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Cold war over coal fraud

Oct 26 (Island) Minister Champika Ranawaka, stated at a press conference on Oct 24 that coal is being imported for the use of Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant in Norochcholai since 2012 without official tender calling. "Coal was first imported for the power plant in 2009. The tender procedure has been highly dubious since then," he said. Minister Ranawaka summoned this press conference after Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, stated more..

Poetic maverick with wit and grit!

Oct 26 (Island) Muhandiram Dionysius Sepala Panditha Dahanayake of Galle was attending a religious ceremony at his local temple when he received the good tidings that his wife had gifted him with twin sons. The day was October 22, 1902. He named them Wijayananda and Kalyanapriya after his two favourite temples in which he served as a prominent dayaka. No one would have predicted then that the newly-arrived older twin would from humble provincial beginnings blaze a trail to more..

Opposition wrong footed as President Rajapaksa pre-empts Santa

Oct 26 (ST) An upbeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented his Government’s 10th consecutive Budget to Parliament on Friday, announcing concessions across the board, covering all sectors of the country. While Opposition members speaking to journalists soon after the Budget presentation, were quick to label it an election gimmick, Government members were busy congratulating the President at the post Budget tea party, on presenting a successful Budget. more..

CID probing whether salt introduced to N’cholai power plant condenser

Oct 26 (Island) CID is investigating whether salt or a chemical akin to salt had been introduced into the condenser system of the Norochcholai Thermal Power Plant, according to a document that was tabled in Parliament yesterday. The document tabled by Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi in response to a query raised by UNP MP Tissa Attanayake said that 1936 Gwh of power was lost to the national grid due to more..

Cinema halls spruced up following CMC inspections

Oct 26 (NS) Improvements have been made to cinema halls in Colombo following inspections conducted by Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) in August, says CMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni. He added that the 3D cinema halls have been given more time to purchase cleaning machines for the 3D glasses. When contacted by The Nation, Majestic Cinema of Ceylon Theatres confirmed that a 3D glass more..

Oil prices falling but CPC signs long-term deal

Oct 26 (ST) Against the backdrop of plummeting world crude oil prices, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is extending forward contracts with two Singapore-based companies for the import of fuel. This is being done on the basis that long-term arrangements are essential to ensure supply stability in view of turmoil in West Asia and procurement issues arising from United States’ sanctions on Iran. Two Cabinet memorandums in this regard more..

Mahinda's Baiya Budget aimed at winning elections!

Oct 26 (CT) The stage was set for a Presidential Election in January next year by President Rajapaksa, who presented a budget full of goodies to the public sector, with a 'small carrot' to the private sector employees who were given an increase of Rs 500.The private sector views this move as an additional burden at a crisis-ridden time when they were called upon to pay a 2% increase in the employers' contribution to the EPF. more..

Sri Lanka seeks massive Chinese loan for Southern Expressway extension

Oct 26 (ST) The Sri Lankan government is seeking a massive Chinese loan for the Southern Expressway extension project up to Hambantota, much more than the money spent for the first phase of the Expressway from Kottawa to Galle, official sources revealed. China’s EXIM Bank has agreed to provide funds for the construction work which will be carried out on the directions of the Ports and Highways Ministry, more..

GK awaits SC green light to liquidate assets to repay depositors

Oct 26 (Island) Golden Key is awaiting the Supreme Court (SC) go-ahead to liquidate some identified assets to raise Rs. 2.848 billion to launch the fourth phase of the repayment plan to settle 41% of holdings of investors of this crisis-hit company, a senior official said last week. With the completion of the earlier three stages, depositors who had invested up to Rs. 731,000 have already been cleared, while another Rs. 11 million more..

Pope’s visit: Catholic Church in Catch 22 crisis

Oct 26 (ST) Senior police and govt officials and Catholic Church representatives will meet early next week to discuss security and other arrangements for the visit of Pope Francis in mid-January amidst continuing security concerns if the visit coincides with a possible Presidential election. A senior church official said arrangements would have to be finalised before the visit of a Vatican delegation to Sri Lanka more..

Ultimatum to President: JHU to decide soon

Oct 26 (ST) Some two thousand university students staged a protest Tuesday evening choking traffic on the roads in Kotte. Even if they did not win their demands including enhanced bursaries, members of the JVP-backed IUSF did succeed in two ways. One was causing a traffic jam that took hours to clear. The second, more importantly, was to disrupt President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s engagements that day. He was at the Water’s Edge in nearby Battaramulla. more..

Insurance Giant in Legal Limbo

Oct 26 (NS) Legal action has been filed against one of Sri Lanka’s largest insurance companies - belonging to a business group with a checkered history - for seeking to transfer its assets without the knowledge or approval of its shareholders. The Colombo District Court ordered written submissions to be filed by the insurance company and its companies that have been proposed to be segregated, and by the more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Oct 26 (ST) It was a pirith ceremony at a Buddhist temple in a European capital just weeks ago. The Sri Lanka Ambassador to that country and his wife were the honoured guests. Soon after they arrived, the envoy was given a warm welcome and accommodated together with his wife near the pirith mandapaya. It happened to be close to a microphone, one among a few that were relaying the chanting in a relatively low tone. more..

