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A lacklustre budget debate

Dec 1 (Island) Given the govt’s comfortable parliamentary majority, the passage of the second reading of the 2014 budget on Friday after a lackluster debate surprised nobody. There is no doubt that the Rajapaksa govt, with Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera responsible for all its budgets since 2005, has retained policy consistency. Massive infrastructure expenditure continues despite unanswered questions on whether the country is getting the best prices for such projects more..

The Devil quoting the scriptures

Dec 1 (SL) CHOGM 2013 presented a dilemma to British PM David Cameron. The Tamil diaspora in Britain, that had cleverly registered its supporters in closely contested electorates, demanded that he boycotts the event in Colombo. The Labour Party had called on its members to boycott the Summit. Antagonising the raucous supporters of the banned terrorist organisation (though banned in Britain) could have placed Cameron’s Conservative Party at grave risk at the next elections. more..

'Budget 2014, a well-planned financial policy framework'

Dec 1 (SO) Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said three main responsibilities entrusted on the Government is addressing issues of security, welfare and development. These issues have been addressed in the recent Budget. He said the salient feature of the Budget is to reduce the seven percent economic growth and retain the inflation rate between the rate of 5 to 6%. Since the two aspects have been dealt with more..

TNA must take disciplinary action against Sritharan

Dec 1 (SO) The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) of 1978 which was first enacted as a temporary law in 1979 by the then UNP Govt led by the late President J.R. Jayewardene was passed as an Act in Parliament three years later. The PTA of Sri Lanka prohibits its citizens from supporting terrorism and separatism that threaten the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It even bans the airing of views that support and encourage terrorism. Those who violate the PTA would be more..

Appropriating unto the Rajapaksas what is due to the people

Dec 1 (ST) Spend in haste, repent at leisure. That is exactly what the majority of Sri Lankans will have to do over the next 12 months, not because they are directly responsible for the Govt’s extravagant expenditures in 2013, but because they have little, or no say in where their tax money goes. And spend indeed the Govt did in 2013, with billions of rupees disbursed for the recently held CHOGM, in addition to expending on massive infrastructure development viz, port, airport, highways, more..

'Despite people's support for TNA: Development will go on apace in North'

Dec 1 (SO) By refusing to implement the Mahinda Chinthana in the Northern province, the TNA and Northern Province Chief Minister Wigneshvaran are attempting to implement a 'Magadi Chinthana' in the Northern province, Minister Douglas Devananda said. He said that the TNA was the spoke in the wheel and prevented the people in the North of benefiting from the Indian Premier visiting Sri Lanka for CHOGM. more..

Poaching crisis: Haul India before ICJ

Dec 1 (ST) With the recently concluded CHOGM we saw that multilateralism nowadays is a fading concept in international affairs, and bilateralism — issues between nations, enveloped in the domestic compulsions of political parties — is now the order of the day. The excitement in the corridors of power in Canada, Britain and India demonstrated that even when it comes to a group of 53 nations, priority rests with the pressures of the electorate rather than the bigger picture of world affairs. more..

Delivering on the home wicket

Dec 1 (ST) My Dear Murali, I thought I must write to you after hearing that you had played cricket with that British PM chap, David Cameron during his visit here. Although it didn’t seem like you could get him out-at cricket, of course-we were told that you had given a piece of your mind to him. We heard you told him that it was not only those in the North who were affected by the war and that thousands in other parts of the country had also died in the conflict-even though Cameron seemed to be interested more..

'This is a one sided budget'

Dec 1 (SL) Opposition MP Sajith Premadasa opines that the budget has failed to meet the needs of the poor and argues that it is therefore a failed budget. Q: With regard to the budget what are your views on the benefits or disadvantages to the people? A. I personally think that this budget does not achieve the aspirations and expectations of the vast majority of the people. I think this is a budget catered to cushion more..

The rule of lawlessness

Dec 1 (NS) Bertold Brecht once wrote about the impact of continuing and escalating violence. At first, there is horror and protest, but as the violence continues and the number of victims grows, a strange silence covers all, he said. This country was forced to learn to live with violence for several decades. Two insurrections and a full blown armed conflict benumbed society to the point that other types of violence including murders hardly raised an eyebrow. more..

