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'Economy needs robust reforms for growth'

Mar 6 (SO) Sri Lanka needs to attract a significant amount of foreign direct investments and increase exports to build the foreign reserves; that will help the country get a rating upgrade, said Director and CEO, Candor Equities Limited, Ravi Abeysuriya, In an interview following the Fitch downgrade of the sovereign rating on February 29, he said the govt will have to move fast. “It urgently needs to make a strong effort to reduce the general govt debt which is around 75% of GDP now and more..

Foreign company out; local builders get contract for 65,000 houses in N&E

Mar 6 (ST) Govt has decided to award a project to construct 65,000 houses for war-affected families in the North and East to local builders, abandoning earlier moves to give the lucrative deal to a foreign company. Major Constructors of Sri Lanka (MCSL), an industry association, was notified on Friday by the Department of National Planning that the project could be implemented absorbing local contractors and local materials to give more..

Govt needs to recalibrate 2016 Budget: CB Governor

Mar 6 (SO) Govt needs to recalibrate its 2016 Budget and present the final version to the IMF, seeking financial support to give a boost to the ailing economy. Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran said he was confident of economic recovery. “Once we are ready with the final version of the budget, the IMF will come back to review it and do the final touches to the budget and the IMF lending program. “We are expecting the whole process to be completed by the end of the month, more..

Hambantota Port tender process under question

Mar 6 (ST) Questions are being raised over a move by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to call for tenders to operate the Hambantota tank farm and its bunkering facilities on a 25 year lease to investors, since the time period was just two weeks. The document, received by some companies last week, called for proposals from investors with a deadline for proposals as March 10, 2016. “Normally tenders are opened for around three or more months and companies then can provide more..

Indian envoy takes on Sri Lankan Opposition over economy pact

Mar 6 (Hindu) India’s High Commissioner Y.K. Sinha has taken on former President Rajapaksa and the Joint Opposition, an informal coalition of pro-Rajapaksa parties and groups, over the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between India and Sri Lanka. Referring to reported observations of the former President and members of the Joint Opposition against the ETCA, Mr. Sinha, who did not mention the name of more..

Several complaints on MR’s bodyguard

Mar 6 (SL) CID has received several complaints regarding the bodyguard of former President Rajapaksa. CID sources said that complaints have been received against retired Major Nevil Wanniarachchi alleging he had misused the powers he had when Rajapaksa was President. He had allegedly obtained nearly Rs. 1.5 million for each tour. He had also taken ownership of three residencies built for govt officials in Kandy, and his friends are now occupying those houses. more..

'India-inspired RTI Act in Sri Lanka shortly'

Mar 6 (DH) The journalists in Sri Lanka are eagerly looking forward for another milestone in the history of the Island nation with the draft of Right to Information Act (RTI) set to be tabled in their parliament on March 9. Kurulu Kariyakarawana, a journalist with Daily Mirror in Lanka, said, “The Act is modelled on the one already in force in India”. Reacting to media queries, Kurulu was happy to note that the situation in the war-torn country has eased for now. more..

'Police given free hand to investigate accident'

Mar 6 (Island) Dismissing claims that Minister Champika Ranawaka, was behind the wheel of the Nissan Patrol jeep involved in Sunday’s mishap, an official spokesman said that the parliamentarian was not even in the vehicle at the time, let alone driving it. "The jeep was returning after collecting some documents for the minister as it was used by support staff as well as the security as a back-up vehicle", more..

Ex MP linked to Dematagoda Chaminda’s murder

Mar 6 (SL) The police are investigating the possible links of a former parliamentarian over the murder of Dematagoda Chaminda, a key suspect of the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. Dematagoda Chaminda was shot dead last week while he was being transported to the Welikada Prison. Police sources told The Sunday Leader that Dematagoda Chaminda was to be used as a state witness and he was prepared to reveal information related to underworld activities in Colombo. more..

Trial of former Lankan minister for murder starts in city court

Mar 6 (TOI) When former SL minister Douglas Devananda stood trial on Saturday for a 30-year-old murder case pending against him and nine others, he became the first foreign VIP to face trial in an Indian court for a grave criminal offence. Devananda, however, deposed before the city court concerned through video conferencing from at least 685 km away, the Indian high commission in Colombo. According to prosecution, Lankan Tamils Selvanathan, Raghu, Ravi and Selvam along more..

