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Private sector demands pay hike

Sep 19 (SAMN) Private sector employees are to launch a massive islandwide strike if the government fails to intervene to increase their salaries. JVP Parliamentarian and Chairman, Inter Company Employees Union (ICEU), Wasantha Samarasinghe said if President Mahinda Rajapakse remains silent over their request to mediate with the private sector employers to obtain a higher salary for its employees, private sector unions will launch a massive strike crippling the country's economy. more..

MR, Gota vow to crack down on Karuna

Sep 19 (SAMN) With the Karuna faction continuing to discourage support for other Tamil parties in the east, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa have virtually decided to crackdown on the armed outfit to ensure that normalcy prevails. The assurance to deal with the Karuna faction came at the National Security Council meeting on Monday when EPDP leader and Minister Douglas Devananda insisted on the need to crackdown on Karuna following attacks on his political members in the east. more..

Charges against Goldquest directors dropped

Sep 19 (LBO) Prosecutors in the Philippines have dropped charges against Goldquest directors involved in an alleged investment scam, media reports from the country said. Bayani Vargas, Presiding Judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, has dropped a criminal charge against Malaysian Vijay Eswaran, Joseph Bismark, Tagumpay Kintanar, Donna Marie Impson and Kurt Rocco Rinck., directors of GoldQuest International, GMAnews of the Philippines said. more..

Govt. refutes rights violation charges

Sep 19 (DN) Refuting allegations that Sri Lanka was hit by a human rights crisis that requires a monitoring mission from the UN, the Government delegation at the sixth session of the Human Right Council in Geneva emphasised that Sri Lanka was committed to investigate all Human Right violations. An event titled “The Human Right situation in Sri Lanka” was organised on the sidelines of the sixth sessions of the Human Right Council by more..

‘Latheef’s contribution to music is immense’

Sep 19 (DN) Demise of T. F. Latheef removes from our midst a veteran broadcasting personality who has rendered invaluable services for the development of musical programmes in the SLBC, states Presidential Advisor A. H. M. Azwer in a condolence message. The message: “I knew Latheef for over 40 years. He has helped to enrich musical programmes from the old Radio Ceylon days up to the present SLBC. more..

Forces brief Govt. group

Sep 19 (DM) The Army, Navy and Air Force briefed the government’s parliamentary group on Monday on the recent military victories in the Northern and Eastern Provinces with special focus on the LTTE targets destroyed during MiG aircraft attacks. Three officials from each of the forces made the two-and-a-half hour presentation in the presence of the three commanders to a thundering applause by government members. more..

Don’t expect quality input from unhappy teachers: JVP

Sep 19 (DM) The JVP yesterday urged the government to sort out the salary problems of teachers since their job satisfaction was key to make quality contributions towards the country’s education sector. JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa told parliament that five teacher trade unions that refrained from marking the GCE Advanced Level answer scripts, had now suspended their action following a Supreme Court ruling. more..

Indo-Sri Lanka set for greater bilateral cooperation

Sep 19 (F2F) Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, has expressed hope that the outstanding issues relating to the operationalisation of TRQ of vanaspati including bakery shortening and margarine and import of marble and copper from Sri Lanka to India would be negotiated soon to further increase the Indo-Sri Lankan bilateral trade. Observing that the bilateral trade has increased from US $ 1497 million in 2004-05 to US $ 2590 million in 2005-06 and more..

Bombs found in Sri Lankan capital

Sep 19 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan police said Wednesday that they had found a dozen bombs hidden in a building in the capital Colombo and arrested two people in connection with the incident. "We did a search operation in Kotahena Jampettah Street Tuesday night and found the bombs hidden in a building," a police spokesman said. The police said that LTTE rebels may have transported the bombs to the capital. more..

Text messages help get tsunami alert out

Sep 19 (IRIN) Mohideen Ajeemal said his voice cracked with panic and he literally turned white when he received a 20-word text message on his mobile phone in the late afternoon of 12 September. "Tsunami warning for Sri Lanka north, east and south coast. People asked to move away from coast - Disaster Management Centre," it read. The warning was given shortly after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake had struck off the southern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. more..

