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Severe Sri Lanka state cash crunch revealed

Nov 8 (LBO) Though budget numbers tabled in Sri Lanka's parliament suggested that no money had been printed in 2007, other documents showed a large bank-financed hole in state finances just weeks earlier. The budget showed that 10 billion rupees would be paid back to the banking system by the end of this year, though Sri Lanka's economy was rocked by money printing until mid-October. more..

Sri Lanka taxes hit drinkers, smokers and drivers

Nov 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's cash strapped government is taxing booze, smokes and cars again to boost government revenues and finance subsidies, the 2008 budget presented to parliament showed. "We have sharply increased taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to discourage consumption," the budget speech tabled in parliament by President Mahinda Rajapakse said. The new proposals would increase the price of a bottle of liquor by 35 rupees and a cigarette by two rupees. more..

Sri Lanka new tax proposal summary

Nov 8 (LBO) Here are some of the key government revenue proposals presented in the 2008 budget: - Tax Reliefs for new investments in the Eastern Province - The following tax relief will be available on investments in any undertaking of any nature, where i. The investment is over Rs.50 MN, and ii. Provides employment opportunities for not less than 50 persons. more..

Sri Lanka budgets, monetary policy biggest danger to banks: Fitch

Nov 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's shaky budgets and complementary monetary policy are the biggest dangers to the banking system, an international rating agency has warned. Fitch Ratings says the ongoing internal war and even the December 2004 tsunami had little direct impact on the stability of Sri Lanka's banking system. "However, the state's recent fiscal weaknesses, its resulting effect on monetary policy stability and overall policy consistency have been, and will be, the sector's primary concerns in the short to medium term," more..

World Class Sri Lankan businessman honoured in USA

Nov 8 (GDI) Susantha Sisilchandra, a Sri Lankan Entrepreneur,received "the Exceptional Performance by a Young Professional" award at the 5th Annual SLF Awards Ceremony held in Los Angeles, California, recently under the patronage of Hon. Jaliya Wickramsuriya, Sri Lankan Consul General in Los Angeles. Mr. Sisilchandra is the founder and CEO/President of Ceyhinz Link International, Inc., and his US-based company with 100% Sri Lankan made products is now generating millions of dollars annually. more..

Nine new Police Posts to tighten Tissa security

Nov 8 (GDI) Nine new Police Posts have been established in Ranminithenne, Tissamaharama to further ensure the security of the villages in the area, the Media Center for National Security informs. Accordingly the Police Posts will be strengthened by deploying 350 extra Policemen to the points. Another batch of 200 Civil Security Force soldiers were sent to Tissa and Kataragama while more..

2 more killed in Tissamaharama: Journalists covering incident assaulted

Nov 8 (LD) The security forces have discovered the bodies of two more persons in Galara, Tissamaharama this morning (November 08th) following a shooting incident last night. The bodies were taken by the villagers for the post mortem examinations to the Tissamaharama Base Hospital. Meanwhile, villagers staged a protest in front of the Tissamaharama Police Station against the continuous killings. more..

Budget 2008: Rajapaksas serve themselves & ask public to tighten belts - UNP

Nov 8 (LD) The main opposition has strongly criticized the third budget of the UPFA government that was presented by President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Finance Minister to Parliament yesterday (Nov. 07th). In a special statement, the UNP charges that budget 2008 was yet another instance in which the Rajapaksa Brothers Company has served themselves large spoonfuls for themselves, while placing big burdens on the public and asking them to tighten their belts. more..

Sri Lanka in Rugby Asiad final

Nov 8 (LD) Unbeaten hosts Sri Lanka advanced to the final of the Rugby Asiad 2007 in Colombo yesterday (Nov. 07th). The Sri Lankans completely outplayed Malaysia 77 points to 3 in their semi-final clash at Longdon Place. The winners collected their points through seven goals, five tries and a penalty. Malaysia managed only one penalty. They will now meet the other undefeated team in the tournament, Kazakhstan, in the final on November 10th. more..

Sri Lanka optimistic despite dropped chances

Nov 8 (CI) Despite an ordinary fielding display where they put down three easy catches, Sri Lanka had reason to feel pleased with their performance on the opening day. Wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene stood out with two stumpings off Muttiah Muralitharan, which edged the offspinner closer to breaking Shane Warne's world record of 708 Test wickets. Muralitharan who started the Test needing nine wickets to break the record, ended with figures of two for 67, but it could have been even better had the catches offered by centurion Phil Jaques been held. more..

