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Editorial: Gazette and budget

Nov 6 (Island) It was Dr. N.M. Perera, a former finance minister who, if we remember right, conjured the ploy of using pre-budget gazettes to convey unpopular news to the people. Whatever burdens are to be heaped on the backs of the consumer were done by gazette pre or post-budget and the budget itself was spared that unhappy task. Perera’s successors borrowed the trick and we are now familiar with the pre-budget shocks, like the tobacco, liquor and fuel price hikes we were hit with more..

Editorial: Relief for the people

Nov 6 (ST) The portfolio of finance has been considered too important to be left in the hands of anybody but the head of state. Such a policy sends a positive signal that the head of state takes personal responsibility for the health of the economy and takes sound decisions and corrective measures just as the head of a household does in keeping with the fatness of the family purse. Much is expected of a President as Finance Minister. However, mixed signals more..

Unscrambling the scrambled Hilton egg

Nov 6 (Island) Hotel Developers (Lanka) PLC, the owners of the Colombo Hilton Hotel, has paid management fees and other group charges to Hilton Worldwide of Rs.1.37 billion from 2001 to 2010 and this amounts to approximately 33% of the gross operating profit for this period, Mr. Thirukumar Nadesan, the company’s chairman has told shareholders in its just released annual report for 2010. The shareholders meanwhile have got nothing although more..

Ruling party consolidating its power

Nov 6 (NS) Several events unfolded in the local political landscape this week and the issues they raise are likely to have significant repercussions for both the ruling UPFA and the collective opposition in the coming months. First, it was stated that 76 MPs from the ruling party have submitted a request to the Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to probe the conduct of former Chief Justice Sarath Silva. Silva, previously a personal friend of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is now a bitter critic. more..

Cold war breaks out at Colombo MC

Nov 6 (NS) Colombo Mayor A.J.M. Muzammil had to face an unexpected issue over two rooms in the MC building soon after assuming duties in his new office on November 1 and the failure to resolve the issue has led to a complaint being made to the Kurunduwatte Police. It was a group of opposition members of the Council led by opposition leader Milinda Moragoda who set the ball rolling when they opened a new office for the opposition leader in a section of the MC building. more..

Colombo Port back to normal

Nov 6 (NS) The protest which started suddenly last Friday evening at the entrance to the Colombo Port by the container drivers and cleaners ended around noon yesterday (5) with the Ports Authority Chairman Dr. Priyath Wickrama promising to resolve grievances. President of the Association of Container Transport, Upali Gunawardena, said the protest was not pre-arranged, but that drivers and cleaners had got together and had expressed their more..

The ‘Expropriation Bill’ drama

Nov 6 (Island) The talk of the town last week was the so called ‘Expropriation Bill’ that the government has on he cards. A mighty furor has erupted over this piece of intended legislation, with critics and members of the opposition even comparing it to the Business Undertakings (Acquisition) Act No 35 of 1971, of execrable memory. There are also uncalled for acts by boorish government politicians like the invasion of Sevanagala Sugar Industries, a company more..

5th column: Playing a brazen double game

Nov 6 (ST) "Thaaththa," Bindu Udagedera asked, "what is happening to all the cricketers in Pakistan?" "Well," Bindu's father Percy said, "they are doing rather well, aren't they?" "Why do you say that?" Bindu was puzzled. "Why," Percy asked, "even though they haven't been playing cricket in their own country because of security threats, they managed to beat Sri Lanka recently, didn't they?" "No, thaaththa," Bindu said, "I am referring to the Pakistani cricketers more..

Govt to give Galle Face land to Sheraton

Nov 6 (SL) The govt is looking at handing over the seven acre land initially allocated to China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) for a hotel project to Sheraton Resorts and Spas. The govt is looking at reaching an agreement with Sheraton Hotels and Spas to allocate the land that was taken back from CATIC in Galle Face. The govt recently decided to withdraw the controversial deal with CATIC over a dispute over the land ownership. more..

Grudges and Dredges of politics

Nov 6 (LB) Strange bedfellows have joined ranks to oppose a controversial bill, that which envisages expropriating non-performing private enterprises and underutilized assets. The UNP has charged that the bill, titled ‘Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Bill’, smacks of a crude attempt aimed at settling political grudges. A leading UNP financier, Daya Gamage is set to lose Sevanagala Sugar Industries Ltd. should the government go ahead with the bill. more..

