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Trade Unions to protest

Feb 20 (DM) Thousands of members of trade unions and employees of a number of government institutions will carry out a string of mass protests starting on Wednesday Feb 22 in protest against the recent fuel price increase and the skyrocketing cost of living, the National Trade Union Center (NTUC) said today. The first protests will be held on Wednesday at the Government Press and the Railway Headquarters. In the days to come several more protests will be carried out more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 20.02.2012

Trade Mininstry to conduct study on increasing goods prices

Feb 20 (AD) The Ministry of Co-operatives and Internal Trade says it will conducted a study in regard to the increase in prices of essential commodities. Secretary of the Ministry Sunil S. Sirisena says it is normal for the prices of essential goods to rise parallel to fuel prices. However, he told Ada Derana, that information is being received continuously regarding businessmen who are increasing prices as they see fit without setting a reasonable price. more..

Shangri-La to kickoff two projects this week

Feb 20 (CT) Hong Kong-based Shangri-La leisure group will lay the foundation for the construction of its two proposed hotels- in Hambantota and Colombo this week. The groundbreaking ceremony of Shangri-La Hotel Colombo would take place this Friday (24) under the patronage of Minister Basil Rajapaksa at the auspicious time of 10.28 AM at the Galle Face Green. On Saturday, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and MP Namal Rajapaksa is to cut the first sod for Shangri-La more..

CEB Trade Unions to take action

Feb 20 (CT) Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Engineer’s union is to take trade union action including stoppage of work if their demands are not met within this week, media spokesperson of the union Ajith Vithanage said. He stated that currently they are in safe operation level where they do not take any unnecessary responsibility or undertake any risks. Due to safe operation, there would be breakdowns and a long time will be taken to respond to these breakdowns, more..

Sri Lankan garment sector attracts new buyers

Feb 20 (F2F) At a time when some major global apparel buyers are shifting their sourcing to low-cost countries like Cambodia, Bangladesh and Vietnam, Sri Lankan garment manufacturers are not only able to retain their current buyers but have also succeeded in luring new buyers. In fact, the Sri Lankan apparel industry has crossed its US$ 4 billion export target, which was to be achieved by 2015, by end of 2011 itself, according to Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) figures. more..

‘Burden of expropriated enterprises too, on the masses’

Feb 20 (SM) The govt has further weighed down the people by placing the burden of the private enterprises taken over under the expropriation act on them as well, said UNP national organizer Daya Gamage. Speaking to the media yesterday, he said the masses should be given relief even by closing down loss-incurring state institutions. The people have stood up on their own accord, without any urging by the UNP, against the govt’s grave injustices to them, he said. more..

The road to reconciliation in Sri Lanka is long

Feb 20 (DW) The final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka were brutal. Two years later, there has been some social progress in the north, but equality for Tamils is still a long way off. After almost 30 years of civil war between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and the Hindu Tamils, which caused 100,000 deaths and 300,000 displaced people, there is a glimmer of hope in the north of Sri Lanka. Only after massive international pressure did the govt more..

‘I had tried to be as balanced and as representative as I possibly could when editing the Reader’ – Prof. Holt

Feb 21 (TC) In responding to Gananath Obeyesekere’s review of the Sri Lanka Reader, let me state out front that I have great respect for his studies of Sri Lankan culture and society. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from reading his many works over the years, works that provided many leads for research that went into a number of my own books. Because of my respect for him, I was disappointed to read his unsolicited review of the Sri Lanka Reader more..

LLRC report recommendations: Arangetram started; now you dance

Feb 21 (TC) According to govt media, President Mahinda said on the Independence Day “This is not a task confined to one individual or a party. Remember, the country would not benefit by trying to please selfish groups who receive foreign funds. Similarly, solutions cannot be obtained by implementing the proposals of extremist groups of whatever persuasion. What is required today is the formulation of policies based on a vision that is commonly applicable to the whole country. more..

Sri Lanka and Maldives are mere pawns in the great game to dominate Southern sea routes

Feb 21 (DBS) The “mutiny” in the Maldives and its aftermath is of vital concern and interest to Sri Lanka.The sequence of events in the “necklace of Islands” has serious implications for the “pearl of the Indian ocean”. It may not be an exaggeration to state that the Maldivian thespians currently hogging the limelight in the unfolding drama on the Archipelago stage are all mere pawns in the great geo-political chess game more..

