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UNP won’t oppose defence expenditure

Nov 8 (SAMN) The UNP said Friday it would oppose the government’s 2009 budget, but not the vote on defence expenditure. Vice President of the UNP, John Ameratunga MP said his party would not vote against the funding sought by the government for defence purposes, since it was required to protect the territorial integrity of the country, but would oppose the budget as a whole. "We took that decision for two reasons. more..

Reduced bus fares from November 11

Nov 8 (DN) CTB and private bus fares will be revised from November 11 to pass on the benefit of the fuel price reduction as announced by the Government through the 2009 budget proposals on a directive of Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma. The National Transport Commission (NTC) has effected a complete revision of the bus fare formula in concurrence with the diesel price reduction which was effective from midnight on Thursday. more..

Tough action against errant filling stations

Nov 8 (DN) The Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Ministry yesterday initiated a full scale inquiry on filling stations which have failed to store adequate fuel stocks for the past couple of days. Minister A.H.M. Fowzie has instructed officials to go ahead with the inquiry immediately. A fuel shortage has arisen in some parts of the island as filling stations have not placed orders for fuel this month to avoid any loss after the Government announced an oil price reduction through 2009 budgetary proposals. more..

JVP to vote against Budget

Nov 8 (Island) The JVP announced that it will vote against the Budget and take all necessary steps to defeat it. The party’s parliamentary group comprising 24 members would cast their votes against the Budget, its Parliamentary Group Leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said at a press conference yesterday. "We considered two factors before deciding to vote against it. First the content of the Budget and the conduct of the Government. The Budget proposals read out by the President failed in both aspects. more..

Bus operators threaten legal action if govt. arbitrarily reduces fare

Nov 8 (Island) Lanka Omnibus Operators Association President Gemunu Wijeratne yesterday vowed that his association would file a violation of fundamental rights case in the Supreme Court or resort to trade union action if the government reduces bus fares arbitrarily more than the agreed 9 percent. He said at a news conference that the private bus fares will not be reduced by 25 per cent as claimed by the government. more..

Defence Ministry raises suspicion on INGOs

Nov 8 (DM) The Defence Ministry has raised suspicion on the activities of some International Non Governmental Organizations (INGO) after the military found paid advertisements published by these INGOs in newspapers printed in LTTE controlled areas of the north. The Defence Ministry website said that the findings have given cause for reasonable suspicions of the sort of 'humanitarian' activities conducted by some famed INGOs for years in the un-cleared areas of the Wanni region. more..

10,000 more troops

Nov 8 (DM) The military said yesterday it was planning to recruit 10,000 more youth for the army before the year-end following a series of successful recruitment drives throughout the year. “Earlier we planned to recruit some 14,000 youth for the army between October and December this year but 3,300 were already recruited in October,” military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said. He said after the recruitment of 10,000 more youth the target of recruiting 40,000 soldiers for the year would be completed. more..

More than 1,100 missing persons unaccounted for

Nov 8 (LD) More than 1,100 persons missing or abducted in the past two years are still unaccounted for, said the Chairman of the Presidential Commission on disappearances. Retired High Court judge Mahanama Tilakaratne these include 771 persons who had disappeared and 334 others who had been abducted. Speaking to the media, he said the Commission has received complaints of 543 of unsolved murders and 308 unidentified bodies. more..

ICEU in agitation against Budget 2009

Nov 8 (LD) The Inter Company Employees Union launched a protest campaign in workplaces against the complete overlooking of the private sector by the government in Budget 2009. ICEU President Wasantha Samarasinghe told 'Lanka Dissent' that he had demanded that a policy decision be brought about to budget proposals in order to increase salaries of the private sector. It is worrying that the government had completely ignored the request to bring minimum salaries of private sector workers on par with public servants of Rs. 12,500, he said. more..

Nation building tax to affect all businesses

Nov 8 (LD) The nation building tax will be applicable to every business that earns a daily income of Rs. 1,000 or more, said Commissioner General of Inland Revenue S. Angammana. Speaking at a seminar at the BMICH in Colombo yesterday (Nov. 07th), Mr. Angammana said he was unhappy that VAT has been reduced and a new nation building tax introduced through Budget 2009, with Inland Revenue Department given responsibility of its execution. more..

