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'Participating in PSC, a national responsibility'

June 30 (SO) More humane than doctrinaire, Vasu, the leftist firebrand always defended the cause of the have-nots. His chequered political career was punctuated by anti-establishment struggles, stints in prisons and thundering speeches on political platforms. Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said leaving the past behind, we should look forward and call upon all political parties to participate in the PSC as more..

Squabbling over the 13th amendment won’t work

June 30 (SL) Prof. G.L. Peiris addressing Colombo based diplomats has reiterated that since constitutional reform is necessarily within the purview of parliament, the govt considers these matters should be brought before the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). The Chairman and members of the PSC were named by the Speaker last week. The govt will have 19 members and the opposition 12 but Opposition political parties have yet to declare that they would participate more..

Shifting gears

June 30 (Island) The cynics will no doubt attribute the shifting of old left (or dead left as some would have it) gears over the forthcoming changes to the 13th amendment as inevitable. Whatever the political history of the parties they represent, the left leaders cannot get themselves elected to parliament today and must depend on the grace a favour of the SLFP and its all powerful leader for the national list places they occupy in the legislature and the consequential benefits of ministerial office. more..

'CWC stands for one nation, one country'

June 30 (SO) The President of the CWC, a constituent of the UPFA, and Deputy Minister Muthu Sivalingam is the sole representative of the up-country plantation community in the Govt-nominated 19 member Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) mandated to recommend political and constitutional measures to empower Sri Lankans to live as one nation. He said the CWC being the oldest party that resolutely stood more..

Factors of 13: Got an answer?

June 30 (ST) “Thaaththa,” Bindu asked, “what is all this fuss about the thirteenth amendment?” “Ah,” said Bindu’s father Percy, “that is what everyone is bothering Mahinda maama about these days…” “And why is that, thaaththa?” Bindu wanted to know. “That,” Percy said, “is because everyone has a different opinion about the 13th amendment…” “Why do you say that, thaaththa?” Bindu asked. “There are those who want the thirteenth amendment as it is, without making any changes to it at all…” more..

Education: Time to right the wrongs

June 30 (ST) A recent joint UNESCO report on secondary education, i.e. school-going children, has rightfully caught the attention of the media. Having done a survey, the report states that 98 per cent of Sri Lanka’s children do attend school. That indeed is a proud achievement, if a rare one, for the country. Sri Lanka’s ‘Free Education’ policy introduced by a visionary Education Minister C.W.W. Kannangara way back in 1945 has stood the nation in good stead and is, in many ways, the envy of several more..

'India must prevail on govt to make devolution meaningful'

June 30 (SL) TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said that the 13th Amendment alone would not be sufficient to solve the national questions, and that the govt should go above and beyond the constitution to truly address ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka. Q: Do you think the proposed 19th amendment will solve the national question? A: Not at all! It will only exacerbate the problem. 13th amendment was brought in as the solution more..

Govt. firmly determined to dilute 13A

June 30 (NS) The bold pronouncement of six ministers of the UPFA that they would support the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in its present form marks a significant development in the ongoing tussle over this contentious piece of legislation. This week also saw the main party of the UPFA, the SLFP arrive at a decision to proceed with the 13th Amendment although with proposed changes that would prevent the merger of provinces and also allow Parliament to legislate on subjects more..

Amendments to 13 A expected to cure all ills

June 30 (NS) During a time where the country’s internal political environment was hot, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma in a letter addressed to the media has asked them to be quiet without creating mayhem internationally. The Commonwealth Secretary’s message to the international media said, “Wait before you judge Sri Lanka”. He has explained that the Commonwealth has ‘opted to make a practical difference to the situation in Sri Lanka’ more..

Boston Lanka with Chandra Jayarathna

Provincial land powers and India’s signal

June 30 (Island) Last week, the ruling SLFP finally managed to arrive at one stand with regard to making changes to the 13th Amendment. The raging debate that has taken place within the ruling coalition about making changes to the 13th Amendment is obviously because those in favour of the 13A have not given proper consideration to the ramifications of implementing the 13A on the ground. Last week we wrote on the provincial police powers in the 13A. Land powers are more..

