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Editorial: Tangled priorities and budget dreams

Nov 21 (DM) The annual budget for the year 2012 will be presented by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Parliament today. From the third budget after the conclusion of war, people still expect the reliefs promised long ago by the government. However, their eagerness in anticipating such comforts has long died down; with the way things are going, their disillusionment is hardly unexpected. In fact, with the obstinacy from the part of the government, which willfully ignores more..

Daily Mirror Cartoon

Sri Lanka to distribute unused plantation land among small farmers

Nov 21 (LBO) The Sri govt is to take back 37,000 acres of unused land from regional plantations companies and distribute it to small farmers, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. The land is to be distributed on rent among small holders at the rate of two acres each, Rajapaksa told parliament while presenting the budget for 2012. He said the govt had done surveys of plantations and identified the land that had been lying unused since the estates were more..

Sri Lanka stocks end down 0.3-pct

Nov 21 (LBO) Shares closed lower Monday with the low turnover bolstered by trades in conglomerate John Keells Holdings, brokers said. The main All Share Price Index fell 0.34 percent to 6,119.86, while the more liquid Milanka index rose 0.15 percent to close at 5,357.45, according to stock exchange figures. Turnover was 871 million rupees. Trading in John Keells Holdings accounted for the largest turnover with four crossings or off-market private deals of more..

Sri Lanka depreciates currency by 3%

Nov 21 (AFP) Sri Lanka announced Monday a surprise three percent depreciation of the country's rupee against a basket of currencies in a move to boost the country's export competitiveness. "I have asked the Central Bank (of Sri Lanka) to depreciate the rupee by three percent," President Mahinda Rajapakse told parliament as he was unveiling the island nation's 2012 budget. "This is to remain competitive with our neighbours," he said. more..

Batsmen failed to take responsibility - Dilshan

Nov 21 (CI) Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, has criticised his batsmen's inability to take ownership of a modest chase during the fourth ODI against Pakistan in Sharjah, a defeat that cost them the five-match series. Chasing 201, Sri Lanka were on course to level the series at 155 for 3 before they collapsed, losing seven wickets for 19 runs. "It's unbelievable to lose seven wickets for 20 odd runs," Dilshan said. "[Shahid] Afridi batted and bowled well, more..

LeT sending LTTE and BKI militants to do its dirty work: Intelligence

Nov 21 (DNA) The Maharashtra and Mumbai police have received an alarming alert from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) warning them of possible presence of sleeper cells and militants of the LTTE in and around Mumbai, especially in the Navi Mumbai area. The warning is part of a confidential report which states that the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is using LTTE cadre and Sikh militants to infiltrate into India to carry out terror activities. more..

Unruly govt. MPs try to manhandle UNP members during budget

Nov 21 (DM) Parliamentary business was relegated to rowdy levels today during the budget speech of President Mahinda Rajapaksa with some unruly govt MPs trying to manhandle and rough up UNP members who held aloft placards critical of the 2012 budget. In the middle of the budgetary speech, UNP MPs started shouting slogans against the budgetary proposals. They also rose on their feet holding aloft placards which said ‘Shame’ in all the three languages. more..

Sri Lanka to give tax holidays to smaller enterprises

Nov 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka will give tax holidays between 4 to 6 years to companies investing between 50 to 300 million rupees in export and import substitution businesses, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. The move will allow small and medium enterprises to benefit from investment incentives, President Rajapaksa told parliament during a budget speech. Firms in agriculture and information technology will have a 25 million rupee threshold. For larger enterprises investors more..

Sri Lanka to give tax holidays to smaller enterprises

Nov 21 (LBO) The state will give incentives to process rice for export, aquaculture in especially in former war torn areas in the east of the island, president Mahinda Rajapaksa said presenting a budget for 2012. Rajapaksa said funding for improved seed production and agriculture extension services for paddy will be increased. Rice processing for export will be given tax incentives. Four rice export processing zones will be developed, he said. more..

WikiLeaks: Fonseka’s Hawaii visit cancelled due to his involvement in human-rights violations

Nov 21 (CT) “Ambassador recounted recent developments regarding Fonseka, including cancellation of his invitation to attend the recent Chief of Defense conference in Hawaii due to U.S. concerns about his involvement in human-rights violations during the conflict with the LTTE.” The US Embassy Colombo informed to Washington. U.S. concerns about Fonseka's involvement in human-rights violations during the conflict with the LTTE. more..

