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'We are on path of becoming economic hub of South Asia'

Feb 4 (AN) We, Sri Lankans, celebrate the Sri Lanka’s 64th anniversary of Independence with realization of peace, social harmony and economic prosperity of the motherland. Since, May 2009, Sri Lanka has significantly moved toward building a peaceful society with economic prosperity in the South Asian region. During the period, Sri Lanka was able to record a growth rate over 8 percent for two consecutive years in the history and is expected to sustain a further more..

Sri Lanka targets top tea exporter status

Feb 4 (AN) Sri Lanka earned 1.5 billion rupees ($13.17 million) from the tea industry last year and the government has initiated several programs to promote the commodity in global markets. Industry standards are also improving with more and more tea factories and estates acquiring international certification. Sri Lanka has become the third largest tea exporting country and the fourth largest tea producer in the world, say officials. more..

Pakistan-Sri Lanka trade and economic relations

Feb 4 (BR) Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the SAARC region. A substantial growth in bilateral trade is seen in both exports and imports, especially after Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) was implemented in 2005. The value of total trade between the two countries, has increased from US $158 Mn in 2005 to US $350 Mn in 2010. The balance of trade has been in favour of Pakistan. Pakistan ranks as the second largest buyer for more..

Sri Lanka's cultural triangle

Feb 4 (CQN) Early morning on Kandalama Lake in central Sri Lanka and an elephant is sloshing through the shallows, while around him iridescent kingfishers plunge dart-like into the water. This lake is an artificial creation, the origins of which date back perhaps 1000 years. Rising from the jungles in this relatively dry part of the country are the ruins of cities that were once wonders of the ancient world. Complex and extensive irrigation channels, reservoirs and water gardens were more..

Sunila Abeyasekera

Sri Lanka’s Independence & Western agendas

Feb 4 (AT) The 64th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence dawns at a time when various forces are once again plotting to undermine the nation’s stability and sovereignty. The complex political developments that followed the LTTE’s defeat have become a spring board for these conspirators in their self-proclaimed crusade for “justice and human rights.” There is no denying that problems relating to corruption, abuse of power and injustice do exist in more..

SriLankan Airlines to increase capacity on Mumbai route

Feb 4 (TBM) The national carrier of Sri Lanka, SriLankan Airlines is aiming to increase capacity on its Indian routes in 2012 by bringing in new aircraft. Lalith Peiris, Area Manager - Maharashtra, SriLankan Airlines said, “We are considering bringing in new aircraft to fly on the Mumbai route. We will replace the A320s currently in operation with four A340s by March 2012. These aircraft will enable us to offer flatbed seats in business class as well as increase capacity in more..

SLC denies Dilshan blues

Feb 4 (DM) A top Sri Lanka Cricket official rejected speculation that Tillekaratne Dilshan had been disappointed and wanted to skip the current Australian tour. He claimed that Dilshan’s decision to join the team late was done with prior approval. Sacked Sri Lanka skipper Dilshan had been present at the official religious function and other ceremonies at the SLC headquarters when the team departed for their month long tour of Australia for the Commonwealth more..

Editorial: Making Sri Lanka's Independence more meaningful

Feb 5 (SO) Sri Lanka yesterday celebrated her 64th anniversary of Independence with pride and dignity as a sovereign nation and the country is marching forward towards new socio-economic horizons. This year's Independence Day celebrations take on added significance in our nation's history as Sri Lanka is progressing in all spheres. The annihilation of the LTTE leadership and the liberation of over half a million people held forcibly by the Tigers ushered in a true more..

Editorial: A Nation Adrift

Feb 5 (SL) In a democracy, a thumping majority is expected to result in cool heads among the victors and cold feet among losers. Not in Sri Lanka. 64 years after seeing the back of British settlers, Sri Lanka moved on. But far from progressing towards true democracy and self-determination these 64 years have seen rivers of blood and hate mar this beautiful land. Independence did not make us a happy bunch. Instead it somehow has had the opposite effect with the winners of a near thirty year long war more..

