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Sri Lanka probes mass soldiers' grave claim

Nov 23 (AFP) Sri Lanka Tuesday began investigating a claim that Tamil Tiger rebels executed 26 captured government soldiers at the height of fighting between the two sides last year, an official said. Military spokesman Udaya Madawala said forensic experts and police investigators had been sent to the northeastern district of Mullaittivu Monday following reports of the grave. Tiger suspects had told investigators that the 26 prisoners were shot dead in more..

'Budget for 200 at the expense of 20 million people'

Nov 23 (Island) The UPFA government’s first post war budget would actually benefit 200 persons at the expense of 20 million people, the UNP said. UNP MP and Economist Harsha de Silva told The Island that the 2011 budget was meant for the affluent as it catered to around 200 super rich Sri Lankans. The Mahinda Rajapaksa regime treats the people as a bunch of idiots. They present a neo-liberal Appropriation Bill and have the audacity to call it pro-people. more..

President tells Ministers: Show more commitment

Nov 23 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the Ministers and Deputy Ministers should show more commitment to serve the public and their services are required to take the country into greater heights in terms of development. He said that people will no longer consider it as an honour when Ministers roam with 10 to 15 back up vehicles with loads of security personnel. He stressed that Ministers should discharge what they are expected by the people without being egoistic. more..

Sri Lanka's postwar boom misses investors wary of corruption

Nov 23 (BN) With a postcard view of white sand and fishermen drawing in nets from the morning catch, the Chaaya Blu Hotel could be mistaken for a resort in Bali or Phuket. In fact it’s in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, a country that 18 months ago saw the bloodiest battles of a three-decade civil war. “You went out every day not knowing what would happen,” country director for ADB. Vokes used to don a flak jacket and helmet before traveling the heavily guarded 160 mile journey to the north-eastern city from Colombo. more..

Sangakkara, Samaraweera steady after early strikes

Nov 24 (CI) The West Indian seam bowlers made early inroads into the Sri Lankan line-up to leave them staggering at 34 for 3, before Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera combined to steady the innings, after Sangakkara won the toss and chose to bat. The duo survived a testing spell of fast bowling to take the score to 81 for 3 at tea. A damp outfield delayed the start of play by two and a half hours at the R. Premadasa Stadium, but it was the visitors, who made use of more..

'Budget failed to reach expectations'

Nov 24 (BBC) The budget fails to meet the expectation of the population is the verdict of the opposition parliamentarians and trade unionists. Speaking to BBC Sandeshaya, economist and UNP parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva said "this is a budget that gives benefits to two hundred people at the expense of the population". "The 2011 budget proposals failed to meet the peoples' expectations and deliver the promised Rs 2500 pay increase" he added. more..

New Deputy Speaker

Nov 24 (SL) Galle District UPFA parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody was today (23) appointed as the Deputy Speaker of parliament. Weerakkody was selected to the post unanimously after his name was proposed by Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva and seconded by Chief Government Whip, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. Weerakkody was appointed to the post of Deputy Speaker after more..

India, Sri Lanka likely to launch defence dialogue next year

Nov 24 (IANS) India and Sri Lanka are likely to launch a defence dialogue next year in the backdrop of the changed security situation following the decimation of the Tamil Tigers. 'The two sides are looking at starting a defence dialogue next year. It's in an exploratory stage,' a senior official said. The issue could figure in discussions between External Affairs Minister and his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris when they meet in Colombo later this week. more..

India fears revival of LTTE, extends ban

Nov 24 (IANS) India has extended its ban on the LTTE as it fears the revival of the outlawed group, a senior official said here Tuesday. "There is still a threat from the LTTE. The ban has been extended by the home ministry,” the official, said. There are apprehensions about the revival of the LTTE, he said a couple of days before External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna goes to Sri Lanka for wide-ranging talks with his counterpart G.L. Peiris. more..

A Budget creating many problems instead of a progressive one - JVP

Nov 24 (LT) The JVP says the Budget presented by the Government creates many problems instead of leading the country forward. Expressing his views further Mr Dissanayake said ‘the masses of the country had many hopes on the 2nd Budget after ending the war. The last Budget in June was a mini Budget being the first after ending the war. Hence there was a request from the masses to reduce the taxes on essential goods. more..

