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Foreign inflows gather momentum

May 31 (FT) The external trade of the country may look challenging, but foreign inflows appear robust as per latest data disclosed by the Central Bank yesterday. Workers’ remittances in March amounted to $ 550 million, up 9.2% year-on-year (yoy) whilst for the first quarter it grew by 17.2% to $ 1.5 billion. Earnings from tourism in March 2012 grew at a healthy rate of 28.8% to $ 94 million and by 28.6% to $ 268 million in the first quarter. more..

Pull up your socks Singaporean FM tells Lanka

May 31 (Island) Visiting Singaporean Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said Sri Lanka has to put its act together if the country was to capitalise on several comparative advantages to develop its economy. A new MoU inked yesterday (see page 3)with Singapore would enable the two countries build a deeper relationship, he said. The Minister is here with a 21-strong business delegation from Singapore in search of potential opportunities for investment and networking. more..

Sri Lankan body holds event

May 31 (GT) The Sri Lankan Majlis Qatar (SLMQ) held its annual symposium recently at Gulf Paradise Hotel for the 11th consecutive year. The symposium is the marquee event of the SLMQ calendar, and has traditionally been graced by a prominent speaker. The keynote speaker in this year’s event was Mufthi Ismail Musa Menk from Zimbabwe, who delivered the keynote speech on “Unity & Brotherhood”, which was the theme of the evening. SLMQ public relations co-ordinator more..

SL, Thailand sign cooperation deals

May 31 (FT) During a bilateral discussion held today with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra has offered her govt’s assistance to develop Sri Lanka’s agriculture, fisheries and education sectors. President Rajapaksa who is on an official tour in Thailand met Prime Minister Shinwatra at the Prime Minister’s office Wednesday morning. The two leaders held discussions on enhancing bilateral relations, more..

IUSF, MFSAC to fight against PUs

May 31 (CT) The Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) and the Medical Faculty Students’ Action Committee (MFSAC) will launch combined agitations to pressurize the govt to shut down the Malabe Private Medical College (PMC). IUSF convener Sanjeewa Bandara said both the student groups have decided to get together and fight against private universities. “The Malabe PMC is a threat to free education and will belittle the medical profession. Students who got mediocre results in their A/Ls can enter the Malabe PMC while more..

Police probe treasure hunting DIG

May 31 (Island) A Deputy Inspector General of Police is under investigation for his alleged involvement in treasure hunting, in the Eastern Province, on the pretext of looking for hidden arms and ammunition. Authoritative said that the suspect had planned to launch the treasure hunt with the help of some police personnel and a group of civilians from Embilipitiya. Sources alleged that the group had been eyeing some archaeological sites in Uhana, Damana and several other areas in the Ampara District. more..

New Delhi cold-shouldering Colombo for over two years

May 31 (Hindu) Sri Lanka and India haven’t had a bilateral engagement at the top-most levels in governance, reflecting the changing priorities in New Delhi towards its immediate neighbourhood. A series of issues between Sri Lanka and India since the close of the Eelam war IV in May 2009, which saw the demise of the Tamil Tigers, has seen New Delhi cold-shoulder Colombo for over two years. more..

Chinese restaurateur gets six months

May 31 (DM) A Colombo Court sentenced a Chinese restaurant owner to six month imprisonment suspended for five years after he was pleaded guilty for selling beer without a permit and possessing a stock of illegally imported cigarettes. The accused, Ling Su Finn was arrested by Kollupitiya police at his Chinese restaurant in Kollupitiya with 35 beer bottles and 10 illegally imported cigarettes. Meanwhile, when the Chinese national was produced before Colombo Fort Magistrate Kanishka Wijeratne, more..

SF pays Rs 5,000 fine

May 31 (CT) Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka had paid Rs 5,000 to the Colombo High Court on 28 May as a fine which was ordered by the judge in the White Flag court case. The receipt which confirms the payment of the fine had also been given to Fonseka. The verdict given on 18 November 2011 by the three judge bench which was appointed for the White Flag case, ordered Fonseka to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 and he was sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment. In default of the payment of more..

Tamil asylum-seekers to be forcibly deported

May 31 (Independent) Dozens of Tamil asylum-seekers will be forcibly removed from Britain on a secretive deportation flight today despite credible evidence that they face arrest and retribution on their return. A chartered plane, PTV030, is due to take off at 15.30 from an undisclosed London airport and fly direct to Colombo. Human-rights organisations have called on the UK Border Agency to halt the flight on the grounds that Tamils who are known to be more..