Emergency Budget: Cabinet approves sweeping tax reforms

Mar 6 (ST) Tough new measures to avert an economic crisis are now engaging the attention of the Govt. The first of these was decided upon at a special meeting of ministers on Friday. The subject first came up for discussion at Wednesday’s weekly ministerial meeting. This was when they discussed a Cabinet memorandum by Minister Ravi Karunanayake. In that, he had recommended certain fiscal measures more..

The current exercise in Constitution-Making

Mar 6 (Island) To the best of our knowledge, a few key members of the Govt and their advisors have spent one year on drafting a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. However, no firm details of its contents have been revealed. Instead, interested institutions and individual citizens were asked in January this year to send in, on or before 10 Feb, their preferred proposals for consideration and evaluation by a 20-person Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PRCCR). more..

Dealing with the elephant next door

Mar 6 (Island) Economic & Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India has still to be published and it seems the govt, unfortunately but understandably, has been forced by lobbies and vested interests to back down on crucial aspects. Nevertheless I spent last week discussing international, not just Indian, collaboration and I will mention the participants at three of these gatherings. A three hour session was with five highly regarded engineers with decades of local & foreign more..

New Zealand PM billed for Taj stay

Mar 6 (ST) Whilst Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is away on official foreign jaunts, ministry officials tasked for responsible jobs seem to be lost. An embarrassing incident for both the Govt and the country took place last week. That was when staff at Hotel Taj Samudra delivered bills to be paid by New Zealand PM John Key’s delegation for their five-day official visit to Sri Lanka. New Zealand govt’s embarrassed entourage more..

Tamil Union win first-class title after 65 years

Mar 6 (CI) Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club have won Sri Lanka's top first-class competition for the first time since the 1950-51 season, after finishing the Super Eights with four outright wins. Their six-wicket victory against second-placed Galle Cricket Club, in the final round of four-day cricket, clinched the trophy. Captain Suranga Lakmal was instrumental in that win, claiming 4 for 20, as Galle CC collapsed to 126 all out in 2nd innings. more..

Indian censors more worried about Sri Lankan film than Lanka’s own!

Mar 6 (HT) Can a docu-drama that was aired in Sri Lanka be banned in India on the grounds that it may sour relations with the island nation? The censor board thinks yes, but the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) says: Of course not. And so, Muttrupulliyaa…? the first indigenously made Tamil feature film on the lives of Tamils in Sri Lanka after the civil war ended in 2009 was given the green light by FCAT, which overturned more..

Leprosy victims live out their lives in Sri Lanka colony

Mar 6 (USAT) Vithana Gunathilake’s motto is tattooed across his chest. The ink faded during his years here, but he still believes in the message: Do or Die. To prove it, he cradles a harmonica with his damaged hands and starts playing. For seven decades, his home has been the Hendala Leprosy Hospital near Colombo. When he and the nearly 40 other patients here eventually die, the leprosy hospital will close for good. more..

Did Army leak Eknaligoda’s tape?

Mar 6 (SL) Defence officials are dumbfounded as to how a tape recording of missing journalist Prageeth Ekanaligoda, which was only in the hands of the military, has now appeared on some websites. Last year the military had claimed that there was a tape recording of a conversation between Ekanaligoda and the LTTE and later that tape recording was handed over to the Homagama Magistrate. more..

Major drive to detoxify SL begins today

Mar 6 (ST) Govt today will take a major step towards a gradual turn around from the use of imported agrochemicals, to locally produced organic and bio fertilizers. The programme for a Vasa Visa Nethi Ratak — a mission to make Sri Lanka free of poisonous agrochemicals and thereby, free of poisoned or polluted food including rice, vegetables and fruits — will be officially launched today, with a three-day exhibition and sale of more..

Indians confess to surgical removal of their kidneys: Police

Mar 6 (ST) Eight Indian nationals arrested over alleged visa violations were produced before the Colombo Medical Officer (JMO) yesterday to ascertain if any of their organs had been removed, after suspicions surfaced that they may be part of an international kidneyracket involving Sri Lanka. The JMO’s report will be submitted to the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court. The men were arrested on Thursday in two separate raids conducted by more..

