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Govt. removes visa fees for children

Jan 12 (SL) The govt announced today that visa fees for children under 12 years of age who visit the country will be removed. Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that the decision was taken based on a proposal submitted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He told reporters at the weekly cabinet press briefing that the President feels the move would be very much favorable for Sri Lanka as it would boos visits by foreigners to the island with their children. more..

Uma Oya project: a recipe for disaster

Jan 12 (LB) Uma Oya, one of the major tributaries of the Mahaweli River is the major water source of the Rantambe Reservoir. The key objective of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Developmental Project is to transfer water from this river to the Lunugamwehera Reservoir and provide for development projects in the Hambantota District. For this purpose, Uma Oya will be diverted to the Kirindi Oya thus violating mercilessly, the water rights of the people living in the basin of more..

Sri Lanka: New wave of student protests

Jan 12 (UWN) Buddhist student monks have joined thousands of other university students in a new wave of protests to hit Sri Lanka in recent weeks, forcing the temporary closure of at least two major universities this week and widespread disruption of classes. Student monks at the seminary Buddha Shrawaka Bhikku University in North Central province staged a protest on 11 January, adding to a spate of demonstrations in universities that more..

'Pvt. University Bill aimed at creating degree shops'

Jan 12 (Island) At a panel discussion on a govt move to establish non-state Higher Education Institutions, convener Ven. Dambara Amila thera said the proposed Higher Education act was a threat to free education in Sri Lanka. Fellow panel member and senior lecturer at the University of Peradeniya, Dr. Rohan Fernando summarized the contents of the proposed Bill, pointing out the major differences between the new Bill and the Act of 1978 and more..

Hectic schedule awaits SM Krishna in Sri Lanka

Jan 12 (Island) A hectic schedule awaits Indian External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna when he arrives in Colombo on Monday (16) on a four-day official visit to Sri Lanka. This is his second visit to the island nation in the last 14 months. Krishna, who completes 80 years of age on May 1, will visit Kilinochchi and Jaffna in the Northern Province, and Galle in the South to undertake a host of programmes involving Indian assistance. more..

'Jaffna University gets lion’s share of funds'

Jan 12 (Island) Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake yesterday warned that a split in the JVP could lead to their third insurrection since April 1971. Addressing the university community at the Jaffna University, he alleged that the breakaway rebel group was contemplating an armed struggle. Asserting that the number of undergraduates aligned with the JVP was relatively low now, Minister Dissanayake expressed concern the more..

Hospitals short of drugs, EPF suffers losses - UNP

Jan 12 (Island) The Castle Street Hospital for Women was facing a severe shortage of essential drugs, the UNP said yesterday. Deputy General Secretary of the UNP, Jayalath Jayawardena MP, addressing a news conference in Colombo, said that the Rajapaksa regime boasted of its health services, but a hospital in the heart of Colombo was facing a severe shortage of essential drugs. more..

Canadian Parliamentary delegation says: LLRC report, guide to reconciliation

Jan 12 (DN) A visiting Canadian Parliamentary delegation observed that the LLRC recommendations would have a positive impact on the reconciliation process, involving the different communities in Sri Lanka. Addressing the media in Colombo on Wednesday, Conservative Party member representing the Don Valley East District, Joe Daniel asserted that the LLRC will help reconcile the people of different communities. more..

Lanka should address accountability issues on its own: Judge

Jan 12 (DM) A top Slovenian judge has said an international probe into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka was likely to yield a more negative rather than a positive outcome and that it was much better for Sri Lanka to address accountability issues on its own and without foreign intervention. “It is much better to do it on your own and shut the possibility for somebody far away to repeatedly keep raising an un-clarified case to cause problems,” more..

Sri Lanka to construct three elevated highways to ease traffic congestion

Jan 12 (GDI) The Sri Lankan govt has planned to construct three elevated highways connecting the three expressways which are under construction now. Vehicular traffic in the Colombo Metropolitan Area has steadily increased during the recent years due to the accelerated economic and social developments in the country. As at present, Sri Lanka has a vehicle population of 40 million with majority of them being used in the Western Province. more..

