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Creeping Nationalisation of Banks

Apr 17 (Island) Nearly two years after the end of a bloody military conflict the government is getting exposed on its stewardship of the economy. Daily we hear conflicting messages and encounter economic and financial signals that are contradictory. Government Members of Parliament from suave business personalities to ancient socialist ideologues speak in Parliament on financial matters little realising the policy contradiction and consequent damage to the progress of more..

Bid to defraud Jaffna youth: Army nabs 3 from Trinco

Apr 17 (NS) Army on Friday arrested three youth from Trincomalee who posed off as members of the TMVP and attempted to fleece Rs. 500,000 from three Jaffna youth promising to send them to Western countries for lucrative employment. The victims had already parted with an advance of Rs. 30,000 and had got suspicious of the Trincomalee men when they made subsequent attempts to get the balance. The victims informed the Uduvil Army camp and the suspects were caught after they travelled to more..

Action against tsunami scaremongers

Apr 17 (ST) Legal action will be taken against astrologers, academics or others who make predictions on natural disasters and thereby cause panic among the people, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera warned. He said a team had been appointed to investigate the prediction made recently by Prof. Athula Senaratne of the Geological Department of the Peradeniya University stating that the Indonesian region would experience a series of earthquakes from April 10 to April 18. more..

International NGO behind Ranil’s ouster, they say!

Apr 17 (LB) The UNP is seeking information regarding various ‘organizations and foundations’ ‘and those in cahoots with international NGOs’ that had contributed either directly or indirectly to the ‘attempt to oust Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe from the party leadership,’ party sources say. According to informed UNP sources the UNP leader ‘had received details’ regarding one such move to oust him, orchestrated by a German NGO, more..

University teachers meet SB today on salaries

Apr 17 (NS) Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) will meet Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake today to discuss the salary demands made by the university teachers, Chairman of the association Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri said. The FUTA had earlier threatened to vacate the university administrative force by May 9 if the government continued to turn a blind eye to their demands. However, the Higher Education Ministry said that it would not more..

Sweeping tax benefits for Shangri-La

Apr 17 (ST) Shangri-La Investments Lanka (Private) Limited which will build a luxury hotel and residential villas in Hambantota at a total investment of around Rs. 12 billion will get several tax-free concessions, the Government has decided, according to a gazette notification. The company has spent around Rs. 386 million to buy private land in Hambantota for the project which the government believes is in the national interest and more..

Gammanpila: PM should step down

Apr 17 (ST) JHU activist and Western Provincial Council member Udaya Gammanpila says Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne should step down from his post as he is unable to conduct himself in a manner that upholds the dignity of the office he holds and is way beyond retirement age. “While there is a retirement age for public and private sector employees, there is no such requirement for politicians and sportspersons. But most sportspersons themselves realize that it is time to go and step down. more..

Why Sri Lankans don’t want to go back

Apr 17 (DNA) After his hurricane 185 against Bangladesh in Dhaka recently, Shane Watson had said that he went on a six-hitting binge because he was too tired to run! Having had to play non-stop cricket for nearly three years (he has played 11 Tests, 21 ODIs and 13 T20 Internationals in the last 12 months alone), the Australia all-rounder was well within his rights to feel burnt out. After all, he has had little rest since April 2008. more..

ME situation prompts govt. seek labour markets elsewhere

Apr 17 (LB) The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) Kingsley Ranawaka said that the government had decided to tap other overseas labour markets for the country as the Middle East is mired in political unrest. Among some of the countries that the government had been keen on tapping have been Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Cyprus, Israel and Rumania, sources said. more..

Extortionists with clout NOW OUT

Apr 17 (LB) Former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs Mervyn Silva, J M Buddhi and a Kelaniya electorate organizer linked to the Minister, Aruna Chandimal are alleged to have revealed valuable information to the police in connection with the gang that was nabbed extorting a sum of Rs 500,000 from a businessman in Grandpass last week. In the incident this gang had forcibly tried to close down an old metal shop situated more..