'Private bus service, a cog in the wheel'

Feb 5 (SO) Private Transport Services Minister, C.B. Rathnayake said the decision taken by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to remove Customs duty and VAT on bus imports and reduce duty on spare parts is a welcome step taken by the Govt for the benefit of the private bus industry. The Minister in an interview with said to safeguard the private bus industry, some relief should be granted to private bus owners to purchase spare parts and import buses. more..

Editorial: A tale of political expediency

Feb 5 (NS) Sri Lanka celebrates its 64th anniversary of independence at a time when the nation is at a crucial cross road and is debating in earnest, the latest attempt to find a ‘political solution’ to the ‘ethnic’ conflict. The latest bone of contention is what is being popularly (or perhaps unpopularly) called ‘thirteen plus’ - the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution which created provincial councils and the proposal to confer greater autonomy to the provinces beyond the more..

Editorial: Forward is not spelt b-a-c-k-w-a-r-d

Feb 5 (LB) The word obscurantism apparently traces its origins to the times of great intellectual ferment in mid 20th Century Europe. It is pleasantly somewhat musical to the ears when properly pronounced, and in essence means to conceal knowledge that would cast light on any matter — and is apparently derived from a foreign language word for darkness. And so, what is the obscurantism behind the position of the head of the Sri Lankan Roman Catholic church when he says that his church opposes more..

Channel 4 video nominated for Nobel Prize

Feb 5 (TC) I join my Australian colleague, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, in releasing the joint submission we made to the Norwegian Nobel Committee nominating the team at ITN and Channel 4 that produced the documentary film ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ for the 2012 Nobel peace Prize. As Sri Lanka remembers on Feb 4 its independence from Britain in 1948, it remains accused in front of the world community of war crimes and more..

Editorial: The bloated political class

Feb 5 (Island) Now that we have enjoyed the pomp and pageantry of Sri Lanka’s 64th Independence anniversary, it would be useful to reflect on the country’s successes and failures in the six decades and more that have passed since the Union Jack was ceremonially lowered at Independence Square and the Lion flag of Lanka fluttered bravely in the morning breeze. Nearly 30 of those post-Independence years were wasted in the brutal civil war in which when so much blood was shed more..

Editorial: Freedom struggle continues overseas

Feb 5 (ST) Sri Lanka marked the 64th anniversary of its political Independence from nearly 400 years of foreign rule yesterday with the Government's celebrations at the historic ancient capital of Anuradhapura. The Anuradhapura era, when Lanka was a free nation, was a marvel in its day. Some nations that are super-powers today, policing the world, were not even in existence at the time. The celebrations were held with the public mind still fresh from the memory of more..

The painful story behind the making of a fast bowler

Feb 5 (ST) Was the human body created to bowl fast by whomever the creator he was. The answer is a definite no. At the same time the game of cricket apparently took its roots in the cooler climes of England where the bone structure of the homosapiens are heavier to bear the extra pounds of flesh and body fats that are needed to combat the chilly winters. Yes, the Englishmen who ruled over the Indian subcontinent initially brought the game over to more..

As the national issue takes centre stage TNA flirts with ‘third party’

Feb 5 (NS) The TNA, while charging that the government is not making a genuine effort to work out a lasting solution to the national problem, is engaged in a mission to secure the good offices of a foreign country to play the role of a mediator. Although the TNA has not nominated its representatives for the Parliamentary Select Committee on the national problem, party leader R. Sampanthan has assured foreign diplomats that they had not decided to boycott it. more..

President walking a political tightrope

Feb 5 (NS) The recent announcement by President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the govt was considering a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue based on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution has sparked a flurry of political activity both in government and opposition ranks. The President’s announcement came in the wake of Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’s recent visit to Sri Lanka, the first by a key overseas stakeholder in the ethnic issue since the release of the LLRC report last November. more..

Two major conglomerates in the fray to buy Golden Key Hospital

Feb 5 (ST) Two major Sri Lankan groups are in the fray for a tender called to sell the 11-story, state-of -the art, Golden Key Eye & ENT Hospital in Rajagiriya to pay off desperate Golden Key depositors, top officials of the two companies confirmed. Tenders to sell the Golden Key Eye & ENT Hospital were closed on the 23rd of Jan and there was only a single bid from Richard Pieris Company which had quoted a price of Rs.730 million more..

