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SL Tourism begins search for agency to handle 5-year global digital blitz

Feb 23 (FT) SL Tourism has kicked off the search for a reputed and competent agency to handle a planned five-year global promotion on digital platforms, to woo more visitors despite COVID-19 challenges. Tourism Ministry Standing Cabinet-appointed Procurement Committee Chairman has called for bid proposals from agencies for a Digital marketing company for social media and other forms of online & digital marketing more..

Foreign Envoys get Covishield jab

Feb 23 (CT) Afghan Ambassador to SL, Ashraf Haidari, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Bagley, and staff of foreign missions in Sri Lanka were administered the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine, yesterday, General Shavendra Silva said. In addition to the MPs, vulnerable groups in the judicial service and members of the clergy were also being vaccinated against COVID-19. He said communities living in high-risk areas, which have detected a large number of COVID-19 patients in the WP more..

CCPSL irked by govt’s non-adherence

Feb 23 (CT) The College of Community Physicians of SL (CCPSL), expressed its displeasure about non-adherence to the COVID-19 vaccine programme prepared according to basic scientific principles. College urged the Govt to adhere to the recommendations of National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (NACCD) and urgently implement the scientifically -recommended vaccine priority list, rather than taking ad hoc decisions on vaccination policy. more..

Cardinal will be consulted: GL

Feb 23 (Island) Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday stressed the responsibility on the part of the govt to consult Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith as regards action to be taken on the basis of the PCoI report on the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide attacks. About 270 perished in six suicide attacks and one accidental blast caused by the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) in Colombo, Katana, Batticaloa and Dehiwala. more..

'Fuel prices will not be increased'

Feb 23 (DM) Minister Udaya Gammanpila today assured that fuel prices will not be increased within the next three months despite the increase in crude oil prices at the World Market. He told Parliament that the CPC was incurring a loss at present and said the govt was absorbing the loss to maintain a stable price for fuel. "The govt has taken a policy decision to maintain a stable price for fuel in order to maintain a stable production cost and to prevent the cost of living going up," he said. more..

Sri Lanka appoints committees to fast track special investments

Feb 23 (EN) Sri Lanka has set up two committees to fast track investments and give tax breaks under under a Special Development Projects (SDP) law, Minister Keheliya Rambukwelle said. “They will decide what tax reliefs the investor should get, which time periods and they will look at the investment brought and workers to decided on the waivers,” he said. “No tender process involved for the investors, for example when they come forward to invest in a tyre factory, there is no competitiveness there more..

Sri Lanka being penalized for looking after best interests of its people: SL Envoy to UN

Feb 23 (TM) Mohan Peiris, the Permanent Representative of SL to the UN in New York, said SL is being penalized for looking after the best interests of its own people and for making progress in moving forward. The Ambassador said this in a statement made at the 2021-ECOSOC Special Meeting on Reimagining Equality: Eliminating racism, xenophobia and discrimination for all in the decade of action more..

Seylan Harasara revamped to offer a range of exclusive benefits to senior citizens

Feb 23 (Island) Seylan Bank, the bank with a heart, is ready to relaunch Seylan Harasara, a financial product that offers a host of exclusive benefits and specialized financial solutions to senior citizens and pensioners. Understanding the importance of financial freedom and stability for senior citizens and the important role they play in society, Seylan Bank relaunched Harasara with a multitude of value-added benefits and services. Seylan Harasara is more than just a savings account, more..

Visa-related problems delay Dasun Shanaka's departure for the Caribbean

Feb 23 (CI) A delay in processing his transit visa to the US has meant that SL's new T20I captain Dasun Shanaka was unable to leave for the Caribbean with the remainder of the squad on Monday. Shanaka did have a proper US transit visa - valid for 5 years - on a previous passport. But as he had lost the passport containing that visa 2 years ago, visa officers for the US have told him they must do additional checks, meaning they were not able to greenlight the visa for this tour in time for him to make the flight. more..

