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The reptilian distraction in the UNP

Nov 24 (SL) Since he first became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1993 following the demise of President R Premadasa, politics has been a game of ‘snake and ladder’ for opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. In most instances he became a victim of venomous snake-bites that did not come from without, but from within. Probably because of that, ‘snakes’ of the other camp did not really want to bite him. Inside the Opposition Leader’s office in the Parliamentary complex on Thursday, more..

Lies and half truths

Nov 24 (Island) On Wednesday Australia’s Assistant Coach Steve Rixon went on to show how poor and unprofessional Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is. Rixon’s comments came as a further blow to the already damaged reputation of SLC. Rixon claimed that the money SLC was willing to offer him for him to be the Head Coach of the national team was ‘embarrassing’. He further went on to stress a few pertinent points that had been widely more..

Cameron’s role in media gagging

Nov 24 (NS) David Cameron is facing questions over his ties to a charity linked to the campaign for tougher regulation of the Press. The PM officially declared in a newly published register of ministerial interests that he is patron of an initiative run by Common Purpose, a leadership organization whose founders set up one of the most vocal lobbying groups for media regulation. Initiative, Dishaa Venture, aims to build links between India and Britain and was launched in Bangalore by more..

PROUD to be Sri Lankan BUT…

Nov 24 (Island) CHOGM 2013 has been written about almost ad infinitum to the point of ad nauseam but I have to give my column over to this topic this Sunday or else I won’t have peace in my mind which is as yet preoccupied with the show we put on, the pluses and minuses of the event and pondering how we will proceed as a country, particularly in response to what the PM of Britain said. Great responsibility has been placed on our President as Chair of CHOGM for the next two years. more..

Dipped Products hints of relocation

Nov 24 (Island) With one of the country’s top export revenue earners accounting for over one percent of the total remaining closed for four months, Hayleys Chairman Mohan Pandithage last week sounded a warning that if this hugely expensive drag on their business continued, they would have to consider other options including moving to an overseas location. Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma, Managing Director of more..

Video: Viharamahadevi Park: Use it wisely

Nov 24 (DM) Colombo Municipality Land and Environmental Development Director Lalith Wickramaratne said that the Viharamahadevi Park which was closed last month for renovations is now opened for the public. He advised visitors to be on the watch out because some repair work was still continuing. He said the park has a new look after it was upgraded and renovated and advised visitors to behave in a sensible manner because a lot of children were visiting it daily. more..

Vehicle importers lament depreciation introduced in budget

Nov 24 (Island) The Vehicle Importers’ Association of Sri Lanka (VIASL) yesterday expressed their displeasure over the adjusted new depreciation of value for the import of second-hand vehicles which they claim illegal. The new depreciations, introduced in the recent budget for the valuation of used motor vehicles, they say, have favoured the brand new vehicle importers while giving no heed to them, a body comprising the highest number of private importers of used motor vehicles. more..

Wigneswaran told to follow Mahinda Chinthanaya

Nov 24 (SL) President Rajapaksa has written to the Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran informing him that he needs to ensure the ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ policies are implemented, govt sources said. The advice comes after Wigneswaran was absent from two District Co-ordinating Committee meetings held in the North last week. District Co-ordinating Committee meetings in Jaffna and Kilinochchi were held last week more..

BBS puts issue to rest

Nov 24 (SL) The Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS) says it has put the recent issue with the UNP at rest after the party had tendered an apology. General Secretary of the BBS, the Venerable Galabodaaththe Gnanasara thero was assaulted together with three other monks when they had forced their way into Sirikotha recently. Last week UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake apologised to the monks when a mob led by the BBS visited Sirikotha once again. However it was later reported that UNP Leader more..

India has to follow soft approach towards SL

Nov 24 (OI) TNCC president B Gnanadesikan today said India has to follow a soft approach towards Sri Lanka for the benefit of all concerned and to protect Tamils and Indian fishermen. He said India considers Sri Lanka a friendly nation, taking into consideration the welfare of Tamils living there and the welfare of indian fishermen. "We have to follow only a soft approach if all have to be benefitted and to protect the tamils and fishermen," he said. Gnanadesikan said there was need to more..