Of CHOGM, Budget and Per Capita Debt

Dec 1 (NS) Last Friday saw the end of Second Reading stage of the debate on budget 2014 with the Govt winning by a majority of 99 votes. The vote taken on the Appropriation Bill for 2014 after seven days of debate received 154 votes in favour and 55 against. All the opposition parties, UNP, TNA and DNA voted against the budget. From Monday to Friday, the House witnessed failures, winners and scorers from both sides of the Well. The number of issues of their choice was very few: more..

Sri Lanka joins the DRS club

Dec 1 (ST) Sri Lanka has officially joined the permanent DRS club with the signing of the current TV deal which is effective till 2020. According to SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, the deal contains a clause which binds the official TV provider to bear all costs of the Umpires Decision Review System (DRS). Explaining the modalities of the system, he said, “The TV deal came into effect from April, though all formalities of the signing more..

Murali is transparent, accountable and pretty much reconciled

Dec 1 (NS) It was the 22nd day of the month of July in 2010. Galle was the venue of the first test between Sri Lanka and India. India had avoided innings defeat but was ahead only marginally with 9 wickets down. For 15 overs and two deliveries, much of the cricketing world waited and watched with rising anticipation. Muttiah Muralitharan had already taken 799 test wickets. It was his last test. He had one shot at achieving the numerically satisfying ‘800’ to end an illustrious career. more..

Differential treatment for Tamil and Sinhala terrorists

Dec 1 (Island) There was quite a flutter last week about possible plans by certain elements in the north to commemorate the LTTE ‘Heroes Day’ which used to be marked on November 26 every year. The government’s stand was that no commemoration of LTTE terrorists could be allowed in Sri Lanka. We have to admit that there is an inherent contradiction when the Tamil terrorists are not allowed to commemorate their dead while the Sinhala terrorists are free to do so. more..

Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Mourn

Dec 1 (SL) The two issues that grabbed the headlines last week were Mangala Samaraweera filing a case against the head of a leading media institution and the govet prohibiting anybody from glorifying or promoting the LTTE even under the pretext of media freedom. With reference to some incidents, there is a question about media freedom and whether that freedom is being misused. Many have expressed their discontent of more..

Inside Politics

Dec 1 (SL) Karu Jayasuriya, the newly appointed Chairman of the UNP Leadership Council assumed his spade-work last week when he chaired a meeting for party supporters of Gampaha ahead of a possible provincial council election that will, in all likelihood, take place early next year. The purpose of the meeting was to welcome the new Leadership Council of the UNP and its members. Although the meeting took place amidst heavy rain, thunder and lightning, more than 3000 party supporters more..

A fitting follow up to Lord Levson’s Report

Dec 1 (Island) It was just a couple of weeks ago, that we had occasion to mention in relation to the presence of the Channel 4 team in Sri Lanka, the monumental report on the culture and practices of the British media written by Lord Justice Brian Levson. Just prior to CHOGM, Engage Sri Lanka, a group of expatriate Sri Lankans put out a book titled ‘Corrupted Journalism: Channel 4 and Sri SL’. As the title of the book makes clear, it's about the documentaries on SL produced by C4. more..

Super-rich escapes proposed wealth tax

Dec 1 (ST) Pressure by highly influential persons saw the Govt withdrawing a proposal, planned in the budget, to impose a tax on the super-rich, authoritative sources said. However, the tax is expected to be introduced later through a different process. Instead, to raise revenue, a series of new taxes were introduced in addition to increasing import duties and cess, all aimed at lifting revenue by at least Rs. 41 billion. more..

French call to abolish death sentence

Dec 1 (SL) The French govt has urged Sri Lanka to completely abolish the death sentence. The French Ambassador to Colombo Jean-Paul Monchau made the request when he met Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem last week. He noted that internationally it has been accepted by most countries that the death sentence should be abolished and so he urged Sri Lanka to follow that line. Justice Minister had responded by saying the govt will give consideration to the request, sources said. more..

Unused TV licences to be cancelled

Dec 1 (SL) The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) says unused television licences will be cancelled next year. TRC Director General Anusha Pelpita said that the Media Ministry and the TRC will work towards cancelling the unused licences. He said that at present there are 24 television channels an in his view that is too much. Pelpita says new television frequencies will not be provided in future and strict regulations will be in place for existing TV licence holders. more..

