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Railway opts for US locomotives

Mar 19 (SO) A multi million US dollar tender has been awarded to General Electric (GE), an American multinational conglomerate, for the purchase of 12 locomotives to service the upcountry routes. However, railway experts said, that the Sri Lanka Railway (SLR) will soon buy second-rate diesel locomotives at an exorbitant price without making use of this opportunity to acquire new generation engines. more..

Aris 13 crew uncertain of early return

Mar 19 (SO) The Sri Lankan crew of the UAE-managed oil tanker, Aris 13, now in Somalia’s commercial capital Bosaso were still uncertain of their return to Sri Lanka, despite a dramatic rescue aided by Combined and EU maritime forces on Friday. The Chief Officer Ruwan Sampath of the Comoros-lagged bunkering tanker, seized by pirates off Somali coastal city Alula last Monday, said they were ready to sign off after a days of ordeal more..

Families relieved after Somali criminals free oil tanker hired by native traders

Mar 19 (ST) Tuesday was a day of mixed emotions for the family of Anthony Nicholas, the captain of the oil tanker Aris 13 seized and released by Somali pirates because it had been hired by Somali traders. It was also the 10th death anniversary of Nicholas’s wife. “He spoke to us on March 6 and 7 and he sounded very cheerful at the time. But towards the end of the conversation he told us to pray for him. That was the last time more..

Verbal Karate over sports director: President rescinds appointment

Mar 19 (ST) An ongoing clash in their common constituency spilled over to the Cabinet on Wednesday and it required the intervention of President Maithripala Sirisena. He directed that the appointment of a Director of Sports be rescinded and a fresh appointment be made. Initiating the appointment was Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam. His colleague Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, both from opposite more..

Recognizing the yahapalanaya party

Mar 19 (Island) Arjuna Mahendran, the former Governor of the CB, is reported to have transferred out some 500 members of his staff.  Govt is all set to demarcate specific areas for protests.  Govt got some egg on its face with the appointment and removal of judges.  There’s the bond issue scandal.  The big boys in the Govt ranted and raved about Port City and the Hambantota Port when in power, and all but showed the middle finger to China while campaigning to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa.  more..

Is this a one-term govt?

Mar 19 (Island) The Joint Opposition is like a bull elephant in musth, but the disruption and uproar it is creating are not insanity without strategy. Racial intolerance and religious extremism, a toxic mix, is a calculated tool for a purpose. The purpose is not hidden; it is frankly declared, flaunted and avowed: "Bring down the govt by the end of the year". Documents (eg Vasu’s letter to JO MPs on 28 Dec 2016) and a profusion of press reports (cranky GL, joker Bandula, profane Wimal and more..

President plays more assertive role in Govt and Party

Mar 19 (ST) President Maithripala Sirisena is making a fresh bid to re-organise the SLFP. The latest effort comes at a time when a faction continues to support former President Rajapaksa, and it being at a significant juncture. Growing challenges and plunging popularity of the govt have compelled the President, as the formal leader of the SLFP to consolidate his position and his own power base – more..

SriLankan CEO says A330 lease to PIA was transparent process

Mar 19 (AD) SriLankan Airlines today said that the wet lease of its A330 aircraft to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), a deal which is being investigated by authorities in Pakistan, was a transparent process and that the tender strictly followed govt procedures. Pakistan has barred Bernd Hildenbrand, the first foreign national chief executive of the state-owned national airline, from leaving the country as the govt begins an investigation into a plane-lease contract. more..

Video: Oil tanker hijacking: Sri Lankan crew’s return home delayed

Mar 19 (AD) SL crew members of Aris 13, the oil tanker hijacked and later released by Somali pirates, would possibly have to wait for more than a week in order to return back home to their loved ones following their traumatizing experience. The ship’s second engineer Dileepa Ranaweera said that the welcoming ceremony organized today for them at the Port of Bosaso has also been pushed back to tomorrow (19). He stated that the heads of the shipping company are expected to arrive more..