Some uncrupulous politicians damage country's image: PM

Nov 21 (DM) Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said unscrupulous politicians caused extensive damage to the country by creating communal disharmony to gain cheap political mileage and they must understand the consequences of their shortsighted acts. Addressing a public meeting at the Weerasingham Hall in Jaffna to make donations to develop the Hindu temples in Jaffna and Kilinochchi, he pointed out that communal harmony was a pre-requisite of the development process. more..

'Trincomalee University funds unutilised'

Nov 21 (DM) The authorities of the Eastern University’s Trincomalee Campus had failed to use as much as Rs.179 million of the money allocated for development work, said Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake. He was planting a tree on the occasion of the Presidents 66th birthday He made these remarks at a function to mark the “Tree Planting Campaign” to mark President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s birthday. He said there was a delay in the construction work at the Trincomalee Campus as more..

Sri Lanka raises annual 'luxury taxes' on cars

Nov 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka has raised annual taxes on 'luxury' cars of up by between 20,000 to 50,000 rupees a year with new vehicles with engine capacity over two litres, being charged the highest rates of 150,000 rupees. Sri Lanka's budget or 2012 said 'luxury' diesel cars over 2.5 litres engine capacity and petrol cars over 2.0 litres will be charged a 150,000 fee in the first year up from 100,000, and 100,000 in the second year up from 78,000. more..

Have more children, police hinted

Nov 21 (BBC) The govt of Sri Lanka appears to want military and police families to have more children. Presenting the annual budget speech on Monday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that any police officer parenting a third child would be given a one-off cash grant of one hundred thousand Sri Lankan rupees. The same grant was offered to army, navy and air force parents a year ago. Delivering the budget in his capacity as finance minister, President Rajapaksa said more..

SLR to equip fleet with modern safety devices

Nov 21 (DM) The entire fleet of trains of the Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) is to be equipped with modern safety devices including Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to ensure the safety of passengers and crew and minimise accidents, Transport Minister Kumara Welgama said. He said 10 trains have already been installed with GPS in a pilot project and tests have been carried out on the main line. The software components of the device include an alarm system that alerts more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 21.11.2011

Court orders arrests Japanese national

Nov 21 (DM) A Colombo Court today ordered the Slave Island police to arrest a Japanese national and a Sri Lankan who were alleged to have organised a foreign job racket by defrauding several youth of millions of rupees on the pretext of finding them jobs in Japan. Slave Island Crimes OIC Ariyasinghe told the Japanese national who interviewed job seekers is reported to have 25 cases over similar incidents. The police told Colombo Fort Magistrate that Ms. Lanka Jayaratne that a Sri Lankan, Chandana Priyankara who more..

Shroff embezzled stamp money

Nov 21 (DM) A former shroff of the Southern Province Inland Revenue Department who pleaded guilty of fraud involving Rs.100,000 was sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment, suspended for ten years and fined Rs.10,000 by the Galle High Court Judge Sarojini Kusala Weerawardene. The accused Ambana Palliya Guruge Wijesiri, who was attached to the Southern Province Inland Revenue Department, made a complaint on December 14, 2011 to the Galle Police that two men who entered more..

Sri Lanka says economy may grow at record 9% pace next year

Nov 21 (BN) Sri Lanka’s economy may grow at a record pace next year and inflation will probably stay at the ‘mid-single digit’ level, the central bank said before the federal budget announcement today. Gross domestic product may increase 8.5 percent to 9 percent in 2012, from an estimated 8.3 percent this year, the Central Bank said. A 9 percent growth rate would be the fastest since 1950, when the monetary authority started collating data for GDP. more..

Vietnam welcomes Sri Lankan businesses

Nov 21 (LBO) The Vietnamese Govt will create the possible best conditions for Sri Lankan and Vietnamese businesses to approach investment and trade opportunities. State President Truong Tan Sang made this affirmation at a reception for Asoka Hettigoda, President of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka, in Hanoi. He said he hopes the two countries' businesses will take advantage of cooperative opportunities to raise export and import value and more..