Sri Lanka spends US$587mn to prop up rupee in October

Nov 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka has spent 587 million dollars to prop up the rupee in October, pushing the total to 790 million dollars over past two months, the latest official data showed. On Thursday and Friday the rupee strengthened against the 110 rupee peg maintained by the island's central bank with credit restrictions slapped on international trade, beginning to bite. The restrictions were brought soon after the rupee was allowed to fall from 108 to 110 rupees. more..

Sri Lanka TV censorship condemned by media watchdog

Nov 8 (LBO) Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontiers or RSF) has condemned what it called live censorship on a Sri Lankan government television station amid criticism of a new broadcasting law. "Reporters Without Borders condemns the government pressure that led to the debate programme "Ira Anduru Pata" being cut short as it was being broadcast live on the evening of 4 November on state TV station Rupavahini," it said in a statement. more..

Lanka appreciates Pakistan for support in fighting terror

Nov 8 (PTI) Sri Lanka has appreciated Pakistan for its unstinted support in fighting terrorism as the war against LTTE reaches a decisive stage. "Sri Lanka is grateful to Pakistan for supporting its fight against terrorism," Sri Lankan Speaker W J M Lokubandara said in a meeting with Pakistani delegation. Lokubandara said the Sri Lankan government had exhausted its options other than to intensify the war against LTTE as the outfit was not prepared to lay down arms and hold dialogue. more..

'Karunanidhi has to blame himself on Lankan Tamils issue'

Nov 8 (PTI) Actor-politician Vijayakant today said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi should only "blame himself" for all the "embarrassment" being faced by him on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. In a statement here, the DMDK founder said the demand from "various quarters" for a Tamil Ealam was only an echo of the DMK patriarch's similar demand made in 1983. more..

Military bombs rebels in northern Sri Lanka

Nov 8 (AP) Air force bombers attacked a gathering of Tamil Tiger rebels who were preparing to fight government troops in northern Sri Lanka, the military said on Saturday. The rebels had assembled in Pooneryn village just south of the Jaffna peninsula when the airstrike began Friday night, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. They were likely preparing to be sent as reinforcements in fighting along a northern front, more..

Sri Lanka defends fuel policy that endangered economy

Nov 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka has defended state manipulation of fuel prices which has de-stabilized the economy, brought high inflation and endangered the economy with foreign borrowing, while rejecting formula based pricing. The island scrapped a fuel price adjustment formula in 2004, and printed money to keep prices low, pushing the country into high inflation and balance of payments troubles with the rupee depreciating sharply that year. more..

The Sri Lankan Conflict

Nov 9 (LG) The fragile 2002 cease-fire between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist LTTE has been repeatedly violated by both sides. Prospects for peace look grim; a recent surge in violence threatens to kill the agreement and rekindle the long civil war. India, the island’s neighbor to the north, hesitates to get involved and repeat the embarrassment of its 1980s role in the conflict. more..

Sri Lanka denies shooting any Indian fishermen from Nagapattinam

Nov 9 (AT) Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commission in Chennai, categorically denied the allegation of Sri Lanka Navy firing at Indian fisherman from Nagapattinam on 7th November, off Kodiakkarai (Point Calimere). While denying the allegation of shooting Indian fishermen /fisherman, Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission pointed out that this could have been a LTTE orchestrated incident with a view to damaging the bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka. more..

Ramadoss differs with Thangkabalu on Central aid to Sri Lankan Tamils

Nov 9 (Hindu) Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.V.Thangkabalu and Pattali Makkal Katchi founder leader S.Ramadoss, who held a meeting on Saturday, differed on the Central government’s assistance to Tamils in Sri Lanka. During the discussions, Dr.Ramadoss said the PMK was not satisfied with the Centre’s action in providing relief to the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Mr. Thangkabalu listed out various measures taken by the Centre. more..

