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Govt. purchases 84,000 mt of paddy

June 13 (SAMN) The Government has purchased nearly 84,000 Metric tons of paddy harvest of the Maha season at Rs.1500 million. According to Agriculture Development and Agrarian Service Ministry the highest number of paddy harvest of 30,000 Metric tons worth over Rs. 620 million has been purchased from Polonnaruwa district. The second highest number of paddy harvest of 25,000 Metric tons has been purchased from Anuradhapura district. more..

CEB officials on tour tsunami funds

June 13 (SAMN) Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions have raised questions as to how two high officials attached to the institution toured Japan allegedly misusing CEB tsunami funds. According to the trade unions the officials had travelled to Japan under the guise of inspecting electronic microwave communication equipment. The CEB had to purchase electronic microwave communication equipment to repair the damaged Internal Communication System (ICS) in the south. more..

Hi-tech ID cards coming

June 13 (SAMN) The national identity card is to be transferred into a digital format, Registrar of Persons Department sources said. The department’s media spokesperson said the main reason was to address security concerns. He further said that the new identity card would facilitate security personnel at the main checkpoints. The digital card according to the department would include the person’s fingerprint, a database on the person, medical condition, allergies and other important details. more..

National policy on solid waste soon

June 13 (SAMN) On a request made by founder, National Programme for Recycling Solid Waste, Dr. Ajantha Perera, the Environment Ministry is to implement a national policy on solid waste. This is the first time that a national policy on solid waste is to be implemented by the Environment Ministry. The National Policy on Solid Waste is to be published in the media in Sinhala, English and Tamil for public comments next week. more..

Census and Statistics Dept launches website

June 13 (DN) Absence of correct data regarding the country enables unscrupulous persons to take undue advantage and taint the county’s image by painting a wrong picture about it to the outside world. In this context the inauguration of a new website by the Census and Statistics Department to feed correct data to the Internet is most praiseworthy, said Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. more..

Somawathiya to get electricity on Poson

June 13 (DN) Somawathiya Temple Electrification Project will be commissioned on the Poson Poya day (30) by Power and Energy Minister W. D. J. Senevirathne and the Agricultural and Agrarian Services Development Minister Maithreepala Sirisena, project coordinating officer Harsha B. Abeykoon said. The project was commenced at the temple premises under the auspices of Power and Energy Minister W. D. J. Senevirathne, on October 30, last year. more..

Court issues notice on Navy chief, Defence Secy. and three others

June 13 (DM) The Court of Appeal yesterday issued notices on Navy Commander Vice Admiral W.K.J. Karannagoda, Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and three other Navy officers as well as the Deputy Solicitor General, returnable on July 13 in a Writ petition filed by Commodore T.M.J. Mendis against the forfeiture of his 10 months’ seniority. Commodore Mendis who was the Commander of Southern Naval Area on the eve of the LTTE attack on the Galle harbour on October 18 last year, more..

Chamal blames Monday’s attack on unconcerned outsiders

June 13 (DM) Ports, Aviation, Irrigation and Water Management Minister, Chamal Rajapaksa, told the Daily Mirror yesterday that the mob attack on the police and his entourage, on Monday, at Weraharagama, Wariyapola was the work of few outsiders who were not directly concerned with the ongoing development project there. While Minister Rajapaksa was holding discussions with officials and the villagers, following an inspection tour of the Deduru Oya Development Project, more..

Govt ready to face any allegation if soundly proven – Minister Fernandopulle

June 13 (GDI) Speaking at a press conference held in Colombo today (13), Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle said that the Government is ready to set up a Select Committee of Parliament if the LTTE is willing to come forward and prove that present ruling Government secretly gave 1500 million rupees to them to restrain the Tamil populace of their areas voting against Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

Stocks firmer on blue chip buys, rupee down

June 13 (Reuters) Shares ended firmer on Wednesday on continued select retail investor buying of blue chips like conglomerate John Keells Holdings after recent losses, traders said. The Colombo All Share index closed 0.77 percent firmer at 2,600.81 points, a rise of 19.77 points. The index has fallen 13.1 percent since March amid escalating renewed civil war and high interest rates, which have encouraged some investors to turn to fixed deposits and bonds. more..