Indian govt to discuss revised Srilanka tax treaty today

May 31 (PTI) The Indian govt is likely to discuss and approve today the revised tax information sharing treaty between India and Sri Lanka, in its aggressive bid to hunt black money stashed abroad. "The India-Sri Lanka Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) is listed for tommorow. The approval is for revising the terms of existing DTAA," a source told PTI. In 2005, India had signed tax information exchange treaties with other the SAARC nations, including Sri Lanka. more..

Rupee depreciation: Rs. 145 to US dollar by year end – Eran

May 31 (Island) While the Central Bank makes various predictions, a financial analyst and opposition legislator said that unless there was a drastic reduction in the import of intermediate and capital goods, the rupee would depreciate to nearly Rs. 145 against the US Dollar by the end of this year. Eran Wickremaratne, MP, said that the rupee would hover at the current level of around Rs.131 in the short term, but it was bound to depreciate to about Rs. 145 by December, more..

Sri Lanka, Singapore ink trade pact

May 31 (MEA) The focus in the bilateral discussions, which took place on Wednesday between External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris and Mr. K. Shanmugam, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore at the Ministry of External Affairs in Colombo was on the expanded trade and economic relationship between the two countries. Minister Peiris recalled the State Visit to Singapore by President Rajapaksa in February this year and the productive discussions more..

Sri Lankan student found dead in UK

May 31 (SWA) The teenager found dead in a Caerleon river has been named as Vithuran Sathiyaseelan. The 17-year-old student from Sri Lanka was studying at Newport's university in Caerleon. A spokesman for the university described him as a "bright and talented student." The Reverend William Ritchie, Chaplain of the University of Wales, Newport said: “The University, its staff and students are extremely sad to hear of the untimely death of Vithuran Sathiyaseelan. more..

Election laws violated - Karu

May 31 (CT) There has been a gross violation of election laws since 2005, charged UNP MP Karu Jayasuriya yesterday. It has now become part of tradition to politically interfere with the elections process, and to violate the rules set down by the Elections Commissioner, he said. According to the Constitution, when an election is called, the Elections Commissioner issues a set of written recommendations which every citizen is obliged to follow. more..

Sri Lanka moves to fast track UN initiative to expand oceanic boundaries

May 31 (Island) The Sri Lankan govt is taking action to fast track a UN-led process, which may pave the way for the country to expand its oceanic boundaries. Sri Lanka sought to expand the existing 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone to 800 nautical miles on May 8, 2009, 12 days before defeating the LTTE, especially its sea going arm, the Sea Tigers. Chairman of the National Oceanic Affairs Committee, more..

Sri Lankan arrivals put Cocos islanders under strain

May 31 (TA) Authorities in Canberra were left scrambling yesterday after another asylum seeker vessel made it to Australian territory undetected. A boatload of 40 Sri Lankan asylum seekers arrived at the Cocos Islands late on Tuesday, immediately putting the resources of the main island and its 500 inhabitants under immense pressure. The arrival was the second group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers to travel to the islands in as many weeks and the second in Australian waters this week. more..

Principals strictly prohibited from accepting donation for admission

May 31 (Island) The govt has strictly prohibited school principals from accepting financial donations or contributions in any other form, for the admission of Grade One students, other than what had been authorized, according to a circular issued yesterday regarding 2013 admissions. According to the circular, apart from the facilities levy and service charges and the membership fee for School Development Societies, no other financial donations or any goods and equipment for the school more..

Sri Lanka to negotiate for another US$500 million from IMF

May 31 (DM) On completion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Standby Arrangement of US$2.6 billion next month, Sri Lanka will start negotiations with the IMF for another US$500 million Security Arrangement, Minister Sarath Amunugama said. “This will be an important policy support for the govt as it faces some critical issues like rising prices in fuel and other commodities in the global market,” more..

Stolen mine detection equipment used by treasure hunters

May 31 (SM) A high-tech mine detection equipment, stolen from Serunuwara Army camp last year, has been found hidden in the jungles of Patalipuram in Mutur. A team from of Thopur police post made the finding on May 29. It is believed the equipment, capable of detecting mines buried up to three feet underground, had been stolen with the intention of using it to hunt for hidden treasure. Police in Anuradhapura arrested two suspects in connection with the theft and more..

