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Politicians, media blamed for ‘unrealistic’ expectations

Dec 9 (ST) Politicians and the media have helped to unrealistically lift the expectations of people and the corporate sector in a budget. “These are false expectations and not do-able,” said Anura Ekanayake, a former Chairman of the CCC. Speaking at a post-budget panel discussion, he said the politicians and the media have pumped up the people to believe that the budget wil reduce the cost of living, create more jobs or provide tax concessions to the private sector. more..

Easing interest rates cheer Sri Lankan bond investors

Dec 9 (FT) Even as the world braces to ring in 2014, bond investors in Sri Lanka have been cheering a fall in interest rates. The last quarter has seen interest rates across govt securities (G-Secs) easing 100 to 150 basis points (100 basis points = 1 percentage point). This is attributed to the moderation in inflation measured by the Colombo Consumers’ Price Index (CCPI). The barometer declined significantly to 5.6% in Nov from 6.7% in Oct on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, more..

Asian Shippers Chief applauds Mahinda for move against THC

Dec 9 (FT) The Asian Shippers Council (ASC) has applauded President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 2014 Budget move to make Terminal Handling Charge (THC) imposed by shipping lines illegal. The commendation comes amidst opposition from shipping lines and agents who alleged that the move was a major setback to Sri Lanka’s hub aspirations as well as contravenes an earlier Supreme Court ruling. more..

Rs. 984,000 gold snatch solved in few hours

Dec 9 (Island) Galle police probing the snatching of a bag containing gold jewellery, valued at Rs. 984, 000 from a businessman at Templers Road on Saturday solved the crime within a few hours and arrested the chief suspect along with the entire loot. Businessman Mutusamy Selvaraja had been taking a stock of jewellery, around 9.00 a.m. from his home at Templers Road to his shop, Ramya Jewellers, at Kaluwella when a man, who came from behind, snatched the bag with the gold jewellery more..

'Women’s rights against Lankan culture'

Dec 9 (FT) Sri Lanka will not enforce or ratify some international and local conventions which will help to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in Sri Lanka and to protect them, Minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs Tissa Karaliyadda told Parliament, in response to a question raised by UNP MP Rosy Senanayake. Making another controversial statement in Parliament, he said Sri Lanka has a better status compared with other countries in this region. more..

A case of homes, schools and livelihoods sacrificed in the name of security

Dec 9 (Hindu) Between classes on Friday, their last working day before Christmas break, a few children at one of the oldest public schools in Jaffna were running about, giggling and chasing one another. The name plate outside had in bold letters its name: ‘Nadeswara College, Kanakesanthurai’. With walls crowned with tin sheets posing for classrooms, and a tiny room that says “principal’s office”, the school, founded in 1901 more..

No technology transfers in major SL construction projects, top engineer says

Dec 9 (ST) Sri Lanka is lacking in the transfer of technology in several projects carried out here with mostly foreign personnel being involved, according to a top engineer. Malith Mendis, Senior Civil Engineer who was involved in the Mahaweli dams projects, Accident Emergency Unit at National Hospital, Development of Blended Cements and in the Colombo South and Hambantota Harbours in addition to several projects overseas, said that there is also lack of transparency of technology more..

IIHT to conduct training for Sri Lankan team

Dec 9 (Hindu) The Indian Institute of Handloom Technology-Kannur (IIHT-K) will conduct a one-month training in textile designing here for instructors of the Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparel in Sri Lanka. IIHT-K Executive Director Abdul Kareem Cheleri said here on Friday that the training programme would begin on Monday. Mr. Cheleri said the one-month course for the Sri Lankans would be the first international-level training programme at the IIHT-K. more..

'Vast progress in Jaffna's education sector'

Dec 9 (DN) The education sector in the Jaffna region has seen tremendous development, President Rajapaksa said on Saturday. "We are proud of this achievement after the liberation of the entire area from the clutches of LTTE terrorists," he said. President Rajapaksha said this achievement has been made in an area where persons with arms were hovering, before the elimination of terrorism by the govt. more..

Forest Rock Garden Resort attracts high end clientele

Dec 9 (DN) The 'Forest Rock Garden Resort' being Sri Lanka's only four star, eco-friendly hotel constructed on concrete pillars in Andarawewa, Anuradhapura, the Managing Director Baladurage Chandrasiri's insight was to help preserve nature through minimal construction and careful implementation without harming the natural habitat of endemic animals and the greenery in the locale. Being a nature enthusiast, Chandrasiri strives to highlight the importance of preserving more..

