last week within Colombo and its suburbs at the traditional Thotalanga, Grandpass market. This Thotalanga market lying under the “Old Kelaniya bridge” is visited every day by thousands of smalltime traders and poor consumers who live in and around Colombo north and its suburbs. Last week, coconuts here were unbelievably inexpensive, at Rs.20 for the smallest size nut to Rs.45 per large curry nut. more..

When India nearly crossed the Rubicon on Sri Lanka

Mar 20 (Hindu) After resisting multilateral pressure to get more players involved in the Sri Lankan peace process for over two years, India seriously considered “crossing the Rubicon” in October 2005, the last days of Chandrika Kumaratunga's presidency. But it beat a quick retreat shortly after Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected to power in November, U.S. diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks reveal. more..

UGC approves BCS HEQ as entry qualification for Post Graduate studies

Mar 20 (Island) The UGC has recognized the Higher Education Qualifications (HEQ) obtained from the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute for IT, as an entry qualification for Master’s Programmes including Master’s in Computer Sciences (MSc), Information Technology (MIT) and Business Administration (MBA), a press statement said. Every year, thousands of Sri Lankan students who pass the G.C.E. Advanced Level lose the opportunity of more..

Sri Lanka to open Chinese built first coal power plant named Lakvijaya

Mar 20 (GDI) Sri Lanka first coal power plant named as Lakvijaya ( meaning the victory of Sri Lanka). It is expected to be declared open on March 22 by President Mahinda Rajapaksha at Norochcholai, Puttalam in Northwestern Province. Lakvijaya Power House built with Chinese assistance will add 300 MW to the national grid as its first part of the total 900 MW power generations. The President laid the foundation stone to build the coal power plant on May 11, 2006. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Mar 20 (ST) It was a politically stimulating interaction at New York's Asia Society last week. The discussion focused primarily on the economic and political future of post-conflict Sri Lanka. The two speakers were Robert Blake, former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and now Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, and Dr. Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. more..

Titanium reserves in Sri Lanka ranked ninth largest in the world

Mar 20 (Island) Titanium reserves in Sri Lanka have been ranked the ninth largest in the world, says Professor Ajith de Alwis, Science team leader Slintec, Sustainable Nanotechnology. He presented his findings at the project inception meeting on Nanotechnology in South Asia- Building Capabilities and Governing Technology (Nano Tec Phase II), at the National Science Foundation, Colombo, more..

UNP leadership issue to be resolved within two weeks

Mar 20 (NS) The UNP leadership issue will be resolved within two weeks according to the guidelines laid down in the party’s new constitution and approved by the national convention in December last year, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said yesterday. He dismissed as pure speculation reports about Party Leader summoning a special meeting of the working committee tomorrow to more..

Our exposé stops Cabinet paper

Mar 20 (LB) Sri Lanka is today the only country in South Asia not to have a functioning Public Service Commission. No new members were appointed after the term of the previous commissioners expired. Sri Lanka’s PSC still has a secretariat which according to its website is now based at the World Trade Centre. It has a Secretary and an Additional Secretary (Administration). more..

Golden Key repayment plan to begin with Rs. 3 bn cash infusion

Mar 20 (Island) The first phase of the protracted Golden Key (GK) repayment process is expected to get off the ground at least by early May this year with an initial capital infusion of around three billion rupees by the directors of the proposed holding company to meet part of the liability towards depositors. The names of five nominees to serve as directors, which will include Khavan Perera and Saradha Sumanasekera, former CEO and more..

Now row over Indian railway engines

Mar 20 (ST) A new diplomatic row is developing between Colombo and New Delhi over the latter’s supply of railway engines under an Indian credit line. Transport Ministry Secretary Dhammika Perera has written to the resident Colombo Deputy General Manager of RITES (Railway Infotech and Technical Engineering Services) on March 16 asking him to suspend imports of Indian-built DMU train sets. more..

Star-class room rates in City to go up

Mar 20 (ST) The Government has instructed the hotel industry in the ‘five-star’ sector to increase its room rent to US$ 125 from the present US$ 100 and if it is sold at a lesser rate then a tax of US$ 20 would be imposed on each bed. According to a gazette notification revised rates for all star-class hotels will come into effect from April 1 and will apply only to hotels in the City. more..