9 Lankan Fishermen Held by Coast Guard in Andhra

Nov 21 (PTI) Indian Coast Guard has apprehended nine Sri Lankan fishermen and their two fishing boats, which posed 'high security risk for the coast', off Nizampattinam in Andhra Pradesh. The fishermen, spotted by Coast Guard Ship ICGS Sarang during a routine surveillance, were arrested on Nov 19 for allegedly violating certain sections of the Maritime Zones of India Act of 1981, a Cost Guard release said here today. Fish catch of 3,500 kg was also confiscated, more..

Sri Lanka Budget 2012: Highlights

Nov 21 (GDI) Following are the highlights of the Budget -2012 presented by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament on Monday. STATE SECTOR SALARY INCREASE: Revision of Salaries and Allowances of Public Sector Employees–Budget 2012. (i) For all public servants, the special allowance of 5% of the basic salary which is being paid at present will be increased by a further 10% making it 15% of the basic salary. For non-staff grade officers more..

Pieces of pawns, all

Nov 22 (DM) In a way, it compares with the Sri Lankan Govt reluctantly deciding on the setting up of the LLRC on the home-front, and reiterating its resolve to publicise the report, when submitted, and also acting on it. The comparison should however stop with the commonality of Sri Lanka, though the latter as a Govt had not sought or played a third-nation role, what with the Norwegian engagement instead having an inevitable impact on the course of the ethnic war, though not the more..

An updating of individual political fortunes

Nov 22 (SL) Watching and listening to Sanath Jayasuriya acting as some kind of commentator in the current Sri Lanka-Pakistan cricket series brought to mind the need, perhaps, to jog the memories of readers of this publication as to the sometimes strange paths that the careers of people in the public eye take in this country. Unexpected, perhaps, but certainly bizarre more often than one would care to recall. Jayasuriya is probably a less dramatic choice with which more..

'The Tamil people have not been treated as equal citizens for a very long time'

Nov 22 (TC) Leader of the TNA, R. Sampanthan, says the Tamils in the country are still not treated as equal citizens and have lost their dignity and self respect. In an interview with The Sunday Leader, R. Sampanthan also spoke on Sinhalese settlement in the North and East, as well as local and international efforts towards assuring accountability for alleged war crimes. Excerpts from the interview: more..

Eradication of organised crime in Sri Lanka

Nov 22 (SL) This column dedicated to the notion of making Sri Lanka the Wonder of Asia turns its spotlight today on the travails of Sri Lankan society caused by the criminal activities of the underworld thereby defeating the aspirations of the Sri Lankans to live in a society free of such activities. Criminal activities of organised crime syndicates are found in many parts of the world. In Italy, the underworld is known as the Mafia while in Japan it is known as the Yakuza. more..

Reports, Retorts and Rhetoric

Nov 22 (SL) Sri Lanka’s LLRC will issue its report soon (hopefully to the public). It is not necessary to mention leaks; it is enough to simply look at the initial statement of purpose. “To inquire and report on the following matters that may have taken place during the period between 21st Feb, 2002 and 19th May, 2009, namely ; The facts and circumstances which led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement operationalized on 21st February, 2002 and the sequence of events that followed more..

'No satisfactory permanent solution can ever be found under a unitary system of govt'

Nov 22 (TC) This is the full text of a letter sent to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by former MP and Secretary-General of the TULF Veerasingam Aanandasangaree: I am compelled to write this letter to you being very much worried and upset over the happenings in this Country, since the end of the war. My question is when the bloodshed due to the war in the North has still not dried up and the wounds of the war not healed yet, why should the Govt or more..

Teacher par excellence and gentleman by nature

Nov 22 (LB) There is no one mould into which all great men fit; some are remembered for an achievement or a contribution that changed the world, others for the influence they had on those who came in touch with them, still others for style, or honour, or for a job well done over a lifetime. In the narrower ambit of academic pursuit there are scholars who make valued contributions, wonderful teachers, and still others who make their students who and what they are. more..

Astrological mumbo jumbo and the commonwealth games

Nov 22 (SL) How we lost the Games! Saturn moving across the zodiac was predicted by our learned astrologers to have played havoc on some born under particular birth signs while the luckier ones under other birth signs were said to have manna descending on them from the heavens. We are not believers in this ‘science of astrology’ or the mumbo jumbo of planetary configurations but a decision taken in the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean by the Commonwealth games authority more..