Jaques makes trouble for Sri Lanka

Nov 8 (CI) After ten months of speculation over who would fill Australia's three vacant Test positions, Phil Jaques hinted that at least one of those spots is in safe hands. Jaques celebrated his first match as a full-time member of the side with a century as Australia fought off Muttiah Muralitharan's wiles to reach 3 for 242 at stumps. Michael Hussey was on 28 and Michael Clarke had reached 5 at the close, leaving Sri Lanka to regret their decision to send Australia in on a Gabba pitch tinged with green. more..

Rs 38 m. worth medicine robbed

Nov 8 (LNP) The Auditor General has revealed that medicine worth Rs 38 million sent to the Medical Supplies Division by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation had been robbed. According to the AG, the SPC had bought these supplies between January 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007. The robbery had taken place during the transfer of supplies from SPC stores to the Medical Supplies Division. The AG faulted the Health Ministry for turning a blind eye to the theft of millions worth medicine. more..

Tigers using Tamilselvan`s death to gain sympathy abroad

Nov 8 (LNP) The LTTE activists have been waging an intensive propaganda campaign in Canada to win the backing of politicians, the Canadian daily National Post said quoting a newly declassified intelligence report yesterday. The LTTE has `spent considerable effort and resources in Canada and elsewhere` on a lobbying and advocacy campaign. `The main targets of the campaign in Canada have been the expatriate Tamil population, politicians and the general public,` the report by the federal government`s threat-assessment centre had said. more..

It is more than a budget

Nov 8 (LNP) Another budget day has come and gone. President Mahinda Rajapaksa may be given full marks for his presentation, which was short and devoid of theatrics and invectives which often characterise meandering budget speeches. However, it is doubtful whether he deserves full marks for the substance. Suffice it to say the budget didn`t leave either the detractors of the government or its ardent supporters happy. more..

One in 10 Lankans are diabetic: NDC

Nov 8 (SAMN) It is reported that one in every ten Sri Lankans suffer from diabetes at the moment. The percentage of persons who suffer from diabetes in Sri Lanka in 2006 is 10.2 and this was only 2.5 in 1990, Dr. Mahen Wijesuriya, Director, National Diabetes Centre (NDC) said. Addressing a special press briefing held at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo yesterday Dr. Wijesuriya said that in 2000 the percentage of Sri Lankans suffering from diabetes was only 6.5. more..

New drug to import for Thalassaemia

Nov 8 (SAMN) Various issues relating to complications Thalessemia patients have to undergo after the introduction of a new drug / injection was resolved yesterday when health authorities decided to revert back to the old drug imported from Switzerland. Director Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, Dr Ananda Gunasekera said a stock of Deferioxyime imported from Switzerland had been delivered to the National Thalessemia Centre (NTC) of the hospital on Tuesday. more..

800 being treated at Cancer Hospital

Nov 8 (SAMN) Eight hundred cancer patients including 100 children receive residential treatment at the Maharagama Cancer Hospital, Maharagama National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Kanishka Karunaratne said. He said the number of cancer patients are increasing drastically and nearly 10,000 to 11,000 patients are identified each year in Sri Lanka. Addressing the media at Galle Face Hotel on Tuesday, Dr. Karunaratne said that 800 to 1,000 cancer patients receive clinical treatment daily. more..

'Join hands with Govt to ensure national development'

Nov 8 (DN) Presenting his third consecutive Budget yesterday in Parliament, President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a fervent appeal to all Opposition political parties to bury the hatchet and join hands with his Government for the sake of national security and economic development. Unveiling Budget 2008 which lays accent on national security and development, the President said: “We need to forget personal animosities arising from jealousies and associated political rivalries when it comes to national security and economic development. more..

Rs. 2 m for every co-op in budget for development - Minister of Power

Nov 8 (DN) Every co-operative society in the island will be given Rs. 2 million in the forthcoming budget. This is a step taken by the Government to develop co-operatives. Sathosa and Co-operatives can play a major role in the business world in order to help the poor consumers. At present the co-op is totally ruined. Let this money not go to ‘Bahirawaya’ “make use of it in a proper way to uplift the movement”, said Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister of Power. more..

Pollution tax from next year

Nov 8 (DM) The Government has proposed the introduction of an Environment Conservation Levy Bill to provide for taxing individuals, businesses and items considered as harmful to the environment, and accordingly a permanent household with a vehicle, a telephone and electricity facilities would be subjected to a levy of Rs. 20 per month. Presenting the Budget proposals, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the House yesterday that the extent of damage caused to the environment due to water and air pollution was in excess of two percent of the GDP. more..