Starts from Sigiriya: 40 participants in hot air balloon festival in Sri Lanka

Mar 20 (Island) The Hot Air Balloon Festival which was launched yesterday at Sigiriya will continue until April 2 in different parts of the country. The organizers said that the festival has attracted many participants from USA, UK, Italy, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Sri Lanka. It’s the fourth time this event is being held — the first being in 2003. more..

Lanka’s tsunami aid to Japan hits snag

Mar 20 (ST) The planned presentation tomorrow of a cheque for one million US dollars (Rs. 109 million), as Sri Lanka’s symbolic but generous contribution to help Japan after the earthquake and the devastating tsunami, has been postponed. It was to be handed over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Japanese Ambassador Kunio Takahashi. No reason was given for the delay but more..

'Polls boss regrets cheating after the match is over'

Mar 20 (Island) The UNP says now that Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has admitted the ruling SLFP-led UPFA had abused and misused public property and media for its advantage at the Mar. 17 LG polls, he should explain his failure to stop such abuses. In an interview in the immediate aftermath of the main Opposition party’s latest electoral defeat, Western Provincial Councillor A.J.M. Muzammil pointed out a statement attributed to more..

Elections for the rest of the local councils by May or June

Mar 21 (NN) The local government elections for the councils which were not held last week may likely be held in May or June, the Elections department said today. An official of the department told News that arrangements will be made to hold the elections for those councils on the same day possibly in the month of May or June. The elections for several councils were not held last week owing to the cricket world cup, petitions and demining issues. more..

Containers arriving from Japan will undergo tests for radiation

Mar 21 (NN) Containers arriving from Japan will undergo tests for radiation at the Colombo Port, officials said today. The tests will be carried out by the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority with the assistance of the Customs Department. Already radiation tests are being conducted on air passengers arriving from Japan who wish to undergo the test as a precautionary measure. The test follows concerns over the spread of radiation in parts of Japan as a result more..

Ranil 'dumped' for 'hawkish' Mahinda said India

Mar 21 (BBC) India believed that the LTTE 'dumped' Ranil Wickramasinghe at 2005 presidential elections for 'hawkish' Mahinda Rajapaksa in an attempt to prevent further peace talks, according to the latest revelations by Wikileaks. The revelation by the whistle blower website come in the diplomatic cables sent by the then US Ambassador in Colombo, Robert O' Blake in November 2005. Tamil Tigers forced the electorate in LTTE-held territory to more..

WC 2011: Zimbabwe beat Kenya by 161 runs

Mar 21 (CI) Zimbabwe's spinners completed the job started by their batsmen, sharing seven wickets as Kenya crumbled for 147 in pursuit of 308. This match was the last in the tournament for both teams, and with little but pride to play for, Kenya captain Jimmy Kamande had urged his team to give Steve Tikolo, playing his final game for his country, a fitting send off. It was not to be, however, as half-centuries from Tatenda Taibu, Vusi Sibanda and Craig Ervine carried more..

Sri Lanka 'off-budget' energy subsidies end up in national debt

Mar 21 (LBO) Several years of accumulated 'off-budget' energy subsidies have now come home to roost in the Sri Lanka's national debt, laying bare a tangled web of state energy price manipulation and budgeting. Sri Lanka's Treasury, the agency that collects taxes from the people and also issues debt against future taxes collectable from the people, has given Treasury bonds to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), to cover debts owed from a power utility. more..

'No solution to the rising cost of living'

Mar 21 (SL) Several years of accumulated 'off-budget' energy subsidies have now come home to roost in the Sri Lanka's national debt, laying bare a tangled web of state energy price manipulation and budgeting. Sri Lanka's Treasury, the agency that collects taxes from the people and also issues debt against future taxes collectable from the people, has given Treasury bonds to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), to cover debts owed from a power utility. more..

Whither the concept of equality before the law

Mar 21 (LG) Two recent media reports – among several other similar reports of incidents occurring daily – provided two examples of the manner in which the constitutional provision of equality before the law is treated in this country. According to the first report the Government Medical Officer’s Association (GMOA) had requested the Health Ministry to conduct an investigation against Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Mahipala Herath for allegedly forcing himself into more..

Harvard, LTTE, UN and Sri Lanka Guardian – the Global Cycle

Mar 21 (LG) I keep looking through my mail for an acknowledgment of my complaint of Unlawful Racial Discrimination against Dr. Palitha Kohona, to the Australian Human Rights Commission, on 03 March 2011. As per Due Process which the Commission did follow under previous presidents, I would have by now received an acknowledgment which always helped me feel that I was being valued at that level. To some it may be just routine by an unknown number within the Commission. more..

