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Austerity spending measures amidst budgetary discrepancies

Dec 15 (ST) As the curtain falls on the 2014 budget debate, Sri Lanka is to curtail public spending in the face of declining revenue on a year-on-year basis. The Finance Ministry will issue a circular by end January to all ministries and govt institutions giving authorisation for incurring expenditure for 2014 with strict guidelines on public expenditure management, a senior ministry official said. Heads of state institutions are to be instructed to more..

Udith Narayan Live Concert in Colombo

Dec 15 (Island) Hindi music fans will have the wonderful opportunity of seeing one of their singing idols live in concert on Dec 21, when Udith Narayan take the stage at the Excel World Open Arena. One of India’s most famous play back singers Udith Narayn has reached the zenith of his popularity in his country and overseas with a range of hits range from Hindi movies. Narayan Hit the peak of his popularity with his playback music in top Hindi movies like Darr, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le more..

UNP undecided on WPC CM

Dec 15 (SL) Although three names have been suggested, the UNP is undecided on who should be the Chief Ministerial Candidate from the UNP for the forthcoming Western Provincial Council elections, a senior UNP MP told The Sunday Leader. Although the Leadership Council of the party met on Friday, no decision was made with regard to the CM candidate, he added. The Leadership Council is scheduled to meet again during the weekend to further discuss the matter. more..

MPs want Olympic Committee brought before COPE

Dec 15 (Island) Govt and opposition MPs yesterday requested Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to summon the National Olympic Committee (NOC) before the parliamentary watchdog COPE to question its controversial conduct. Minister Dilan Perera made the request first while participating in the third reading debate on budget 2014 under the expenditure heads of Ministry of Sports. Thereafter, several other opposition MPs led by more..

Amendments proposed for HRC Act

Dec 15 (SO) The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRC) has proposed sweeping amendments to its existing Act, to strengthen its role as an independent Human Rights watchdog. The proposals aim at giving the institution extra legislative powers to seek judicial intervention when someone defaults on its recommendations. It will also have powers to warrant officials to testify. The Commission can only issue summons on officials at present. Human Rights Commissioner more..

Hirunika seeks CM post

Dec 15 (SL) Hirunika Premachandra, the daughter of late Presidential advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra is hoping to contest for the Chief Minister’s post in the Western Province, well informed sources said. Hirunika and her mother are hoping to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss this once he returns from Kenya. The murder case of the late Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra will be next taken up for hearing on 6th January, 2014. more..

Higher taxes for your property

Dec 15 (ST) Assessment rates for properties in different local authority areas are to go up manifold from next year. This is because the Govt wants to place a Capital Value on the property instead of the present valuation system. This will apply to properties located in Municipal, Urban Council and Pradeshiya Sabha areas. At present assessment rates are collected by local authorities based on the “annual value” of properties. more..

Special probe on UPFA defeat

Dec 15 (SL) A special inquiry has been launched by the Presidential Secretariat to probe into the reasons which led to the UPFA’s defeat at a number of budget votes at local govt (LG) level. The committee has already found out that several national level politicians representing the ruling party – who are at loggerheads with LG heads in their areas – are also responsible for this situation. “They have breached party discipline by conspiring with opposition members to defeat budgets presented by more..

GTF to represent Tamils at Mandela’s funeral

Dec 15 (ST) The British-based Global Tamil Forum has held talks with the ruling African National Congress and has been “officially invited” to “represent Tamils” at today’s funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela. GTF Director Suren Surendran held talks with Obed Bopela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency. He is also Chairman of ANC’s International Relations Division. Mr. Bopela was a member of President Jacob Zuma’s entourage for CHOGM in Colombo. more..

800 Tamil families hit in the name of Sri Lanka-NTPC project

Dec 15 (Hindu) A white, rectangular board with Sinhala and Tamil letters appears once every few metres along the iron fence around a huge expanse of land in the sea-facing town. ‘Ilangai Minsara Sabaikkuriya Kaaniyaagum. Utpravesithal thadai’ [This land belongs to the CEB. Entry is banned] reads the board. This is where a 500-MW capacity, coal-fired power plant will come up in a few years from now in a joint project between more..

