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Cabinet Decisions

Apr 20 (GDI) The Cabinet has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Finance and Planning to implement an infrastructure and housing development project in Puttalam district. The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank has agreed to provide a loan of US$ 32 million interest free but with a service charge of 0.75% per annum. more..

Russel Arnold's column

Apr 20 (BBC) We are only a few days away from a World Cup semi-final and this is what cricketers play the game for - the big matches. We will go into that game on Tuesday in Jamaica in great heart despite a mixed week for us as a team. Australia beat us convincingly on Monday and there was a lot of talk about our decision to rest Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, and the psychological impact the defeat would have on us for the rest of the tournament. more..

Sri Lankans exporters losing competitiveness owing to high shipping charges

Apr 20 (LBO) Sri Lankan exporters Thursday called for government intervention to prevent shipping lines imposing additional charges that were making exports uncompetitive and imports more expensive. Exporters say big shipping lines acting as a cartel increased the Terminal Handling Charge (THC) for moving containers in Colombo port to 155 dollars for a 20-foot box in January, from 115 dollars previously. more..

Sri Lankan February tea output lowest in decade

Apr 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s tea production in February fell to its lowest monthly level in 10 years because a strike by labour unions and bad weather affected the crop late last year, brokers said. Among the worst hit were top high grown tea growing areas like Bogawantalawa and Talawakelle. The February tea production at 17.5 million kg was the lowest since the drought year of 1997, Brokers Asia Siyaka Commodities said. more..

Caritas says peace must be priority as Sri Lankan President meets Pope

Apr 20 (CI) Pope Benedict XVI will meet tomorrow with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse as the people of Sri Lanka endure a violent armed conflict, intimidation and harassment. Schools, hospitals and public transport have been targeted in fighting between military, police forces and armed opposition groups. Men, women and children are killed or are 'disappeared' on a daily basis. more..

Laugfs enters Sri Lanka lubricants market, mulls blending plant

Apr 20 (LBO) Laugfs Holdings said Thursday it had signed an agreement with the government of Sri Lanka that gave it permission to import and market lubricants in the island. The local market has been dominated by Caltex Lubricants Lanka Limited with nearly 72 percent market share. Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) holds a 20 percent of market while the balance eight percent is split between Mobil, Valvoline, Shell and BP/Castrol. more..

Top rebel warns against Sri Lankan military attack on insurgent strongholds

Apr 20 (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels, who have used everything from suicide bombings to air raids, will unleash their "full capacity" if government forces try to take their northern strongholds, their political chief said Thursday. S.P. Tamilselvan's comments came a week after Sri Lanka's top defense official said that the country's collapsing cease-fire had "no meaning" — and that the military would soon go after the Tigers' heartland. more..

Sri Lanka inflation a genuine concern - ESCAP survey

Apr 20 (AT) The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2007, ‘Surging Ahead in Uncertain Times’ was launched in Sri Lanka today. The UNESCAP's 2007 report contains several issues relevant to Sri Lanka such as poverty reduction, gender and rural infrastructure. The ceremony was held at UN HQ in Colombo and presided over by more..

Rights group:Sri Lanka defense official summons British diplomat who met threatened editor

Apr 20 (AP) A top Sri Lankan defense official summoned Britain's envoy Thursday, angered by the diplomat's visit to a newspaper whose editor the defense official had allegedly threatened, a media rights group said. British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott visited the privately owned independent Daily Mirror newspaper on Wednesday to meet with its editor, Champika Liyanaarachi. more..

Greece assures its support to Sri Lanka to curb terrorism

Apr 20 (AT) Greece has assured Sri Lanka of its fullest support to curb terrorism. Greece Foreign Minister Dora Bokayannis said Greece is presently working with the European Union and the United States in the exchange of information to curb terrorism. “We will do whatever possible to not allow terrorists or their front organizations to raise funds and to include the LTTE in the list of terrorist organizations”, Minister Bokayannis said. more..

Sri Lanka to open second tourist office in south India

Apr 20 (Hindu) Sri Lanka Tourism plans to open its second office in south India to enhance its presence and target arrivals from the country to the island at 1.5 lakh by this year-end. The recently launched "Visit Sri Lanka" campaign is being extended by yet another month to capture the Indian holiday summer season, under which attractive packages will be offered. more..

Guilty Norway targets its citizens, Rovik, for exposing Norway's partisan role

Apr 20 (AT) Fearing a backlash from the seminar on "Norwegian support to the LTTE terrorists” scheduled to be held in Colombo today Norway has launched an attack on the keynote speaker Falk Rovik who has accused Norway of (1) financing Tamil Tiger terrorism; (2) training Tamil Tiger soldiers and Tamil Tigers of selling stolen Norwegian passports to Al Qaida. more..

