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Sri Lanka’s exports now less competitive in global market

July 29 (Island) With the low agricultural productivity level, Sri Lanka must adopt modern methods to increase exports, while being self-sufficient", a top economist said. "By developing the productivity level through diversification, differentiation and value addition, we must target more export markets. Therefore, by increasing our exports especially in the agriculture sector, we could manage our trade deficit to a greater extent," President of the Organization of Professional more..

Hambantota not totally free

July 29 (SL) The Hambantota port will not be completely free of charge as handling charges will be levied from ships calling in at the port, a port official said. Hambantota Port Chief Engineer Agil Hewageegana said that a handling fee varying from 12 percent to 20 percent less than the charges levied at the Colombo Port will be charged from ships at the Hambantota port. He however said that ships which call in at the port, unload their goods and reload them to another ship from the same port will not be charged any taxes. more..

Video footage shows state officials leading Mannar attack: Police

July 29 (ST) Prison officials, school principals and state sector workers are among those identified by police teams for being allegedly involved in the attack on Mannar courts. CID detectives and Police teams after repeatedly reviewing video footage of the attack have succeeded in identifying them, according to the Police. They said statements were recorded from journalists, photographers, Grama Sevakas and lawyers who were more..

MPs involved in electricity mafia!

July 29 (NS) For the first time the Power and Energy Ministry and the Joint Trade Union Alliance of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) are on one platform to reveal that a ‘mafia’ now exists in the power sector that involves various parties including politicians who become billionaires. Minister Champika Ranawaka who had cracked down on this mafia claimed that the persons behind the mafia were billionaires and they did everything possible to destabilize the power sector in the country. more..

Sri Lanka says no to IOC

July 29 (SL) The govt has rejected an offer from the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to upgrade the facilities at the Sapugaskanda oil refinery. Minister Susil Premjayantha said that the govt will require USD 400 million to upgrade the Sapugaskanda refinery and USD 1.5 billion to build a new one. IOC had expressed interest in the govt’s plans to refurbish the island’s only refinery that will cost USD 2 billion. “We have expressed our interest,” Suresh Kumar the IOC’s Colombo chief more..

Shattered hopes: Revised Z-score adds to A/L students’ woes

July 29 (ST) The release of the revised Z-score results has given rise to a fresh controversy amidst shattered dreams for students who sat last year’s GCE A/L exam. Some students who had enough Z-score points to enter university under the aborted Z-score system now find a reduction in their points after the revised Z-score results were released by education authorities following the Supreme Court order. more..

DG Ajith Mendis cleared of wrong-doing

July 29 (Island) With the state health sector’s senior-most administrator officially cleared of any wrong-doing last week, there was mounting speculation that Dr. Ajith Mendis, Director-General of Health Services, will get the nod at the eleventh hour to remain in the top slot under a one-year extension of service. With the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and the powerful Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU), throwing their weight behind Mendis, the papers for the DG’s extension were expected to be more..

Jaffna police won’t allow display of inflammatory posters

July 29 (Island) The police in the Northern Province are on alert to thwart possible attempts by political elements to destabilize the region with intelligence received that some politically motivated groups were working overtime to exploit Black July remembrance events to incite Tamil speaking people. The police warning was given close on the heels of the Nelliady police detecting a group of people led by former TNA MP Sivajilingam pasting posters condemning the killings at more..

Wrong report on MR’s Olympic plans embarrass UK Tamils

July 29 (Island) Those who had organized protests against President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s participation at the inauguration of the London Olympics on the basis of an exclusive report in the UK’s The Independent reacted angrily as the Sri Lankan leader didn’t turn up. Highly embarrassed UK based Tamil Diaspora groups are believed to have found fault with The Independent for failing to be accurate in its coverage of President more..

CPC appeals against London Appeal Court judgement

July 29 (NS) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) announced that it will appeal against the judgement delivered by a Court of Appeal in London. The CPC lost the appeal filed in the British Court of Appeal in relation to a claim made by Standard Chartered Bank in a sum of $164 million plus interest arising from derivative transaction between the bank and CPC. Last year, the CPC appealed against the ruling in favor of Standard Chartered Bank more..

