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State of the art railway station a boon to disabled

Nov 10 (DM) The Omanthi railway station, being built with sophisticated technology to cater to disabled people will be completed by the end of this year, a Social Services Ministry source said yesterday. The railway station, located 14km north of Vavuniya, began construction in June this year and is being built to international standards. “The foundation of the railway station has already been laid and will be completed before December 31,” more..

LTTE’s EP leader Ram recaptured in search operations

Nov 10 (LP) The LTTE Eastern province leader Ram, who had escaped from Army, was arrested yesterday. The Army nabbed him following a massive search operation conducted in the Minneriya jungles. Ram had been under interrogation in an army camp in the Giritale Area in Polonnaruwa, when he fled last Saturday. With the escape of the LTTE Eastern Province leader, the Army commenced a search operation. more..

EU says no move to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka

Nov 10 (DM) The European Union (EU) says there is no move to impose any form of sanctions on Sri Lanka over alleged human rights abuses but on the contrary the EU is keen to maintain constructive dialogue with the Sri Lankan authorities. Dismissing reports that a travel ban might be imposed on Sri Lankan military and other government officials from visiting EU countries, a top EU official in Brussels said there is no discussion underway in the EU to that effect. more..

Raggers, non-raggers clash,one hospitalised

Nov 10 (Island) Two student factions of the Ruhuna University clashed yesterday. One undergraduate was hospitalised. The injured undergraduate was a first year student of the Commerce and Management Faculty of the University. Police were deployed to prevent further clashes, University sources said. Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Susirith Mendis said that this was the period where student batches to some faculties were being admitted. more..

Letter from IMF Managing Director to HRW

Nov 10 (RW) Dear Mr. Adams: Thank you for your letter dated October 14, 2009 in which you outlined your concerns about the situation in Sri Lanka and the support that the IMF is providing to the economy of this country. The IMF shares your concerns about the humanitarian situation and before addressing a number of detailed issues, I would first like to provide a broader consideration about the general context. more..

Another ‘palace’ being built by President’s relative – UNP

Nov 10 (Island) Another palace was being built in Seeduwa by a relation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the UNP’s Badulla Chief Organiser Harin Fernando said yesterday. He said that journalists should visit the new Palace, but they risk getting assaulted and remanded under Emergency Regulations. "Three journalists from the ‘Lanka’ Newspaper, who investigated the construction of the Deniyaya Palace, also by a relation of President Rajapaksa, were locked up in a cell", more..

Alavi calls for workers to rise against strikers

Nov 10 (Island) Veteran Trade Unionist and Vice President of Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya Alavi Mowlana yesterday called upon the working class to congregate opposite the Fort Railway station at 2.00 p.m. today to express solidarity against those who were conspiring with internal and external forces to destabilize the country. "We are not worried about the Presidential or Parliamentary elections as all know the result is a foregone conclusion. more..

IMF’s 2.6-B dollar loan deal in peril if opposition wins

Nov 10 (IPS) With parliamentary and presidential elections just a few months away, conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in an ongoing 2.6-billion U.S. dollar loan facility could be swept aside if Sri Lanka’s opposition captured power. "We will not allow the IMF to set conditions," said Kabir Hashim, a former education minister and frontline Parliamentarian from the main opposition UNP. more..

Agriculture, fishing revive in former war zone

Nov 10 (LBO) Farmers and fishermen have been among the main borrowers under a Sri Lankan government loan scheme to revive economic activity in the former northern war zone, the Central Bank said. It said in a statement that a total of 1,875 loans valued at 264 million rupees has been disbursed under the 'Vadakkin Wasantham' (Awakening North) loan scheme by the state-owned People’s Bank and Bank of Ceylon. more..

Ranil puts forth conditions for endorsing Fonseka's candidature

Nov 10 (LNP) TNA should accept Fonseka s stand on Tamil issuesClose on the heels of the newly formed UNP-led United National Alliance's approval for Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Sarath Fonseka s nomination as its candidate at the next presidential election, UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday put forth conditions for endorsing his (Gen. Fonseka's) candidature. more..

