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'Over 12,000 tobacco-related deaths annually'

Nov 24 (DN) Over 12,000 people die annually due to tobacco use in Sri Lanka while around 100 million people have died in the 20th century due to tobacco related diseases around the world, said National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) chairman Prof. Carlo Fonseka. Over 6,000 farmers in the country have been involved in tobacco cultivation and the majority of these farmers have started tobacco cultivation in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. more..

MR warns of post-war threats to national security

Nov 24 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday (22) said that some of the self-styled human rights champions had the audacity to call the killing of hardcore LTTE terrorist Thamilselvan in a SriLanka Air Force raid an attack on the peace process. Such criticism was part of their strategy to force Sri Lanka to call off its battle against LTTE terrorism, the President told the annual Convocation of more..

Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte passes away

Nov 24 (LP) Former Minister and Deputy Minister of Defence, Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte passed away this morning at a Kandy Hospital. He was being treated for head injuries following a fall at his residence,hospital sources said. Gen. Ratwatte who was unconscious after the fall was on a life support support machine.

Sri Lanka declares 2012 as Year for a Trilingual Sri Lanka

Nov 24 (GDI) The Sri Lankan Government has decided to declare year 2012 as the Year for a Trilingual Sri Lanka aimed at motivating the people to acquire trilingual skills. A paper presented by president Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Cabinet suggests that far-seeing initiatives are needed to be taken to prevent the resurgence of terrorism which ravaged the country for over three decades. more..

'None of the soldier families got Rs.100,000'

Nov 24 (DM) The JVP charged yesterday that though the govt pledged in its 2011 budget to give Rs.100,000 to soldiers at the birth of their third child, none of the soldiers had received this payment during the year. JVP front-liner Vijitha Herath said that in Monday’s Budget too, the govt had promised to extend this facility to families of police officers as well, but when considering the govt’s track record this too would end up more..

Baratha Premachandra Killing: Bed Head Ticket will reveal truth

Nov 24 (Island) President’s Counsel Hemantha Warnakulasuriya yesterday submitted to Court that the most important piece of documentary evidence, the Bed Head Ticket of Duminda Silva, had not been produced to the Court. Counsel Warnakulasuriya was appearing for MP Duminda Silva, who is a suspect in the Bharatha Lukshman Premachandra murder case. The information contained in the Bed Head Ticket would show clearly and more..

Massive child farm racket: CID to conduct investigation

Nov 24 (DN) A child and women’s care centre in Moratuwa came under the close scrutiny of the National Child Protection Authority yesterday. A team headed by NCPA Chairperson Anoma Dissanayake, including Police officers of the Authority, inspected the location following a call on hotline 1929. According to them there had been over 75 children at the centre at the time of the inspection. more..

Govt. appoints competent authorities for enterprises under asset acquisition Act

Nov 24 (GDI) The Sri Lankan Cabinet Wednesday approved the appointment of Competent Authorities for the 37 enterprises listed in the Schedules to the newly approved Assets Acquisition Act. Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Under Utilized Assets Act No 43 of 2011 paved the way for acquisition of 37 enterprises which were earlier transferred to the private sector. more..

Sri Lanka takes first count of civilian war deaths

Nov 24 (AP) Sri Lanka said Thursday it was counting on its own how many civilians were slain at the end of its bloody civil war to counter claims that tens of thousands were killed and fend off international calls for a war crimes probe. Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa also acknowledged for the first time that soldiers may have committed unspecified "crimes." He promised to investigate and punish them. more..

Sri Lanka stocks plunge, rates up

Nov 24 (LBO) Shares tumbled Thursday, crashing below the 6,000 point mark amid uncertainty among investors about govt policy after takeover of businesses and a snap devaluation of the rupee. The main All Share Price Index fell 2.79 percent to 5,886.75, while the more liquid Milanka index fell 2.46 percent to close at 5,145.49, according to stock exchange figures. Turnover was 1.6 billion rupees. Brokers said the market plunged in the morning after a brief opening rally. more..

