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Sri Lanka promotion at Washington National Zoo

Nov 20 (SLE) The Sri Lanka Promotion on the occasion of Sri Lanka baby elephant ‘Kandula’ got off to an auspicious start with a lecture on "The Conservation of Asian Elephants in Sri Lanka and Beyond," at the Washington National Zoo on Thursday November 16, 2006. It was the first event of the cultural and educational program organized by the Sri Lanka Embassy under the “Enrichment of Arts and Culture” section of the ‘Mahinda Chintana’, more..

Industrial Development Ministry approves 51 projects

Nov 20 (DN) Industrial Development Minister Kumara Welgama stated that steps would be taken to reduce electricity charges by using natural gas and coal to generate electricity. Minister Welgama said that Industrialists make requests to reduce electricity charges and by the proposed new system their requests could be definitely fulfilled. more..

Malaysian Investor Almost Quit Sri Lanka

Nov 20 (Bernama) A Malaysian investor, struggling with rising costs and a deteriorating security situation, almost wanted to pull out of Sri Lanka until a re-structuring of the investment changed his mind. "With the uncertainty in the country, we had to make some serious decisions on our future here. We were forced to rethink our strategy and decided to stay and adjust," chief executive officer of E-Gas, Azlan Shah Mohamed Shah, told Bernama here Monday. more..

Karu and SB dropped from UNP hierarchy

Nov 20 (LeN) At the 51 st Party Convention of the UNP held today (19) Deputy leader Karu Jayasooriya and National Organizer S.B. Dissanayake and the controversial Exco were not selected. It is presumed that the above two posts will become void due to non election. Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe proposed the names of Tissa Attanayake as General Secretary, Rukman Senanayake as the President and Tilak Karunaratna as the Treasurer and their names were approved by the delegates unanimously. more..

Vavuniya students killing: SLLM says no evidence of "cross fire"

Nov 20 (LeN) The death of 5 students of a farm school in Vavuniya has aroused controversy after the SLMM yesterday said according to eyewitnesses and initial investigations by the monitors a group of soldiers had rounded up the students and fired indiscriminately at them. However the military strongly refuted such claims saying instead the students were caught up in the crossfire with the LTTE following a claymore attack on soldiers traveling in a truck. more..

UN envoy slated in Sri Lanka over child soldier charge

Nov 20 (AFP) Sri Lankan nationalists led by the island's main Marxist party have demonstrated against a top UN envoy who accused the military of recruiting child soldiers on behalf of a Tamil rebel faction. Hundreds of protestors carried an effigy of special advisor to the United Nations Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock, and shouted slogans against his allegations made last week. more..

Sri Lanka to reopen crucial highway to supply 500,000 trapped civilians

Nov 20 (AP) The Sri Lankan government said Monday it will reopen the only highway supplying the Tamil-majority Jaffna peninsula, allowing the flow of essential supplies to half a million civilians trapped by fighting for the first time in four months. President Mahinda Rajapakse's office said he instructed authorities to reopen the A-9 Highway for a one-time supply run. more..

Tigers scoff Sri Lanka aid offer as political gimmick

Nov 20 (AFP) Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels scoffed a government offer to send supplies to the besieged Jaffna peninsula as a "political gimmick" aimed at appeasing the international community. The LTTE said they had no formal word from the government about its offer to send essential food and medicine to Jaffna through rebel-held territory. more..

Rebels reject President aid convoy plan

Nov 20 (Reuters) Tamil Tigers on Monday rejected government plans to send a one-off aid convoy through its territory to the far north, demanding instead that island's main north-south highway be opened permanently. President Mahinda Rajapakse's government closed the A9 highway that runs from the northern army-held Jaffna peninsula to the south in August as a new chapter in a two-decade civil war flared, arguing rebel artillery fire had made it unsafe. more..

