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Commerce Ministry steps into tax crisis at lentils-processing factory

Mar 20 (ST) The Commerce Ministry has promised to step into a crisis situation at a top red-lentil processing factory in Sri Lanka where a recent tax revision has made the facility uneconomical. “Since this February’s tariff revision, we have stopped importing whole lentils for processing here as the import duty costs are causing losses for us, with our buffer stocks starting to be at unhealthy levels,” Dr A.C. Saleem, Chairman of privately owned Pulses Splitting and Processing more..

World T20: Ireland beat UAE

Mar 20 (CI) Two down, one more to go for Ireland. After taking down a Full Member, Zimbabwe, two days ago, they ensured they didn't take it easy against the weakest side in the group, UAE. Asking UAE to bat, Ireland kept them to an extremely manageable 123 for 6. Netherlands' 140 had proved inadequate earlier in the day against Zimbabwe, and the ball was only going to come on better under lights. Despite the early loss of Paul Stirling to injury, Ireland were well on their way to more..

The inglorious self-goal

Mar 20 (FT) Here’s a mid-week riddle: What do the Tamil widow Balendran Jeyakumari, activists Ruki Fernando, Father Praveen Mahesan and Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister have in common? They all chose to engage with international human rights mechanisms, including UN rights Chief Navi Pillay. And now they are paying for it. Since her explosive press conference at the UN compound in Colombo, a recurring theme of Navi Pillay’s more..

World T20: Zimbabwe beat Netherlands

Mar 20 (CI) On Monday, Zimbabwe wanted to bat second in Sylhet. On Wednesday, they did. On Monday, Zimbabwe's captain Brendan Taylor asked his batsmen to put more value on their wickets. On Wednesday, they did. On Monday, Zimbabwe's match against Ireland went down to the last ball and they lost. On Wednesday, the margins were just as close but the result was different. Zimbabwe kept themselves in contention for the main draw of the World T20, despite making hard work of more..

Internal inquiry into vehicle registration scam

Mar 20 (ST) Department of Motor Traffic has instigated an internal inquiry into a forged vehicle registration racket that came to light with the recent revelation of selling vehicles using registration certificates stolen from the department three years ago. Commissioner-General S.H. Harischandra said that necessary control and procedures are being followed in the registration of vehicles but this fraud had been committed by using bundles of empty vehicle registration papers stolen in 2011. more..

Solving dilemma of export diversification

Mar 20 (DM) Sri Lanka’s problem of flagging export growth has generated much discussion. The answer that many are converging on is a single word: DIVERSIFICATION. But ‘diversification’ is a double-edged concept in exports. You can either diversify in terms of products, or in terms of markets. So, what should it be for Sri Lanka? That is the export-dollar question. A bit of economic analysis and lessons in paying attention to causation more..

Court thwarts Anura Lokuhetty’s attempt to remain as CEO of Serene Pavilions

Mar 20 (FT) The Commercial High Court of Colombo made an order yesterday in an action filed by Anura Lokuhetty against the luxury boutique hotel Serene Pavilions and its Directors seeking, inter alia, enjoining orders preventing the Board of Directors of Serene Pavilion from removing Lokuhetty as the CEO of the company and to prevent the Board from appointing Dilith Jayaweera as a Director of Serene Pavilions. Upon considering extensive submissions made by all parties, more..

Sri Lanka’s MCW Pinto appointed Arbitrator for Dispute between Denmark and EU

Mar 20 (FT) Dr. Christopher Walter Pinto has been appointed to serve on the 5-member Atlanto-Scandian Herring Arbitration Panel established to adjudicate the dispute between the Kingdom of Denmark in respect of the Faroe Islands and the European Union. Dr. Pinto is a leading international lawyer and former diplomat. His previous arbitral appointments include the chairing of the international tribunal which considered a maritime dispute between Singapore and Malaysia. more..

Rise up against scheme to abolish pension gratuity

Mar 20 (LT) Govt is scheming to abolish the pension gratuity enjoyed by govt employees for more than 113 years and pension circular 02/2014 has been issued to enable this move. Circular has been issued to be effective from 1st April, 2014 and it would abolish the pension gratuity govt employees received until now and arrangements would be made for govt employees to get a bank loan instead of pension gratuity. more..

