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Leeks cultivators desperate as price drops to record low

Nov 13 (ST) Leeks were a favourite of vegetable grower and writer Samuel Baker, the Englishman who made Nuwara Eliya his home and garden in the 1840s. Plots of leeks are a common, and pleasing, sight in the district. In the 150 years since, leeks have been grown widely, and constitute a major part of the hill country’s produce that goes to the market. Unfortunately, over-production is affecting the market for this popular vegetable. The tea-growing area of Kandapola more..

Heads to roll in state institutions

Nov 13 (NS) The govt has decided to remove heads of the loss making state institutions probed by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). The anticipated cabinet reshuffle would take place only after the removal of heads of 115 state institutions revealed as loss making ones by the COPE. There have problems other than running losses in some of these institutions such as corruption and disregard to govt financial regulations more..

Army to quit houses in Jaffna before New Year

Nov 13 (NS) Around 50 houses occupied by the military in the Jaffna peninsula are to be handed over to their owners at the end of this year. Jaffna Security Forces Commander, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe told The Nation that over 200 houses that were occupied by the military had already been given back to its owners. Concerns are raised by various political parties and organisations over the continuous military occupation of private properties. more..

Expatriate dialogue continues in UK

Nov 13 (NS) Sri Lanka had embarked upon a good reconciliation and rehabilitation process and collaborative partnerships including those with the expatriates should be developed internationally to educate the people about the very real progress taking place at home, Dr. Chris Nonis, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom said. He said dialogue with expatriates were multi-cultural and multi ethnic in character and that the British public were also invited. more..

Colombo NGOs major recipients of Norwegian funding

Nov 13 (Island) Perhaps the principal financial beneficiary of the Norwegian-led peace process is a group of Colombo-based NGOs and their Norwegian partners, according to the much awaited report on ‘evaluation of Norwegian peace efforts in Sri Lanka (1997-2009)’ released in Oslo on Friday. But the Norwegians, according to the report had been involved in Sri Lanka as far back as 1991 with the blessings of the then Ranasinghe Premadasa govt. more..

Harsha de Silva punches website manipulation

Nov 13 (Island) If the govt believes that by manipulating the BOI website to remove the reference to the clause in the Constitution of Sri Lanka that ensures agreements entered to by foreign investors have "protection against nationalization," Dr. Harsha de Silva, MP, asked yesterday. Such investors can be misled into believing no such protection ever existed. It shows the ultimate bankruptcy of this regime’s economic policy. No matter what the government does now to control more..

Govt. hopeful of finalizing Sheraton and CATIC deals soon

Nov 13 (SL) The government has shown three plots of land surrounding the Beira Lake in Colombo to China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) to choose from, for its hotel project. Deputy Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that three plots of land facing the waterfront near the Beira Lake have been shown to CATIC. “CATIC is yet to decide on the plot of land they wish to lease for their hotel project,” Abeywardena said. more..

Errant govt. doc who drew millions as dues under top level probe

Nov 13 (Island) A govt doctor who had drawn millions of rupees as his remuneration plus allowances without reporting for duty regularly during the past 11 years has now come under a top-level probe in an incident which medical circles last week described as "beyond belief". The medical practitioner is attached to a division under the Health Ministry and while in service, he had been working full-time for a leading travel company promoting tourism more..

A House divided as Assets Bill becomes law

Nov 13 (ST) Parliament on Wednesday debated and passed the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilised Assets Bill, which was presented to the House as an Urgent Bill. DNA MP Anura Dissanayaka said that, though Minister Basil Rajapaksa insisted that the Bill was not introduced in a secretive manner, saying that a committee had been appointed for drafting the Bill, and Cabinet kept informed, the lack of public participation in the process made it secretive. more..

CAs soon for acquired enterprises

Nov 13 (ST) The Government will begin appointing Competent Authorities for each of the 37 enterprises and underutilized assets to be taken over from next week, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times. “We will pick lawyers, experts and professionals in the respective fields to be appointed on a temporary basis. Their main task will be to analyse what future action should be taken regarding the enterprise or the asset,” Mr. Rajapaksa said. more..