Nedumaran writes new 1000 page biography of LTTE leader Prabhakaran

Nov 22 (DBS) A 1000 page book on the life of Veluppillai Prabhakaran, leader of LTTE is to be released in January 2012. The book “Prabhakaran: Thamizhar Ezhuchiyin Vadivam” (Prabhakaran; Personification of Tamil resurgence) is written by Pazhaniyappan Nedumaran. Nedumaran a well-known TamilNadu politician & leader of the “Thamizhar Thesiya Iyakkam” (Tamil National Movement) is supportive of the LTTE. more..

Editorial: A political jilmaat

Nov 22 (Island) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has got into the attack mode in defence of former Army Chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka. He will not baulk at anything, Ranil has vowed. In fact, he is duty bound to do so––for two reasons. First, he has to do penance for his and his party's sins against Gen. Fonseka. Senior UNPers shamelessly abused their parliamentary privileges in a bid to demonise Gen. Fonseka while the war was raging. On July 8, 2008, the then Chief Opposition Whip more..

Equilibrhythm: How home-grown music is giving Colombo some much needed harmony

Nov 22 (GV) Our serendipitous isle is blessed with the gift of rhythm and a rare few who understand it so infinitely that they create music that transcends simplistic notions like preference and prejudice. This is an eye-witness report of sorts, of what young, home-grown talent is doing for a nation and its development. Sri Lankan originality has begun to thrive at unexpected levels in recent years and our media is laced with names and faces of many more artistic pioneers more..

Solheim: Hero or Villain?

Nov 22 (SL) Peace however imperfect is always better than slaughter. Two and a half years since the war ended I recall the words of Desmond Tutu and Lakhdar Brahimi when they commented on the Sri Lankan situation post war, “Genuine peace is more than the absence of fighting.” We are all relieved the war has ended. After a conflict lasting 26 years the military achievement of the govt cannot be downplayed. That achieved: How far has Sri Lanka moved towards a lasting peace? more..

Galgamuwa tusker suffers man’s abuse

Nov 22 (NS) The recent rampage of the one eye blinded majestic tusker Galgamuwa Dala Poottuwa wreaking havoc in its attack on scores of vehicles on Dambulla road evokes another vital question on why cruelty of man on animals cannot be stopped. As of a fortnight back it was reported that the ailing tusker that strayed away from his habitat, Galgamuwa is slowly moving back from the Kalaoya locality towards his former home ground after being attacked by another tusker living in the wild. more..

Social reformer role of the media highlighted

Nov 22 (NS) Director General of Govt Information Department Dr Ariyaratne Athugala is reported to have said recently that genuine media persons are social reformers and that they are a cut above politicians. Some politicians with bloated egos, of course, would have taken this statement with a pinch of salt. But others with realistic view of things would not have had any quarrel with the statement. The subject of the media is indeed topical in view of the public attention and more..

North-South transfers of top civil servants to build amity

Nov 22 (Island) The Govt has initiated a programme of transferring Tamil Govt Agents from the North to the South and Sinhalese Govt Agents from the South to the North, with the view to give Sri Lanka Administrative Service officers an opportunity of building amity among the communities. Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs Bandara P. Abeyakoon confirmed that the Govt Agent for the Mullaitivu district more..

Govt. urged to take JHU to task

Nov 22 (Island) The UPFA Govt should take to task the JHU, one of its constituent parties, for commenting that the govt was engaged in a game of hide and seek with the TNA in discussing devolution of power, the DPF said. The General-Secretary of the DPF Dr. Kumar Guruparan said that the JHU MP Ven. Ellawela Medananda thera had said that the government which could not accommodate devolution before the war on Terrorism was not prepared to do so even now though having talks with the TNA. more..

Unemployed graduates complain of death threats

Nov 22 (Island) Unemployed graduates, who recently renewed their fight for jobs, were threatened with death last week by unidentified groups, according to the Combined Association of Unemployed Graduates (CAUG). CAUG media spokesman Dhammika Munasinghe said that members of their Batticaloa branch had received death threats after holding a protest and a seminar in Batticaloa. He said that they launched their countrywide protests against the govt’s delay to provide them with jobs. more..