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New flight links Sri Lanka, China's Chongqing

July 3 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan Airlines has launched a non-stop flight linking south China's Chongqing City with Colombo, to meet rising traveler demand from Chinese tourists. Chongqing is the fifth Chinese city or region and only one in the country's west to have a direct air link with Colombo. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong are the others. Operated by Airbus A320, the flight takes off from Chongqing at 10:30 a.m. and arrives in Colombo at 3 p.m. local time every Tuesday. more..

Champika sees El Nino having impact on country’s agriculture

July 3 (Island) The beginning of another El Nino period at the end of this year would have a direct impact on the country’s agriculture sector, Minister Champika Ranawaka warned. Addressing the inauguration of a regional forum on space-technology applications for drought monitoring and early warning, he said that experts had warned of a 50% possibility of El Nino impact on Sri Lanka between next September and January. Therefore, the country should be ready to face it, more..

State bank jobs for Baby Brigade

July 3 (CT) Some 380 Rajapaksa henchmen have been recruited as clerks in the state-owned financial institution – the National Savings Bank last week. The appointments that had been made on Saturday have raised an outcry due to the non-transparent and irregular manner through which they had been processed. The usual protocols that are followed when recruiting staff into the state sector had been completely overlooked more..

Sri Lanka stocks close up 0.5%

July 3 (LBO) Shares closed 0.54% higher on Thursday amid strong domestic participation. All Share Price Index closed 34.76 points higher at 6,467.28, up 0.54%. The S&P SL20 closed 30.48 points higher at 3,608.42, up 0.85%. Turnover was 1.51 billion rupees, down from 2.43 billion rupees a day earlier with 106 stocks closed positive against 82 negative. HNB closed 2.90 rupees higher at 161.90 rupees with three off-market transactions of 177.18 million rupees changing hands more..

The family curse

July 3 (CT) If Mahinda Rajapaksa wins the next round of national elections, Rajapaksa dynasty will become a fait accompli, barring a miracle. And Brother Gotabhaya will play an even more strategic role in the new administration than he did in the two previous ones. In a recent interview he reiterated his readiness to enter electoral politics, if invited by Brother Mahinda. And with characteristic arrogance, he stated, “I can do much better than many of these politicians currently holding office”. more..

Video: Krrish strikes deal with Ritz-Carlton

July 3 (DM) Controversial Krrish Transworks Colombo, the local unit of the Indian based property developer has struck a deal with the US based global luxury hotel chain, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to hand-over the management of its proposed skyscraper in Colombo. Joint agreement between Krrish and Ritz-Carlton is a commonly used arrangement in the hospitality industry where the developer hands-over the management of more..

SB defends using unparliamentary language to address student thugs

July 3 (Island) Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake yesterday said that there was nothing wrong in addressing the student thugs of Rajarata University responsible for taking the Vice Chancellor and some lecturers of the University hostage recently in unparliamentary language. "Although those responsible have been asked to seek pardon from the Vice Chancellor and the members of the academic staff of the university, they were not prepared to do so," the Minister said. more..

Mount Lavinia court restrains office bearers of GMOA from functioning

July 3 (AM) Mount Lavinia District Court today restrained all elected members of Govt Medical Officers Association (GMOA) from functioning as office bearers. District Court also issued summons to 'election committee' of the GMOA and its President on contempt of court. Order was made after a case filed against the GMOA was taken up for hearing today. Mount Lavinia court, on Friday, issued an interim order preventing the GMOA from holding its Annual General Meeting. more..

Scholar monks urge Govt. to address root cause of unrest

July 3 (DM) A Collective of respected Buddhist scholar monks urged the Govt to take immediate action against extremist groups while focusing on the root cause of the Aluthgama and Beruwela riots instead of accusing the Buddhist monks of the violence that erupted there. They said Buddhist monks were compelled to be vociferous when voicing their concerns about extremist groups in the country because relevant authorities more..

Business council to encourage more Sri Lanka-Malaysia joint ventures

July 3 (Bernama) Sri Lanka-Malaysia Business Council of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (SLMBC) is focusing on encouraging more joint ventures to take place between Sri Lankan and Malaysian firms. Council will start several initiatives during the upcoming year, including establishing more business match-making events, SLMBC President Nilrukshi De Silva said. Further exchange of information on trade and investment between both countries would also be undertaken, more..