Visa restrictions on foreign religious scholars

Mar 19 (CT) Govt has restricted visas for foreign religious scholars and preachers owing to security and other reasons. It has been decided that all visa applications of foreign religious scholars and preachers will be sent to Defence Ministry for vetting prior to approval, Immigration & Emigration Chief Nihal Ranasinghe said. It is aimed at preventing the teaching and practice of religious fundamentalism throughout the country, more..

Govt entertains unsolicited project proposals

Mar 19 (ST) SL govt entertains unsolicited proposals made to implement mega development projects with high foreign investments beneficial for the country under a new procurement system on the lines of Swiss Challenge process, Finance Ministry sources said. Under the Swiss Challenge process an unsolicited project proposal made by a company to the govt is to be put forward for public opinion and other interested parties are given an opportunity  to make counter proposals if there are any, more..

Sexual harassment probe on State TV

Mar 19 (SL) Media Ministry has called for an investigation into alleged sexual harassment of some employees at State TV. The investigation was launched after some employees at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) wrote to SLRC Chairman Ravi Jayawardena saying they were being sexually harassed by a top official. When contacted, Jayawardena said that he had directed the matter to the Media Ministry to ensure an independent investigation is conducted. more..

BIA on alert for H1N1 patients from Maldives

Mar 19 (ST) BIA’s quarantine division has stepped up surveillance for passengers with H1N1 influenza amid reports of a major increase in the number of people affected by the disease in the Maldives. Quarantine Director said that during the week, upto 300 incoming passengers were referred to the health desk, and about 105 showed symptoms of H1N1 influenza. Certain regulations were followed during high-risk situations. more..

JVP requests Govt to protect Che’s tree

Mar 19 (ST) The JVP will request the Govt to take steps to protect the historic Mahogany tree in Horana planted by Argentinean revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara, said MP Dr Nalinda Herath. The request comes in the wake of an incident where the tree was nearly felled this week. Dr Herath said that, previously too, the Party had requested protection for the tree. The timely intervention by Police saved the tree from being cut down by illicit timber fellers. more..

President, PM hold key discussion

Mar 19 (SL) President and PM had a key discussion on Friday covering a gourmet of issues. Sources at the President’s office said that the meeting was routine but govt members said that the possibility of making changes to the cabinet was likely to have been discussed. The economy and issues within the govt had also been discussed at the meeting on Friday. The meeting also took place as the UNHRC was meeting in Geneva with Sri Lanka to be discussed this week. more..

Aloysius may get big tax concession

Mar 19 (ST) Under a budget proposal effective this year, Arjun Aloysius’ liquor manufacturing firm W M Mendis and Co. is likely to receive a 100 percent capital allowance for locating its proposed four billion-rupee alcohol distillery at Kalkudah in the Batticaloa district. The 2017 budget grants a 100% capital allowance on fixed investment of not less than US$ 3 million in fixed assets in the Uva and Eastern Provinces. more..

Dilmah Tea packed fresh in Carbon neutral facility

Mar 19 (Island) Dilmah has successfully fulfilled the pledge made in 2014 by its founder, Merrill J. Fernando, to become a Carbon Neutrality facility by 2017, further strengthening its commitment to reduce the company’s impact on the environment. "Through initiatives such as Greening Batticaloa and Biochar Application, Dilmah was able to actively reduce our carbon footprint to zero, thus marking a momentous net zero release of Carbon into the atmosphere," a company news release said. more..

Mahinda S. refutes Geetha’s allegation of dual citizenship

Mar 19 (ST) Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe strongly refuted MP Geetha Kumarasinghe’s claim that he too held Swiss dual citizenship. Minister insisted that throughout his life, he had only held Sri Lankan citizenship and accused Ms Kumarasinghe who is facing a court verdict on her eligibility to remain as an MP, of lying to the media. As per the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, a person holding dual nationality is ineligible to be an MP. more..