CEA partners with IWMI to improve Colombo’s municipal waste management

Dec 15 (Island) At the request of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), organized a stakeholder meeting to discuss improvements that can be made to the management of municipal waste in the City of Colombo. The meeting was held at the headquarters of IWMI in Battaramulla, and was a follow-up to the MoU signed between CEA and IWMI on July 19. more..

Sujeewa to expose all in Parliament

Dec 15 (NS) UNP MP Sujeewa Senasinghe, who was the first to inform Parliament regarding allegations against the head of the Bribery Commission, told The Nation that he stands by the allegations made. “I stand by what I said in Parliament regarding the Bribery Commissioner and this scandal. I will respond to his denial in Parliament” he told The Nation. Earlier Senasinghe accused Balapatabendi of receiving a vehicle from one Harsha Prabath. more..

US $ 3 billion Katana Casino City on hold

Dec 15 (CT) The much-hyped, US$ 3 billion casino city project to be set up in Katana, which was to be an integrated gaming, tourism and leisure venture, has been put on hold, following complaints by the Catholic clergy to First Lady, Shiranthi Rajapaksa. "The project which was to kick off in early 2014, deemed to be the beacon for Sri Lanka's economy and handled covertly by the BoI and the Economic Development Ministry, more..

Speaker gets special media consultant

Dec 15 (ST) Cabinet has decided to make an exception in the appointment of a media consultant to the Speaker of Parliament since such a post cannot come under the approved cadre of Govt service. The ministers have decided to place the post in line with that of a Consultant to a minister so that it will not require the recommendations of the National Salaries and Cadre Commission to determine allowances. Thus, the Speaker’s media consultant will receive Rs. 30,000 a month, more..

EPDP withdraws from Delft

Dec 15 (CT) The EPDP has completely withdrawn from its stronghold, the Delft Island, a few days ago sources said the Party had also started to close down its offices located in isolated areas in the Jaffna Peninsula. EPDP Spokesperson, S. Thavarasa said the decision had been taken following the killing of the EPDP's Delft Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, Daniel Rexian, on 26 Nov. "A large number of innocent civilians who benefitted by the EPDP in the isolated Delft Island were more..

Tax relief for night races, CMC loses millions

Dec 15 (ST) The Colombo Night Races which started yesterday have been exempted from entertainment and all other taxes on a directive from the Western Province Chief Minister and, as a result, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) will lose millions of rupees in vital revenue. The organisers of the races that attract mainly the rich elite have been offered tax relief on a directive from Western Province CM Prasanna Ranatunga, more..

'India needs contact and dialogue policy'

Dec 15 (Hindu) The country needs to craft astute and strategic responses to challenges arising from its neighbouring countries, former Foreign Secretary Nirupama Menon Rao has said. “India has a central position is South Asia. The going has become tough in the surrounding region due to sectarian divides, radicalism, and the proliferation of arms. The right mix of strength and strategic restraint is needed in this situation. We need to follow a policy which focusses on contact and dialogue with more..

Naval War College Alumni Association launched in Sri Lanka

Dec 15 (TN) The Sri Lankan chapter of Pakistan’s Naval War College Alumni Association (PNWCAA) was launched in an impressive ceremony held at Colombo, Sri Lanka on Saturday. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence Sri Lanka, will be the Chief Patron of PNWCAA. Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila, NI (M), was the guest of honour at the event, which was also attended by the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka HE Maj Gen (retd) Qasim Qureshi, more..

UPFA focuses on Geneva; UNP on common front for polls

Dec 15 (ST) The United States, which moved two successive resolutions against Sri Lanka at the HNHRC sessions in Geneva and the UPFA Govt are both busy over the upcoming sessions of the UN body in March next year. The US interest, amidst reports of a third resolution, came in the form of a visit last week by Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff member Damien Murphy. He was accompanied by Trevor Hublin, more..

Questioning the PM's complicity

Dec 15 (CT) As Alice said in Wonderland, the fallout of the recent detection of 261 kilograms of heroin by the Sri Lanka Customs is getting "curiouser and curiouser," with the PM's office now caught up in the vortex of the whole heroin saga. The lethal consignment, said to be the largest haul to be detected in South Asia, whether meant for transhipment or local consumption, takes a back seat in the context of the political complicity implied by the alleged involvement of more..