China, Sri Lanka's top lender

Nov 24 (LBO) China has emerged as the top lender to Sri Lanka in the nine months to September 2011, in terms of money actually disbursed and loans committed for new projects, finance ministry data shows. Up to September 2011, China has disbursed 599.9 million US dollars out of a total of 1,573.9 billion US dollars. Japan came second with 239.4 million US dollars of which 11.9 million were grants and India third with 179 million US dollars, a finance ministry report said. more..

2,079 servicemen have received allowances

Nov 24 (DM) Some 2,079 servicemen have received an allowance of Rs.100,000 this year at the birth of their third child in their respective families, Parliament was informed today. Accordingly, 1,250 soldiers, 329 seamen and 500 airmen have benefitted from this scheme announced in the 2011 budget. Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardane informed the House in this regard in response to a question by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake. more..

Sri Lanka tourist arrivals to hit target ahead of schedule

Nov 24 (LBO) Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka have been growing faster than expected and the island expects to achieve its original target of attracting 750,000 tourists for the 2011 year later on Thursday. Nalaka Godahewa, chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, the promotion agency, said the annual target has now been raised to 800,000 visitors by the year-end, up 22 percent from 2010. The island is experiencing a tourism boom with arrivals growing rapidly after the end of the more..

Editorial: Shame on us

Nov 24 (DM) Nothing would have made President Rajapaksa's seventh budget speech more dramatic than the scuffle that broke out at the House on Monday. Reading of a budget, which ought to have exhibited the legislature's sense of pragmatism and the respect for democratic principles, instead, became a wrestling pit where the arm-power of some beat every other fundamental human quality, such as common decency and respect. It is in this scenario that Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa pledged to more..

CID nab counterfit millonaire

Nov 24 (DM) The CID yesterday arrested the main suspect behind the printing of some three million counterfeit notes, which had been in operation since 2009. At the time of the raid at Kesbewa the suspect had with him 20 counterfeit 100 rupee notes and 49 seals. Police said the main characteristics of the counterfeit notes printed by the suspect were that they had the codes P/100, P103, P/130 and P/133. He had also pasted two papers to make the counterfeit note with more..

Maintenance of Galle Face Green taken over by SLPA again

Nov 24 (Island) The maintenance of the Galle Face Green, which was under the Waraya Limited, the trade union branch of the Nidhas Sevaka Sangamaya (NSS) of the SLFP, has been taken over once again by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. SLPA sources told The Island that there were allegations of financial mismanagement by the Waraya Limited and that was one of the main reasons why the SLPA had decided to take over the maintenance of GFG. They said a probe was underway. more..

Sri Lankan govt to remove customs duty on yarn

Nov 24 (F2F) With a view to stimulate expansion of the country’s textile sector, Sri Lankan Govt has decided to withdraw customs duty on yarn from January 2012. The Govt has also resolved to end Value Added Tax (VAT) on import of machinery required in textile manufacturing to enhance the country’s production capacity and boost export potential. Releasing the Government’s new Budget Plan for 2012 in Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced a series of more..

Sri Lanka to get Japanese aid for electronic toll system

Nov 24 (LBO) Japan will provide funding for an electronic toll collection 'touch-and-go' card system on Sri Lanka's first expressway that is to be officially opened on November 27. The 95 kilometre southern expressway, linking the capital Colombo with the southern port town of Galle, is designed for 100 kilometres per hour speeds and will sharply cut travel time and cost. A Japanese embassy statement said the 95km long section from Kottawa, more..

Rs. 214b in tax default last year

Nov 24 (DM) The amount of gross tax in default had accumulated to a whopping Rs. 214 billion last year, the Inland Revenue Department reported. The Department’s performance report for 2010 which was presented to Parliament said the gross tax in default had increased to Rs 214,431,274,402.00 last year. There had been huge defaults in VAT and the amount was a staggering Rs 95.1 billion. The total income tax in default had amounted to Rs 93.4 billion during the year under review. more..

Over Rs.13 mil spent on travel expenses related to hedging deal

Nov 24 (AD) A sum of almost Rs. 14 million has been spent on the foreign travels of witnesses pertaining to the case regarding the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s (CPC) hedging deals, Minister Susil Premajayantha stated in Parliament today. He stated that a sum of Rs.13,898,393 had been spent in this regard in reply to a question put forward by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake. Furthermore he stated that a sum of Rs. 6,081,722.50 had been spent on more..