Unemployment at historic low says minister

Mar 20 (CT) A minister said that unemployment had reached a historic low and settled at 4.5%, despite statistics showing that unemployment had surged compared to 3.9% in 2012. Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that country's unemployment stood at 4.5%, far better than western markets, calling it the lowest that the country has recorded. However, according to Department of Census and Statistics, the country saw its all-time low unemployment rate in 2012, which was 3.9%. more..

BBS wants Hakeem to apologise

Mar 20 (FT) Stepping up the rhetoric, the hard-line Bodu Bala Sena group has demanded an apology from Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem, threatening to skin him alive for handing over a report of alleged attacks on Muslim places of worship to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. Addressing a press conference, the BBS General Secretary Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thera said The Justice Minister needed to “apologise to the Sinhala community”. more..

Samsung picks Sri Lankans as world’s first to savour Galaxy S5

Mar 20 (FT) Samsung Electronics, a global leader in digital convergence technologies, is offering all Sri Lankans the opportunity to be the first in the world to preview and pre-order the new Samsung Galaxy S5 from 21 March to 5 April. Customers will be able to benefit from a special discount of 40% on an accompanying Samsung S5 gear with the pre-order of a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone at any authorised outlet more..

News1st launches SL’s first ever Made for YouTube news bulletin

Mar 20 (NF) News1st, SL’s premiere independent news provider, took a leap into the future on Wednesday and launched Sri Lanka’s first-ever Made for YouTube, News Bulletin, in collaboration with Google. The Made for Youtube News Bulletin, titled The brief was launched at a unique programme for business leaders today. Robert Van Arlen, the renowned speaker and thought leader, who has transformed the growth of major organisations worldwide conducted a programme on more..

'Somawansa is No. 2 loser'

Mar 20 (CT) Former Leader of the JVP, Somawansa Amarasinghe, gave up his throne because he did not want to go down in history as the party leader with the most number of election losses, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody said. "In fear of this, he instead handed it over to UNP Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe," he said. Although Amarasinghe was hot on the heels of Opposition Leader Wickremesinghe's glorious burden, Weerakkody claimed the UNP's losses at the more..

'I made the mistake of speaking of CM’s post'

Mar 20 (DM) Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that he made the mistake of commenting on the chief ministership even on previous occasions but that people of Colombo would prove him right at the elections on the 29th. He said all the communities and political parties in the UPFA had agreed to abide by his decision as the national organiser of the UPFA and SLFP to appoint Mr. Gammanpila as the UPFA group leader more..

Mayor argument is full of holes: Ravi

Mar 20 (DM) Commenting on the bus-halt tussle, UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake said it appeared that the sole reason for demolishing the bus stand was his poster. “I did not build the bus stand it was constructed by the Economic Development Ministry from the funds allocated to me as a MP. MP’s receive about Rs.5 million of which Rs.700,000 is deducted as taxes. We can do social service from the remainder and this bus stand was one such project. It was built by the Ministry and more..

75 fishermen from TN arrested by SL Navy

Mar 20 (PTI) Days after releasing all the arrested fishermen from Tamil Nadu, the Sri Lankan Navy today arrested 75 fishermen and seized their 18 mechanised fishing boats, Fisheries Department sources said. Of the arrested, 25 were from Rameswaram and remaining from Jagadapattinam, Thanjavur and Karaikal, the sources said. They were arrested while fishing near Katchatheeevu and Nedunthivu in the Palk Straits for using fishing nets banned by Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka releases details on Foreign Reserves, Gold holdings

Mar 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka has released a breakdown of foreign assets and gold holdings in official forex reserves for Nov 2013 as well as liabilities involving swaps and other payments. Deputy Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said the breakdown complied with a standard IMF reporting format. Sri Lanka is now moving to comply with IMF's Enhanced Data Dissemination Standard. more..