Christmas with China Claus

Oct 26 (ST) My Dear Mahinda maama, I thought I must write to you because I was quite confused when I saw you on Friday. There you were walking in to Parliament, in your mostly white (with a little bit of red) dress in the final week of October and delivering the Budget which was not due until November. It would have been more appropriate if you had worn a red Santa Claus costume (with a little bit of white) instead and arrived in the final week of December to do what you did — more..

Debate on 18th A– four years too late

Oct 26 (ST) The 18th Amendment to the Constitution is at the centre of a public debate that should have taken place in 2010, before it was passed. Clear, rational arguments against the enactment that had been scorned in the flurry to have it passed are being resurrected — four years too late. A presidential election is looming and the incumbent Head of State and Govt is determined to contest a third term. The moment that the 18th Amendment was drafted for, is upon more..

Report leaks

Oct 26 (CT) A confidential report, containing written submissions of 28 persons, with regard to the fracas between former SL High Commissioner to UK, Dr. Chris Nonis and Monitoring MP Sajin Vaas Gunawardene, in New York recently, had been submitted to President Rajapaksa. Ceylon Today is in possession of this report, which was submitted to President by Ministry of External Affairs in Colombo. more..

Govt & Opposition in Budget vote battle

Oct 26 (CT) A top SLFP politico has begun discussions with a group of UNP MPs in a bid to get them to crossover to govt, during the ongoing second reading of the Budget. But, a couple of other senior SLFPers are against this move. The enticement for those UNP MPs, to crossover, includes perks and other forms of goodies. But in a strange twist of events, the Opposition too is involved in talks with Government ministers and MPs to topple the Govt at the Budget vote. more..

India conveys concern at China presence in Sri Lanka

Oct 26 (Hindu) India has expressed serious concern to Sri Lanka over China’s increasing military presence on the island, it is reliably learnt. Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s India visit last week was for a meeting in this connection. Defence Secretary met National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley. “The meeting was held to raise the issue of a Chinese submarine calling at a Sri Lankan port last month. more..

Regulation not for locals with foreign passports

Oct 26 (SL) Ministry of Defence (MOD) revealed that all foreign passport holders are required to register with the MOD prior to travelling to the North. However, this regulation will not be strictly implemented for those born in Sri Lanka who hold foreign passports. Sri Lankan expatriates who visit Sri Lanka to meet their families in the North are not required to obtain prior permission from the Ministry of Defence, but more..

Budget debate begins with a whimper

Oct 26 (NS) The first day’s debate on the Second Reading stage of Budget 2015 began yesterday (25) with a barely whimper, as most MPs from both the govt and the Opposition chose to stay away. Less than 24 hours after President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the 10th budget of the UPFA Govt amid much media attention and fanfare, the first day of the budget debate began with just 15 MPs from the govt and 10 from the opposition present in Parliament, according to reports. more..

Pope’s visit on track so far

Oct 26 (SL) Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to Sri Lanka in January next year is still on track as the Govt has not made any official announcement of a Presidential Election, Catholic Church Spokesman Rev. Cyril Gamini said. Although there was confusion earlier over the Pontiff’s visit because of an impending Presidential Election in January, Fr. Cyril Gamini said that the scheduled itinerary will not be changed as the Church has not been informed of an election in January. more..

Amunugama admits misprints in Budget proposals

Oct 26 (Island) Deputy Finance Minister, Dr. Sarath Amunugama admitted in Parliament yesterday that there were misprints in the Budget proposals presented by President Rajapaksa on Friday. He was responding to DNA MP Sunil Handunnetti, who pointed out glaring mistakes in the tables of financial allocations made to govt departments and institutions printed in the annexure of the budget proposals. more..

Documentary on forced disappearances in Sri Lanka to be shown today

Oct 26 (TP) Indian filmmaker Leena Manimekalai will screen her documentary feature White Van Stories that highlights forced disappearances in Sri Lanka, at the 10th Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival today. Documentary features first-person accounts of people whose relatives have gone missing for political reasons in long history of unexplained disappearances in the country, where victims were taken away in a white van, never to be heard of again, more..

To support development President should invite us in writing - TNA

Oct 26 (NS) TNA states that President Rajapaksa should extend a written invitation to the party, which includes the aspects that he hopes to discuss. President Rajapaksa during his speech on Budget 2015 invited the TNA to work with the Govt in the country’s development activities. In response, General Secretary of the TNA and Leader of the ITAK, MP Mavai Senathirajah said that the invitation was a general one made in Parliament and added TNA would consider if President extended more..

'UNP fully supportive of pushing through JHU’s 19th Amendment'

Oct 26 (Island) UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament that his party would fully support the passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution proposed by JHU’s Ven Aturaliye Ratana Thera to reduce the powers of executive presidency if the government brings it as an urgent Bill in November this year. Wickremesinghe, raising a point of order, demanded to know the govt’s position on proposed 19th amendment more..

