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Debt repayment, Proroguing House raise serious concerns: SJB

Dec 18 (CT) Govt should provide an explanation on how it is planning to repay USD 6.5 billion in debts which are due in 2022, the SJB demanded. SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella claimed that although they sought explanation from Minister Basil Rajapaksa several times regarding the matter, they did not receive a satisfactory response. “The Govt failing to provide an answer is very disturbing. Information has been received that the Govt is seeking funds from India, promising national assets, islands in North. more..

ලිට්‍රෝ සමාගම ගෑස් ගොඩබායි...

The Shafi fiasco

Dec 19 (TM) The announcement of the reinstatement of Dr. Shafi Sihabdeen of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital by the Health Ministry last week has once again brought into focus the politics of deception so skillfully used by our politicians for political gain. It also exposes the naiveté of a section of the people that inevitably forms the bloc vote that ultimately decides the country’s leaders. Even though it is said that “one can fool all the people some of the time and more..

Omicron and virus that refuses to be beaten

Dec 19 (ST) No cooking gas; no fertiliser; no medicines; no milk powder; no vegetables; no trains; no post office; no imports; no foreign exchange; no Parliament and it looks like no Govt. The only likely import is Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant that has reached 77 countries big time, and the only export, MPs Boeing abroad on holiday, and for some, on furlough! That this is the festive season has to be a misnomer under these conditions. The country is going down the tubes and those more..

'Prorogation of Parliament: Opposition claims refuted in toto'

Dec 19 (SO) Categorically refuting SJB claim that the prorogation of Parliament was meant to terminate investigations undertaken by Parliamentary watchdog committees namely the COPE, COPA and COPF, Justice Minister Ali Sabry, said it is the prerogative of the President to deliver the Govt’s Policy Statement at the inauguration of the new Parliamentary session as per the tradition. The Minister in an interview more..

Militarisation Vs The People: Will there be confrontation?

Dec 19 (CT) From mid-September to late November the autocratic ambitions of the Gotabaya regime were in retreat, but the Prez’s hard-core has rallied and in the last fortnight we see a toughening tone. But is there substance to this posturing or is it a confused govt running in circles around itself like a headless chicken? Can a stricken regime make an illegal grab for power? You may say stranger things have happened but the “best laid schemes o’ Headless Chickens an’ Men (usually) gang more..

The failure of the intellectuals & The NMSJ’s constitutional Chernobyl

Dec 19 (CT) Is anyone at the top, working closely with the Deep State, allowing the crisis to accelerate and even helping it exacerbate, so as to facilitate military rule (or presidential-military rule)? Is the democratic opposition, from political parties to civil society, unwittingly walking into the equivalent of a well-prepared military ambush by unilateralist-sectarian political adventurism on the part of some, and Weimar Republic weak-state liberalism on the part of others? more..

'BOI’s role critical in overcoming forex challenges'

Dec 19 (SO) The present forex challenges are mainly due to falling remittances from expatriate workers, and all-time low earnings from the pandemic-stricken tourism sector. Heavy foreign debt settlements have also added pressure to the local currency. Against this background, the role of the BOI is critical, in terms of attracting export catalysing FDI, said newly-appointed BOI Chairman Raja Edirisuriya in an interview more..

The LP gas saga

Dec 19 (SO) Most Sri Lankan families used to cook their meals using either firewood or kerosene before the advent of Liquefied Petroleum (LP) gas. Now, apart from a few super rich families who cook exclusively with electricity, more than 80% of the households use LP gas for cooking. There are many advantages of LP gas - it is easy to procure, a 12.5 Kg cylinder lasts a couple of months for a family of four or five, there is minimal air pollution and it is generally safe. more..

Govt-civil society imbroglio

Dec 19 (Island) Civil society activists are sharply divided over their strategy to deal with the govt. The majority of them have found fault with the SL Collective for Consensus (SLCC) for undermining the overall civil society strategy by entering into a high profile dialogue with the govt. The SL Civil Society Forum (SLCSF) in particular is disappointed over the way the SLCC handled contentious issues. The outfit is concerned that the govt would take advantage of the ongoing dialogue more..