Tamils, Muslims plead against 'unitary' state

Sep 19 (IANS) Sri Lankan Tamil and Muslim intellectuals are urging President Mahinda Rajapakse to avoid the 'unitary' label as Sri Lanka braces for a new power sharing formula for the island's northeast. In an open letter to the president, the intellectuals have urged him to keep away from both 'unitary' and 'federal' labels in any devolution package so that no community feels offended. more..

Sri Lankan Kirinda Tsunami project nominated for architecture award

Sep 19 (NNN) Sri Lanka’s tsunami reconstruction project in Kirinda has been selected as a finalist for the 2007 CNBC International Property Awards in Las Vegas in November. The project is organized by Colliers International and the project was previously honoured at the MIPIM real estate awards in Cannes in March where it won the Best Residential Development award and received a Special Tribute award. more..

Four dead in firefights in Sri Lanka north -military

Sep 19 (Reuters) At least three Tamil Tiger rebels and a soldier were killed in clashes in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the military said, as renewed civil war grinds on. The fighting in the northern districts of Vavuniya and Jaffna comes amid a rash of land and sea battles, ambushes and air raids between the military and LTTE guerrillas in which thousands have been killed since early 2006. more..

Sri Lankan human rights probes so slow they may not be resolved, says monitoring panel

Sep 19 (AP) A presidential commission investigating alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka's separatist conflict has moved so slowly it may not resolve any cases before it is to be dissolved in a few weeks, an independent panel said. The government has come under increasing international criticism for a series of high profile killings under unexplained circumstances amid a new wave of fighting in the past two years, more..

Sri Lanka tea firms brace for new wage demand

Sep 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka's plantations companies face another crippling wage hike less than a year after giving one as politically powerful labour unions pressurize the government which needs their support to pass the forthcoming budget in parliament. Stock market analysts said another wage increase would increase pressure on listed regional plantations companies (RPCs), especially those plagued with low margins. more..

Central bank says narrow trade gap is good for rupee

Sep 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank says a recent fall of the rupee is not in line with a narrowing of the trade gap, as the rupee dipped to a new low Wednesday but closed firmer. The bank said exports have grown 15.8 percent and the trade gap had narrowed to 1,806 million dollars from January to July 2007 and the current account deficit had fallen to 478 million dollars from 786 million dollars up to June. more..

Sri Lanka opposition accuses govt of misusing public funds

Sep 20 (LBO) Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Wednesday accused the government of illegally channeling state funds to a new budget airline and a bank. He said the right of the Parliament to control public finances is a fundamental principle of democracy. The transfer of funds to set up the new state-owned budget airline Mihin Lanka and for the Lankaputhra Development Bank was illegal as they had not been approved by parliament, he said. more..

Pandemonium as Basil becomes MP

Sep 20 (BBC) Pandemonium broke out in Sri Lanka parliament as another brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil, sworn-in as a national list MP on Wednesday. He was appointed as a parliamentarian by the ruling UPFA for the vacancy created by the sudden death of the non-cabinet minister, Anwar Ismail. The former senior Presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa is described by analysts as the political strategist in Rajapaksa administration. more..

CGF Conference to decide 2014 Commonwealth Games venue

Sep 20 (GDI) The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) will announce the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games from Colombo where the CGF General Assembly will take place in November. Announcing this, National Olympic Committee Chairman Hemasiri Fernando said that the five-day general assembly which takes place from November 5 to 10, will be a huge boost to reinforce Sri Lanka’s image as a top place for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE). more..

'If we have to go forward, we cannot stop appreciation of US Dollar against rupee'

Sep 20 (GDI) “If we want to stop the depreciation of rupee against the US Dollar, the country will have to go back to the system existed in 2002-2003 where no one is granted jobs, development process is on a abrupt holt and the North and East handed over to terrorists,” said the Minister of Trade, Marketing Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Bandula Gunawardana. more..

