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Govt to spend Rs200bn for defence in 2009

Nov 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka's government would spend 360 billion for capital expenditure in 2009, and 200 billion for defence, the island's president and finance minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told parliament. A day earlier, deputy finance minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said current expenditure would be 804 billion rupees in 2009. Revised government revenue for 2008 is estimated at 700 billion rupees, and capital expenditure at 278 billion, he said. more..

Sri Lanka govt cuts retail fuel prices

Nov 6 (LBO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Wednesday the government had slashed retail fuel prices with immediate effect in an effort to bring down transport costs and inflation. "From today, the price of a litre of diesel will be reduced by 30 rupees," Rajapaksa told parliament when he presented the government's budget for 2009. "This will help to bring down transport costs." The price of petrol will be reduced by 15 rupees and kerosene by 20 rupees a litre, he said. more..

Sri Lanka ruling party champions fiscal prudence, as opposition scrapes bottom

Nov 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka's ruling party, whose fiscal profligacy caused high inflation and high interest rates while endangering the entire economy with foreign commercial borrowings, has slammed a sunshine 'budget' of the opposition. The main opposition United National Party which gained a name for long term budgeting that brought the country out of an economic crisis in 2002 and 2003, presented a pro-forma 'budget' ahead of the official budget Thursday, promising handouts to all and sundry. more..

Sri Lanka proposes range of taxes and import cesses

Nov 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka has proposed sweeping taxes on imported grains, foodstuffs, new income tax rates and higher turnover based levy on goods passing through airports and ports. Sri Lanka has proposed income tax rates of 5 percent on the first 400,000 rupees, next 400,000 10 percent next 400,000 percent 15 percent according to proposals in the 2009 budget. The next 500,000 would be charged 20 percent, the next 500,000 rupees 25 percent and the next 500,000 30 percent, more..

False alarm over LTTE aircraft, Lankan forces go on alert

Nov 6 (PTI) The Sri Lankan Air Force and the army went on a high alert following reports of an LTTE aircraft hovering around the northern Vavuniya even as the fears proved unfounded. "It was a false alarm. There was no LTTE aircraft sighted," a top defence official said. Military establishments in the area were immediately alerted to face any emergency after fears of an rebel aircraft surfacing near the LTTE stronghold emerged at 3.30 am on Wednesday. more..

Sri Lanka downgrades growth projections amid war budget

Nov 6 (AFP) Sri Lanka's war-battered economy may grow at its slowest pace in four years, dampened by high inflation and heavy borrowing costs, the central bank said on Thursday. The bank cut 2008 economic growth to between 6.0 percent and 6.5 percent from an earlier projected figure of 7.0 percent as the global economic crunch curbed export orders for tea and garments. The island's economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2007. more..

Rajapaksa unveils budget, asks LTTE to lay down arms

Nov 6 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday unveiled next year's budget that proposes to hike defence spending by nearly seven percent, demanding that the Tamil Tigers surrender their weapons to avoid making the military do so. This is the fourth budget to be presented by President Rajapaksa, who is also the minister of finance, after he was elected to office November 2005. more..

IFJ Joins Sri Lanka International Mission Statement

Nov 7 (IFJ) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), as part of the third visit of the International Press Freedom Mission to Sri Lanka between October 25 and 29, has joined a statement expressing concern at the deterioration in the situation since the last visit in June 2007. Among the most serious developments that the mission encountered was the use of terrorism legislation, for the first time in the democratic world, to punish journalists purely for what they have written. more..

India to send 2,000 tonnes of relief goods to Sri Lanka

Nov 7 (IANS) In what is a sharp departure from what it did in 1987, India will soon ship 2,000 tonnes of relief material to Sri Lanka for tens of thousands of people displaced by war. This time, however, the delivery will be done through the international Red Cross. The Tamil Nadu government will put together individual family packs containing food and non-food items including clothes and hygiene products in a bid to ease hardships to civilians more..

Book Review: Love Marriage

Nov 7 (PM) It is 23 July 1983, and in New York City, a child is born to a young Sri Lankan couple. They name her Yalini, after the town of Jaffna, located in the northern part of their tiny, island home country. On the other side of the world, the small family’s past, present and future are being shaped for them as the Sinhalese-dominant Sri Lankan government begins a pogrom against the minority Tamil community, from which the two young people had left a few years earlier, more..

