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Sri Lankan commission starts probe of failed finance firms

July 6 (LBO) A presidential commission of inquiry probing the collapse of a string of finance companies in Sri Lanka has begun questioning Central Bank officials. The four-member commission comprising of senior legal and finance experts commenced sittings on July 2 and will hold its next sessions on July 6 and 13. more..

Sri Lanka power engineers pull the plug on unsolicited deals

July 6 (LBO) A powerful engineers union in Sri Lanka's state power utility has pulled its members from teams negotiating a raft of unsolicited deals, saying the process stifled competition and lacked transparency. The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers' Union (CEBEU) says its members will not process applications or participate in technical evaluation committees and working groups relating to five projects from today. more..

'Country's agriculture is controlled by a group of paddy vendors who turned out to be politicians'

July 6 (LeN) Anuradhapura district minister G. Harrison alleges that the country's agriculture is being controlled by a group of paddy vendors. The minister states that these vendors who currently hold local government portfolios purchases a kilo of paddy at a price of around 13.40 to 14.00 rupees, later sell the same kilo of paddy to the government for the price of rupees 17.50 a kilo. more..

Sri Lanka central bank to retail treasuries

July 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank will use its regional offices to sell government securities to rural investors, the bank said, as real returns on treasuries are turning positive in a market that has been shaken with a series of aborted auctions. The bank runs the government's debt office as an agency function for the finance ministry. The Central Bank is setting up new retail outlets at its regional offices in Matara, Matale and Anuradhapura more..

'We will always push ourselves'

July 6 (CI) Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said that his players were constantly challenging their individual comfort zones after his team had recorded their second straight three-day victory in a Test beating Bangladesh by an innings and 90 runs at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium. "If you are not put under pressure it's quite easy for us to take things easy. But if we focus on us improving ourselves challenging individually to be better cricketers, we will always push ourselves to come up with good performances," more..

Month old photographs of the wedding of Yasodhara Kumaratunga in London

July 6 (AT) The wedding of London educated daughter Yasodhara of Sri Lanka’s former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and a Consultant medical practitioner Roger Walker was announced in London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper in a paid advertisement about three weeks ago. Following the British tradition of calling Consultant level medical practitioners as Mister the Telegraph advertisement called the groom as Mr.R.H.M. Walker and the just passed out young doctor bride as Dr.M.Y.S. Kumaratunga. more..

Two former British High Commissioners head Sri Lanka Society

July 6 (AT) While Sri Lanka is under pressure internationally for human rights violations, Friends of Sri Lanka, an association of Britons and Sri Lankans in the UK, elected two former British envoys to Colombo to head the organization at a meeting held on Wednesday. Former British High Commission to Colombo John Fields was re-elected as chairman and David Tatham, also a former high commissioner, as vice chairman at a meeting attended by about 80 members. more..

Karuna declares war on Jaffna Tamils resident in the East

July 6 (AT) Despite attempts by the Sri Lankan army to patch up differences Karuna, who is hoping to be the leader of the eastern Tamils, has declared war on the ‘Yarlapanis’, Tamils from Jaffna. This sharpens the regional differences among Tamils and brings a new element of Tamils fighting Tamils on a regional basis. Karuna broke away from the Tamil Tiger outfit blaming discrimination against the eastern Tamils by the LTTE dominated by Jaffna Tamils. more..

EROS urges Ketih Vaz to resign from Parliamentary Group for Tamils

July 6 (AT) Blasting Keith Vaz, the British MP, as a a politico allied to the EROS has urged him to do the right thing and resign as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils -APPG(T) in the House of Commons. EROS in a letter sent to Vaz has said: There is ample evidence to prove your close association with representatives of the LTTE and their front organisations in the United Kingdom. more..

Give immediate solutions to welfare problems of the Army – Achala Jagoda

July 6 (LT) JVP parliamentarian Achala Jagoda is pressing the government to intervene to find immediate solutions to the welfare problems the armed forces members are facing. He emphasised this speaking at the debate in parliament today for the extension of the emergency law by one month. MP Jagoda pointed out that the conduct of the government at certain times and the government not taking action to grant privileges and accord due respect to the soldier has contributed to the weakening of the morale of the Army. more..