Rajapaksa govt playing pandu with 13A

June 30 (SL) The 13th Amendment drama enacted by the Rajapaksa govt was in full swing last week with coalition members of the governing party openly criticizing each other on their stances on the move to amend the controversial piece of legislation. The discussion over the 13th Amendment has resulted in many other issues losing its due focus. A key issue that missed its due focus was the sudden transfer of the Matale Magistrate who was hearing the case on the Matale mass grave that saw the more..

England and New Zealand will be Lanka’s cricketing friends

June 30 (ST) Sri Lanka cricket administration’s penchant for the limited overs version of the game would go on till end 2014. From now till end of 2014 the Lankan cricket fans will only see their cricketers being involved nine Test matches. That too is because the administration has been able to clinch an away series against England which is out of the Future Tours Programme of the ICC. That tour will take place in May 2014 where more..

New Chamber Chief spells way forward

June 30 (NS) The newly elected Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Suresh Shah last week listed out four of the most important challenges confronting the nation in going forward which he believed was pushing back the island from realizing its true potential. “Firstly it is the economy. We are a small nation both in terms of population and size of economy. Too small in fact, to achieve sustainable growth by doing business amongst ourselves. more..

‘No more please’ urges CMTA

June 30 (NS) The Chairman of the Ceylon Motor Traders’ Association (CMTA), Deshamanya Tilak Gunasekera last week said his fervent hope is that the Govt would not saddle the motor industry further with many more hardships and huge taxes. Addressing the 93rd Annual General Meeting of the CMTA, which is one of the oldest trade associations affiliated to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the CMTA chief said the govt’s imposition of heavy excise duties on motor vehicles last year more..

Lankan SOBs lost over Rs. 250 bln in 2012

June 30 (SO) Sri Lanka continues to maintain several inefficient state-owned businesses (SOBs) which reported a total loss of over Rs 250 billion last year, officials said. On the positive side however there were a few SOBs that showed positive balance sheets in 2012. While 55 SOBs were maintained at a loss of Rs. 107.1 billion in 2012, up 49% increase from the 2011 loss of Rs. 72 billion, two other key institutions, more..

Ranatunga does his bit to uplift lives

June 30 (TI) World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, a Parliamentarian for over a decade, is working overtime to “strengthen” the Opposition in Sri Lanka. That’s on the political front. But Ranatunga, a former minister and chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), hasn’t forgotten the sport which made him a national icon and enhanced his stature internationally. Besides calling for the scrapping of T20 leagues which have mushroomed globally after the IPL’s birth, more..

Australian cricketers will tour the North

June 30 (SO) In early July for the first time since the end of the bloody civil war that gripped Sri Lanka for nearly 30 years, a foreign cricket team will be touring the North of the country.It might only be a combined under 18 side from Melbourne's Ferntree Gully District Cricket Association and the Australian Hellenic Federation. However the players in the Northern Region have been starved for cricket for so long, they are ready to take on all comers and the Australian boys are ready to take on the more..

CB to design amnesty for secret account holders

June 30 (ST) The Central Bank (CB) is contemplating relaxing rules for Sri Lankans owning secret overseas accounts provided they bring US$ 5 million or above into Sri Lanka, amidst concerns that this may be an attempt to protect those with secret cash hoarded outside. This has come on the back of some powerful Sri Lankans being on a list of secret foreign accounts revealed by the ICIJ recently. more..

UNP, TNA say No to PSC

June 30 (SL) The main opposition UNP, the JVP and the TNA have refused to be part of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitutional Reforms. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa appointed Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva as the Chairman of the 19 member committee, all of whom are from the SLFP-led UPFA. UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake said that the govt is trying to undo everything the UNP has done for the country in the past. “Since they are constantly ridiculing us more..

A costly failure by CPC

June 30 (SL) The CPC failure to take action to seize the vessel that bought substandard diesel to the country has cost the Corporation dearly. As a result of allowing the ship to go back to Dubai after being berthed for three days in the outer harbour has cost CPC over Rs 3.527 million alleged the JSS Petroleum Branch (JSSPB). Secretary of the JSSPB Ananda Palitha said that although the CPC employees hail the management’s decision not to accept the substandard fuel, more..