Lack of funds delay Old Dutch PO conservation

Dec 9 (Island) Conservation of the Old Post Office building in the Galle Fort, which had been used as British Commissariat Store and Dutch Administrator’s and Assistant’s quarters, during the colonial times, had been delayed due to the lack of allocations of funds, Parliament was told on Saturday. A document tabled by the Ministry of National Heritage, in response to a question raised by UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana, said that a large part of the building identified as a site of more..

Sri Lanka unemployment up

Dec 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka's unemployment rate had risen to 4.5% in the first half of 2013 from 3.9% a year earlier, reversing several years of labour market tightening. The total number of unemployed had risen to 401,000 for the first half of 2013 from 324,000 a year earlier, with female unemployment rising to 7% from 5.9% a year earlier a central bank said. Male unemployment ratio had risen slightly to 3.2% from 3%. more..

'SL could manufacture basic motor cars'

Dec 9 (DN) Sri Lanka could manufacture basic motor cars for normal usage, which is not a rocket science, a local inventor Asoka Nanayakkara said. "This is a technology could be manufactured car for the country with a minimum technology local usage. This could be improved later on with the passage of time," Nanayakkara said. Upali Wijewardena manufactured Upali Mazda and Upali Fiat and after his disappearance this business died down. But now we can developed a unique motor car more..

UN goals offer a mixed bag for women and girls in Sri Lanka

Dec 9 (Care) I am the national coordinator of the “Stop the Violence, I speak out for girls’ rights” campaign for the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association, a member organization of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). On Dec 1, my team and I visited one of the urban low-income settlements in Colombo, on a field visit to interview residents, specifically women and children, about their living conditions, children’s education, health and hygiene, sanitary facilities, more..

Lankan delegation to UNHRC in Geneva costs state coffers Rs. 59 m

Dec 9 (FT) The Sri Lankan Govt is getting a head start in its defence at the UNHRC in Geneva in March 2014, reaching out to member states to impress upon them how inappropriate it was to table a country specific resolution. Minister G.L. Peiris told Parliament that the Govt had incurred a cost of Rs. 59 million to send its delegation to Geneva in 2013 to defend the country against mounting human rights allegations. more..

Military owes over Rs. 10 b to food suppliers

Dec 9 (FT) Contractors who supplied food to the Sri Lanka security forces say that they have not been paid for over a year for the food supplies, according to a report in Lankadeepa. The military owes over Rs. 10 billion to a number of leading supply contractors of the country for the food supplied. The contractors point out that the Army owes over Rs. 10 billion since January while the Navy owes Rs. 2.5 billion since February and Air Force dues amount to Rs. 1 billion since March this year. more..

'Sri Lanka has achieved a number of MDGs'

Dec 9 (DN) Sri Lanka is no more a non-developed nation. It has already achieved a number of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka shows a significant growth in all sectors including water supply and drainage sector, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said. The donations and assistance of foreign countries granted for the country's development has decreased due to the progress in Sri Lanka, he said. more..

'Protection money paid for chanting pirith'

Dec 9 (Island) With extortion rampant in the Pettah area, all traders are forced to pay protection money to groups operating there, Chairman of the Deshamamaka Three wheel Operators’ Association, Ven. Uvathenne Sumana Thera says. Thera said that not even a pirith chanting vehicle was spared by the extortion gangs. "Extortionists even obtain Rs. 4,000 per day from the vehicle bearing the Ransivigeya used for chanting pirith." more..

Krrish still to complete Transworks land deal

Dec 9 (ST) The Krrish square mixed development project is still to make the full payment of US$449 million to finalise the Transworks House land lease with the UDA, a senior govt minister said Although the Delhi-based Krrish group took more than one year from the scheduled date to complete the deal, the govt is not losing as the company has to pay 12 per cent interest for the delayed payments, Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told a media conference this week. more..

Harsha says EPF 2011 Annual Report still missing

Dec 9 (FT) UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday complained that the 2011 Annual Report of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) was still missing and the delay of its submission to Parliament was a serious concern. “We are almost at the end of 2013 but the 2011 Annual Report of the EPF is yet to be released. I have written several times on the matter but to no avail,” Dr. de Silva said. He recalled that the session of Public Accounts Committee on EPF when it met last was abruptly more..