FMM responds to president's comments on media freedom

July 6 (IFEX) According to state media reports, President Mahinda Rajapakse, in comments made while chairing a "progress review meeting" of the Ministry for Media and Information, reiterated the government's "commitment to depoliticise media and ensure media freedom" and has called on all media institutions "to adopt a more ethical and responsible media policy in portraying the truth to the people". more..

Controversy brews over Sri Lanka provident fund investments

July 6 (LBO) The managers of Sri Lanka's largest private sector retirement fund have responded to criticism that its money is being used to fund government expenses, saying funds are invested under professional advice. "It has been observed, of late, that certain persons are expressing an opinion that the Government is obtaining funds from the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) to meet specific expenses," the Central Bank, more..

Sri Lankan activists draw up anti-corruption plan with US help

July 6 (LBO) Sri Lankan civil society has developed an action plan to counter corruption with help from USAID's Anti-Corruption Program (ACP), the United States embassy in Colombo said. The embassy says the draft plan identifies priority actions to be taken by various constituencies including government, the private sector, civil society, media, and the donor community to reduce corruption and enhance integrity in Sri Lanka. more..

Finance Secretary apologizes for misleading Parliament

July 6 (LT) Mr. P.B. Jayasundara, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance apologized to the State Committee on Accounts for misleading the Parliament by forwarding false information. In a report presented to the Parliament on 21st June, 2006 the Auditor General had pointed out that the government had lost Rs.38900 billion as a result of inadequacy in tax administration. more..

Parliament is not a court for jesters! - Anura Kumara Dissanayake

July 6 (LT) It is the responsibility of the Speaker to maintain Parliament as a place where law and order prevail and Parliamentarians should not be allowed to run hither and thither acting like jokers said JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Mr. Dissanayake said this when an exchange of words took place in the Parliament yesterday between Minister Mervin Silva and several Members of the JVP. more..

Sri Lankan apparel to get wider access to Indian market

July 6 (LBO) India has agreed to lift restrictions relating to fabric origins on duty free Sri Lankan apparel exports to the sub-continent market in the latest trade talks between the two neighbours, a senior official said. "Now apparel exporters to India can source their fabric requirements from anywhere," Manel de Silva, Director-General of Commerce of the Commerce Department, told LBO in an interview. more..

Husbands' contribution in preserving mothers' health

July 6 (GDI) on July 11 under the theme of reducing mortality of mothers during child -birth and educate the husbands’ contribution towards mothers’ health. World Population Development Fund has forwarded many proposals to reduce the mortality of mothers. For every woman to plan her family, to prevent unwanted pregnancy, providing family planning facilities and to provide precautionary health services during child-birth will be among them. more..

Another Factory under 300 Enterprise Programme opened

July 6 (GDI) Another new apparel factory, established under the new programme launched by the Government establishing 300 new enterprises, was opened by the Minister of Investment Promotion Navin Dissanayake at Hasalaka in Mahiyangana, the Board of Investments states in their official website. The factory will provide employment for 600 people from the Hasalaka and Mahiyangana areas. more..

Government focuses on speedy development of Jaffna

July 6 (GDI) Government is focusing its attention on speeding up the development and deliver of the essential goods of Jaffna Peninsula despite of the tremendous obstacles posed by the conflict in the area. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affaires, a SCOPP team has recently visited 13 outlets in Kudathanai, Atchuweli and Jaffna examine the current situation. They have conducted distribution and price audits to ascertain the nature of the flow of goods and the stability of consumer prices in Jaffna. more..

UK ranks LTTE most dangerous after Al Queda

July 6 (GDI) The United Kingdom has ranked LTTE as the second intensified terror group. The LTTE has been ranked immediately after the dreaded Al Queda. The LTTE has gained much advances in the UK soil for strengthening their terror movement which is highly responsible for the killing innocent civilians and both local and international political leaders. The United Kingdom already has put 44 groups on its list of terrorist organizations. more..