Sri Lanka risks isolation over human rights

June 13 (Reuters) Tamils are deported, abductions and killings are blamed on state security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels, and aid groups and truce monitors say they are obstructed from doing their jobs. As Sri Lanka's civil war escalates, increasing its problems and need for international help, Sri Lanka risks isolation over human rights, diplomats and analysts say. more..

Will Sethusamudram deliver? Jury is out

June 13 (HT) The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP), when complete, will enable cargo ships that now have to sail all the way around Sri Lanka just to get from the eastern to the western coast or vice versa to cut straight through the Palk Strait via Tuticorin port by November 2008. And it is being touted as the catalyst for an economic boom in southern Tamil Nadu. more..

Sri Lanka to study critical rights report

June 13 (AFP) Sri Lanka's president has called for "careful study" of a critical report that said the island is failing to investigate grave human rights abuses, a spokesman said. President Mahinda Rajapakse was speaking after an international panel said a commission appointed to investigate 16 high profile cases, involving murder and abduction, had failed to make headway since it began operating in November 2006. more..

Sri Lanka placed in human trafficking watchlist by US

June 13 (AFP) US Middle East allies Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, as well as key trading partner Malaysia were added Tuesday to a Washington blacklist of countries trafficking in people. Algeria and Guinea were the other additions to the blacklist of the US State Department's annual "Trafficking in Persons Report," which analyzed efforts in about 164 countries to combat trafficking for forced labor, prostitution, military service and other purposes. more..

As Sri Lankan forces find roadside bomb in Colombo, the city carries on

June 13 (AP) Authorities removed an unexploded bomb hidden near the Sri Lankan capital's train station early Wednesday, a day after a small bomb aimed at Colombo's power lines exploded on the city's fringes, the military said. Colombo has seen a wave of recent attacks, but city residents have pressed on with their daily routines, inured to the worsening violence. more..

State funeral for late Professor

June 13 (GDI) Government has decided to accord a funeral for late Vidya Jyothi Professor V. K. Samaranayake with full State patronage. The funeral will now take place under full State patronage at the Independence Square, Colombo today. According to Professor P. W. Epasinghe, Presidential Advisor, the President has advised the Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry to accord a funeral with State patronage for the late Professor. more..

Sri Lanka growth slows as farming hit by drought

June 13 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's annual economic growth slowed in the first quarter to 6.1 percent, the government said on Wednesday, citing high oil prices and a contraction in the farm sector following a drought. Both the industrial and services sectors expanded in the first quarter from a year earlier, but a decline in tea and rice output dragged on the agricultural sector, the government's department of census and statistics said. more..

Commentary: Judiciary restrains abuse of power in Colombo

June 14 (UPI) The power of the judiciary, as the third great branch of government, was demonstrated to great effect last week in Sri Lanka when the Supreme Court put a halt to the forcible eviction of Tamil people from Colombo. Until the Supreme Court gave its verdict, the eviction of 370 Tamil residents overnight from their lodges, or small inns, and rented accommodations seemed a foregone conclusion. more..

Misery and death stalk Sri Lanka's north

June 14 (AP) The nights are broken again by artillery fire across the black lagoon. The road out of this peninsula has been closed since last August, making the area nearly inaccessible. Today, though food and fuel manage to arrive, the town market shuts by afternoon, and shopkeepers are reluctant to keep stocks, not knowing when they might have to close up and run. By 7 p.m., barely sundown, stray dogs have the run of the streets of Jaffna. more..

Encouraging economic performance in 2007 first quarter

June 14 (GDI) "Sri Lanka has shown an encouraging economic performance in the first quarter of 2007," said the Director General of the Department of Census and Statistics Mrs. Suranjana Vidyaratne. Mrs. Vidyaratne stated this during a press conference held to brief the media on year 2007’s first quarter economical statistics. Considering the growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2007 which is 6.1 per cent and the 7.9 per cent growth rate for the same quarter of the last year, more..