JHU fires first salvo against govt.

Nov 6 (SL) Key coalition partner of the UPFA govt the JHU has initiated a movement to raise a voice against the current destructive political trend in the country. The movement named “Pivithuru Hetak” was launched last week with JHU’s Ven. Athuraliye Ratana Thero playing a key role in the movement. The decision to commence the Pivithuru Hetak movement was made following the Mulleriyawa shooting incident on October 8 that resulted in the death of five persons including more..

We will not do this again – Basil Rajapaksa

Nov 6 (LB) The govt will not introduce further laws to take over businesses nor will it acquire any more institutions by amending the schedule to the controversial Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilised Assets bill, said Minister Basil Rajapaksa in an interview. Excerpts: Q: Why was this legislation smuggled in as an urgent bill? A: This was one of the main proposals in the president’s budget speech last November. more..

TELO blames TNA on exclusion from foreign trip

Nov 6 (NS) The TNA has dismissed claims that it had sidelined one of its main constituent parties by excluding them from the delegation to the USA and Canada. However, news of dissention among the TNA was reported last week following the visit of its delegation to the said countries. It was reported the TELO, one of the main constituent parties of the TNA, had expressed its displeasure over the fact that they were not included in the delegation visited the USA and Canada last month. more..

Over 600 INGO/NGOs shut

Nov 6 (SL) Over 600 International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) and local NGOs have been shut since the end of the war in May 2009, the Secretariat monitoring NGOs at the Ministry of Defence said. Most of these INGOs and NGOs had been forced to shut down their operations owing to a lack of funds. Others included projects being rejected by foreign donors, questions being raised about the role of some humanitarian agencies and lack of support from the govt, the official said. more..

'Govt. to re-privatise acquired companies'

Nov 6 (LB) The govt plans to re-privatise most of the companies that are acquired under the controversial urgent bill to be taken up in parliament next week. The bill refers to one underperforming enterprise and the unutilized assets of 36 companies. Minister Basil Rajapaksa said: “Definitely, we will not continue to keep these things. We will invite the private sector to run them because we know the private sector is the best to run these institutions.” more..

TNA MP allegedly in heroin racket

Nov 6 (LB) Evidence has emerged that one of the TNA MPs is engaged in peddling heroin on a large scale after police arrested some suspects who were in possession of the drug recently. The Talaimannar police have been able to gather information regarding a heroin operation that has been going on, allegedly by a TNA MP over a long period of time. This TNA MP had been able to continue with this operation through the sea route covering Talaimannar and India. more..

Minister directs officials to be vigilant on resettlement

Nov 6 (NS) All the Divisional Secretaries in the Northern Region were instructed to pay special attention towards the wellbeing of those displaced due to the war, and presently living in welfare camps and other places by the Minister Douglas Devananada. He stated the situation was changed now and resettlement process was going on making the new ways and means for their livelihood. He stressed that during that transition period too, officials’ involvement and more..

Controversial law figures in WB discussions

Nov 6 (ST) Controversial, proposed legislation to revive underperforming enterprises and underutilised assets through acquisition figured prominently during discussions visiting World Bank Vice President for South Asia Isabel Guerrero had with Sri Lanka’s private sector with the latter raising concerns that this is an impediment to investment. “When I asked the private sector whether it was playing its part (in development) they explained that more..

'Exploitation of patients at Sri J’pura Hospital should stop'

Nov 6 (Island) In a startling disclosure, a key trade union at the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH) — which has hit the headlines over allegations of widespread corruption, waste, mismanagement and financial irregularities – told Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena last week how a surgeon had charged 45,000 rupees from a patient for a colonoscopy when this simple procedure cost only 12,500 rupees in any leading private medical facility. more..

Police praised for restoring Chelva’s statue

Nov 6 (Island) The prompt action taken by the police to restore the statue of late Federal Party Leader S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, fondly known as ‘Thanthai Chelva’ a few hours after it was vandalized by an unidentified group, came in for praise from all sections of civil society especially the Tamil people of Trincomalee, residents said. Under the directions of Senior DIG Eastern Province Jagath Abeysirigunawardena that SP (1 ) Bandula Wijewardena of the Trincomalee more..