Bedlam at BIA’s main entrance, but 'it doesn’t happen all the time'

Apr 17 (Island) There was virtual chaos at the main porch entrance for outbound passengers at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in the evening of Sunday, April 3 as a lone security officer helplessly struggled to control the wave of passenger traffic. "In the absence of a semblance of order, all the passengers, with their luggage to boot, were clamoring to elbow their way into the terminal", a Sri Lankan passenger complained. "There was bedlam as a result". more..

'Forced to seek protection from Russia, China'

Apr 17 (ST) Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday lashed out at the UN experts panel report on the conduct of the Sri Lanka government and armed forces during the last stages of the war against the LTTE in 2009, saying there was an agenda behind the report and if the United Nations cannot protect one of its member states, Sri Lanka will be forced to look for protection from Russia and China. more..

Food Act to be amended from July 1

Apr 17 (SO) The Food Act which ensures quality food production will be amended from July 1, this year. Accordingly, all food manufacturers should comply with the Health Ministry regulations when manufacturing, labelling, transporting and selling their products from this date. The Health Ministry has also focused special attention on the sale of unhygienic and outdated canned food items and soft drinks which are freely available in supermarkets, groceries, more..

Vicious rumour mill: killing Lankan cricket by word

Apr 17 (NS) Many Sri Lankan fans expected the cricket team to win the World Cup and even stocked up with firecrackers to mark the celebratory moment. The disappointment has been commensurate with this high expectation. It has generated immense disappointment in many minds. Though some foreign reports and some Lankans have congratulated the people and officials in the island for the manner in which they formally feted the returning cricket squad, there has more..

In Sri Lanka, UN allowed sabotage of its report, which chides Ban Ki-moon for withholding casualty figures

Apr 17 (ICP) When the UN gave a copy of its long delayed Panel of Experts' report on war crimes in Sri Lanka to the govt of Mahinda Rajapaksa while withholding it from the press and public, the next steps were foreseeable. First, the government criticized the report as “flawed” and “baseless” while no one else could see it. Then portions of the report appeared in The Island in Sri Lanka, with more than a half dozen misspellings, for example “facilities” more..

Ampara farmers in dilemma

Apr 17 (NS) Paddy cultivators in Kalmunai Veli, Iraiveli, Kudakarai East, Kudakarai West, Natpiddimunai Veli East, Natpiddimunai West, Segupattu, Pandithivu East and Panditivu West in the Ampara District totalling 7,200 acres are reluctant to cultivate their paddy lands during this Yala Season as they fear their crops would be destroyed. These farmers incurred heavy losses during the last Yala season as the water provided to irrigate 50,000 acres of paddy land on the more..

Till govt. replies we will not comment, says UNP

Apr 17 (NS) Until the govt officially reveals the report of the Ban Ki-moon’s three-member advisory panel on alleged war crimes during the closing stages of the war against the LTTE and the government replies it, the UNP will not comment on it, the UNP said. Party’s Acting leader Karu Jaysuriya, MP, said that UNP MPs have agreed on this stand. He also said that it was improper to comment on the advisory panel’s report without studying it and that the country’s interest must more..

UN spokesman regrets premature publication - Ban 'reviewing’ Advisory Panel report

Apr 17 (Island) In a note to UN correspondents on Friday evening, the UN spokesperson told correspondents accredited to the United Nations that the Secretary General is reviewing the report of the Independent Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka which has been furnished to the Sri Lankan Government. The briefing note said that the release of the report to Colombo was "so that they can respond to the report; (and) that response could be published at the same time as more..

Expert wants intra-regional tourism development plan for Lanka

Apr 17 (NS) Sri Lanka must lose no time in turning to intra-regional tourism on a long-term 10-year plan that would open the door to economic renaissance, according to a tourism expert, Anura Lokuhetty. Lokuhetty, who is the Chairman of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and of Serene Pavilions, said, “The economic upsurge can come only through the strategic implementation of a long-term plan instead of a short-sighted policy. Intra-regional tourism would more..

U.S. wants Goldstone findings revoked - Gaza report controversy has parallel for Ban panel report of SL

Apr 17 (Island) The Sri Lankan government says a simmering controversy over the UN’s Gaza war report has exposed severe shortcomings in handling of war crimes allegations leveled against armed forces fighting ‘non-State actors.’ A senior Sri Lankan spokesman said that the US Senate a few days ago voted unanimously in favour of calling the UN to revoke the Gaza war report prepared by a four-member UN Panel headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. more..