Hiniduma, Imaduwa, Neluwa under floods

Nov 8 (DM) The water level of the Nilwala ganga and Gin ganga has increased due to the heavy rains in the last 24 hours, the irrigation department said. Floods were reported in the Hiniduma, Imaduwa and Neluwa areas in the Galle district. According to the meteorolgy department and the irrigation department there is a possibility floods may spread to Baddegama as well. The water level has risen up to 10 feet on the Akuressa -Udugama road. more..

Inflation Wears Garment Industry Thin

Nov 8 (IPS) Thousands of garment workers, mostly young women from rural Sri Lanka, are clamouring for better wages in a campaign that could trigger a mass fallout in the industry, and a possible shift in production to other countries where costs are cheaper. Workers like Chrishanthi (one name), a 23-year-old employed in a garment factory at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone near Colombo, say living costs are rising sharply and they cannot make both ends meet. more..

Milk powder, Cows and Politicos

Nov 8 (LR) Sri Lanka is tropical country with plenty of greenery and sunshine. Still we are importing good part of milk from foreign countries and biggest joke (rather shame) is that the bulk of milk powder imports are from countries having sunshine and greenery only in a fraction of the year. In year 2006 alone, we have imported 70 000 MT of milk powder worth of Rs 15 000 million and it is hard earned foreign exchange that we have pumped out for that. more..

Sri Lankan rebels lament peace mediator Norway's 'official silence' on killing

Nov 8 (AP) Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels on Thursday lamented the "official silence" of Sri Lanka's peace broker Norway on last week's killing of the group's political chief, a spokesman said. Tamil Tigers' political chief, S.P. Tamilselvan, was killed when the air force bombed a communications center in rebel-held northern Kilinochchi district. more..

Scores killed in heavy Sri Lanka fighting

Nov 8 (AFP) Scores of fighters have died in fierce fighting between Sri Lankan government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, both sides said, although each give wildly differing claims of who suffered most. The fighting erupted on Wednesday on the government-held Jaffna peninsula, which is cut off from the rest of the island by territory controlled by the ethnic guerrillas. more..

Peace can't be achieved by ignoring Sinhala nationalism, says study

Nov 8 (HT) A Brussels-based research organisation has urged the international community not to dismiss Sinhala nationalism as "irrational and racist" but try to understand its roots and concerns in order to bring about a peaceful and lasting solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. In its report on Sinhala nationalism released on Wednesday, the International Crisis Group (ICG) pointed out that finding a solution to the Sinhala-Tamil conflict in the island had been difficult because of the intense competition between two high pitched nationalisms – Sinhala and Tamil. more..

Rajapakse 'best bet' to end ethnic conflict: Muslim leader

Nov 8 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapakse is the 'best bet' to resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict but there can be no solution minus the Tamil Tigers, says a prominent Muslim leader from the country. Nizam Kariapper of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) party also said that New Delhi needed to put aside the Rajiv Gandhi assassination of 1991 so as to play a more meaningful role vis-a-vis the dragging conflict. 'Rajapakse is the best bet, provided he is willing to (come up with a political solution),' Kariapper told IANS, more..

Barber who became Tamil Tiger negotiator

Nov 9 (Age) He was the smiling, conciliatory face of one of the world's deadliest insurgent organisations, an apparently tame Tamil Tiger who had swapped the movement's distinctive jungle fatigues and vial of cyanide for a suit and spectacles. For the four years that the Norwegian-brokered ceasefire agreement held, S. P. Thamilselvan, who has been killed in an air raid, aged 40, was the international face of the LTTE, the guerilla army that seeks to establish an independent state called "Eelam" in the north of Sri Lanka. more..

U.S. Government enhances Sri Lanka’s maritime security capability

Nov 9 (SLE) U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake, Jr. formally handed over a radar-based maritime surveillance system and several Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to the Sri Lankan Navy on November 8 at the Naval Dock Yard in Trincomalee. Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy, received the equipment on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government. The equipment was provided under Section 1206 of the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, more..

Sri Lankan exporters welcome incentives, criticise lost tax breaks

Nov 9 (LBO) Sri Lankan exporters Thursday welcomed incentives in the government's 2008 budget but warned reduced tax holidays and higher license fees could hurt growth. "The tax and other benefits to the gems and jewellery industry are positive signals as they will stimulate more exports in this sector," Lakshman de Silva, acting chairman of the Exporters' Association of Sri Lanka said in a statement. more..