5th column: Celebrating an illusionary independence

Feb 5 (ST) “Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “are we really independent?” “Why,” Bindu’s father Percy said, “do you think we are not independent?” “Well,” Bindu declared, “I know that we gained independence from the British sixty four years ago.” “So, what are you worried about then?” Percy inquired. “It is just that I am not so sure whether we are independent anymore,” Bindu said. “Why do you say that?” Percy was puzzled. more..

Independence and legal apartheid

Feb 5 (Island) As Sri Lanka marked the 63rd year of independence from the British, the biggest challenge facing the country is unlike anything that any other developing country has to face. Almost all other developing countries face problems like political stability, economic development, terrorism, and challenges to territorial integrity and so on. Sri Lanka now has is none of these problems. What this country is faced with is a struggle for equality before international law. more..

President's Speech: Independence Day -2012

'LLRC recommendations not implemented'

Feb 5 (BBC) TNA says that the govt has not initiated any of the recommendations by the LLRC. Responding to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s remarks on LLRC, at the independent day celebration, TNA MP, M.A.Sumanthiran said that they are yet to see implementation of these recommendations. President Mahinda Rajapkasa in his independent day address said that the govt has already started implementing what was in the Commission. “The report was tabled in Parliament on Dec 17. more..

Watawala selling marketing company to ease cash flow strain

Feb 5 (Island) Watawala Plantations PLC, hurting from the current downturn in tea prices after a 5-year long rally of strong prices, is seeking to invest Rs.741.6 million cash into the company by selling its 100% subsidiary, Watawala Marketing Limited, to Estate Management Services Limited which is the holding company of Watawala Plantations. "Thus, the investment will be within the group of Sunshine Holdings PLC, the ultimate holding company of Watawala Plantations PLC," more..

Bird flu scare: ‘A mountain out of a molehill’

Feb 5 (LB) The media last week had misunderstood and blown the finding of a non pathogenic strain of avian influenza found in a poultry farm in Bingiriya out of proportion, Director General of Animal Production and Health, Dr. Kumara de Silva said. An angry Dr. de Silva said he had told the story over and over again to the media, but no one seemed to understand, and the reports which appeared were best described as making ‘a mountain out of a molehill.’ more..

EPC opposes changes to Town and Country Planning Act

Feb 5 (ST) The Eastern Provincial Council is not in favour of the proposed government policy where lands could be defined as protection areas, conservation zones or places of archaeological or historic value. The EPC’s opposition has come after Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa circulated the proposed amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act among provincial councils for their consent. This followed a Supreme Court ruling that such consent is required. more..

It’s time to do business!

Feb 5 (LB) “Go and do business in the north and the east and we mustn’t wait for foreigners to come. They will come, but they’ll do so after us,” said Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal at the national conference on the ‘Role of the Business Community in Reconciliation’ hosted by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS). He spoke of the current extensive development taking place in the north and the east, and more..

Wiki-leaker to be court martialed: SL benefited from classified information

Feb 5 (Island) A US Army Intelligence analyst, Private First Class Bradley Manning, accused of the biggest leak of classified information in the history will face a court martial. Military District of Washington commander Major General Michael Linnington referred all charges against Manning to a general court martial, international news agencies quoted the US Army as having said. The soldier will stand trial for more..

Harassed student takes his own life

Feb 5 (LB) A student from Mahinda College, Galle, Anushka Madushanka, committed suicide on January 26 by hanging himself inside his boarding room. The second child of a family from Embilipitiya, he had enrolled at Mahinda College after having won a fifth-year-scholarship from Mahanama Vidyalaya, Embilipitiya. His parents sent him a regular sum of Rs20,000 to cover his monthly expenses including the rent for the boarding house, which cost Rs8000 per month. more..

UNP convention stalled to stifle rebels

Feb 5 (LB) Two rival factions within the main opposition UNP are trading allegations over the delay in the holding of the decisive general convention of the UNP. Disgruntled party members loyal to deputy leader Sajith Premadasa alleged that the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was deliberately delaying the convention as the dissident faction would overwhelm the Wickremesinghe faction at the general convention. According to the UNP Constitution as amended in 2011, more..

