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Sri Lanka exchange rate policy under fire

July 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank which has debauched the rupee since its creation in 1950, has made a strong case for a stable national currency, but a top industrialist warned that high inflation was making the policy backfire on industry. Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said steep rupee declines had expanded foreign debt and about half of the rupee value of Sri Lanka's external debt came from currency depreciation and the time was ripe to change exchange rate policy. more..

Do not take people hostage in securing Trade Union rights - President

July 6 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa while stressing that the Government is committed to solving the problems of public sector said that salaries of all Government employees are paid from public funds and that therefore it is their duty to serve the public. He recalled that not a single administration within two years in power had increased salaries by a large margin as done by the present Government. more..

Nepal-SL Air route mooted

July 6 (GDI) The possibility of connecting the two SAARC nations Sri Lanka and Nepal by air routes was focused at the discussion held between Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and the Prime Minister of Nepala, Girija Prasad Koirala when both parties met in Kathmandu. Foreign Minister Bogollagama is in the Nepali Capital to handover the formal invitation from President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Mr. Koirala to attend the 15th SAARC Summit to be in Colombo on 2-3 August 2008. more..

Sugarcane cultivation to be promoted for bio-fuel purposes

July 6 (GDI) The Government has taken steps to accelerate the cultivation of Sugarcane in a bid to save billions of rupees from the country’s annual fuel bill. Accordingly the Ministry of Supplementary Crops Development and the Sugarcane Research Institute have come out with a plan to cultivate sugarcane in the Badulla, Ampara and Moneragala districts where vast areas of land is available. more..

President pays last respects to the late Richard Pathirana

July 6 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa paid his last respect to the late Dr. Richard Pathirana at the S.L.F.P Headquarter's yesterday (04). The Former Minister held many ministerial portfolios including Public Administration, Home Affairs and Southern Development. He functioned as the Chief Opposition Whip From 1989-1994. He was the Galle District leader for the SLFP at many elections. Mr. Pathirana passed away on July 3 at the age of 70. more..

Sri Lanka wants blackout on Black July

July 6 (LNP) Sri Lanka's diplomatic missions abroad have been directed to urge their host governments not to allow front groups of Tiger guerrillas to hold Black July commemoration events in their respective countries this year. July 23 marks the 25th anniversary of anti-Tamil riots. It was sparked by a 1983 Jaffna land mine attack where 13 soldiers were killed. If the authorities do not accede to this request, a Foreign Ministry note classified as CONFIDENTIAL more..

LTTE using Indian fishing fleet as cover for arms ferrying

July 6 (LNP) With the army fighting to block the north-western coast and thereby access to the sea to the LTTE, the navy has stepped-up its ambitious efforts to thwart the Tigers from using the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet to bring in war material needed in the Vanni. As the multi-pronged army advance on the western part of the Vanni reaches a decisive stage with troops poised to take Vidattaltivu, navy headquarters has ordered a crackdown on Tamil Nadu fishing fleet poaching in Sri Lankan waters. more..

Petrol guzzlers for judges?

July 6 (LNP) Against the backdrop of the government formulating a plan to curb the import of fuel guzzling vehicles, the Justice Ministry is planning to import 27 brand new petrol-driven cars. The ministry said that tenders had been called to acquire 1600 CC cars for judicial officers. The newly appointed Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardena recently said the government would shortly introduce a set of new guidelines aimed at restricting the import of heavy fuel consuming vehicles. more..

Anarkali speaks out: Duminda denies

July 6 (LNP) Popular movie star and model Anarkalai Akarsha Jayatilleke is living in hiding since Friday after she and her mother Indrani were allegedly abducted and threatened by Western Province Provincial Councilor Duminda Silva, but the politician is denying the allegations. What began as a fairy tale romance between a handsome politician and a beautiful actress late last year and which was intended to culminate in a marriage this December began turning sour soon after the two began their relationship last December. more..

The green card kite

July 6 (LNP) The government has done itself little credit by flying a kite that some of the journalists savaged recently were looking for green cards to emigrate overseas. Green card holders have the right of permanent residence in the U.S. and that is how the description has come into the lexicon of everyday use. When he met publishers and editors after Keith Noyahr, associate editor of the then Richard Pieris Group- controlled The Nation was savaged, President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself postulated that these things may all be related to a quest for green cards. more..