LTTE leaders tried to surrender through Basil, says Norway

Nov 13 (ST) An evaluation report by Norway of its peace efforts in Sri Lanka between 1997 and 2009 has named Minister Basil Rajapaksa as the person through whom the LTTE leadership tried to negotiate a last-minute surrender deal before the entire hierarchy of the group was killed in May, 2009. “In the night between May 17 and 18, Nadesan (head of the LTTE Political Wing) and Pulidevan (head of the LTTE Peace Secretariat) contacted the Norwegians as well as more..

TNA’s US visit a flop: Govt.; Quite the contrary: TNA

Nov 13 (Island) The govt claimed that the visit of the TNA delegation to the United States to air their grievances was totally unsuccessful in the light of the inability to meeet with those who mattered such as the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the White House authorities but the one of the TNA delegates dismissed the govt’s claims. "As far as I know, the TNA has not been unable to lobby the right people such as the United Nations Secretary General and more..

Bus operators threaten action if state refuses ‘to play fair’

Nov 13 (ST) Private bus operators have threatened to launch trade union action if the govt does not give them concessions, in the wake of the recent fuel price hike. Gemunu Wijeratne, president of the Private Bus Operators’ Association, said that the govt was providing a fuel subsidy for state-run buses, and should in all fairness consider a sizeable subsidy for the private bus service. “The govt gives out something like Rs. 5,000 a day in compensation for each passenger bus more..

Where is Lanka heading after takeover law?

Nov 13 (ST) A controversial law entered the country's statute book on Friday but some of the scars it left behind are certain to linger for months if not years. Speaker gave his assent to the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises or Underutilized Assets Bill on Friday night. Since Parliament passed it as an urgent piece of legislation "in the national interest" on Wednesday, the Ministry of Finance has been in touch with the Speaker's office to obtain more..

Gang posing as a police unit attempts robbery

Nov 13 (LB) The Police department requests the public to be extra vigilant about people who come to search their houses claiming to be from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) or the Police Headquarters, as mass scale robberies have increased in the country. Reports say that robbers resort to committing robberies and carrying out other acts of vandalism once they enter private properties having said that they are from the police, most times in civvies. more..

Yet another youth dies in police custody

Nov 13 (ST) Dr Ms D. Ranatunga, a medical officer of the Dompe hospital, told a Magisterial inquiry that, after the youth, who was brought by police to the hospital, was pronounced dead, there were no police officers even to find out the name of the deceased. She said that, by the time the ECG report of the deceased was brought, there were no policemen in sight. She was testifying at the Magisterial inquiry into the death of Gayan Rasanga, 29, who died while in Police custody. more..

Armitage’s insights included CBK-Ranil animosity

Nov 13 (Island) Former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had given some fascinating insights on Sri Lanka when the war was being fought including ``personal animosity’’ between President CBK and then PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prabhakaran’s lack of sophistication and being a bad decision maker and how he, at the request of the concerned parties, had won State Department agreement for inviting Anton Balasingham to Washington. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Nov 13 (ST) Despite millions being spent, Sri Lanka lost its bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Hambantota. The voting - 43 in favour of Australia and 27 for Sri Lanka. The Gold Coast Bulletin, the website promoting Australia, reported on a party hosted by some 160-strong Sri Lanka delegation members who arrived in St Kitts by a chartered SriLankan Airlines flight. Here is what the website said just two days before: "Sri Lanka is partying like it has won the right to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, more..

‘No alternative option left: Acquire Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital’

Nov 13 (Island) The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) last week urged the govt to acquire the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH), which has been tainted by allegations of corruption, waste, mismanagement and financial irregularities. "There is no alternative option left now but to take over this medical facility and convert it into a govt-run general hospital", more..

Sangakkara returns to No. 1 in Test rankings

Nov 13 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara has replaced Jacques Kallis at the top of the ICC's rankings for Test batsmen, following his strong showing against Pakistan in the UAE. On the bowling front, Dale Steyn extended his lead at the top, while a lethal spell with the ball against South Africa has catapulted Shane Watson into the top ten. Kallis, who has led the batting rankings for much of the year, dropped three rating-points after his first-innings' duck more..