Abducted fish trader returns home

Nov 24 (DM) The police are probing to track down the person who was behind the abduction of the prominent fish trader in Dematagoda and Peliyagoda, allegedly by two men in camouflage military uniforms. He returned home on Wednesday night. Lalith Kumara was assaulted by the unidentified masked men and they robbed cash and jewellery he possessed at the time which is worth around Rs.250,000. It is believed that an influential figure was behind the more..

Former police officer fined

Nov 24 (DM) A former police sergeant was found guilty of causing damage to an archaeological site in Walawahangunawewa in Mihintale for attempting to excavation some treasure. He was fined Rs.400,000 by the Anuradhapura Chief Magistrate and Additional District Judge Darshika Wimalasiri and sentenced to a two year imprisonment if the fine was defaulted. The accused M.M. Dayananda was attached to the Udamaluwa police at the time of the incident on April 4, 2011. more..

Local Prado with motor bike numbers

Nov 24 (DM) Two suspects who are alleged to have sold locally assembled Prado Jeeps carrying engine numbers and chassis numbers of motor bikes were remanded till Nov 30. Counsel Neville Abeyratne with Pradeep Gamage appearing for the complainant told Colombo Additional Magistrate Paharsha Ranasinghe that the main suspect Ranadewa Amarasuriya who had masterminded the scam was missing for some time. The CID said they initiated investigations on a complaint made by more..

WikiLeaks: 'U.S. State Dept should not interview Fonseka against Gota'

Nov 24 (CT) “Bogollagama passes to Ambassador an Aide Memoire, which noted that allegations against the defense secretary affected the vital interests of the GSL and had already occupied considerable time and attention of both governments at the highest level.” the US Embassy Colombo informed to Washington. The cable recount details of a meeting the US Ambassador has had with the Foreign Minister Bogollagama on Nov 2, 2009. more..

Foreign coaches to benefit from new tax laws in Sri Lanka

Nov 24 (PTI) Foreign coaches in Sri Lanka are all set to gain from new tax laws outlined in the government budget of 2012, officials said on Friday. The budget offered tax-free incomes to foreign sports coaches and also granted tax-free income to those managing sports stadia. The tax break was included in President Mahinda Rajapakse's budget proposals, which were unveiled in the Parliament on Monday, sports ministry officials said. The officials also added that the more..

Rudd promises comment on Sri Lanka report

Nov 24 (AAP) Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to comment on a Sri Lankan govt report into the civil war when it is made public. The probe into the civil war against Tamil rebels has called for further investigations of alleged war crimes committed in the final stages of fighting in 2009. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which has been widely criticised as biased by international rights groups, concluded that some evidence warranted a new inquiry. more..

Jayasuriya calls for persistence with young team

Nov 24 (CI) Sanath Jayasuriya, the former captain, has said Sri Lanka need to maintain faith in their young side and new captain despite the team's recent rough patch. Since reaching the final of the 2011 World Cup, Sri Lanka have lost one-day and Test series in England, at home to Australia and against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. Jayasuriya admitted results had been disappointing but said Sri Lanka were in transition since they have a new captain more..

Lucky Lanka Milk founder wins Entrepreneur of the Year award

Nov 24 (ST) Lal Kirthi Amarasiri Gunawardena, Managing Director, Lucky Lanka Milk Processing Co Ltd, Kamburupitiya was declared the Entrepreneur of the Year (National Platinium award) at this year’s Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the Year competition organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Earlier during the ceremony at the Cinnamon Grand on Wednesday, Mineka Presantha Wickramasingha, Chairman/Managing Director, Ceylon Biscuits Group more..

Sri Lanka to promote Pure Ceylon Tea in world market

Nov 24 (Bernama) The govt is to start an immediate strategic plan to create a global awareness and promote superior quality pure Ceylon tea in the international market. This is because counterfeited low quality teas blended with Ceylon tea are sold at a low cost in the international market, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said. He said it had been found that low cost cheap tea are often blended with small proportion of Ceylon tea for quality improvement and marketed under foreign brands. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 24.11.2011

Appeal from Apsara Fonseka: Please Help

Nov 24 (UL) Dear friends, As you all very well know my father was given another 3 years of imprisonment simply because the court felt he assisted in spreading a rumor that brought tension among ethnicities. Although it is my dearest wish to comment on this “verdict” and the so called “justice system” in Sri Lanka, I will keep them to myself for the sake of my family, who has felt the wrath of the the Sri Lankan “law” more than any regular family that more..