US urges Sri Lanka to end fighting with rebels

Nov 9 (AFP) The United States on Thursday urged Sri Lanka to negotiate an end to decades of fighting with the Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said. US Ambassador Robert O. Blake made the comments during a ceremony in which he donated a radar-based maritime surveillance system and several inflatable boats to Sri Lanka's navy, the US embassy said in a statement. "The Ambassador ... urged the Government of Sri Lanka to pursue a negotiated settlement to Sri Lanka's conflict," the statement said. more..

Sri Lanka in false UK visa report

Nov 9 (BBC) The UK says it is unwilling to confirm that a former Sri Lankan rebel got into the UK after the Sri Lankan government gave him a passport with a false name. Colonel Karuna Amman, once the second in command in the Tamil Tigers, is in detention in the UK. He was given the diplomatic passport in August, a newspaper in Sri Lanka has now revealed. Human rights groups have called on the UK government to prosecute him for human rights abuses. more..

Sri Lanka to have single digit inflation and 7 to 7.5-pct growth in 2008: CB

Nov 9 (LBO) Central Bank has once again promised to bring inflation now raging near 20 percent to single-digits in 2008, while maintaining high growth. "With the persistently tight monetary policy stance and complementary fiscal performance, inflation is expected to be at a single digit level in 2008," the bank said in a report on recent economic developments. Last year too, the Central Bank promised to reduce inflation to single digit levels but failed. more..

Church center trains organists to deal with shortage in parishes

Nov 9 (UCAN) The liturgy needs music, and an organ helps it come alive. So says Father Cecil Joy Perera, the priest in charge of Colombo Archdiocese Liturgy Service and rector of Joseph Vaz Centre in the capital. Father Perera told UCA News that music with an organ, orchestra and choir makes Church services more pleasing. More to the point, the combination of sacred music and words forms a necessary, integral part of solemn liturgy, he explained, "so the music and song are more than an embellishment of worship." more..

Editorial: To live & die in Lanka

Nov 9 (LMD) Budget time this year may well be when the country’s fiscal managers reveal that they expect the people to tighten their belts further, but loose all the ills this parliamentary Pandora’s box contains in a way that makes it ridiculous to pretend that the Government’s expenses are being managed at all. It is not that we expected President and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration to be sublime at managing the Government’s expenses, but no one quite expected it do so – so blatantly – at the people’s expense. more..

Editorial: Spread of foot and mouth

Nov 9 (LMD) It’s like hearing someone talk with his foot in the mouth, isn’t it, when the so-called powers that be tell us that there’s nothing to worry about, the cost of living isn’t unbearable, the economy is reaching dizzy heights, the war will end and corruption in the state sector is all but a figment of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s imagination? Imagine a bunch of comedians performing as an orchestra during an interval at a circus for animals… now, wouldn’t that sound similar? more..

Nobel Laureate on Sri Lanka: Envy of a region?

Nov 9 (LMD) Q: What lessons can Sri Lanka’s rural-development agenda take from the example of the Grameen Bank’s success in Bangladesh? How feasible is it to create an institution such as Grameen in Sri Lanka? A: There are already several Grameen programmes in Sri Lanka, supported by the National Development Trust Fund. You also need to create the proper legal framework to establish a bank such as Grameen in Sri Lanka. more..

Rescue effort at camp blaze was difficult: Lanka envoy

Nov 9 (TP) The labour lodging where a fire left three Sri Lankan janitors burnt to death around midnight on Tuesday, was located in a warehouse in the Industrial Area so rescue efforts took time, the Sri Lankan Ambassador here, S B Atugoda, said. The camp belonged to a cleaning company. An electrical failure led to the blaze. The three workers who died tried to escape but were trapped in the fire, according to Atugoda, who said he visited the gutted camp late on Wednesday night. more..

Sri Lanka frog radiation provides food for thought

Nov 9 (GO) In the dark of the Sri Lankan cloud forest, the researchers’ only guide was the headlamps they used to light up the night, illuminating the cold, gray mist that drifted through the trees. They looked carefully as they walked among the trunks, the beams from their headlamps casting left and right, up and down. They examined rocks and branches, leaf litter and shrubs, tree trunks, and leaves high in the canopy. more..

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Nov 9 (AT) There’s no such thing as a free lunch. That’s how the pithy American saying goes. But US Senator Patrick Leahy didn’t use that colloquialism. Instead, he put it another way. He said that the US$11 million allocated to Sri Lanka by the Millennium Fund – an American aid fund giving money to various needy countries –“is not a blank cheque”. Presenting a situation report on Sri Lanka to the US Senate, Senator Leahy made it clear that they won’t give the money unless Sri Lanka behaves as they decree. more..

