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Performing Arts Centre opens in March

Feb 15 (DN) The construction of the National Performing Arts Theatre at Normads Grounds would be completed and the Theatre would be opened for the public in March. The Ministry has planned to open the National Performing Arts Theatre under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa next month. Over 90 percent of the construction work of the theatre had been completed. The Chinese Govt has spent Rs 2,430 million in constructing this centre. more..

BOI restructure to bring in US$ 1bn in FDIs this year

Feb 15 (Island) After a disappointing 2010, which left a feeling of let-down, the Board of Investment (BOI) yesterday (14) announced a new strategy to raise foreign direct investment flows (FDI) in to Sri Lanka to the desired level of 4 to 5 percent of GDP over the next 3 year period. "The FDI inflow this year is expected to reach the highest ever achieved by the country and will be well in excess of US$ 1 billion," the BOI said in a statement. more..

Creeping Privatisation of Education

Feb 15 (Island) Private universities are soon to be established in Sri Lanka, though there are already numerous colleges granting foreign university degrees of questionable standard. The University of Wales seems to have one of the largest franchises and obviously is in this business for financial gain. Establishing branches of their own universities in Sri Lanka is a business venture where education is secondary to profits. Already, representatives from the U.K. and Australia more..

Post-war SL: Ex-Foreign Secy discusses ‘foreign policy challenges’

Feb 15 (Island) Former Foreign Secretary and member of the LLRC H. M. G. S. Palihakkara says that having successfully achieved what he called complicated diplomatic task of preventing UN intervention during the eelam war IV, Sri Lanka seems to be confronted with more difficulties in handling less complex diplomatic issues in the post conflict peace building task. The veteran diplomat was delivering the Prof. J. E. Jayasuriya Memorial Lecture titled, more..

Life Flows back to Sri Lanka’s forgotten former Border Villages

Feb 15 (IL) Ran Banda feels some purpose in life again. For thirty years, he had survived from one day to the next in mind-numbing fear of the Tamil Tigers, as did everyone else in the sleepy village of Abbassa, nestling in the dense scrub jungles of Illukpitiya, in Buttala, in the Monaragala District. Then he had hardly dared to breathe, fearing the Tigers would hear him. Then he had feared to tread the grass, dreading the Tigers appearance from the shadows. more..

Indian Coconut exports surge on poor Lankan output

Feb 15 (ET) India is reaping the benefits of a slump in coconut exports from Sri Lanka. An unprecedented export demand from the Gulf and other Asian countries has led to the entry of more players into India’s export sector. “Sri Lanka has imposed a ban on the export of coconuts, possibly to control the local prices of the product. As a result, the global focus has shifted to Indian coconuts which are superior in quality,” said Kamlesh Shah, proprietor of more..

Chefs bring flavours of Sri Lanka to Qatar

Feb 15 (TP) A chance for all the foodies in Qatar to get a taste of Sri Lankan flavours. In keeping with their annual tradition, Gulf Paradise Hotel is hosting the Sri Lankan food festival for the third time. “Flavours from Sri Lanka”, will be held at Al Thoraya restaurant at the ground floor of the hotel until February 19 daily from 6pm to 11pm. Sri Lankan cuisine consists of lot of curries, pickles and condiments. Even though it is slightly hot on the palette for some, more..

Lanka looks to boost Qatar ties

Feb 15 (TP) Sri Lanka is keen to forge ties with Qatar in the energy sector besides other potential areas to develop bilateral partnerships, says visiting Minister of External Affairs Professor G L Peiris. “Now we have a peaceful environment and political stability. Therefore we have a very good opportunity for expanding and strengthening investment and trade relationship with Qatar,” said Professor Peiris, speaking to The Peninsula, about his bilateral meeting with more..

Sri Lanka: A man for each situation

Feb 15 (IoL) Often when coaches and players pour over their video footage on the opposition, the conversation drifts to which players can “hurt” them the most. Loosely translated into normal speak, it does not have anything to do with the physicality of the opponents, but rather which batsman or bowler can cause the most damage. If any of the other 13 teams were doing their analysis on the 1996 champions, they would already be in pain. Sri Lanka have an abundance of match-winners. more..