'Budget prepared for the Former Cabinet – No allocations for 19 Ministries'

Nov 24 (LT) The present Budget is prepared only for the former Cabinet without allocating funds for the newly established 19 Cabinet portfolios, says JVP MP Mr Anura Dissanayake. He said the Government should make clear how the funds will be allocated for the new Ministries. He added – ‘the Government while increasing the Cabinet has treated the masses with a scanty grant. Last morning the Cabinet was sworn-in with 59 Ministers which turned 60 in the afternoon. more..

Sri Lanka presses banks to lend long-term

Nov 24 (LBO) Sri Lankan banks should provide more long-term loans and tax cuts in the government budget for 2011 are meant to encourage longer maturity lending, finance ministry secretary P B Jayasundera said. Key sectors of the economy like tea and rubber, where cultivators must wait several years for the first harvests, need longer-term lending, he told a forum on the budget organised by the Ernst & Young audit firm. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 23.11.2010

'Reforms to the Constitution to accelerate development programs'

Nov 24 (GDI) The Government’s first priority will be to add reforms to the Constitution to accelerate development programs as mentioned in the Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma policy program, Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dallas Alahapperuma said while addressing his Ministry Staff. The Minister appealed to all political parties to join hands with the Government to achieve expected development targets without considering political differences. more..

Sri Lankan firms can sell rated debt to foreigners: Central Bank

Nov 24 (LBO) Sri Lankan firms can sell corporate debt to foreign buyers provided the securities are rated and not priced over 200 basis points over the benchmark sovereign yields, Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal said. The bank had set no limit to the volume, or the percentage of a particular issue a company can sell to foreign investors. "We have an ideal of an overall national limit internally," Cabraal said. "But no limits have been set for a particular issue." more..

U.S. govt donates trucks and equipment worth $500,000 to Army demining unit

Nov 24 (USE) The U.S. Embassy today delivered the first consignment of the demining assistance by the United States Government to the Sri Lankan Army Humanitarian Unit. In a simple ceremony on the U.S. Embassy premises the Charge' d'Affaires Valerie C. Fowler handed over four trucks with their respective demining equipment to the Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya. more..

Enlightened leadership for a resurgent Sri Lanka

Nov 24 (LG) The state media described President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s oath taking ceremony for his second term in office that took place on November 19 as a simple, solemn and dignified one. The President’s demeanour on the occasion was indeed simple, solemn and dignified. Historians of Asian practices have noted that the old traditions, especially those influenced by Buddhist teachings, give prominence to the ascetic ideal which fits well with the practice of simplicity more..

Catholic Community Appeals for Devolution of Power to the Periphery

Nov 24 (LG) Mr. Andrew Samaratunga, President of the Sri Lankan Movement for Peace, Justice And Reconciliation leading the delegation representing the Catholic Community of Sri Lanka to the LLRC on Monday the 22ND November stated that addressing the long standing grievances of the Tamil Community is a pre-requisite for Reconciliation & also stated that state should not delay anymore, the work towards devolution of power to the periphery. more..

Northern public warned against imposters & extortionists

Nov 24 (MoD) Members of the general public in Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts are warned against certain manipulative moves, currently set in motion in above areas by an organized ring of swindlers, aimed at exploiting grievances or concerns of war-affected northern civilians, including parents who have not yet been able to trace whereabouts of their missing ones. more..

50 More new houses given to Wanni people

Nov 24 (MoD) A 50 newly constructed houses in Periyakulam, Kanagarayankulam were given away to the beneficiaries Saturday (20) morning by Minister of Industry & Commerce Mr. Rishad Baddiudeen after handing over the keys of the houses symbolically. The houses constructed with the assistance of 'Thisarana Sarana Foundation' were coordinated by General Officer Commanding 56 Division Brigadier N.A.P.C. Napagoda and Brigade Commander 561 Brigade Brigadier D.A.R. Ranawaka more..