The 97% and the 3% in Sri Lanka

Feb 21 (GV) We all know about the 99% and the 1% and most of us know where we are or which we sympathise with. I’m with the 99%. But what about the 97% and the 3%? How many of us know about the 97% anyway? I didn’t until a few days ago, so I wouldn’t blame anyone, but those of you who read this article will know all about it when you’ve finished and you can figure out which side you’re on. I’m with the 97%. As you read on, it will be tempting to caricature the point and reduce the 97% to a partisan stance, which it is not. more..

Vihara Maha Devi: Where have all the trees gone?

Feb 21 (GV) Over the course of roughly a year Vihara Maha Devi has been through some significant changes and they are still on-going. Seemingly, this is related to the transfer of authority as the navy took over the administration of the park in May 2011. At the outset it needs to be stated that the Park would not make it into a list of ‘top twenty (or fifty) public parks in the world to visit before you die!’ or ‘top ten sites in Colombo’. It would also be difficult to more..

LLRC Recommendations: Practical steps to meaningful reconciliation

Feb 21 (TC) Several valuable recommendations are contained in the LLRC Report and they are all the more compelling because they have issued from a Presidential Commission. In pursuance of this, we the undersigned call upon the govt of Sri Lanka, in consultation with the TNA and the leadership of the Muslims, to take steps to implement the recommendations. In this statement we have highlighted certain important recommendations. more..

In search of something more than the 13th amendment

Feb 21 (GV) During his recent visit to Sri Lanka, India’s External Affairs Minister, Mr. SM Krishna reminded that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was committed to a ‘13th Amendment Plus approach.’ This has been an old promise of the Govt, one which was so prominently made in 2008-2009 as well. The timing of this promise seems perfect; the next session of the UNHRC in Geneva is around the corner. The debate concerning the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka has now been revived. more..

Statement on Reconciliation by Muslim Civil Society Individuals

Feb 21 (TC) Sri Lanka today faces a range of challenges in ensuring a return to normality and a lasting peace, following the end of the twenty five year old war. Significant progress has been made on a number of fronts, including the partial return of displaced persons, the provision of basic rehabilitation assistance for war-affected communities, the progressive restoration and upgrading of essential services, the holding of elections and the implementation of macro-­development projects. more..

'Friendly countries will support Lanka at UNHRC'

Feb 21 (SO) The international community must support Sri Lanka’s domestic mechanism of reconciliation and efforts to help rebuild battered lives of the conflict affected, instead of talking about adverse resolutions at the UNHRC, External Affairs Secretary K. Amunugama said. He welcomed the statement of his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd commending the LLRC recommendations adding that this should be the attitude of the members of more..

Editorial: Devolution powwow and stakeholders

Feb 21 (Island) The TNA says it has managed to clear doubts in the minds of some members of an outfit calling itself the Tamil Civil Society (TCS) as regards its talks with the government on devolution, according to media reports. At a meeting the TNA had with TCS in the Vanni the other day, the former has reportedly reiterated that it will not compromise the aspirations of the Tamils and offered to adopt a solution that the latter may want to propose. more..

The new imperialism

Feb 21 (Island) The country was agog with the news that after the visit of two American bureaucrats named Otero and Blake, [both from the State Department], they had announced that the United States would support the anti-Sri Lanka resolution bought by some western countries in the Human Rights Council. As usual the sanctimonious reason given by the Americans for this act of rank treachery was that it was to "provide an opportunity for the Govt of Sri Lanka to describe what more..

Rajapaksa siblings turn their guns on the very Sinhalese who brought them to power

Feb 21 (TC) The Rajapaksas are on the offensive, again. But this time their battleground is not the Tamil-majority North but the Sinhala-majority South. Armed Forces have been deployed to quell peaceful demonstrations, in Colombo and elsewhere. In just one week, three protests were quelled with brute force and one unarmed demonstrator murdered. The Humanitarian Operation is coming to the South. more..