'Gagged' Catholics join protest against Red Cross worker killings

June 14 (UCAN) About 400 local and international nongovernmental (NGO) activists and supporters, wearing "gags" of black cloth over their mouths, staged a silent protest at the central railway station in Colombo. The June 6 demonstration protested the abduction and killing of two Red Cross workers, Shanmugalingam Kandiah, 32, and Mahadevan Chandramohan, 27. The men were abducted June 1 from the same railway station, while waiting for a train back to Batticaloa in the east. more..

No confidence motion against UNP MP who revealed details of abductors

June 14 (LeN) The government is planning on bringing up a no confidence motion in parliament against UNP MP Lakshman Seneviratne who recently disclosed the names of persons who are engaged in abducting and collecting ransoms. This was revealed by the chief government whip Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle during a media briefing held today. more..

Tiran Alles released on bail

June 14 (LeN) Tiran Alles who was being detained by the Terrorism Investigation Division was released on bail by the Colombo chief Magistrate Sarojani Kusala Weerawardena today. He was released on a Rs. 500,000 bail and three surety bails each worth 1 million rupees. She also ordered Alles to freely present whatever documents and information which the TID request from him and also warned him not to attempt to influence of threaten any of the witnesses. more..

Mahinda to meet rights watchdogs

June 14 (BBC) President Mahinda Rajapaksa left for Geneva to meet international human rights representatives as well as to address the UN International Labour Conference. The president's visit comes amidst heavy criticism by humanitarian organisations and donor countries on Sri Lanka governments human rights record. The president is scheduled to meet UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour, Secretary General of the Amnesty International Irene Khan and Vice President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Jaques Forster. more..

Documents taken from Alles' house

June 14 (BBC) Valuable documents and CDs were stolen from the house of Tiran Alles, a former minister said. Sacked minister Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi said the missing documents had evidence to prove that President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave money to LTTE before the presidential elections. Alles, who was arrested by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), was released on bail by Colombo magistrate earlier on Wednesday. more..

21 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees arrive in TN

June 14 (PTI) A batch of 21 Sri Lankan refugees hailing from the north-eastern part of the island Republic arrived here by a boat in the wee hours of Wednesday. The refugees, including six women and nine children, belonged to two families from Trincomalee and Vauniya districts, officials said. One of the refugees Kokila Devi said her two brothers were pulled out of their house and shot dead on June 11 by a group of persons who spoke in Sinhalese and Tamil. more..

Sri Lanka interest rates up on heavy government borrowing

June 14 (LBO) Sri Lanka's 3-month risk free rates gained 15 basis points at the latest treasuries auction, while a ministerial decision to fix the electricity prices and fuel announced this week threatens to send interest rates higher. The average bids accepted for the 3-month bill rose to 17.09 percent, while 6-month bills edged up 15 basis points to 16.84 percent and more..

Sri Lanka's small tea-grower factory profits up despite high leaf prices

June 14 (LBO) Strong tea prices in the fourth quarter helped Sri Lanka's Tea Smallholder Factories to increase after tax profit by 38 percent to 68.8 million rupees in the financial year ended March 31, 2007. Turnover in the firm, which makes low grown tea, was up 3.3 percent to 1.5 billion rupees. Tea Smallholder Factories chairman Susantha Ratnayake said a strong focus on quality enabled the firm to earn higher margins despite stiff competition for green leaf. more..

Two Sri Lankan Red Cross workers abducted in central Colombo

June 14 (wsws) The abduction and brutal murder of two Sri Lankan Red Cross Society (SLRCS) employees, both Tamils, on June 1 has further exposed the Colombo government’s lie that its security forces have nothing to do with the hundreds of disappearances and killings over the past 18 months. The crime was a particularly brazen one. Sinnarajah Shanmuganathan, 38, and Karthigesu Chandramohan, 28, were members of a group of six aid workers who had been in Colombo for a four-day SLRCS training program. more..