Kith and kin nominations at highest levels

July 29 (LB) Former JVP MP Gamini Rathnayaka said that the highest number of relatives of govt politicians are set to contest the Sabaragamuwa Province at the provincial council (PC) polls in September. He charged that as much as 13 such individuals are set to contest the Sabaragamuwa PC polls on the UPFA ticket – despite the SLFP general secretary having publicly stated that the party will not make any exception in not fielding relatives of its ministers or MPs more..

Jobs for thousands of graduate trainees in Eastern Province

July 29 (ST) More than 2,000 graduate trainees in the Eastern Province have been given backdated appointment letters after the Provincial Council was dissolved ahead of fresh elections. The move was a clear violation of the election laws that prevent job appointments during the elections. A govt official said the appointments were granted on instructions from ‘higher authorities’, but he declined to elaborate. more..

Corrupt cops face expulsion

July 29 (NS) Over one hundred police officers would face dismissal if they were found guilty for alleged corruption, malpractices and financial irregularities, police sources disclosed. IGP N.K. Illangakoon personally monitors all these investigations. The DIG (Galle Division) has already been interdicted while the Officer-in-Charge of the Laggala Police was sacked last week. Police Media Spokesman Ajith Rohana said the IGP had stressed the need to clean the Police Department. He said the IGP had ordered probes against over 100 police officers more..

Bar Council throws its weight behind contempt action

July 29 (Island) A well attended meeting of the Bar Council yesterday endorsed the decision of the Bar Association’s Executive Committee not to attend courts on July 20 as a protest against the alleged intimidation of the Mannar Magistrate by a govt minister and the mob attack on the Mannar courts complex, BASL President Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday. He said about 300 members were present at yesterday’s meeting. The Council also supported the ‘contempt of court’ litigation more..

President moves to rebuild Govt’s image; cracks within UNP widens

July 29 (ST) In the light of mounting public discontent over a number of recent issues, President Mahinda Rajapaksa cracked the whip on his cabinet ministers this week. It came when they had finished their usual business of approving cabinet papers last Wednesday. During “any other business” listed in the agenda, Rajapaksa took up one issue after another. He referred to the incident where Minister Rishad Bathiudeen is alleged to more..

Pakistan foreign minister Khar's visit put off

July 29 (ST) A scheduled visit to Sri Lanka by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has been postponed, the External Affairs Ministry’s Public Communications Director General Sarath Dissanayaka said. Ms. Khar was to arrive in Sri Lanka on August 1 on a three-day visit on an invitation extended by External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris. However, Mr. Dissanayake gave no reason for the postponement of her visit but said it would be re-scheduled. During her visit to Sri Lanka, more..

More foreign takeovers in the offing

July 29 (NS) Sri Lanka is expected to witness a major wave of mergers and acquisitions exceeding last years record value of US100 million mainly led by foreign investors in the second half of this year, investment bankers said. “Currently there are several such deals under negotiation in tourism and financial services which probably be closed by end of the year said the CEO f Frontier Capital Partners Limited, Nishan Sumanadeera. He declined to name the companies involved due to more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

July 29 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa dropped a political bombshell at last Thursday’s meeting of the National Executive Committee of the SLFP. He said a group of Opposition politicians, enamoured by the strides the Govt was making in the field of development would join their ranks soon. He did not give details. However, SLFP insiders say the larger number would be those prominent in different local councils in the districts of Kegalle, Ratnapura, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. more..

Rishard’s supporters call for Inquiry Commission

July 29 (Island) There were demonstrations in support of Minister Rishard Bathiudeen following Friday prayers in Colombo and many parts of the country and a petition was received by officials at the president’s office. The petition called upon the president to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into these incidents and release those persons taken to custody. It referred to internally displaced Muslims from the North and their problems, saying that after LTTE more..

The Arrogance of Power

July 29 (Island) The story of a plane, a pilot and a puppy would not ordinarily interest the average Sunday newspaper reader. Add to this an account of an angry and vicious outburst by a powerful public official and you have an explosion which raises issues that should concern all citizens of this country. The reported response of the Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a telephone conversation with the editor of the Sunday Leader, Frederica Jansz, is, we believe, unprecedented. more..