LTTE Reiterates consent for truce

Nov 9 (TW) “There is no hesitation on our side to reiterate our position that we have always wanted a ceasefire. It is the Government of Sri Lanka that unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire”, Mr. Nadesan, political Head of LTTE told TamilNet on today Nov 8th. He pointed out that “LTTE was only fighting a defensive war since Colombo has thrust upon Tamils an aggressive war”. Mr. Nadesan made the comments following recent reports of Tamil Nadu leaders seeking clarification on LTTE’s stand on ceasefire. more..

LTTE Killed Our Obama!

Nov 9 (LG) Barack Obama has opened a can of worms everywhere in the world. A number of Sri Lankans have pointed out that Sri Lanka couldn’t produce its Obama. They blame the voters, the country and everything under the sun for that. However, they don’t blame the Tamil Tigers. In fact Sri Lanka had its Obama, a few of them to be precise. All of them were killed by the LTTE (Tamil Tigers)! more..

Paralysing strike over budget

Nov 9 (LB) Trade unions are threatening to launch a massive protest against the government by paralysing essential services during the budget debate. This is to protest against the government ignoring the working class at the fourth budget. Over 366 unions of the private, public and estate workers will meet in Colombo tomorrow (10) to discuss how to organise an islandwide protest campaign in the coming weeks. more..

The circus, the budget and it’s alternate

Nov 9 (LB) Mahinda Rajapaksa’s local-industries-promoting, public-sector-wooing, dollar-conserving, pre-election budget is hereby dedicated to the hundreds of people who were stuck two hours on the road till the president got back to Temple Trees after reading the thing in parliament. It is also dedicated to the millions of gallons of fuel that are needlessly burned up in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams caused by the habitual closing of roads. more..

Blunderbuss government shows its insecurities

Nov 9 (LB) Was Wimal Weerawansa merely stirring the pot or was he voicing the government’s real anxieties when he said in parliament last week that the UNP has 95 MPs and needs just 18 MPs to defeat the government on the budget, which is why according to him the former Norwegian ambassador Jon Westborg was here in the country? According to Weerawansa, Westborg was in Sri Lanka to destabilise the government to help the UNP defeat it, but that’s not the point. more..

UNP’s alternate budget causes the giggles

Nov 9 (LB) The UNP’s alternate budget - which aims to ‘defeat the economic terrorism unleashed by the Mahinda Chintanaya’ - has raised some laughs from the government. Among those taking a satirical view of the UNP’s latest production is one-time finance minister Sarath Amunugama, who is now the minister of enterprise development and investment promotion. He called the seven page document a “political absurdity” that contained “academic nonsense”. more..

GSP Plus comes back to haunt the govt.

Nov 9 (SL) While President Mahinda Rajapakse was to present his massive multi billion rupee war budget last Thursday, Sri Lanka's export industry is left reeling under the global financial crisis, as it braces to face its darkest times ahead. The government now cash strapped and in an economic bind has resorted to excessive money printing, sovereign bonds and syndicated loans ostensibly for infrastructure projects but more..

Govt. moves to stifle dissent over war as India turns on the heat

Nov 9 (SL) With the economic crisis confronting the country set to explode in all its fury by end year, President Mahinda Rajapakse presented a budget last week which held little real hope of alleviating the people's living conditions while news from the battlefront was anything but promising for a government that placed all its political eggs on a military solution to the ethnic conflict, signaling in the process desperate months ahead. more..

'I will be UPFA's Chief Minister for WPC'

Nov 9 (SL) There is no need to dissolve the Western Provincial Council (WPC) in the aftermath of passing its budget without any hiccup, says Chief Minister of the Western Province, Reginald Cooray. In a telephone interview with The Sunday Leader, Cooray said that he remained thoroughly committed to shared power and held liberal views about racial harmony based on a society founded on equality, but said that more..