Sri Lankan delegation calls on Muneer

Nov 24 (Hindu) A 10-member delegation from Sri Lanka, in the State to study decentralisation of power and people's planning programme, called on Minister for Panchayats and Social Welfare M.K. Muneer on Thursday. The delegation is conducting the study as part of Sri Lanka's plans for speeding up the development of the war-ravaged northern and eastern regions of the country. The delegation visited the Kerala Institute of Local Administration, Thrissur, and more..

Sri Lanka rupee rate should be market-driven

Nov 24 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's rupee exchange rate should be driven by market forces except in cases of volatility, but this week's 3 percent devaluation was necessary medicine to ease a ballooning trade gap, the country's finance secretary said on Thursday. Finance Ministry Secretary P.B. Jayasundera, the top technocrat in the island nation's finance ministry and architect of Sri Lanka's last 14 budgets, said the devaluation was a considered move that more..

Debt woes in the West endangers Asia's growth in 2012

Nov 25 (DM) Unlike before the Asian region is better prepared for currency and balance of payment crises than it was a decade ago, having instituted wide ranging reforms, improved current account balances and built up a protective buffer of foreign exchange reserves. Notwithstanding all these measures, high levels of financial, trade and investment integration with the Western economies leave no country immune to the debt woes in the West. more..

The age of the thug, the vagabond and the sycophant

Nov 25 (TC) Unruly scenes and episodes of thuggery in what is, for some quaint ‘reason’, termed the “August Assembly”, namely Parliament, are regrettably, nothing new. Perhaps a new “low” was established by the scenes of rampant thuggery in the presence of the President of the Republic and the leader of the UPFA/SLFP while the President was reading the budget speech. It is heartening to note that the President’s elder brother, the Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa has more..

On the expulsion of the Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE in Oct 1990

Nov 25 (GV) In October 1990, the LTTE expelled the entire Muslim population of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Within a period of 2 weeks the LTTE systematically chased out close to 75,000 Muslims residing in the districts of Kilinochchi, Mullaiteewu, Jaffna, Mannar and parts of Vavuniya. The LTTE expulsion of Muslims has not been adequately integrated into any mainstream historical narrative in Sri Lanka. more..

‘Born again’ respect for independence of the judiciary

Nov 25 (TC) Quick to seek some political advantage from the conviction of General Sarath Fonseka by the Trial at Bar on Friday the 18th, Ranil Wickremesinghe (the leader under siege) of the UNP has made a pronouncement condemning the treatment meted out to Mr. Warawewa who was the dissentient member of that Trial at Bar who held that General Fonseka was not guilty of any of the charges against him. While it is heartening to note that Wickremesinghe has even in his more..

Editorial: The greedy, the crooked and the sick

Nov 25 (Island) The govt and the pharmaceutical companies have crossed swords over the Health Ministry's plan to control drug prices. Time was when our brave govt worthies bragged that the Senaka Bibile drug policy would be implemented, come hell or high water. But of late they seem to have changed their tune. It looks as if they had settled for price controls. The Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) has issued a dire warning that unless the govt abandons more..

Sri Lanka for sale: Wealth creation by dispossession

Nov 25 (GV) No one knows how far the government is planning to go to gain control over nation’s wealth and sell it to those who patronize its economic and political agenda. The controversial expropriation bill that plans to grab 37 properties is likely to be followed by another proposal to amend the Town and Country Planning Ordinance to acquire lands for economic, social, historical, environmental and religious purposes within municipal and urban areas. more..

Oh, the games some play today

Nov 25 (ST) Was it Abe Lincoln or some other able-bodied leaders and thinkers in a brand new age in a brave new world who said that you can fool some of the people all of the time… and all of the people some of the time… but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time? Seems to me that the maxim has been improved upon since the last time it was trotted out to describe, if not defend, the state of play in a certain island nation that some manipulators call their home country. more..