Jaywalkers to be dealt with firmly

Feb 15 (DM) The police are to strictly implement the road rules related to pedestrians crossing roads, and jaywalkers are to be fined with effect from February 21. The programme is to start from the Western Province, police said. “If pedestrians do not cross the roads at the specific Yellow Striped Pedestrian Crossings, they will be prosecuted, police said. After starting in the Western Province, the law would later be enforced throughout the country. more..

Sri Maha Bodhi sapling to be planted in Buddhagaya to mark Sambuddha Jayanthi

Feb 15 (IL) A sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura was brought to Temple Trees which is ready to be send to India on Monday 14 February. The sapling to be taken to India for planting at Buddhagaya to mark the 2600th Sambuddha Jayanthi celebrations was removed from the Uda Maluwa of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi recently in a colourful ceremony. This special religious ceremony was attended by the Maha Sangha led by Atamasthanadhipati and more..

Orders on plea against Lankan navy reserved

Feb 15 (EB) A writ petition had been filed in the Madras High Court for a direction to the Centre to constitute a committee headed by a judge of the High Court to inquire into the negligence and failure of the Coast Guard to prevent the human rights violations constantly committed by the Lankan Navy against the fishermen of TN since 1983 and consequently for a direction to them to assess the loss of life and property and report to the government for the rehabilitation of the families of the victims. more..

Order reserved on UPFA Writ Applications

Feb 15 (Island) The Court of Appeal yesterday reserved order, in respect of the Writ applications, filed by UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha, challenging the rejection of the UPFA nominations to contest the Pradeshiya Sabhas of Akmeemana and Moneragala, for February 18, 2011. The petitioner had requested the Court to quash the decision of the respective returning officers to reject the aforesaid nominations. D. S. Wijesinghe PC, appeared for petitioner more..

The new British High Commissioner in Colombo presents credentials

Feb 15 (IL) The newly appointed British High Commissioner (HC) to Sri Lanka, Mr. John James Rankin, presented his letter of credence from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday (14), at the formal ceremony organized by the Ministry of External Affairs. He was appointed as the High Commissioner in September 2010 by the British Government and succeeded Dr Peter Hayes more..

Hot air over Johnston’s move at Dambulla EC

Feb 15 (Island) Minister Johnston Fernando said that he was not worried at all by the picketing campaign launched at the Dambulla Economic Centre by a section of the disgruntled traders, whose stalls were taken over by the ministry. Fernando said that he had no option but to take action following reports of fraudulent activities by them at the DEC. He said that one trader, who had taken a stall for Rs. 8,000 on monthly rental, had leased it to another trader for Rs. 150,000. more..

'Sri Lanka will play seven batsmen'

Feb 15 (CI) Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, has given some insight into the XI his side will field during the World Cup, saying they would stick to a combination of seven batsmen and four bowlers, since it has served them well in home games. Sri Lanka experimented with playing six batsmen and five bowlers on their 2010 tour of Australia, with allrounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera batting at Nos. 6 and 7, but reverted to a seven-four formula for the home series against West Indies. more..

Cops oppose Lanka minister's bail plea

Feb 15 (CI) The police have opposed the anticipatory bail plea of Sri Lankan minister Douglas Devananda, saying he continued to be a proclaimed offender and that a non-bailable arrest warrant was still pending against him. Justice KN Basha of the Madras high court, before whom the matter came up for hearing on Monday, recused himself from the case and asked the registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice for being posted to some other judge. more..

NTPC may revisit planned thermal power plants in Lanka

Feb 15 (DM) India's state owned power producer National Thermal power Corporation (NTPC) is looking to revisit the plans the company disclosed in 2009 on setting up thermal power projects in Sri Lanka, according to Indian media reports. As the media report noted, the company is expected to finalize a 250 Megawatt coal-based power project in Trincomalee in a joint venture with the country's Ceylon Electricity Board shortly. Though NTPC was planning to set up more..