Govt. blocks more websites, all must register

Nov 6 (ST) More news websites were blocked yesterday as the Government said those carrying news relating to Sri Lanka should register with it – prompting strong protests by the main opposition United National Party. Following the ban on lankaenews website, the government yesterday blocked,,, and, which is the official website of the UNP. more..

Sri Lanka tops South Asia in Human Development

Nov 6 (SO) Sri Lanka has emerged first in South Asia in terms of human development according to the latest Human Development Report issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Sri Lanka ranks 97th in the world and first in South Asia in the Human Development Index rankings disclosed in the Human Development Report 2011 titled “Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All”. The closest to Sri Lanka in South Asia was the Maldives which ranked 109. more..

Police power to search premises without search warrant restricted

Nov 6 (ST) Search of premises by police without a search warrant has been a contentious issue for over two decades. But sadly, the question as to who is to guide the police, continues to be a serious worry. In view of the public interest in this regard, as evident from media reports, it behoves to elucidate the relevant law. In an article in relation to a police search of WPC Minister Nimal Lanza’s premises, Senior DIG Gamini Gunawardena (retired) quite correctly states that, more..

Govt. adamant on takeover bill

Nov 6 (ST) The govt stood firm last night in its efforts to go ahead with the takeover of 37 business ventures considered “underperforming enterprises” or having “underutilized assets” despite protests from the private sector and the main opposition UNP. President Mahinda Rajapaksa made this clear to organisations representing the private sector. He, however, assured that owners of the enterprises would be allowed to offer proposals to revive their ventures. more..

Army deserters contracted to kill confess to crime

Nov 6 (LB) IGP N.K. Illangakoon appointed a special CID team to conduct inquiries into the murder of Dr. Priyanka Prasad Jayasingha, a popular physician of Karandeniya who was murdered at his private dispensary on September 29 this year. The CID was assisted by a special team from the intelligence unit and the two police squads based themselves in Karandeniya, going all out to nab the criminals behind the murder of Dr. Jayasingha. He was killed at his private dispensary more..

CATIC looking at new land in Colombo

Nov 6 (SL) China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) is now looking at an alternative piece of land in Colombo to commence its hotel project that was initially planned on a seven acre plot of prime land in Galle Face. CATIC together with the Economic Development Ministry is now looking at an alternative land to re-sign an agreement following the govt’s move to withdraw the previous agreement. Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that more..

Grave concern over the effects of urgent bill

Nov 6 (ST) Sitting on top of a six billion rupee empire extending to several spheres, he is easily one of Sri Lanka's top notch business entrepreneurs. Apparel, sugar, electronics, computer software, aviation and construction are just a few among them. The billionaire that he is, 51-year-old Daya Gamage is perhaps the only businessman in the country to own a private jet. Some days, he boards his six -seater Beechcraft C55 for a flight to Ampara where more..

Sri Lanka’s Spice industry – a great success story

Nov 6 (Island) Chairman, Spice Council, Sarada de Silva last week sounded optimism for the future of the spice industry, attributing its success to government policy which ensured all round assistance to the business. This was clear collaboration of government and the private sector working jointly rather than at cross purposes. The end result was that the spice industry progressed and was able to compete successfully with more powerful producers in the South East Asian archipelago, more..

Is LLRC valid after Nov. 15?

Nov 6 (NS) The final report of the LLRC would be ready by next weekend, LLRC Media Coordinator, Lakshman Wickremasinghe said. Speaking to The Nation he further said, the report has been completed except for the final checking and the editing. It would be handed-over to the President Rajapaksa between November 11 and 15. He said the LLRC would not divulge the contents of the report and added it was up to the President to decide what to do with it once it is given to him. more..

Lanka in final lap goes for C’wealth gold

Nov 6 (ST) A 100-strong Sri Lankan team, in a final push to win the 2018 Commonwealth Games host status, left last night for the Caribbean island of St. Kitts where the Games officials will announce their decision on Saturday. The bid team which will hold talks with Games officials include Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, MP Namal Rajapaksa, former cricketer Aravinda de Silva more..