Sri Lanka October tourist arrivals up 7 pct yr/yr

Nov 10 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals rose 7 percent in October from a year ago, the fifth straight monthly rise since the end of a decades-long war in May, the tourism board said on Tuesday. October tourist arrivals to the Indian Ocean island nation rose to 37,575, up from 35,103 a year ago. "We will see arrivals reaching at least the 2008 level after sharp drop in the first five months," more..

Lanka bans four Indian drug companies

Nov 10 (EB) The Sri Lankan Health Ministry has banned four Indian pharmaceutical companies for two years for supplying sub-standard and adulterated drugs, some with plastic and glass pieces in them. Wanninayake told Express on Monday, that the companies blacklisted were Belco Pharma (manufactuer of Pethidine), U-Medical Laboratories (makers of Hydrocortizone Sodium Succinate), Kilitch Drugs India Ltd (makers of Cerfuroxine) and Mercury Laboratories (makers of Promethacin). more..

Lanka to open more rehabilitation units for ex-child soldiers

Nov 10 (IE) In a bid to expedite rehabilitation of 11,000 former LTTE child soldiers, Sri Lanka has decided to open seven more centres for them apart from the existing 14. Seven more centres will come up for the rehabilitation of LTTE child soldiers, who are in the state protective custody following their surrender before the Sri Lankan security forces, an official statement said. more..

Health management assistants stage protest

Nov 11 (CT) Health management assistants in state hospitals are staging a protest against their integration into the state management assistants service. Management assistants in Colombo National Hospital as well as those in hospitals in Ragama, Badulla and Kandy and IDH Hospital in Angoda are engaged in the agitation. They had previously staged a demonstration at Lipton Circus in Colombo. more..

Sri Lanka at "moderate risk" of external debt distress: IMF

Nov 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka has a "moderate risk" of external debt distress over the 2009-14 period, an International Monetary Fund staff analysis has said. The analysis, released by the multilateral lender, said slower export growth and a possible further sharp depreciation of the rupee could worsen the debt and debt service ratios. The analysis said the government must observe fiscal restraint to mitigate the risk and offset a decline in exports and more..

Sri Lanka gets latest Microsoft Windows operating system

Nov 11 (LBO) Microsoft launched its latest operating system (OS), Windows 7, in Sri Lanka promising easier use with more functions. "The new OS provides users with an experience that is above and beyond anything they have used before," Ken Wye Saw, Vice-President, Microsoft Asia Pacific said at the launch. "The product is a result of bridging customers and technology." Windows 7 will offer its users an easier operating system which more..

“Is this the democracy of filthy government?” is legal declares SC

Nov 11 (LT) “Is this the democracy of filthy Rajapakse government?” is within the framework of law and the right of expression of a citizen is quite broad declared Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court made these observations at a trial held today (10th). A legally constructed office of the JVP maintained in relation to the Southern PC election was destroyed by thugs of the UPFA on 18th September. more..

Nandana Gunatileke warns of an Army coup

ONov 11 (LT) Minister of Tourism Nandana Gunatilleke who resigned from NFF and its National Organizer Kamal Deshapriya when they met their party members in Kalutara area have talked about an Army coup that could take place in the future. He has said Gen. Sarath Fonseka might contest the presidential election and if he comes to power there could be a military government like in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar. more..

Lankan human smuggler’s ties with Chennai

Nov 11 (EB) Kuhendrarajah Sanjeev alias Alex, who spoke for 250-odd Sri Lankan Tamil illegal immigrants detained in Indonesia and was dubbed as an LTTE-sponsored human smuggler by the Sri Lankan authorities, said he made a lot of money working and doing business in Chennai. Alex told 'The Australian' that he started a small business in Chennai in 2006, and that was when the Sri Lankan government got the idea that he was a people-smuggler plying his trade from a regular office. more..