UNP moves proposal condemning Mervyn Silva’s conduct

Sep 20 (LD) The United National Party today moved a proposal condemning the conduct of Labour Minister Dr. Mervyn Silva. Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera handed over the relevant document to the Secretary General of Parliament in the morning. The Secretary General has been requested to include the proposal in the agenda of the House, the UNP said, also with a call to treat it as a full proposal under Standing Order Number 78. more..

Naufer claims senior policeman implicated him in Judge’s murder

Sep 20 (LD) Well-known underworld figure Mohammed Niyaz Naufer alias ‘Potta Naufer’ has claimed that he had been implicated in the murder of High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya at the behest of a senior police officer. Naufer made the statement when a case filed by a Colombo shop owner Mohamed Gous Suleiman came up before the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court today (September 19th). more..

EU Colombo Office clarifies about EU-Ampara partnership

Sep 20 (AT) There have been some misunderstandings concerning the Memorandum that the European Commission signed last week with the Ampara Government Agent concerning the “EU-Ampara Partnership”. This Press Release clarifies these points as raised in the media. The EU-Ampara Partnership is an ongoing programme of Euro 78 million for post-tsunami reconstruction and housing reconstruction for conflict affected communities. more..

"I am not a Sinhala chauvinist but a Sri Lankan nationalist" - Mahinda Rajapakse

Sep 20 (AT) He recently hit the news with a quick military victory that wrested control of the eastern provinces of his island nation from the LTTE. But Mahinda Rajapakse is not a man in a hurry. The Sri Lankan President knows exactly where he wants to go, and in order to get there he marches to the beat of his own distant drummer. He does not play to the gallery and the concepts of PR and image-making and “positioning” are alien to him. more..

Will Diaspora Tamils protest liberate Eelam Tamils?

Sep 20 (IL) The epicenter of the struggle of the Eelam Tamils for liberation has always been the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is now, however, the turn of Tamils living in the western world to take up the struggle, although the struggle has been in the hands of the Diaspora Tamils, the Tamils of Indian origin now have an obligation to raise their voices in favour of Eelam cause. more..

Basil 'committed' to serve Sri Lanka

Sep 20 (BBC) Sri Lanka's newly appointed parliamentarian, Basil Rohana Rajapaksa, pledged to work together with the government leaders to develop Sri Lanka.In an exclusive interview with BBC Sandeshaya after swearing-in as a national list MP, Basil Rajapaksa rejected accusations of nepotism and corruption. He was appointed as a parliamentarian by the ruling UPFA for the vacancy created by the sudden death of the non-cabinet minister, Anwar Ismail. more..

Lanka voice in canal row

Sep 20 (TT) In the sound and fury over the Sethusamudram project, the concerns of one affected party seem to have been consistently ignored by Delhi. An environmental study that Sri Lanka presented to India in May has said dredging operations as well as subsequent passage of ships through the deepened Palk Strait channel could have a “negative impact” on the island nation’s maritime environment. more..

Are sections of the media losing their credibility?

Sep 20 (TW) The media in Sri Lanka is divided into two categories, the state owned and the privately owned ones. The state owned media has lost all its credibility and by no stretch of imagination can anyone gather any news about the affairs of the country. This carries government and commercial advertisements with a minimum of foreign news and doctored local news. more..

Sri Lanka auto firm gifts flashy wheels to sexy Malinga

Sep 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka's paceman Lasith Malinga, dubbed the sexist player during the World Cup, is to get a customised motorbike from Japanese manufacturer, Yamaha, an official in Colombo said Wednesday. Yamaha's local agents, Associated Motorways Plc, plans to gift a 125 cc bike to Malinga who was voted the World Cup's sexiest player for his bleached hair, eyebrow ring and tattooed biceps. more..

Minister block queries over pension fund losses; new questions emerge

Sep 20 (LBO) A government minister blocked reporters from questioning officials about real losses made by a pension fund of private sector workers, as disturbing new information about its management in state hands continued to emerge. The Employees' Provident Fund (EPF), Sri Lanka's largest pension fund, is estimated to have made a 37 billion rupee real loss in 2006, compared to an inflation index to which the country's workers wages are indexed. more..