The Attorney General being part of the Presidential entourage needs to be questioned by legislators

June 14 (ISL) President Mahinda Rajapakse will be attending meetings in Geneva in an attempt to discuss serious allegations of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka including abductions, forced disappearances, torture, the forced expulsion of almost 400 Tamils from Colombo, problems of a few hundred thousand internally displaced persons and the general breakdown of the rule of law in the country. more..

Who should face a parlimentary select committee?

June 14 (LD) Nuwara Eliya UNP Member of Parliament Lakshman Seneviratne's brazen request to bring Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse before a Parliamentary Select Committee in connection with the latest purchase of MIG27 fighters only highlights the UNP's malicious campaign against the government further. This is a serious allegation and it simply boils down not only as an individual attack on the Defence Secretary but the whole of the Security Forces in the Country. more..

Lanka deports currency racketeer

June 14 (TT) A man wanted by the CBI for running a fake currency racket from Dubai has been deported by Sri Lanka, where he was detained last month. K.M. Abdullah alias Abdullah Mohammad alias Abdul Aziz is being interrogated at the CBI’s Chennai office. He was last week produced in a court in Chennai, where he is wanted in a murder case, and remanded in custody for 12 days. Karnataka and Maharashtra police are also looking for him in fake currency cases. more..

Locating the centre of evil in Sri Lanka

June 14 (AT) The ham-fisted action of the Police in rounding up 376 Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka and transporting them to the north and the east had one positive reaction: it united the divided nation and brought them together to defend the Tamil victims. The media, the political parties (except the JHU), the intelligentsia, all the concerned voices from the north to the south and even the diplomatic community spoke out in one voice condemning the action of the Police. more..

Australian Broadcasting Service TV screens an unbalanced story on Sri Lanka

June 14 (AT) Quite uncharacteristically for the ABC TV, they broadcast a story on Sri Lanka which was quite unbalanced, and which by implication, projected a veiled message that the Sri Lankan government had a hand in the hundreds of shocking disappearances that have taken place, and are still taking place in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This program titled “Foreign Correspondent” was aired last night. more..

Tourism as it effects Sri Lanka

June 14 (AT) United Nations in recognition of the advantages of tourism has fixed a World Tourism Day and this year Sri Lanka is hosting the event on 27th September. Mr Ban Ki-Moon the Secretary General of the UN says this about tourism-Tourism has proved one of the leading ways for the least ?developed countries to increase their participation in the global economy. more..

Summary of cabinet decisions

June 14 (GDI) The Cabinet has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by Hon. Prime Minister on the Sub-leasing of State Lands. The observations made a committee consisting of Hon. Ministers of Finance and Planning, Media and Information, Agricultural Development, Youth Empowerment and Socio-Economic Development have been taken into consideration and the following recommendations have been made. more..

President Arrives at Geneva

June 14 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan delegation who left Sri Lanka last morning for Geneva, Switzerland to participate at the 96th Session of the International Labour Organisation arrived at the Geneva International Air Port around 5.10 p.m Geneva time. The President and his delegation were warmly welcomed by the United Nations Deputy Resident Representative in Geneva S.G.M. Lorenso, more..

German Delegation to visit SL to explore investment opportunities

June 14 (GDI) A German delegation comprising of the leading members of Asia Pacific Committee of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) to explore the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. This has been organized because of the interest shown by the German investors during discussions held between the visiting Sri Lankan Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Dr. Sarath Amunugama with several key German political and business leaders in Berlin. more..

Child rights awareness programme for Police Officers

June 14 (GDI) The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has launched a series of awareness programmes for the police officers. These programmes are aimed at enhancing the knowledge of Human Rights among the police officers and would assist in carrying out their duties while protecting the Human Rights, mainly Child and Women Rights. more..

Concept of “Water to North-Western’ becomes a reality

June 14 (GDI) Fulfilling a long felt need the Government has initiated the construction work of ‘Deduru Oya’ reservoir which will largely contribute for the Development of the North- Western Province. “This mega project is a fully local investment and the Government has allocated Rs.6200 million for the completion of this Project,” said T.B. Ekanayake Minister Highways of at a media briefing held yesterday (13) in Colombo. more..

