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Navy launches SAR to locate fishermen of Indian vessel sank in SL waters

Jan 19 (SLN) Sri Lanka Navy launched a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation last night in search of a sunken Indian fishing boat and its fishermen, in Sri Lankan waters about 8 nautical miles (15 km) within the IMBL northwest of Delft Island, following a resisting arrest incident took place in the dark hours on 18th Jan. SLN units on patrol carried out an operation to seize Indian fishing trawlers poaching in SL waters trespassing the IMBL, after observing more than 50 trawlers. more..

'GDP growth to strongly rebound in 2021'

Jan 19 (AD) Sri Lanka's economic growth is expected to strongly rebound in 2021 with a growth of around 5%- 6%, CB Governor Deshamanya Prof. W.D. Lakshman said. "The Govt and the Central Bank is continuing the discussions with bilateral and multilateral partners, both internationally and locally and we are confident that the Sri Lankan economy will continue to display its resilience. more..

Delayed PC polls: Election monitors warn govt of international implications

Jan 19 (Island) The postponement of the Provincial Council (PC) elections had created issues for Sri Lanka, internationally, Executive Director of the CaFFE Manas Makeen said. “This is something that Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Indian Minister of External Affairs, hinted at when he was here. Postponing PC elections has given external actors an opportunity to exert their influence here. PCs are a part of our law and either we abolish this system or hold elections.” more..

Ukrainian tourist pilot project netted Rs. 420 m: Prasanna

Jan 19 (FT) Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga revealed that the pilot project of bringing leisure visitors from Ukraine has generated a foreign exchange earning of Rs. 420 million. Since 28 December Ukrainian International Airlines and charter carrier SkyUp have been bringing around 1,500 Ukrainians to spend short stays in isolated hotels and visits to select tourist sites adhering to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Minister disclosed the foreign exchange earnings more..

SJB urges Speaker to allow Ranjan to attend Parliament

Jan 19 (Island) SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella requested Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to permit MP Ranjan Ramanayake, sentenced by the Supreme Court to four years rigorous imprisonment for contempt of court, to attend Parliament sittings. He made that request at yesterday’s party leaders meeting held at the Parliamentary complex with Speaker Abeywardena presiding. MP pointed out that MP Ramanayake would not lose more..

Sajith demands to know why Ranjan was not brought to Parliament

Jan 19 (EN) The Opposition is demanding to know why Speaker has not made arrangements for SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake to attend Parliament today. SJB leader Sajith Premadasa pointed out in Parliament today that Chief Elections Commissioner had stated that Ramanayake will not lose his seat for the next six months. Ramanayake has been sentenced to four years Rigorous Imprisonment for contempt of court for saying that most Judges and lawyers are corrupt. more..

Video: Cabinet grants relief measures for settling utility bills

Jan 19 (AD) The govt has decided to grant a 6-month grace period for electricity consumers in isolated areas to settle their electricity bills. However, this relief will only apply to domestic, commercial, and industrial electrical consumers of areas under isolation for over 14 days. In the meantime, the electricity connection of the relevant consumers will not be disconnected, Cabinet has decided. The relevant proposal has been submitted for the approval of the Cabinet by more..

Covid-19 Situation Report

Video: Group of Ukrainian tourists visits Polonnaruwa

Jan 19 (AD) A group of Ukrainian tourists who are currently visiting Sri Lanka have been escorted in a special bio-secure bubble to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa today. SL welcomed the first batch of foreign tourists since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, as a flight specially chartered by SkyUp Airlines touched down at the Mattala Int'l Airport with 180 Ukrainians in late December. Nearly 1,200 Ukrainian tourists have arrived in the country to date, following the reopening of airports more..

Govt to abolish Colombo commercial fertiliser Co; form Organic fertiliser authority

Jan 19 (Island) Cabinet has endorsed a proposal by Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage to dissolve the Colombo Commercial Fertilizer Company and establish an Organic Fertilizer Authority. Minister said his goal was to 70% of fertilisers used in the country would be organic. Aluthgamage said that only one per cent of the country’s fertiliser requirement was currently produced locally, and that Rs. 16.5 million would be obtained from the Treasury and more..