Govt to buy shares in apparel firm

Nov 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka's government will buy shares in apparel export firms under a support scheme to help them cope with a possible loss of duty free access to European markets, a senior official said. Ajit Dias, chairman of the Joint Apparel Association Forum, an industry umbrella body, said the government has offered financial support to exporters if the European Union does not renew the GSP+ scheme under which clothing is exported duty free to the EU. more..

How to spend a week in Sri Lanka

Nov 7 (Times) We are looking to visit Sri Lanka next year. Neither my wife, nor I, has been to the sub continent before, and we would rather like to have a car and driver and do a good tour of the country, hopefully seeing the tea plantations too. Can you suggest a suitable week-long good itinerary for us? Sunday Times travel expert Richard Green responds: Sri Lanka is a wonderfully gentle country and in a week you can enjoy a great variety of landscapes and experiences. more..

Barack Obama: History's High Note

Nov 7 (TC) History sometimes hits a high note, sweet and soaring, clean and clear, as if from Satchmo’s horn. The most intelligent, interesting and inspirational of contemporary political personalities is about to be the President of the most powerful nation on the planet. Things will never be the same again. Obama will “electrify the world” predicted Colin Powell. Obama’s achievement, in and of itself, already changes the world; more..

Traditional Sunday fare

Nov 7 (LMD) Considering that our history is steeped in political parlour games, it is somewhat surprising that we do not have an established culture of tell-all memoirs in Sri Lanka. In its place, we have had our fair share of political biographies – like those of former Presidents J. R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa and most recently, Chandrika Kumaratunga – which have generally taken the tone of glorified epilogues of political careers that have run their course. more..

Vaiko released from custody

Nov 7 (MO) MDMK leaders Vaiko and M. Kannappan, detained for allegedly making seditious speeches late last month, were released from judicial custody by a court here Thursday. "The charges against me were wrong and false. I only expressed moral support to the Tamil cause (in Sri Lanka) and did not say anything against India's unity and integrity. My stand has been more than vindicated," Vaiko said upon release. more..

‘Defence Watch’ explained

Nov 7 (LD) Spokesman of ‘Defence Watch’, Mangala Samaraweera has issued a press release explaining reasons for setting up an alternative defence information centre. The absence of an extensive public dialogue on the war and the lack of information for such a discussion have been the main reasons for the establishment of an alternative defence information centre, he said. more..

Ex-TV correspondent arrested in Kalpitiya

Nov 7 (LD) The Navy has arrested a person said to be a former provincial correspondent of a private TV channel in Kalpitiya for alleged involvement in LTTE activities. Police have been given custody of the suspect and the investigation on a court order, said police spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara. He has reportedly had in his possession two outdated press accreditation cards, several cellular telephones and SIM cards. more..

Rs. 600 m scam in electronic ID Tender

Nov 7 (LD) The tender for electronic ID cards has allegedly been awarded for the highest bidding foreign firm, a senior official of the Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order said. Speaking to ‘Lanka Dissent’, he said that the loss that would be incurred from the decision would be over Rs. 600 million. The move has taken place despite objections by experts in the technical evaluation committee, the official said. more..

Sri Lanka budget deficit projected at 6.5-pct of economy

Nov 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka raised trade barriers and cut neutral value added taxes in its 2009 budget which is projected to have a deficit of 336 billion rupees or 6.5 percent of gross domestic product. Revenues were estimated at an optimistic 855 billion rupees, though the island failed to meet the original 2008 target of 750 billion rupees with revised estimates presented to parliament of only 709 billion rupees. more..

Sampanthan protests Budget speech

Nov 7 (TN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented his fourth budget to Parliament on Thursday while 12 members of the TNA who were present at the Sri Lankan parliament walked out after the parliamentary group leader of the TNA, R.Sampanthan made a statement in the well of the house, condemning the budget by the Rajapaksa government, which allocates a colossal sum of money for committing a genocide on Tamil civilians in the North and East. more..