Wanni facing starvation

July 6 (SAMN) The continuous closure of the vital Omanthai entry/exit point is pushing the humanitarian situation in the Wanni to breaking point with essential supplies to at least 200,000 civilians held back, government officials in the Wanni warned. The ICRC which pulled out of Omanthai on July1 after a heavy exchange of artillery and aerial fire near the northern end of the cross-over point said officials would only return to the point after security guarantees are obtained from both parties. more..

JVP sets 3 conditions to call off strike

July 6 (SAMN) JVP Parliamentarian and trade union wing leader, K.D. Lalkantha in a letter sent to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday set out three demands that include the full and immediate implementation of the 17th Amendment to reconsider the strike planned for July 10. The demands, Lalkantha has said were in response to the charge levelled against the JVP affiliated National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) that the strike was organised to hamper the government's war effort. more..

Ranil vows to help artistes

July 6 (SAMN) Leader of the main Opposition Party, Ranil Wickremesinghe vowed to find solutions to problems of artistes neglected by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. Speaking at the Eksath Kala Sandanaya meeting Saturday, Wickremesinghe pointed out that President Mahinda Rajapaksa pretends to listen to the people of the country, but never takes any action to ease their burdens. more..

Programme on HIV/AIDS for students

July 6 (SAMN) A programme to educate students on HIV/AIDS will be launched as a joint project by the Ministries of Education and Health this year.The aim of the project is to prevent youth from the deadly virus said Dr. Nimal Edirisingha, Director Aids Control Program, Health Ministry. He said that classes will be conducted in Sinhala, Tamil and English from GCE Odinary Level in all schools. more..

Govt.'s internal dissent over human rights and a presidential warning

July 6 (SL) With the international pressure on human rights violations suffocating the government, visible signs of internal dissension among the ministers surfaced last week while the opposition set the stage for a sustained public agitation campaign using the July 10 general strike as a launching pad. It is the human rights violations at a heightened pace as a direct fall out of the intensified war effort that more..

'We are united and we will win'

July 6 (SL) UNP frontliner, political affairs committee member and Badulla District Parliamentarian Lakshman Seneviratne claims that both the NCP and Sabaragamuwa elections can be won by the UNP, hands down. In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Leader, Seneviratne said that the UNP's ginger group was clamouring for reforms only with the hope of securing victory and that the leadership has shown a positive response to the proposed reforms. more..

JVP strikes while the iron is hot

July 6 (SL) One of the country's biggest advocates of workers' rights, President Mahinda Rajapakse is set to get a taste of his own medicine this coming Thursday (10), when he becomes the second president in the country's history to preside over an islandwide general strike on his watch. Given President Rajapakse's glitzy track record in canvassing for workers' rights before being crowned President, it is ironic that he of all the presidents should be the one facing the wrath of a frustrated and abandoned working class. more..

President directs ministers to stick to one portfolio

July 6 (SL) Several government ministers are up in arms following a request by President Mahinda Rajapakse for those holding more than one portfolio to resign and retain only one post. The President's decision was communicated to several ministers and deputy ministers in writing last week by President's Secretary Lalith Weeratunga. The Sunday Leader learns a dispute has arisen due to only some ministers and deputies being asked to shed their portfolios while others have been allowed to retain theirs. more..

Priority for law and order

July 6 (SO) Vowing not to leave room for any policeman to engage in bribery and corruption, the newly appointed Inspector General of Police, Jayantha Wickramaratne says that no politician can influence or interfere with any inquiry or any other matter relating to the police. The former media spokesman of the Police, IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne said that investigations to probe abductions and disappearances would not be delayed at any stage and pledged to carry out the investigations in a very transparent manner. more..

Govt stabilises prices of essential food items - Minister

July 6 (SO) The Government has taken all steps to stabilise essential food item prices, said Trade Marketing Development Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardena. The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Act will be amended soon and agreements will also be signed with essential food producers and leading production and trading companies and Associations, he said. The amendments to the Consumer Authority Act had been already sent to the Attorney General’s Department, he said. more..