Keheliya says mandatory military training only a proposal

Jan 19 (EN) The govt says the idea to provide military training for all citizens over 18 years of age is only a proposal presented to the govt, and it is a thing already done in some of the so-called five-star democracies in the world. Co- Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters today that in order to look into that proposal the relationship between the political surroundings in our country and more..

CBD Business Centre in Fort hosts official opening; ready for new tenants in 2021

Jan 19 (FT) CBD Business Centre, the landmark corporate edifice in Fort, Colombo 1 is all set to welcome new tenants at the start of the new year following an extensive Rs. 609 million renovation by its owner Cargo Boat Development Company PLC (CBD). The iconic 38-year-old building, is now ready for occupancy by companies looking for contemporary office spaces centrally located in Colombo’s business district at an affordable rent. Long-standing director of the CBD Company more..

Worker remittances hit record US$ 813mn in Dec 2020, full year up

Jan 19 (EN) SL’s foreign remittances in Dec 2020 grew 22.2% from a year earlier to 813 million dollars, which is a historic high, Director of Economic Research at central bank Chandranath Amarasekara said. “With regard to worker’s remittances also during the first wave we expected a decline,” he said. “But in fact we have seen a healthy growth.” “During December the highest ever recorded monthly remittance of US$ 813 million had been recorded. That is 22.2% y-o-y growth more..

Environmental group rings warning bells over Aussie Co. plan to mine limonite...

Jan 19 (Island) There would be significant environmental damage to the Mannar Island if an Australian mining company was allowed to carry out proposed limonite sand mining there, Dr. Ravindra Kariaywasam of the Centre for Environment & Nature Studies (CENS), warned. He said: “The Company is planning to mine an area of the island that is 2 km wide and about 8 km long. It started preliminary assessment with more..

'Covid jab: Politicians won’t be the priority'

Jan 19 (CT) Denying claims that politicians will be prioritised when vaccinating against COVID-19, Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera said those over 75 years and health -care workers who are in constant contact with COVID-19 patients should be given the vaccine first. He added that even though discussions are underway on the type of vaccine the authorities are hoping to introduce in the country, they have not discussed a priority list as to who should be vaccinated first. more..

Govt has betrayed expatriate voters: SJB

Jan 19 (NR) The SJB says the govt has betrayed the thousands that flew down to Sri Lanka to cast their ballot at the 2019 Presidential Election. MP Thalatha Atukorale said planes packed with expatriates landed in Sri Lanka ahead of the Nov 16 election to vote for an individual who claimed to ensure security, who vowed not to sell the country’s assets and promised to protect Buddhism. However, the MP charged that today, such groups are unable to return to Sri Lanka due to inaction by the govt. more..

First Sri Lankans to be vaccinated against Covid 19 will be MPs probably on Feb 4

Jan 19 (EN) SL is likely to begin vaccinating select citizens against Covid 19 in early February, probably on Independence Day with the Indian Serum Institute produced vaccine which is a version of the so-called Oxford Vaccine, highly-placed sources said. This will be with the doses India has announced it will begin to distribute to its neighbours in the coming week as part of its vaccine diplomacy. First people to get the vaccine are likely to be more..

The overheated debate on the overheating of the stock market

Jan 19 (FT) Down 25% leading up to the COVID-19 lockdown but powerfully bouncing back +48% to close 2020; and up another +14% in value in the first two weeks of 2021. And all this in the backdrop of residual pandemic uncertainty. This is the story of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in the last 12 months. Is questioning the persistent growth of the All Share Price Index (ASPI) of the CSE understandable? Yes, it is. Is concluding that the market is overheated justifiable? No, it is not more..

These photos of wall art in Sri Lanka were not taken at the same location

Jan 19 (AFP) Multiple Facebook posts shared thousands of times purport to show two comparison shots of a mural in Sri Lanka alongside a claim that it shows the painting has deteriorated. The claim is misleading: the photos do not show the same mural. Photos captured of the first mural shows the painting remains intact. This Facebook post was published on January 5, 2021. It has been shared more than 5,000 times. It features a comparison of two images that are titled Then and Now. more..

