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Sri Lankan government prepares major constitutional changes

June 24 (wsws) Just two months after parliamentary elections, the Sri Lankan government is preparing a series of far-reaching constitutional amendments that will further entrench President Mahinda Rajapakse in power and enhance his autocratic methods of rule. Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne presented the proposed amendments for cabinet approval on June 9 and revealed last week that the changes will be presented to parliament in the coming weeks. more..

Colombo port expansion project is in progress

June 24 (GDI) The Colombo Port Expansion Project (CPEP) launched by the Government is in progress under the two phases. The total estimated cost of the construction of harbour Infrastructure work is US$ 330 million while the first South Container Terminal will be constructed under Built, Operate and Transfer (BOT) terms. The project was launched following a very comprehensive study of more..

'We’ll agitate if Govt. doesn’t bring down COL'

June 24 (LT) The present government has failed economically, politically as well as diplomatically and there should be a change in the country says General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva. He said if the government doesn’t take measures to provide relief to masses they will have to launch agitations against the government. He said local productions including rice, coconut and sugar have broken down and more..

Mine Clearance at Wadamarachchi East Accelerated

June 24 (MoD) Heavily-mined LTTE Forward Defence Line (FDL) at Wadamarachchi east are being fenced by the troops of the Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE) Regiment deployed under 55 Division denying access for civilians re-settled in adjacent villages to ensure the safety of those civilians. Engineer troops laid barbed wire along the FDLs for the safety of wanderers and would soon commence removing land mines and more..

President to preside District Development Council meetings

June 24 (GDI) The President has decided to preside at the disticrt development councils (DDC) order to expedite the implementation of government projects. Each and every administrative district in the country has a DDC where all public policy matters with regard to new projects are decided upon in their monthly meeting. The DDC of the district is headed by a ruling party legislature and all elected members representing the district take part and decide on projects on priority basis. more..

Political Prisoners: Waiting for freedom

Colombo intensifies spread of Buddhism in North

June 24 (TN) Buses carrying around two thousand Buddhist priests under heavy escort carrying a sacred statue of Buddha on a pilgrimage to Jaffna had passed Vavuniyaa Monday and entered Vanni main land through A9 road. The buses, however, have not reached Jaffna until Tuesday evening and it is assumed that the Buddhist priests, on an urgent mission to spread Buddhism in the North, are engaged in some unannounced opening ceremonies of newly erected Buddhist Viharas in Vanni by more..

Isn't Omar Kamil too a stakeholder in CMC corruption, asks Ravi K.

June 24 (NF) The power over the Colombo Municipal Council, which was dissolved at midnight yesterday, has been vested in a special commissioner. Chief Minister of the Western Province Prassana Ranatunga said that Omar Kamil, who acted as the CMC's chief city administrator until the body was dissolved yesterday, has been appointed to the new post. Meanwhile, UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake engaged in a tour of Jampettah street and more..

Bus fares won't change - Transport Minister

June 24 (DN) There is no necessity to increase bus fares due to the present fixed non fluctuating diesel prices in the world market. CTB and Omni bus service fares will remain unchanged, Transport Minister Kumara Welgama said. "Tt is true that prices of spareparts and lubricants are high, but no considerable diesel price hike can be expected during this year," he said. more..

Thalaiady St. Anthony's church holds annual Mass after four years

June 24 (MoD) St. Anthony's Church, Thalaiady left in isolation since 2006 due to LTTE terrorist activities held its first annual Mass after four years on 12th June 2010. Renovation of the church building was done by Army troops serving under the 551 Brigade with the assistance of villages. The first Service was conducted by Rev. Fr. Michael Saundranayagam and a few Catholic priests and nuns on Saturday (12) morning. more..

Victory on Display

Sri Lanka to fast-track investment approvals

June 24 (LBO) The Sri Lankan government has decided to set up a committee of senior bureaucrats from key ministries to fast-track decisions on private sector investment proposals. Media minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the committee of officials is being created to help eliminate bottlenecks in the normal investment approvals process. Private sector investments now go through the Board of Investment, the investment promotion agency which also grants tax breaks. more..

Editorial: Moon's Kangaroo Trial

June 24 (LNP) The UN headquarters is sitting in the wrong place. It should be shifted to Washington, which controls it. And the UN is unnecessarily burdened with a Security Council and a Human Rights Council maintained at a massive cost. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has proved that they are redundant and he and a few western governments could manage the UN without them! The UNSG has appointed an advisory panel on Sri Lanka according to more..

At BIA: Conmen befriend, rob passengers

June 24 (DN) Police arrested a gang that allegedly relieved people returning home from foreign employment via the Katunayake Airport of their valuables having them drugged. They allegedly committed these acts for nearly six months. Katunayake Police arrested the gang of five on Tuesday after a two month surveillance. Police also seized jewellery and Sri Lankan and foreign currency amounting to Rs 2 million from the suspects’ possession. more..