Soft loan for women entrepreneurs

Dec 15 (DN) Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B Jayasundera requested bank officials to grant a soft loan of Rs. 250,000 each to all women entrepreneurs. Accordingly, an interest free soft loan of Rs. 250,000 will be granted to women entrepreneurs aged up to 68 years. The soft loan scheme was proposed by President Rajapaksa while presenting the budget proposal 2014. Dr. Jayasundera requested officials of the Provincial Development Bank and Lanka Puthra more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Dec 15 (ST) A Democratic Unionist Party Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons has declared that he was paid around Sterling Pounds 3,412 to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo. The event was held ahead of the CHOGM last month. Parliamentarians in the UK are required by statute to declare foreign funds, gifts or invitations they receive. Ian Paisley Jnr, (North Antrim) who has come to SL more..

2,200 new buses; old buses to settle EPF dues

Dec 15 (ST) The Govt will buy 2,200 new buses at a cost of more than Rs. 5 billion for the Sri Lanka Transport Board from next year. The recommendation came from Transport Minister Kumara Welgama who has proposed that a supplier’s credit be negotiated with the manufacturer — Lanka Ashok Leyland — for this purpose. Cabinet has appointed a negotiating committee to discuss bulk discounts offered by the company. more..

DMK to Centre: Move resolution against Sri Lanka in UNHRC

Dec 15 (Hindu) Besides urging the Indian govt to move a resolution in the UNHRC seeking a credible international inquiry into killing of Sri Lankan Tamils, war crimes and human rights violations in the last leg of the civil war, the DMK's general council meeting on Sunday wanted India to facilitate a referendum among the island nation’s Tamils to find a permanent political solution. A resolution adopted in the meeting said more..

Authoritarian health officials blacklist genuine companies

Dec 15 (Island) Describing the ongoing practice of ‘fast tracking’ cancer-related drugs as "totally unacceptable", the Sri Lanka College of Oncologists last week lashed out at, what it termed, "authoritarian attitudes of health officials" who blacklisted genuine companies, while shady players remained intact. "We are deeply concerned over the prevailing situation because companies which have done a fine, honest job in more..

‘Sports mafia’ has ganged up to destroy my image

Dec 15 (Island) Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told Parliament that members of the ‘sports mafia’ ganged up to destroy his image in retaliation of what he did to cleanse sports from corruption. He admitted that he had some personal problems and said those personal matters were being used by this ‘sports mafia’ to slander him. Those elements were hell-bent on tarnishing his image using problems in his family life. more..

Rs. 39.8 bn. remained unspent by Provincial Councils in 2012

Dec 15 (Island) The Provincial Councils have not spent Rs 39,824 million allocated for them for 2012. A document tabled by Deputy Minister, Indika Banadaranayake said a total Rs 112,901 million had been allocated to nine provincial councils for the year 2012, but only Rs 73,077 million had been utilized. For the year 2012, the Western Provincial Council had been allocated Rs 11,173 million (spent only Rs 6,957 million), more..

CPC oil: Billions down the drain

Dec 15 (ST) The Attorney General has advised the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) that taking legal action against the supplier of 20,000 tons of High Sulpher contaminated fuel oil valued at Rs. 1,140 million will be a ‘waste of money’, Parliament was informed. The Corporation had consulted the Attorney General who said the fuel specification and the tender conditions laid down for the import of high super fuel oil 1500 more..

‘Car scandal’ takes new turn

Dec 15 (NS) Many officials who were involved in the release of the controversial batch of 145 Emperor vehicles, “used” the very same cars that were so released subsequent to the order. The revelation comes in light of The Nation’s lead story last week titled ‘Bribery Chief under bribery probe’. The very same individuals who directly or indirectly played a part in either the release of the controversial batch or more..

'Take steps to avoid collapse of TNA govt'

Dec 15 (ENS) Dr K Vigneswaran, who was advisor to two Sri Lankan Tamil Chief Ministers, A Varadarajaperumal and S Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, has urged the Northern Province Chief Minister, C V Wignewaran, and the provincial Governor, Maj Gen G A Chandrasiri, to have a dialogue, instead of going on the path of confrontation which may end in the collapse of the fledgling TNA govt there. more..