UN report: Govt. launches major counter-offensive

Apr 17 (ST) Sri Lanka will launch a diplomatic offensive in "neutral" countries to meet the allegations made against the govt in the report of the three-member experts’ panel that advised the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on civilian casualties during the last stages of the military offensive against the LTTE in early 2009. Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the government would take the report "seriously" and send teams to India, more..

Female DS says police looked on as minister’s goons attacked her

Apr 17 (ST) Public servants in Mannar are to abstain from work tomorrow in protest against police failure to prevent the assault of a female Divisional Secretary by supporters of a Cabinet minister. Divisional Secretary Nandini Stanley de Mel said she was assaulted at Pudukudirippu on Wednesday when she tried to settle a clash during a cycle race organised by the Mannar District Secretariat to mark the National New Year. “I was assaulted in the presence of the police. more..

Authorities sleep as bodies rot in hospital

Apr 17 (NS) The refrigerator system of the Colombo South Teaching Hospital Mortuary in Kalubowila is malfunctioning causing immense hardship to the staff working there. This situation is resulting from four freezer units out of six malfunctioning for several months. The working two refrigerator units have six drawers each, but since between 15 to 20 patients die at the hospital on any given day employees are compelled to pack several bodies in each drawer. more..

Spotting blue whales in Sri Lanka

Apr 17 (Telegraph) Sri Lanka has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, beset with problems from terrorism to flooding. But in the wake of the contentious ending of the war in 2010 with the Tamil Tigers, this verdant island is experiencing a new tourist boom founded largely on its exquisite beaches, where one may spend weeks doing nothing but drinking lime sodas in the sun. more..

TNA irked by failure to get detainee list

Apr 17 (NS) The failure of the government to divulge the list of Tamil detainees for the second time has irked the TNA. The TNA yesterday expressed its anger and frustration at the government for calling off a scheduled visit to the Terrorism Investigations Department office in Vavuniya at the eleventh hour. The TNA in its meetings with the govt delegation has been calling for the release of the list of names of more..

SriLankan weighs offers from Boeing, Airbus

Apr 17 (NS) National carrier SriLankan with its passenger traffic growing by nearly 25 per cent last year and expected to take even a bigger leap with eventual flights to Toronto, Melbourne and Moscow is now urgently in need of new aircraft. According to insiders with Toronto region alone having more than 200,000 Sri Lankan Tamils, the carrier has already negotiated a code share deal with Air Canada to facilitate the new service. more..

World Bank says Sri Lanka’s aging population will weigh heavily on the economy

Apr 17 (Island) Sri Lanka’s present population of 20 million will grow modestly to a figure bordering 23 million by the year 2030. After that, approximate readings are that declining projections would see demographic increases in an older workforce who could be effectively productive after their formal age for retirement, says a recent World Bank report. But labour laws enacted in 1958 are now completely outmoded to cope with more..

National Hospital’s new project to streamline many of its barriers

Apr 17 (LB) The last statistics obtained from WHO in the year 2008 states that nearly 9.34bn has been spent on patients who met with road traffic accidents in Sri Lanka. “But it could be more now as there is an increase in road traffic accidents lately,” says Dr Prasad Ariyawansa, Head of the Trauma Secretariat. Sri Lanka’s road traffic accidents rank number one among all accidents and more..

Nuwara Eliya erupts in celebration as ‘Season’ gets into full swing

Apr 17 (Island) The festive season in Nuwara Eliya was in full swing with hundreds of holiday-makers descending on this picturesque ‘Little England’ nestling amidst the lush greenery of the Central highlands. With hotels — both the big names and the small guest houses — packed to capacity, it is a grand celebration all around in the salubrious climes of this Garden City. more..

Demolition for development

Apr 17 (ST) More than 1,500 houses in the Wanathamulla area in Borella are being demolished to make way for a ‘modern housing complex’, but occupants will have to pay at least Rs 3 million to get a house back, or move out of the City into locations in Avissawella and Homagama. As the New Year dawned, residents were in a quandary over their next move, with an offer of temporary wooden huts in Thotalanga, from which they will be moved on as well. more..

