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Factories under Gamata Karmanta program in outstations

Dec 16 (GDI) One hundred and fifty industries have been set up outside Colombo and Gampaha Districts under the Gamata Karmanta program. The investment on the projects is over Rs. 30 billion and over 30,000 job opportunities were cerated by the industries. The local industrialists who set up their projects under the Gamata Karmanta program received tax exemption to import machinery and items. more..

Multi faceted support from Japan

Dec 16 (GDI) The Japanese Government has promised its maximum support to upgrade the power generation in Sri Lanka, Secretary to the Power and Energy Ministry said at a press briefing on Friday. Power and Energy Ministry Secretary M. M. C. Ferdinando stated that the Japanese Government will be supporting the Liquefied Nitrogen Gas (LNG) with a grant of US$ 400 million out of a total cost of US$ 610 million. more..

'Sri Lanka' the colorful land of sunshine

Dec 16 (TZ) The most beautiful island on earth according to Marco Polo and one of the lands to be admired according to world-famous Arab Muslim traveler Muhammad Ibn Battuta al-Tanji, Sri Lanka has a coastline that extends 1,340 kilometers. In the Sinhala language, Sri Lanka means "that which shines brightly." As its name implies, the sun always shines over the Sri Lankan land. The average temperature in the country is 28 degrees Celsius. more..

Sri Lanka to tighten controls on human trafficking

Dec 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka plans to have new laws and make better use of information technology to crackdown on human trafficking and illegal worker migrants, some of whom are under-aged, officials said. Poverty and inadequate laws and co-ordination among government agencies are the reasons large numbers of migrant workers use illegal methods to go abroad, officials of governmental institutions handling immigration and foreign employment said. more..

A key regional intelligence agency was behind my assassination bid

Dec 16 (LNP) Pakistan`s former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Basheer Wali Mohammed said in Islamabad last week that he had `convincing evidence` that a powerful regional intelligence agency was behind the August 2006 bid to assassinate him in Colombo. Dismissing widespread claims that the LTTE executed the claymore mine attack in Kollupitiya while he was returning after attending Pakistani Independence Day celebrations, he more..

Britain stands by what Chilcott said

Dec 16 (LNP) The British High Commission yesterday defended its envoy Dominick Chilcott`s controversial statement made earlier this week, as the envoy was set to take a new posting in Washington next month.`The High Commission is standing by the statement. It is not a personal comment,` spokesman John Culley told the Sunday Times. Mr. Chilcott made several comments and among them `I am not saying that the political aspiration for Eelam is illegitimate` created disagreement in Parliament. more..

JVP was divided on Friday`s crucial budget vote

Dec 16 (LNP) A simmering power struggle in the JVP in the run up to Friday`s final Budget vote almost split the party with an influential section threatening to go along with an UNP-led bid to defeat the government. The group which wanted to vote against the Budget with the joint opposition almost succeeded in their endeavour well informed sources said. But JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe and Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa who had the backing of the majority of the parliamentary group managed to dissuade the rebels. more..

No room on the UL flight for President Rajapaksa

Dec 16 (LNP) Believe it or not, no less than President Mahinda Rajapaksa was unable to get a seat on SriLankan Airlines, where government is the majority shareholder though the company is managed by Emirates, to return home from London on Friday. Eventually Mihin Air laid on a special flight from Luton enabling the president to get back home in time for the vote on the third reading of the budget. more..

MR wants National Consensus Govt.

Dec 16 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to call for a Government of National Consensus after the Christmas holidays, well-placed party sources said. The latest development came after the government’s majority was reduced to two, following the cross over of four SLMC MPs and former SLFP stalwart, Anura Bandaranaike to the Opposition. A senior party source said the party leadership is concerned that the suspense which overshadowed the fate of the budget till the last moment had seriously affected the stability of the government. more..

Canadian visa embargo on Tamil MPs.

Dec 16 (SAMN) The Canadian High Commission in Colombo has issued a visa embargo on several Tamil parliamentarians, including Tamil National Alliance MPs and LTTE sympathisers. Highly placed sources said the Canadian High Commission has made an informal announcement not to issue visas for TNA parliamentarians or any other persons identified as LTTE sympathisers. It is learnt that a senior academic from Jaffna who recently applied for a visa from the Canadian mission in Colombo was rejected on grounds that he was a LTTE sympathiser. more..