'Govt for casinos'

Dec 15 (CT) On being questioned if the govt was in favour of establishing casinos in Sri Lanka, Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, responded by saying, "Yes, we are for casinos, but we are not going to issue any new licences." Speaking further, he said, "We have to impose regulations. The Finance Ministry passed the Bill in 2010, and regulations are being formulated for the Casino Bill by the Finance Ministry. more..

Lessons from the Rainbow Nation

Dec 15 (CT) South African President, Jacob Zuma, who is currently in the forefront of the funeral proceedings of the country’s iconic leader, Nelson Mandela, arrived in Colombo a month ago to attend the CHOGM and he had even made it a point to meet the leadership of the TNA to discuss the post-war political issues with regard to the Tamil question in the island. Unlike his British counterpart, David Cameron, who toured the Northern Province visiting the IDPs in the region, more..

Costly dams hold neither water nor power

Dec 15 (CT) Camelia Nathaniel has re-opened the can of worms afflicting our country’s foolhardy dam projects. While CHOGM and war crimes hit the headlines in the last few weeks she wrote an investigative story on the Samanalawewa Dam in the Sunday Leader recently which was obfuscated by politicians and their shenanigans. Her reporting is a matter of fact and no fluff journalism. “Dam in Danger” she wrote did not attract the attention it deserved although it is of national importance more..

'DMK has struggled for SL Tamil cause since early days'

Dec 15 (ENS) Refuting criticism that his party had done little for the Sri Lankan Tamils cause, DMK president M Karunanidhi on Saturday said it had struggled for the ethnic minority since the early days, with even his party led govts being dismissed in the light of the issue. Referring to the dismissal of his govt in 1991 by then PM Chandra Shekhar two years after it came to power, he said there was a 'conspiracy' to more..

New designation for Speaker following elections

Dec 15 (CT) Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that following the next general elections he will be granted a new designation. The Speaker made the statement to Parliament members, in response to the question raised by UNP Colombo District MP Sujeewa Senasinghe with regard to the rumours surrounding the issue. According to rumours in Parliament, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa is in line to be appointed as the next Prime Minister. more..

UNP to take disciplinary action

Dec 15 (SL) Disciplinary action would be taken against UNP members in the Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas who vote in favour of the 2014 budgets presented to the local councils, UNP MP John Amaratunga said. He said the UNP has already defeated several budgets presented to the local councils and the party wants to continue defeating budgets presented by the govt. However he said some UNP members in the Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas supported more..

Bill on Marijuana to parliament

Dec 15 (SL) Minister of Indigenous Medicine Salinda Dissanayake says he will submit a Bill to Parliament soon which will seek the removal of the ban on marijuana. Dissanayake told The Sunday Leader that marijuana remains banned in Sri Lanka as it is being misused. However he noted that marijuana can serve as medicine and so the ban needs to be lifted. The Minister said that research had revealed that marijuana can more..

World's youngest IT degree holder in SL

Dec 15 (CT) Wasinya Premananda, an 11 year old resident of Kandy has been inducted as the youngest degree holder in the world in Information Technology after completing the degree from British Computer Society (BCS). Wasinya who is a grade 8 student at the Colombo International School in Kandy is the youngest IT Degree holder. She has completed the English subject in the O/L Exam while in grade 8 and has obtained an A pass. Wasinya also obtained the Computer Driving License more..

Badrani’s wings to be clipped

Dec 15 (SL) All the powers given to Colombo Municipal Council Commissioner Badrani Jayawardena will be taken over by the Municipal Council, Deputy Colombo Mayor Titus Perera. He claimed that Jayawardena has been abusing her powers and interfering with internal investigations and transfers. “A proposal has already been submitted to the Municipal Council requesting that her powers be removed. Right now she has powers to act in place of the mayor. more..

Eran accuses govt. of under-spending on health

Dec 15 (Island) Govt has been under spending on health services over a period of time. The total govt expenditure as a percentage of GDP has been 1.7% in 2005 and declined to 1.2% in 2012. It is expected to rise marginally in 2014, UNP MP Eran Wickremaratne said. Minister of Health has previously admitted that there is a mafia that controls the purchase of drugs, creates artificial shortages and makes emergency purchases. more..