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Facing new challenges ahead

Apr 14 (NS) The Sinhala New Year has dawned. An Indian Parliamentary delegation also has arrived in Sri Lanka, not to celebrate the Sinhala-Hindu New year, but to visit their ‘relatives’ in the North. Apparently, the timing of the delegation’s arrival has been set to prevent any anti-Indian protests being organized in Sri Lanka, because it is the time, we as a nation, is preoccupied with preparations for our more..

NDB in giant step to revive small industry

Apr 14 (ST) NDB (bank) recently initiated a special development programme aimed at rebuilding the defunct handloom textile industry. The pilot project of a long term development programme was launched in the Kuleegama village, Divulapititya of the Gampaha District which was once renowned for its handloom products, the bank said. It joined hands with the Department of Textile Industry and the Divisional Secretariat of Divulapitiya to support skilled weavers in the village who more..

Four new units to operate domestic airlines

Apr 14 (ST) At least four new operators are currently awaiting licensing of their domestic carriers to meet the growing demand for air travel within Sri Lanka, a regulatory official said. Sri Lanka has seen a surge in the number of domestic carriers willing to meet the local demand for travel within the island nation by air evident in the number of applications sent to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). CAA Deputy Director Operations T.N. Deen said that four prospective operators more..

Seven SOEs pile Rs.185b losses

Apr 14 (NS) Seven of Sri Lanka’s biggest State Owned Enterprises (SOE) the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB), Sri Lanka Railways (SLR), the Department of Posts (DOP), SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Air have suffered an accumulated operating loss of a staggering Rs. 185bn in 2012, the Central Bank’s 2012 Annual Report. more..

Health Minister To Get Tough

Apr 14 (SL) The Health Ministry is to propose amendments to the Private Medical Institutions Registration Act in order to give more teeth to the Health Minister to control private medical institutions including hospitals. Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake said that some private hospitals mislead patients and yet the Health Minister cannot take action against them. He said that there have been complaints about some private hospitals charging for blood given free from the blood more..

No more detention

Apr 14 (SL) The Department of Immigration and Emigration has decided to suspend detaining foreigners at the special detention center in Mirihana owing to overcrowding. Controller of Immigration and Emigration General Chulananda Perera said that the detention center can hold only 70 persons but there are over 100 foreigners detained on the premises. Perera said that until the overcrowding issue is resolved foreigners who are arrested will be released after their passports are seized. more..

Vasu gets backing

Apr 14 (SL) Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara has received the backing of Muslim MPs in the govt for a new Cabinet paper he is expected to produce seeking a ban on hate speech. Senior Minister A.H.M. Fowzie said that such legislation should be introduced in order to safeguard the coexistence among communities. He said that all other Muslim MPs in the govt should back the Cabinet paper if it is submitted. more..

Azwer takes a swipe at UNP Gen Secy

Apr 14 (SO) UPFA MP A.H.M. Azwer said when people go mad they make ludicrous statements like UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake when he said that the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) would be converted into a museum under a future UNP govt. In the first instance, I don’t think the UNP would capture power during our life time. Even UNP politicians had condemned such ridiculous statements by their party General Secretary, Azwer told the Sunday Observer. more..

SL reserves in line with IMF metrics

Apr 14 (ST) According to new IMF measurements, Sri Lanka has held adequate levels of foreign exchange reserves throughout the recent past, the Central Bank says. Even though actual reserves of the country were low throughout in comparison to the conventional measure of 100% of short-term external debt (STD), in terms of the new IMF’s risk-weighted metrics, the actual reserves in Sri Lanka have been in excess of the 100 per cent benchmark, except for the two exceptional years, more..

Central Bank to inject over Rs.600 mln to revive Golden Key

Apr 14 (ST) The collapsed Golden Key Credit Card Co. (GK) is getting a fresh capital injection of around Rs. 627 million from the Central Bank by way of a loan to re-start its business, more than four years after it went bust. The CB will lend the money from a Rs. 4.2 billion liquidity facility in a bailout package for the troubled company with the consent of the Supreme Court following its endorsement of the action plan to revive more..