Sri Lanka, Tamil Rebels say little chance for Peace Talks soon

Apr 20 (BB) Sri Lanka's government and the rebel LTTE, engaged in the worst fighting since a 2002 cease-fire, said there is little chance of holding peace talks soon. "The government is already on the move for a military solution," Irasiah Ilanthirayan, a spokesman for the LTTE, said in a telephone interview yesterday from its headquarters at Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lankans held their Lion Flag high in Las Vegas to mark Buddhist -Hindu new year and depict unity

Apr 20 (AT) When Las Vegas Sri Lankans gathered last Sunday to celebrate the Sinhala-Hindu New Year in hundreds with their children at a local park here representing the small Sri Lankan community, their main motivation was to rally under a single banner that was offered by the organizers: The Lion Flag. more..

Lara to quit international cricket

Apr 20 (CI) After days of scathing criticism and ceaseless innuendo, the penny finally dropped. "I gave extensive consideration to this," said Brian Lara. "I want everybody to know that on Saturday I'll be playing my last international match. I've already spoken to the board and the players about this." It was a fairly routine press conference at the end of a insignificant game, but the answer to the last question caused even the most tired journalist to look up from his notepad. more..

New accounting school in Sri Lanka to help meet demand for CIMA education

Apr 20 (LBO) George Steuart and Company has started a school for Chartered Institute of Marketing Accountant (CIMA) students to meet growing demand for professionals with the qualification. The CIMA council says that Sri Lanka is in need of more CIMA qualified professionals to satisfy the rising demand. more..

Sri Lanka generates only half the IT graduates needed: ICT agency

Apr 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka would need 12,000 information technology (IT) sector workers over the next two years, but the country's educational system can supply only half that, the government's IT promotional body said. "Future demand patterns indicate a requirement of nearly 12,000 more IT workers over the next couple of years," Sri Lanka's ICT Agency said. more..

Kalpitiya police launch pre-dawn operation to find two unidentified light aircraft

Apr 20 (AT) The Kalpitiya police on April 19 launched a pre-dawn search operation for two unidentified light aircraft that reportedly landed in the Illakkandiya sea. Some men who landed from the planes thereafter landed at the shore using small boats, according to the tip-off to police, reported "Lankadeepa" the Sinhala language broadsheet published in Colombo today. more..

Sri Lanka's biggest ever cash call by Dialog Telekom triggers telco sell-off

Apr 20 (LBO) A cash call by Sri Lanka mobile giant Dialog Telekom triggered a sell-off in telco stocks in Colombo, but seasoned analysts say a successful issue could renew foreign investor confidence in the country and its booming telecom sector. Dialog Telekom is raising 15.5 billion rupees through a one for ten rights issue and a further 5 billion rupees through a privately placed preference share issue. more..

World Bank focuses on efficient energy management - Minister Amunugama

Apr 20 (GDI) Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama said that the World Bank is taking a major role to facilitate investment flows from the rich countries to the poor countries to enable them to manage their energy more efficiently. He said this after represented Sri Lanka at the Spring Meeting of The WBG (World Bank Group) and IMF (International Monetary Fund) held in Washington from April 9 -15. more..

Enhanced healthcare for IDPs

Apr 20 (GDI) Healthcare facilities will be expanded for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Eastern Province. This follows a discussion held with the participation of Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa. The IDPs in the camps are hopeful that they would be resettled soon, in their original villages. more..

Armed gang`s uninterrupted 5-hour robbery spree

Apr 20 (LNP) An unidentified armed gang went on an uninterrupted five-hour robbery spree in at Bandarikulam in Vavuniya on Wednesday night. The gang had robbed cash, jewellery and other valuables from several houses to the tune of Rs. 20 million. The spree is reported to have commenced at 11.30 pm on Wednesday and continued into the wee hours of yesterday (19). more..

Government planning to arrest Ranil before May 8 - Johnston

Apr 20 (LNP) The UNP yesterday alleged that the government was planning to arrest its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and several others on trumped up charges before the next sitting of parliament on May 8. Kurunegala District UNP MP Johnston Fernando said that the government was hell bent on harassing the UNP leader and his party members who are critical of the high handed behaviour of `Rajapakse and Company`, violation of human rights and rampant corruption. more..

A criminal in deputy minister`s clothing

Apr 20 (LNP) The government has launched a much-advertised crackdown on the underworld. It says it wants to rid the country of crime and narcotics. But, its campaign won`t yield the intended results, unless the links between politicians and criminal gangs are severed first of all. It is not only politicians who have risen above the law. Crime czars, too, enjoy legal immunity, thanks to political patronage. more..

Prisons over crowded by 400%

Apr 20 (LNP) At a conference held at the Kandy District Secretariat to discuss the ways and means of socialisation of prisoners after completion of their terms Commissioner General of Prisons Major General Vajira Wijegunawardena said over crowding of prisons had caused many problems in prisons and that problem had been aggravated by the return of 50 % of those with fresh convictions. more..