Sri Lanka budget heavy on war, foreign borrowing

Nov 7 (Reuters) Sri Lanka on Thursday forecast record defence spending on its war with Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 and raised taxes on imports, hoping to stave off currency depreciation as it faces a possible cash and credit crunch. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the island nation's finance minister, predicted the economy would grow in excess of 6 percent next year, despite an International Monetary Fund forecast of 5.8 percent. more..

Overshadowed by displacement in Sri Lanka’s north, people return home in the east

Nov 7 (UNHCR) As the tide of people uprooted by fighting in northern Sri Lanka continues to swell, there's overlooked good news in the east of the country: IDPs are returning home with help from the government, UNHCR and its partners. Some 230,000 persons are said to be displaced in the Kilinochchi and Mullativu districts as a result of intensified military operations to regain the last stronghold of the LTTE. more..

Rupee gains on dollar sales, budget

Nov 7 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's rupee closed firmer on Thursday for the first time since the central bank allowed limited depreciation, as banks sold dollars to avoid expensive rupee borowing. The move came after President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the 2009 budget in parliament, which included a number of measures designed to curb dollar outflows including import taxes on goods also produced locally. more..

Karunanidhi inspects relief materials bound for Sri Lanka

Nov 7 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Thursday inspected 2,000 tonnes of relief material being sent for the Tamil minority in the war-torn northern part of Sri Lanka. International Red Crss official Thomas Reese, and I.M. Pandey, an official of India's external affairs ministry, joined Karunanidhi during the inspection. 'The goods are in excellent condition and to international standards. more..

'Gilchrist has tarnished his own image'

Nov 7 (PTI) Former Sri Lankan skipper Marvan Atapattu hit back at Adam Gilchrist on Thursday, saying the Australian's "chucker" remarks about Muttiah Muralitharan were just an attention seeking tactic. "I think this is an absurd thing to say. ICC did the right thing by supporting Murali and it was their decision. There was no pressure from the Sri Lankan Board nor did they threaten to give racial colour to the episode," Atapattu said. more..

Maliban Lemon Puff recalled in Canada

Nov 7 (BBC) Canadian authorities have recalled biscuits from Sri Lanka contaminated by the toxic chemical melamine. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said Maliban Lemon Puff biscuits manufactured in Sri Lanka have higher concentration of melamine than the government set standards. Speaking to Sandeshaya Food Security and Recall specialist of CFIA, Garfield Bolsam said melamine was found in the samples tested by the agency. more..

Tigers change their 'Kilinochchi Command'

Nov 7 (DW) The 57 Division engaged in fierce gun battles with the LTTE yesterday at Iranamadu and Akkarayan, the southern edge of Kilinochchi town. Akkarayan junction was secured by troops on the same day after overrunning the LTTE's earth bund south of this small town. This junction and the surrounding areas were seen only by LRRP teams until yesterday. Meanwhile LTTE has again changed it 'Kilinochchi Command' as small groups of Tigers have started abandoning the organization. more..

Sri Lanka war comes to India

Nov 7 (CC) The Government of India cannot in any way allow itself to be seen to be rushing to the rescue of LTTE supremo Vellupalli Prabhakaran as Sri Lanka troops close in on his stronghold in Kilinochchi. The fulminations of MDMK chief Vaiko and his deputy to lead armed supporters into Sri Lanka has landed them in jail on sedition and anti-national activities charges. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's categorical rejection of withdrawal of non-lethal military support to the Sri Lankan armed forces has set the record straight that more..

'Pass resolution in House urging Centre to exert pressure on Sri Lanka'

Nov 7 (Hindu) The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) on Thursday urged Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to pass a resolution in the Assembly, during its forthcoming session, urging the Centre to exert pressure on Sri Lanka to declare a cease-fire in the island nation immediately to save innocent Tamils. Endorsing the Chief Minister’s plea that voices in Tamil Nadu should rise in unison in support of the suffering Tamils, PMK founder S. Ramadoss said the entire Tamil Nadu was behind him (Mr. Karunanidhi) on this issue and more..

Govt gives incentives to troubled tea trade

Nov 7 (LBO) The government plans to offer several incentives to the tea industry such as lower taxes and subsidised fertiliser, president Mahinda Rajapaksa said. The incentives are meant to help the industry cope with the collapse of the commodities bubble that sent prices crashing and left large stocks unsold. Rajapaksa said his proposals, presented to parliament in the government budget for 2009, are meant to ensure sustainable development in the tea industry. more..