Unbowed! 'Not answerable in Geneva every 6 months'

Dec 9 (DN) “We are able to halt overnight, allegations that will come up against us at the Geneva Conference next March. We will not do that as it is not good for the country. There are things that a country with integrity and identity could agree and disagree to. We should agree to anything that would hail the integrity, pride of the nation, sovereignty and the freedom of our people,” said Minister G.L. Peiris in Parliament on Saturday, more..

Another crisis in the making?

Dec 9 (CT) Minister of Education, Bandula Gunawardene, had recently told Parliament that he would seek legal advice to ascertain the possibility of seeking a revision of the Supreme Court order on the 2010 and 2011 GCE A/L exam Z-Score issue, which had resulted in over 5,000 additional students being admitted to the universities, consequent to two separate calculations being made on the final marks, in respect of the old and new syllabuses. The minister had claimed that more..

Modern-day Oliver Twists

Dec 9 (DM) As I stood on the edge of the cobbled pavement waiting to hail a cab, I was momentarily startled by a sudden tug at my tote-bag. Standing right behind me was a little girl, looking up at me wide-eyed while biting on a corner of her ragged t-shirt. “Nona, keeyak hari dennako ” she said timidly, as she grabbed on to my shirt with her grubby little hand. “What’s your name?” I asked her. But she replied only after I handed her a few coins. “Sama” “Do you go to school Sama? more..

Biggest heroin haul: Cloak over PM’s official

Dec 9 (ST) The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) is moving to indict the two suspects in the case involving one of the biggest heroin hauls – but the Prime Minister and top ministry officials are evading direct comment on the alleged role of a ministry official. PNB Director Kamal Silva said the Govt Analyst had confirmed that the consignment included 131 kilograms of pure heroin and the PNB had written to the AG’s more..

Controversy surrounds face veil ban

Dec 9 (SL) The decision of the University of Moratuwa to ban the face veil worn by female Muslim students within the university premises has brought a sensitive issue to the fore. The vei,l worn by Muslim women, has been a controversial issue on which many countries have been unable to hold their ground. Especially with reference to burqa and niqab, countries across Europe have made various gestures to more..

Sri Lanka oil bill: 'We need an alternative'

Dec 9 (AJ) A jubilant Petroleum Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told a local radio station that Sri Lanka would have a huge advantage if the sanctions on Tehran were eventually lifted. Responding to a question by an opposition member about the govt's seeming inability to bring down petrol prices, Yapa told parliament it was due to the fact that the country's petroleum sector has been badly hit by the sanctions on Iran. more..

Fresh allegations against CDDRA

Dec 9 (Island) The Cosmetic Devices and Drug Regulatory Authority (CDDRA) has once again drawn heavy flak for the registration of drugs. The Govt Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) accused the CDDRA of registering more than 50 types of drugs within two weeks without a local agent. The GMOF said that A. V. Global Impex had submitted an application with 50 types of drugs to the CDDRA on November 8, 2013 (File No 23264), more..

Clerics under watch in Sri Lanka

Dec 9 (ENS) Sri Lankan intelligence agencies are on the vigil against Islamic preachers who create communal tension and spread rumours threatening the security of the country. Some previously armed Eastern province-based Muslim fundamentalist groups, which used to pass off their killings as those done by the LTTE, had changed track since 2010 and were operating as “preachers of Islam”, a top intelligence official more..

JVP takes government to task for neglecting women, children

Dec 9 (Island) A JVP-led women’s organisation yesterday accused the government of neglecting children and women in the 2014 budget, as funds for their welfare had been curtailed. Vice President of Women for Rights Samanmalee Gunasinghe said that it was ludicrous to increase the recurrent expenditure for the Child Development and Women’s Affairs Ministry while cutting down the capital expenditure. more..

No more registration of migrant workers at Airport

Dec 9 (DM) All migrant workers leaving the country from January 2014 should register themselves at Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau only instead of the longstanding practice of registering at the Airport prior to departure, the SLFEB said today. The registration with the Bureau would be compulsory to all migrant workers from January 2014 onwards, Deputy General Manager of the Bureau Mangala Randeniya said. more..