Govt. vows to widen income tax net?

Apr 20 (SAMN) The Government Thursday vowed to widen its income tax net to counter rising inflation in the country which currently hovers around 19 to 21 per cent. Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said that inflation was on the rise due to the Central Bank having to print money to meet the demands of the country’s economic growth which registered a healthy 7.4 per cent rate last year. more..

‘No money printed to maintain Cabinet’

Apr 20 (SAMN) The Government has not spent billions of rupees to maintain the Cabinet, State Revenue and Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said Thursday. The Government is spending a maximum of Rs 20 million for one minister. This included fuel expenditure and maintaining their private staff, he said. He denied the statement made by the UNP that the Government was printing Rs 38 billion worth notes to maintain the Cabinet. more..

Hela Veda Gedara’ at Moneragala

Apr 20 (SAMN) The tenth "Hela Veda Gedara", an indigenous medical centre established by the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine was opened to public at the Kiriebban Ara in Moneragala District Sevanagala Divisional Secretariat area by the Minister Tissa Karaliyadda. The treatment at the Veda Gedara will be provided by the Ayurdeva Doctor N.B. Weerapperuma, a specialist on snake bites. more..

Chief Justice visits Verugal Aru in East

Apr 20 (SAMN) Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva made a familiarisation tour in recently captured Verugal Aru area in the Batticaloa district. During his tour, he had discussed the current situation in the area with the 22nd Battalion Commander Major General Milinda Pieris and the practical problems the Army was facing in the re-settlement programme. more..

Sri Lanka ranks among top 25 countries in gender equality

Apr 20 (PISL) Sri Lanka ranks among the top 25 countries in the world on gender equality. The rest of the Asia Pacific countries lose 42 to 47 billion US dollars per year because women were not given equal opportunities in education. Lack of education prevents them from getting highly paid jobs according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific 2007 report launched yesterday. more..

Sri Lankan authorities try to counter money printing culpability

Apr 20 (LBO) Authorities in Sri Lanka are trying to counter growing public awareness that 38.5 billion rupees were printed to finance the budget deficit last year, which also drove inflation to 19.3 percent by December, despite the information being publicly available. Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya was responding to a news story in Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror newspaper quoting an opposition spokesman, which said that billions billion rupees were printed last year to pay for a large cabinet. more..

Sri Lanka steal one from Waugh's playbook

Apr 20 (BB) Sri Lanka's judicious decision to "rest" three frontline bowlers drew criticism from some observers, primarily Australian. Former captain Ian Chappell took the lead, calling it "ridiculous and disgraceful." Chappell told an Indian cable TV channel that the matter should be investigated by the ICC's anti-corruption czar Paul Congdon. If anything, Chappell's self-righteousness is misplaced. If there is one country that has used non-critical matches to gain an advantage at the latter stages, it is Australia. more..

Malicious attempts to tarnish Defence Secretary’s image - Government

Apr 20 (DN) The Government yesterday strongly rejected accusations levelled against Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa by certain media organisations that he had threatened an editor of a local English newspaper. The Government regards this as a malicious attempt to tarnish the image of the Defence Secretary, a statement issued by the Media Centre for National Security stated. more..

Tight monetary policies to keep economy trim

Apr 20 (DN) The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is to maintain 11.6% of reserve money growth for 2007 while maintaining 14.8% broad money growth for the end of this year through vibrant monetary policies. Deputy Director CBSL (Economic Research Department) Swarna Gunaratne told the media at a press conference held yesterday at the Ministry of Finance that in the first quarter of this year the country was able to contain reserve money growth at 16.5%. more..

Don’t blame DPLs, curb abuses: UNP

Apr 20 (DM) The main Opposition UNP yesterday took the government to task for criticizing diplomatic missions here instead of upholding human rights in keeping with International Charters. The UNP was responding to defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella who slammed foreign diplomats on Wednesday accusing them of exceeding their mandate by making public statements regarding the human rights situation in the country. more..

Action against German envoy?

Apr 20 (DM) The Government is considering action against the German envoy in Colombo for overstepping his mandate, the Daily Mirror has learnt, but has so far stopped short of going to the extent of declaring him persona non grata which would result in his expulsion from the country. With Germany holding the current Presidency of the European Union (EU) the German envoy was known to have been heavily influential in attempts to garner international support to continuously target Sri Lanka’s human rights record and more..

Sri Lanka's president meets Pope

Apr 20 (BBC) President Mahinda Rajapakse is meeting Pope Benedict on Friday. The Pope has been urged by aid agencies to raise concerns about the escalating conflict between the Sri Lankan forces and the Tamil Tigers. The Catholic charity Caritas, which works in north-eastern Sri Lanka, says more than 40,000 people have been displaced in the last month alone. more..

