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'Govt. is trying to divert attention from the NSB issue'

May 12 (NF) The JVP says that the govt is making statements that it has stopped the transaction involving the purchase of shares of The Finance Company by the NSB, in order to divert attention from the issue. JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti says that the govt should take full responsibility for the situation that has arisen following the transaction. However, analysts note that this is only one out of many similar transactions which have taken place at more..

Editorial: Battle against terrorism, still fresh in people's minds

May 13 (SO) Do we for a moment pause to ponder on the decisive week when the Security Forces made a tremendous sacrifice to save the nation during the final stage in its battle against terrorism? Precisely three years ago, Sri Lanka's valiant Security Forces risked life and limb in the final phase of their battle against the LTTE's vicious terrorism. Only a few friendly countries supported Sri Lanka during that crucial period when certain Western countries which more..

Editorial: Let the masses survive on grass: They are asse

May 13 (SL) The price hikes announced by the Rajapaksa govt last week are unprecedented in the contemporary history of the country. The price hike of a gas cylinder by Rs. 350; one kg of milk powder by Rs. 163; a bag of a cement by Rs. 70 was the knockout blow delivered on the hapless consumer. This package of price hikes followed other steep hikes of essential consumer items in recent months. Yet, the people have taken this blow without a whimper of protest. more..

'Economic prosperity will lead to national reconciliation'

May 13 (SO) Deputy Minister Faiszer Musthapha said People in the majority and the minority community should have the will and the strength to work together for national reconciliation and safeguard their motherland. The Sri Lankan identity should not be used for certain issues which lead to create racial hatred. He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa is making a concerted effort towards national reconciliation. more..

Editorial: Listen to the professionals

May 13 (NS) The debate on conflict resolution and the sentiments associated with the 13th Amendment (full implementation, the need for or otherwise of devolving land and police powers, demands for going beyond the 13th etc) has largely been devoid of addressing some key questions. The 13th Amendment was illegal. It was thrust down Sri Lanka’s throat by the then Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi. It was a proposal that treated myth as fact, and took inflated grievance as ‘true-dimensional’. more..

Editorial: Then there is light – too much of it

May 13 (LB) As a couple of Letters to the Editor in more than a few newspapers have pointed out, it was more than a trifle puzzling, the grand festival of Vesak light that greeted the consumer of electricity -- having been warned month after month that he or she consumes any 'excess' of household electricity at his or her peril. Dire warnings have been but a part of an extended CEB campaign that had essentially a holier-than-thou overtone to it. The Minister no less, and then no doubt under his direction, his minions, more..

The death of Sri Lankan diplomacy by suicide took place in Geneva on March 22

May 13 (DBS) The death of Sri Lankan diplomacy by suicide took place in Geneva on 22 March. For 64 years, it had served the country well despite the size of its professional cadre and persistent political meddling by all regimes. The link between suicidal diplomacy and political directions received from Colombo is becoming obvious after the adoption of the resolution with anti-US and anti-Indian statements and actions being leaked to the media. more..

Editorial: Resignation the best course

May 13 (Island) We do not apologize for returning once more to the problems unleashed by the National Savings Bank’s ill advised and ill-conceived deal to buy a stake in The Finance Company, the country’s oldest established finance company long quoted on the Colombo Stock Exchange. The NSB made a belated statement last week returning to the subject after Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, the Secretary to the Treasury, intervened. Its apologia cut little ice with the public as it in effect bleated more..

Editorial: High-riding cowboys in daylight robberies

May 13 (ST) The buyer called it a "strategic initiative", the seller said it was a "horizontal integration"; all pedantic phraseology, but an opposition MP has come to the more accurate conclusion to describe it as "a sophisticated bank robbery". The President has long been faulted for permitting a bitter turf battle to continue between the heads of the Treasury (Ministry of Finance) and the Central Bank, but it seems there is some wisdom in his 'divide and rule' policy. more..

Kunanayakam rocks the boat: foreign policy shake-up was inevitable

May 13 (LB) In March 2012, the UNHRC in Geneva passed a resolution concerning Sri Lanka. In the run-up to this damaging development, the governt spent millions of rupees on sending a 71-member delegation to Switzerland in the expectation that it would successfully defend the country against the US-led move. The team included several ministers, senior diplomats, senior govt officials and presidential advisors. more..