Several Karainagar security zones dismantled

Feb 15 (DM) High Security Zones in several areas at Karainagar in the Jaffna District have been dismantled and released for resettlement of people who lived there earlier. Karainagar Divisional Secretary E. Jeyaseelan said that Toopukkadu, Madattuwalawu and Palakadu in the Karainagar South and Karainagar South West have been already released for resettlement. He said people who had been relocated or forcibly displaced due to the creation of High Security Zones in more..

Minister probes paracetamol mystery

Feb 15 (DM) A high level inquiry has been initiated by the Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena to probe the non-availability of paracetamol at public hospitals. The minister yesterday instructed Health Secretary Dr. Ravindra Ruberu to inquire into the purchasing of 100 million paracetamol tablets from the open market after the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) had mysteriously delayed supplying the required stocks. more..

Don’t abuse public resources for politics

Feb 15 (DM) Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has instructed govt authorities to desist from conducting mobile services, exhibitions or other state-sponsored events with the participation of political party or independent candidates in the run up to the March 17 local council elections. In a circular to heads of public institutions including the presidential secretary, Mr. Dissanayake said people involved in such events could express opinions, more..

‘CPC Privatisation’: Tell the truth – UNP

Feb 15 (Island) Amidst claims by the Opposition that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was to be privatised, the UNP called on the government to immediately clarify its position. Media spokesman of the UNP, Gayantha Karunathillake said that the Mahinda Rajapksa regime which had pledged not to privatise any state ventures,was on the verge of violating yet another of its election promises. more..

CPC refutes misleading media reports

Feb 15 (DN) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) in a press release issued yesterday refuted a series of media reports concerning the disputed hedging transaction of the CPC with Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), Citibank NA (Citi) and Deutsche Bank AG (DB). Contrary to what has been said in these media reports the decisions of the arbitration tribunals and courts have not been announced yet. more..

Cannabis war goes hi-tech

Feb 15 (DN) The Police Special Task Force (STF) using modern technology raided several cannabis plantations covering 250 acres of chena land during the last six months. Police STF uprooted and destroyed more than 5,000 kgs of fully grown cannabis plants from these chenas. The market value of one kg of cannabis ranges from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. The raids were conducted in thick jungles in the forest reserves in more..

Lanka rejects Sudan-type referendum, highlights disparity in situations

Feb 15 (Island) Responding to ongoing efforts by overseas LTTE activists to have a referendum in Sri Lanka like the recent one in Sudan, the Sri Lankan government says those supporting the move have conveniently ignored the vast difference in the two situations. Former Secretary General of the SCOPP Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha said that the move to demand a referendum in Sri Lanka revealed total ignorance of both history and political principles. more..

Elephants find a place in Cricket Cup

Feb 15 (IPS) Sri Lanka goes into a frenzy this month as it plays co-host to the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Conservationists hope the national pasttime will share national and international media attention with an endangered Sri Lankan resident: the elephant. After all, the World Cup’s mascot is Stumpy the Blue Elephant, who is likely to find some real life friends as the games go rural, with some of the matches to be played in grounds outside Colombo. more..

Medics go on strike

Feb 15 (NN) Medics who provide supplementary services in government hospitals launched a token strike today forcing the Colombo national hospital to pay for patients to get the service done privately. The Joint Council of Professionals of Supplementary Medicine went on the one day strike today over several demands including promotions for those who have been in service for over 16 years. As a result of the island-wide strike by some 5300 medics, x-ray and lab services were more..

Murali launches autobiography entitled '800'

Feb 15 (FT) South Ceylon Publishing, a Colombo based publishing house, announced that it will publish the official autobiography of Sri Lankan cricketing legend, Muttiah Muralitharan in partnership with luxury publisher Kraken Opus, the publishing division of UK based, Opus Media Group. The autobiography, due to be launched this year will be initially published as a limited edition, large-format, luxury, collectable volume. more..

AG recommends release or rehab of over 600 LTTE suspects

Feb 15 (Island) The Attorney General’s Department has recommended the immediate release or transfer of 676 LTTE suspects held under Prevention of Terrorist Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations, to the ongoing rehabilitation programme. The suggestion follows inquiries by a special team headed by Deputy Solicitor General Shavendra Fernando, which interviewed those detained at Boossa and Omanthai in the recent past. more..