The security threat over NIC tender bender

Nov 9 (SL) A controversy of spectacular proportions has engulfed the ongoing government tender for a new National Identity Card - an electronic National Identity Card (eNIC). In the latest development in the dubious evaluation process, several members of the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) including its chairman have refused to sign the report citing not only a partial system of evaluating the bidders but also that they were not privy to the draft of the report before being asked to sign it. more..

41th death anniversary of D.A. Rajapaksa commemorated

Nov 9 (GDI) Commemorative ceremonies to mark the 41st death anniversary of D.A. Rajapaksa, was held on a simple but proud note in Tangalle with the participation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa on Friday (07). The ceremonies began with the President and the First Lady placing floral tributes at the D.A. Rajapaksa statue in Tangalle followed by more..

NFF will support Budget - Wimal

Nov 9 (GDI) National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa commenting on the 2009- budget said that his party would vote in favour of the budget as it has characteristic features towards a new direction whilst strengthing the local economy. He said that the Government has distanced it self from the neo-liberal market economic policies giving more priority for the state sector to involve in the market. more..

'Genocide' is the trade-mark of the LTTE

Nov 9 (GDI) The LTTE has engaged in mass murder of civilians belonging to the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities of this country, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rohitha Bogollagama said, responding to a query raised by Suresh Premachandran of the TNA in Parliament yesterday (07). The Minister said that this is what deserve the tag "genocide". He emphasized that not a single administration in the country had been engaged in genocide more..

'New tax will not increase price of milk'

Nov 9 (GDI) Minister of Trade, Marketing Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, Bandula Gunawardena assures that the price of milk foods will not increase in any manner due to the new taxes introduced in 2009- Budget. The Minister, joining the budget debate in Parliament, said that the price of milk food in the world market had declined. As such, distributors will not be allowed to increase prices despite the imposition of a tax from the budget, more..

Tiger attack denies 10% of generation to national grid

Nov 9 (LT) According to sources in Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) there would be power cuts throughout the island due to the damage caused to power generators in the attack carried out by tiger terrorists on Kelanitissa Power Station if the catchment areas around hydro power stations don't receive enough rains. Two powerful generators at Kelanitissa Power Station were damaged when more..

Opposition gears for Budget fight

Nov 9 (SAMN) Opposition moves are underway to defeat the government’s Budget for 2009, although the government currently possesses a clear majority to have it passed with relative ease. However, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) Saturday vowed to defeat the Budget, claiming it had a moral obligation to do so on the grounds that the proposals are not pro-people. more..

Muslims plan countrywide demo

Nov 9 (SAMN) The Muslim Rights Organisation (MRO) is expected to hold an islandwide protest against racist elements in the government. Mujeeb-ur Rahuman representing the MRO which led a march on Friday (7) in Maradana said that statements made my Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Patali Champika Ranawaka, regarding both Tamils and Muslim minorities were demeaning and were of a discriminatory nature. more..

Fingerprint timing causes havoc

Nov 9 (SAMN) Technical faults affecting attendance recording fingerprint machines at the Ministry of Healthcare are causing havoc when it comes to calculating monthly salaries, overtime payments and other allowances of clerical and minor staff. The All Ceylon Health Service Union (ACHSU) claimed that Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage has issued a circular on October 24, stating that more..

Karuna gets Army to screen cadres

Nov 9 (SAMN) Infiltration and attacks by Tiger guerrillas on TMVP cadres have prompted its leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna to seek Army assistance to screen members of his party. This comes after at least eight TMVP members were killed and four wounded in two separate attacks carried out by guerrillas who had infiltrated the TMVP. The screening process was prompted by the recent recruitment of 42 members to TMVP ranks. more..

Civilians denounce LTTE, seek speedy political solution

Nov 9 (SO) The leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Veerasingham Anandasangaree who is now in Jaffna commended the functions of the Security Forces in the peninsula and said that the northern diaspora has expressed their confidence in them. The TULF chief is currently in Jaffna after four years to look into his party’s activities and to evaluate the situation there. more..

Global financial crisis, are we ready to face?

Nov 9 (SO) The current financial crisis which is brewing into a world economic recession is not caused either by oil or the food crisis though it has its contribution to speed the intensity of the current crisis. America as far back as in 1933 enacted a legislation called Glass-Steagall Act which enforced the separation of banks by business type to avoid conflict in interest. more..