Drastic drop in inflation

July 6 (GDI) The Government has succeeded in bringing down inflation from 20.5 per cent in March to 13 per cent in June, Trade and Marketing Development Minister Bandula Gunewardena said yesterday. "However, the Opposition and the critics of the Government still cite the old 20 per cent figure whenever they talk of the issue," Minister Gunewardena lamented. more..

'Shanthan gave 4 billion pounds to LTTE'

July 6 (GDI) Westminster Magistrate Court has ordered the officers to freeze all bank accounts of A.C. Shanthan- President of the British Tamil Association which is a Pro- LTTE organization and his wife yesterday. The court also rejected the appeal which sought bail for the suspect. The Metropolitan Police conducting a special operation to counter terrorism command arrested Shanthan under Section 12 (3) of the UK Terrorism Act which ith prohibits "support for a terrorist organisation." Last month. more..

Public transportation to be upgraded

July 6 (GDI) With the view of providing an advanced and quality service to the passengers, private Bus Owners’ Associations will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Transport. This was initiated after considering many issues with relate to the public transportation issue. The MoU signed consists of nine conditions including introducing ticket machines within the next six months, more..

US expresses commitment to the Sri Lanka peace process

July 6 (GDI) Robert Blake, US Ambassador for Sri Lanka, in his speech on the commemoration of the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of US Independence on July 4, 1776, expresses their commitment to the Sri Lanka's peace process and its quest to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict as a member of the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference. more..

Govt. to sell paddy direct to market

July 6 (PISL) In a bid to stabilize the prices of rice, the Government has decided to release 45,000 metric tons of paddy to the market without calling for tenders. This stock would be released from the large stock of paddy that was purchased from farmers. A kilo of Samba paddy would be sold at Rs 19.70 and the Naadu variety at Rs 18.70. A Cabinet paper was submitted on Wednesday for this sale of paddy.

Mihin Lanka plans services from Chennai

July 6 (CO) Mihin Lanka Private Limited, the budget airline of the Sri Lankan government, plans to operate services from Chennai and Kozhikode. According to sources from Matheson Keells Air Services Private Limited, general sales agent of Mihin Lanka, Singapore will also be included in the network. Mihin Lanka already operates services to five destinations - Tiruchi, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangkok, Dubai and Male. more..

Indian Navy apprehends 12 Sri Lankans

July 6 (Hindu) A patrol team of the Indian Navy apprehended 12 Sri Lankans and seized a fibreglass boat. Commander U.C. Barman, Area Commander, South, and Officer-in-Charge, Naval Detachment, Rameswaram, said based on information provided by a Naval helicopter patrolling along the International Maritime Boundary Line on Thursday morning, the patrol party chased the boat. more..

Sri Lankan woman jailed for three years

July 6 (Hindu) A Sri Lankan woman Rani Nisha, who was arrested with a fake passport, was sentenced to three years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 by Rajampet judicial first class magistrate G. Ramesh Kumar. Ms. Nisha was arrested with a fake passport in Chennai airport, when she landed from Kuwait, on December 21, 2004. On securing bail, she came to Rajampet in search of her lover said to be in Rajampet.

Secure East, then hand North over to Prabhakaran: Mahinda Wijesekara

July 6 (LNP) Special Projects Minister, Mahinda Wijesekera, said yesterday, his personal opinion is that after holding an election in the East and while governing it the North should be handed over to Prabhakaran for two years. `Then the people there will understand the difference. Who is better? Whether it is Prabhakaran or Mahinda Rajapaksa,` he said. more..

SLFP won`t hesitate to seek Mangala`s return - WDJ

July 6 (LNP) The SLFP will not hesitate to invite Mangala Samaraweera to return to its fold without groping in the dark, Power and Energy Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne said at the opening ceremony of Rural Electrification Scheme at Madahapalakanda in the Kurunegala district recently. He said since 1952, SLFP stalwarts such as C. P. de Silva, Maithreepala Senanayaka, Anura Bandaranaike, Halim Ishak, T. B. Illangaratne and P. B. G. Kalugalla had crossed over to the SLFP more..

