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Editorial: National Drug Policy stillborn?

May 30 (Island) People were elated when the present government boldly undertook to formulate a national drug policy to protect the sick. But, they are utterly disillusioned today. There are no signs of the government making a serious effort to honour its pledge. Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena, having recently confronted the Legal Draftsman's Department (LDD) personnel over the inordinate delay in the preparation of the draft Bill of the promised drug policy, declared that it would be ready within one week. more..

Asymmetry in international affairs

May 30 (Island) It is unfortunate that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has to give interviews to the BBC and other western media who parachute to Sri Lanka as international media personnel. It is not only the Defense Secretary but even the President of the country has to be involved with these so called international media from the western countries and also from India. I am not sure whether Sri Lankan journalists interview the English PM at number ten Downing Street or the American President in his Oval office. more..

French Spring in Sri Lanka

May 30 (DM) The Embassy of France and the Alliance française de Kotte, together with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Cultural and Art Affairs and the BMICH are pleased to present the very first French Spring in Sri Lanka, a multidisciplinary ten-day festival opened to the public on a free admission basis, which will be held from 15 to 24 June in Colombo. Some events will also be presented in Jaffna, Kandy and Galle. The festival will present 11 events in more..

Iran wants to be Ceylon Tea hub for Middle East

May 30 (Island) Iran wants to be the Ceylon Tea’s transhipment hub for Central Asia, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a press communiqué, not touching on any issues that may arise because of the US-led sanctions on Iran. "We are surrounded by strong Central Asian market of more than 300 Mn people who demand, just as own our Iranian market, more and more Ceylon Tea. I stress that Ceylon Tea export volumes to Iran can now be increased dramatically due to more..

Quality leather products, aim of govt

May 30 (DN) Tax concessions have been extended to industrialists to import machinery, equipment, and raw material to uplift Small and Medium Scale industries in accordance with the Mahinda Chinthana vision for the future programme, Minister Douglas Devananda said, participating as Chief Guest at a workshop in Colombo. Ministry Secretary V Sivagnanasothy presenting the minister’s statement said a CESS of Rs 400 per pair was imposed on all imported shoes, to protect the local shoe industry. more..

Connections | May 28, 2012

Action Plan to minimise private bus road accidents

May 30 (DN) Minister C.B.Ratnayake said an Action Plan will be formulated to enable drivers and conductors of private buses to render their service with more pride and sense of responsibility. Minister Ratnayake was addressing the first workshop in Nuwara Eliya recently to educate the private bus owners,drivers and conductors to minimize road accidents involving private buses. He said drivers and conductors bear responsibilities for the lives of around 60 passengers at more..

Chandrika de Silva censures Badminton Federation

May 30 (Island) As the badminton authorities expect a place in the women’s category of forthcoming London Olympics, for its Beijing Olympics participant Thilini Jayasinghe, former national champion Chandrika de Silva says in case Jayasinghe is selected, the badminton world will see a mediocre Sri Lankan in action because the authorities have allegedly cold-shouldered the best shuttlers in their bid to secure place in London Olympics. more..

Sri Lanka, Singapore to ink first-ever B2B MoU in Colombo today

May 30 (FT) As Sri Lankan and Singapore business chambers ink a landmark MoU in Colombo today, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen has hailed it saying that it is more than a bilateral trade event. “The 30 May MoU is not only a milestone in our bilateral trade, but also a historic B2B linkage between two promising business hubs in Asia and as a result, it’s a momentous trade event for the overall region,” Minister Bathiudeen more..

Stock market crash persists

May 30 (FT) The stock market crash persisted for the second consecutive day with more velocity yesterday as Rs. 45 billion in value was wiped off, propelling the year-to-date loss surpass Rs. 400 billion mark and the negative return to over 20%. The behavior of the Bourse was exactly the way the Daily FT yesterday hinted as selling pressure on margin calls triggered a crash. As opposed to a 1.5% dip on Monday, yesterday’s fall was sharper by 2.5%, bringing the year-to-date negative return of ASI to over 20% more..