Yapa unhappy with vehicle emission tests

May 31 (Island) Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa yesterday said that he was not pleased with the on-going Vehicle Emission Testing (VET) programme as he had received numerous complaints about it. He said that the Motor Traffic Department had to play a key role in the VET programme instead of giving full powers to private companies to decide on vehicle emission monitoring. However, he said that he was pleased to see dangerous pollutant levels coming down due to more..

World tyrants will join the Queen at taxpayer-funded meal

May 31 (SL) The Queen has come under criticism for inviting tyrants to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. Last week it was about Middle Eastern monarchs. Swazilanders and Bahrainians joined human rights campaigners in a protest on Friday 18, May outside Buckingham Palace against the invitations to royal dictators from around the world to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee dinner. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has more..

LLRC implementation: Now the govt tells NGOs, come with us!

May 31 (LB) The govt will involve NGO critics in the drafting of its action plan on implementing the recommendations of the LLRC, a key presidential adviser said last week. Mohan Pieris, the former attorney general, revealed details of what he called the ‘preliminaries to the main action plan’ in an interview last week. “Notwithstanding the grave concerns with regards to accountability, there is broad consensus that more..

'Classes should not exceed 42 students'

May 31 (DM) Amidst reports of classrooms filled with students in excess of the authorised numbers, the Education Ministry had decided to ask all the national school principals to report on the number of children in each class, said Minister Bandula Gunawardane yesterday. The Education Minister said that, in some instances, there were more than 45 students in each class, and said principals should not be allowed to have so many. "According to international standards, there should only be 35 students in a class. more..

Gotas BBC interview: ‘Absolute Truth’ about Tamils and the northern province

May 31 (DBS) The recent interview given by Defence and Urban development secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to Charles Haviland of the BBC in Colombo has resulted in the “Archaeological expert” of the JHU showering praises on the presidential sibling. JHU MP Ven.Ellawela Medhananda Thero in a statement to the “Dasa Desin” programme has described the utterances of the Defence secretary as “the most honest truth expressed in this century”. more..

Z-Score case: Examinations Chief, MoE, AG defend ‘pooling’ method

May 31 (Island) The Commissioner General of Examinations, the Minister of Education and the Attorney General, in their written submissions, filed in the Supreme Court recently, said that there was no basis in law to treat the students who sat the GCE A/L Exam under the old and new syllabi separately in calculating the Z-score. The GCE (A/L) exam had been conducted in August 2011 in such a manner as to more..

NSB-TFC share deal: Cabraal answerable as Finance Ministry denies approval – Ravi K

May 31 (Island) Since the Finance Ministry has denied that it had approved the infamous National Savings Bank-The Finance Company share transaction, which was reversed by the SEC recently, the Central Bank Governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, as head of the Monetary Board, should explain as to why he had allowed the infamous deal to go through in the first place, UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake said yesterday. more..

Sri Lanka to pitch for international sporting event

May 31 (LBO) Sri Lanka plans to bid for another international sporting event shortly, an official said, months after spending hundreds of millions of rupees on a failed bid to win the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Vipuala Wanigasekera, Sri Lanka Tourism’s acting director general declined to specify the games, but said the bidding documents were being prepared. "I can't tell you the name because the bid is about to be submitted in the next two days to more..

Sri Lanka regulators should be firm on wrongdoers: ex-watchdog

May 31 (LBO) Central bank should strip National Savings Bank’s directors off their posts, and prevent them from serving on boards in the future, after an attempt buy stock at an inflated price, a former securities regulator said. NSB, Sri Lanka’s biggest savings bank, bought a 13 percent stake in the loss-making The Finance Company at 60 percent above the market price on April 27. The controversial deal was aborted on the instructions of President Mahinda Rajapakse, after more..

‘Invest in your motherland’

May 31 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday requested the Sri Lankan business community in Thailand to invest in tourism and other industries in Sri Lanka. “Our objectives, our responsibilities and our targets are to build a country which your children can be proud of saying ‘This is the motherland of our parents’. To achieve this objective, plans and programmes are being implemented,” he told Sri Lankans living in Thailand. more..