Private University bill shelved

Jan 12 (DM) The Cabinet yesterday decided to withhold, for the time being, the proposed Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Qualification Frame Bill, which students and university teachers have described as an attempt by the govt to set up private universities. University teachers and students have staged protest rallies in different parts of the country in recent times against this bill, though the Higher Education Ministry had insisted that it was meant only to regulate the private institutions more..

Editorial: Stamp Terrorism

Jan 12 (IL) Ever since the military defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, people obliviously thought it was the end of one of the world’s most ruthless terror outfits. Yet, the ghosts of terrorism have occasionally been emerging from various parts of the world in the form of Pro-tiger organizations that are paving the way to the reincarnation the deceased LTTE. Recently, the stamps reported to have been printed by the La Poste of France that bore the Eelam map and more..

Charity trust set up to support the family of murdered Huyton shop worker

Jan 12 (LD) A SUPPORT fund has been set up to help the grieving widow and two young children of a Sri Lankan man who was murdered in the Huyton shop where he worked. Mahesh Wickramasingha, 30, was stabbed to death last November at the Huyton newsagents where he worked. He had moved to the UK just months previously to earn money to support his family back home. But they now face being made homeless because they can no longer afford to pay rent on their small flat. more..

'The first grave incident', ‘La Poste’ admits

Jan 12 (DM) The French postal service ‘La Poste’ has admitted that the printing of pro-LTTE postage stamps is “the first grave incident” that it has encountered in the printing of personalised stamps. In a statement posted on its website, La Poste also says that its division Phil@poste has been a “victim of unscrupulous and manipulative customers”. La Poste states that in addition to written apologies, François Chalvet, Director of Sales and Marketing, and more..

Govt allocates Rs. 108 Billion for 2012 health improvements

Jan 12 (GDI) The Govt will spend Rs. 100 Billion for health services this year and another Rs. 8 Billion will be received as foreign assistance for the Health Sector. The Minister said that the theme of the health services this year is “to rescue the people from liquor and tobacco and safeguard them from non-communicable diseases.” He said several programmes will be implemented this year to prevent the spread of diseases. Under these programmes, carrying out mosquito control more..

Emir of Qatar to make a 2-Day official visit to Sri Lanka

Jan 12 (GDI) The Emir (President) of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani will make a two day official visit to Sri Lanka on 15th and 16th of this month on the invitation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Qatari delegation will consist high ranking officials of the Qatari government and several leading business tycoons of Qatar. On arrival, the Qatari Emir will be greeted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka Navy will accord a Guard of Honour to the more..

Public water taps to be removed

Jan 12 (NF) The Water Supply and Drainage Board has decided to remove public water taps. Chairman of the board Karunasena Hettiarachchi said that it has been decided to remove these taps in a manner that will not cause an injustice to its users. He stated that the Water Supply and Drainage Board has decided to give water connections the people who obtained water from these taps at a very low price. He pointed out that water from many of these taps are wasted. more..

A/L results committee report handed over to President

Jan 12 (GDI) The Chairman of the Experts Committee appointed by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to look into issues related to the GCE Advanced Level Examination 2011 results, handed over its report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees on Wednesday. The Chairperson of the Committee Ms. Dhara Wijetilleke, the Secretary to the Ministry of Research and Technology handed over the report containing their findings and recommendations. more..

Sri Lanka mobile phone health services score high

Jan 12 (LBO) Sri Lankan mobile phone users showed the highest awareness of the use of the instrument to access health services, according to a new study of countries in the Asian region. The study in 2011 by the LIRNEasia think tank said found that the use of mobile phones for services other than the basic voice function was still sparse among the poorest users compared with a previous survey in 2008. In Sri Lanka only six percent of users in the so-called bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) more..

'J’pura University loses five million a day'

Jan 12 (DM) The govt loses Rs 5 million a day with no productive outcome due to the closure of University of Sri Jayawardenepura, said its vice chancellor Dr. N.A.L. Karunaratne. He that the loss was incurred as the university had to bear the usual costs even though it was closed. “It is the people of this country who will have to bear this cost,’ he said, explaining that more funds would have to be spent when holding extra sessions to make up for the lost time. more..