NPC Ministers seek to intervene in rights violation case against Chief Minister

July 3 (Island) Four Northern Provincial Council Ministers yesterday sought to intervene in the fundamental rights violation application filed by the Provincial Secretary to the Northern Province, Mrs. Vijayalakshi Ramesh, citing as the first respondent, Chief Minister of the Province, C.V. Wigneswaran Mrs. Ramesh has complained to the Supreme Court that the Chief Minister has no power to interfere in her official activities, as she is appointed by the President, the Head of State. more..

Govt. uses issues in health sector to destroy free health service – JVP

July 3 (LT) Govt using issues in health sector is taking steps to destroy free health services says General Secretary of JVP Tilvin Silva. “At present a serious crisis has developed in health sector. Govt has allowed an administrative issue between nurses and family health workers to escalate. Issue first appeared at Kurunegala Hospital, went to Peradeniya Hospital and has now surfaced as a crisis in Ragama Hospital. more..

Sri Lanka starts industrial zones in remote areas amid labour shortfalls

July 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka is opening a industrial zones in rural areas as key export industrial zones near the capital Colombo is facing labour shortages amid overall decline in unemployment. Minister Lakshman Abeywardene said key industrial zones in Katunanayake, Biyagama and Seethwaka were facing shortfalls of workers between 12,000 to 15,000. "We believe that boarding fees that have to be paid by worker who come from other areas is deterring them," minister Abeywardene said. more..

India on high alert for Pak militants attempting to infiltrate through Sri Lanka

July 3 (PTI) Security along the shores in Kanyakumari and Tuticorin districts has been scaled up after an intelligence alert that six militants, trained in Pakistan, were planning to infiltrate into the country through Sri Lanka, police said today. Armed police personnel had been deployed at several places along the coast while additional check posts installed at important points, including Kulachel and Thengaipattinam, from midnight yesterday in view of the alert, a police official said. more..

Audio: Rajitha accuses of Gnanasara Thera of holding talks with LTTE

July 3 (AM) Minister Rajitha Senarathne has accused BBS General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera of holding secret discussions with supporters of the LTTE. He also said that UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake “facilitated” the meetings between the BBS and the supporters of the LTTE. He said he even had photos to prove that the BBS stalwarts had met LTTE supporters of the Tamil Diaspora. He made these revelations more..

IMF driven policies have hit education, health, social welfare budgets - Eran

July 3 (Island) The education, health and social welfare budgets were being slashed annually because the government was following an IMF driven policy, the UNP said yesterday. Financial Analyst and UNP MP Eran Wickremeratne told The Island that in a situation where the IMF propagated fiscal consolidation through a reduction in the budget deficit it was absurd for anyone to claim that the IMF did not have an influence on the policies implemented by the Rajapaksa regime. more..

Board President's XI v South Africans: Amla ton guides South Africans' win

July 3 (CI) Hashim Amla struck the only century of the South Africans' warm-up match against Sri Lanka Board President's XI in Moratuwa, off just 79 balls, and anchored the team to a comfortable victory. He had support from Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy before Morne Morkel spearheaded the bowling effort. The chief concern about the extra responsibility that looms over Amla, who is South Africa's new Test captain, is how the leadership role will affect his batting. more..

Sri Lanka banking system outlook stable, says Moody's

July 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka's bank credit is estimated to grow 14% in 2014 and outlook for the sector is 'stable' with bad loans to also stabilize this year, Moody's, a rating agency said. "…[A] pipeline of infrastructure projects is expected to boost economic growth, together with an accommodative monetary policy," Vice President at Moody's said. "In such an environment, loan growth will rebound and asset quality will stabilize. more..

Rayynor Silva surprises UPFA with eleventh hour decision

July 3 (AM) Managing Director of ABC Media Network Rayynor Silva has made an eleventh hour decision not to enter active politics from the ruling party. Earlier there were discussions between the prominent businessman and some top echelons of the ruling party over his possible entry into politics. The matter was also discussed when President Rajapaksa visited MP Duminda Silva’s house a few weeks ago. Sources close to Rayynor Silva said the businessman, at that point, had more..