Suspicion over recent Treasury bond purchases

Mar 6 (ST) Deals by two influential money market traders who purchased large stocks of Treasury bonds and sold it at a premium a few weeks later to the EPF are raising many questions, dealers said. ”We have no proof or evidence but the process appeared to be very suspicious,” one dealer said, adding that the deals have been over the past few months. Dealers said that the two traders unusually bid at a higher rate for large blocks. more..

Sri Lanka brings back war-time measures to fight gangs

Mar 6 (AFP) Sri Lanka's police on Sunday re-introduced war-time road blocks and random checks on vehicles following a surge in gang-related shootings in the capital, a spokesman said. More than 100 police stations in Colombo and its suburbs have been asked to erect snap blocks, a common practice during the island's separatist war that ended nearly seven years ago, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. more..

Education Minister wants child removed from HIV mother

Mar 6 (CG) Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam says measures will be taken to remove a child in Kuliyapitiya from his mother who is believed to be HIV positive. Minister says the mother wants to keep the child but there is a concern the child will get HIV by sleeping on the same bed with the mother. He says if the mother has an open wound that may cause HIV to spread to the child when the child comes in contact with the mother. more..

Registration snafus

Mar 6 (Island) The announcement, carried as an advertisement in the mainstream print media, read like an April Fools joke, a few weeks early. From Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media and published in the mainstream print media, the notice required all news websites operating in Sri Lanka to register with the Ministry before the end of the month, after which all unregistered websites would be considered unlawful. This is rich, considering the edict itself has more..

National Govt: How it can be made to work

Mar 6 (Island) A national govt is a good idea. It is also an idea I have been advocating for more than 15 years. We need a national govt to develop the country, to solve the ethnic problem and to achieve reconciliation. But to be successful a national govt needs a political and an economic plan. In 1999, the Premadasa Centre came up with a draft proposal for a national plan. In the preamble we said, "The draft plan for national development is a statement of shared concern." more..

My Experience of Independence

Mar 6 (Island) Every Performing Artiste dreams of that one Event - one opportunity that changes the course of his or her destiny. That one unforgettable and special ong/dance/painting/sculpture/role or oration that changes life as they know it and in some cases like this, even defines them. As an opera singer, I have worked tirelessly for over a dozen years to perfect a highly technical, respected and beautiful form of singing and attempted more..

Chinese goodwill delegation meets with Pathfinder Foundation

Mar 6 (Island) On March 2, a Chinese goodwill delegation currently here held discussions with the China-Sri Lanka Cooperation Study Centre (CSLCSC) functioning under the Pathfinder Foundation. The primary purpose of the visit was to discuss how to further broaden and deepen the bilateral relations between the two countries and renew contacts China had built with Sri Lanka over the past several decades. The delegation was led Ambassador Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy of more..

Sweeping public sector reforms coming

Mar 6 (ST) President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a 23-member National Salaries and Cadre Commission to advise and assist the Govt formulate and implement a National Wage Policy, and increase efficiency and productivity in the public sector. It is empowered to conduct cadre assessments and review all remuneration structures, including salaries and wages to facilitate due fulfillment of manpower needs within the public and private sectors as a whole. more..

Govt should send Sandeep abroad: Udaya

Mar 6 (DM) Govt should send Sandeepa Gunawardena, the victim of the hit and run accident allegedly involving Minister Champika Ranawaka, overseas for further treatment, MP Udaya Gammanpila said. Sandeepa Sampath was hit by a jeep allegedly driven by the Minister in Rajagiriya is now being treated in the ICU of the National Hospital. MP Gammanpila, once the Ranawaka’s right hand man, said govt should more..

Negombo neglected!

Mar 6 (SL) Negombo, one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country, is in a neglected state with even the most basic services not being provided by the Municipal Council. This was revealed during a meeting the Minister John Amaratunga had with hoteliers, tourism sector representatives and key state officials in Negombo last week. The hoteliers submitted photographic and video evidence showing garbage being piled up on roadsides, sewage water being discharged more..