Stocks up on credit hopes

Jan 12 (LBO) Stocks closed 1.3 percent higher Thursday on expectations of a credit rule relaxation by the securities regulators with illiquid and speculative stocks leading the charge, brokers said. Colombo's benchmark All Share Index closed 77.4 points higher at 5,942.4 points up 1.32 points while the Milanka Index of more liquid stocks rose 1.11 percent to close at 5,065.68, up 55.46 points. Turnover was a 1,063 million rupees. Asia Capital rose 5.00 rupees to closed at 66.20 more..

Sri Lankans employed overseas are main contributors to GDP

Jan 12 (GDI) Remittances from Sri Lankans employed overseas have emerged as the foremost foreign exchange earner indicating a major shift in Sri Lanka’s external sector. The remittances estimated to be around 5.2 billion U.S. Dollars in 2011, is an increase of 27 percent from previous year. As a percentage it contributed 8.8 percent to the country’s GDP. It also amounted to 18 percent of the total external receipts. The increase in remittances were mainly due to more..

WikiLeaks: Rajapaksa trio powerful, but increasingly isolated

Jan 12 (CT) “Ever since the 1978 Constitution transferred broad executive powers from the Prime Minister to the new Presidency, power has tended to gravitate toward the President. Although Rajapaksa’s electoral campaign manifesto promised to abolish the executive presidency, the concentration of power in the Presidency has accelerated during the Rajapaksa administration.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington. more..

Memorial service for ‘martyr’ priest

Jan 12 (UCAN) Thousands of people, including 150 priests, gathered recently to remember a priest who was murdered while campaigning against human rights violations during the country’s civil war. Father Mary Bastian was shot dead along with 10 other people by unknown assassins in front of St Anne’s Church in the village of Vankalai in Mannar on January 6, 1985. “Father Bastian was a man who acted bravely when people faced so many problems and abuses,” more..

Officials connected with A/L distorted results on the mat

Jan 12 (LT) Media reports that according to the report of the Presidential Commission appointed to inquire into the distorted results of the GCE A/L exam the error is due to the operator who entered data into the computer. The report of the Commission was handed over to the President at Temple Trees yesterday. Later, the President apprised the cabinet regarding the report. 294000 candidates sat the GCE A/L examination last year and it had been more..

'Private Sector Pensions Fund will not be introduced'

Jan 12 (NF) Minister of Labour and Labour Relations, Gamini Lokuge states that the Private Sector Pensions Fund will not be re-introduced through amendments to the Employees Provident Fund Act. However, the opposition charges that the proposed amendments include an amendment to introduce the private sector pension scheme which the Govt failed to enact last year in the midst of mass protests. "This is not a pensions act. more..

Sri Lanka's largest hydro power project to start next week

Jan 12 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka will put its last but the largest hydro power plant into operation next week as part of its efforts to be self sufficient in power supply by the end of this year, its Power and Energy Ministry said. The 150 Mega Watt (MW) Upper Kotmale hydropower plant was proposed for over a decade but ran into hurdles over environmental concerns. Its construction stopped till 2005 before it was fast-tracked by the present govt with financial assistance from more..

Sri Lanka to reconstruct 49,000 houses for IDPs in war ravaged north, east

Jan 12 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka will reconstruct 49,000 houses for the IDPs in war affected northern and eastern provinces, a government spokesman said Thursday. Government Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that a MoU had been signed between Sri Lanka and India to reconstruct and repair houses for IDPs with financial assistance provided by India. The proposal to sign the MOU between the two governments was made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

University crisis may spread to schools: JVP dissidents

Jan 12 (DM) The JVP dissidents’ Movement for People’s Struggle said yesterday the crisis in the universities would spread to the schools as well if the govt continued its blame game without making an effort to resolve the crisis in the education sector. The group’s coordinator Duminda Nagamuwa told a news conference a vast struggle was inevitable if the issues were not effectively addressed. He said the crisis would spread to the schools because more..

Launch of book on ‘Ranil-Mahinda agreement’

Jan 12 (SM) The Sajith Premadasa group says it will launch a book on January 17 on what it alleges ‘an agreement between Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa’ that has brought continuous defeats for the UNP. The book has been written by former MP Lakshman Ananda Lanerolle, said spokesman of the group Lal Perera. He said that the UNP has suffered defeat after defeat in the past 17 years. The book will describe how the UNP leader and his followers had acted against more..