An opposition in tatters

May 13 (NS) The govt has come in for flak from both the UNP and the JVP following media reports that plans are underway to dissolve the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provincial Councils shortly to pave the way for holding snap polls. These two parties also charge that the govt is deliberately delaying holding polls to the Northern PC as the ruling UPFA does not stand a chance of winning it and what is worse, they say, is that it is planning to hold snap polls to other PCs on more..

‘It’s the economy, you stupid!’

May 13 (NS) Served with a steady diet of patriotism and related slogans in the wake of the recent American sponsored resolution against the country in Geneva, Sri Lankans was brought down to earth with harsher realities last week- price hikes in gas, milk food and cement. Coming hot on the heels of similar increases in the prices of wheat flour (and therefore, bread) and fuel, the move will drive inflation and further weaken the rupee. It also refocuses attention on more..

Tea Industry: Govt. talks in two tongues

May 13 (Island) A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a proposal that the Tea Exporters Association had presented to the govt to make some fundamental changes in the way the politically vital tea industry in Sri Lanka functioned. When it comes to election time, the present columnist has been in the habit of giving projections about which way the cookie will crumble. The one that we are most proud of is the accurate prediction that Sarath Fonseka will not get more..

GL likely to visit the US empty handed

May 13 (SL) The Mahinda Rajapaksa administration is unlikely to complete the Action Plan on the implementation of the LLRC recommendations before Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris’ visit to the US this week. The govt initially decided to prepare the LLRC Action Plan before Peiris’ visit to Washington DC. Ironically, Peiris is to meet US govt officials on the 18th when Sri Lanka would be conducting its third Victory Day parade to celebrate the third anniversary of ending more..

On splitting parties: 1, 2, 3 ...

May 13 (LB) Ranil Wickremesinghe must be definitely the world-beater at splitting parties. He split his own UNP down the middle, and that’s history now. But now he is in the process of splitting the TNA down the middle too, by allegedly giving party leader R. Sambadan a flag to wave at the UNP-TNA joint May Day rally in Jaffna! Sambandan’s flag waving has got the party hawks such as Mavai Senathirajah incensed, though Sambandan himself has said he has no qualms about more..

Will the freelancer sign Sri Lanka Cricket contract?

May 13 (ST) Once again the Sri Lankan bowling star Lasith Malinga has been included in the top category of the SLC central player contract for the year 2012/13. Malinga has been slotted along with top players – skipper Mahela Jayawardena, former skippers Kumar Sangakkara and T.M. Dilshan, Thilan Samaraweera. As Malinga plays only the two limited overs versions as he has retired from the longer version of the game he was entitled to only 40% of his full fee. more..

What ‘Geneva Lost’ won’t tell Hillary

May 13 (ST) My dear Hillary Clinton, I thought of writing to you since you are meeting our genial External Affairs Minister, Geneva Lost Peiris this week. I am sure it will be an exciting meeting since our two countries have been trading insults recently over your decision to sponsor a resolution against us in Geneva. Even though we have been berating each other and even though yours is the most powerful nation on earth and we are a very small island, Hillary, I think our two countries have had a lot in common in recent times. more..

SriLankan mulling over air taxi operations

May 13 (ST) SriLankan Airlines would continue to operate its air taxi flights despite the losses it is making since commencing this service. The airline observed that they would continue the service but there would be a different type of aircraft or operation and that they have no plans of terminating the service. Chief Marketing Officer G.T. Jayaseelan said they were likely to change the method of operation from the current wet lease to a dry lease agreement. With a wet lease operation the national carrier would provide more..

Buyers willing to return the money and take back their shares

May 13 (Island) There were strong indications that the controversial deal under which the National Savings Bank bought a stake of The Finance Company but did not make payment will be reversed later this week with the major sellers having indicated that they were willing to return the payments made to them and re-take possession of the shares sold. Sources close to the arrangements now in the pipeline said that they have not yet more..

EDB fracas continues, meets COPE on June 8

May 13 (ST) The fracas between directors and the chairman of the Export Development Board (EDB) Janaka Ratnayake continued this week with accusations flying from both sides. This came ahead of board preparations as it has been summoned by the COPE on June 8 to check its accounts which are expected to include the budget for the EXPO 2012 fair. More than six directors at the EDB’s last board meeting expressed concern over the EXPO fair budget and asked for a breakdown cost, more..