Big demand for Lanka’s natural rubber

July 6 (SO) There is a tremendous demand for Sri Lanka’s natural rubber from countries such as India, USA, China and Europe and rubber prices have gone up as a result, said Chairman, Colombo Rubber Traders Association, Anura Edirisinghe. Referring to India, he said they exported raw hides during the early stage of the footwear industry but when they found that the footwear industry had developed they banned exporting raw hides. more..

Developing Colombo airport vital for SriLankan

July 6 (SO) Infrastructure development of the Colombo airport is vital for further development of SriLankan Airlines. Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P. B. Jayasundera said seventy per cent of SriLankan Airline’s revenue was spent on oil and there was little money left to manage the airline. He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka last week. more..

Inquiry into biggest cigarette racket under way

July 6 (SO) The Customs Preventive Division is conducting an inquiry into the smuggling of cigarettes from Dubai valued at Rs. 16.4 million. According to customs sources this was the biggest detection this year. Statements were recorded from the travellers whose names appeared on the packages and the air cargo company which handled the consignment, said Assistant Director, Customs Preventive Division, K. A. Dharmasena. more..

Move to deprive Chandrika of civic rights

July 6 (LB) Subterranean political moves are being made to deprive Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge, former Sri Lankan President of her civic rights, over a deal in which state land was granted for purposes of establishing a golf course to Ronnie Pieris, a confidant of the ex president. During the proceeding of a fundamental rights case asking that this land alienation be declared unlawful, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva who presided over the three-member bench berated the Urban Development Authority (UDA), more..

OPA President removed, remains defiant

July 6 (LB) The Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA) has been thrown into disarray by the adoption of a no-confidence motion against its president, Elmore Perera – who is refusing to leave the presidency. A press release signed by OPA General Secretary L. T. Kiringoda was sent to newspaper offices yesterday announcing: “The General Forum of the Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka at its Special General Meeting held on 4 July 2008, more..

MEDIA MAULING and adding insult to injury

July 6 (LB) “If a press freedom advocate from one of you is willing to run in Sabaragamuwa, we are willing to give him the chief ministership of that province.” So said UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing mediamen when he visited the assaulted journalist Namal Perera, acting Advocacy Head of the Sri Lanka Press Institute at the Apollo hospital last week. It may have been an audacious offer aimed at politicising the issue, but more..

Something amiss with human rights

July 6 (LB) When four criminals ambush a car in broad daylight near the Polhengoda army camp, brutally assault two innocent men with heavy wooden poles - and get away, never to be caught - you know something is amiss with human rights in this country. When 649 people disappear without a trace between September 1, 2006 and March 15, 2008 - you know something is amiss with human rights in this country. When murder and assassination are as common as they are - and more..

Security boost for President’s chopper entourage

July 6 (NS) The Air Force has decided to take additional security precautions in an attempt to ward off any unwarranted incidents in the future, following last week’s incident in Arugam Bay, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s support helicopter came under LTTE fire. “There are very few precautions that can be taken, such as employing tactical flying methods in the future as an additional security measure, in order to avert such incidents,” more..

Major trade union showdown inevitable!

July 6 (NS) The week to come will test the government’s resolve to the utmost as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) plans to stage a general strike on Thursday, the first such major trade union action since the now infamous July 1980 strike. There have already been comparisons between the impending trade union action and the July ’80 strike, not merely because of the month they are being staged in, but also because of fears that Thursday’s strikers would be dealt with in the same manner. more..

Where did the US$ 10 million come from?

July 6 (NS) Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, while hearing two fundamental rights applications filed against the sale of Sri Lanka Insurance Cooperation (SLIC), declared that purchasers of SLIC must explain to court as to how they received US$ 10 million from Gibraltar. The Chief Justice made this declaration when counsels for the petitioners pointed out to the court that there was no bid from Gibraltar and that some strange parties had suddenly appeared as purchasers, violating cabinet approval. more..

Govt. mum on arbitrary detentions in north

July 6 (NS) The Sri Lankan Government continues to maintain silence on Human Right Watch’s allegations about the arbitrary detention of more than 400 civilians displaced by recent fighting at a newly-established camp in Northern Province. The New York based right organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Sri Lankan Government of illegally holding civilians fleeing fighting in the north, last week. more..