South Africa and Sri Lanka to enhance bilateral relations

Nov 11 (AA) South Africa and Sri Lanka are to strengthen bilateral relations during International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane's two-day visit to that country. According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the visit on Wednesday is within the context of deepening South-South cooperation and strengthening bilateral relations between South Africa and Sri Lanka. more..

Ban Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka urges

Nov 11 (TA) Officials in Sri Lanka are urging Australia to ban the militant group the Tamil Tigers and strike a clear distinction between genuine refugees and economic opportunists. As Foreign Minister Stephen Smith flew to Singapore following talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, aimed at stopping the flow of boats, officials in Colombo told The Australian Sri Lankan people fleeing their country did not need protection. more..

IOM works with govt, partners to return IDPs

Nov 11 (IOM) In close coordination with the government and the UN, IOM has scaled up its logistics and transport operations in the past month to help return some 90,000 IDPs from the Menik Farms displacement camp to their home districts across northern and eastern Sri Lanka. The returns, in hundreds of IOM-chartered buses, were funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Australia (AusAID), and at one point reached 4,000 people in a single day. more..

Tamil politicians promise to help developments in North & East

Nov 11 (IL) Tamil politicians promised to help and contribute to nation building programmes conducted by the government, when they met President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 9th November at Temple Trees. Addressing the gathering, President said after eliminating Tamil Tiger terrorism from entire country, it is the duty of all to shed caste, racial, regional and all other differences and contribute to nation building. more..

Philippines solution to Sri Lankan asylum-seeker crisis

Nov 11 (TA) The Rudd government is exploring plans to sail the Customs vessel Oceanic Viking to a detention centre in The Philippines or to Christmas Island as hopes fade for a deal to end the three-week standoff. As the impasse between officials and the 78 Tamils aboard the boat dragged into its third week, sources told The Australian the government was preparing contingency plans to move the boat by Friday. more..

Sri Lanka state-sector unions to work to rule

Nov 11 (Reuters) A united Sri Lankan opposition on Tuesday put its weight behind state sector trade unions which are going on a five-day work-to-rule in their push for higher pay. State power, water, oil and port workers will not work outside assigned duties and set working hours from Wednesday after negotiations broke down as the government tries to slash spending to meet the terms of an IMF loan deal. more..

Debrief News - 10.11.2009

Sri Lanka banks on tourism to lift image

Nov 11 (National) When S Kalaiselvam, the head of the Sri Lanka tourism development authority, hits full steam with his investor pitch, it feels like the civil war-stricken swathes of his island country are set to leave the rest of the world’s holiday hotspots trailing in the dust in a matter of months. A string of islands in the north-west, once far too close to the stronghold of the rebel Tamil Tigers, will become “like the Maldives”, he said, more..

Resettlement of Displaced Population needs extra support

Nov 11 (NPC) The temple bells were ringing. There was a Hindu religious ritual taking place. This was the village of Velanai, one of the small islands off the Jaffna coast. IDPs from the Vavuniya camp had been sent back there. What we we saw was a heart warming sight. The children of Velanai and the returnee IDP children were together, being fed by the village temple. We witnessed this while on a north-south linkage programme over the weekend. more..

India unhappy about pro-Pakistan Sarath Fonseka

Nov 11 (DBS) Postpone: Sarath Fonseka may postpone his CDS resignation handover till Ranil Wickremasinghe return from India after consultations in New Delhi. Unhappy: India is unhappy about pro-Pakistan Sarath Fonseka being backed as presidential candidate by combined opposition including anti-Indian JVP. Caretaker: If opposition backed Sarath Fonseka is elected president then Ranil Wickremasinghe will become prime minister of a caretaker government. more..

Sri Lanka work on three-spinner theory in warm-up match

Nov 11 (HT) The retreating monsoon is likely to rob the visiting Sri Lankan team of valuable practice ahead of the three-match Test series. The Sri Lankans are scheduled to face the Board President's XI in a three-day warm-up game at the Bandra Kurla complex from Wednesday. But the Met Department has predicted more showers in the next 24 hours, making it unlikely for the game to start on time on Wednesday morning. more..