Half of Sri Lanka's money is black

Nov 24 (CT) Half of the money in circulation in Sri Lanka is black money, a Govt Minister charged. "It is a known and confirmed fact that half the money available and in circulation in the country is black and informal money," Senior Minister DEW Gunasekara said. He also said the finishing of the war, the growth of the informal economy were some of the reasons for the money in circulation to be black and more..

UK fails to turn CHOGM into rights tribunal

Nov 24 (IDN) In his opening address to the CHOGM in Colombo mid-November, Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse concluded his speech by quoting from the Buddha. “‘Let not one take notice of faults of other’s or what they have done or not done. Let one be concerned only about what one has done and left undone,” he told assembled leaders from 53 member countries in an obvious swipe at the British PM’s pre-summit tirades on human rights violation by Sri Lanka. more..

Cameron loses both SL and Tamil Diaspora

Nov 24 (Island) There is nothing much that can be said about the budget except that it was obviously an election year budget. The opposition had precious little to say about the budget. One thing though that deserves special mention is that the govt has moved to rectify a glaring anomaly in our economy terms of the Rajapaksa ideology - the collapse of the Farmer’s Pension Scheme. If there is any section of the population that the Rajapaksas try to identify with, it is the farming community. more..

Budget: Dons and students unimpressed

Nov 24 (NS) Leading voices for lecturers and students scoffed at the policy options for education articulated in Budget 2014. President of the FUTA Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri took issue with the salary adjustment for lecturers while Convener of the IUSF said that the pledge to improve hostel facilities does not make sense considering drastic cuts in budgetary allocation for the universities. more..

CHOGM: Where do we go from here?

Nov 24 (ST) CHOGM 2013 is done and dusted. The event has been proclaimed as a resounding success; the re-launch of Sri Lanka and the rebirth of the Commonwealth; but let us get down to a realistic post-mortem examination, not so much of the organisation of the event but of the organisation itself, and Sri Lanka’s foreign policy direction in the light of the side show that took place. The mega event was obscured for the major part by the participation, or the lack of it, by some of the more..

All displaced northerners can return - TNA

Nov 24 (NS) The TNA said that all who were displaced from the North can return to their villages. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that everyone, including Muslims and Sinhalese, who were displaced from the North during the 30 year conflict can resettle in their own places. The Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran who met with Muslim representatives last Wednesday had promised to appoint a committee to look into difficulties faced by those had resettled and more..

CSE reports 61 market manipulation cases

Nov 24 (Island) Deputy Minister Sarath Amunugama told Parliament that 67 cases of insider dealings and 61 market manipulation cases like ‘Pump and Dump’ had been reported from Colombo Stock Exchange. Responding to a question by UNP MP, Ravi Karunanayake, he said that during the period from 2008 to 2012, the investigation unit of the Securities and Exchange Commission has found 182 instances of suspected dealings in CSE. more..

India retaliates in fishing crisis

Nov 24 (ST) The Indian Coast Guard has begun arresting scores of Sri Lankan fishermen in a move seen as retaliation for the arrests of those from Tamil Nadu poaching in Sri Lanka’s waters in the Palk Strait. So far 107 Lankan fishermen, who were on the “innocent passage” to the Arabian Sea have been arrested, Deputy Fisheries Minister Sarath Kumara Gunaratne said. He said the Indian Coast Guard had alleged that the Lankan fishermen were engaged in fishing activity in Indian waters. more..

Budget 2014: Focus on SME sector

Nov 24 (NS) SL’s research analysts described the 2014 Budget presented by President ‘surprise-free’ and void of sudden shocks to the usiness community. Analysts at NDB Securities Research, who were one of the firsts to send their views, said the proposals were broadly a continuation of the course set over the last three years, a positive development in terms of policy certainty. “While there was speculation prior to the budget that taxes would be increased significantly, more..

Katana as casino city

Nov 24 (ST) The partners of a proposed project to build a resort city, complete with five casinos, in Katana are working with the Ministry of Investment Promotion and the BoI to complete legal documentation, a foreign partner said. “We still have some way to go to finalise all the concession arrangements,” Mark Vlassopulos, CEO of the Singapore-based Asian Resorts and Casinos, told the Sunday Times via email. more..