Avoid Lanka: UN union tells staff

Dec 16 (SAMN) The United Nations Staff Union is expected to advise its 13,000 members worldwide to avoid assignments in Sri Lanka because it is "among the world's most dangerous places for aid workers." "Recent attacks and accusations are affecting the ability of the United Nations to carry out its mission," warns the Staff Union's Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service. more..

Bogollagama’s blunders continue

Dec 16 (SAMN) Controversial Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama has made another blunder by wasting millions of public funds to establish a Consular Office in Shanghai and by appointing the relative of the Bandaranaikes, an inexperienced junior officer, Majintha Jayasingha as the new consular general. The Sri Lankan Shanghai Consular Office is scheduled to open on December 20 by Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama, who is expected to kick off his five-day Chinese state visit Monday. more..

Coconut to be planted in city home gardens

Dec 16 (SO) A program to popularise the cultivation of coconut in home gardens, especially in urban areas will be launched by the Agricultural Ministry. The program is in par with the Government's `Waga Sangramaya,' and will be initiated in collaboration with the Coconut Cultivation Board and divisional secretariats islandwide. "The objective of launching the program is to ease the future shortage of coconuts and also to develop the industries related to coconut products.," more..

Rupee appreciates with flow of funds- CB

Dec 16 (SO) The Sri Lanka rupee has appreciated during the last few weeks. The value of the rupee has risen and the buying rate of a US Dollar was Rs. 108. 33 last Thursday. The rupee was valued at Rs. 107. 63 against the Dollar last year. The buying rate of a sterling pound was Rs. 220. 09 last Thursday and it was Rs. 211. 69 last year. Director, Economic Research Department Central Bank Dr. P.N. Weerasinghe said that due to the flow of foreign funds to the country, the value of the rupee has appreciated. more..

CDA drive to save over Rs. 14b annually on coconut waste

Dec 16 (SO) The Coconut Development Authority (CDA) has launched a program at national level to minimise waste and save over Rs. 14 billion from around 535 million nuts per annum. The country's annual average production of coconuts is around 2,800 million nuts of which 70 per cent is used for domestic needs. Of the quantity used for domestic consumption over 30 per cent of the nuts are wasted due to ineffective milk extraction methods. more..

Sirisoma breaks Lafir's record in Billiards

Dec 16 (SO) The most experienced cueist from Sri Lanka Ports Authority Khobala Hewamawage Sirisoma rose to the occasion to establish a new Sri Lanka record by winning the 55th National Billiards Championship for the 17th consecutive time. He broke former billiards maestro and world champion M. J. M. Lafir's long-standing record. Lafir had won the title for 16 years in-a-raw. more..

Mihin Air follows President to London sans passengers

Dec 16 (LB) The Mihin Air aircraft chartered for President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Japan, followed him to London, with no passengers on board to pick up the President who was attending his son’s passing out ceremony at the Dartmouth Naval Academy in the UK. The President, who was on an official visit to Japan, proceeded to London on a commercial flight. However, it is not known why the President didn’t fly to London on Mihin Air. more..

Forged currency notes in circulation

Dec 16 (LB) Forged currency notes are in circulation in the local market on a large scale. The rise in circulation comes in the wake of th e festive season. Police warn that both consumers and dealers must exercise extreme caution when transacting business over the counter. Investigators of the Forged Currency Notes Investigation Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department have revealed that Rs.1000 notes, Rs.2000 notes and Rs.500 notes of local currency and more..

The JVP and the government’s power waltz

Dec 16 (LB) The 47 vote majority for the government — which was of course as a result of the JVP abstaining from voting in the 2nd reading of the budget, buys a new lease of life for the Rajapaksa administration. But the dynamics of governance has also changed for the PA government. Its overdependence on the JVP is obvious from the fact that the budget vote would have been lost if the JVP had not abstained from voting. more..

Ven Gunawansa launches ‘Operation Budget Vote’

Dec 16 (LB) After Rauff Hakeem and three others crossed to the Opposition, the JVP summoned an urgent meeting to discuss the political situation. This happened on Wednesday. JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe told his political committee that a new political scenario had been created by the SLMC defection. He said that, although this was not a good sign, there were two days left before the budget vote and the JVP should not become unduly agitated. more..