Trouble at the top in Sri Lanka?

Nov 11 (BBC) Speculation continues to grow in Sri Lanka that there is a rift at the top of the country's establishment. It is said to pit the armed forces chief, Gen Sarath Fonseka, against two ultra-powerful brothers, the president and the defence secretary, Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. One apparently contentious issue is who should take the credit for the government's all-out victory last May against the Tamil Tigers. more..

UNP says Govt. playing “magic” tricks on people

Nov 11 (BL) The UNP yesterday charged the government of showing people “magic” in an effort to mislead them before crucial elections and insisted that they were ready to take on any election the government offers. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake compared the reduction of essential goods that was announced by the government on Monday to a magician showing tricks to the public in order to distract it from reality. more..

Large crowds gather to protest trade union action

Nov 11 (BL) Thousands of people gathered in Fort yesterday to protest against the strikes and show solidarity with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ministers, Provincial Councillors and pro-government unions were among the crowd that gathered in protest of the work to rule campaign planned for today spearheaded by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Water Board and Ports Authority. more..

CB wants rate cuts by finance, leasing firms too

Nov 11 (BL) Central Bank last week said it expects finance and leasing firms to reduce their interest rates as well following the Presidential directive to state banks. The Bank said it has been easing its monetary policy since the beginning of 2009 in view of the rapid deceleration in inflation, in order to provide a stimulus to economic activities. In response, money market interest rates have fallen gradually and more..

'People upbeat about economic recovery'

Nov 11 (BL) “Sri Lankans are hopeful of an improvement in the economy next year – and they are confident that the Government’s development programmes will be successful,” says the latest edition of business magazine LMD – reporting on an exclusive monthly undertaken by research firm TNS Lanka. The magazine, released last week, adds: “Most Sri Lankans believe the Government’s development plans for the country will lift the economy out of the doldrums. more..

Battle lines drawn

Nov 11 (BL) The government yesterday stood firm as key trade unions of crucial utility services of fuel, electricity and water braced for what threatens to be a debilitating work to rule campaign from today. Long queues were seen at fuel stations in anticipation of shortages as masses waited for the final round of talks between Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) unions and the government to come to a close. more..

US Ambassador launches new ice cream project benefiting Eastern farmers

Nov 11 (USE) The U.S. Ambassador, Patricia A. Butenis, officially opened a new ice cream plant in Batticaloa District as part of a dairy revitalization project that will increase the incomes of 4,000 dairy farmers and create new jobs in the former conflict-affected area. The project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the development agency of the U.S. Government. more..

Brother speaks up for 'Alex'

Nov 11 (TA) The Toronto-based older brother of Sri Lankan asylum-seeker Sanjeev "Alex" Kuhendrarajah has dismissed as "bogus" claims by the government in Colombo that both men are involved in people-smuggling. The 29-year-old businessman, who spoke to The Australian on the condition his name not be revealed, said he had investigated the Sri Lankan claims, made last week, that he was being pursued by Canadian authorities. more..

Ministers invade Jaffna prior to Presidential Election announcement

Nov 11 (TN) With the announcement of President Election expected to take place any time government ministers and deputy ministers have begun to visit Jaffna with the aim to gather support for President Mahinda Rajapakse, media sources in Jaffna said. Similar invasion of ministers to Jaffna had also taken place prior to the recent Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC) election but having won it the ministers have not stepped in Jaffna since then, more..

Household checking by police in Colombo reimposed

Nov 11 (TN) The new IGP, Mahinda Balasooriya, on his assumption of duty has reimposed checking of house holds of Tamil residents in Colombo. In a repetition as in the LTTE war period, police personnel have been instructed to question any visitor lodged in a residence not registered with the respective police station in the area and to take any person living in a household unregistered into police custody, sources in Colombo said. more..