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New move to resolve UNP crisis: Ranil as leader but Sajith to lead alliance at polls

Jan 26 (ST) On the verge of a split down the middle, rival leaders of the UNP, which leads a depleted main opposition now, are locked in intense discussions to remain one entity. Yet another meeting on the issue is set for tomorrow (Monday). Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is not going anywhere yet and will remain the leader of the party. He contends that he had made many concessions to the rival faction promoting Sajith Premadasa more..

CB to reveal missing sections of bond audit report

Jan 26 (ST) Central Bank will forward the complete forensic audits on the Treasury bond issue to Parliament together with annexures and exhibits, Governor W.D. Lakshman said. He said that in line with a request made by Parliament, the CB’s Monetary Board had approved releasing the complete forensic audits to Parliament. The decision to forward the complete forensic audit reports to Parliament comes after MPs from both the Govt and Opposition raised issue this week that more..

TNA eyes Colombo

Jan 26 (TM) The TNA, which has a strong vote base among the Tamils in the North and East, is now considering contesting the upcoming election in Colombo. Last week, the party had held a meeting in Colombo chaired by TNA Leader R. Sampanthan & ITAK Leader Mavai Senathirajah. Meeting mainly focused on the ITAK and matters related to the parliamentary election scheduled to be held around April or May. The TNA has not taken a final decision on contesting in Colombo, but if it does, more..

CB Forensic Audits: Aloysius cleared?

Jan 26 (TM) Forensic Audit (FA) reports on the CB Treasury Bond Scam, tabled in Parliament last week, states that there was no evidence to prove any collusion between former CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran and Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. (PTL) Head Arjun Aloysius. The fourth FA report – Investigation on Issuance of Treasury Bonds and Remittance of Funds to the General Treasury During 1 Feb 2015 to 31 March 2016 – states that more..

Sirisena poured more than Rs. 25 billion into his Polonnaruwa

Jan 26 (ST) During the Presidency of Maithripala Sirisena from Jan 8, 2015 to Nov 16, 2019, Rs 25.293 billion was used for various development projects in his Polonnaruwa district as direct govt expenditure through various state agencies besides foreign funded projects. This information was obtained by the Sunday Times through a RTI query. According to the information provided by the Presidential Secretariat, a 5-year long ambitious programme called Pibidemu Polonnaruwa more..

Plans for two new coal power plants by changing the law

Jan 26 (ST) Govt is planning to remove a vital clause in the Electricity Act which requires the declaration of the lowest cost on long term generation plans in a bid to go through two controversial coal power plant projects. Any exclusion of a declaration of the lowest cost could impact on the cost of the project and have a knock-on effect on the unit price of electricity. The plan to amend the Electricity Act has been made on the grounds that the law as it stands today is more..

Video: Two suspected coronavirus cases at IDH: Early tests negative

Jan 26 (AD) Two women have been admitted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) on suspicion of being infected with the wide-spreading coronavirus. However, health officials stressed that it is yet to be confirmed that these two women are indeed contaminated by the deadly virus, which originated in the city of Wuhan in China and already killed 41. Director of IDH, Dr. Asitha Attanayake stated that a SL medical student more..

HPC approves names of Eva Wanasundara, Nalin de Silva

Jan 26 (DM) Parliamentary High Post Committee (HPC) is reported to have cleared former Supreme Court Judge Eva Wanasundara as the SL ambassador to France and Dr. Nalin de Silva as the envoy to Myanmar. Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa handpicked them as ambassadors earlier. The Committee, chaired by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and represented by MPs from the govt and the opposition, interviewed them on Wednesday with the Foreign Ministry now having to refer more..

Working Committee: UNP factions vie for majority stake

Jan 26 (DM) The two factions of the United National Party (UNP) are reportedly in a tussle to get control of the party’s Working Committee, which is the main decision-making body. The members of the working committee are appointed every year buth the party is yet to appoint members for the current year. In the outgoing Working Committee, there were 69 members and according to the party constitution, party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has the discretion to nominate 20 members. more..

CID freezes assets of the Edwards on money laundering charges

Jan 26 (ST) The assets of Rienzie Mahesh Kumara Edwards and his wife, Punya Priyanji Menike Edwards, two suspects in an international money laundering case, were frozen on Friday by the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit (FCIU) of the CID, police confirmed. The order pertains to bank accounts and properties. Mr Edwards and his wife are now prevented from withdrawing the monies or making financial gain from their properties, more..

Major sports events doubtful after Coronavirus outbreak

Jan 26 (CT) The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus has resulted in the cancellation of some major sporting events due to take place in China, while placing a doubt on several other scheduled events, including the Asian Athletics Indoor Championship, where 7 SL Athletes were named to compete. The Asian Indoor Athletics Championship 2020 is to be held in two weeks' time (Feb 12-13) in Hangzhou, China which is 700 km away from Wuhan, ground zero for Coronavirus outbreak. more..

Special IMF team in March for final EFF review

Jan 26 (ST) A special team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be arriving in Sri Lanka in March to reach a staff level understanding on the seventh and final review on the US$1.5 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF), official sources said. They will meet with PM and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and various stakeholders and be appraised of Sri Lanka’s ongoing efforts to bring the economic reform programme back on track following the Presidential election 2019. more..