UK and South Africa in abrupt pull out from Galle Dialogue 2011

Nov 13 (Island) UK and South Africa pulled out of Galle Dialogue 2011 at the 11th hour, while Dr. W Lawrence S. Prabhakar, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science of Madras Christian College, Chennai, indicated his inability to present a paper titled "Non Military Applications in Regional Maritime Domain; Opportunities, Trends and Challenges" due to reasons beyond his control. Captain S. Balakrishnan would present a paper on more..

Govt. asked to increase Mahapola payment

Nov 13 (SL) The IUSF is to commence a series of protests calling on the govt to increase the monthly Mahapola scholarship payment and the bursary paid by the university. IUSF Convener, Sanjeewa Bandara says that the Mahapola scholarship has not been increased for the past six years while the bursary payment has not been increased in 10 years. He told The Sunday Leader that the monthly Mahapola scholarship payment was increased by the govt from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 2,500 in 2005 more..

Rs. 370 m. spent by Govt. on vehicle purchases in August

Nov 13 (ST) The Govt has spent millions of rupees to purchase vehicles as well as pay lease rentals for vehicles purchased for Govt agencies within the month of August alone, according to details of allocations made by the Budgetary Support Services and Contingency Liabilities Project presented to Parliament. The Department of National Budget had spent Rs. 102 million to pay the lease rental of vehicles obtained for more..

Bharatha’s family approaches Harper

Nov 13 (SL) The family of slain politician Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra says they have approached Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seeking support to ensure that justice is done with regard to Premachandra’s murder. Swarna Premachandra, Bharatha Lakshman’s sister, told The Sunday Leader from Canada yesterday, that the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has responded positively to a request from the family members for a meeting with the Premier. more..

'Parliament is also an underperforming enterprise'

Nov 13 (LB) The Supreme Court came in for a scathing attack last week when TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran questioned the quality of judges that examined the govt’s controversial acquisition legislation. Speaking during the debate on the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Bill, Sumanthiran said there was no justification for referring the legislation to the Supreme Court as an “urgent bill.” more..

Despite defeat, H’tota will be developed

Nov 13 (ST) Australia’s Gold Coast yesterday won the contest to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The decision was taken at a meeting of the 71-member Commonwealth Games Federation which met in the Caribbean Island of St Kitts with 43 voting in favor of Australia and only 27 backing Sri Lanka. The news was disappointing for a Sri Lanka contingent of 160 who had flown to St Kitts in a specially-chartered SriLankan Airlines plane. more..

Outbreak of typhoid in Colombo suspected

Nov 13 (LB) Chief Medical Officer, Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam has informed owners of eateries in the Colombo district to subject their employees to medical tests forthwith as there is a danger of a typhoid epidemic breaking out among wayside hotels. It has been reported that many hotel workers in and around Colombo have been suffering from typhoid fever, and the CMC is offering the typhoid vaccine to those affected, free of charge, more..

Two Japanese maritime self defence force ships arrive in Colombo

Nov 13 (SLN) Two Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) ships, "Samidare DD-106" and "Umigiri DD-158", arrived at the Port of Colombo on 12th November 2011 with the Commander, Escort Division Four, Captain Hideyuki Ooban onboard. The ships are returning from a counter piracy operation off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Arden. "Samidare DD-106" is a destroyer with a crew of 180 personnel onboard. more..

Atapattu apologises for Sri Lanka's failure

Nov 13 (E24|7) Sri Lanka's batting coach Marvan Atapattu has apologised for the team's pathetic display in the first one-day international against Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday. Electing to bat first on an easy paced wicket, Sri Lanka's innings never took after the dismissal of skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over of the match and were bundled out for the lowest total of 131 in more..

Dilshan defends decision to demote Mahela

Nov 13 (Island) The batting position of Mahela Jayawardene has been much debated in Sri Lankan cricket circles in the last year and World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga ahead of the 2011 World Cup campaign, was of the opinion that Jayawardene should bat at number five and not at his customary position of number four. The call for the former captain to drop down the order was strongly resisted arguing that the team’s best batsman should bat higher up in the order. more..

Indian fishermen told not to cross IMBL

Nov 13 (Hindu) Incidents of fishermen crossing the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL) has been on the rise, straining the relationship between India and Sri Lanka. With a view to impress upon fishermen of Pudukottai district the norms on restriction of fishing activities within the stipulated border, the Indian Navy has initiated a special plan to create awareness among the fisherfolk. Based on photographs and records of fishermen who had crossed over to more..