Case against Ravi: Judge orders CB to produce original documents

May 30 (Island) The Colombo High Court ordered the Central Bank to produce all original documents before Court, in the case against three persons, including UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake, accused of depositing funds sent by convicted hedge fund owner Raj Rajaratnam, in a private bank without informing the Central Bank. The Court was not satisfied with certified documents produced by the Central Bank. High Court Judge Sunil Rajapaksa ordered them to produce all original more..

Many an eyebrow raised as third trade event cancelled in May

May 30 (Island) Close on the heels of the cancellation of two important trade events in Colombo, including one involving the Netherlands dairy industry, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Sri Lanka-France Business Council have cancelled a programme titled ‘Prospects and Challenges for the EU in the global economic context and Present Economic Situation in South Asia’ which was scheduled to be held today at the French more..

Right of Reply: SEC responds to retaining private counsel

May 30 (FT) The SEC writes in response to the article appearing in the Daily FT dated 28th May 2012 under the heading “SEC reliance on private counsel ignoring AG’s Department raises eyebrows”. SEC was extremely surprised by the article appearing in your esteemed FT newspaper which attempts to portray SEC’s responsible action in retaining private counsel to represent its institutional interest in a court of law to be portrayed as an irregular practice raising more..

National policy to regulate private transport

May 30 (DN) A national policy is to be formulated to regulate private transport services, especially private buses, three wheelers and school vans. Passengers should immediately notify problems in connection with private buses to the National Transport Commission (NTC) Minister CB Ratnayake said. “I will not protect any offender using my political powers and will not give in to any pressure put on me by politicians,” he said. He said the conductor and driver of a private bus owned by the brother of a mayor had harassed a pregnant woman more..

Gota wants to change demography: TNA

May 30 (DM) TNA MP Suresh Premachandran refuting recent remarks made by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the statement was a prelude to changing the demographic patterns of the North. Defence secretary Rajapaksa has said it is not appropriate to view the north of the country, over which a separatist war was fought, as a predominantly Tamil area. “The most recent census revealed that out of the 954,000 residents in the North 900,000 are more..

More relief for CEB from weather gods

May 30 (Island) Electricity generation through hydro power had increased to 26.5 per cent (8,53970GWh) by yesterday as against generation through thermal by 73.5 per cent (23,63170 GWh), CEB said yesterday. Hydro power generation dipped to 21 per cent last week. Officials told The Island yesterday that the jump in hydro capacity was possible due to steady rainfall over catchments, particularly Mahaweli 13.1, Laxapana 8.4, Samanala 2.7 and Kukule 1.6. more..

Sri Lankan team visits Pakistan hospitals

May 30 (News) A Delegation of dengue experts from Sri Lanka, visiting on the invitation of Punjab CM Mian Shahbaz Sharif, on Tuesday a visited Nishtar Town and LGH, Jinnah Hospital and Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS). They monitored vector surveillance and treatment and control facilities of the dengue virus among the patients. Earlier, accompanied by senior officers of Health Department and CDGL, the experts went from door to door for detection of larvae. more..

Basil bats for PB

May 30 (FT) Minister Basil Rajapaksa yesterday issued a lengthy statement denying the barrage of criticism against his Ministry Secretary as well as the Treasury with regard to recent issues concerning tourism and investment promotion. Via the statement, Minister Rajapaksa also set the record straight with regard to recent, ongoing and planned policy changes with regard to the tourism and investment growth. “The media reports have given more..

UNP to move parliament over attacks on Mosques

May 30 (Island) The UNP will move parliament over the issue of extremist elements, within the govt, continuing to threaten with destruction Muslim religious places of worship, if they did not close down. MP Ravi Karunananyake said that he, accompanied by Jayalath Jayawardena MP, had visited the Dehiwela Mosque yesterday evening, after a group of thugs from a constituent political party of the Rajapaksa regime, had thrown beef into the Mosque compound on Monday, more..

Ranawaka to discuss street lighting with local authorities

May 30 (Island) Minister Champika Ranawaka will discuss, with provincial and municipal councils their responsibility to pay the Ceylon Electricity Board, for street lights in their respective areas. Local authorities have been instructed by the Ministry of Power and Energy to ensure that street lights were switched on at 6.00 p.m. and off at 6.00 a.m. The CEB mobile service would monitor the process, the ministry said. Ranawaka said that CEB didn’t earn a single cent from those street lights more..