GMOA threatens strike action

Apr 14 (CT) The Govt Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has threatened to go on strike after 19 April, if the Ministry of Health fails to amend the service minute of doctors within the coming week Secretary of the GMOA, Dr. Chandika Epitakaduwa said, though it has been seven years since the introduction of the 2006 circular, renewal of the service minute of the doctors has still not been effected due to the inefficiency of the Health Ministry. “The ministry should implement the more..

Police thwart bid by 4 refugees to return

Apr 14 (Hindu) Police have thwarted an attempt by four Sri Lankan refugees who tried to return home through illegal means and arrested a refugee who acted as an agent for them. Ramar (35) and his wife Rajeswari (25) from Sivagiripettai camp in Dindigul district, Jesuraja (31) from Kangeyam camp in Tirupur district and Yazhini (28) from Palani camp assembled under the Pamban road bridge on Friday night, when police, acting on a tip-off, intercepted them. Interrogation revealed that Rajasekar, more..

India and Sri Lanka ties strain over Tamils

Tears of Muslims in divided Sri Lanka

Apr 14 (GN) The undercurrent of racial tensions sweeping through Sri Lanka is gaining momentum. Unchecked and unrestrained by a govt appearing to give in to their divisive demands, the terrorist Buddhist group, the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force), is threatening to turn the island into a bloody battlefield. The Muslims targeted by this fanatical element are not the only minority being subjected to acts of violence. Christians on the island are also under attack. more..

CEB overuses water quota

Apr 14 (SO) The Irrigation Department alleged that the CEB has overused its quota of reservoir water in March, possibly resulting in grave consequences to the water supply to farmers during the now on Yala season. Official sources alleged that the CEB has breached the Water Panel agreement to obtain 19 million cubic metres of water for hydro power generation in March and used over 54 million cubic metres instead, perhaps to overcome the crisis in the coal power and thermal power generation more..

US felt SF had poor Economic knowledge

Apr 14 (SL) The United States had felt that Sarath Fonseka had poor economic knowledge during the run-up to the 2010 Presidential elections. A leaked US cable, made public by Wikileaks, quoted the then US Deputy Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka Rebecca Cohn as saying that Fonseka is a military man who has publicly admitted that he has little knowledge of economic issues, and other than clamping down on corruption, he has no more..

'We do not share a competitive relation with Sri Lanka'

Apr 14 (BS) My question is related to Sri Lanka. There has been Chinese-Sri Lankan collaboration going on in the area of space, and they are going to launch a communications satellite among other things. India's National Security Council called on March 25 for an inter-ministerial consultation to decide on possible approaches to protect Indian interests in the neighbourhood. I was just wondering, because it has been about a week since that consultation, whether you had any feedback more..

Civil Aviation DG on water holes around Mattala

Apr 14 (ST) H.M.C. Nimalsiri, Director General of Civil Aviation and Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, has responded to last week’s Sunday Times news report titled ‘Water holes around Mattala closed to keep away birds and animals’ He says “I refer to the article publishedon the first page of the Sunday Times under the above caption. “In reference to the statement made in paragraph 1 and 2 of this news article referred above, I wish to state that more..

Politicizing the post of VC

Apr 14 (CT) In the event the spouse of the Chairperson of the UGC is appointed as the new Vice Chancellor for the University of Colombo, there will be a conflict of interest as it would not be possible to make impartial decisions, the FUTA cautioned. Concerns have been raised over the fact that one of the candidates, who has applied for the position, is none other than the spouse of the former Vice Chancellor of more..

Trilingual name boards for buses

Apr 14 (CT) The destination boards on public transport vehicles will soon be displayed in three languages, on a directive issued by the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration. Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara has requested the Ministry of Transport and the NTC, to put trilingual route destination boards in buses as it is required according to the National Languages Policy. Followed by the minister’s request, the NTC has taken steps to put trilingual route destination more..

Rs. 490 million Pak cement deal under scrutiny

Apr 14 (ST) An evaluation committee to be appointed by the Cabinet will examine a Rs 490 million deal to buy 53,200 tons of cement from a Pakistani supplier. The move follows a recommendation by Minister Dayasritha Tissera to award the tender to D.J. Khan Cement Company Limited. Minister Tissera said in a cabinet memorandum that the Sri Lanka Cement Corporation, which markets cement, had obtained Cabinet approval in 2008 to buy cement for more..