GMOA seeks govt response

Oct 26 (SL) In order to stop the brain drain, the GMOA is expecting the govt to accept their proposals, Secretary, GMOA, Dr. Nalinda Herath said. Retaining professionals in the govt sector is the responsibility of the govt and failure to do so will adversely impact the state sector in the country, claims Dr. Herath. There are more than 16,000 doctors in the state sector but retaining them too has become a yeoman task, as the govt has failed to increase the basic salaries of professionals in more..

Kalmunai coriander tampering racket busted

Oct 26 (NS) Over 200,000 kilograms of coriander unfit for human consumption was seized by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) in Kalmunai yesterday. The value of the seized consignment is estimated around Rs.20 million, according to CAA officials. CAA official who took part in the raid said those involved in the racket had brought expired coriander from Pettah to Kalmunai where sulphur had been added. “They would subject the coriander, which had discolored, due to this process. more..

Wigneswaran to address PUCL meet

Oct 26 (Hindu) Chief Minister of Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran will deliver a lecture on civil liberties in South Asia at an event organised by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Chennai in November. The organisers had chosen Mr. Wigneswaran because of his stature as a “visionary intellectual who combines the best of jurisprudence with a keen understanding of democracy, politics and economics.” more..

Funeral car prices to go down!

Oct 26 (AM) With the new tax schemes introduced by the budget 2015, Funeral car tax will down from 202% to 173% under new import tax scheme for motor vehicles. Meanwhile, Motor Vehicle Importers Association on Saturday said that hybrid tax would be reduced by 2% and less than 1000cc petrol vehicle by 29% to 172%. Following the new tax; maximum of 15% tax will be imposed on Hybrid electric vehicles and zero tax on modified vehicles coming under sports category. more..

Lanka Lions mark 30 years in Qatar

Oct 26 (GT) Celebrating three decades of its existence in Qatar, Lanka Lions held its annual nite for the 26th consecutive year at the Giwana Ballroom of Radisson Blu Hotel on Thursday. Lanka Lions is a Sri Lankan expat forum with members from diverse professions, extending community development and welfare programmes. Smartly dressed, a large number of members with their family and friends in tow, attended the event that was officially flagged off by SL Ambassador more..

'Indian tour, not the ideal preparations'

Oct 26 (NS) Angelo Mathews is of the view that the adhoc ODI series his team has been entrusted with in India has not given them sufficient time to prepare for a tour of that nature. “The preparation for the series is not that great, we only had a few practice sessions especially with the weather interrupting,” he said. “It is not the ideal preparation for an Indian tour but we will do our best to prepare ourselves and take it as it comes.” more..

2015 Budget proposals: Debt increases, revenue sluggish

Oct 26 (CT) The govt is planning to raise its borrowings to Rs 521 billion in 2015, up from an estimated Rs 500 billion this year, data released with the 2015 Budget proposals showed, as tax revenue sees sluggish growth. Speaking to Ceylon FT at the sidelines of the Sri Lanka Economic Association's Annual Sessions, which got underway on Friday just half-an-hour after President Rajapaksa concluded his presentation of the 2015 Budget proposals in Parliament, several economists said, more..

Proposed pensions, a boon for garment employees

Oct 26 (SO) Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that the proposed pension scheme for garment sector employees will be a boon to improve the industry and their lives. Budget 2015 includes incentives to be given to foreign and local investors. Increasing the EPF to 22% will ensure a good life for garment sector employees. President in his capacity of Finance and Planning Minister presented a development-oriented budget in Parliament. All sectors will benefit from the Budget. more..

Railway Unions cry foul

Oct 26 (SL) Railway employees question why the northern railway line contract was given to India when Railway Department workers could have carried out the job for a lesser rate. The contract for the 56 km long northern railway stretch from Palai to Jaffna was given to Indian Rites and Indian Railways Construction Company (IRCON) by Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) which cost the country a staggering sum of Rs.19,040 million. more..

BBS will not register as a political party

Oct 26 (SL) BBS says it has no intention of registering as a political party but will send its representatives to the next parliament by affiliating itself with another political party. BBS CEO Dilantha Vithanage said that the BBS is not a political organisation and they do not have any intention of1 registering as a political party but their intention is to send BBS representative to the next parliament to talk about the Sinhala Buddhist issues and to safeguard Sinhala Buddhists in the country. more..

Cuttack gets first SL ODI, Ranchi last

Oct 26 (CI) Cuttack will host the first ODI between India and Sri Lanka on November 2 while Ranchi will host the fifth and final game on November 16, according to the schedule released by Sri Lanka Cricket. Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Kolkata will host the second, third and fourth ODIs on November 6, 9 and 13. All the five matches will be day-night. The Sri Lanka team will begin the tour in Mumbai on October 30 with a practice day game against India A at Brabourne Stadium. more..