Sri Lanka on the spot over ivory

May 30 (Nation) A move by Sri Lanka to donate over 1,500 kilogrammes of ivory it seized last week to the country’s Buddhist temples has been met with stiff opposition. The country’s customs director Ranjan Canagasabai declared that the ivory, which was shipped from Kenya, will be shared out among temples. “This is highly irregular,” Mr Karl Karugaba, the acting director of the Nairobi-based Lusaka Agreement, said of the decision. more..

Iranians nabbed with Methamphetamine worth Rs. 11mn at BIA

May 30 (Island) The officers of the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested two Iranian nationals, who attempted to smuggle into the country two kilos of ‘Methamphetamine’, a highly potent narcotic. The value of the haul was estimated at eleven million rupees. Sources said that a gramme of the drug was sold at Rs 50,000. The smugglers were nabbed on a tip-off received by the Officer-in-Charge of the PNB unit at the BIA Chief Inspector Eric Ranjith. more..

Shipping Corporation denies responsibility for its vessel

May 30 (Island) The Ceylon Shipping Corporation last night denied any responsibility over its last remaining vessel, ‘Lanka Mahapola’, which was arrested in Durban, South Africa leaving its crew stranded without pay. Thirteen of the 26 crew members, of the Lanka Mahapola, had been arrested in Durban for allegedly trying to raise 800 Rand by selling metal from the ship for scrap. The crew had been arrested by the authorities having been desperate to raise the money, more..

Daya lambastes govt. at Norwegian envoy’s residence

May 30 (Island) UNP National Organiser Daya Gamage yesterday alleged that Sri Lanka hadn’t been able to attract foreign direct investment, in spite of ending the conflict in May 2009, due to the absence of a cohesive economic policy, lack of good governance and corruption. Gamage accused the govt of ruining the national economy. He was speaking at a luncheon meeting hosted by Norwegian Ambassador Hilde Haraldstad more..

British MPs to visit Jaffna

May 30 (DM) A group of British Conservative MPs including Liam Fox who was the architect of the bi-partition agreement with the then PA govt and the UNP, is expected to visit Jaffna to monitor the current situation in the peninsula especially on the alleged military presence, Presidential Advisor Arun Tambimuttu said yesterday. Mr. Tambimuttu said the MPs had responded positively to an invitation they extended during a meeting held with them in London recently. Mr. Tambimuttu said he and UPFA MP Dr. Rajeewa Wijesinghe were among those more..

Lanka IDP-free by end July - Northern Gov.

May 30 (DN) The govt will complete the demining process in all land areas required to resettle the remaining IDPs in the North, by the end of July, Northern Governor Major General G A Chandrasiri said yesterday. He also said that the challenge taken up by govt officials, Security Forces and the public under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to resettle 295,873 IDPs liberated from the grip of the LTTE, amid doubts raised by the international community, had been met in record time of two and a half years. more..

TNA on the verge of a split over ITAK

May 30 (CT) The TNA is on the brink of a split following its leader R. Sampanthan’s decision to give Illangai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) excessive prominence within the TNA. The ITAK that was considered to be the dominant partner of the alliance received more prominence and recognition during the 14th convention the party held in Batticaloa last week. During the convention, five MPs who entered parliament through TNA were also given ITAK membership. more..

Scrapping of aptitude tests the new bone of contention is varsities

May 30 (Island) Undergraduates from countrywide universities would launch a collective protest together with university lecturers against UGC’s decision to remove the aptitude tests for students entering some university courses including the University of Visual and Performing Arts. Convener of the IUSF which is the organizing body of the protest, Sanjeewa Bandara told The Island that an aptitude test for the aesthetic degree courses were a must as more..

Health sector trade union alliance demand increases relative to those given to docs

May 30 (Island) The Health Sector Joint Trade Union Alliance warned the government yesterday that it would not be the last they would hear from them if several of their allowances were not increased relative to those given to doctors. President of the Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) Saman Ratnapriya said yesterday that the government should take immediate steps to provide them with a Disturbance, Risk and Transport allowance of Rs. 5,000. more..

Do we have the chance of a viable opposition, even now?