Petitioners claim they were arrested under law repealed 10 years ago

July 29 (ST) The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to inquire into the fundamental rights petitions filed by six employees of Srilankamirror website.The court decided to inquire into the alleged rights violations, by the CID, of the freedom to engage in lawful occupation, freedom of expression and illegal arrest of the petitioners. Counsel Saliya Pieris for the petitioners argued that the CID obtained the search warrant to search the website office and arrest the employees mainly relying upon Section 118 more..

Death Certificates For Missing People

July 29 (SL) Families in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi have been provided with death certificates for their missing relatives without a proper inquiry being conducted, TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said. He alleged that two weeks ago over 30 families, all of whom had reported relatives as missing, were called to the Mullaitivu police station by the army. It was there that they were questioned about the personal personal details of their missing relatives before being handed a form to sign. more..

Kahawatte wrapped in fear and silence after recent killing

July 29 (ST) Fear, uncertainty and mistrust; these words aptly describe the mood that prevails in the once peaceful Kotakethana area in the Kahawatte Police Division, following the gruesome killing of a mother and daughter 10 days ago, as authorities moved to provide psychological support to the villagers. “We will sell our property and move to my mother’s house. Our lives are more valuable,” a woman who lives with her family in the neighbourhood of the latest victims more..

Sri Lanka to blacklist convicted workers

July 29 (TOO) After blacklisting some Omani companies for allegedly flouting labour laws, the Government of Sri Lanka is considering blacklisting migrant workers who have been convicted of crimes in Oman. Times of Oman had yesterday reported Sri Lankan Embassy blacklisting nine Omani companies and suspending operations for 14 companies based in Oman "for defying Oman's labour law. Most of these workers had been found guilty of overstaying after their visas had expired; working for people other than more..

Sujatha Senaratne new Additional Secy. Health

July 29 (Island) In an unprecedented move, a top administrative position has been carved out in the Health Ministry for a Cabinet Minister’s wife whose earlier attempt to secure the directorship of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) was stalled following a Supreme Court directive. NHSL deputy director, Dr. (Mrs) Sujatha Senaratne, wife of Minister Rajitha Senaratne received her appointment last week as Additional Secretary (Public Health Services), one of the most powerful more..

Bribery Commission probing 60 cases of alleged graft, says head

July 29 (ST) The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIAOBC) is investigating over 60 complaints of corruption and illegal assets acquisition against politicians including MPs, Provincial Councillors (PCs) and members of Local Authorities, Commission Chairman Justice D.J.De S. Balapatabendi said. Along with these the Commission is also investigating complaints against several senior public officials more..

Sri Lanka nets 500 Australia-bound boat people in July

July 29 (AFP) Sri Lanka's navy arrested a boatload of people heading to Australia and raised the number of would-be illegal immigrants detained this month to a record 500, an official said. A fishing trawler carrying 31 people was intercepted off the island's western coast on Saturday, and another 20 were arrested on shore ready to board the vessel, navy official said. "We had the highest number of arrests this month," more..

Land around Negombo lagoon and its environs illegally grabbed

July 29 (LB) Environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara has charged that land has been grabbed on a large scale illegally in and around the Negombo lagoon, far in excess of what has been taken over in other parts of the country. He charged that large areas surrounding the Negombo lagoon have been forcibly and illegally taken over by certain parties and added that sources allege that false deeds have been prepared to complete the transactions while some lands have been sold to more..

People kill crocodiles as enclosures still remain on the drawing board

July 29 (LB) Matara district Disaster Management Assistant Director Major Balasuriya told LAKBIMAnEWS that guidelines have already been drawn up to construct 10 crocodile enclosures along Nilwala River to protect humans from crocodiles. Environmentalist Pubudu Weeraratna told LAKBIMAnEWS that the people living along the river, being terrified by the threat posed by killer crocodiles, have gone on a crocodile killing spree. Weeraratna alleged that so far around more..

Duminda Silva discharged from hospital

July 29 (SL) MP Duminda Silva has been discharged from the Singapore hospital where he was receiving medical treatment following the Mulleriyawa shooting last October. According to well informed sources Silva was discharged from the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore as his health condition had improved. Last week the CID informed court that it had obtained a statement from Silva in hospital on July 22 and that he had said he could not recall the more..

