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Major vaccine inflow this week

Feb 24 (TM) The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a proposal by Acting Minister of Health Prof. Channa Jayasumana to purchase 10 million Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccines for $ 52.5 million from the Serum Institute of India, while a consignment of 500,000 Covishield doses from the Serum Institute will be arriving tomorrow. Meanwhile, Ministry of Health is expecting a batch of 264,000 doses of Covishield vaccine this week. more..

Opp. protests Speaker’s failure to allow Ramanayake to attend sittings

Feb 24 (FT) Parliament sittings ended abruptly yesterday after SJB MPs took to the Well of the House to protest against the failure by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene to instruct prison officials to enable jailed MP Ranjan Ramanayake to attend sittings. The protest broke out after Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa made repeated requests to allow Ramanayake to attend sessions, and also called for the transfer of the jailed MP from the Angunukolapelessa prison where he is more..

Australian Govt to send 4200 VMS units to Sri Lanka in 2021

Feb 24 (TM) Australian Govt will provide 4200 Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) units free of charge to Sri Lanka in April. Speaking at a press briefing at the Fisheries Ministry, State Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said: “The Australian Govt called for an international tender which will be open up next week to send the VMS units to Sri Lanka by April. Navy coast guard and the Fisheries Department will work together to fix the 4,200 Vessel monitoring system (VMS) units,” he added. more..

Dialog Axiata connects SL and Maldives with high-speed submarine cable

Feb 24 (FT) Dialog Axiata PLC yesterday announced the commissioning of the Maldives SL Cable system (MSC), enabling the delivery of high-speed broadband services. Dialog’s investment in the new high-speed submarine cable will trigger the single largest infusion of int'l bandwidth between SL and Maldives to date. The 840km long international submarine fibre optic cable system provides high-speed, low latency more..

Separate Industrial Zones for Boat Building Industry

Feb 24 (CT) SL Govt is in the process of establishing export-oriented dedicated industrial zones to facilitate boat and ship building here, secretary to State Ministry of Warehouse Facilities, Container Yards, Port Supply Facilities and Boats & Shipping Industry, D.D. Matararachchi said. Accordingly, the govt plans to increase the export earnings of the local boats and ship building industry from the current US$ 70/80 million annually to US$ 100 mil in the short to medium term, more..

Sri Lanka has to fix monetary instability, budgets to avoid default, sudden stop

Feb 24 (EN) SL is facing a monumental state failure after denying economic and civil freedoms for decades, destroying SL’s rupee on which families build their lives, doing zero sum ad hoc interventions to favour special interests and state monopolies against the general public. After cumulative state failures, strangled markets which have allowed rulers to mis-allocate taxes and savings taken from the people, compounded by left leaning Keynesianism, blatant unsound money with more..

Namal regrets Vaas’ exit; SJB defends Vaas and lambasts SLC top rung

Feb 24 (TM) The unexpected resignation of newly-appointed SL national team Bowling Coach Chaminda Vaas, just hours before the team’s departure to the West Indies, became a hot topic in Parliament yesterday (23). Opposition MP Thushara Indunil raised the issue in Parliament yesterday thus: As we got to know, the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has recently increased the monthly salary of its COO by about ten lakhs. more..

Forex conversion needed for rupee stability and improved SL credit profile: CB

Feb 24 (DN) Central Bank yesterday defended the recent regulation on exporters to immediately convert 25% of their forex repatriations as not having undue impact, and insisted it was necessary to stabilise the currency, strengthen SL’s credit profile and increase economic reliance. Issuing a statement, the CB said the requirement to repatriate foreign exchange earnings to Sri Lanka and to convert 25% of these earnings into rupees does not exert excessive pressure on exporters. more..

Fonterra enables access to high-nutrition Mineral Mix packs to uplift smallholder...

Feb 24 (Island) In a move to help its smallholder dairy farmers improve dairy cattle health and increase milk yield, Fonterra Brands Lanka has enabled sustained market access to high-nutrition minerals mix packs. Managing Director of Fonterra Brands Lanka and Indian Subcontinent, Ms. Vidya Sivaraja said, “We are pleased to make these locally-produced, high nutrition Minerals Mix packs accessible for the first time to our farmer base spanning our North Western, Western and more..

492 persons test positive for COVID-19

Feb 24 (FT) A total of 492 persons tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s COVID-19 patient count to 81,009. The patients detected yesterday include 477 associates of the Peliyagoda COVID-19 cluster and 15 persons linked to the prisons cluster. The Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda, and Prisons triple cluster has thus risen to 76,905 patients. In addition to the triple cluster, 2,010 returnees from abroad, more..

SL poorly placed in Test, ODI & T20 Rankings

Feb 24 (DN) The Sri Lanka Cricket team which left for the West Indies early morning yesterday is poorly placed in all three formats in the recently released ICC world rankings. They will strive to regain their lost prestige by overcoming the West Indies during the forthcoming series in the Caribbean. The two captains Dimuth Karunaratne (Test and One Days) and Dasun Shanaka (T20I) will face an acid test when they face the Windies, who will field a blend of youth and experienced outfit. more..