JVP to go to courts against 'insider trading'

May 31 (DM) The JVP will take legal action against the authorities of the state institutions that used public funds for dubious inside trading at the Colombo Stock Exchange. JVP MP Sunil Handunetti said that they have decided on this course of action as EPF funds have been used to purchase shares of loss making Grain Elevators Ltd where Rs 1.24 billion has been invested to purchase 10,000 shares at a rate Rs 245. He said the value of a share had gone down to 36 today. more..

Editorial: Let the facts be facts

May 31 (DM) There are things that cannot be labelled, or if dissected-fall into pieces. A country’s sovereignty certainly falls into the latter. However, this is the very fact Mr. Sampanthan has forgotten in his speech at the ITAK convention where he referred to the ‘sovereignty’ of his ‘community.’ In a country that is governed by a unliterary constitution, there cannot be separate sovereignties vested upon each ethnic community. There is nothing called the sovereignty of the Sinhalese or that of the Tamils. more..

President claims 8 websites bring evil to the country

May 31 (SM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has claimed that eight websites, run by one person, are bringing evil to the country. He made the comment during a speech to expatriate Sri Lankans in Thailand during a meeting in Bangkok on May 29. The president said the 30-year-old war has ended and all communities are now able to live in unity and peace. The country is maintaining an 8.3 per cent economic growth, while there is a 22 pc increase in development in more..

WikiLeaks: UNP not concerned about Fonseka

May 31 (CT) “Party members all noted that they were not worried about General Fonseka overreaching or becoming too independent as the UNF’s presidential candidate. Wickremesinghe told the Charge that he was confident that Fonseka would agree to a figurehead role if elected president. Wickremesinghe opined that Fonseka had very few options; he could either retire or agree to become the UNF’s figurehead leader.” the US Embassy Colombo informed more..

The start of World Twenty20 preparations

May 31 (CI) It's been a long season on the road for myself, having played a full season of the IPL. I knew it was going to be particularly long so in order to stay fit and alert, I have been trying to keep things simple, focus on my game and manage recoveries properly. Touch wood, things have been okay so far. I also make sure I do not push myself too hard. I don't see us getting any breaks real soon, at least till the next IPL. There is a lot of Twenty20 cricket being played and over the years, I think our players have got a measure of it to a certain extent. more..

Politico fills paddy field at Minuwangoda to erect building

May 31 (LT) The people in Minuwangoda have asked authorities to immediately stop an attempt by a powerful politician in the area to fill a large paddy field with earth. The residents say after investigations the Commissioner of Agrarian Services had taken steps to stop filling of the paddy field. However, a Member of Minuwangoda Pradeshiya Sabha has allowed the filling to be continued casting away instructions from the Commissioner. more..

'Don’t create situation to uproot tea bushes & dump them along Colombo roads'

May 31 (LT) The govt is moving on a path that destroys tea small holders says the National Organizer of the Tea Small Holders National Federation Lal Premanath. This was said at the media conference held in Colombo yesterday by the Tea Small Holders National Federation. Galle District organizer T.K. Jayasundara, Kalutara District Organizer Vijithe Karunaratne and the Ratnapura District Organizer Pushpa Dissanayake more..

Attempt to smuggle out gold foiled

May 31 (Island) A Sri Lankan who attempted to travel to India with 12 gold biscuits was arrested by the Customs at the Bandaranaike International Airport departure lounge on Tuesday evening. BIA Superintendent of Customs S. D. Jayawardene said that the suspect was about to leave for India when the detection was made by one of their staff. The staffer, alerted by a tip-off, apprehended the suspect who walked into the departure lounge around 9.00 p.m. The suspect was stopped from proceeding further and more..

NFF wants Rankin expelled

May 31 (Island) The NFF, a UPFA constituent party, demands that the govt expel the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka for interfering in the internal affairs of the country. Former MP cum Media Spokesman of the NFF, Piyasiri Wijenayake, addressing a media briefing, alleged that HC Rankin had meddled in Sri Lankan politics and national security. Wijeanayake said the British High Commissioner had no right to interfere in the security arrangements, put in place by the govt. more..

Mervyn Silva cleared at disciplinary inquiry

May 31 (SM) SLFP central committee, at a disciplinary inquiry, has cleared minister Mervyn Silva of a charge that he had threatened the media. The committee has taken the decision to clear him after the minister disowned the related remarks published in the media. At the central committee, minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi has said that everything published in the media cannot be taken as true. It is improper to punish someone on the basis of media reports, more..