Customs chief Dr Neville Goonawardena vows to put house in order

Feb 21 (Island) Sri Lanka Customs Director – General Dr Neville Gunawardena, is an Osaka University Doctorate Holder in Environment and Micro Biology and has been in Sri Lanka Customs since 1980 in a career spanning 32 years. He has also served in the World Customs Organisation in Brussels in a three year stint. Here, he talks to The Island on the divergent aspects of the Department he heads. Q: Congratulations on your recent appointment and we hope you have more..

Central Bank using moral suasion to keep forex market stable

Feb 21 (Island) Currency dealers said the Central Bank was using moral suasion to kick some sense into the foreign exchange market after the rupee fell sharply as market players panicked after the currency was floated against the dollar. "The Central Bank has been talking to some of us, telling us where they would like to see the exchange rate. This is moral suasion and it is nothing new, it happens in most economies. However, it must be noted that the Central Bank was more..

Rupee float, interest rate and fuel price hikes will help economy, says Harsha

Feb 21 (Island) UNP Economic Spokesman Dr. Harsha De Silva argued that the recent policy reversals of the Central Bank and the government should help the country recover from a balance of payments crisis, but ego-centric and unintelligent management of the Central Bank which stubbornly ignored the early warnings resulted in the people taking a massive hit. After more than nine-months since the first warnings of the balance of payments crisis, more..

Handicrafts Board to become public limited liability company

Feb 21 (DN) The State Resources and Enterprise Development Ministry is considering the possibility of converting the Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board in to a public limited liability company named as Laksala Company Ltd. The Sri Lanka Handicrafts Council was established on January 17, 1983, under the National Crafts Council and allied institutions Act No. 35 of 1982. Creating designs to handicrafts, conducting design centres and selling the handicrafts turned out more..

Man pierced by 6 - foot. rafter survives

Feb 21 (Island) It was a struggle between life and death for H.P.Dissnanayke (51) whose body was pierced by a piece of wood which had shot off a machine at the saw mill he works at Hemmathagama. The victim related the harrowing experience he underwent from his bed at the Mawanella hospital. He said the piece of a rafter which was about 6 ft long had pierced his stomach and came out hanging from his back and he had to be rushed to the hospital in sheer pain with another holding it. more..

Blake feels not necessary to meet Ranil

Feb 21 (Island) US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, at the end of his recently concluded visit to Colombo, asserted that it wasn’t necessary to meet UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss what was going on in Sri Lanka. The former US Ambassador in Sri Lanka declared that it wasn’t important to meet the UNP leader.The US official was responding to a query fired at him at the VIP lounge of the Bandaranaike International Airport. more..

Fonsekas will not seek forgiveness from Rajapaksas says Anoma

Feb 21 (Island) Anoma Fonseka said yesterday that she would not seek pardon on behalf of her imprisoned husband, former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, who is currently serving multiple sentences. She said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was under intense international pressure to release Sarath Fonseka and was looking for an exit mechanism by getting prominent people in the government, including his son Namal, to issue various statements, which at times more..

Minister finds key officers missing from Pettah bus terminal

Feb 21 (Island) Private Transport Minister C. B. Ratnayaka has instructed National Transport Commission (NTC) Chairman Roshan Gunawardena to take immediate action to investigate the absence of some key employees of the Bastian Place Bus terminal at night. When Minister Ratnayaka visited the Bastian Place Bus Stand on February 19 at about 11.00 p.m., the Chief security officer and the night Administrative officers were missing. more..

Bid for 3-fold increase in hydropower

Feb 21 (DN) The Power and Energy Ministry is taking measures to increase the hydropower generation capacity threefold to insulate the country’s power generation from the fossil fuel crisis and provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity. Sri Lanka has a 1,200 MW hydro power generating capacity and the ministry has planned to set up nine hydropower generating projects, increasing the capacity by another 3,500 MW, drastically dropping the use of heavy fuel more..

Sustaining a victory is the hardest part: Dullas

Feb 21 (DM) It is regrettable that Sri Lanka was not able to maintain the winning streak in cricket after its greatest World Cup victory in 1996 thanks to cricketers like Arjuna, Sanath, Aravinda and others, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said. Addressing a ceremony held to felicitate employees at the Matara Municipal Council (MMC) and to distribute risk allowance at the MMC auditorium, Minister Alahapperuma said the most difficult part of a victory is to sustain it. more..