Tsunami Alert Systems Working - Too Well

Sep 20 (IPS) A tsunami alert, last week, sent thousands of Sri Lankans living along the coasts of this island nation fleeing inland, but authorities were exultant that the early warning systems installed after the disastrous Dec. 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami were working. "The early warning systems worked perfectly," said Dhammika Wijeyasooriya, deputy director (emergency operations) at the National Disaster Management Centre (DMC). more..

Minister serves generous helpings for CEB engineers

Sep 20 (LD) About 350 engineers in the Ceylon Electricity Board have increased their salaries by 20-60 percent on the approval of the Minster of Power and Energy, John Seneviratne, Internal sources say. Accordingly, the salary of an engineer will be increased at least by Rs.100,000. The pay raise is reportedly added to this month’s salary as an allowance. more..

'If 2005 elections were fair, 5th Executive President would be Ranil'

Sep 20 (LD) The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Mahajana) Wing convener, Mangala Samaraweera seconded Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi proposal to set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to inquire on the alleged deal between the President and the LTTE, today (September 20th). Many a heated word was exchanged as the newly sworn Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa harshly interrupted the speech. more..

Govt. Ministers are obliged to answer questions raised in parliament- Speaker

Sep 20 (LD) “Government Ministers are obliged to answer the questions raised in parliament. They have no right to evade them. I order the government direct their immediate attention to this matter,” said the Speaker today. The Speaker addressed the House thus after the Deputy Aviation Minister, Sarath Goonaratne evaded questions by Parliamentarians Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Ravi Karunanayake on Mihin Air (Pvt.) Ltd. more..

Service extensions for Navy and Army Commanders

Sep 20 (GDI) One year service extensions have been granted for the Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka and the Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda yesterday (19), by President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. According to the Media Center for National Security (MCNS), Vice Admiral Karannagoda's extension comes in to affect from 22nd November 2007. more..

5% growth expected in coconut exports

Sep 20 (GDI) A 5 per cent annual growth is expected in the coconut exports sector with its improved and expanding cultivation. According to the Ministry, this growth is expected to be an outcome of its 5 year development plan. Meanwhile the Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB) has estimated that this development plan will require Rs.705 million. Under the project the Board plans to initiate coconut re-cultivation and new planting of 20,000 acres. more..

Govt removes tax on milk powder

Sep 20 (GDI) The Government has taken steps to abolished taxes on milk powder, incurring a loss of Rs.3 billion annually, to afford relief to the masses. This was announced by Minister of Trade Commerce and Consumer Affairs Bandula Gunawardane yesterday addressing the media. Minister Gunawardana stated that extensive discussions on this issue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and leading milk powder importers were held and the importers have pledged their cooperation towards this measure. more..

Rs 10 billion spent on subsidies - Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya

Sep 20 (GDI) Rs 10 billion out of the expected state revenues of the budget has been spent for providing subsidies to the public and the financial bills presented to the Parliament do not burden them. This was stated by the Minister of State for Revenue and Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya yesterday(19) at the parliament. more..

Sri Lanka tour operator association refreshes officers

Sep 20 (LBO) The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) has appointed a fresh set of officers, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said. SLAITO is made up of destination management companies who service tourists in Sri Lanka. Foreign travel companies and charter operators who are principals of the local members are admitted as associate members. Currently there are 89 member companies in the Association. more..

Sri Lankan senior planter warns of industry losing allure

Sep 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka's plantations are warning that the sector is losing its appeal to serious investors at a time when fresh capital is urgently needed to replant crops and modernise factories. "The long term stability of the plantation industry needs the continued involvement of strong business establishments," said Kavi Seneviratne, chairman of the Planters' Association of Ceylon. more..