Dispossessed fish traders threaten legal action

Apr 17 (NS) Dispossessed fish traders, who were denied new stalls at the newly built fish market in Peliyagoda, have threatened to take legal action against the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). Individually and collectively as members of the Fish Traders Association these former tenants of St. John’s fish market have resorted to legal action for not offering them any stalls at the new market. more..

NPC asks media not to repeatedly make false, misleading and mischievous allegations

Apr 17 (Island) In recent months, there has been a systematic campaign in sections of the media to bring a few NGOs that work in the areas of human rights, governance, peace and reconciliation into public disrepute. At the core of these charges is the allegation that NGOs are accountable to no one but to themselves, do not have independent audits of their accounts and are not registered with the government, more..

Sri Lanka leader urges protests against UN report

Apr 17 (AFP) Sri Lanka's president has called for mass protests against a UN report which urged a probe into alleged war crimes committed during the fight against Tamil Tiger rebels, his office said Sunday. President Mahinda Rajapakse said in an address to officials of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party that this year's May Day rally should be turned into a "show of our strength" against international calls for war crimes investigations. more..

Nuts shortage likely

Apr 18 (NN) The Coconut Research Institute has warned that there may be a serious shortage of coconuts sometime between November this year and January next year. Director of the institute Jagath Gunatillake attributed this to the extreme heat experienced in the country these days and the extermination of honey bees. He said that while coconut trees are being planted in a large scale to avoid the future shortage of coconuts, most of those trees will not bear fruit. more..

Sri Lanka state worker growth flattens

Apr 18 (LBO) The expansion of Sri Lanka state workers seen since 2004 has taken a breather in 2010 reducing a key form of tax banditry practised by rulers. Total state workers fell slightly to 1,299,102 2010 down just 1.1 percent from 1,313,584 in 2009. In 2009 despite falling tax revenues from the people, the state increased its total cadre to from 1,251,728 million to 1.313 million. In 2010 workers in central govt fell from 1,047,041 to 1,027,179 but more..

Attorney General wrong to withdraw charges - CJ

Apr 18 (BBC) It is wrong for the Attorney General (AG) to withdraw criminal charges filed against a suspect, Sri Lanka's Chief Justice (CJ) said. The Chief Justice was referring to the recent withdrawal of charges against government politicians by the Attorney General. "The AG does not have powers to withdraw charges if there is evidence," CJ Asoka de Silva told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya. more..

Increase in household accidents

Apr 18 (DM) Household accidents had increased by 14 per cent with 114 cases of injuries resulting from violence during this year’s New Year period between April 14 and 16 had been reported to the National Hospital, Chief Nurse Pushpa Ramyani Soyza said. She said 706 patients were treated during festival period and this was a decline of seven per cent from last year. Due to the nationwide awareness programmes on the careful use of fire crackers during the festive season, more..

IPL row a wake-up call for cricket bosses

Apr 18 (KT) It has been an emotive topic across most sport and having cast its shadow over the earlier editions of the IPL, has finally come into the open this time around. A demand by the Sri Lankan cricket board that all national players involved in the ongoing Indian Premier League return to prepare for the upcoming England tour has reopened the long-running club versus country debate and how it is resolved may have serious implications for the future of cricket. more..

Sri Lanka 'pension' bill opposition increases

Apr 18 (LBO) An attempt by the state to deduct further sums money from salaries of Sri Lanka's private sector workers to create a 'pension' has run into further opposition with the draft law being challenged in court, a media report said. Ceylon Bank Employees Union had challenged the draft bill on pensions in Supreme Court. Sri Lanka's employees, particularly in the state sector get two pensions, a provident fund and another pension. more..

Targeting subsidies

Apr 18 (LG) IMF Colombo Representative Koshy Mathai at a recent briefing to the media raised an interesting point: Why isn’t Sri Lanka targeting fuel subsidies to the poor and making the rich pay higher prices? Explaining the need for focused subsidies in the context of rising oil prices which some experts say could even reach $200 per barrel in coming months from $115 now, Dr Mathai said the rich owning Prados, BMWs and other expensive cars should be able to afford a higher price for fuel. more..