පාර්ලිමේන්තුව වාර අවසාන කිරීම

Everyone’s beginning to see red

Dec 19 (ST) My dear Anura Kumara or ‘AKD’, I thought I should write to you because more and more people are talking about the increasingly important role you are playing in the opposition, especially after you had produced a confidential Cabinet paper in Parliament recently about the controversial sale of a power plant in Kerawalapitiya. We heard that even ministers were asking you for a copy of the Cabinet paper, though it was supposed to have been approved by the Cabinet. more..

Ranatunga frowns on LPL frolics, warns budding cricketers it is poison

Dec 19 (SO) Poisoned chalice, sour grapes or being around at the wrong time, ex-SL cricket captain and one-time World Cup heart-throb Arjuna Ranatunga warned school cricketers of the evils of focusing on money while drawing a contrast to his own success without a cent in his pocket. He fired the warning shots and made the alarm-sounding remarks amid pin-drop silence at the Sunday Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricket Awards and received a touching applause from hundreds of more..

Prorogation: LSSP laments it was not consulted

Dec 19 (ST) A little known fact is that the Govt does not discuss with constituent parties in the alliance led by the SLPP critical issues or seek their opinions before making a decision. For many, some of the Govt’s decisions come as surprises either from interlocutors or the media. The latest is the prorogation of Parliament by the Prez from midnight of De 12 to reconvene on Jan 18 – not the earlier scheduled date of Jan 11 that more..

SLC gets tough on fitness

Dec 19 (ST) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) will introduce tougher fitness benchmarks for its national cricketers from next year as they have further reduced the existing targets set for 2km run and the skin-fold test. The 2km test introduced early this year, replacing the Yo-Yo test to determine the fitness and endurance levels of the players, had a benchmark of 8.35 minutes, which was later increased to 8.55 minutes, on a request made by the Cricket Technical Advisory Committee. more..

Editorial: Prorogation

Dec 19 (Island) Govts not infrequently prorogue parliament when they are in trouble. Perhaps the best example of that in SL’s contemporary history was Prez Premadasa’s prorogation of the legislature when he was confronted with an impeachment resolution in Sept 1991. That enabled him to buy some time to fight the effort to dethrone him. There is no escaping the reality that the present dispensation is in trouble, massively unpopular in the country within two years of its comfortable more..

Injury-prone KJP defies medical advice to play LPL, risking recovery

Dec 19 (ST) Opener Kusal Janith Perera has defied medical advice to feature in the ongoing LPL, jeopardising his chances of playing in the series against Zimbabwe and Australia, a communication by SLC’s lead physiotherapist revealed. Perera sprained his shoulder during a practice session ahead of the Indian limited over series in July. While he returned to play the subsequent series against South Africa and the T20 World Cup in UAE, more..

Boost foreign reserves via FDIs and exports urgently: Economists

Dec 19 (SO) Reviving the economy is a challenge and it is the most challenging economy among all of the South Asian countries today, said Professor in Economics, Sirimal Abeyratne. The primary need is to build the stock of foreign reserves which cannot be done without FDI and export growth. “We can borrow from other countries, but it will never solve the problem. We can also sell assets for foreign currency payments; unless these investments generate export income in return, more..

Sri Lanka bags a silver to go with one gold and five bronze

Dec 19 (SO) SL’s Thimali Haputhenna who competed in the over-81kgs weight class hit the highlight on the last day of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship held in Uzbekistan yesterday as she bagged a silver medal by lifting 83 kgs in the Snatch and 106 kgs in the Clean and Jerk method for a total of 189 kgs. Haputhenna is the only silver medalist of the SL team that also has one gold and five bronze winners finishing with seven medals which is the highest number of more..

ගෑස් මුදලාලිලා නඩුවෙන් පරාදයි...

Lahiru Kumara: all brawn and no brains

Dec 19 (Island) This LPL has produced some thrilling contests and probably the best of them all was the clash between Colombo Stars and Kandy Warriors with Seekkuge Prasanna helping Stars to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat this week. Some inexplicable fast bowling by Lahiru Kumara did contribute to Warriors getting knocked out of the competition. Kumara got a lot of flak for the manner in which he handled the pressure against South Africa in Sharjah in that World Cup game more..