Uncertainty looms over rupee as dollar rises

June 30 (ST) Current uncertainty and depreciating trends in the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar could continue in coming weeks and see an outflow of dollars from Central Bank reserves, bankers and treasury dealers warned yesterday. “It is anybody’s guess as to foreign exchange trends but I reckon the Central Bank won’t allow it to fall to any serious levels,” one dealer said. The dollar rose to Rs. 131 on Thursday, more..

Daya Master drafts UPFA manifesto

June 30 (NS) Velayutham Dayanidhi who is better known as ‘Daya Master’ revealed that he is busy with preparing the UPFA manifesto for the upcoming Northern Provincial Council polls in September. He also confirmed that he will be contesting the elections representing the ruling UPFA and against the TNA candidates who were one time friends. Daya Master was the LTTE’s official media coordinator and he had developed a good rapport with both international and local media while more..

Vessel Monitoring System to help fishermen

June 30 (NS) Following recent calamities caused by inclement weather conditions which claimed the lives of dozens of fishermen, the need for advance warning systems has resurfaced. Minister Rajitha Senaratne recently announced that a new Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) will be introduced to the multi day fishing boats in Sri Lanka. He stated that the proposed VMS has been given cabinet approval recently. This VMS system is to be purchased from Visma Sirius, a company based in Norway. more..

Rs. 7 billion settlement ends oil hedging dispute with SCB

June 30 (ST) A five-year-old dispute between the Sri Lankan Govt and the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) over flawed oil hedging deals finally ended last week with a US$ 60 million payment settlement. The money was paid to the SCB by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). “We have taken a commercial decision and (concluded) an agreement with the CPC to end this long-standing issue,” SCB CEO Anirvan Dastidar said but more..

Northern entrepreneurs should welcome competition, not see it as a threat

June 30 (ST) Northern businesses and entrepreneurs should compete with others coming from outside the region and not see them as a threat, a Sri Lankan economist and researcher has said. “ … I seriously feel that local businesses and entrepreneurs should not view competition from rest of the country or national/ international businesses as threats to their survival. Instead, the local businesses and entrepreneurs should strive to increase their productivity and more..

Bank of Ceylon seeks to grow NRFC & remittance businesses

June 30 (Island) Approximately 30% of total inward remittances come into the country through informal channels and the Bank of Ceylon is making a strong effort to service these fund transfers through its Non Resident Foreign Currency (NRFC) accounts and remittance channels, a senior bank executive said last week. Mr. P.A. Lionel, Head of International, Treasury and Investment Banking at BOC said that the bank was the market leader in handling inward remittances into the country, more..

UNP challenges Govt. to abolish 13-A using two thirds majority

June 30 (Island) The UNP challenged the govt to use its two thirds majority in parliament and amend or abolish the 13th Amendment without threatening to do it while allowing the tense situation to develop into a catastrophe. Senior UNPer Ravi Karunanayake said that if the Rajapaksa regime was convinced that the 13th Amendment was redundant in the post war era, the required two thirds majority was available, even though obtained against more..

Northern expressway work to begin next year

June 30 (ST) Construction work of the northern Expressway starting from Enderamulla in the Gampaha district and ending in Dambulla will start early next year, Highways Ministry Secretary and RDA Chairman R.W.R. Premasiri said yesterday. He said the first phase of the project — from Enderamulla to Ambepussa — is expected to cost Rs. 130 billion and would be completed with Chinese assistance. The project to be handled by the Chinese on a Build-Operate-and-Transfer more..

Acting US Assistant AG has Lankan roots

June 30 (ST) The United States’ newly appointed Acting Assistant Attorney General has her roots in Sri Lanka. Mythili Raman is the daughter of A. Tharmaratnam, who served the International Financial Corporation of the World Bank, and granddaughter of C Loganathan, a former general manager of the Bank of Ceylon. Her parents are from Vadaramarachchi, Jaffna. Ms. Raman, the newly appointed Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U.S. more..