Landslide kills 5 in Sri Lanka, main road linking tourist resort town blocked

Nov 20 (AP) A landslide triggered by heavy rain killed five people, blocking the main road that connects Sri Lanka's tourist town of Nuwara Eliya with the capital, police said Monday, as the weather office forecast continued downpours. The landslide occurred in Pussallewa, 140 kilometers (87 miles) east of Colombo late Sunday killing five people, policeman R. Jayalath, who responded the telephone, said. more..

Low tariffs, fuel price hikes and wage bills drive up losses at Sri Lanka Posts

Nov 21 (LBO) Delayed tariff revisions, fuel price hikes and wage bills have driven up losses at Sri Lanka’s Postal Department, to over a billion rupees in the first six months this year. According to provisional data by the Central Bank, operating losses as at June this year was up 13 percent to 1.017 billion rupees, over the same period last year. more..

Sri Lanka’s estate sector trade unions to hold crisis talks Tue on wages hike

Nov 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s plantation sector trade unions are to hold crisis talks on Tuesday on stalled wage negotiations with companies, and any strike action, if at all. “We have not resumed talks. We are having a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) with all trade unions to evolve a plan of action. There is no strike action, but we will decide on that tomorrow,” R Yogarajan, Vice President of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), told LBO. more..

45 dead, thousands homeless from heavy Sri Lanka seasonal rains

Nov 21 (AFP) At least 45 people have died from floods and mudslides caused by heavy seasonal rains in Sri Lanka that left 91,000 families temporarily homeless, the National Disaster Management Centre said. The number of people drowned in the past three weeks was at 30 while 15 were buried alive in mudslides, N.D. Hettiarachchi, director of the centre said. more..

Better the Second Time Around, Jazz Returns to Sri Lanka

Nov 21 (AT) Three jazz musicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rhythm Road program, Reinaldo De Jesus Corchado, Luques Curtis and Zaccai Curtis; are returning to Sri Lanka. The mission of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad is to share American music as a vehicle of communication with other countries. The artists on The Rhythm Road travel and perform in countries that are not often visited by American musicians to foster cross-cultural exchanges. more..

Co-Chairs reviewing Sri Lanka situation

Nov 21 (Hindu) Co-Chairs of Sri Lanka, a representative body of 58 donor countries, are now meeting in Washington to review the situation in the island nation and consider steps to nudge the Government and the LTTE to halt fighting and pave the way for a conducive atmosphere for talks. It was at the behest of the Co-Chairs that the two sides met, unsuccessfully though, in Geneva on October 28 and 29. more..

A9 opening: Govt. says no gimmick

Nov 21 (DM) The government yesterday vowed to go ahead with plans to temporarily open the A9 highway on humanitarian grounds, dismissing LTTE claims that the move was a “gimmick” to deceive the co-chairs who were meeting in Washington yesterday and today. Government defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said the SLMM and Norway would be told to officially convey the message to the LTTE but the ceasefire monitors said they had not received such a message till last evening. more..

Anura wants Ramanujan fired immediately

Nov 21 (DM) Tourism Minister Anura Bandaranaike yesterday wrote to President Mahinda Rajapaksa requesting him to replace Tourism Ministry Secretary P. Ramanujan immediately. The Minister and the secretary have been clashing for some months and yesterday Mr Bandaranaike accused Dr. Ramanujan of “surreptitiously blocking the smooth functioning of the ministry.” more..

TULF leader V. Anandasangaree hails Raviraj

Nov 21 (ISL) "While the Creator of living beings just there, many are fighting to plunder the lives of the others. On that context, the news that our closest friend and the Federal Party M.P. 'Annan' Raviraj and his body guard, our friend Luxshman were shot dead brutally came as a shock and gave unbearable pain of mind. more..

Douglas Devananda in Jaffna

Nov 21 (ISL) EPDP Secretary General Douglas Devananda is currently is in Jaffna to look into the current situation prevailing in Jaffna. The Minister of Social Welfare and Social Services decided to visit Jaffna and try and find solutions the problems faced by the public in Jaffna at the suggestion of the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapkase, according Ministry sources. more..