AASL suspends 2018 tender, begins investigation

Jan 26 (TM) Airport and Aviation Services (SL) Ltd. (AASL) has suspended the awarding of a tender to a French company which has a dubious record internationally. AASL Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) had been considering the awarding of a planned radar system in Piduruthalagala to a French company called Thales Group, despite its chequered history, until the intervention of AASL Chair G.A. Chandrasiri. more..

Mega tea promo delayed, talks continue on wage hike

Jan 26 (ST) With the govt determining that the wage hike of estate workers is to be effective from March 1, the plantation companies were in discussion this week on a new model. Should the companies come up with a methodology of a means of earning more, it would amount to a win-win situation for both parties, observers note. New wage hike though made mandatory for those covered under the Collective Agreement, however, industry opines this could have a ripple effect on other sectors more..

Colombo Chamber wants moratorium for finance company loans too

Jan 26 (TM) Colombo Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has requested Prez Rajapaksa to extend the moratorium provided to local SMEs from loans obtained from licensed banks to finance companies as well. “The upper limit cap should be restricted to Rs. 3 million to ensure that the finance companies are not overexposed in supporting the lower tier of SMEs,” said CCC President Saranga Wijeyarathne. The lower tier of the SMEs has obtained loans from finance companies as the scheduled banks more..

Video: Politicians exert influence to push their agendas, IGP tells PCoI

Jan 26 (AD) Former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, testifying before the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday terror attacks, stated that the politicians exert their influence police matters to push their agendas. Escorted by prison officers, IGP arrived at Prez Commission premises at around 10 am this morning (25) to record a statement with the panel for the first time. The panel has asked Jayasundara if he verbally instructed the CID more..

President instructs officials to repatriate Sri Lankan students in Wuhan

Jan 26 (AD) President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has directed the Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SriLankan Airlines to take necessary steps to repatriate all Sri Lankan students in Wuhan, China, says the President’s Media Division. The cost of flight tickets of these students will be borne by the government, the President has said. Meanwhile, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing is providing the necessary advice to the Sri Lankan students in Wuhan to protect themselves from infection. more..

Sailing Nationals 2019 successfully held at Crow Island Sea Front

Jan 26 (ST) The Yachting Associationof Sri Lanka (YASL), the National sports body for the sport of Sailing held the its Nationals 2019 on December 28 and 29 at the Crow Island Sea Front. Vice Admiral Piyal de Silva, Commander of the SL Navy, was the chief guest at this significant annual event. The Sri Lanka Navy not only participated with great success, winning multiple events, but also facilitated in all organisational aspects. This year saw and welcomed a record number of 86 sailors more..

BT Poll: Mixed reviews on govt performance

Jan 26 (ST) Most respondents to a Business Times (BT) poll this week, assessing the new govt’s performance so far, gave a mixed response while on the topic of the cost of living the majority view was that the administration had failed to bring down prices. The survey which posed four questions and requested a Yes (Y), No (N) or Unsure (U) answer, sought responses on the performance, economic policies, more..

SEC Director General Vajira to be replaced?

Jan 26 (TM) Speculation was rife on Friday in market circles that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Director General Vajira Wijegunawardane would be replaced shortly with the current SEC Director – Litigation Chinthaka Mendis. Wijegunawardane was appointed DG in Apr 2015 and was an investment analyst and fund manager for 10 years before joining the SEC. Mendis has been an Attorney-at-Law for over 20 years while being involved in regulatory affairs, more..

Ranil to defend golf title

Jan 26 (ST) The 85th Nuwara Eliya Golf Club (NEGC) Club Championship 2019 which was originally due to be held on December 7 and 8 will take place on February 1 and 2 at their beautiful course in Nuwara-Eliya. Veteran golfer, Ranil Peiris will defend his title in the club’s annual event which is the blue riband tournament of the year. Tee off is at 7.30 am on both days. The format will be two days of stroke play where the overall champion will be decided on the best gross score. more..

Sri Lanka risks missing Dubai Expo 2020

Jan 26 (TM) SL’s participation in the Dubai Expo 2020, world’s largest exhibition, hangs in balance due to bureaucratic delays and the absence of required funds. Of primary concern are the delays in setting up a Dubai Expo local secretariat and selection of an event management company (EMC). While the necessary proposals and documentation were submitted to Ministry of Development Strategies & Int'l Trade more..

Consolation win for SL Youth cricketers

Jan 26 (ST) After being thrashed earlier in all their group games of the Under-19 World Cup series, Sri Lanka Youth team recorded a consolation 9-wicket win over Japan Under-19 in the 21st match of the ICC Under-19 World Cup played at Potchefstroom yesterday. SL bowlers showed a commendable performance to bundle out the Japanese Under-19 for 43 runs within 18.3 overs in the match which was curtailed as 22 overs innings per a side. But Sri Lanka lost a wicket on course to victory. more..