SL’s economic woes likely to worsen in 2022

Dec 19 (ST) SL is heading towards a major economic crisis in 2022 amidst dwindling foreign reserves and pressure on the monetary system with no immediate signs of recovery, official statistics and estimates computed by govt agencies with the use of financial modeling has revealed. While Sri Lanka is due to repay close to US$1 billion worth of debt next month (January) and a total of over $7 billion for 2022, the SL economy has contracted by 1.5% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, more..

Hathu loses case against SLC; may file fresh action

Dec 19 (ST) Former SL Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha has withdrawn the case he filed against Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) challenging his sacking after the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland rejected the addition of parties sought by the claimant. SLC has filed a counter-claim to recover the costs following the withdrawal and expects a decision in its favour. Hathurusingha filed for arbitration year more..

Bairaha recognized for reaching visually disabled with braille chicken recipe book

Dec 19 (Island) Bairaha Farms PLC, the pioneer chicken processor in Sri Lanka for over four decades, shone bright at the FMCG Asia Awards, being honored as the winner of the Environmental Social Governance Initiative of the Year in Sri Lanka for 2021, a company news release said. “For the first time in SL, a recipe book of chicken recipes written in braille was launched to help the blind people in the country enjoy a zest for reading and cooking in a format they can understand,” it said. more..

Fertilisers allocated for tea industry grabbed

Dec 19 (ST) Amidst speculation that foreign exchange coffers are fast running out of dollars, fertiliser importers are caught in a tight situation unable to bring down adequate stocks for the next Yala season even at skyrocketing global prices. The ban on chemical fertiliser imports was lifted about two weeks back. Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage during a meeting with the importers of chemical fertiliser at his ministry in Colombo on Thursday has informed that the govt is likely more..

CPC proposes fuel price increase

Dec 19 (TM) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) has sent a proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers requesting the latter to grant a price hike on petrol as a short-term measure to address the deteriorating financial position of the state-owned institution. A senior official from CPC stated that the request to the Cabinet was presented due to accumulated debt owed to two state banks, in addition to not having money to pay for suppliers. more..

Douglas Wickremaratne is no more

Dec 19 (Island) London-based die-hard Lankan patriot, Douglas Wickremaratne passed away last week. He was 83. A product of Ananda College, Colombo, Douglas migrated to London in early 1960s. He was the President of the Sinhala Association in the UK and fought many battles countering false propaganda of the LTTE and its sympathizers. He single-handedly debated with LTTE members on TV and Radio programmes. He came to the limelight after his successful more..

Fresh organic tender for Yala season

Dec 19 (ST) SL is likely to call for a fresh international tender for the Yala season in a bid to ensure that the organic farming process has adequate fertilizer. Agriculture Department (DOA) Director General Dr. Ajantha De Silva said that they will be calling for a fresh international tender for organic fertiliser as the requirement for the Yala season is not adequate with the available stocks in the country. He noted that since the requirement is not sufficient based on past experience more..

ඉරාන් වික්‍රමරත්න

Sinoharm anti-body response declines fastest Sri Lanka study finds

Dec 19 (EN) Sinopharm vaccine have the least antibody response after three months compare to other vaccines, the latest antibody response for vaccines study done by a Sri Lankan research team shows. An antibody response research done by the Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology unit of University of Sri J'pura has shown that the antibody response was seen highest in the Moderna vaccine followed by Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, Sputink V light (first dose then) and then Sinopharm. more..

Fifty-five SOEs incur losses - Rs 1.2 t from 2006-2020: Advocata

Dec 19 (SO) Big, ponderous, Govt enterprises are not responsive to people’s needs, said veteran policy policy expert and an advisor of the Advocata Institute, Prof. Rohan Samarajiva. He was speaking at Advocata’s press briefing, organised to highlight the urgency of carrying out reforms to State Owned Enterprises (SOE). “The basic issue is that we are suffering from a twin deficit. We need to get started on addressing the core problem,” he said. According to Prof. Samarajiva privatising a globally more..