PCs get govt. okay to boost revenue through higher taxes

July 6 (NS) The cash-strapped SLFP-led coalition government has directed Provincial Councils to add to their revenue through increase of business turnover tax as the Treasury intended to cut down on its contribution to run PCs. The government has warned the PCs that they shouldn’t depend on the Treasury due to the present economic crisis fuelled by spiraling and defence costs. Authoritative sources said the Western Provincial Council (WPC) would lead the way with other PCs expected to follow. more..

Anura loyalist and CBK trade words

July 6 (Island) A Bodhi pooja held at Ranpokunugama Buddhist temple recently to invoke blessings on former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has ended in a sour note with Mrs. Kumaratunga exchanging words with a close associate of the late Anura Bandaranaike. An angry Kumaratunga has accused Anura loyalist Wasantha and two Gampaha District SLFP MPs, Lasantha Alagiyawanne and Sarana Gunawardene, of carrying tales to President Mahinda Rajapaksa who she said was bent on harassing her. more..

'LTTE terrorists shouldn’t be allowed to exploit innocent plantation workers'

July 6 (Island) LTTE terrorists and their sympathizers are operating from certain hill country estates and other safe-houses as evident by the massive haul of explosives unearthed in Nuwara Eliya recently, senior DIG (Ranges 11) Gamini Nawaratne said. "Peace-loving people should not fall prey to terrorists whose objective is to destroy innocent lives and property", he said. Senior DIG Nawaratne was addressing the 42nd General Meeting of the Nuwara Eliya District Planters’ Association (NEDPA) more..

Pillayan ready to make way for Karuna

July 6 (ST) Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan better known as “Col. Karuna,” the renegade Tiger guerrilla eastern leader, who served a jail term in Britain, returned to Sri Lanka on Business Class in a Sri Lankan Airlines flight on Thursday accompanied by four detectives of Scotland Yard. Soon after UL 504 touched down at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Karuna, who flew under a different name, was whisked away in a vehicle convoy. He did not clear immigration or subject himself for Customs inspection. more..

Rice Bowl: A rich harvest for troops

July 6 (ST) The liberation of what is known as the “Rice Bowl” of this district was completed on Monday with the troops capturing the area of 120 sq. kilometres, according to military officials who took us on a conducted tour of the area. The Sunday Times photographer Sanka Vidanagama took part in a conducted tour arranged by the Media Centre for National Security on Tuesday. We saw clear signs of fierce battles. more..

Storm clouds over SAARC summit

July 6 (ST) A volley of probing questions by Muralidhar Reddy, the Colombo correspondent for India's national newspaper Hindu, brought some revealing answers from defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella. This week's brutal attack on journalist Namal Perera and British High Commission staffer Mahendra Ratnaweera, the journalist noted, were not isolated ones. Perera is acting Manager, Media Advocacy and Media Freedom at the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) and Ratnaweera, Political Officer at the High Commission. more..

Mihin staff ‘grounded’ without pay

July 6 (ST) More than 200 employees of the grounded government-owned budget carrier Mihin Lanka are up in arms, saying they have not received their salaries and that such basic perks as company transport have been stopped. Mihin employees say they are sadly disillusioned by a company that had promised its future staff a secure and bright future, based on the rosy picture painted by the airline’s founder and chief executive officer, Sajin de Vass Gunawardena. more..

Sri Lanka says air force bombs rebel position; new northern battles kill 20

July 6 (AP) Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed a Tamil Tiger rebel position in their northern stronghold Sunday, a day after 19 rebels and a soldier were killed in a new round of ground fighting, the military said. A defense ministry statement said the target was a rebel gathering point in northern Kilinochchi district. It did not give details of casualties or damage caused by the raid. more..

Sri Lanka activists organising media boycott of SAsia summit: report

July 6 (AFP) Media activists in Sri Lanka are organising a boycott of the upcoming South Asian summit in Colombo in protest at escalating attacks against journalists, a report said Sunday. The Lakbima News weekly said several media outlets had agreed in principle not to cover the August 1 summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), without naming the groups involved. more..

Iranian cinematic gems here

July 7 (LG) Sri Lankan moviegoers have a rare opportunity to enjoy a treat of world renowned Iranian cinema here in Colombo. Starting from July 2, the Cultural Section of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran screens Iranian films weekly every Wednesday at their auditorium at No. 06 Sir Ernest de Silva Mawatha, Colombo 7. Screening starts at 5.30 P.M on all days and on a first come first served basis. The entrance to see the movie will be free of charge. more..