Truant TNA MP loses Parliament seat

Dec 16 (NS) Tamil National Alliance (TNA), has decided to take disciplinary action against Jaffna District MP M.K. Eelaventhan for not following proper procedure and failing to inform Parliament and the party that he would be out of the country for more than four months. TNA General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah told The Nation that they have learnt that Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara and the Parliament Secretary General are reported to have informed Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake that Eelaventhan’s seat is vacant. more..

Budget battle ends, survival race begins

Dec 16 (NS) The curtain finally fell last week on the political drama that was the Budget debate, but not before a few acts of defiance and deviousness that will have a significant impact on events in the months to come. The final score of the third reading of the Budget will note that it was quite comfortably passed by a majority of 47 votes, in contrast to the relatively close call at the second reading just a few weeks ago, when it was approved by a majority of 16 votes. more..

JVP’s double game draws flak from all corners

Dec 16 (NS) Despite continuous rhetoric against the government, the JVP on Friday acted in a style which analysts claimed as a bid to ‘save’ the government. The JVP’s decision to abstain from the crucial third reading of the 2008 Budget has drawn immense flak from almost all political parties and the general public. The country’s main opposition, UNP lashed out at the JVP yesterday accusing them of playing a double game by pretending to be against the government in front of the public, while in reality, actually safeguarding them. more..

IGP intimidates Bribery Commission

Dec 16 (NS) In what is alleged to be an act of indirect intimidation against the independent investigations carried out by the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), the Officer-In-Charge of the Commission’s Asset Investigation Unit, P.A. Premashantha, has been transferred with immediate effect by IGP Victor Perera. CIABOC Director General Piyasena Ranasinghe said that it was normal practice to usually consult the Commission before transferring any of the officers from the commission. more..

Yahoo Photos

Dec 16 (AFP) British-born science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who turns 90 Sunday, says all he wishes for is peace in his adopted home Sri Lanka where he has lived for the past five decades. Clarke is pictured here in Colombo, nine years ago. more..

In the guise of telephone repairmen, Police enter photojournalist’s residence

Dec 16 (FMSL) The Free Media Movement (FMM) is disturbed to learn that officers of Criminal Investigation Division (CID) visited the residence of senior Reuters photojournalist Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi at Sarojinee Watta, Ratmalana at 11am on 11th December and questioned his wife. Mr. Lokuhapuarachchi was away covering a cricket match in Colombo. more..

Anura gets big stick treatment from govt. post-defection

Dec 16 (Island) Government sources yesterday said that Anura Bandaranaike, MP, who switched allegiance to the Opposition on Friday an hour before the crucial Budget vote will not be taken back to the fold. The sources said that this time, Bandaranaike's break with the ruling coalition will be permanent. President Mahinda Rajapaksa who personally visited Bandaranaike at Visumpaya to talk him out of an alliance with Messrs. Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathy Sooriyararhchi earlier this year had been furious over Friday's crossover. more..

Narrow shave for the UNP

Dec 16 (Island) The government won the third reading of the budget because Arumugam Thondaman refused to defect and the JVP did not vote against the budget. Even though this looks like a narrow shave for the government, it is more a narrow shave for the UNP. Had the government been defeated at the budget, the cabinet of ministers stands automatically dissolved. Even though parliament need not be dissolved, and the president has the option of appointing another cabinet, what more..

Sri Lanka sandwiched between Tamil Tigers and the Rajapakse Brothers

Dec 16 (Island) t is an indictment of our political culture that so much attention should be paid to the annual Heroes Day speech of the LTTE whose politics is the very negation of all political discussion, and that we have a government that pre-emptively responds to the speech by vowing to kill the leaders of the LTTE. The government's military headiness and the LTTE's unbending and threatening response, not to mention the tit-for-tat killing spree that has been resumed, leaves the rest of us sandwiched between the two antagonists. more..

When Leaders are Heedless

Dec 16 (Island) Heedlessness has become the hallmark of the Rajapakse administration. It is heedless of national and international public opinion; and it is heedless of the wellbeing of not only Tamils and Muslims but also of Sinhalese. That this heedlessness is adversely affecting the regime’s international legitimacy and national popularity has been evident for a while. Currently it is threatening the government’s very survival. more..