“President deceived us” – University academicians preparing for struggle

June 24 (LT) Despite President Mahinda Rajapakse giving a written pledge before the presidential election to university lecturers that their salaries would be increased by 25% and all salary anomalies would be removed, nothing has been done regarding this yet says President of University Teachers’ Alliance Prof. Sampath Amaratunga. Prof. Amaratunga said Rajapakse government has deceived university teachers for number of years and more..

Tarunyata hetak celebrates poson in Hambanthota and Kurunegala

June 24 (LP) A series of religious activities are organized by the Tharunyata Hetak organization for the poson festival. The programmes will be held in Hambanthota and Kurunegala districts where seven sub towns in Hambanthota is to be named as Poson Zones. Accordingly Nonagama, Tissamaharamaya, Mulkirigala, Beliatta, Suriyawewa, Lunugamwehera and Katuwana will be the Poson Zones while Nikaweratiya will be the Kurunegala District’s Poson Zone. more..

'OIC’s public apology, victory for all women'

June 24 (Island) UNP MP, Chandrani Bandara said yesterday that the public apology tendered by the former Bambalapitiya OIC, Upul Seneviratne, for abusing her during a motorcade protest in June 2008, against the high price of petrol, was a victory for all women. She told a news conference in Colombo that in view of Seneviratne’s admission that he had done wrong and apology in the Supreme Court yesterday, she had decided to withdraw the case. more..

No ad hoc construction of religious places

June 24 (DN) Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne in his capacity as the Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs Minister yesterday decided to suspend the construction of places of religious worship without prior approval from the Buddhasasana Ministry Secretary. The Prime Minister added that an approval of the Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs Ministry is a prerequisite for new religious places of any denomination. more..

Tax concession to benefit local footwear industry

June 24 (DN) The Sri Lankan footwear industry can expect a huge boom as the Government has lifted the duty structure on footwear machinery and raw materials. The Government decided to lift the 2.5 percent taxes on footwear manufacturing machinery and raw material. Though this seems a small amount, compared with the prices of machinery it will reflect as a large concession for industrialists, Leather Footwear Advisory Council Chairman Rangith Hettiarachchy told more..

North-East meets South at Royal College

Crossovers hit FTZ factories

June 24 (Island) There are about 15,000 vacancies in factories within the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ). These factory owners desist from advertising due to the cost involved and not going through the BOI Job Bank which is not effective now. Instead, these factory owners, use a novel way of recruiting staff by way of procurers who offer employment to those workers at the FTZ bus terminal where they congregate. more..

TN politics rides on Tamil

June 24 (HT) When the Lok Sabha polls were fought a year ago, the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils, who were displaced by the 26-year-old ethnic war, was a sticky issue. But it failed to make an emotive impact on voters. Although the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils remains an issue, the cause of promoting the Tamil language is becoming a subject of competitive politics in Tamil Nadu. With the assembly polls due in May and more..

Editorial: Bread vs Rice : Choice vs National interest

June 24 (DM) Choice, it is said is a hallmark a healthy democracy. One may therefore say in a good democracy people are also expected to have a fairly varied choice of food. However it is not always simple as that. Take Sri Lanka for instance. When J.R. Jayewardene opened the flood gates of the open economy to give relief to people who were under the extreme protectionist measures adopted by the Sirimavo Bandaranaike government, the rice eating Sri Lankans were given an array of choice. more..

UNP opposes UN War Crimes Panel on Sri Lanka

June 24 (Island) While opposing the appointment of a UN panel to probe war crimes against Sri Lanka, the UNP said yesterday that the situation could have been avoided if the government had permitted democratic institutions to function freely, including the implementation of the 17th Amendment. Ravi Karunanayake MP, questioned as to why the tough talking Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, had given in meekly to UN interference in the affairs of a sovereign State. more..

GSP plus: Lanka won’t let EU dictate terms

June 24 (DM) The Sri Lankan government had reportedly decided against giving a written undertaking to the European Union on whether the government would address human rights issues as a precondition for the extension of the GSP+ tariff concession for a further limited period. A highly placed official said that this decision was taken as the government saw the EU’s request for a written assurance as an unnecessary interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation. more..

Sri Lanka soldiers adapt to post-war pastimes

June 24 (AFP) In a wooden shelter in north Sri Lanka a soldier has swapped his gun for a pair of scissors, trimming hair and beards of civilians who now travel through what was a war zone until last year. Business is brisk at the army-run salon, which also offers scalp and foot massages by battle-hardened soldiers. Next door is the "Military Cafe", where veterans of the government's long civil war against the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels now serve up tea and snacks to passing domestic tourists. more..