Concern over tenders awarded for BIA duty free shops

Mar 19 (AD) The decision to award the main five-year major duty free concession at BIA to Flemingo over World Duty Free and the latter being asked to vacate their space in short notice has reportedly resulted in a problematic situation. World Duty Free, which is owned by Swiss group Dufry and is one the world’ biggest travel retailers, was asked to vacate on Tuesday (14) after it had failed to secure the space they were operating in at more..

‘Retrieval of Katchatheevu will help find a lasting solution to fishermen issue’

Mar 19 (Hindu) Asserting that retrieval of Katchatheevu islet alone would help find a lasting solution to the fishermen issue, PMK leader and former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss faulted the AIADMK govt for failing to exert pressure on the Centre to protect the livelihood of the fishing community. He said AIADMK, which had as many as 37 MPs in the Lok Sabha could pressurise Modi govt on a number of issues affecting the State but it was more interested in protecting its leaders more..

Corneas from Sri Lanka brighten up 10 lives

Mar 19 (TN) SL Pakistan Trade Association has sent 10 corneas as a gift to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, which were received by Vice Chancellor of King Edward Medical University and Institute of Ophthalmology, Mayo Hospital, Prof. Dr. Asad Aslam at Lahore airport. Prof. Asad Aslam and his team, immediately after receiving the gift, operated ten blind persons in Mayo Hospital for cornea transplantation. Aslam said that it was a precious gift which enlightened the lives of 10 people. more..

Changes to Electronic Transactions Act soon

Mar 19 (SO) Amendments to the Electronic Transactions Act of 2006 that are to be gazetted shortly will boost online as well as cross-border trade by providing greater clarity for e-commerce, according to Director at the ICTA, Jayantha Fernando. “After the amendment is through in the latter part of April, we’ll have a more sophisticated and a more certain legal environment for e-commerce to take off in SL,” more..

Transition at Dhammika’s Rocell smooth

Mar 19 (ST) The transition at Dhammika Perera-controlled Royal Ceramics PLC (Rocell) was smooth last week as the relationship between the main shareholder and its former Managing Director Nimal Perera had been more or less been strained almost two years ago, sources close to both parties said. On the back of stepping down from Chairman / Non Executive Director at Dhammika Perera led firms – Horana Plantations, Vallibel One and his resignation as a director of other Perera controlled more..

School vehicle tracking system

Mar 19 (SO) Safety is of utmost importance when you are entrusting your child’s commute to and from school. Increasing traffic situation and sudden road closures would mean that the school bus or van would take an alternative route to bring you child home safe and sound. Despite these concerns we tend to panic for the slightest delay and start calling the driver in frenzy. Understanding your frustrations, Etisalat Business Solutions is ready to launch a School Vehicle Tracking system. more..

SriLankan delays zero commission plan on travel agents

Mar 19 (ST) SriLankan Airlines has postponed earlier plans to enforce on April 1, zero commissions on ticket sales by travel agents. The new enforcement date now is July 1. The carrier made this announcement following a meeting with the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL) and International Air Transport Association-Sri Lanka (IATA-SL) on Monday at the SriLankan Airlines office. Travel industry was also due to meet more..

Alagaratnam’s attempt to tarnish Sripavan’s legacy

Mar 19 (Island) The crisis in the judiciary caused by the irregular appointment of Ramanathan Kannan as a High Court judge still remains unresolved. Judges of the District Courts wait for long years to be promoted to the High Court as do Senior State Counsel in the Attorney General’s Department. If a member of the private bar is brought into the High Court over the heads of those awaiting promotion, that not only causes an immediate disturbance in the order of promotion but also skews more..