Sri Lanka coexists peacefully with people of all faiths: President

July 3 (PTI) Sri Lanka, a nation inspired by Buddhism for well over 2,500 years, has co-existed peacefully with communities of other faiths despite attempts to create communal tensions from time to time, President Rajapaksa has said. "There are various groups who try to create differences in order to undermine our Buddhist values," he said. "We are a nation familiar with co-existence," Rajapaksa said, while addressing a Buddhist gathering in the southern province. more..

SC allows Buddha Tattoo petition

July 3 (DM) Counsel representing the Attorney General today informed Court that the Negombo Magistrate had no authority to order the deportation of British tourist Naomi Coleman, who had a tattoo of the Buddha on her upper arm. He made this submission when the Fundamental Rights Petition filed by her was taken up for hearing. Assistant Solicitor General Jayantha Jayasuriya PC appearing for the respondents said more..

President’s expenses go up by Rs.350 million

July 3 (LT) An additional amount of Rs.346,464,210 has been allocated for the expenditure of the President for the period January to April this year. This is in addition to the Rs.8,569,170,000 allocated from the last budget to the President. The total expenditure for the President this year has risen to Rs.8,915,634,210. Additional allocation is revealed in the mid year report issues by Ministry of Finance. As such, the daily expenses of President which was Rs.23,477,178 goes up to Rs. 24,426,395. more..

Foreign minister to visit India next week

July 3 (PTI) Foreign minister G L Peiris will be visiting India next week to hold talks with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj during which key issues, including the welfare of Tamils in Lanka and fishermen, are expected to be discussed. Ministry of external affairs' said India and Lanka were working on Peiris' visit and "it is likely that he will visit this month". On the issue of Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan jails, he said more than 175 fisherman have been released since the new govt took over more..

Court summons JMO on Aluthgama

July 3 (CG) JMO who submitted the postmortem report on one of the victims killed during the Aluthgama violence has been summoned to court after his report was disputed. Lawyers had informed the Kalutara Magistrate’s Court today that the report by the JMO noted that the victim had died of cut injuries but there were indications he died of gun-shot wounds. President of BASL Upul Jayasuriya said an order was also sought more..

SWRD Bandaranaike, DA Rajapaksa and Dynastic Politics

July 4 (CT) DA Rajapaksa became prominent as a key founder of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), along with SWRD Bandaranaike, largely because after their breakaway from the UNP in 1951, with five other MPs, they were the only two who could retain their seats at the 1952 parliamentary elections. SWRD was assassinated in 1959 and DA died in 1967. I had occasion to deliver memorial orations for both of them, for SWRD Bandaranaike in 2004 and DA Rajapaksa in 2010. more..

The Wanni strives to recover while the South erupts in strife

July 4 (ST) It’s a smooth ride for vehicular traffic from Colombo to the Northern heartland of the Wanni, on account of beautifully carpeted roads all the way. While there is no discounting the benefits of vastly improved infrastructure manifested in such things as the road and rail links, the path to recovery for the people of these war-affected areas may not be as easy as the physical journey for travellers in those parts. Meeting with those who came out of detention camps and are now resettled in more..

Whitewashing Saffron fascism

July 4 (CT) What is the role of the regime and state in a multiethnic, multilingual, multi-religious, multicultural i.e. pluralist setting and in a fraught, conflicted, actually or potentially violent situation? How should and how do the regime and state function? Are the UPFA regime and the State a neutral umpire –as it should be– between the constituent communities of Sri Lanka where all citizens are constitutionally equal, or more..

Modi as gonibilla and maverick’s plaything

July 4 (NS) Narendra Modi is not just India’s new Prime Minister. He’s also the latest gonibilla conjured by Indophiles, Eelamists, federalists and other fellow-travelers. The ‘Specter of Modi’ is a good topic to write on, notwithstanding the fact that gonibilla-conjurers, given their secularist posturing would, if they could, have voted for the Congress or any other party apart from the BJP any day. They have to make the best out of a bad deal, one must understand. more..

Parliament debates accountability

July 4 (NS) With the establishment of a formidable panel of experts to assist the UNHRC-sanctioned international war crimes probe – the panel includes the former President of Finland and Nobel Laureate Martti Ahtisaari – the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has signaled that the issue of accountability would have to be addressed by domestic actors with greater seriousness. This panel of experts will now (and is meant to) add more international credibility to more..