Foreign reserves: Significant inflows expected this week: Cabraal

Dec 19 (TM) Central Bank of SL (CBSL) is confident of receiving some significant inflows to boost the country’s foreign reserves this week, according to CBSL Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal. “We are expecting some significant inflows early next week,” he said, but refrained from revealing the source of the inflows. “When the inflows are received, we will announce. Until then, I’m afraid we are bound by radio silence,” he observed. more..

Fertiliser importers tell govt to settle arrears of Rs. 26b

Dec 19 (ST) Private sector fertliser companies are demanding that the Govt should settle an arrears of Rs 26 billion for stocks previously provided under the state-subsidy scheme for farmers. The companies have pointed out that the money was long overdue and needed as they were preparing to go ahead with the fertiliser imports for farmers after the Govt lifted restrictions on imports. Private companies brought up the issue with Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage this week more..

SriLankan Airlines told to pay for jet fuel in dollars — or else

Dec 19 (ST) The Energy Ministry has officially informed SriLankan Airlines that it will not supply jet fuel if the payment is not made in dollars. Energy Ministry Secretary K. D. R. Olga said the ministry officially conveyed its decision last week and told the national carrier to make the dollar payments to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) through the state bank network. “If we are to supply jet fuel, we need dollars. We have been telling the airline about this for some time. more..

Cabraal gets 74% of earlier salary as pension and Rs. 400,000 as monthly pay

Dec 19 (ST) Central Bank of SL has passed a total of Rs 7mn for the arrears of newly-approved pensions for current and former Governors, including for Ajith Nivard Cabraal who is on his second term, authoritative sources said. Mr Cabraal is now receiving 74% of his earlier salary as pension and Rs 400,000 a month as current salary–up from the Rs 150,000 immediate predecessor Indrajit Coomaraswamy earned. more..

Custodial deaths: Police await new guidelines

Dec 19 (TM) SL Police have not received any new instructions regarding preventing custodial deaths, despite reports that the Ministry of Public Security has issued new instructions. SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that so far, no directives have come from above. “We have not been given any instructions regarding the prevention of custodial deaths. At least not in the last six months. There may have been instructions issued much earlier but I have not seen any such circular either,” more..

Essential food items: Milk powder shortage worsens

Dec 19 (TM) SL is once again suffering a milk powder shortage, a circumstance which the Milk Powder Importers’ Association (MPIA) attributes to the ongoing forex crisis. MPIA member Ariyasiri Vithanage noted that they have stopped importing milk powder due to the shortage of dollars in the country. While acknowledging disruptions caused by the ongoing global pandemic, Vithanage expressed concerns over the plight of importers, saying: “Global milk powder prices have increased. more..

Prorogation may be presidential prerogative, but politics plays a part

Dec 19 (ST) As the Govt grapples with scandals on many fronts and the country heads into Christmas and the New Year, President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s sudden and unexplained move to prorogue Parliament till Jan 18 has touched off a firestorm of criticism and left even members of his own Govt stumped. Parliament was originally supposed to reconvene on Jan 11 for its first session of the New Year. more..

Christmas; the season of hope

Dec 20 (DM) Although ours is a Buddhist majority country, with around only 7% being Christian, Christmas is celebrated as a national holiday. The season starts on December 1 with the lighting of crackers at dawn, homes are decorated, shopping malls put up large christmas trees, mercantile and govt offices organise parties while dances and other fun activities take place in hotels all over the country. Importantly Christian churches hold special masses and organise gift-giving events more..

Writing in times of crisis: 100 Red Notes

Dec 20 (DM) One of my earliest memories as a five year old was of sitting on my father’s shoulder and watching the motorcades of Third World leaders who had arrived in Colombo for the Non-Aligned Movement Conference in 1976. Issues such as apartheid in South Africa, Israeli settlements in Palestine and the aftermath of the Vietnam War, were highlighted at the conference. Those were hopeful times for even a small country to take up the cause of equality and freedom internationally. more..