SLMC hits back at Abdul Cader

July 29 (SL) The SLMC has hit back at govt parliamentarian Abdul Cader for saying that the SLMC will lose the Provincial Council elections in the east. In response to the news item published in The Sunday Leader last week under the title ‘UPFA MP says Hakeem will lose” the SLMC said that UPFA MP Abdul Cader has no right to castigate the SLMC. SLMC deputy leader Nazeer Ahamed said that Cader had let down the people who voted for him by leaving the UNP and joining the UPFA. Nazeer Ahamed said that more..

Australia denies first deportation is a new direction

July 29 (SL) The Australian Immigration Dept has denied that the deportation of Sri Lankan asylum seeker Dayan Anthony is a shift in their policy towards the boat people. Daniel Sanders, immigration officer at the Dept of Immigration, said that while Anthony’s deportation was the first such incident it did not mean that they would immediately start deporting the rest of the asylum seekers. “Anthony was deported because his application for refugee status was unsuccessful. more..

'Rice export controls not a blanket ban'

July 29 (LBO) Sri Lanka's fledgling rice exporters could still ship rice under some restrictions, including a minimum price and there was no blanket ban. Minister Keheliya Rambukwelle said special varieties of rice grown targeting the export market will be allowed out. About a third of Sri Lanka's minor 'Yala' cropping season was destroyed by drought in 2012, though there were estimated stocks of 1,200,000 metric tonnes with a state rice marketing firms, more..

Star hotel workers have infectious diseases

July 29 (NS) A large number of employees in Colombo’s star grade hotels suffer from contagious and sexually transmitted diseases including TB and HIV/AIDS, Colombo Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam says. Accordingly, between 35-75% of workers have Hepatitis antibodies. This shocking discovery was made after medical tests were carried out on hotel workers at the Colombo Municipal Laboratory. CMC introduced regulations for compulsory medical tests for more..

First anniversary of Abimansala

July 29 (SO) The first sanatorium-type wellness resort, 'Abimansala' for dependent war heroes, set up on the banks of the Nuwara Wewa at Anuradhapura as a concept of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, marked its first anniversary on Thursday. President Rajapaksa, in his 'Mahinda Chinthana' manifesto, articulated his Govt's role for disabled people and how care should be provided to them. This visionary concept, applicable to disabled war heroes too, was made a reality by more..

Customers petition SLT for better internet service

July 29 (ST) Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) says ADSL connection issues are due to network abuse by a minority of users downloading large amounts of data. Disgruntled SLT customers have petitioned online at, calling for the company to improve its service. The petition, “We Want Reasonable WWW,” with over 500 signatures, requests SLT improve its service and “consider practical usage of internet and provide more..

Sri Lanka navalmen attack boats with stones, logs

July 29 (PTI) Sri Lankan navalmen allegedly attacked 10 boats of Indian fishermen with stones and logs when they were fishing near Katchativu early this morning. Fisheries department officials said the naval personnel also cut the fishing nets in the boats and threw them into the sea. No fishermen were injured in the incident, they said. They said the boats were part of a fleet of 696 boats that had put out to sea last night off Dhanushkodi. more..

House owned by Mannar judge attacked

July 29 (CG) A house owned by the Mannar Magistrate Anthony Pillai Judeson came under attack late last night by an unidentified gang. The house located at Sebastiar Street in Mannar has been given out on rent by the Magistrate, our correspondent in the area said. Stones were thrown at the house by the gang resulting in minor damages to the property while a vehicle parked in the premises was also damaged. A police investigation into the incident is underway. more..

'Sangakkara injury provides useful break'

July 29 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene said that although Kumar Sangakkara's injury was unfortunate, it was good in a way as it allowed Sangakkara an overdue break from cricket ahead of the World Twenty20 tournament in September. "He hasn't had a break for nearly two years so if you look at it that way, it's unfortunate but he gets a deserving break. Hopefully he will get fit for the World Cup [World Twenty20]," more..

Former administrator Abu Fuard dies

July 29 (CI) Former Sri Lanka cricketer and administrator Abu Fuard died in Colombo on July 28 at the age of 75. He was suffering from a kidney disease for the past few years. Fuard represented Ceylon in first-class cricket between 1956 and 1970. He later served Sri Lanka cricket as an administrator and was the manager and coach when Sri Lanka won their first Test match against India in 1985. An offspinner, who also opened the batting, Fuard took 51 first-class wickets more..