Foreign policy outsourced at Rs. 500,000 a day

Apr 14 (ST) Notwithstanding a campaign to bring about a change of heart by the Obama administration towards Sri Lanka, costing the taxpayer Rs. 15 million a month, the UPFA Govt will not change its official policy towards the United States. Or so it seems. A strong assertion came from Minister G.L. Peiris on Tuesday. “I wish to state emphatically that there is no change of Govt policy towards the US. more..

Matale mass grave: A nation without a conscience?

Apr 14 (CT) The discovery of a mass grave, adjacent to the Matale hospital, with the remains of about 200 human beings in it, dating back to the late-nineteen eighties does not appear to have provoked the kind of consternation that it should have in any country with even a pretence to democratic practice leave alone a constantly-invoked adherence to all that is humane within Buddhist philosophy. I think back to that time in Sri Lanka’s history which I was, thankfully spared experiencing, when I was more..

An honest reckoning of a tormented past

Apr 14 (CT) Those who murmured of ‘collateral damage’ and looked the other way when civilians were mowed down during the last days of the Wanni conflict in May 2009 certainly share a common callousness with those who shrugged their shoulders when previous govts of a different colour killed the ‘Southern terrorists’ of the JVP with all the ruthlessness at its command, more than two and a half decades ago. In a large measure, these may even belong to the same social group, more..

Hissing for nothing?

Apr 14 (CT) It’s rare indeed for someone to gain extreme popularity through both television and newspaper, crossing the language barrier and receive the most number of online ‘hits’ for just being a snake dancer, keeping a snake for a pet and lying through her teeth. Well, it’s Sri Lanka, and Nirosha Wimalaratne is the story-making ‘cobra girl.’ The story is by the Sri Lankan media for the media – consuming Sri Lankans – and of a certain more..

Australia offers $ 8 million aid package for Sri Lanka’s plantation schools

Apr 14 (Island) High Commissioner for Australia in Sri Lanka, Ms. Robyn Mudie said the Australian government has enhanced its aid package for water and sanitation in plantation schools. "This sector will now receive AUS$ 4.8 million through UNICEF and the Ministry of Education for drinking water, sanitation and the promotion of hygiene for around 100 schools in these areas", she said. more..

CEB at the mercy of energy mafia

Apr 14 (CT) The mounting losses incurred by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is being attributed to the power purchasing agreements between the CEB and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) that had been structured in a way to favour the private energy sharks. CEB sources allege that the power utility, which enjoyed a profit margins of 50% before the advent of the IPPs in 1995, had since then started piling up losses. more..

Hi-tech weapons for guards

Apr 14 (SL) Prison guards are to be equipped with hi-tech weapons in the near future, Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera said. The move follows the riot at the Welikada prison last year where several inmates were killed and injured. Gajadeera also said that tenders have been called for to purchase tear gas, weapons and riot gear for the prison guards. Prison guards had earlier used T-56 weapons but they were replaced with more..

Sri Lanka water supply board plugs some leaks, ups profit

Apr 14 (LBO) State-run National Water Supply and Drainage Board, has increased provisional operating profits to 3.0 billion rupees in 2012, up from 1.9 billion rupees by raising tariffs and reducing leakages. The Central Bank's annual report said revenues rose 11% to 15.4 billion rupees due to a tariff increase, new connections and reducing leaks, while operational and maintenance cost rose at a slower 3% to 12.4%. more..

BBS to launch ‘counterattack’ programme in the US

Apr 14 (SL) Academics have begun circulating a petition calling for a leading telecommunication service provider to remove the Bodu Bala Sena theme tune from their site, where it was uploaded as a ring-in tone. “The anthem of the Bodu Bala Sena carries an incendiary message that seeks to depict sections of this country’s people as outsiders and destroyers. Its purpose is to incite distrust and hostility between ethnic and more..

Pilots overworked and underpaid?