Upul Tharanga retires from int'l cricket

Feb 23 (CI) Upul Tharanga has announced his retirement from int'l cricket at the age of 36. Having made his debut in Aug 2005, Tharanga last turned out for Sri Lanka in an ODI in South Africa in March 2019. He played his final T20I in March the previous year and his last Test in Aug 2017. Over the course of his career, Tharanga has captained SL's limited-overs sides several times, first taking up the role in Nov 2016 more..

Hatch: Where big ideas are born

Feb 23 (EN) On a mission to make an ordinary bunch of people do extraordinary things, Hatch provides a space for innovative young-preneurs to build their businesses. True to its meaning, Hatch is all about a new beginning. It’s where some of the craziest ideas are born, innovations are nurtured and a new generation of young entrepreneurs gear up for an exciting journey of growth. Hatch has a vision, and the minds behind it are on a mission to make an ordinary bunch of people do more..

Sleeperette bookings in night mail trains suspended: SLRSMU

Feb 23 (DM) Railway Department has temporarily suspended the reservation of seats in the sleeperette compartments in the night mail trains, SL Railway Station Masters' Union (SLRSMU) said. They said the maintenance of sleeperette compartments was done by the Prisons Dept. It used to clean the bed covers, pillows and mattresses in the compartments, the Union said. "Due to spreading of COVID-19 virus within the Prisons Dept, it had announced that more..

SJB MP casts doubts on Cabinet Sub-Committee

Feb 23 (CT) The Cabinet Sub Committee, appointed by the President, to study the final report and recommendations of the PCoI into the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019, is not transparent and has no power or ability to investigate the PCoI report or its recommendations, claimed SJB MP Dr. Kavinda Jayawardena. Also, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and more..

Video: Pakistani PM Imran Khan arrives in SL

Feb 23 (AD) Pakistani PM Imran Khan on Tuesday arrived in Sri Lanka for a two-day official visit to island. Pakistani premier, who was invited by his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including members of the Federal Cabinet and senior officials. PM Imran Khan was given a guard of honour upon his arrival at the airport after being welcomed by PM Mahinda Rajapaksa. During his visit, PM Imran Khan will attend bilateral meetings with more..

Lunacy over stripping civic rights

Feb 23 (FT) J.R. Jayewardene — the shrewdest politician in post-independent SL — made three deadliest blunders that made a far-reaching impact on his party as well as on his administration. They were the infamous referendum on extending the term of Parliament in 1982, the prohibition of the JVP and several other parties in the aftermath of the Black July in 1983 and stripping Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights in 1980. All these decisions, needless to say, more..

Justice Minister Ali Sabry on what he’s trying to do

Feb 23 (Island) Justice Minister President’s Counsel Ali Sabry is known in the legal fraternity as among the most brilliant lawyers this country has seen in recent times. He has embarked on an ambitious plan to reform the legal system especially in respect of addressing law delays. He is confident that he could bring about the change and that will ultimately help this country and its people to reach their true potential, Minister Sabry said more..

Video: Cabinet nod to gazette Wild Elephant Management Reserve

Feb 23 (AD) The Cabinet of Ministers has granted their contest for the combined resolution to publish the govt gazette on the proposed Wild Elephant Management Reserve in Hambantota. The combined resolution was tabled by the Minister of Irrigation and the Minister of Wildlife Conservation. The habitats and wildlife corridors of wild elephants and other animal species have been severely affected by the accelerated development projects that are underway in Hambantota District. more..

Bangladesh must speak out against forced cremation of Muslims in Sri Lanka

Feb 23 (AI) Baby Shaykh was only 20 days old when his life came to a tragic end last December out of a sudden illness. Born in a Muslim family in SL, his last rites would be a burial followed by a funeral but instead, authorities cremated his body against the wishes of his parents. A rapid test for COVID-19 (an antigen test) returned positive, yet his parents, including his mother who was breast feeding him, tested negative. This has created doubts in his parents’ mind about the credibility of the test. more..