Mahinda VII: Machiavellian monarch from Medamulana

Nov 24 (TC) This week, a headline of the Hindustan Times screamed, “the crowning of a republican king”. Some read it as being clowning. Whether you like it or not, Mahinda VII of Sri Lanka was legitimately crowned this week. The last time around, there were too many discrepancies, with allegations of pay offs to the LTTE to prevent the Tamils from voting and lingering doubts about “Helping Hambanthota”. This time around, there can be no doubts, he assumes more..

'SLMC betrayed the party and the Muslim people for a ministerial post'

Nov 24 (NF) The SLMC betrayed the party and the Muslim people for a ministerial post, says A.J.M Muzammil, WPC member of the UNP. “Today, the SLMC has joined the government, after winning 8 seats with the votes obtained by our party and also after gaining two national list seats. They signed agreements and worked with us on the premise that they will not cross over. But today, they have betrayed their party and the Muslim people,” more..

Beware tax dodger professionals: You are under duty to play your part

Nov 24 (LG) The announcement made by the President Rajapakse in the budge speech should open the eyes of all professionals in this country, particularly the lawyers and the doctors, who shamelessly indulge in defrauding the public funds by not paying the tax due on their income. The current tax rate on personal income has been reduced, ranging from 5 to 35 percent to 4 to 24 percent. The tax-free threshold income also increased from Rs 300,000 to Rs 500,000 more..

Tiran Alles must show transparency dealing with the Party's money

Nov 24 (LG) In our earlier report we exposed how the DNA national list MP Tiran Alles went for friendship with the President Mahinda Rajapakse. However, Mr. Alles refuses this allegation and remains silent as other problem are further exposed. According to a reliable source, Mr. Alles coordinated financial matters in the last presidential and general elections on behalf of the Retired General Sarath Fonseka, the man in charge of the endgame against LTTE. more..

'Politics with development is order of the day'

Nov 24 (NS) Q: Your statement that the decision of the last working committee meeting of the UNP left everyone victorious has led some to believe that you have struck a deal with leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and you will settle for the post of deputy leader. Sajith: It is pure speculation and humbug. Q: Your answer to the lead headline ‘Ranil wins and Sajith loses’ in a national newspaper early this week left more questions unanswered. In reaction to it you said everyone won. more..

The Sinhalese: Blasé!

Nov 24 (SL) When Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power, the existence of an ethnic problem was an accepted fact; five years later its non-existence has become an accepted fact. The ethnic problem not only perished, it freed the Sinhala psyche from memories of past errors and crimes, from the Sinhala Only Language Act to the Black July massacres. After all, if the only problem was Tiger terrorism, then what we did or did not do would be irrelevant. The Rajapaksas saved the Sinhalese from more..

Fear of persecution does not end merely because the war is over in Sri Lanka

Nov 24 (TC) The speech titled ‘National Conflict and Transnational Consequences’ delivered by the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister, Prof. GL Peiris contains a number of important issues relating to international law. Prof. Peiris pointed out that “the time has come to take a fresh look at the orthodox conceptions and assumptions of international law.” One issue relates to the so-called right to preemptive self-defence. more..

Engineers seek urgent action after 11/11 flood disaster

Nov 24 (NS) Even though the flood waters that almost brought day-to-day lives of Colombo residents to a standstill have now receded, experts and environmentalists warned the day that entire western province would go under water is not that far, if not the already found recommendations and remedies put into action. Following the November 11 floods, the parliament appointed a committee to look into the ways and means of preventing such more..

Enjoying the powers with maturity and governing with compassion

Nov 24 (DM) As Mahinda Percy Rajapaksa begins his second term as President, one hopes that the mistakes of every Executive president of this country before him, will not be repeated. Our post independent history is full of the depths of misery that every successive President since J R Jayewardene has pushed this country to. The Presidencies of Ranasinghe Premadasa and Chandrika Kumaratunga are classic examples of the utter chaos and corruption more..

Lanka- Belgium working beyond respectful disagreements on human rights issues

Nov 24 (DM) Q: There are a number of companies, representing a number of sectors, which will be in the country as part of the trade delegation visiting the island this week; can the two of you elaborate on why these particular sectors were chosen? JD: First let me say that we are convinced that this is a very opportune moment for a trade mission to come to Sri Lanka. After the restoration of peace the country is on a new phase of economic recovery. more..