President to brief Indian leaders on APRC progress

Nov 9 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa will brief Indian leaders on the progress made by the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) when he visits India this week, said Minister of Science and Technology and Chairman of the APRC Prof. Tissa Vitharana. Prof. Vitharana commenting on the APRC process which has been expedited said that the APRC is holding two meetings per week to reach an early resolution. more..

Brighter tomorrow for the differently baled

Nov 9 (SO) Multicoloured and various shaped wall hangers were hung on the eve of the 40th anniversary of their Home, which fell on November, 8. Thirty seven girls are resident in the Girl’s Home for the Differently-Abled, Katukurunda and their ages range from 11 to 61. The bitter truth is that 19 of them are orphans. Away from their homes, in Katukurunda, Moratuwa. more..

Ranil wants military response to Tigers

Nov 9 (NS) Terrorism has to be countered by a security response said Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament yesterday. He added that this was the opinion he had expressed regarding the LTTE problem when he met foreign delegates. “Terrorism has to be countered by a security response, maybe by the Army in some places, and the Police in some places. But long lasting peace depends on a political solution acceptable to all parties,” more..

Army Commander’s term heading for extension

Nov 9 (NS) All indications are Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka will be given a further extension of one year on reaching the age of 58 in December, in order to complete the job of bringing the LTTE to its knees, militarily. Sources said that with the Army performing well on all fronts, there was no necessity to even consider changing its Commander, especially with the incumbent being held in high esteem by his fighting men. more..

'Depriving IDPs freedom of movement biggest HR violation'

Nov 9 (NS) Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe is after a successful one-to-one meeting with United Nation (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He met the Secretary General in New York during the 63rd UN General Assembly late last month. In a rare meeting with the UN chief, the minister had highlighted the humanitarian assistance undertaken by the UPFA government, more..

Shrimp farming in Batti to be supervised

Nov 9 (NS) A zonal plan is being designed to regularise the shrimp/prawn farming industry in the Batticaloa District, Ravi Kumar, the Officer-in-Charge of the Regional Aquaculture Extension Office in Batticaloa said. By regularising, the shrimp farming fishermen will be guided to adopt latest scientific practices in their farms and also get them licensed. “Currently, people are in the shrimp business with no authority regularising them. more..

Choksy explains VAT, calls for re-examination of rates

Nov 9 (Island) Close on the heels of a UNP proposal to replace VAT which the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government introduced in 2002 with a Consumer Tax as it caused an increase in the cost of living, the then Finance Minister K. N. Choksy, PC, said that VAT rates had to be re-examined and rationalized since six years had lapsed. Choksy said that when VAT was introduced, he as finance minister was careful not to adversely affect the cost of living. more..

How many billions for jumbo cabinet?

Nov 9 (Island) The Finance Ministry has estimated that a billion rupees could be saved annually by restricting the Cabinet of Ministers to 35. Dismissing the UNP’s alternate budget proposals as an attempt to deceive the masses, Junior Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya emphasised that the Opposition’s only revenue proposal wouldn’t make any tangible impact on the government bid to bridge the budget deficit. more..

'Instil confidence among Sinhala and Muslim students to return'

Nov 9 (Island) University Grant Commission (UGC) Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake said the foremost challenge before the Government in staffing, developing and upgrading the Eastern Campus into a fully-fledged University is instilling confidence amongst the Sinhalese and Muslim students in the South to return before the new academic year opened in June or July 2009. more..

This year Sri Lanka will be able to send 5300 Haj pilgrims

Nov 9 (Island) Governor of the Western Province Alavi Mowlana said all Muslims making their pilgrimage to Mecca to participate in this year’s Haj celebrations should pray "to the Almighty the most merciful God, Allah to bestow peace amongst all Sri Lankans and bring peace to this world." The Governor who is joint Chairman of the Haj Committee with Minister of Petroleum Resources, A. H. M. Fowzie was speaking more..