'Govt. will next say LTTE is behind Basil'

Jan 12 (SM) After alleging that the LTTE was behind the Movement For People’s Struggle, the government will next say that the outfit was also behind minister Basil Rajapaksa, said MFPF coordinator Duminda Nagamuwa. Speaking to the media, he accused the present regime of branding its opponents with the label in order to cover up its nudity of inabilities and bankruptcy. It will next say that the LTTE is behind Basil Rajapaksa, Nimal Siripala de Silva and other seniors of the SLFP. more..

Sri Lankan low leaves many “horrified”

Jan 12 (AFP) A Sri Lankan minister slammed the country’s cricket team on Thursday, blaming poor team spirit for its humiliating 258-run thrashing by South Africa, the island’s worst one-day international defeat. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said he was “horrified” when Sri Lanka were dismissed for 43 runs at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday, their lowest one-day score. “You can understand a defeat, but not something like this,” Rambukwella told more..

Prince Kolom’s wife and sister remanded till Jan 16

Jan 12 (DM) The wife and older sister of the slain notorious underworld gangster Prince Kolom were further remanded till January 16 for allegedly demanding ransom from a hotel owner in Kotahena. Kotahena police had arrested the suspects following a complaint made by the owner of MNS Hotel at Bloemendhal Road Nagaiya Sasikan on December 26 alleging that two persons who came on a motor bike asked him to give Rs.100,000 to the sister of Prince Kolom at gunpoint. more..

Finance and admin discipline in all sectors under Health Ministry

Jan 12 (DM) The priority of the Ministry of Health in 2012 will be to introduce financial and administrative discipline to all sections and institutions under it in order to prevent corruption and mismanagement, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said. He told the media that many people could get hurt when he attempts to eradicate the corruption that has devoured much resources of the health ministry and added that he was determined to follow through. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 12.01.2012

Will there be a regime change in Sri Lanka?

Jan 13 (GV) A regime change takes place only if the majority of people in a country want a change. In Sri Lanka today not many people would want it. After 30 years of war and terror, people are able to get about without fear, safe in the knowledge that the LTTE has been annihilated. It is this regime, the Rajapakse regime that made it possible and so the sense of gratitude is very strong among the people. It is this feeling that makes the people vote for the Rajapaksas more..

The final report of the LLRC: A Response

Jan 13 (GV) The concluding report of Sri Lanka’s LLRC was finally made public in mid-December, after multiple delays and an interim report that went mostly unnoticed. The Commission’s report has sparked considerable debate within an increasingly stifled public sphere, rejuvenating conversations in Sri Lanka about governance, human rights, and a permanent political settlement. Unfortunately, because the Report was only released publicly in English, more..

Is enough being done to address the security concerns of women in the North and East?

Jan 13 (TC) The report of the International Crisis Group (ICG) on ‘Sri Lanka: Women’s Insecurity in the North and East’ alleges that that violence against women in Sri Lanka’s mainly Tamil-speaking North and East is on the rise and that women in the region face “a desperate lack of security” in the aftermath of the armed conflict. The Crisis Group report, released on 20 December 2011, asserts that women continue to live in fear more..

Can Rationalists awaken the sleep-walking Lankan nation?

Jan 13 (GV) Assorted charlatans and religious zealots across the island of Sri Lanka must have heaved a collective sigh of relief when they heard that Dharmapala Senaratne was no more. He had made it his business to make life difficult for those preying on the gullible public. Rationalist and myth-buster Dharmapala made his final exist a few days before 2012 dawned. At 67, he still had a few more years of the good struggle left in him. He would surely have enjoyed more..

When the actual crisis blows…

Jan 13 (SL) Had anyone argued in early 2011 that Libyan “Brother Leader” Muammar Gaddafi would soon be forced out of power, they would have been labeled dreamers at best, insane at worst. But that is exactly what happened. In mid-February,…” said the host in Al Jazeera’s novel programme “The Cafe” aired on Friday, December 30, 2011, introducing the discussion on Libya and its current political “pause”. Will any “dreamer” or an “insane” at worst, dare make a comment on more..