Violence impending tsunami recovery in Sri Lanka

Apr 20 (ABC) Thousands of people in Sri Lanka are still homeless and struggling to rebuild their lives, more than two years after the massive Boxing Day tsunami devastated Pacific and Indian Ocean communities. Now, reconstruction and relief efforts are further being hampered by renewed fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels. more..

Sri Lanka stocks fall as investors sell telecoms

Apr 20 (Reuters) Sri Lankan stocks fell on Friday in thin trading as telecoms shares were sold and many investors adopted a wait-and-see attitude amid fighting between the military and Tamil Tiger rebels. The Colombo All Share index ended down 2.03 percent at 2,766.62 points. The market has retreated in recent weeks from an all-time closing high of 3,016.42 hit on Feb. 13. more..

Yahoo Photos

Apr 20 (Reuters) Pope Benedict XVI receives a gift from Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse (L) at the Vatican April 20, 2007. more..

Sri Lanka’s long civil war focus of Vatican meeting

Apr 20 (UCAN) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's April 20 visit to see Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican will focus on his country's civil war. "The holy father is fully aware of the Sri Lankan conflict," Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka, told UCA News April 17 in Colombo. He hopes that the pope's talk with the president "will bear fruit." more..

Sri Lanka look to 1996 for World Cup inspiration

Apr 20 (AFP) Sri Lanka are drawing inspiration from their 1996 World Cup victory ahead of their likely match-up with New Zealand in the next week's semi-finals. Sri Lanka stunned India in a group game in 1996, beating them again in the semi-final before going on to lift the trophy. Romesh Kaluwitharana, the former wicketkeeper-batsman who played in 1996, said winning against India in the group game was a huge morale booster when they met again in Calcutta. more..

Pope initiative may lead to UN peacekeeping in Sri Lanka

Apr 20 (AT) A successful audience with Pope Benedict XVI by President Mahinda Rajapakse may lead to the possible arrival (later) of United Nations (UN) peacekeepers in the country, hinted 'Caritas Australia' today. If all goes well, the UN peacekeepers would possibly take on from where Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission left, it is further learnt. more..

Sri Lanka needs coins, wants to break piggy banks

Apr 20 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's Finance Ministry has launched a campaign to try to convince kids to bust open their piggy banks to help ease coin shortages, a newspaper reported on Friday. The ministry estimated the scheme could pour four percent of Sri Lanka's total coinage back into circulation and help avoid the high cost of minting new ones, the Island newspaper said. more..

Sri Lanka crash lands spy plane

Apr 20 (AFP) Sri Lanka's air force said Friday it had lost an unmanned spy plane flying over the country's embattled northeast close to Tamil Tiger territory. The Israeli-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was lost somewhere over the northern edge of Trincomalee district, close to the Tamil rebel stronghold of Mullaitivu, Group Captain Ajantha Silva said. more..

Unidentified gunmen kill Tamil journalist in northern Lanka

Apr 20 (AFP) Unidentified gunmen shot dead a Tamil journalist in northern Sri Lanka in the latest in a string of attacks against media personnel, a rights group said on Friday. Subash Chandraboas, 32, editor of the Tamil monthly Nilam, was gunned down late Monday at his residence in Vavuniya, 260 kilometres north of here, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said. Chandraboas also freelanced for other publications. more..

Colombo Port expansion project

Apr 21 (GDI) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a financial grant of US$ 300 million for the expansion of the Colombo Port to upgrade its facilities. According to Board of Investment sources, Senior Transport Specialist with ADB's South Asia Department, Prodyut Dutt, speaking about the project issues stated that the Colombo Port is a natural transshipment hub for South Asia. more..

Southwest Sri Lanka coastal hotel property sold by John Keells

Apr 21 (LBO) The hotel unit of John Keells holdings has sold a hotel property on Sri Lanka's Unawatuna coastal town in the South West of the island, the firm told the Colombo Stock Exchange Friday. "Unawatuna Walk Inn Ltd (UWI), a 98 percent subsidiary of John Keells Hotels Ltd has been divested for a total consideration of 89.2 million rupees," Chairman Susantha Ratnayake said in a statement. more..

Developing world politicians 'impede science reportage'

Apr 21 (SD) Government interference is impeding reportage on public-funded research in developing and emerging countries, say journalists. In a session at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne, Australia, delegates were told that governments are interfering with science reporting in Africa, Asia and Latin America. more..

Respect HR, restart talks - Pope

Apr 21 (BBC) The Vatican says it has urged the Sri Lankan authorities to resume negotiations with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. During a meeting with the President Mahinda Rajapakse, Pope Benedict stressed the need to respect human rights and called the escalating conflict in Sri Lanka "dramatic". "The need was reiterated to respect human rights and resume the path of dialogue and negotiation as the only way to put an end to the violence that is bloodying the island," more..