Cyber Care app goes live to combat cyber violence in Sri Lanka

Feb 24 (FT) The COVID-19 outbreak with the resultant lockdown and stay-at-home measures have led to a surge in online activity by young people. This increased online presence has heightened their susceptibility to online sexual abuse, cyber bullying, exploitation, and other risks. To address this growing concern and to help combat online hate faced by many youth in Sri Lanka, the ‘Cyber Care’ mobile application was launched recently on World Safer Internet Day, more..

Govt pins FDI hopes on new committee

Feb 24 (FT) Targeting more foreign investment, Cabinet has approved the appointment of a new high level Investment Management Committee to be headed by the Treasury Secretary, to evaluate and fast-track investment proposals received by the Govt. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters at the weekly Cabinet briefing that the new committee will be appointed by the Cabinet and include relevant ministry secretaries as well as the head of the Board of Investment (BoI). more..

Eliyakanda Hill Climb to flag off on Feb 27-28

Feb 24 (ST) Eliyakanda Hill Climb is back this year despite the global health crisis as all arrangements have been finalised to conduct the two-day national championship on Feb 27 and 28. This annual event is taking place for the 25th year. Organised by the Southern Motor Sports Club (SMSC) and sponsored by SLT-Mobitel, top drivers and riders are expected to compete. The motorcycles will comprise of 16 events on Feb 27, followed by the motor car events slotted to be held on Feb 28. more..

The rape of forests: Govt in the dock

Feb 24 (Island) The govt has apparently achieved what it set out to when it issued a gazette removing the peripheral forests from the purview of the Forest Dept and placed them under the Divisional and District Secretariats, purportedly to promote traditional agriculture. Its supporters are encroaching on thousands of acres of forest land with absolute impunity. Nobody takes gazettes seriously, and the govt is also not keen to deal with noncompliance; the declarations of maximum retail prices, more..

ECT saga: WCT proposal to Cabinet

Feb 24 (TM) Amidst rising pressure from India to respect the tripartite agreement signed between Sri Lanka, India, and Japan for the development of the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port, the SL Govt is in the process of making a new proposal for the Cabinet-approved West Container Terminal (WCT) instead. The new proposal is scheduled to be submitted to the Cabinet-Appointed Negotiating Committee more..

Editorial: Should Sri Lanka follow UK?

Feb 24 (Island) The Gash reports are in the news again. They are the diplomatic dispatches filed by Lt. Col. Anthony Gash, who was the Defence Attache of the British HC, Colombo, on the final stages of SL’s war on terror. The UK, which leads the SL Core Group in Geneva, has suppressed the Gash reports, whose revelations run counter to the claims, on which the war crimes resolution against SL is based. Surprisingly, SL has not done enough to bring the Gash reports to the notice of UNHRC. more..

Ashen Bandara set to raise Sri Lanka’s fielding standards

Feb 24 (Island) Over the years, there’s been a few concerns about Sri Lanka’s poor fielding standards. Dropped catches have cost the national cricket team dearly with costliest of them being at the Champions Trophy in 2017 in Wales when Thisara Perera put down Sarfraz Ahmed. At the post match media briefing, the Pakistan captain rubbed salt into wounds saying, ‘I will remember it for the rest of my life and he will remember it for the rest of his life.’ Pakistan went onto win the title beating more..

Mahindananda Aluthgamage

An adequate response needs to be given to the case for international justice

Feb 24 (CT) With the Zero Draft in circulation there is no longer any doubt that a resolution on Sri Lanka will be presented at the forthcoming session of the UNHRC later this month. This resolution will be presented by a core group of countries led by the UK and will be supported by the United States which, though not a current member of the UNHRC, has opted to return to it under the presidency of Joe Biden. This will be a powerful combination for a small country like Sri Lanka to challenge. more..

Pakistan Sri Lanka relations: Diplomacy and statecraft at its best

Feb 24 (DM) With PM Imran Khan’s scheduled visit to SL on Feb 23, the Pakistani PM, will be the first Head of Govt to visit Sri Lanka after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation last year. There seems to be an air of expectation for the renewal of relations covering trade, commerce, culture and defence matters between the countries. Relationships between the two govts have always been strong, however, during former PM Ranil Wickremasinghe’s term, efforts made by the Govt of Pakistan more..

Mineral mining in Mannar Island may put bird paradise at risk

Feb 24 (Roar) A 130-km protrusion of land on SL’s north-western coast has received a fair amount of local and international press in the past few months. Mannar Island, connected to the mainland by a causeway, has been identified as a rich source of the mineral ilmenite, which the Perth-based Australian company, Titanium Sands Ltd., hopes to mine. Mannar Island also happens to be pristine land within the Central Asian Flyway, more..

Police must make all wear face masks correctly!

Feb 24 (CT) Some of the health guidelines laid down to curb the COVID-19 pandemic are seen to be observed in the breach more often than not. It is most common to see face masks being worn incorrectly by some people. The other rule broken at will is social distancing. It is utterly useless to wear a face mask without covering the nose and the mouth. The sole purpose of wearing it is to prevent the wearer from inhaling the air contaminated with the Coronavirus. more..

How did the MPs jump the vaccine queue?