Nawalapitiya is back

Feb 16 (NN) Nawalapitiya which was the scene of serious tensions and violence during the last General Elections is once again turning out to be a mini war zone prior to the Local Government Elections scheduled for next month. Elections monitoring organizations have appealed to the political leaders in Nawalapitiya to control their party members as most of the incidents reported were of intra party violence. More than 18 people have so far been injured and hospitalized due to more..

Air quality a threat

Feb 16 (NN) The extremely poor air quality over Colombo poses a threat to the people as it could result in them suffering from various forms of respiratory diseases, Health officials said. Deputy Health Medical officer of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Dr. Ruwan Wijeyamuni said that pavement hawkers, pedestrians and even the police who are most often on the streets of Colombo are among those who could contract respiratory diseases. He said that vehicle emissions and more..

Sri Lanka tourist arrivals up 46-pct in January

Feb 16 (LBO) Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in January 2011 rose 46.2 percent to 74,197 with Western Europe generating 32,627 and India being the single most important country with 13,786 visitors. Visitors from Western Europe who are important for the country's beach resorts rose 53.7 percent from a year earlier maintaining the upward trend seen last year. In 2010 tourist arrivals rose 46.1 percent as the industry recovered from more..

Sri Lanka flood victims to get EU aid

Feb 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka's flood victims, some of whom were recovering from a recent war will get 105 million rupees of food aid from the European Union through the World Food Program. "The needs of the flood-affected communities are great and WFP still faces considerable shortfalls in our funding" WFP’s country representative in Sri Lanka, Adnan Khan said. "Before the floods, many conflict-affected families were attempting to resume agricultural activities after returning to their homes. more..

Over 600 nabbed for illigal parking

Feb 16 (NN) Over 600 vehicle owners who parked their vehicles on pavements in the Western Province were nabbed by the police after a law against such practice was strictly implemented since yesterday. 671 vehicle owners in the Western Province were given charge sheets yesterday for violating the law and parking on pavements. The police said that of the 671 offenders 263 were from Colombo. While the law against parking on pavements already exists, it has not been strictly implemented. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 15.02.2011

In delayed reaction, Sri Lanka welcomes Egypt transition

Feb 16 (PTI) The Sri Lankan government today broke its silence on the dramatic developments in Egypt and welcomed the "smooth and peaceful" transition in the country, days after the opposition warned of similar unrest sweeping the island. "Sri Lanka and Egypt enjoy warm and close ties. It is in this context that Sri Lanka wishes for the people of Egypt progress and stability within a democratic framework of governance," the External Affairs ministry said in a statement. more..

Education ministry to fund schools facing landslide threat

Feb 16 (SL) The Education Ministry is to present a Cabinet paper requesting for fund allocations to be distributed among schools that face the threat of landslides. Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena has told the media that the relevant Cabinet paper would be submitted after the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) presents the report on landslide prone areas and the schools that would be affected. The Education Ministry is to provide funds to the schools for more..

Sri Lanka sell out Canada World Cup clash

Feb 16 (AFP) Sri Lanka’s opening World Cup match against cricketing minnows Canada has sold out, Sri Lanka Cricket said on Tuesday. Ticket prices for the new 35,000-seater Hambantota stadium in Sri Lanka’s deep south start from 150 rupees ($1.35) up to a maximum of 1,000 rupees. “All tickets were sold out for Sri Lanka’s maiden encounter against Canada,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement. The match will be played on Sunday. more..

CAA to increase annual raids

Feb 16 (SL) The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) has decided to increase the number of raids conducted annually and also providing an incentive scheme for the officers involved in the raids. The Cooperatives and Internal Trade Ministry has taken steeps to increase the number of raids carried out by the CAA to 700,000 per year and to grant a 10% commission to the officers conducting the raids. The raids would be carried out to maintain discipline among traders and to create a fair market. more..

UNP: Govt. failed to give school uniforms to students

Feb 16 (SL) The UNP said the govt has failed to give school uniform material to students for the new school year even two months after the commencement of the school term. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the usual practice was to distribute school uniform materials to students a few days after the commencement of the new school term. He said the govt needed to formulate a proper mechanism to distribute school uniform material to students. more..