'Loss to Bangladesh could scar SL cricket'

Mar 19 (CI) A home loss to Bangladesh will be a blemish on Sri Lankan cricket, said Dimuth Karunaratne, while his side hung precariously in the Test at the P Sara Oval. Having lost five top-order wickets for 47 runs in the middle session, Sri Lanka are in danger of losing their first Test at home in seven matches. They are 139 runs ahead, with two wickets in hand. The lowest target successfully defended at this venue is 244 - in the last Test Sri Lanka played here, in 2015. more..

Sri Lanka's fix-it men left to do the job again

Mar 19 (CI) Having had a rough time in South Africa, SL thought they were coming back to the comforts of home and to play a team they have nearly always crushed. They had endured Newlands' seam movement, suffered on a hard Port Elizabeth pitch, and been lavishly flogged at the Bullring, but oh, at last, the sweaty embrace of Mother Lanka. See how her tawny tracks gleam a glorious amber at sunset. more..

Umpire Dar's head-nod confuses Bangladesh

Mar 19 (CI) The last ball of the fourth day's play at P Sara Oval was eventful. Bangladesh appealed confidently for a bat-pad catch against the no. 10 Suranga Lakmal, hoping to end the day with their ninth Sri Lankan scalp. Umpire Aleem Dar nodded more than once, and even brought out his hand to his side, but eventually gave it not out. Mosaddek Hossain, the bowler off whom Sabbir Rahman had caught Lakmal at short leg, said after play that Bangladesh reviewed the decision because more..

That debate on Chandi’s batting position

Mar 19 (Island) There’s an interesting debate building up in cricket circles these days as to where the immensely talented Dinesh Chandimal should bat. A carefree stroke maker, Chandimal has been pushed up to bat at number four during the current series against Bangladesh. When the selectors suggested Chandimal to move up the order in the absence of Angelo Mathews and take up more responsibility, he had wanted to be relieved of wicket keeping duties. When Mathews returns, more..

Shuffle the pack, get rid of the jokers

Mar 19 (ST) My dear Maithri, I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had spoken about what seemed like a Cabinet reshuffle — giving a better portfolio for Mahinda from the south, not the Mahinda that we all talk about but the other Mahinda, also from Hambantota who switched his loyalties and is now with you. You had said that the Ministry of Fisheries was not good enough for Mahinda & you were thinking of changing that more..

Late show helps Richmond force a draw

Mar 19 (ST) The weather was perfect but luck favoured Mahinda College who did well to hold the star studded Richmond team to a draw at their 112th big match which ended at the Galle International Cricket Stadium last evening. Richmond proved their superiority in the second innings posting 205/1 at the end of the day. The only consolation for Richmond was that Dhananjaya Lakshan accomplished his big match ton and that they took a four run lead in the first innings. more..

Battle lines drawn at BASL election, according to political preferences

Mar 19 (SO) Sri Lanka Bar Association, Sri Lanka’s largest and the most prominent body of lawyers, elected its new President this week: U.R. de Silva, the new Bar Association President is a senior criminal practitioner who has appeared in high-profile cases. An Old Boy of Ananda College, de Silva was called to the Bar in 1983. He has since engaged in criminal practice island-wide and appeared in numerous sensational trials and Trial-at-Bar proceedings. more..

Face the Nation

Tamils: The deficit of trust

Mar 19 (CT) The crisis of modern democracy is profound. It is also one that is relevant to the Lankan experience of the Judiciary and the concept of justice as we have known them over the past 15 years or more in this country. Free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary mean little says Arundati Roy, adding that the crisis factor appears when "the free market has reduced them to commodities available on sale to the highest bidder". Before this government came to power more..

Sri Lanka and the born-again Commonwealth

Mar 19 (ST) Interestingly, if not ironically, the British Govt having voted to exit the European Union (EU) in accordance with the wishes of a majority of its people, is now looking forward – or maybe looking back – at the Commonwealth once again. The 53-nation Commonwealth, the third largest global grouping, next only to the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement, was often contemptuously dismissed as a club living in the somewhat inglorious past of the British Empire serving neither man nor beast. more..