The weapons we carry are a temporary means - Karuna

Nov 21 (ISL) Appealing to the majority Sri Lankan community and the various political parties, the TMVP has indicated that they should give them good support and advice in their struggle against repression and their joining the democratic main stream. “We have to carry arms for our very survival and this is only a temporary means.” more..

Karu meets Prelates, plays down differences with Ranil

Nov 21 (DM) Former Deputy Leader of the UNP, Parliamentarian Karu Jayasuriya, said there is only a difference of opinion between him and Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. “There are differences of opinion among party members and those should be sorted out through discussion. There is no displeasure between Wickremesinghe and me. I have no wish to join the JVP and if someone holds that opinion it is a myth. more..

Bankers’ fear that deemed dividend tax may hurt capital of Sri Lankan banks

Nov 21 (LBO) A controversial tax to force Sri Lankan companies to pay dividends would undermine the health of the commercial banks by depleting their capital, a top banker has warned. The budget proposed that companies that pay less than 25 percent of their distributable profits as dividends should be subjected to a penal tax. more..

Helen Olafsdottir must be expelled from Sri Lanka forthwith

Nov 21 (ISL) The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, an unashamedly pro-LTTE body created by the Norway-conspired Ceasefire Agreement has had in it too many members from its very inception with a pathetic penchant for the Tigers; almost like worshipping the very ground on which Velupillai Prabhakaran trod as if a mythological god in Norse tradition had come alive. more..

Government to provide 12000 jobs this year

Nov 21 (GDI) The Government will be providing 12,039 employment opportunities under the "Gamata Karmantha" programme. "Ministry of Industrial Development has so far approved 51 projects under "Gamata Karmantha" programme which would provide 12,039 employment opportunities. Rs.9,550 million have been invested in this project," stated the Minister of Industrial Development, Kumara Welgama. more..

IPU Secretary General meets President

Nov 21 (GDI) The Secretary General of the Inter Parliamentary Union, Anders Johnson and his delegation called on President Mahinda Rajapaksha at the Temple Trees in Colombo yesterday. The President and Mr. Anders exchanged views on measures to strengthen the country’s parliamentary system. The proposal of finding a suitable committee system came up during the discussion. more..

We can learn many things from China - Media Minister

Nov 21 (GDI) The Association for Listeners of China Radio International in Sri Lanka organised a ceremony in Colombo, yesterday to mark the 65th anniversary of China Radio International. The ceremony was held at the Lumbini Theatre under the patronage of Media and Mass Communication Minister Anura Priyadarsana Yapa and Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Athauda Seneviratne. more..

All set to send food lorries through A9

Nov 21 (GDI) All necessary preparations to send a large convoy of lorries carrying essential goods to Jaffna via A9 Road are being made. The government called for lorries and trucks for transporting essential goods and commodities to Jaffna to ensure adequate buffer stocks. Government would ensure that the transport of essential items through the A-9 road to Jaffna would not cause any adverse impact on national security. more..

Better late than never

Nov 21 (ANN) The government decision to open the A-9 road for the transport of essential commodities to the North, in spite of its security concerns, is a step in the right direction. The prevailing weather conditions have hampered ship movements and the food scarcity in that part of the country needs to be remedied urgently. Reopening a land route is the only way. more..

Press Statement by the Thissa Vitarana, Chairman, All Party Representative Committee (APRC)

Nov 21 (PISL) The APRC has been meeting regularly every week and during these discussions, which have been carried out in a very friendly atmosphere, we have been able to progress from identifying the various stakeholders who are involved in the current national conflict and discussing the issues and problems faced by them to an unanimous consensus by all members last night, to agree to the concept of devolution. more..

Thousands of demonstrators chant Allan Rock ‘a liar’ with past connections with the Tamil Tigers

Nov 21 (AT) Thousands of protesters demonstrated in front of Sri Lanka’s United Nation’s office calling UN Representative Allan Rock, the Special Advisor to the UN Representative for Children and Armed Conflict a “liar” who lacked any qualifications to be an impartial UN Ambassador due to his past connections with a terrorist group notorious for recruiting child soldiers. more..