Lankan HC dodges British summons

Dec 16 (ST) Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, Kshenuka Senewiratne, was summoned to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a meeting on Tuesday over issues relating to renegade Tiger guerrilla leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna entering Britain with official backing from the Government of Sri Lanka. She, however, did not turn up. FCO sources said she had not intimated to the FCO her inability to turn up on that day. more..

Politics of suspense and skulduggery

Dec 16 (ST) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which had outsmarted the opposition United National Party (UNP) to become the bitterest critics of the Government in recent months, on Friday helped its declared foe to remain in power. If they voted against the budget during the second reading last month, they abstained en masse on Friday. A record majority of 47 votes passed the final vote of the budget, the culmination of the Committee Stage. more..

Showdown in the sky

Dec 16 (ST) Residents living around Katunayake and some in the City of Colombo and suburbs panicked. Telephones began to ring on Wednesday night as they asked one another whether Tiger guerrillas had launched yet another air attack. It took a while for the story to unravel. It was not an air raid. It was a drill to prevent them from taking place. An Air Force (SLAF) aircraft, posing off as a Tiger guerrilla one, flew low towards Colombo. more..

Audit exposes misdeeds of corporations

Dec 16 (ST) An audit report of 20 Government corporations released recently has revealed several instances of accounting deficiencies and non-compliance with laws, rules, regulations and management decisions resulting in losses amounting to millions of rupees to the country. The corporations audited by the Auditor General’s Department included the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA), the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), the State Printing Corporation (SPC), the Mahapola Scholarship Trust Fund among others. more..

Sri Lanka relishing recent gains against Tamil Tigers

Dec 16 (CT) In its all-out bid to finally defeat the country's Tamil Tiger separatists by military force, Sri Lanka's government has made some undeniable gains. It has seized the Tiger-held east of the country, sunk supply ships carrying arms to the rebels and, last month, it managed to drop a precision bomb on a meeting in the rebel's northern stronghold, killing the Tigers' top political leader. more..

Yahoo Photos

Dec 16 (AFP) England cricket fans at the Galle stadium in 2001. England and Sri Lanka will mark one of cricket's most poignant moments when they contest the third Test at the previously tsunami-ravaged Galle International Stadium. more..

India and Sri Lanka to discuss trade

Dec 16 (IANS) Sri Lankan Minister for International Trade G.L. Peiris will inaugurate a two-day conference on 'India-Sri Lanka: Trade and Investments' here Monday. The conference, organised by Observer Research Foundation in association with Confederation of Indian Industries and the Sri Lankan deputy high commission, will focus on industrial and investment climate and trade related issues. more..

Veteran sci-fi guru wishes for peace in embattled Sri Lanka

Dec 16 (AFP) British-born science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who turns 90 Sunday, says all he wishes for is peace in his adopted home Sri Lanka where he has lived for the past five decades. Sri Lanka's most celebrated guest resident since 1956, Clarke said he had sadly watched a bitter ethnic conflict dividing his adopted country for nearly half his lifetime. "I dearly wish to see lasting peace established in Sri Lanka as soon as possible," he said, more..

Cricket makes emotional return to tsunami-hit stadium

Dec 16 (AFP) England and Sri Lanka will mark one of cricket's most poignant moments when they contest the third Test at the previously tsunami-ravaged Galle International Stadium. The stadium, situated close to the Indian Ocean in the country's coastal south, was destroyed by the Asian tsunami in 2004, which killed an estimated 300,000 people in a dozen countries. Some 31,000 people in Sri Lanka alone perished in the December 26 disaster. more..

Sri Lanka talks with Russia, India on arms buys as war escalates

Dec 16 (AFP) Sri Lanka will meet with Indian and Russian delegations this week on possible arms purchases including air defence weaponry as clashes with Tamil Tiger rebels escalate, press reports here said. Defence officials from India and Russia will hold separate talks with Sri Lankan authorities on improving systems used against the low-flying Czech-built Zlin Z-143 operated by Tiger guerrillas, the reports said. more..