Movement of exports and imports crippled at Colombo port

Nov 6 (Island) A lightning strike by container haulers crippled the handling of all exports and imports at the Colombo port while hundreds of container haulage vehicles parked along some key roads in Colombo caused congestion and confusion in the metropolis and outlying areas yesterday morning. The govt moved in promptly to meet some of the demands of the strikers and more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Nov 6 (ST) Baby Sanari Muthumali who was symbolically chosen as the Lankan baby who reached the seven billion world population mark had to go through pain despite making the nation proud. Notwithstanding protests from her family, the one day-old baby's ears were forcibly pierced by a matron at Castle Street Hospital (on Monday) after being ordered to do so by a woman visitor. She had shouted at the family that the pair of earrings was a gift from a VIP lady and that the baby should wear it before being discharged from the hospital. more..

Three-wheelers’ days are metered as supply outstrips demand

Nov 6 (ST) With more than 100,000 three-wheelers entering the market in the last 10 months, and more cab services being introduced, many three-wheeler operators are losing business, with some of them already looking for alternate employment. A cross section of three-wheeler operators told the Sunday Times that with more three-wheelers coming into the market, the introduction of metered taxies and the use of Nano cars as cabs has affected them badly. more..

Lanka now eyes landmine free status by 2020

Nov 6 (LB) Sri Lanka endeavours to be a landmine-free nation by 2020 with Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa urging the eight mine action agencies on the job, to expedite the clearing. This tittle-tattle of a proposed time frame by which the Sri Lankan govt intends seeking mine-free status trickled out last week at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Nobuhito Hobo. On the occasion, the Japanese envoy signed a grant agreement for the Japanese govt to extend more..

Multi- million-dollar IT complex to be built by Chinese firm

Nov 6 (ST) China’s leading aircraft manufacturing company, which failed to secure land for outright purchase at Galle Face for a multifunctional complex, will be awarded a multi-million dollar contract in the technology sector. Minister S.B. Dissanayake said China Aviation Technology Import-Export Corporation (CATIC) would construct the Institute of Technology complex at Homagama at a cost of Rs 9.9 billion. more..

Gota doesn’t want Ranil’s advice on post-war military strategy

Nov 6 (Island) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says he doesn’t need UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s advise on post-war military strategy. An irate Defence Secretary says the Opposition leader cannot expected to be taken seriously regarding military and foreign policy issues due to the UNP’s pathetic handling of the war effort and so-called Ceasefire Agreement brokered by Norway. more..

DPF wants decision by today on offer to support UNP in CMC

Nov 6 (Island) The DPF — the third biggest force in the CMC — has given UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe time till today to respond to its leader Mano Ganeshan’s offer of support to bring stability through a majority council, DPF General Secretary, Dr. Nalliah Kumar Guruparan said. He said that according to the Municipal Ordinance there is no room for any ‘ceremonial Opposition’ in the Council with more..

Tough new laws to battle spurt of bogus ‘health supplements’

Nov 6 (Island) Tough new regulations are on the cards to arrest the alarming trend of so-called "health supplements", "supplementary medicines" and "health nutrients" in the market which mislead consumers by making unproven claims of a therapeutic effect on the human body, senior health officials warned last week. A spurt in these medicines — some locally manufactured but mostly sourced from lesser known more..

Nationalization ‘blow’ to post-war Sri Lanka hopes

Nov 6 (AFP) Sri Lanka’s president has vowed to turn his war-battered nation into the “miracle of Asia,” but a controversial new nationalization law is seen as a major blow to hopes of wooing foreign capital. The govt says the move will boost investor confidence in the south Asian country, hungry for foreign investment as it recovers from decades of ethnic bloodshed that came to an end in 2009. But the plan has provoked comparisons to Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned land in Zimbabwe, more..

Sri Lanka’s expropriation bill as BATNA

Nov 6 (LBO) The govt is paying a price for advancing a bill to expropriate private enterprises at a time when it wants to attract more foreign investment and to induce domestic investors to commit more resources to productive economic activities. In addition to the negative signals sent by the Bill itself, the govt now has to deal with the implications of Zimbabwe-like occupations, as seen at Sevanagala. When the govt moves to expropriate private property, bad signals go out. more..