CPC pins hopes on Geneva deal

Dec 1 (ST) The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has expressed hope that last Sunday’s Geneva deal between Iran and world powers will pave the way for the lifting of the sanctions which have had adverse effects on Sri Lanka. “Not only Iran, even Sri Lanka has been under sanctions,” CPC Managing Director Susantha Silva said. He said Sri Lanka’s petroleum sector faced problem after problem after the United States and more..

‘New look’ Colombo fails rain test

Dec 1 (ST) Colombo city’s roads, pavements and culverts that were renovated for the recently concluded CHOGM were put to test last evening when heavy rains plummeted the city. Some of the roads including Reid Avenue near the Race Course and pavements were submerged for a couple of hours making it difficult for both pedestrians and motorists. It took several hours for the water to drain off underlying the fact that in spite of all the renovations and beautification of the city more..

No breakthrough in Delft PC Chairman’s murder

Dec 1 (NS) Statements have been recorded from over ten individuals but there is yet to be a breakthrough on investigations on the murder of Delft PS Chairman, Daniel Rexian. SSP Rohana said the investigations were carried out by the CID. “There has been no breakthrough. But the investigations are continuing,” he said. Meanwhile, the EPDP said it was unaware of the motive behind the killing and hence it was difficult to say whether it was politically motivated or not. more..

'Budget allocation for defence is non-negotiable'

Dec 1 (Island) Senior Minister, Dr. Sarath Amunugama said although there are many questions on expenditure for defense, budgetary allocations for this sector is a non-negotiable and is unmistakably part of this govt’s investment platform. At a panel discussion on the 2014 Budget, he said quite unlike the second world war when the British govt de-mobilized their armed forces and had them return to civilian life; in the current context, more..

HRC to decide on Anandi’s complaint

Dec 1 (SL) The Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sri Lanka is streamlining the case lodged by NPC member Anandi Sasitharan, the wife of former LTTE Trincomalee political head S. Elilan, Commissioner of the Human Right Commission of Sri Lanka Dr Prathiba Mahanamahewa said. Sasitharan had lodged the complaint against the police with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka regarding a threat to her life. “The complaint was lodged by Sasitharan at the Jaffna branch. more..

Death of Baku Mahadeva

Dec 1 (Island) Desamanya Baku Mahadeva, one of the oldest surviving members of the former Ceylon Civil Service, passed away yesterday at the age of 91-years. Mahadeva had an illustrious career spanning four decades serving as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture & Food, Secretary Ministry of Public Administration & Home Affairs. and also held the post of Secretary to the Treasury post-retirement. He had also served as Chairman of the National Development Bank more..

BMICH fire: Police rule out sabotage

Dec 1 (NS) Police last evening ruled out sabotage as the cause of the fire that gutted a temporary hall at the BMICH last afternoon. Police stated that the fire was caused by a petrol leak from an oven that was displayed at the exhibition held at the hall. Many undetermined new inventions submitted at this exhibition, titled ‘Sahasak Nimevum’, were destroyed by the fire that broke out soon after the exhibition was declared open yesterday. more..

GTF denounces Nonis' comments

Dec 1 (CT) The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) said it was absurd that High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in London, Dr. Chris Nonis, has accused British PM, David Cameron, of speaking to the Tamil gallery in the UK, during a recent interview with BBC. GTF spokesperson, Suren Surendiran, said "When the British PM was in Sri Lanka attending CHOGM and back in the UK, he raised the issues of freedom of the press. Lasantha Wickrematunge was gunned down in broad daylight for which no one more..

MPs want no confidence motion against TNA MP

Dec 1 (SO) Members of Parliament are agitating for a no confidence motion against TNA MP S. Sritharan for violating the Constitution in an attempt to pay tribute to a terrorist leader of a banned terror outfit in Parliament. MP Sritharan in a statement read out on Tuesday in Parliament, when the second reading of the 2014 Budget debate was in progress glorified V Prabhakaran as a freedom fighter. His speech coincided with Prabhakaran’s birthday on November 26. more..

GK to seek Supreme Court go-ahead to liquidate assets worth Rs. 3.5 b.

Dec 1 (Island) The new board of directors of the revived Golden Key will seek SC sanction tomorrow to liquidate a part of the assets identified so far worth Rs. 3.5 billion belonging to the company, its subsidiaries and former Chairman, Lalith Kotelawala. Amongst the key assets are a parcel of 4.7 million shares worth billions of rupees, of which 50% are under the name of Kotelawala, in a leading Ceylinco company, more..