Minister Gunasekera on rehabilitation

UNP, JVP slam price hikes; some welcome it

June 24 (DM) The UNP and the JVP yesterday criticized the government for the increase in the prices of essential items such as wheat flour and milk powder. JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva told a news conference yesterday that the people were reeling under the soaring cost of living. Mr. Silva said that the government, in a desperate bid to accumulate its revenue ahead of the budget, had endorsed these price hikes despite their implications on ordinary people. more..

'Lanka has backup for GSP'

June 24 (DM) Sri Lanka says it has a backup mechanism in place in the event the European Union (EU) withdraws the GSP plus trade benefits for the country over its failure to adhere to the conditions set by the 27 member block. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters a short while ago that the conditions put forward by the EU in order for Sri Lanka to continue to benefit from GSP are similar to more..

JVP admits difficulty in preserving HR during times of war

June 24 (Island) The JVP yesterday said that Sri Lanka could have avoided foreign intervention had it adopted tangible measures to improve the human rights situation at least after the conclusion of the war in May last year. The JVP warned the recent moves by the UN and EU directed against Sri Lanka could cause economic chaos and political instability unless the government acted prudently. more..

Next cabinet meeting in K'nochchi

June 24 (CT) The next Cabinet meeting will be held under President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 14 July in the former LTTE heartland of Kilinochchi, Minister of Health, Maithripala Sirisena said today (June 24). Speaking to the media, he added that ministers have to visit Kilinochchi before then and initiate mobile services of their respective ministries in the area. more..

Constitutional amendments a sin: Ranil

June 24 (DM) Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday the government’s attempt to amend the constitution was a grave sin against Sri Lanka. “The government’s attempt to change the basic laws of the country, which are enshrined in the Constitution was devoid of transparency,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said when he spoke at the launching of a set of books authored by UNP MP Wijedasa Rajapakse. more..

Sri Lanka to block UN visits probing war crimes

June 24 (AFP) Sri Lanka will ban visits by the three-member United Nations panel investigating alleged human rights abuses in the final months of the island's civil war, a senior minister said Thursday. Troops finally wiped out the separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas in May last year after decades of ethnic bloodshed, and the government has denied repeated allegations that thousands of civilians were killed in the fighting. more..

Mass wedding for detainees in the North

Asia Cup Final: Sri Lanka restrict India to 268

June 24 (CI) Soft dismissals to Thilina Kandamby's erroneous part-time legbreaks, timely wickets for Lasith Malinga and a good finish from Nuwan Kulasekara pulled in the direction opposite to Sri Lanka's surprisingly poor fielding, defensive captaincy and a fifty from Dinesh Karthik. The result was a middling total for India that promised an exciting chase under the Dambulla lights.Live Video (US only) more..

Sri Lanka rejects 'insulting' EU trade conditions

June 24 (AFP) Sri Lanka Thursday trashed "insulting" EU demands that it make a written undertaking to improve its human rights record in exchange for trade benefits. Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Colombo also rejected a July 1 deadline issued by the European Union to agree to a host of other conditions to qualify for preferential trade tariffs. "These conditions are unacceptable. They are an insult to every citizen of this country," more..

Sri Lanka GDP grew 7.1-pct in Q1

June 25 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s economy expanded 7.1 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period a year ago helped by strong growth in tea, rubber, export crops and services, the Department of Census and Statistics said. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Sri Lanka in the January-March quarter at constant (2002) prices is estimated at 643,539 million rupees as against 601,084 million in the first quarter of 2009. more..

'LTTE actions too, will be considered'

June 25 (CT) Actions of the LTTE too, will be considered by a UN experts panel probing allegations of human rights violations in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war, said panel chairman Marzuki Darusman. "This (investigation) would then cover - without any distinction - acts that were committed in the course of that conflict," he has told Radio Australia. Mr. Darusman has also made it clear that the three-member panel would act independently of the Sri Lankan government and of any nation. more..

Seamers set up India's thumping title win

June 25 (CI) India's under-fire seam attack came good when it mattered, setting up MS Dhoni's fourth win in seven tournament finals, a statistic that makes a mockery of India's abysmal record in finals. The conditions did support them as they were bowling under the lights in Dambulla, but it was a huge improvement from two nights ago: all three of Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra bowled tight lines, more..

Sri Lanka increases taxes on sugar, alcohol, cigarettes

June 25 (LBO) Sri Lanka has increased levies on sugar imports by five rupees, while a cigarette tax would go up by one rupee and taxes on a proof litre of spirits would rise by another 50 rupees, a senior treasury official said. Taxes on sugar imports have been increased as world prices are expected to come down in future, S R Attygalle, director general, fiscal policy at the finance ministry told our sister website more..