'Govt. Analyst’s Dept. upgraded to do DNA tests'

Dec 9 (Island) The Govt Analyst Department would conduct DNA testing from next month, Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem told Parliament. So far, the DNA testing had been carried out by private labs. Minister, participating in the third reading stage debate, on Budget 2014, under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Justice, said that necessary technology had been provided to the Department of Govt Analyst. more..

'Probe on EPF investments idling'

Dec 9 (DM) The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has failed to resume inquiries into the controversial investments of workers’ savings in the EPF for the last 11 months, raising serious questions about financial irregularities, UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said. He said that the PAC abruptly ended inquiries into such investments of EPF savings in the CSE on Feb 6, and since then nothing had moved on in this regard. more..

JHU calls for the arrest of Prime Minister

Dec 9 (AD) The JHU, a coalition partner of the ruling govt, has called for the immediate arrest of Prime Minister for allegedly assisting in the distribution of narcotics in the country. At least 131kg of heroin was seized on 30 August hidden in cans packed into a container sent from the Pakistani port of Karachi. It had been unloaded at Colombo’s port two months earlier and was addressed to a local recipient, but more..

After two years Lalith and Kugan still missing

Dec 9 (CT) Today marks two years since the alleged abduction of the two human rights activists Lalith Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan who were last seen on the day before the World Human Rights Day. After this controversial abduction Lalith Weeraraj’s father, a rubber tapper working at Siri Niwasa Watte told the media that he strongly believe that the govt is behind this abduction by referring to a statement made by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella at a press conference more..

Kamalini Selvarajan: A child of a lesser God!

Dec 9 (CT) Kamalini Selvarajan, my friend and colleague at Rupavahini- Sri Lanka’s national Television, has been diagnosed with Dementia! Kamalini is an iconic TV personality and film star. She was, and is still loved by all, irrespective of caste, creed or race. She is best known for her role as an Indian teacher in the film ‘Ordinary Magic’ and ‘Komaligal’- the Sri Lankan Tamil film, where Kamalini acted with her late husband Sillaiyur Selvarajan, as lovers. more..

Sri Lanka declares mourning period ahead of president attending Mandela's funeral

Dec 9 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan govt on Monday declared a two-day mourning period in respect of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, ahead of Sri Lanka president attending the funeral as the Commonwealth Chair. The Govt Information Department announced that Tuesday and Wednesday would be days of national mourning during which the national flag will be flown at half-mast. more..

'Members of Rajapaksa family have become trillionaires after taking office'

Dec 9 (AD) After Mahinda Rajapaksa became President, the people in his family became trillionaires while more than Rs.8.5 trillion has been separated for them, Secretary of the United National Bhikkhu Front Thiniyawala Palitha Thero stated. He said that the President’s daily expenditure is about Rs.20 million. Sharing his views on the UNP and SL politicians, he claimed that UNP MP Sajith Premadasa along with a private television station and a newspaper is attempting to destroy more..

‘Milco’ employees on strike: 18 interdicted

Dec 9 (LT) Employees of ‘Milco’ have started a strike demanding yearend bonus and demanding solutions for several other grievances. Among their demands are payment of arrears, removing Minister of Livestock Arumugam Thondaman, Chairman of ‘Milco’ Sunil Wickremasingha and Vice Chairman Sanjaya Leelaratna immediately from ‘Milco’ and stop the move to remove ‘Milco’ head office from Narahenpita. Employees at Ambewela, Digana and Polonnaruwa factories have expressed more..

TNA calls on govt to agree to intl. probe

Dec 9 (Island) TNA would "act responsibly and with genuineness and advise Tamil people to participate" in a process leading towards reconciliation only if the "govt agreed to an international inquiry or at least an international involvement" in that process, TNA MP MA Sumanthiran told Parliament. Sumanthiran, participating in the third reading stage debate, on Budget 2014, under the expenditure more..

Health Minister tells docs, nurses to be kind

Dec 9 (Island) Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said that some doctors and nurses serving in hospitals were rather rude to patients. It was the duty of health care givers to be considerate towards the sick. Minister said he had heard on many occasions that some patients discharged from hospitals never spoke of the services provided by the doctors, nurses and other medical staff, because they were not well-disposed towards them. The image of the professions was tarnished, more..