'Govt. revenue doubled in four years'

Nov 7 (GDI) Government revenue has increased to Rs. 712 billion this year, from Rs. 331 billion in 2004, President Mahinda Rajapaksa noted during the budget speech today (06). Revenue from Income Tax has registered a record improvement of Rs. 143 billion. This is a favourable trend. We have managed to maintain a Revenue/GDP ratio of 16 per cent. This is despite many concessions provided for oil, essential commodities, raw material and investments, the President added. more..

Ambassador Wickramasuriya Congratulates President-Elect Barack Obama

Nov 7 (AT) Sending a message of congratulations to President-elect, Barack Obama, and Sri Lankan Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya wished him success as the new President-elect of USA. Obama and Wickramasuriya met during the election campaign and exchanged greetings. The meeting was very cordial. Sri Lankans in very large numbers followed the campaign of Obama as he criss-crossed USA for 21 months. It was during one of those campaign trips that Obama met the Sri Lankan envoy. more..

Five Sri Lankan deported from Maldives for engaging in prostitution

Nov 7 (AT) Five Sri Lankans were deported from Maldives for engaging in prostitution, the Department of Immigration has said. In addition, 12 other expatriates were also deported after being arrested on various charges. The five Sri Lankans were deported for life and the others were barred from entering Maldives for 10 years. There were four women and one man among the Sri Lankans who were deported for prostitution. more..

Show the world what the escapees from LTTE have to say

Nov 7 (LG) The LTTE terrorism will die out the day they are denied the civilian human cover, which they are so shamelessly hiding behind, which is the truth behind their bloated prowess of military strength. The LTTE terrorists keep lying through their teeth that the civilian IDPs in the conflict areas are killed by the State, while the LTTE themselves are placing the civilians deliberately in the firing line for their own advantage. more..

The March to Pooneryn and beyond

Nov 7 (LG) Up until November 1993 the POONERYN defence complex formed a complementary defence mechanism encompassing EPS and the Jaffna islets in safeguarding the peninsula from the Tamil Tigers. Since the fall of the POONERYN defence complex, it has been of immense strategical value to the Tamil Tigers providing it with a base to disrupt the naval/air bridge connecting the Jaffna peninsula with the South using its T59I 130mm howitzers and coastal littorals to launch its Sea Tiger assets and smuggling operations. more..

'Obama wins and Tamils are hopeful for their future'

Nov 7 (LG) Tamils for Obama, a political action committee of American Tamils, has supported the Obama-Biden ticket ever since Obama became the primary winner. Now, they hope that the Obama administration will deliver on their hopes for peace in Sri Lanka and bring security and self-government (or a Tamil state) to the Sri Lankan Tamils. According to the Tamils for Obama, “The Tamils are a minority population in Sri Lanka, and have been the victims of government oppression ever since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. more..

Institute of Muslim Historical and Cultural Studies (MHC) launched

Nov 7 (MG) The Official inauguration of the Institute of Muslim Historical and Cultural Studies (MHC) was held on 4th November 2008 at 4.10 pm (10 minutes behind schedule) at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo. The session included three main events a. Official Inauguration of MHC b. Awarding of prizes to winners of the short story competition on the theme "Peaceful coexistence of Muslims with other races in the history" c. Felicitation to Professor Lorna Devaraje. more..

Expo Fisheries Sri Lanka from November 7-9, 2008

Nov 7 (GDI) Expo Fisheries Sri Lanka 2008,the first ever international fisheries industry exhibition, will be held from 7th to 9th of November 2008 at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre (SLECC), Colombo. The exhibition is organized by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources with the collaboration of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL). more..

E-Governance programme to interlink all state institutions

Nov 7 (GDI) Initiatives are being taken to interlink all Government Ministries, Departments and other institutions to cater the public needs through a new E-Government programme. The new concept will be implemented with the assistance of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT). The first phase of the project, named "Lanka Government Network (LGN)", covering five province, has already been completed. more..

'Budget attempts to pluck feathers from tortoises'

Nov 7 (LT) The budget proposals presented to the Parliament yesterday (6th) by President Mahinda Rajapakse is a kind of a budget which tries to pluck feathers from tortoises said group leader of JVP Parliamentarians Anura Kumara Dissanayake. The President has displayed that he has no economic strategy or a development plan from his budget proposals said Mr. Dissanayake. more..