Feb 24 (Island) It was so typical! None were too surprised when it was announced in the media that the 225 MP’s were to be vaccinated against Covid19 ahead of many others whose exposure to the virus was significantly higher. A photograph of a govt minister vaccinated at the Army Hospital was published in the media before this announcement. A few erstwhile cabinet colleagues justified this by saying the Minister had twice served quarantine time due to some of his close contacts being more..

COVID-19 vaccine drive begins

Feb 24 (CT) A year has lapsed since the initial emergence of the COVID-19 virus in SL. Only a few days back it completed 12 months since the first SL patient had been detected with the dreaded disease. During this time period, close to 80,000 people have been detected with the fast spreading COVID-19 virus, while the death toll has exceeded 400. Now, this particular virus has ravaged our land for over 365 days dealing a debilitating blow more..

Trash to cash

Feb 24 (ST) One man’s trash, they say, is another man’s cash. Even during these depressing COVID-19 pandemic times, sometimes an event lifts the hopes and spirits of people. Wednesday’s opening of SL’s first power plant generating electricity through garbage is one such event. The launch of the Aitken Spence backed-Western Power Company is the culmination of years of careful planning and an investment of approximately Rs. 15 billion. The waste-to-energy power plant will convert more..

Sri Lanka and the Culture of Impunity

Feb 24 (DM) The UNHRC, investigating alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka under the US-sponsored Resolution on human rights violations during the final stages of the civil war in our country is presently in session. The Commission holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least ten weeks. The Council started its March sittings on the 22nd of this month and will continue for four weeks. Sessions will also be held in June (three weeks) and September (three weeks). more..

Covid-19 Situation Report

Many politicians unaware of meaning: Ven. Rathana Thera

Feb 23 (CT) Many politicians who parrot about sustainable development don’t even have an idea about these words, said MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera. The inauguration of an initiative to plant 100 million trees was organised under the patronage of the Venerable Thera on behalf of the Matha Organisation. As per the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Matha has planned to thrust its responsibility into the limelight, by increasing greenery to combat global warming. more..

National Programme of Paddy Purchasing: Agri Minister goes tough on farmers

Feb 23 (CT) Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage threatened to do away with the control price of paddy purchasing, if the farmers refuse to contribute to the Govt’s National Programme of Paddy Purchasing. He also said they will lose the fertiliser subsidy and the benefits from Agri Insurance granted by the Govt in the next season. Minister further said, “We have 1,041,923 farmers. However, among them, 266,291 farmers are cultivating more than one hectare of land and we will only more..

Imran Khan and Mahinda Rajapaksa hold bilateral talks

Feb 23 (AD) PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and visiting Pakistani PM Imran Khan are currently holding bilateral discussions at Temple Trees, the PM’s Office said. During the cordial discussions, both leaders were able to successfully agree on several points of mutual interest to the economies of the two nations, the PM’s Office said. Attention was also directed towards investment and trade promotion, more..

Minister opposes arming farmers to fight crop damage caused by wild animals

Feb 23 (Island) Arming farmers is not a solution to the problem of crop damage caused by various animals, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera says. Amaraweera says he strongly believes that prior to making such decisions, relevant institutions should conduct a proper study on the latest scientific and traditional methods of warding off animals that damage crops. “It has been revealed that about 40% of the crops grown by farmers in our country are destroyed annually more..

HNB Group demonstrates resilience, strength and stability

Feb 23 (FT) Hatton National Bank (HNB) said it demonstrated resilience and an unwavering focus on sustainable business performance as it posted Rs. 13.7 billion in Group Profit After Tax during 2020, a year laden with unprecedented circumstances and challenges. Bank level Profit After Taxes amounted to Rs. 11.5 billion. Commenting on the performance, HNB Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody stated: “2020 has been a year unlike any other in recent memory as the COVID-19 Pandemic transformed more..

Easter attacks commission recommends criminal proceedings against Prez Sirisena

Feb 23 (EN) PCoI on the 2019 Easter bombings has recommended that criminal proceedings be instituted against former Prez Maithripala Sirisena and others, according to sections of the CoI report shared by opposition MP Harin Fernando. No action has been recommended against former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, though the commission has faulted him for not raising the issue of not being invited to security council meetings more..

Importation of vehicles to be considered by end of 2021: State Minister

Feb 23 (TM) State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Parliament today that the country had sufficient stocks of vehicles for about two years and that a decision on the importation of vehicles, which is currently banned, would be considered by the end of this year. The Minister was responding to an oral question raised by Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa regarding the ban on vehicle imports. State Minister said that the Govt and the CB of SL had to alleviate the severe pressure on more..

Sri Lanka sees India as their big brother; SL Envoy to France says

Feb 23 (TM) SL’s Ambassador to France Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama, who paid a courtesy call on the Indian Ambassador in Paris, has said that Sri Lanka sees India as their big brother. SL Embassy in Paris today said Ambassador Jawed Ashraf warmly welcomed and congratulated Ambassador-designate Hirimburegama on assuming her duties in France and expressed his willingness to work in partnership with SL. The two Ambassadors further exchanged views on their relations with France and more..