Huge cooking oil fraud by three companies

Dec 1 (ST) An alleged one-billion-rupee fraud involving false declarations by three major palm oil importing companies has been detected by the Customs, a senior official said. The three importers had been declaring their consignments as ‘unrefined oil’ though they had been importing ‘refined oil’, thereby depriving the Govt of Rs 30 a kilogram in taxes. This year, they had imported more than 28 million kilograms so far. A full report on the fraud has been compiled by the Customs more..

Forced to pay for O/L admissions

Dec 1 (SL) The principal of a school in Dalugama in the Kelaniya Education Division has forced students sitting for the O/L exams to pay Rs. 500/= to sit for O/L exams. General Secretary of Lanka Teacher Services Union (LTSU) Mahinda Jayasinghe said that three O/L classes are at the school and about 120 students are going to sit for the O/L exam this year. Parents of some students reported that the principal of the school had charged Rs. 500 from each student to sit for the O/L exams. more..

'We won’t rest till Tamils secure their rights'

Dec 1 (OI) India asserted that it would not rest till the Sri Lanka implemented the 13th amendment and insisted on an "elaborate, independent and genuine probe" acceptable to the international community into the 'genocide' by that govt during 2009 civil war. "There are attempts being made there for not implementing the 13th amendment. Efforts are being made to dilute many provisions by the Rajapaksa govt. more..

Four Army Brigadiers to be promoted

Dec 1 (NS) President Rajapaksa, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has approved the promotions of four Brigadiers of the SL Army (SLA) to the rank of Major General. Brigadier MZR Sallay is from SL Ordnance Corps (SLOC) and will be the first from the Malay Community to hold the rank of Major General. Brigadier Sallay joined the Army in 1980 and held numerous positions. As Director of Ordnance Corps during 2006-2009, he played a crucial role in the final years of the war. more..

Dulles rules out Presidential or General elections in 2014

Dec 1 (Island) SLFP, the main constituent of the UPFA is expected to take up for discussion the issue of calling for Presidential or Parliamentary elections in 2014, at the Samasta Lanka Karaka Sabha meeting of the party scheduled for Wednesday at Temple Trees. President Rajapaksa will preside at this meeting where 1,000 delegates including members of the Central Committee, ministers, MPs, electoral organizers, chief ministers and chairmen of local bodies are due to participate. more..

Govt. continues extravagant borrowing and spending spree

Dec 1 (ST) Preparations for the UNHRC sessions in March next year and fast tracking some key development projects have become new priorities for the Govt. They replace two other major priorities which took weeks and months of preparations, CHOGM and the budget presented in Parliament on Nov 21. This is amidst other key developments. One is the continuing expansion of SL’s diplomatic missions overseas. more..

After CHOGM ecstasy preparing for Geneva agony: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

Dec 1 (Island) CHOGM may not have been unblemished ecstasy, but Geneva will be every bit an agony unless the govt gets its act together in time for the UNHRC sessions in March next year. Three months are not enough to resolve the contradictions of a thirty year war. The govt could possibly make that argument, but it would be a hard sell coming 56 months, after the war ended, of political indifference and inaction towards the Tamils, and inexplicably orchestrated harassment of the Muslims. more..

Decoding the inscrutable Chinese CP

Dec 1 (Island) The Third Plenary session of Central Committee elected at the 11th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party’s met in December 1978, chose Deng Xiaoping as paramount leader, adopted an agenda of economic reforms and the rest is history you might think. No, it was two years before the world awoke to its colossal impact. The plenum communiqué, crafted in Mao-speak, was as opaque as a slab of lead. The Third Plenum of the 18th CC met in November 2013. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Dec 1 (ST) An internationally reputed audit firm has made a damning indictment of Mihin Lanka, touted as SL’s regional carrier, after examining its accounts for 2010 – 2011. PricewaterhouseCoopers has said in the report to be tabled in Parliament that “The company had incurred a net loss of Rs. 940.49 million for the year and the company’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by Rs. 1,083.92 million reflecting a more..

Cut trees to pay EPF, ETF dues

Dec 1 (ST) The Government will cut down trees in state-owned plantations and sell the timber to pay statutory dues of thousands of employees. A proposal to this effect has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on a recommendation by Minister Dayasritha Tissera. The proceeds are to be utilised to pay overdue EPF, ETF and gratuity payments to employees in the plantation sector. more..