Mihin Travel 40% below other airlines

July 6 (LNP) Chief Government Whip Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle yesterday told Parliament the establishment of Mihin Air by the Government has enabled Sri Lankans to travel to several countries at 40 per cent below the air fares charged by other airline services. `At present, Mihin Air has commenced its operations to several destinations from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA). more..

Story of postgraduate education as told by two dons

July 6 (LNP) Minister of Higher Education Prof. Wiswa Warnapala is one of the few ministers who, so to speak, know their onions. Delivering a lecture at the recent inauguration of a postgraduate programme at the University of Colombo?The Island of June 3?he put his finger on what really ails the postgraduate education in this country. more..

Move to send EU monitors fails

July 6 (SAMN) A move by the European Union to send a human rights monitoring mission to Sri Lanka was dropped when the other three co-chairs – The US, Japan and Norway -- declined to support it, a top diplomat said. The co-chairs also decided to continue to provide aid to Sri Lanka. The proposal was made by the EU representative, the German Ambassador, at a working committee meeting of the co-chairs on June 25 in Oslo, the diplomat said. more..

Southern Coconut Triangle declared

July 6 (SAMN) Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts have been declared the Southern Coconut Triangle, Coconut Cultivation Board Chairman Jayantha Gunatillake said. He said the coconut cultivation in the South will be given a boost and nurseries to produce coconut saplings will be set up to achieve this target. He said by next year 3,600,000 seedlings will be made available. more..

UNP scoffs at liberation ceremonies

July 6 (SAMN) The UNP Thursday charged the government sacrificed hundreds of youths to ‘re-liberate’ the East which had been liberated way back in the early nineties and urged that the government should apologise to the families of these youths instead of planning mega celebrations. “It is an irony that an SLFP government which allowed the LTTE a free run in the entire East by dismantling military camps there for the transfer of troops to the battle grounds in the north in 1994-95 is boasting that it has liberated the province today,” more..

Residents irked by CPC’s eviction orders

July 6 (SAMN) Over 750 families living along the railway track near Bloemendhal Road in Colombo 13 held a protest against what they claimed as moves by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to evict them from their lands. They complained that they had been living in the area for more that 20 to 25 years and most of them had built their houses and had access to public utilities like electricity and water. more..

Fuel subsidies for several sectors

July 6 (DN) The Ministerial Sub Committee appointed by the President to bring down cost of living has made several recommendations. Under these recommendations it is proposed to give a fuel subsidy for three-wheeler drivers, Samurdhi recipients who use kerosine oil and fishing boat operators. These subsidies will be granted to the relevant parties shortly, Information and Media Minister and the Cabinet Spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said. more..

Wettimuny and Gomes in SLC Interim

July 6 (DN) Tamil Union President, Chandra Schaffter, who has been in the centre of controversy over poor working conditions at Sri Lanka's second Test against Bangladesh at the Sara Stadium has been shown the door by the Minister of Sports Gamini Lokuge. The Sports Minister has demanded resignations from Schaffter and Damian Fernando, brother-in-law of former Sports Minister Jeevan Kumaramatunga, as members of the Sri LankaCricket (SLC) Interim Committee. more..

Mervyn, JVP rock the house

July 6 (DM) Non-Cabinet Minister Mervyn Silva was yesterday caught up in a heated debate with the JVP which demanded details of the vehicles used by Mr. Silva’s ministry. The heated discussion in Parliament started when Minister Silva refused to provide details of his ministry vehicles and the rent paid for them, prompting Speaker W.J.M Lokubandara to urge all members to uphold the decorum and dignity of the House. more..

UNP says VIPs behind abductions

July 6 (DM) The UNP charged yesterday that former Air Force officer Nishantha Gajanayake who had been questioned by the CID over alleged abductions and extortions had the backing of top persons of the country, to carry out those acts. UNP MP Lakshman Seneviratne who opened the emergency debate in Parliament on behalf of the opposition yesterday said the identities of these persons would be uncovered if a Parliamentary Select Committee was appointed to probe the matter. more..

Bhagwati and Rajapaksa settle attendance issue: roster for Eminent Persons

July 6 (HT) Former Indian Chief Justice PN Bhagwati and the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa have settled the controversial issue of attendance of the members of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) at the sittings of the Sri Lankan government's Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into human rights violations in the country. more..