President promises immediate relief for fishermen

Feb 21 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised immediate relief to fishermen during a visit to the Tangalle fisheries harbour yesterday. The President who met fishermen during a sudden inspection tour of the harbour told them that the govt would take immediate measures to identify issues pertaining to the fisheries sector and would provide viable solutions at the earliest possible. He said that arrangements are being already made to address welfare and other issues more..

Fishermen to go back to sea

Feb 21 (DM) Some fishermen’s associations that refrained from going to sea during the last few days have given up their protest after President Mahinda Rajapaksa had assured that they would be able to obtain the 25 per cent fuel subsidy through filling stations. The Wellawidiya Joint Fisheries Association said they have decided to give up their protest against the fuel price hike after President Rajapaksa had sent a word through Deputy Minister more..

Gem containing earth to be auctioned tomorrow

Feb 21 (Island) Police said yesterday that they would guard the area of the Kataragama – Lunugamvehera road where gems were found by villagers. Police Spokesman SP Ajith Rohana said that the earth used to construct the road had contained gems and would be auctioned tomorrow (22) by the National Gem and Jewellery Authority. According to him, the police curfew which was clamped over the area to maintain law and order had been lifted. The area was guarded by the police. more..

Drop in retail prices of essentials

Feb 21 (DN) The retail prices of many essential commodities have gone down from the previous month despite the hike in fuel prices, market sources said. They attributed the fact to adequate food stocks in the local market at present. The wholesale price of these food items too remained low with ample stocks arriving through the Colombo port. Supplies to the North too remained constant through the Jaffna port, sources said. Authorities said that attempts by certain elements to confuse more..

'Another possible private bus fare increase'

Feb 21 (DM) One week after bus fares were increased by 20 per cent private bus operators have decided to request a further increase in fares by another two per cent stating that the authorities had failed to calculate the bus fare formula accurately before introducing the revised bus fares. Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) President Gemunu Wijeyratne said the union whose membership includes more than 95 per cent of all private bus services in more..

Chief Ministers, pledge their assistance to mark 700 yrs of Asgiriya Temple

Feb 21 (Island) The Chief Ministers of the Provinces, who called on the most Venerable Mahanayake Thera of Asgiriya, pledged to extend unstinted support to the programmes launched to commemorate 700 years of the Asgiriya Maha Viharaya. The anniversary falls on the full-moon Wesak Poya in May 2012. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has allocated Rs. 700 million from the Budget for the programme to mark the anniversary. more..

Parties with vested interests inciting people - Yapa

Feb 21 (DN) Certain elements are trying to create unrest in the country using non - existent 'issues'. They are trying to incite people into violence. These elements are acting according to private and foreign agendas. The government will not let these elements create anarchy situation in Sri Lanka, Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said. He said that there are certain local and foreign elements who are jealous of Sri Lanka and the govt for eradicating terrorism, more..

Sri Lanka used as transit point in cocaine smuggling

Feb 21 (KT) The Sri Lankan Police Narcotics Bureau believes that the island is used as a transit point for smuggling cocaine into countries around the world. Special drug detection teams have been deployed at the country’s BIA to nab drug smugglers. Cocaine is also being smuggled into the country, said authorities. The special drug team busted two foreigners attempting to smuggle more than LKRs 75 million worth of cocaine within the past two weeks. more..

Supplies from India to curb high prices

Feb 21 (Island) Prices of essential food items at the Pettah wholesale market have dropped compared to the first week of January. Wholesale dealers attribute it to ships from India berthing, both, in the Colombo and Jaffna Ports with consignments of various essential food items. The daily average retail prices as at Saturday (18) was: dry chilies Rs 231 from the Rs. 249 recorded in the first week of January, dhal Rs. 112 from 116, potatoes (local) Rs. 109 from Rs. 117, more..

Fisherman’s killing comes to parliament today

Feb 21 (DM) The UNP and the JVP will today bring to parliament, the issue of the killing of the Chilaw fisherman during last week’s protest rally over the massive increase in fuel prices. UNP sources said Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will make a special statement in the House under section 23/2 of the Standing Orders on the killing of fisherman Anthony Fernando. They said Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa had already been notified. JVP front-liner Anura Kumara Dissanayake more..