‘My daughter’s marriage is a symbol of unity’

Feb 5 (ST) The father of a former LTTE female cadre who married a soldier last week in Kilinochchi said he was happy about his daughter’s marriage as such unions could help boost national unity. Former LTTE child soldier, Sharmila Chandrasegaran married soldier E.M.D. Sandaruwan and a reception was held at the Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalaya last week. Perumal Chandrasegaran, 58, the father of the bride, was displaced during the riots of 1977 more..

Nurses say talks fail, next step strike

Feb 5 (ST) Claiming that the authorities have failed to give them even an assurance on their demands, Nurses unions say they are planning countrywide strike action that could cripple public health services. Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) President Saman Rathnapriya said talks aimed at winning their demands for a pay hike and better facilities had collapsed with Health Ministry and Treasury officials not even giving them an assurance. more..

Flavours from Sri Lanka at Gulf Paradise

Feb 5 (TP) The fourth edition of “Flavours from Sri Lanka”, a food festival to mark the 64th Independence Day of Sri Lanka, was opened yesterday by the Sri Lankan Ambassador Jayantha Palipan at the Gulf Paradise Hotel. The event, hosted with support from the Sri Lankan embassy in Qatar, is held at Al Thoraya restaurant at the ground floor of the hotel and will run until February 11. General Manager of the Gulf Paradise Hotel, Fouzi Mohideen, said two expert Sri Lankan chefs more..

Rupee devaluation on course; prices of fuel, imported items to rise

Feb 5 (ST) Central Bank on Friday finally veered towards IMF calls for a devaluation of the rupee, depreciating the local currency marginally against the US dollar and initiating measures to curb credit growth. Bankers, however, said these measures were unlikely to dampen imports and ease pressure on the US dollar, unless a bigger rupee devaluation was in place through the daily market operations. The rupee was devalued by 3% in a November budget announcement. more..

Sri Lankan expats to get free IT and English language training

Feb 5 (GN) Sri Lankan expatriates in Abu Dhabi will get free training in Information Technology and English language skills, thanks to a new initiative launched on the occasion of the 64th Sri Lankan Independence Day yesterday. Sarath Wijesinghe, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, launched a Knowledge Centre at a ceremony to celebrate Independence Day at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi. The centre operating at the embassy will impart free training to expatriates to more..

Lankan expats in Saudi celebrate independence day

Feb 5 (AN) Sri Lanka's 64th Independence Day was celebrated in the Kingdom on Saturday with a call to its expatriates in Saudi Arabia to maintain unity and work for the development of the country. “It is incumbent on all, both present and future generations of Sri Lankans, to protect and keep united our motherland and help in its development,” Sri Lankan Ambassador Ahmed A Jawad told his countrymen at the national day celebrations held at the embassy on Saturday. more..

Gotabhaya to gift Kotte land to Ananda College

Feb 5 (SL) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has acquired land belonging to the Kotte Municipal Council and is to present it to a leading school in Colombo, The Sunday Leader has learned. Kotte Municipal Council sources said that 3 acres of land worth Rs. 730 million has been acquired by the UDA to be gifted to Ananda College Colombo. The land is to be gifted to the school for use in sports activities, sources said. more..

'If TNA boycotts PSC, so be it Cannot pander to the whims of all and sundry'

Feb 5 (LB) Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara says that there is no need for the govt to strive to convene an All-Party Select Committee as a way of seeking a political solution to the national issue. The minister noted that there is the possibility of the govt opting for a political solution through the All Party Select Committee that was chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitharana rather than looking for a political solution ‘pandering to the wishes of all and sundry.’ more..

Poor response to President’s call to nominate reps for PSC

Feb 5 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to call a meeting of all political party representatives to persuade them to nominate members for the proposed Parliamentary Select committee (PSC) to find a solution to the national problem has not been received with much enthusiasm by Opposition political parties including the TNA, a key player in any such process. The President told a group of Editors he met last Monday that he has decided to hold a meeting with party representatives more..