Prison overcrowding due to increased remand prisoners

Jan 19 (CT) The Prisons Department, in a document titled Prison Reforms - Five Year Plan (2021-2025), cited three reasons behind the overcrowding of prisons. They were an unnecessary remand population, high prison population for minor offences, and imprisonment for narcotics related offences. “Chief reason for a high prison population is the unnecessary remand population,” report said. more..

Five players released from SL Test squad

Jan 19 (SLC) National Selectors released 05 players from the National Test Squad currently taking part in the ongoing Test Series vs England. Accordingly, Dimuth Karunaratne (due to injury), Kusal Mendis, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Kumara, and Nuwan Pradeep will head home tonight. The released players will return to training at the High-Performance Center in Colombo. Whilst in the absence of Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal will continue to Captain the team in 2nd test more..

Pakistan PM Imran Khan to visit Sri Lanka

Jan 19 (Hindu) Pakistani PM Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in February, according to official sources. He will be the first head of govt to visit SL since the pandemic struck last year. “The visit is likely towards the end of February,” an official source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Mr. Khan’s visit, scheduled a month after Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s three-day visit to Colombo, will likely coincide with the early days of the 46th UNHRC session in Geneva, more..

AG finds MCC Compact inconsistent with the Constitution

Jan 19 (AD) The Attorney General has declared the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact to be inconsistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. According to State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne, the Coordinating Officer of the Attorney General, the Attorney General has advised the Secretary to the Prez on the matter through a 20-page detailed instruction letter. The advice of the AG has been based observations more..

Sri Lanka to make sign language recognized means of communication

Jan 19 (AD) The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the proposal to make necessary provisions through an Act of Parliament for making Sign Language a recognized means of communication and to advise the legal draftsman to draft the relevant bill. The proposal has been tabled by PM Mahinda Rajapaksa. Cabinet’s approval to accept Sign Language as a recognized language has been granted back in 2010. There is a significant hearing-impaired community in Sri Lanka. more..

Govt approves to revise Penal Code relate to statutory rape

Jan 19 (DM) The Govt today approved the proposal to revise the provisions of the Penal Code under section 363 relating to statutory rape. Cabinet Spokesman and Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the Penal Code under section 363 makes rape a serious offence and the Penal Code also provides information on the specific offences that fall under that offence. However, he said there is a contradiction in the law regarding statutory rape. more..

Video: Decision on Ranjan’s MP seat within 3 weeks: Speaker

Jan 19 (AD) Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena says that a decision regarding the parliamentary seat of MP Ranjan Ramanayake, who has been sentenced to four-years in prison, will delivered within three weeks after studying the facts pertaining to him losing the seat. The Speaker made these comments after several opposition and ruling party MPs had expressed views regarding the matter at more..

Stormy ports

Jan 20 (ST) So, the stormy East Container Terminal (ECT) issue at the Colombo Port has been settled. Or has it? Prez Rajapaksa, at a meeting with several protesting trade unions, earlier this week reiterated the govt position that 51 per cent of the terminal will be held by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and neither will it be sold or leased, while the balance 49% will be offered to India’s Adani group, which has close links to PM Narendra Modi and his govt, and other investors. more..

Who should get COVID-19 Vaccine first?

Jan 20 (DM) Sri Lanka is faced with two COVID-19 related medical issues. The first is, which vaccine should we give our population, i.e., US, UK, Russian, Chinese or Indian? International safety approvals, costs, foreign assistance and logistics of distribution and availability of cold chains are the key factors that will be considered in deciding the most appropriate vaccine for Sri Lankans. Let’s leave that to the WHO, Ministry of Health, Medical Trade Unions et al., to grapple this problem. more..

Here’s how you can help your favourite small business get back on their feet

Jan 20 (Roar) At the time the novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, SL was only beginning to recover from the economic and emotional wounds of the Easter Sunday attacks. But, by mid March 2020, it was clear that the virus was here to stay, forcing us to hunker down and wait it out. From an economic standpoint, this was especially difficult for our micro, small, and medium enterprises. more..

Sentence of 4 years RI for contempt of court is unprecedented: Sumanthiran

Jan 20 (CT) Speaking in Parliament today re. Ranjan Ramanayake, Sumanthiran said: “I want to flag one or two issues concerning the responsibility of the parliament in this regard. But before I do that I am bound by law and tradition to disclose my interest in the matter. I am the counsel who appeared for Hon. Ranjan Ramanayake in the supreme court, I was privileged to appear for a clean, honest politician in a court and I am proud of that, nevertheless he has been convicted more..