The last reel

July 7 (LG) Sri Lankan cinema has had a checkered history. It enjoyed its heyday in the 1970s under the multi-faceted film development initiatives of the State Film Corporation (SFC). Those measures led to record growth in annual cinema attendance, climbing from 30 million in 1972 to an astounding 74.4 million in 1979 – a quantum leap in audience attendance witnessed in a period of just seven years. Such a box office achievement was considered unprecedented for the world film industry. more..

European Diaspora visits Srilanka

July 7 (LG) A delegation of European Diaspora visited Sri Lanka from 22.06.08 to 28.06.08. They met HE the President of SriLanka - Mahinda Rajapakse and discussed the current political situation in the country: land matters in the Ampara district, Eastern Development, Problems of the Jaffna Muslim IDPs living at Puttalam, resettlement of the Internally Displaced People and communal amity among all three communities. Prof. TissaVitharana, Chairman APRC, briefed them the current developments in the APRC process. more..

Call to reduce govt. expenditure: President must set example first

July 7 (LG) While the LSSP has often been identified as a party that did not fail to criticise government wastage, it was surprising to read former LSSPer Minister Athauda Seneviratne being criticized – quite rightly I think - for taking a large retinue for what appears to be a conference of insignificance, in expensive Europe. The Minister’s delegation was said to include his son as well – a strange disease that seems to be spreading uncontrollably among politicians with a hold on the government. more..

Revival of the East: Challenges and Opportunities

July 7 (LG) Thank you for inviting me today to participate in this distinguished panel. The development and stabilization of the Eastern Province is an extremely important challenge – and opportunity – for the government and people of Sri Lanka. It is, likewise, a top priority for our Embassy, as I remarked at the dedication earlier this week of the new bridge at Arugam Bay that was funded by USAID. We look forward to working closely with the Sri Lankan Government, both more..

The politics of war!

July 7 (LG) Due to bankruptcy, the government has to depend on war to retain power - to remain in power. It is clear that war is the excuse for all social ailments. War is necessary to do politics in the country. Today, every issue in the country is associated with war. The government cites the war as the excuse for all issues ranging from cost of living to the appointment of a Constitutional Council. The Buddhist Sinhala extremists need the war to do their politics in the country. more..

I had a dream...

July 7 (LG) The current plaintive plea of journalists of Sri Lanka to the government to identify the forces that are hounding and hunting them and save them, is very well described in the trite Sinhala saying: Horage ammagen pena ahanawa (asking the rogue’s mother who has mystic powers to identify the rogue). SOS messages are being sent out desperately but it appears that only the submarine that is attempting to sink the ship of the scribes, can receive and respond to save the souls of these ladies and gentlemen in peril. more..

Fall out of Indian visit and the BJP factor

July 7 (LG) The hushed up details behind the visit of the three high-powered Indian officials to Sri Lanka that came out in the open have caused a huge controversy with its impact felt worldwide. A greater part of the details of the hush-hush meetings held between the Indian and the Sri Lankan officials were revealed to the people by The Sunday Leader and its sister paper Irudina. President Mahinda Rajapakse, who during the tenure of President J.R. Jayewardene insulted the Indian Peace Keeping Force that landed in the island to fight against the LTTE, more..

Mendis' challenge begins now

July 7 (CI) Lord knows how they classify Ajantha Mendis in other areas of the world but round these parts, people of a certain vintage will most likely refer to him as a finger bowler. These were types found mostly in Karachi in the 1970s, tennis ball in hand and an unresponsive tarmac road or cement pitch to bowl on, odds stacked against them. The ball was squeezed in the kind of grip Jack Iverson had, or for locals, similar to how you would strike the striker on a carrom board. more..

The old hand shows how it's done

July 7 (CI) The subcontinent has generally had the problem, almost impossible to prove but privately acknowledged, of over-aged players in age-group cricket. Conversely, it allows players to stay on beyond their sell-by date. On Sunday, at the National Stadium in Karachi, Sanath Jayasuriya - 39 years and six days old - turned both concepts on their head as he plundered 125 off 114 balls. How is it that Jayasuriya can play the young man's game at 39? Especially since his game relies on instinct and hand-eye co-ordination? more..