Forming a development corporation within the armed forces of Sri Lanka

Mar 21 (TC) Of late there have been some adverse comments on the failure to downsize the armed forces after the defeat of the LTTE and engagements of soldiers in seemingly infra dig civilian activities. It appears to be in the national interest to take an objective look at these allegations. First let me deal with the wisdom of disbanding the forces soon after a war that seriously imperilled the nation for thirty long years. more..

Tales from the news desk

Mar 21 (LG) Local government polls have come and gone and UPFA will carry on merrily and the media has hacked them enough so I shall desist from any comments. Besides, I was not there. On this beautiful spring morning in London I woke up with a light heart and a reminiscence of my news desk days inspired me to write this light piece about my colleagues. News desks would have been too tedious a place had it not been for the colourful characters who orbited them. more..

Devastation and genocidal attacks have not changed the Liberation dream of the Tamil masses

Mar 21 (TC) In a recent interview MP Suresh Premachandran said, “That is why we are talking of a political solution within a united Sri Lanka, a federal system. It is because the diaspora has no faith in the govt that they speak of a separate state. If the govt can’t hold a serious discussion on a solution people will feel helpless. In this scenario the separate state cry will continue especially internationally, because the inherent feeling of the people will be there, more..

2000 tanks in Kilinochchi and Mullaithive districts to be renovated

Mar 21 (MoD) A program has been implemented to renovate 2000 which were damaged due to the recent floods in the entire country under the directive given by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Kilinochchi district programme was held at the Karachchi - Uruthirapuram under the patronage of the Chairman of Presidential Task Force for the Resettlement Development and Security in the Northern Province minister Basil Rajapaksa MP on 11 March 2011. more..

Editorial: Sinners stoning sinners

Mar 21 (Island) While the Sri Lankan Opposition is nursing its electoral wounds sustained at last week’s local government polls, its Indian counterpart is on the warpath demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over an allegation that his Congress-led government bribed some rival MPs to win a confidence vote in 2008, when one of its constituent allies, the Communist Party, broke ranks in a huff over a civil nuclear cooperation deal between India and the US. more..

Editorial: Might is Right

Mar 21 (DM) Gaddafi calls it Colonial, Crusader Aggression, the bombers call it Odyssey Dawn. So far 48 people had been killed and 150 wounded in the Western air strikes by early on Sunday in Libya. Three US B-2 stealth bombers dropped 40 bombs on a major Libyan airfield (Remember the precision/surgical bombing?) that was not further identified. Hours later, U.S. and British warships and submarines launched 110 Tomahawk missiles on Tripoli. more..

'He taught us how to live'

Mar 21 (NS) Gamini Fonseka was the stuff that legends are made of. He had a great personality, commanding voice, highly dedicated to his profession, kept good care of his physique and most of all, he is still loved by an entire nation. And when seven years ago, he bade farewell to his family and friends, and thousands of grief-stricken admirers, it signified more than mere passing of an individual. It marked an end of an era. more..

Sisira Mendis: Retirement of an Officer and a Gentleman

Mar 21 (TC) There are things one can say and things one cannot say about a friend. There are things that can be said in private and not in public. There are things that can be said at a specific moment in time but never before or after. Today, I sit and write about my friend, Sisira Mendis, because the time is right to say out loud what needs to be said about this extraordinary officer of the Sri Lanka Police. Sisira retired from service a few days ago. more..

Lessons from Chernobyl, Fukushima and Kalpakkam in South India

Mar 21 (TC) Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri has brought to the attention of the Sri Lankan public the potential dangers posed to Sri Lanka by India’s proposal to build a nuclear plant at Kudankulam, close to Kanniyakumari town at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula which is only 240 miles away from Sri Lanka’s Western coast and is in direct line with Puttalam. The learned scientist has given details of the Kudankulam cluster India is planning to build. more..

State airlines to be taxed

Mar 21 (ST) Twenty five per cent of the profits and income of SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Air, will need to be paid to the Government, for a period of ten years starting from April 1, 2011, under amendments to the Inland Revenue Act which will be introduced to Parliament this week. The Ceylon Electricity Board, the National Water Board, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the Ports Authority will also need to do so for a period of five years more..