'Opposition Leader should learn European history'

June 14 (GDI) “The opposition leader should try to learn the European history again before he tries to point out false similarities between the Government policies and the actions of Hitler,” stated the Cabinet Spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. Minister Yapa stated this today addressing a media briefing held today at the premises of the Government Information Department. more..

Tax fraud: Some baffling questions

June 14 (ANN) This is a land of confusion and obfuscation, where allegations of all sorts are levelled against various people and probes held but the people are left none the wiser in the end. The Auditor General’s Department claims to have blown the lid off a mega tax fraud. It was exposed by none other than the then Auditor General S C Mayadunne himself last year. His report revealed that the fraud had deprived the country of a whopping sum of 389 billion rupees (US$3.5 billion). more..

Rixon on Sri Lanka's all-Australian shortlist

June 14 (CI) Former New Zealand coach Steve Rixon will be interviewed for the vacant Sri Lanka job next week. Rixon, who has coached Surrey and New South Wales, joins two other Australians - Queensland coach Terry Oliver and New South Wales's Trevor Bayliss - on the Sri Lankan board's shortlist. It is understood that 44-year-old Oliver has already been interviewed. more..

Fuel prices to stay put

June 14 (LNP) The Cabinet Sub-Committee, headed by Prime Minister Ranasiri Wickremanayake, and comprising cabinet ministers A. H. M. Fowzie, W. D. J Seneviratne, G. L. Peiris, Kumar Welgama, Dinesh Gunawardena,Champika Ranawaka, Dullas Alahaperuma Rajitha Senaratne and the Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P B. Jayasundara, CEB Chairman Udayasiri Kariyawasm and CPC Chairman Asantha de Mel, has unanimously decided not to increase fuel prices. more..

'Govt ready for no-faith motion'

June 14 (SAMN) The Government is ready to face any No Confidence Motion in Parliament, Chief Government Whip Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle asserted Wednesday. Minister Fernandopulle said the Government was also not prepared to appoint Parliamentary Select committees to satisfy whims and fancies of certain people based on mere rumours. more..

Bilingual skills must for govt recruits

June 14 (SAMN) With a view to ‘bilingualise’ the public service, the Government has decided to make proficiency in both official languages mandatory for persons newly recruited to the service with effect from next month. Accordingly, proficiency in Tamil will be made compulsory for all Sinhala speaking persons recruited to State institutions from July 1 while those speaking Tamil will also be required to prove their proficiency in Sinhala. more..

Stocks fall as court halts Telecom stake sale

June 14 (Reuters) Shares ended weaker on Thursday, ending four days of gains, after the Supreme Court temporarily blocked Japan's NTT from selling a stake in Sri Lanka Telecom , traders said. The Colombo All Share index closed 0.39 percent weaker at 2,590.61 points, a fall of 10.20 points. The index has fallen 13.4 percent since March amid escalating renewed civil war and high interest rates, which have encouraged some investors to turn to fixed deposits and bonds. more..

Plans to perform 1000 surgeries at Kandy

June 14 (SAMN) There is a notable difference between the Opposition leader’s ‘Kollupitiya Chinthanaya’ and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ‘Medamulana Chinthanaya’, Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said. Addressing the gathering after opening new heart unit built at Rs.860 million at Kandy Teaching Hospital, Minister De Silva said that according to Kollupitiya Chinthanaya, unemployment of the country increased putting the people into great difficulties but more..

Govt to distribute export income evenly

June 14 (SAMN) The Government has launched a rural economic development programme with a view to distribute export income and other such dividends evenly throughout the districts at a time when there is a yawning disparity in income of people living in districts such as Colombo and Gampaha on the one hand and others from places such as Hambantota, Moneragala and Polonnaruwa, more..

UN reacts to Gotabhaya's accusations

June 14 (TN) The United Nations on Wednesday strongly reacted to an interview given by Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, who had charged Tuesday that the UN agencies had been "infiltrated" and "misled" by the Tigers. Frederick Lyons, the resident and humanitarian coordinator in Sri Lanka, said he had "absolutely no grounds" to question the integrity of the UN staff in Sri Lanka. more..