Govt will eradicate the underworld: Ruwan

Mar 6 (DM) The govt will take necessary steps to eradicate the underworld from Sri Lanka which has been involved in a number of recent murders, State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardena said yesterday. “Recently, we saw underworld gangs have committed some murders. As a govt, we should intervene and eliminate the underworld from the entire country. If there is an underworld, it is running the drug menace which has affected the youth of our country in a badly,” he said. more..

Govt should seek views of all parties on ETCA with India: MR

Mar 6 (DM) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today urged the govt to table the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) in parliament, and seek the views of the trade chambers, professional associations and the general public before making a decision to enter into the agreement. Releasing a statement he said the arrogant attitude govt had taken in this matter may end up ruining the chances of more..

Haggala Gardens an attraction sans basic facilities

Mar 6 (ST) 145-year-old Haggala Gardens in Nuwara Eliya, is one of the key attractions for local as well as foreign tourists. However, facilities available for visitors have been poor, with no proper parking and sanitation facilities. The Gardens contain only three toilets each for males and females and one other which is reserved for tourists. This facility is quite insufficient to cater to the number of visitors the gardens attract. Shopping complex in the vicinity of the Haggala Gardens comes under more..

Farmers continue protests, reject President’s offer

Mar 6 (ST) Farmers continued their protests in several parts of the country yesterday, demanding that the Govt restore the earlier scheme of offering fertilizer at the subsidised price of Rs. 350. Protesting farmers in Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Weeraketiya and other places rejected the Government’s cash grant of Rs. 25,000 per hectare and President Sirisena’s offer on Monday to make fertilizer available at Rs. 2,500 a bag – about Rs. 1,000 less than the market price. more..

Govt says it has backing of all UNHRC member countries

Mar 6 (CG) Govt says it has the backing of all UNHRC member countries including those who opposed Sri Lanka when the former Govt was in power. State Minister of Finance Mahinda Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka cannot go forward by having close links only with a few countries. He said Sri Lanka’s international relations have improved after Jan 8 last year when the new Govt took office. more..

Environment-friendly housing project!

Mar 6 (CT) Minister of Resettlement D. M. Swaminathan visited the area of the housing project consisting 65,000 environment-friendly houses and said the project conducted by Arcelor Mittal which is known as one of the best steel companies in the world is easily the best housing project introduced in Jaffna so far. Swaminathan said speaking to Ceylon Today after his first ever visit to the area where 65,000 houses are being constructed. He also said, "All the specifications with regards to more..

SL arrests 29 Indian fishermen for poaching

Mar 6 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka on Sunday arrested 29 Indian fishermen who were poaching in Sri Lankan waters. The navy said it assisted the Sri Lanka Coast Guard in arresting the fishermen at two different locations in the north and north-western seas. The navy also seized a trawler and three small boats. The fishermen along with the boats were handed over to the officials of the local Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the police. Indian fishermen have been arrested over more..

Audio: Education Minister Akila Viraj suffering from HIV phobia

Mar 6 (CT) In a new twist to the controversial incident involving a six year old child from Kuliyapitiya who has been deprived of a school due to rumours that he is infected with HIV, it is learnt that Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has been behind the incident and had also ordered provincial authorities including Zonal Education Director A. S. K. Jayalath against finding an amicable solution to the problem. more..

'If excise revenue was collected properly, we could have funded another Mahaweli project'

Mar 6 (Island) The primary reason that excise revenue has seen a sharp increase is because this segment has now been freed from the clutches of political influence, says Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake. He said that govt revenue could have increased its revenue substantially if there was no political patronage under the previous govt. He was speaking at a ceremony to present appointment letters to 46 excise officers recruited to the department, at the Ministry recently. more..

No radical teachings at madrasas: Moulavi

Mar 6 (ST) With the combining of local syllabus to the Islamic studies offered at Madrasas or Arabic colleges in the Trincomalee district, the schools are gaining popularity with high competition to get a place. “There were around 200 applications to select students for a class of 40. The students are being taught the school syllabus and Islamic studies at the same time,” Moulavi Hidayathullah, a school principal, said. At least twenty madrasas schools are located in the districts. more..