'India, LTTE met secretly before Sri Lanka truce'

Nov 13 (IANS) Indian officials met in 'secret' with the LTTE ahead of Sri Lanka's 2002 truce although New Delhi considered the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group, Norwegian cabinet minister Erik Solheim has revealed. The former envoy to Sri Lanka also said - confirming for the first time ever an IANS report of 2008 - that India played a covert role in events that led to the Tamil Tigers and Colombo signing a ceasefire agreement (CFA) nine years ago. more..

PM to Sri Lanka: Use of force on fishermen not acceptable

Nov 13 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said he had conveyed to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the use of force in dealing with fishermen is unacceptable and pushed for a joint working group to resolve the issue. 'We explained this to President Rajapaksa and he agreed that the use of force to deal with Indian fishermen is totally unacceptable, that it is a human problem and it must be dealt in a humane manner,' Manmohan Singh said while more..

Sri Lanka slashes visa fee for Indian tourists

Nov 13 (PTI) Sri Lanka has slashed the visa fee it planned to charge from tourists from India and other SAARC countries to USD 10 from the originally planned USD 50, after New Delhi took up the issue with it. Non-Indian and non-SAARC nation visitors would, however, be charged USD 20, officials said today. India raised concerns in late October over Sri Lankan immigration's decision to levy a USD 50 visa processing fee under the new electronic travel authorisation system (ETA) from January 1, 2012. more..

WikiLeaks: What the US is doing to us is shocking – Central Bank Governor

Nov 13 (CT) “Cabral started the meeting by noting his disappointment that Sri Lanka’s request for an IMF Stand–by–Arrangement has not come through, and has not yet backed the request. He underscored that the GSL has done all that the IMF has asked including, for example, introducing new tax measures and altering its monetary policy.” the US Embassy Colombo wrote to Washington. more..

Sri Lanka: Commonwealth Games as Catalyst for Development

Nov 13 (Scoop) Sri Lanka will continue the large-scale investment set-out in its ‘life-changing’ Hambantota 2018 bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, despite losing out to Australia’s Gold Coast in the crucial vote on the Caribbean island of St Kitts this evening. Hambantota 2018 bid leaders congratulated the Gold Coast for winning a “truly sporting contest” and wished them “every success for 2018.” In what the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) called one of the most more..

Sri Lanka peace process evaluated

Nov 13 (NP) The first evaluation of Norway’s peace efforts in Sri Lanka has been presented. “We want to learn from the experience we have gained from the peace process in Sri Lanka,” said Minister of International Development Erik Solheim. An independent evaluation of Norway’s peace efforts in Sri Lanka was presented on Friday. Norway is given a pass mark for the work that was done, while at the same time a number of points are highlighted for Norway to learn from. more..

Sri Lanka expropriation law slammed in newspaper poll

Nov 13 (LBO) An overwhelming 98.4 percent of respondents in a newspaper poll found fault with a law to selectively expropriate some three dozen firms which lawyers said was deeply flawed and trespassed on a constitutional separation of powers. The financial news section of The Sunday Times, asked respondents whether the State did the right thing in rushing as an urgent bill the expropriation law. Only 1.5 percent of the respondents said yes. more..

'An eye opener to the private sector'

Nov 13 (Island) UNP MP and former NDB Bank Chief Executive, Eran Wickramaratne, speaking on the govt’s controversial "expropriation" Bill in Parliament sounded a wake up call to the private sector as the govt hurriedly pushed through a Bill to acquire private sector businesses on the basis of them being underperforming or having underutilized assets alienated from govt over the past 20 years. Copies of the Bill were made available to the legislators only on Tuesday and more..

Three Sri Lankan sisters walk away after their 4x4 overturns in Dubai

Nov 13 (GN) Three sisters, including a four-year-old, had a miraculous escape after their speeding 4x4 was hit by a car at a traffic signal in Bur Dubai on Friday night. According to witnesses, the accident happened at 10.40pm. They said the 4x4 jumped a red light at high speed and was hit by a saloon car at almost a right angle. The 4x4 overturned several times before landing on its side near the US Consulate General by Dubai Creek. more..