Woman of courage — Dr. Samanmalee is all geared up for healing others

May 13 (LB) A dream“I left for China on a wheelchair sometime ago. When I was about to leave my country, I had a dream, to return to my motherland standing on my feet. Unfortunately that is still a dream. In that sense I do still feel sad about it. However I am thrilled that I have become a doctor today,” said Dr. Samitha Samanmalee of her journey so far. Samanmalee became crippled when a structure erected at the BMICH fell on her head, but today she is able to perform more..

Eastern provincial election soon; parties consulted

May 13 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed members of the UPFA to be prepared for an early election in the Eastern Province. Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan said he gave his consent on Thursday to dissolve the council earlier than scheduled. Constitutionally, the consent of the Chief Minister is required to dissolve a provincial council. more..

No option but to pay more for lunch packet, cup of tea

May 13 (ST) Since the price of gas went up, office workers frequenting restaurants are paying Rs. 10 and Rs. 5 more for a meal and a cup of tea respectively,. “Most private and govt sector workers eat out, but lately we have been hit by higher prices,”K. Priyantha of Kelaniya said. “I have a family to look after. I have two sons. I don’t spend on myself, but on my children. I leave home early to go to my office in Nugegoda. I have my lunch at a small hotel next to my office. more..

Seventeen forests to be declared as ‘Forest Reserves’

May 13 (NS) The Ministry of Environment has taken steps to declare seventeen forests in seven districts as ‘forest reserves’ through a gazette notification. Speaking to The Nation, Minister of Environment Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said these forests had been under their purview but had not been listed as forest reserves until now. “We are going to declare them as forest reserves to better manage them,” he said, adding that he completed all the necessary steps in this regard by Friday. more..

Mannar Bishop grilled on disappearances

May 13 (SL) Mannar Bishop Rev. Rayappu Joseph has been questioned by the police on his statement to the LLRC regarding disappearances. The Bishop was among several people, including govt officials, who had given statements to the LLRC during its public sittings. Bishop Joseph said that police officers had visited his office in Mannar last Tuesday after seeking a prior appointment. They had sought clarification on to how he had arrived at the figure more..

Samurdhi banks foot Potato bill for Temple Trees almsgiving

May 13 (SL) The bill for potatoes used at an almsgiving for Buddhist clergy at Temple Trees during Vesak was paid for by Samurdhi Banks in the Nuwara Eliya district. Nuwara Eliya District Secretary D.P.G. Kumarasiri confirmed that Samurdhi Banks had made the payments but he added that trade associations in the district had also contributed. When asked whether it was true that he had instructed all Divisional Secretaries in the district to inform the more..

No official explanation required from Karu

May 13 (CT) Contrary to media reports, no official explanation has been called for from UNP former Deputy Leader, Karu Jayasuriya for his non-participation in the official May Day rally held in Jaffna. “There has been no formal communication from the party, but I have seen the media reports,” Jayasuriya said yesterday to Ceylon Today, commenting on reports which indicated that explanation would be called for from him about his absence at the party rally in Jaffna. more..

Lanka averts EU fish ban

May 13 (ST) An attempt by Britain to blacklist Sri Lanka’s fish exports to the European market was averted after the govt made a pledge to comply with international industrial regulations and other standards, a senior govt official said. Sri Lanka’s fish exports to European Union countries make up some 68 per cent of its total fish exports, bringing in Rs. 22 billion annually. The remaining 32 per cent is sent to the United States, Japan and other non-EU countries. more..

Amarasekera goes to court on NSB – TFC deal

May 13 (Island) Close on the heels of the expose of NSB-TFC deal, Nihal Sri Amerasekera has moved court targeting those involved in the transaction by calling for a hearing by a fuller bench of the SC to review and/or re-examine the Special Determination made on 24.10.2011 on the Expropriation Bill dated 20.10.2011 as per-incuriam and ultra-vires the Constitution, and also on a further ground (NSB controversy is also a part thereof) warranting the same to be rescinded and/or varied. more..

GL must go, says Sajith

May 13 (NS) Minister G.L. Peiris, whose incompetence became visible with Sri Lanka ’s humiliating defeat at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva in February, should accept responsibility for the debacle and tender his resignation without further delay, UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa said. He accused Minister Peiris of making Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Tamara Kunanayakam, a scapegoat for the Geneva debacle. Kunanayakam has been posted as Sri Lanka’s new ambassador to Cuba more..