ප්‍රවෘත්ති විශ්ලේෂක ෂමින්ද්‍ර ෆර්ඩිනැන්ඩු

An unjust peace: The UNHRC session and the Lankan tragedy

Feb 23 (FT) The challenge for SL at the 46th UNHRC session is about how SL has evolved since the war ended in 2009 and currently stands in relation to its environment, the world. The most important development has already taken place and that is in a crucial realm that encompasses soft power, discourse and legitimacy. It is the realm of the story, the narrative, about SL and SL’s own official narrative addressed to the world. That battle of narratives has already been joined. more..

Police round up 1,165 persons in 24 hours for various offences

Feb 23 (Island) Police had arrested 1,165 persons for drug and alcohol offences during special raids conducted in the Western Province in the 24-hour period from 5 am Sunday to 5 am yesterday. Among them were 771 suspects arrested for various offences and another 317 individuals evading court warrants. Among the suspects arrested were 261 suspects with heroin, 147 suspects with cannabis, 208 suspects with illicit liquor and 65 suspects with crystal methamphetamine (ice) drug. more..

Rosy Madam’s list under fire

Feb 23 (TM) With vaccination against Covid-19 in the public phase, individuals have been influencing health workers at vaccination centres to have the vaccine administered to them disregarding priority lists and prior registrations, with a so-called Rosy Madam’s list coming in for particular criticism. It was alleged through social media yesterday that those who went to vaccinate themselves at the vaccination centre at more..

Five COVID-19 deaths bring fatalities to 450

Feb 23 (FT) Health authorities yesterday confirmed five COVID-19 deaths, which brought the country’s COVID-19 death toll to 450. An 83-year-old individual from Minunwagoda passed away while receiving treatment at the Colombo East Base Hospital. The cause of death is cited as COVID pneumonia and acute kidney damage. On 20 Feb, a 33-year-old individual from Dunagaha died of COVID-19 with acute diabetes and acute kidney disease while receiving treatment at more..

Chinese company denies security concerns in northern power projects

Feb 23 (FT) Chinese company Sinosoar-Etechwin Joint Venture, which won the project to build power projects in three northern islands, yesterday rejected allegations its involvement could create security concerns, insisting that the award was given after due process and the entire undertaking was with the supervision of the CEB. Releasing a statement Sinosoar-Etechwin JV said false information which seriously affected the consortium’s reputation and legitimate rights had been circulated and more..

Sri Lanka human rights: UK seeks new UN resolution on abuses

Feb 23 (BBC) SL is facing a new UN resolution calling on it to hold human rights abusers to account and deliver justice to victims of its 26-year civil war. Britain and others have circulated a draft of the resolution among UNHRC member states. It is expected to be adopted at the end of the 4-week UNHRC spring session in Geneva, which began on Monday. SL forces and Tamil rebels were accused of atrocities during the war, more..

SLC turns down my request to resign, says Chaminda Vaas

Feb 23 (DM) The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has turned down my request to resign from the post as Consultant bowling coach, Chaminda Vaas said. “I made a humble request to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and they turned it down. That’s all I can say at the moment. Justice will prevail!,” he tweeted. Former Sri Lanka fast bowler yesterday announced that he resigned from his post as Consultant bowling coach and will not be a part of the support staff for Sri Lanka's tour of West Indies. more..

Sri Lanka to receive 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday

Feb 23 (FT) A consignment of 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is expected on Thursday night from Serum Institute of India. The country has signed an order for 10 million doses of the vaccine with the Serum Institute of Sri Lanka and this would be the first batch of the order. Meanwhile, Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath yesterday said the vaccination program is being carried out with priority given to high-risk areas in the Western Province. more..