Co-Chairs to bring pressure on Govt. to halt all military activities?

Nov 21 (LT) According to diplomatic sources in Colombo Japan and European Union would want the meeting of the Co-Chairs scheduled to take place today in Washington to exert pressure on the Government to halt all military activities. Earlier there was speculation that Norway would want the Co-Chairs to request UNO intervention in the conflict in Sri Lanka. more..

Won’t tigers use A-9 for military objectives? – JVP asks

Nov 21 (LT) Has the Government got an assurance from tiger terrorists that they would not use the move for their military objectives asks the JVP. A communiqué issued by the political Bureau of the JVP states the decision to open A-9 road has been taken expecting Co-Chairs to blame the Government for the closure of A-9 road. more..

India claims hand in A-9 opening

Nov 21 (LNP) The South Indian Jaya TV said in its morning 9 `O` clock news yesterday that President Mahinda Rajapakse agreed to open the A-9 Jaffna highway after India and several other countries requested him to do so. Meanwhile, the LTTE yesterday said that it was useless opening the A -9 just to transport only food items but it should be opened permanently for the public to travel freely.

A-9 re-opening: UNP happy, JVP worried

Nov 21 (LNP) The JVP yesterday cautioned the government over its unexpected decision to facilitate overland movement of urgently needed supplies to Jaffna through the Muhamalai gateway. The JVP Politburo warned President Mahinda Rajapakse of the possibility of the LTTE taking advantage of the re-opening while the UNP welcomed the Rajapakse`s initiative. The decision was made amidst growing international concern over food shortage in the peninsula. more..

Govt targets single digit inflation

Nov 21 (LNP) The Government is targeting bringing down the inflation rate to 9 per cent while retaining economic growth at 7.5 per cent in 2007, Treasury Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundara said. `Inflation should be eliminated. The Government has to bring inflation down. The budget is the vehicle driving the whole process. The reflections of the Government should be shared with the public,` more..

SriLankan air taxi recommences flights to Victoria

Nov 21 (LNP) SriLankan Air Tax is once again flying to the Victoria Reservoir in Kandy, one of the most popular destinations in its extensive route network throughout the island. The Reservoir provides easy access to the Victoria Golf & Country Resort, a popular holiday and golfing destination among both Sri Lankans and expatriates. more..

CID probe Vavuniya students killing

Nov 21 (SAMN) A special CID team is to probe the killing of five Vavuniya students after reports indicated that a lone policeman was suspected to have been involved in the shooting. The weapon used by the policeman has been confiscated and although he has not been interdicted his work has been curtailed pending the outcome of the investigations. more..

No funds for relief operations

Nov 21 (SAMN) Despite the severe flood and landslide situation in the country, the Government has not provided funds to the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to carry out relief efforts. The number of displaced by floods and landslides have increased rapidly within the past three weeks with 14,000 families being rendered homeless. Two deaths were reported from Poojapitiya and Kandy and one from Moratuwa. more..

Party leaders to take up MP killing

Nov 21 (SAMN) Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara told Parliament Monday the killing of TNA MP N.Raviraj was a serious matter hence he would take it up at the party leader’s meeting. The Speaker’s comments were made after the Government and the TNA exchanged into an argument over the killing of the MP. Raising the issue of Raviraj’s killing, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan requested the Government to reveal to the House those who are responsible for the killing. more..

Buoyant growth in 9 month tax revenue

Nov 21 (SAMN) The Government has succeeded in achieving a buoyant growth in tax revenue in the first nine months of this year. Corporate tax, personal tax, the Economic Service Charge and interest income which constitute Income Taxes realised Rs. 57,157 Mn. up to September 2006 recording a significant growth of 62 per cent during the first nine months of 2006 compared to the corresponding period in 2005. more..