Price hikes on scores of items; CoL soars

Nov 24 (ST) Thursday’s Budget has been followed by Gazette notifications, increasing the prices of a variety of consumer items such as sugar, canned fish, sprats and Maldive fish with immediate effect. The price hike ranged from Rs. 27 to Rs. 2. Consumers will have to pay Rs. 27 more for a kilo of Maldive fish, Rs. 3 more for a kilo of sugar Rs. 16 more for a kilo of sprats, Rs. 27 more for a kilo of dried fish, Rs. 2 more for a kilo of chickpeas and a kilo of green gram (mung), and more..

SL, a dumping ground for e-waste exports

Nov 24 (SO) Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming a dumping ground for used and re-cycled computers, batteries, mobile phones and spare parts for such items, Head of Toxicology and National Poisons Unit, National Hospital, Dr Waruna Gunathilake said. “These rejects from other countries which make their way to our country, are a serious health hazard. They contain heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic and lead which are toxic to the human body and pollute the environment”, he said. more..

Speaker appoints special PSC to discuss expenditures

Nov 24 (Island) Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa named Leader of the House Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva as the chairman and 20 other govt and opposition members as members of a special Parliamentary Select Committee to discuss the heads of expenditure of 25 ministries and the Secretariat of Special Purposes covering ten senior ministers as there was no adequate time to discuss each of these institutions separately. more..

Over 1,300 crowd Cinnamon Grand to hear PBJ on the budget, links to Kandy and Galle

Nov 24 (Island) Ernst and Young, the well known audit and accountancy firm, Friday hosted the biggest post-budget exposition ever by Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera with 1,300 people crowding the Cinnamon Grand Hotel for a breakfast meeting, with Mobitel links to Kandy and Galle where EY has offices with 300 sitting at the Queen’s Hotel and 200 at Galle. This was the tenth occasion at which Dr. Jayasundera had participated in the dozen such events hosted by more..

Jaffna expected to be calm

Nov 24 (SL) The military expects Jaffna to be calm during the LTTE heroes’ week, widely commemorated prior to the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe said that there would not be any commemoration ceremonies in Jaffna to mark the birthday of slain LTTE leader V Prabakaran. “There is no necessity to increase security in Jaffna because we do not perceive any public unrest in the area. more..

Budget by Gazettes, prices soar, shock treatment for people

Nov 24 (ST) "It sounds like an election budget," remarked Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage when President Rajapaksa, briefed ministers at their weekly meeting on Thursday about his budget speech. Rajapaksa's response was only a guffaw. Other than that, during a meeting which lasted less than half an hour, he discussed a 13-page document (with two annexures) he circulated among ministers. more..

When the opposition boycotts a Budget presentation

Nov 24 (CT) Budget 2014 presented by President Rajapaksa has come in for much criticism, with many deeming the duty and tax concessions for luxury branded goods and the waiver on value added and nation building taxes for casinos, while increasing the tax on food, as a shameful act that penalizes the poor and rewards the rich. The nitty gritties of Budget 2014 are still being argued in various quarters, but an issue that has piqued the interest of many is the decision more..

The Chutzpah Years

Nov 24 (CT) The original Mahinda Chinthana Manifesto was launched with much fanfare in 2005. The theme song of that event referred to Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa as a ‘King who believed in equality’. Eight years later, with painful hindsight, it is easy to realise that that monarchical reference – together with the title of the Manifesto (the first time any Lankan leader named his/her election manifesto after him/herself) – constituted the first tentative steps in the country’s descent more..

Talk at the Cafe Spector

Nov 24 (ST) Chris Nonis, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Britain, came out with the scent of roses for the way he challenged the British Prime Minister during talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week on the sidelines of CHOGM. His interview with CNN also earned him accolades. His Minister may have been a tad envious of the envoy’s performance and the President asked him why he did not tackle more..

GL in 44 CHOGM trips in five months

Nov 24 (ST) External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris, has visited 44 countries in five months to urge Heads of Governments of Commonwealth nations to attend the CHOGM held in Sri Lanka from 15-17 November, the opposition charged yesterday. "This is an absurd situation where Minister Peiris has visited 44 of the 54 Commonwealth countries, busting Rs 150 million, as only 21 of them arrived in Sri Lanka," more..