Promoting IT exports

Jan 20 (CT) SL’s IT and IT services exports, despite operating in a COVID-19 environment, grew by 10.2% (US$ 0.111 billion or by $111 million) to $1.20 billion, year-on-year (YoY) last year (2020), according to data released by (SLASSCOM, the industry body. This was revealed by Lanka Angel Network (LAN) Director Prajeeth Balasubramaniam to the Media yesterday. LAN provides either seed funding to technology related startups and/or buy into the equity stakes of such startups, more..

ECT to India Official

Jan 20 (CT) Amidst continuous protests staged by the Port Trade Unions and academics, SL had to look outwards to reduce the tension between Indo-China relations and last week, the Govt officially announced it is awarding India’s Adani Group a 49% stake of the East Container Terminal (ECT), one of the three deep ports SL owns, explaining that they had all the more reasons to do so. But there was neither transparency nor clear policies on more..

Have Tamils benefitted from UNHRC resolutions?

Jan 20 (DM) Last week 11 Tamil political parties and civil society groups wrote to 47 member states of the UNHRC urging them to refer Sri Lanka to the UN Security Council and set up an int'l outfit similar to the International Independent Investigatory Mechanism (IIIM) on Syria to inquire into the crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The letter was signed by R. Sampanthan, Leader, TNA, G.G. Ponnambalam, Leader, TNPF Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, Leader, TMTK, more..

Pragmatic economic policies for post COVID economic growth

Jan 20 (ST) Containing the spread of COVID-19 is the immediate and paramount concern. At the same time the adoption of correct economic policies for recovery and growth must address the fundamental weaknesses of the economy. They must be pragmatic and realistic. The repayment of foreign debt obligations this year is an immediate and pressing task. The Govt is confident of meeting these obligations despite low foreign reserves and the deteriorating balance of payments. more..

ECT, Economy & Politics

Biden-Harris administration, US-China relations and need for co-operation

Jan 20 (DM) The US democracy which the Biden-Harris administration is taking over is a severely wounded one. The biggest hurdles the administration face is a deeply polarized US society. A society in which minorities have been marginalized and racial schisms promoted. Gun violence has been condoned and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of the poor promoted. A hallmark of the past regime has been promotion of anti-immigrant sentiment, more..

Fall armyworm: Strategies for effective management

Jan 20 (Island) Fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera; Noctuidae), a quarantine pest, has been identified as a very destructive insect pest of Maize/Corn. This insect originated in Americas and invaded the African region in 2016 and was detected in India the following year and perhaps would have naturally migrated to Sri Lanka last year from India. Now, it is reported that FAW is present in all districts of Sri Lanka except Nuwara-Eliya and Jaffna. more..

Ashantha de Mel to quit as Sri Lanka Cricket Team Manager

Jan 20 (DN) SL Cricket Team Manager Ashantha de Mel will be resigning as the team manager after the second Test against England. He said, “I will be resigning from the team manager’s post from the end of this two-match Test series against England due to personal reasons. I took this post of team manager on a temporary basis.” SL’s hopes were also shattered ahead of the second Test against England in Galle with the news that more..

Editorial: ECT, Port City and Potemkin village

Jan 20 (Island) East Container Terminal (ECT) dispute remains unresolved. Protesting port workers have rejected a govt condition for negotiations as a Hobson’s choice; they have said the govt has offered to discuss the issue, provided they agree to consider the proposed joint venture between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and India’s Adani Group as non-negotiable. Having further talks on the govt’s terms will be tantamount to an endorsement of ECT deal, the protesters have said. more..

Vehicle import ban breeds racketeers

Jan 20 (SO) The Govt in March 2020 decided to halt the import of vehicles aimed at protecting the country’s economy as the SL rupee plunged and the economy took a free fall owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks. Then again in November the same year the Govt again extended the ban on all non-essential imports including vehicles. While it was a body blow to the country’s vehicle importers many, however, faced the situation bravely understanding that more..