Report on Easter Sunday attacks: 6-member Committee given broad mandate

Feb 23 (PMD) The 6-member Committee appointed by Prez Rajapaksa to study the Report of the PCoI into Easter Sunday attacks has been entrusted with a wide ranging mandate. Identifying the overall process including the measures that need to be taken by various agencies and authorities such as the Parliament, judiciary, AG’s Dept, security forces, State Intelligence services and implementing recommendations as stipulated by PCoI to more..

Claims of political victimisation in Police Dept raise eyebrows

Feb 23 (Island) Senior and junior ranks in the Police Dept have expressed their dismay at 84 colleagues for attempting to obtain promotions and salary increments citing as reasons political victimisation under the previous govt. A senior police officer said: “The list contains names of 84 officers and men. Among them are six retired officers, including one Senior DIG, who had been interdicted for his alleged involvement in a murder case. There are many who had been interdicted on disciplinary grounds. more..

'A new Constitution created by a weakened legislature will not be acceptable'

Feb 23 (EN) A new constitution cannot be created through an ineffectual legislature as the legitimacy of such a Constitution will not be acceptable, Senior Lecturer at J'pura Uni Vishaka Sooriyabandara said. Attending a webinar organized by the National Moment for Social Justice (NMSJ), Sooriyabandara who is the Head of the Dept of Political Science at J'pura Uni said that there are numerous problems in the legal procedure to gain the power required by the legislature to create a new constitution more..

Pakistani PM’s visit to Sri Lanka will open new chapter in bilateral relations

Feb 23 (AN) Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka will open a new chapter in bilateral relations, officials said on Monday. Khan is due to arrive at BIA at 4 p.m on Tuesday, and will be given a special guard-of-honor ceremony. He will meet key leaders, including SL Prez Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and will attend an investors’ forum on Wednesday. more..

Inflation dips to 3.7% in January

Feb 23 (FT) Headline inflation as measured by the Year-on-Year change based on the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) was 3.7% in January, down from 4.6% in December. Dept of Census & Statistics said contributions to the inflation rate of January 2021 from food group and non-food group are 2.7% and 1.0% respectively; whilst contributions of food and non-food groups to the inflation in Jan 2020 were 6.0% and 1.7% respectively, resulting in a headline inflation of 7.6%. more..

Ranjan’s life in danger: Sajith

Feb 23 (CT) Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday, visited Angunakolapelessa Prison, to meet incarcerated SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake. “Ramanayake’s life is in danger and the Govt should take responsibility if anything happens to him,” Premadasa said, after the meeting. “He is a public figure who was against the drug menace and now he has been imprisoned with inmates who were suspected of drug peddling. This puts him in a dangerous situation. more..

'Govt must end denial on severity of debt'

Feb 23 (FT) Govt should outline how they plan to service an estimated $ 6 billion of debt in 2021, SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva stated. He pointed out that in 2021 the Govt would need to meet large debt repayments, including sovereign bonds issued in 2011 and 2012. These will be included in repayments of $ 2.6 billion that will mature in the second and third quarters. Short-term external debt servicing in 2021 is roughly $ 4.5-4.8 billion, more..

Govt steps into CPC bailout

Feb 23 (ST) The Govt is aiming to rescue the debt-saddled Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) from the threat of bankruptcy with around Rs. 600 billion in debt and currently running at a loss, official data confirmed. Total CPC debt due to state-run People’s Bank and Bank of Ceylon had reached Rs. 592.7 billion by end April 2020 from Rs. 566 billion in Dec 2019. These were the latest figures available while the period after April 2020 would show a higher level of losses. more..

Agri Ministry to decide on rice price

Feb 23 (CT) The Cabinet of Ministers, which met last night, had granted approval to the Ministry of Agriculture to opt for competitive prices rather than sticking to the fertiliser subsidy, if the private rice mafia is continuing to purchase paddy at higher prices. Accordingly, Cabinet has decided to allow the Agriculture Ministry to decide on the price range for rice. Sources said as a result of this decision, paddy would be purchased at Rs 52, with wet paddy to be bought at Rs 44. more..