Apr 14 (SL) The management of SriLankan Airlines is accused of failing to recruit pilots to fill the vacancies for pilots and pushing the existing staff to overwork to substitute the work. Although the airline is in a dire need for 275-300 pilots there are only 200 pilots working at present and the entire workload has to be shared amongst them which has been strenuous over the years. Although the situation is as such, it is more..

First Family celebrates New Year

Apr 14 (IL) When the entire country is gripped in a happy and festive mood, Sri Lankans celebrated the traditional “Aluth Avurudda”- Sinhala and Hindu New Year in usual grand style. According to the reports, Sinhala and Tamil people throughout the country enthusiastically got ready to celebrate it. This is the fourth National New Year the whole country is celebrating in an environment of peace and tranquility since the total eradication more..

Let’s imbue the meaning of New Year

Apr 15 (NS) The Sinhala Tamil New Year has dawned. People with means have renovated and whitewashed their houses, bought new clothes and are eager to pay homage to their parents and elders, enjoy a family get together and spend a period of relaxation and enjoyment in peace. Traditionally, the New Year is the celebration following a successful harvest. Civilizations all over the world have harvest festivals. They also denote a ‘New Beginning’ and it is a community celebration, that more..

Where have the ‘kohas’ gone?

Apr 15 (NS) Over the years, with the traditions of Avurudhu dying a natural death and the ‘commercial’ traditions of Avurudhu taking over, even the ‘koha’ has decided to break the tradition and go on leave. In those days, when there were trees in home-gardens and the koha never failed to report to work during this time of the year, we heard that unmistakable call, reminding everyone to look forward to ‘kevum and kokis’. This year the koha never visited the ‘suburb’ of Colombo I live in. more..

Season of renewal brings hopes of healing

Apr 15 (NS) With the dawning of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is manifested a season of renewal and an occasion of delight. It is a period for acceptable extravagance as well as expanded hospitality and the distribution of munificence. Through the centuries, the lively festivities have been equated to a National New Year, celebrated by both Buddhists and Hindus. Touchingly collusive is the fashion in which both these ancient faiths more..

The mob, the Police and freedom from fear

Apr 15 (CT) ‘Towards a peaceful environment to live with confidence, without fear of crime and violence.’ This is the current Vision of the Sri Lanka Police, unambiguously declared on its official website. How many of us live today with confidence and without fear? The govt’s portrayal of the Police in Sri Lanka quite deliberately runs contrary to this Vision. In this article, I wish to examine the underlying message the govt communicates to the public regarding the reliability of the Police, and to emphasize more..

Sri Lanka’s human skills gap

Apr 15 (CT) There are some macro numbers relating to Sri Lanka’s educational attainments and human development which should surely please everyone. The country’s literacy ratio at 92 out of 100 on average is on par with any developed country. There is a wide-spread school system with a school in every 6.5 square kilometres of land. The schools are so well staffed that a teacher has to look after on average only 18 students, an attainment about which a school administrator even more..

New Year as observed by the Hindus

Apr 15 (SO) Mother Nature heralds the coming of events well before the calendar months. The blossoms of the Flame of the Forests - the flamboyant Erabadu flowers usher in the New Year which falls in the auspicious month of Chittirai. Another messenger that Mother Nature sends is the cuckoo bird which sings sweetly to let us know that the spring season is nigh. The flamboyant flower and cuckoo bird are the more..

Police show their true saffron colours

Apr 15 (GV) Lest we forget, the Sri Lankan police, who act under the orders and protection of the Ministry of Defence, are far from doyens of impartiality. A few weeks ago, we noted that ”it is quite clear that four policemen, no more than 3 feet away from and staring directly into the face of the Buddhist “monk” who is engaged in destroying private property isn’t quite enough these days for an arrest to be made”. There is evidence, from no less than the Govt’s Minister for Justice himself, more..

More pressure on Somawansa to step down

Apr 15 (SO) There has been pressure from the grassroots levels of the JVP, demanding the party leader Somawansa Amarasinghe of step down. He inter did to console the party men and extend his leadership in a subtle manner. He chose the JVP commemoration of the 1971 insurgency to mislead JVP members. Hinting at a leadership change in the party, the JVP leader said he would set an example to the country by handing over the reins of the party to the younger generation, which had the more..