Foreign spy agency tapping Gota’s phone

June 30 (ST) Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has complained to his mobile phone service provider that his phone is being tapped by an organised team with the intention of gathering national security secrets. A special investigation that looked into this complaint has revealed that those behind it were linked to a foreign mission in Colombo as well as a powerful foreign spy agency, Lankadeepa reports today more..

Code of ethics for politicos

June 30 (CT) Hot on the heels of mounting allegations over the misconduct of politicos, the Ministry of Culture and the Arts has sought the opinion of the Attorney General for a code of ethics for politicians, Minister T.B. Ekanayake, said. He said the ministry sought the opinion of the AG's Department on the constitutionality of the proposed code of ethics, which among its features envisages setting up of a parliamentary committee akin to the COPE and Public Petitions Committee, more..

Govt. slashes supply of subsidised fertiliser

June 30 (ST) The Govt has slashed the supply of subsidised fertiliser to paddy farmers by over 100,000 tons or by 25% on the grounds that the farming lands were over-fertile, but farmer unions are disputing the claim. The move would save the Govt Rs. 7 billion annually from the Rs. 26.2 billion spent on the fertiliser subsidy. Agriculture Ministry Secretary W. Sakalasuriya said the decision to cut down the supply of fertiliser was taken after research by soil experts revealed that the paddy lands more..

Champika stripped of atomic energy portfolio

June 30 (ST) The subject of Atomic Energy has been withdrawn from the portfolio currently held by Minister Champika Ranawaka. Instead he will now be only Minister of Technology and Research in terms of a June 24 Gazette Extraordinary signed by President Rajapaksa. Minister was not immediately available for comment. His Ministry officials said he was on a visit to Russia. President Rajapaksa is also overseas. more..

Saudi Group to invest on dockyard in Galle

June 30 (SO) The Hadi Hamad Al-Hammam Group in Saudi Arabia will invest on a project to set up a dockyard in Galle Port, Eastern Province Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment, Livestock Development and Rural Industries Minister Hafiz Naseer Ahamed said. The Al-Hammam Group will invest US$ 44 million under the first phase and provide 1,500 direct job opportunities. It hopes to invest US$ 110 million under the second phase and provide 5,000 direct job opportunities he said. more..

Driving licences -Automated system soon

June 30 (SO) The Department of Motor Traffic will introduce a new automated system to issue driving licences to check corruption and enhance efficiency. This is a sequel to the continuous allegations being levelled against the department that examiners solicit bribes to pass licence applicants at the practical test. Commissioner General Department of Motor Traffic S H Harishchandra said that this was a long-felt need and an important move to make the department a corruption free office. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

June 30 (ST) Last Tuesday, President Rajapaksa summoned a special meeting of the SLFP Parliamentary group at the Presidential Secretariat. He was concerned about contradictory positions some MPs had taken on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Hence, he directed that the party should have one policy that should be followed by all. If there were those who had personal issues that ran counter, he said, they should more..

WP plagued by over 430 quacks

June 30 (SO) Over 430 quacks are currently posing off as qualified general practitioners in the Western Province. “The number could be much higher than this when we complete our surveillance of the Colombo district”, Central Coordinator for the Elimination of Illegal Medical Practitioners, Dr. Haritha Aluthge, said. He said there were 1,600 general practitioners in the Western Province excluding Colombo. more..

Ten-rupee currency notes exit: Coins find their way into children’s tills

June 30 (Island) A grave shortage of ten rupee currency notes and coins have hit the country following the Central Bank’s decision to halt the printing of notes of this denomination, and coins minted to replace them mostly finding their way into tills of children. Unlike high value notes, low denomination currency notes in circulation are disfigured at a swift pace because of their steady movement in diverse transactions, more..

Archeological monuments to be gazetted soon

June 30 (NS) After a prolonged delay, 170 archaeological monuments, nearly half of them in the Northern Province, are to be announced through a Gazette notification soon. The Gazette announcement was delayed at the legal drafting process, according to Director General of the Archeology Department Dr. Senarath Dissanayake. Archeological surveys were started in the former war zones almost immediately more..