More questions after Sri Lanka’s Under-19 CWC disaster

Jan 26 (ST) When Hashan Tillakaratne took over the SL Youth side two years ago, expectations were high by almost many, including the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) management, to revive the fortunes of the National Under-19 National cricket team. But it turned out to be contrast with after an year of fluctuations in 2019. SL Youth side was confident after their victorious campaign in the West Indies after winning four out of seven matches. SL did bring in right-arm fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana, more..

After 200, Mathews looks to 10,000 runs

Jan 26 (ST) When Angelo Mathews arrived at the crease with Sri Lanka on 92 for 2–still 266 runs behind Zimbabwe’s first innings total of 358–he knew he had to play a long hand if they were to take control of the match. Physically, however, it proved demanding as he had just recovered from a terrible diarrhoea. The illness had taken a toll on his fitness, leaving him fatigued. But Mathews defied tiredness to notch his maiden double century, more..

It’s time to let go and look back

Jan 26 (ST) My dear Ranil, I thought I should write to you as you fight to cling on to your political life, hoping to be the leader of the Green party for as long as you live. For years, I wrote to you as the Green Man. It is now time to change that because, if you are truly a man of the Greens, you won’t be doing what you are doing. You have frequently preached to us about democracy in our Paradise but there is no democracy within your Green party now. That is why you prevented a vote the other more..

Brexit and its implications for Sri Lanka

Jan 26 (Island) Last Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II gave her assent to PM Boris Johnson’s European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, thus making Brexit a certainty. After Friday this week, Britain will no longer be a part of the European Union. Our erstwhile colonial master, once the centre of an empire on which the sun never set, was herself turned into a colony of Brussels through a process of creeping imperialism over a number of years and decades. more..

Sri Lanka: Complete travel guide!

Wuhan virus: Are we ready?

Jan 26 (ST) In the face of a new outbreak of a potentially fatal oncoming influenza from China and South East Asia, how prepared is Sri Lanka to meet the situation? Should an emergency task force be appointed? The new strain of coronavirus has earned the attention of all countries that see Chinese visitors. The Chinese President has ordered the lockdown of the Wuhan province where the virus began and two other cities in a move to contain its spread. Already, death toll has risen to 41 and more..

Pearls before swine?

Jan 26 (Island) EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has, in its final report on the 2019 prez election, made several valuable recommendations which, we believe, have struck a responsive chord with the SL public; they warrant the attention of both the govt and the Opposition. EU monitors have stressed the need for introducing new laws pertaining to prez election campaign financing and expenditure, enacting legislation to strengthen the Election Commissioner's mandate; more..

Growing pains

Jan 26 (TM) While preparations are being made to shift the office space of the Ministry of Agriculture, currently located at a luxury private building in Rajagiriya, to its former office Govijana Mandiraya in Battaramulla, The officials had been instructed to explore the possibility of renegotiating the agreements with the private party. Furthermore, Minister had also directed officials to try and obtain a refund of the rent for more..

Ranjangate merits probe

Jan 26 (TM) Actor-turned-politician Ranjan Ramanayake whipped up a political tsunami with his latest revelations made in Parliament last week. In a speech spanning nearly 30 minutes, Ramanayake spared no one as he fired barrage after barrage of explosive verbal missiles amidst pindrop silence in the normally noisy Parliament chamber. All Ramanayake had to do to ensure silence whenever he was disturbed was to say, oyage recording-uth thiyenawa (I have your voice recordings more..

Ranil pushes Sajith as PM candidate

Jan 26 (TM) The discussions between UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa to resolve the ongoing leadership crisis in the party have ended inconclusively. Neither Wickremesinghe nor Premadasa seem ready to come to a middle ground on the UNP leadership issue. A majority of the UNP is also looking at ways to form an alliance with Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The fact was revealed in public by UNP MP Ajith P. Perera, more..

Brand new therapy against blood cancer gives fresh lease of life to nine-year-old

Jan 26 (ST) A beaming family of three sits before us on Thursday morning in Colombo before heading back home to Kaluwila, Hidogama in Anuradhapura. Samadi is the flag-bearer, for not only is CAR T-cell Therapy a first in Sri Lanka but it has also not been introduced in other countries in the region such as India, Pakistan or Bangladesh to name a few. As CAR T-cell Therapy (Chimeric Antigen Receptors T-cell Therapy) more..

Coronavirus turning into a pandemic

Jan 26 (SO) The dreaded coronavirus, which started spreading in Wuhan, China with the dawn of 2020, is now showing signs of transforming into a fully-blown pandemic. From 1 Jan until yesterday, number of confirmed cases has climbed sharply to more than 1,321 worldwide, with 41 deaths reported in China. China has already locked down several major cities, restricting movement of an unprecedented 56 million people and is now rushing to build a 1,000-bed prefabricated hospital for identified cases. more..

Ending waste and corruption

Jan 26 (SO) Cutting down on waste and corruption in the public sector was one of the key campaign planks of Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa. While all other leaders had indeed made this campaign pledge at election time, only Prez Rajapaksa showed the resolve to follow it through. He has already taken many concrete steps to reduce wasteful expenditure and corruption in the Govt sector. This is especially essential as the Govt is losing some revenue due to extensive tax concessions granted as more..