Dhanapala wins Macbride Prize

Nov 9 (AT) The International Peace Bureau announced today that it will award the organisation's annual Peace Prize to Jayantha Dhanapala, "a highly-respected Sri Lankan diplomat, who has devoted his career to disarmament and global justice". The award will be made during the international seminar entitled Books or Bombs? Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development, to held in collaboration with the Institute of Peace Studies at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina from Nov. 11 12. more..

Building Peace via People’s Participation

Nov 9 (FI) “Our options are limited to unitary and federal with regard to sharing powers. Are the elections really democratic? The people, who decide on war, do not decide on participatory democracy” said The President of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka Reverend Ebanesar Joseph in his key note address at the Training of Trainers on Peace building. It was organized by the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, Muslim Aid and United Methodist Committee on Relief. more..

The Clipped Wings Of The “Peace” Dove

Nov 9 (TC) Recently Prabhakaran has described the late Thamilselvan as his Peace Dove. There have been several claims to the contrary in recent articles even in newspapers critical of the Government but, assuming we ignore those and, with the indulgence due to any deceased, accept Prabhakaran's characterization, we must then wonder at the intransigence which made him clip so firmly the wings of his dove. more..

“Eastern University has greater role to play”

Nov 9 (Fri) The Chancellor of the Eastern University Dr. T. Varagunam in his Convocation address of the university this year emphasised on a university culture in which empirical evidence is valued over opinion. The 13th General Convocation of the Eastern University was held at the auditorium of the university at Vantharumoolai, Chenkalady on 3rd November. The Chief Guest at the convocation was Prof. S.V.D. Gamini Samaranayake, Chairman, University Grant Commission. more..

Thamilselvan: A long journey to ‘Peace’

Nov 9 (Fri) Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan emerged as the leader of the LTTE’s political wing thirteen years ago with the negotiations that had taken place between the People’s Alliance government of Chandrika Kumaratunge and the LTTE in 1994. The Government delegation was led by Balapatabendi,Secretary to the former President Chandrika Kumaratunge. The delegation also comprised former Lake House Chairman and the ex-Government Agent of Jaffna, Lionel Fernando. more..

Thamilselvan and antics of peaceniks

Nov 9 (Fri) As expected the death of LTTE Political Wing boss S.P. Thamilselvan in a Sri Lanka Air Force bombing raid generated mixed reactions. The anger of the Tigers is of course hardly surprising since it was a staggering blow to their power and prestige, coming in the wake of their short-lived jubilance over the suicide attack on the SLAF base at Anuradhapura. more..

Poppy Day: Saluting our heroes

Nov 9 (Fri) On Sunday November 11 another Poppy Day will be held at the War Memorial, Colombo to commemorate the soldiers who died in both World Wars and the ongoing armed conflict in the country. A few surviving Sri Lankan World War veterans too are expected to participate in the ceremony. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake is likely to be the Chief Guest at the ceremony which will begin at 8.30 a.m., according to the Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen’s Association. more..

Strengthen security in Ranminitenna area! –JVP

Nov 9 (LT) The JVP has demanded that security in Ranminitenna area in Tissamaharamaya should be strengthened immediately to bring to a halt murders carried out by an armed gang. Making an announcement the JVP states according to the brutal manner the murders had been committed the villagers suspect that a gang of tiger terrorists is active in the area. The JVP states the suspicion of the villagers, which is reasonable, should be heeded as tiger terrorists have a brutal but cowardly history of targeting innocent civilians. more..

Budget 2008: a damp squib and a calculated hoax on the people.-Ravi K.

Nov 9 (ISL) Ravi Karunanayake, the UNP Parliamentarian addressing the Media at the UNP Media Unit today (08 Nov) quipped that the President, who is also the Finance Minister in Sri Lanka is not needed to present a Budget of this nature as it is just some statistics without any programs or plans for the development of the country or the improvement of people’s welfare. more..

Two cases of violation of media freedom

Nov 9 (ISL) The Free Media Movement is disturbed over the fact that two incidents where the freedom of media was threatened, had taken place today. At the Tissamaharamaya base hospital a group of villagers had assaulted a two-member team from Sirasa TV covering the postmortem of two villagers killed last night. The villagers assaulted journalist Wasantha Pradeep Masinghe and cameraman Waruna and their camera too was damaged. more..