Controversial NSB-TFC deal to be reversed this week

May 13 (ST) The controversial 390 million-rupee deal between some investors/directors at The Finance Co (TFC) and state-owned National Savings Bank (NSB) is set to be reversed this week, informed sources said. This follows a meeting the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has had with directors of Taprobane Securities, on Thursday, Tushara Jayaratne, Assistant Director External Relations, more..

No aircraft fuel without quality certificate

May 13 (SO) No fuel will be issued to aircraft without a quality assurance certificate, said Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha. The laboratory tests conducted by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had revealed that 7,500 MT of the 20,000 MT received on April 27, 2012 were not up to standard. The export company Singapore British Petroleum (BP) in talks with the CPC agreed to treat the 7,500 MT fuel as kerosene oil, the Minister said. more..

Budget cuts affect AEA programme

May 13 (SL) The Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) of Sri Lanka is currently preparing a document requesting funds from the Power and Energy Ministry for its nuclear disaster mitigation programme. Chairman of the AEA, Dr. Ranjith Wijewardena said the Authority was currently engaged in putting in place an emergency response programme in preparation for a possible nuclear disaster. Dr. Wijewardena said that the Authority would need over Rs. 100 million to carry out the programme. more..

Sarath Fonseka to be freed? Speculation rife

May 13 (Island) There was intense speculation yesterday that General Sarath Fonseka, the former Army Commander now serving a term of imprisonment, may be released in the next few days but there was no official confirmation that this would in fact be so. "There had been indications that Fonseka whose bail application to the Supreme Court will be taken up later this month may be released as early as this week," one well informed source said. more..

No action plan for Clinton

May 13 (LB) The team, which will be headed by Minister G.L. Peiris and will include Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, will meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 18. It was earlier expected that they will take a copy of such an action plan – the details of which are yet to be released to the Sri Lankan public – to be presented to Secretary Clinton. The sources said, however, that they did not believe Peiris would have the said document “in hand” for the visit. But they did not rule out the possibility of the Americans being more..

Anjela not seeking relief yet, says counsel

May 13 (ST) No relief is being sought at this stage for the aggrieved party, film actress Anjela Seneviratne's counsel informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate's Court when the hashish case involving two British nationals came up before the Colombo Fort Magistrate on Thursday. Counsel Upul Jayasuriya appearing for the actress said he would make an application at the conclusion of the inquiry. Counsel earlier informed court that as a result of the incident his client had lost her employment at the Saudi Embassy although more..

Amid victory day here, crucial talks with US

May 13 (ST) Battle tanks, artillery, rockets and rifles that boomed to militarily defeat Tiger guerrillas and the men behind them will go on parade next Saturday, a reminder for Sri Lankans and the world outside, for a third year in succession, how a separatist war was won. This time, however, the event assumes greater significance. By an unexpected co-incidence, just a day ahead, Sri Lanka and the world's only superpower, the United States, more..

Maritime sanctuaries to popularise sea safaris

May 13 (SO) Maritime sanctuaries will be set up in shallow sea waters to popularise underwater sea safaris and for divers to view rare ornamental fish. This will attract upmarket tourists who have a passion for such exquisite sports, said Prof. Ranjith Senaratne, Senior Professor of Crop Science at the University of Ruhuna. Prof Senaratne told the Sunday Observer that the seas around the country are ideally suited for safe diving and biodiversity studies. more..

Prisoner commits suicide; investigations launched

May 13 (NF) The police have commenced broad investigations into the incident in which a prisoner at the Welikada Prison had committed suicide. Police said that the deceased is a prisoner sentenced to seventeen years of imprisonment due to his involvement in various crimes. The deceased has been identified as a resident of the Dematagoda area. The Police Media Spokesperson's office has said that statements have been obtained from prison officials with regard to this incident. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

May 13 (ST) On Tuesday, The Gap whose leisure wears are available in Sri Lanka and abroad, will decide whether or not to manufacture its products locally. Here is what the website Financial content has to say: "As The Gap's (GPS) shareholders reflect on how to cast their votes between now and the May 15 annual meeting, they've got a doozy of a proposal to sort out that one of our eagle-eyed researchers, B.B. Murti, spotted in the company's April 3 proxy. more..