Indian Foreign Secretary to arrive in Colombo

Nov 21 (LN) Indian Foreign Secretary Sivashangar Menon will arrive in Sri Lanka on the next Wednesday on a three-day visit. He is visiting Sri Lanka with a special message from the Indian Premier Dr. Manmohan Singh regarding the humanitarian crisis in the North East. He is scheduled to meet President Mahinda Rajapakse on the 23rd. He will also meet the opposition leader, Ranil Wickramasinghe, Indian sources said. more..

300 production villages to be set up

Nov 21 (DN) The Ministry of Rural Industries and Self-Employment Promotion is to set up 300 production villages next year investing Rs. 500 million. The project, to be implemented over three years, has targeted both export and local markets. Most of production villages will be set up to produce high-demand products for the export market targeting more foreign exchange to the country. more..

Another Sri Lankan Editor Dismissed Without Justifiable Reason

Nov 21 (IFJ) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has denounced the sudden dismissal of Sinhala Daily Dinamina editor, Chandrasiri Dodawatta on November 20 as an unacceptable interference in editorial independence. According to an IFJ affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), the unofficial reason given for Dodawatta’s removal was his misreporting of the president’s birthday. more..

Crime is the new source of terror in Buddhist Sri Lanka

Nov 21 (KT) CHICAGO was one of the destinations in my itinerary when I visited the United States in 2004 on a State Department-sponsored International Visitors Programme. It was not the Sears Towers that flashed through my mind as I saw Chicago on the programme schedule. It was Chicago’s history of crime that I feared most. How safe would it be to visit Chicago? I remembered reading an old travel article on Chicago long, long ago. more..

Govt, Rebels Trade Blame Over Escalating Food Crisis

Nov 21 (Bloomberg) Sri Lanka's government and the rebel LTTE blamed each other for exacerbating food shortages in the north and east of the country by preventing the distribution of supplies. A government plan to send a single convoy of trucks carrying aid to the northern Jaffna peninsula is a "last-minute tactic to placate the international community," the LTTE said yesterday, according to TamilNet. more..

Sri Lanka gov't says high defense spending necessary

Nov 21 (Xinhua) The high defense allocation for 2007 in the government budget presented last week was necessary in order to ensure national security, a top Sri Lanka Finance Ministry official said Monday. P. B. Jayasundera, the secretary to the Finance Ministry, told a seminar here that the government did not want to compromise national security. more..

Colombia, Philippines and Sri Lanka Top U.S. on Gender Equality

Nov 21 (Bloomberg) Colombia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka offer women more equal treatment at work and in politics, education and health care overall than the U.S., where lawmaking is male-dominated, according to a World Economic Forum study. A WEF study of the differences in social and economic opportunities between men and women worldwide finds Sweden with the smallest gap, more..

Sri Lanka air force pounds Tamil Tiger territory

Nov 21 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's air force bombed Tamil Tiger territory in the far north on Tuesday in what the military called a preemptive strike on a training base, but the rebels said it was an unprovoked attack near their stronghold. The Tigers said at least 20 air force bombs fell near the village of Vaddakkachchi, which lies around 6 miles east of their northern nerve-centre of Kilinochchi. more..

Sri Lankan war planes bomb Tiger territory

Nov 21 (AFP) Sri Lankan jets have bombed a suburb of the Tamil Tiger's northern political capital at what the military said was an insurgent training site. Both the military and the rebels said that casualties or damage assessments were not yet available. A Tamil Tiger military spokesman said the attack was near the rebel headquarters of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres north of Colombo, and that it was unprovoked and caused panic among the civilians. more..

President to visit neighboring India, rebel insurgency likely topic

Nov 21 (AP) President Mahinda Rajapakse is scheduled to visit neighboring India later this week for meetings with leaders there that are likely to focus on Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil insurgency, a government spokesman said Tuesday. "India is our most friendly neighbor," chief government spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella told The Associated Press, adding that the current stalemate in the peace process with separatist Tamil Tigers will figure prominently in the talks. more..