LTTE staged 49 suicide attacks since July 2006

July 6 (HT) The LTTE had staged 49 suicide attacks against targets in Sri Lanka, both on land and sea, since July 5, 2006.On Thursday, the Tamil daily Sudar Oli quoted the LTTE as saying that 322 "Black Tigers" (suicide cadres) had sacrificed their lives since the first suicide attack by "Capt" Miller at Nelliyadi, in Jaffna district, on July 5, 1987. According to the pro-LTTE website, the LTTE had lost 273 Black Tigers since July 1987. more..

Lankan Govt throws lifeline to ailing tourist industry

July 6 (HT) The Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) have announced a slew of measures to rescue the tourist industry from the dire straits in which it is because of dwindling arrivals (due to the war) and a financial crunch generated by massive post-tsunami reconstruction. Responding to the fervent pleas of the industry, the Tourism Ministry has announced financial relief. more..

Sri Lanka's planes pound Tamil Tiger rebels; rebel mortar fire kill 6 soldiers

July 6 (AP) Sri Lankan warplanes pounded Tamil Tiger rebel positions in the island's volatile north and east on Friday, while rebels fired mortars at advancing ground troops in the east, killing six soldiers, the military said. Military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said soldiers advancing into the Thoppigala region, the final rebel stronghold in eastern Sri Lanka, faced long-range mortar attacks from the insurgents around noon Friday. more..

Thondaman meets Samaraweera

July 7 (TN) Senior Party members of the CWC and Peoples Wing of the SLFP met Thursday morning at Sawmiya Bawan, headquarters of the CWC in Colombo, for discussions on matters related to the uncertainties in political alliances in Sri Lanka parliament. CWC delegation comprised its leader Mr.Arumugan Thondaman, Mr.Muthu Sivalingam, and Mr.R.Yogarajan. SLFP (PW) comprised its leader Mr.Mangala Samaraweera, Mr.Sripathi Sooriyarachchi and Mr.Tiran Alles, sources said. more..

Sri Lanka urges creation of modern regional payments system to cope with trade flows

July 7 (LBO) South Asian countries need to modernise their payments systems to cope with rapidly increasing cross border trade and investment flows trigged by faster economic growth, a senior central banker said Friday. "Trade and investment flows and demand for financial services will exceed the present levels over the next couple of years," Sri Lanka Central Bank deputy governor Ranee Jayamaha said. more..

Sri Lankan firms to visit BPO summit in India

July 7 (LBO) A delegation from Sri Lanka's information technology companies will attend the IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) summit in India to gain insights on developing the trade, Sri Lanka's ICT Agency said. ICTA - a state agency - plans to lead the delegation to the NASSCOM IT-BPO Strategy Summit 2007 scheduled to take place in Bangalore, during the first week of August. more..

Failure to investigate and prosecute in Sri Lanka

July 7 (UPI) A memorial service to remember Red Cross workers, abducted from Colombo and killed a month ago, was held in the Sri Lankan capital, July 4. One of the topics discussed by the participants at this ceremony was the promise given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to intensify the inquiries with a deadline for the arrest of the suspects within two weeks. more..

Vaas cleared for Middlesex return

July 7 (BBC) Sri Lanka seam bowler Chaminda Vaas will not play in next week's third Test against Bangladesh in Kandy. They already hold a winning 2-0 lead in the series and Vaas is being allowed to return to England where he has a county contract with Middlesex. "We will be without Vaasy for the final Test. He is going back to England," a Sri Lanka Cricket spokesman confirmed. more..

The greeny side of Jaffna

July 7 (LM) Paramanandan was taking the utmost care not to damage the new tip of the creepers that was yet to bear the tastiest fruit once Jaffna was famous island wide – grapes. We were in Thirunalweli in Jaffna, few miles away from the town area and were almost lost in the cool, lush world under the thickly grown grape cultivation. While Paramanandan was busy with the trimming, Raja was carrying on his duty on another plot trying his best to smooth down the uncontrollably grown branches of the creeper. more..