Indian Navy Chief to attend Galle Dialogue

Nov 24 (SLN) Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral DK Joshi is scheduled to attend the Galle Dialogue 2013 to be held in Galle on 25th and 26th Nov. His graceful participation in the international maritime security conference organized by the Sri Lanka Navy under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence is symbolic of the goodwill between the two friendly Navies and the highest regard accorded to the Sri Lanka's initiative more..

Island-wide household census will determine number affected by conflict

Nov 24 (Island) The Secretary to the Ministry Public Administration and Home Affairs Bandara P. Abeyakoon said the govt launched an internationally-recognized island-wide household census to ascertain first-hand persons affected by the conflict, gone missing and feared dead or disabled after 1982. He said that in the past, a similar household census was conducted ad hoc and as a result there were conflicting more..

IPKF sent without asking army

Nov 24 (CG) The decision to deploy the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka had been taken by the then Indian government without consulting the Indian army top brass, a former Indian Army Chief has said. Former Army chief General V. P. Malik, who led the army at the time the IPKF was in Sri Lanka and was later withdrawn, said he was not consulted by the Indian political leadership when the decision was taken to more..

Budget: Finance firms brace for mergers

Nov 24 (NS) Sri Lanka’s overcrowded non-banking finance sector, which presently consists of 59 registered finance companies, is likely to undergo a phase of consolidation in future with the Budget 2014 proposal to encourage the move. According to a research analyst, once merged and consolidated under the proposals, about ten finance companies are likely ‘to go out of the picture’. more..

At what cost Coal?

Nov 24 (SL) The cost of electricity would increase with the Sampur Coal Power Plant coming into operation, with the unit cost of electricity from Sampur alone set to rise to over Rs. 20. The Sampur Coal Power Plant, to be developed as a joint venture between the CEB and India’s NTPC would incur a capital cost of US$ 500 Mn., with a debt-equity mix of 60%/40%, according to information provided to the Ministry of Energy more..

Ceylon Petroleum Corporation breaks even

Nov 24 (LBO) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has reached break-even level and made a marginal loss after adjusting for losses on derivative. The CPC had made a 3.8 billion rupee profit in the nine months to September 2013 but made an accounting loss of 3.7 billion rupees after a 7.6 billion rupee charge for losses on oil derivatives. CPC lost out on derivatives it bought during a commodity bubble in 2008 more..

Govt. mulls enhancing duty free allowance of Lankan migrant workers

Nov 24 (Island) Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera told Parliament yesterday that action would be taken to increase the duty-free concession granted to the Lankan migrant workers returning home from either by US$ 1,000 or 2,000. Responding to a query raised by UNP Matara District MP, the Minister said that currently the migrant workers are entitled for a duty free concession of US $ 5000. more..

Tax structure implemented since 2010 will remain the same — PB

Nov 24 (Island) Treasury Secretary, Dr. P.B. Jayasundara said that the tax structure implemented since 2010 will "uncompromisingly remain the same" — simple, with clarity improved and more people and organizations in the tax base will be larger. "Expenditure has been designed for compatibility with revenue. Banks will be included through some enhancement of taxes, but that was done to broad-base their participation in more..

Kennedy assassination, 50 years on

Nov 24 (Island) It certainly is not like yesterday, but few among those born before 1957 would fail to remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, 22 Nov 1963, an event that traumatized all of America and touched the entire world. The fateful day and the moment have become a point of temporal reference for Americans – ever since comparing notes as to where they were and what they were doing when choking radio broadcasters startled the nation more..

What did Sri Lanka get out of CHOGM?

Nov 24 (CT) It appears that our Emperor’s attempts to show-off his new clothes viz spanking new infrastructure, spotless city etc., to the world through CHOGM went seriously wrong! At the expense of the Lankan tax-payer we managed however to provide a free and very expensive platform for the LTTE diaspora to be heard through the Eton- educated gab of none other than the British PM David Cameron himself. He made no bones about why he was coming to Sri Lanka and what more..