Vandort takes his time to become the Burgher king of Sri Lanka

Dec 17 (GU) have been told by certain England fans that Michael Vandort is 'intriguing'. And they are on to something; he is indeed an unusual character. I think of him as a horse with blinkers, never the fastest in the paddock or the biggest jumper, but he is one hell of a stayer. Stepping into Sanath Jayasuriya's shoes is a big ask for any man. Vandort has had an impact on this series with his 138 first up and, if it was not anything like the way Sanath would have done it, it's still pretty impressive. more..

Tendulkar among Jayasuriya's favourite

Dec 17 (PTI) Sri Lankan veteran Sanath Jayasuriya has rated Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and compatriot Aravinda de Silva as his favourite batsmen. "Aravinda de Silva and Sachin Tendulkar are my favourite batsmen," Jayasuriya, who retired from Test cricket during the Test series against England, said in an interview here. The devastating batsman rated Australian Glenn McGrath as the most difficult bowler to play against. more..

LTTE, Ruthless Militants Of Sri Lanka

Dec 17 (Bernama) Over the last two decades or so, at least 70,000 people have been killed while close to 700,000 Sri Lankans were forced to flee their homes due to the long-drawn civil war between the Sinhalese-led Sri Lankan government and those fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamil ethnic minority. Before the conflict, Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was the envy of many foreign leaders because of its economic prowess, largely fuelled by tourism dollars and its tea and mining industries, more..

Elangovan seeks action against LTTE sympathisers

Dec 17 (Hindu) Referring to media reports about increased activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and its sympathisers in the State, Union Minister for Textiles E.V.K.S. Elangovan said that the State Government should take action against those publicly expressing support for the organisation. The Government had announced a ban on meetings pertaining to the LTTE and hence action should be taken against violators, he said. more..

Sri Lanka Amateur Boxing revival

Dec 17 (ABA) The Amateur Boxing Association of Sri Lanka under the leadership of Dian Gomes has been exemplary in the manner they have taken boxing to new heights leading the revival of a deteriorating sport, firmly establishing Sri Lanka in the global boxing map. This year alone saw the Sri Lankan boxers getting exposure at ten international competitions. The ABA has also hosted international boxing teams for invitational dual meets in Sri Lanka for the past four years, more..

'Extremists' dragging JVP to jungle

Dec 17 (BBC) 'Extremists' in JVP still believe in the armed struggle to gain power, a former senior member of the party said. JVP's candidate in the 1999 presidential elections, Nandana Gunathilake, told BBC Sandeshaya that those elements do not tolerate dissident opinion within the party. "Recently, a member of this extremist group tried to attack me at the parliament but others prevented it," he said. more..

Rights violations in Sri Lanka rising: report

Dec 17 (Hindu) Human rights violations in Sri Lanka have risen sharply since the promulgation of tougher anti-terror laws a year ago, according to a leading U.K.-based rights organisation. In a report, the Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) claimed that “hundreds” of ethnic Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka had been arrested and harassed for suspected links with the LTTE since the new laws were introduced in December last year. more..

Nasir Hossain helps Bangladesh take series lead

Dec 17 (CI) Nasir Hossain turned in a fine all-round performance to help Bangladesh Under-19 beat their Sri Lankan counterparts by 44 runs in the third one-dayer at the Shaheed Chandu Stadium in Bogra. Hossain was named Man-of-the-Match for his 41 runs and two wickets as Bangladesh took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. Electing to bat, Bangladesh lost Mithun Ali in the second over, but two patient partnerships, 56 for the second wicket between Nadimuddin (66) and Ashraful Hossain, more..

Sumangela's field of dreams

Dec 17 (CI) On Boxing Day 2004, the day when Sri Lanka was engulfed by tragedy on an apocalyptic scale, the country's cricketers were 7000 miles away in Auckland, contesting a one-day international against New Zealand that has long since faded to irrelevance. Not all of them were there, however. The most significant name on the team-sheet was halfway down the coast from Colombo to Galle, ruled out of the tour by his ongoing rehabilitation from shoulder surgery. more..

England see the bigger picture

Dec 17 (CI) Drop by drop, blade by blade, paving slab by paving slab, Galle's beleaguered stadium is getting itself ready for the biggest opening night of its nine-year international history. A mercifully rain-free day allowed vital drainage work to continue ahead of Tuesday's first Test, and though the outfield remains sodden in places, the grass seems more even than might have been expected 48 hours ago. The concourse too has changed appearance significantly. more..