Flintoff ruled out of Sri Lanka one-dayers

Sep 20 (CI) Andrew Flintoff will miss England's one-day tour to Sri Lanka and will return to the UK to receive specialist assessment on his troublesome left ankle. His place in the squad will be taken by Chris Tremlett. Although Flintoff played in all five of England's matches in the ICC World Twenty20 he was clearly in discomfort and was almost hobbling in the last game against India. more..

Cab Driver Averts Attempted Murder

Sep 20 (AN) Five Sri Lankan men are suspected of attempting to murder a Saudi taxi driver in his 30s, the daily Al-Madinah reported yesterday. The victim was found unconscious and bleeding on a Jeddah street on Monday. The Saudi man said that the men had robbed him and then decided to kill him to cover their tracks. The victim said he escaped by faking death. more..

Sri Lankan government suspected of kidnapping 1,000 people

Sep 20 (Asahi) Earlier this year, Suyambu Nadar Ketheeswaran parked his bus 300 meters from his home and called his wife to say he was coming home. Shortly after, he disappeared. Ketheeswaran and his brother are two of about 1,000 people, many of them ordinary citizens, who have gone missing since last year in this war-torn country. There is a growing suspicion that government security organizations are involved in the disappearance cases. more..

Colombo pressured to set up monitor group

Sep 20 (Dawn) Amidst continued disappearances, abductions and killings, pressure is mounting from human rights activists and other groups for the government to allow UN observers into the country. The European Union last week joined in to call for the setting up of a United Nations human rights monitoring group in Sri Lanka, resulting in a prompt reaction by the government which immediately began discussions with UNHRC members in Geneva seeking support against the move. more..

Prabhakaran in hot water over son

Sep 20 (LNP) An internal power struggle has surfaced in the LTTE because of the terror outfit`s ailing supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran`s eagerness to appoint his eldest 22-year-old son Charles Anthony Seelan as his successor, an Indian newspaper reported today. Prabhakaran, 52, is in a hurry to promote his son because he is no longer in the best of health. He is reportedly afflicted by hypertension and diabetes, The Times of India said. more..

War cost 'Rs. 50 billion this year'

Sep 20 (SAMN) The government has spent over Rs. 50 billon to procure arms and ammunition for the present military exercise during this year alone, Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Parliament yesterday. Mr. Siyambalapitiya was speaking during an adjournment motion moved by JVP MP Piyasiri Wijenayake demanding that a monthly pay hike of Rs. 3000 be given to public servants and that steps be taken to improve the living conditions of private sector employees and estate workers. more..

Lanka’s rich cultural heritage on show

Sep 20 (SAMN) The National Literary Arts Festival 2007, which recognises outstanding literary creations in Sinhala, Tamil and English would be held at Sri Palee MV in Horana from September 20 to 23, heralding a exponential revival in Sri Lankan Literature. The inauguration is scheduled for September 20 at 3 p.m. under the patronage of Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake and Minister for Cultural Affairs Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane. more..

'MPs given public servant accomodation'

Sep 20 (SAMN) JVP yesterday charged in Parliament that Ministers and MPs were given state houses that were meant for public servants. The party came up with this charge when its MP Wasantha Piyatissa questioned about the houses provided to public servants during oral question time in the House yesterday. Earlier Minister of Home Affairs and Public Administration Karu Jayasuriya mentioned that houses had been provided to Ministers P. Dayaratne, Ferial Ashraff and A. L. M. Athauallh. more..

Students, VC still in 'deadlock'

Sep 20 (SAMN) A discussion held between the Students’ Union of the Medical Faculty of the Rajarata University and the Vice Chancellor ended without an agreement yesterday, A. Punchihewa, Senior Assistant Registrar of the Medical Faculty of Rajarata University told the Daily News. He said that the Students’ Union demand more hostel and other facilities. more..

USAID Provides US$14 million Food Donation through WFP for Conflict -Displaced Sri Lankans

Sep 20 (USE) The first consignment of food assistance from the USAID, valued at US$5 million, was handed over to the Government by United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake at a function held today at the government warehouse complex at Orugodawatte. This forms part of a total food donation of US$14 million through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), with another shipment valued at an additional US$9 million set to arrive later in the year. more..