Health Ministry cracks down on unhygienic food outlets

Nov 7 (GDI) The Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry has advised public to be wary of unhygienic foods available in outlets in the entire country. The fresh move of the ministry came in the wake of a raid carried by the Public Health Unit of the Ministry last week, recovering 1,600 unhygienic food items from several outlets. A total of 1,584 outlets were subsequently sealed while legal action was initiated on the rest by officials. more..

Sri Lanka offers "Ramayana Tourist Package"

Nov 7 (GDI) Sri Lanka tourism has designed a 'Ramayana tourist package' for the benefit of the travelers, especially from India, to visit more than 50 sites associated with the Ramayana epic in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India C.R. Jayasinghe said. The package was officially launched in New Delhi in January this year. The enumeration of Ramayana sites in Sri Lanka is expected to spur thousands of Indians to visit Sri Lanka this year, more..

Is Prabakaran Disabled?

Nov 7 (MG) The question ‘is Prabaharan disabled?’ is now being asked by many among the entire circle of viewers of pro LTTE website “”. In this website there are a number of photographs taken at the felicitation ceremony conducted to congratulate the pilots and others involved in the recent air attack the LTTE carried out in Kelanitissa power generating station and the “Thalladi’ joint forces command camp in Mannar. more..

Economy gets socialist bent

Nov 7 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa presenting his fourth budget Thursday clearly distanced himself from the neo-liberal economic policies of the past and introduced several measures to promote local industries giving a socialist flavour to the government’s economic policy. The highlight among the concessions granted to the people was the reduction of fuel prices –Diesel by Rs. 30, Kerosene by Rs. 20 and Petrol by Rs. 15 a litre. more..

Budget hits middle class most: UNP

Nov 7 (SAMN) The Mahinda Rajapaksa government’s 2009 budget would hit the middle class the most, because they would have no option but to depend on imported essentials, until local industries were sufficiently developed, the UNP said Thursday. Vice President of the UNP, John Ameratunga MP, said the budget proposal to develop local industries was long term and in between the people would be forced to purchase essentials at exhorbitant prices, resulting in the cost of living rising further. more..

Print media to formulate ad policy

Nov 7 (SAMN) The print media industry has commenced a process of negotiations aimed at formulating and implementing an advertising policy. This follows the outcome of a public forum recently organised by the Sri Lanka Press Institute on advertising, media and misguiding the public. The Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka has decided to request the advertising heads of their respective institutions to commence a collective process in formulating and implementing a common advertising policy. more..

National Plan to support senior citizens

Nov 7 (SAMN) A five year plan for senior citizens; starting from January 2010 will be implemented by the National Council for Elders; for protection, development and well-being of the senior citizens of Sri Lanka. The draft of the five-year plan was put forward by the Additional secretary to the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare Miss. Yamuna Chitrangani. According to statistics, the elderly population will increase to 10 per cent to 20 per cent in the next 42 years. more..

MPs commend development-oriented budget

Nov 7 (DN) Most MPs expressing views on the budget submitted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that it was a people friendly and development oriented budget encouraging local production. Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa stated that it was a development oriented budget strengthening local production. Owing to the imposition of taxes on imported goods imports will be discouraged enhancing local production. more..

Budget thrust on development, welfare, local industry

Nov 7 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday presented the fourth budget of his Government introducing a wide range of people’s friendly proposals aiming to bring down the cost of living burden and achieving long term economic benefits to the country including the development of local industries. President Rajapaksa presenting his budget introduced proposals to immediately bring down the fuel prices, as widely expected by the public. more..

Sri Lanka’s conviction rate cause for concern As low as four per cent

Nov 7 (Island) With Sri Lanka’s conviction rate as low as four per cent, the Police Department is under pressure to take remedial measures. For want of a cohesive strategy, the police had failed to improve the rate of conviction. SSP T. N. Wijegunawardane, Director in charge of Criminal Records Division (CRD), yesterday said that it was a case for severe concern. Responding to The Island queries, the official said that conviction rate could be improved by strengthening the CRD. more..