Diaspora Talk; Moderates, who want to return to the pre-LTTE methods

Nov 24 (DM) Overnight, there is more activity on the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora front than earlier. It is not only that the 'Trans-national government of Tamil Eelam' (TNGTE) has given itself a 'cabinet' with US-based Rudrakumaran as 'prime minister', even Sri Lankan diplomats have begun talking about them all in public, that too to audiences back home. There are even reports of the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanting to engage them while more..

Celebration and Jubilation: A slap in the face of poverty and hopelessness

Nov 24 (SL) Whilst the rest of Sri Lanka celebrated, or at least pretended to, otherwise being branded traitorous, Menika in the security of her flat, quaffed her tear-salted G&T and moaned. She sat huddled in her sofa, a la Gemunu (I mean the genuine one, not the pseudos parading around now) trammeled on this side by the display of celebration and on the other by the devastation caused by the recent floods. Hence the tears flowing into her glass, more..

On the Mahinda behind the Mahinda

Nov 24 (NS) There were two words that I heard so much over the past couple of weeks that I stopped hearing them after a while. It must be the same for people living close to garbage dumps; the sense of smell gets deadened to a point where they won’t be able to get a whiff of the divine odours even if it was to be the difference between life and death. The President cannot bypass the swearing in ceremony of course. There has to be a padavi praapthiya more..

'Power to cost less, once Norochcholai begins functioning'

Nov 24 (LB) As per the Sri Lanka Electricity Act there are two conditions under which we have to decide on the price of the electricity bill. One is it should be decided in keeping with the amounts consumed, and in keeping with government policy. If the government has taken measures to grant benefits to the people then those decisions are conveyed to the SLPUC. After that the SLPUC has the responsibility to comply, more..

Editorial : Budget: Some thoughts

Nov 24 (Island) The focus of Budget 2011 President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented in Parliament on Monday is said to be on development. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has praised the government for 'presenting a development-oriented and forward looking budget'. Leading businessmen, professionals et al brought together by Ernst & Young yesterday in Colombo to discuss the budget were not critical of it. That may be because NBT will be reduced from 3% to 2%; more..

Editorial: White elephants, Masters and Servents

Nov 24 (DM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday presented the 2011 budget which was clearly development oriented with long term benefits and the thrust like his second term inauguration speech on Friday, was poverty eradication to such an extent that he hopes the average income of a Sri Lankan by 2016 will be about Rs.40,000 a month. Yet he came to parliament to deliver the budget proposals not with the UPFA symbol of a betel leaf but virtually on a white elephant more..

'Impressive celebration to mark 2,600 years of Sambuddhathva Jayanthi'

Nov 24 (LB) President All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Jagath Sumathipala focused his welcome address on Buddhists worldwide, calling them his “brothers and sisters of the Dhamma.” There was in attendance Buddhist dignitaries from 40 countries and 164 Buddhist regional centres. The event marked the closing session of the 25th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) and its 60th anniversary, held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium. more..

60,000 families face eviction to make way for city development projects

Nov 24 (ST) The UDA, now functioning under the Defence Ministry, has drawn up a mass eviction plan for both residents in possession of valid deeds and those occupying state land in Colombo city. The move will affect more than 60,000 families. Residents in Slave Island, most of them holding valid deeds for their houses and living in the area for more than five decades, have been told to be prepared to move out. They have been told that the area will be developed and “returned to them.” more..

Sri Lankan priest urges justice for war crimes

Nov 24 (UCAN) A Sinhalese Catholic priest is calling for justice for nine Tamil priests who were killed or have disappeared during the civil war which ended last year. “Catholics and the priests’ relatives have the right to know the priests’ whereabouts or their final resting grounds…If they are dead, please do issue death certificates, if it is not done yet,” said Father Reid Shelton Fernando, coordinator of the Young Christian Workers movement in Colombo. more..

Boston Lanka News: Nov. 23, 2010

Govt. forgotten the farmers- Harrison

Nov 24 (DM) UNP MP P. Harrison charged in Parliament yesterday that the government had forgotten the farmers as no new incentives had been proposed to them at this year’s budget. He said only the only thing that was given to them is the continuing of fertilizer subsidy. Mr. Harrison explained that prices of equipment such as tractors used in farming had increased tremendously and the government should have given some tax incentives for those items at this year’s budget. more..