Sri Lanka to digitalise TV broadcasting

July 4 (FT) In the midst of the digital revolution, the digitisation of terrestrial television broadcasting has become a worldwide trend. Broadcasters are now turning to digital technologies to reduce their operating costs and offer enhanced services to the public. Television broadcasting is a universal service and is an important infrastructure, which most people rely on as a source of information. It is therefore essential to make more..

Enemies of state, their fall and the guillotine

July 4 (CT) In the nation of alcoholics, wife-beaters and hateful losers, it becomes an irony when transvestites come out of the closet brazenly at night and onto the streets to ply their trade as against ‘war heroes’ and ‘men in power’ being enslaved and gagged from speaking out. Talk becomes cheap when it does not ‘walk the talk’. It has also been the norm to look for a change of govt through elections when democracy does not exist, to seek redress in courts of law when the independence of more..

Editorial: Hostage takers above the law?

July 4 (Island) The Rajarata University has been closed indefinitely in view of a teachers’ protest against the recent hostage drama and death threats. Vice Chancellor Prof. Ranjith Wijewardena says some university teachers have informed him that they were roughed up during the recent hostage drama and even threatened with death subsequently. They are demanding that their safety be guaranteed and a peaceful environment created on the campus for them to resume work. more..

In spite of Mathata Thitha, alcohol sales have increased

July 4 (CT) Sri Lanka boasts of the highest alcohol consumption in the world. But that is based only on legally produced alcohol. If moonshine and other illegal forms of liquor are taken into account, this rate could go up further. The same applies to the consumption of tobacco. Sri Lanka doesn't rank as high among smoking countries in the world. However, similar to alcohol, there is a hidden side to the story. more..

Buddha tattoo woman and the shallowness of the State

July 4 (CT) British tourist Naomi Coleman made headlines last April when she was deported from Sri Lanka over a Buddha tattoo she sported on her shoulder. From the UK, she has now filled a fundamental rights petition against her arbitrary detention and deportation. That is a gracious act on the part of Coleman for it would have been much easier for her to be a pawn of the Boycott Sri Lanka campaign led by the pro-Eelam lobby. Also, given the fact that even the Sri Lankans have more..

D.E.W. Gunasekara emphasises importance of proper HR policy

July 4 (FT) Senior Minister of Human Resources D.E.W. Gunasekara addressing the inauguration of the National HR Conference 2014 as Chief Guest emphasised the need to build the country’s human capital in its efforts for economic progression and also highlighted on the upcoming national human resources policy. The National HR Conference is the foremost human resources event where the latest trends in human resource management are shared amongst the HR fraternity. more..

Handover of facilities of traditional handicraft village in Galle today

July 4 (FT) Secretary of the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development V. Sivagnanasothy said that the official event of handing over the facilities to the craftsmen at the Galahena, Bope Poddala traditional handicraft village in Galle would take place with the participation of President Rajapaksa today. Opening ceremony will be held by the Ministry of Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development. more..

BOC to float Rs. 8 b debenture, Fitch rates ‘AA (EXP)’

July 4 (FT) Fitch Ratings Lanka has assigned Bank of Ceylon’s (BOC; BB-/Stable) proposed subordinated debentures of up to Rs. 8 b an expected National Long-Term Rating of ‘AA(lka)(EXP)’. The debentures, which have tenors of five and eight years and carry fixed and floating coupons, are to be listed on the CSE. BOC expects to use the proceeds to strengthen the bank’s regulatory Tier 2 capital base and reduce asset and liability maturity mismatches. more..

Sri Lanka's Lee Hedges to set up apparel and agriculture industries in North

July 4 (N360) Sri Lanka’s Lee Hedges PLC is planning to set up a Apparel Training Centre in Jaffna and cultivate Red Lady, Papaya and Cavendish bananas in Vavuniya in a bid to help communities living in those areas to build a livelihood. The company says the projects are CSR driven. The Apparel Training Center in Jaffna is expected to cost Rs. 62 million and will be utilised to help provide training for unemployed young adults in the area on apparel technology. more..

Army begins work on reactivating Elephant Pass saltern

July 4 (SLA) Sri Lanka Army troops, undertaking another giant national development project, commenced extraction of clogged and stagnant water out of abandoned Elephant Pass saltern for proposed reactivation of its production process, following an MoU signed with the Army for this specific purpose in late June. Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise with the approval of Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, more..