May 30 (LB) Sarath Fonseka left prison last week with his right foot forward. Now if only he can keep it out of his mouth. We might have some chance at a viable opposition. Indeed, Sri Lanka is in dire need of an opposition – and at this point, it doesn’t even matter who leads it. A strong opposition is central to maintaining a healthy balance of power. Even if the Abominable Snowman were to turn up now more..

Carlo accuses Tobacco Industry of interfering with key tobacco control policies

May 30 (Island) Director General of Alcohol and Tobacco Authority Professor Carlo Fonseka on Monday accused Tobacco Industry of interfering with public health by opposing key tobacco control policies directly and through front groups. The modus operandi of the industry was to oppose marketing restrictions and bans that would prevent children from using tobacco products. The industry would oppose clean indoor air policies more..

Fiscal deficit widens

May 30 (Island) As the Treasury vows to stick to targets this year, the budget deficit for the month of January 2012 ballooned 75.14 percent from a year earlier with expenditure growth outpacing revenue growth, latest data released by the Central Bank showed. Total revenue including grants grew 12.13 percent year-on-year in January to Rs. 75.8 billion with total expenditure growing 39.37 percent to Rs. 166 billion. more..

'Govt. scared to face Fonseka at an election'

May 30 (Island) The govt, by not granting the former army commander, General Sarath Fonseka, his full civic rights, has admitted that it was scared to face him at an election, the UNP said yesterday. UNP MP Gayantha Karunathillake said that the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime claimed to be popular as ever and if that was true, it should not prevent Fonseka from seeking re-election to parliament, a position he had been unjustly deprived of. more..

IGP sets up special units to combat treasure hunting

May 30 (Island) In a bid to thwart the escalating incidents of treasure hunting in the country, the IGP N. K. Illangakoon, had decided to establish a special police unit, which would operate in five notorious areas, identified by the police, through statistics of the last three years, Police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana said yesterday. He said that the central unit, which is the main unit, was attached to Archeological Department. more..

Telecom fraud suspects escorted back to China

May 30 (Xinhua) Thirteen Chinese mainlanders implicated in a transnational telecommunications fraud were sent to Shanghai under the escort of Chinese police from Sri Lanka on Tuesday, police said. Arriving in Shanghai at 8:55 p.m., they are among 482 suspects in a variety of cases seized by law enforcement officials from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan on May 23 with the help of police in six countries. more..

University academics announce all-out strike from July 04

May 30 (Island) University lecturers decided yesterday to launch an all out strike from July 04 if the Higher Education Ministry does not resolve their grievances and grant them a salary hike. They also decided to vacate from all the services provided by them to the Education Ministry until their children are admitted to popular schools. President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri said that they took the decision at more..

Islandwide awareness programme on fuel saving

May 30 (DM) The Petroleum Industries Ministry was to conduct an islandwide awareness programme on fuel saving and it would be launched with an all island school essay competition, Minister Susil Premajayantha said. He pointed out that the studies conducted by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had found that there was about 10% waste fuel during transportation, storage and pumping of fuel and it was a huge loss to the CPC on financial terms. more..

Stranded crew to be paid

May 30 (IOL) A Sri Lankan shipping company that leased Sri Lanka’s only cargo vessel, the Lankan Mahaphola, which is currently detained in Durban Harbour over a wage dispute and safety regulations, has agreed to pay the disgruntled 26-man crew. Durban attorney Nalini Maharaj, who is acting on behalf of the owner of Triple S Shipping, a Dr Sanjaya, told the Daily News on Tuesday that the wage dispute would be settled and criminal charges against more..

'COPE likely to summon CB governor'

May 30 (DM) It is expected that Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, officials of the Monetary Board and officials of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) would be summoned to COPE on June 6, 2012, in connection with the controversial NSB -The Finance deal, said COPE member Ravi Karunanayake (MP, UNP) yesterday. Mr. Karunanayake said that he believed that these persons would be questioned by COPE about the deal, which is said to have more..

Editorial: Why this hell of a mess and muddle

May 30 (DM) As we move into June the traditional June bride still appears to be wearing black at least symbolically with little or no progress towards the reconciliation of the ethnic conflict more than three years after the conclusion of the war. Instead of progress the reconciliation talks seem to be at a dead end with the ITAK, the main party in the TNA taking a tough stand at its annual convention and adopting a resolution for the merger of the NE provinces. more..