Champika: Will recover cost from heavy users

Nov 24 (DM) The high cost of thermal power generation would be recovered from high energy consumers, said Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka in Parliament yesterday. The minister said electricity rates should be stabilised despite fuel price hikes in the world market only through such an exercise rather than by resorting to popular short term methods. He said that an electricity billing formula that promoted renewable energy sources would be introduced later. more..

Unpaid Letchumi ‘pricked’ into abandoning ME job

Nov 24 (ST) “I was seated on the steps when the madam, a teacher, approached me with needles, and forced me to lie down. Her husband, a police officer, joined her. He covered my face and held my hands tightly, allowing the wife to do the needful”. This was how V.R. Letchumi, the Sri Lankan housemaid who had needles driven into her body, described her painful ordeal in Kuwait, while recovering at the Kurunegala Teaching hospital, where she underwent surgery to more..

Opposition wants to head watchdog committees

Nov 24 (Island) The opposition requested that some of its MPs be appointed to head parliamentary committees such as Cope and PAC in order to make the work in the legislature more transparent and neutral. Chief opposition Whip John Amaratunga made the request after the UNP agreed to support the appointment of UPFA MP Chandima Weerakkody to the post of Deputy Speaker. "It would be better of the opposition members too could be appointed to some positions in parliament," more..

Treasury Chief lashes out at BoI, frowns on tax concession to small time investors

Nov 24 (Island) Treasury Chief Dr. P.B. Jayasundera launched a scathing attack on the BOI administration for failing in its duty. Joining a post- 2011 Budget confab at the Ceylon Continental, Dr. Jayasundera alleged that the BOI administration at the Katunayake Export Processing Zone had failed even to utilize the resources at its disposal. Dr. Jayasundera went to the extent of praising one-time BOI Chief Thilan Wijesinghe for being able to attract foreign investment, more..

Hindu Interview (Part 2): ‘Help us bring the communities together'

Nov 24 (Hindu) In this second and concluding part of a one-hour interview given to N. Ram, Mahinda Rajapaksa, responds to questions about his ambitious initiative for a trilingual Sri Lanka, the role of the English language, the contentious 18th constitutional amendment, the jailing and conviction of General Sarath Fonseka, the status and future of 11,000 hard-core LTTE cadres and supporters, and relations with India. more..

'Govt. earned Rs 30 mn in four months from errant traders'

Nov 24 (Island) The government has received an income of 30 million rupees from the fines imposed on errant traders during the last four months, Consumer Affairs and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando told Parliament yesterday. Minister Fernando said the Consumer Affairs Authority had increased the number of raids by 100 percent to arrest errant traders. "In 2007 the CAA conducted 3,661 raids, in 2008, 3,716, and in 2009, 4,517 raids. more..

Jaffna: another step towards faster development

Nov 24 (Island) The government is planning to reopen the Atchuvely Industrial Estate in eastern Jaffna in 2012, an official of the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development said. "The government is planning to reopen the Atchuvely Industrial Estate with the assistance of the Indian government," Ministry Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy said. He said that the Indian government has promised to give Rs. 174 million under the Small Grants more..

A new seat for President

Nov 24 (DM) Parliamentary authorities have decided to reserve a separate seat in Parliament to be occupied by President Mahinda Rajapaksa whenever he is present in the House. The President is required to attend Parliamentary sessions once every three month according to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution introduced in September. Accordingly, the seat which was formally occupied by the Prime Minister is now kept reserved for the President. more..

Sri Lankan refugee acceptance rate plummets after migrant

Sep 24 (NP) Canada’s acceptance of refugee claims from Sri Lanka plummeted in September, the month following the arrival of a boatload of 492 Tamil migrants, new immigration data show. A lawyer for the Canadian Tamil Congress, an advocacy group based in Toronto, said Tuesday that while he didn’t want to jump to conclusions, the drop could be a response to the “hysteria” that accompanied the migrants’ arrival. “I would like to think it’s an anomaly. more..