What Sri Lanka reveals about Indian democracy support

Mar 20 (CD) One of the most high-profile debates over rising powers’ support for democracy and human rights abroad concerns India’s role in Sri Lanka. The controversies surrounding the two countries’ relations recently reached new heights when India’s prime minister decided to boycott the CHOGM, a biennial summit for the states of the Commonwealth of Nations that was hosted by Sri Lanka in November 2013. India’s decision to send its external affairs minister instead of PM more..

Education sold; university students suppressed – charges Federation Convenor

Mar 20 (NF) Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a group of protesting university students in the Colombo Fort area on Wednesday afternoon. The protest had been organised on the basis of several demands including a solution to problems surrounding student accommodation at the Kelaniya University. The university students commenced the demonstration near the Kelaniya University at about 9:30 on Wednesday morning. The students blocked one of the lanes on more..

CBK urges Mahinda to stop all illegal surveillance on her

Mar 20 (FT) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has written to President Rajapaksa urging an immediate stop to all illegal surveillance on her which she alleged has been taking place since she was out of office from 2005. This situation also violates my Fundamental Rights, impinging on my freedom of movement and freedom of association,” Kumaratunga has emphasised in her letter, and acknowledged by President’s more..

School for prison inmates opens tomorrow

Mar 20 (CT) Sri Lanka's first school for prison inmates will be opened at the Watareka Prison in Homagama tomorrow. The prison school, which will be known as the Homagama Suneetha Vidyalaya, is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, and is established with the objective of making education available to the inmates, most of whom have not received formal education. The ministry stated that most of the inmates had not even studied up to their O/L, and such inmates have been identified by more..

Iraq, SL discuss inaugurating direct airline

Mar 20 (IN) Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Irag, Nazar Kheralla met Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Iraq, Sumit Nkandla, in Baghdad on Wednesday. The meeting tackled the means of promoting bilateral relations in various fields within the framework of the Iraqi- Sri Lankan joint committee. The two sides discussed the possibility to establish a permanent fair for products of Sri Lanka and inaugurating a direct airline between Iraq and Sri Lanka in order to facilitate more..

JVP questions online lottery

Mar 20 (Island) JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake demanded to know under whose permission an online lottery under the name ‘O-game’ had been commenced by the govt. He said that former UNP regime, too, had commenced a similar lottery by the name ‘Online’ in 2003, and National Lotteries Board had pumped Rs. 8,000 million into it. However, that online lottery was not transparent and had been abandoned. more..

President agrees to meet CBK

Mar 20 (CT) President Rajapaksa has agreed to meet with former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, following a request made by Kumaratunga to discuss religious harmony in the country. President has agreed to meet the former President only after she made a request for the second time. Previously, Kumaratunga in a letter to Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, had requested for an appointment to meet the President to discuss religious harmony in the country. more..

Killing of UNPer: No eyewitnesses willing to give evidence

Mar 20 (Island) Dompe Police have informed the Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya in writing that no eye-witnesses had volunteered to give evidence as regards the killing of O. K. Piyasena, a supporter of UNP candidate Harshana Rajakaruna contesting the Western Provincial Council poll. Piyasena was assaulted allegedly by a UPFA supporter during an argument over pasting UNP posters covering a UPFA candidate’s at Kimbulwilawatte, Dompe on Tuesday. more..

Are Sri Lanka's 'anti-terror' arrests an attempt to intimidate activists?

Mar 20 (CNN) A prominent SL rights activist controversially detained by his govt under anti-terror laws says he believes his arrest was partly spurred by an international push to independently investigate the country's human rights record following decades of civil war. Ruki Fernando, one of his country's leading human rights activists, was arrested Sunday with fellow activist Rev. Praveen Mahesan, a Roman Catholic priest, more..

Dangers of The stolen harvest

Mar 20 (DM) Largely because of changes in diet and lifestyle, the highly-developed super-power the United States has plunged into a deadly crisis where 30% of the natural deaths are instances of children dying before their parents. Sri Lanka needs to be cautious of subtle moves whereby vested interests are trying to push us to follow or ape the US or western models of food and nutrition. This is similar to the calamity where we are now getting western experts to advise us on irrigation, more..

'Will you cry in the event I die?'

Mar 20 (DM) The untimely death of the OIC of Borella police Prasad Siriwardene had brought much shock and grief to his closest family members. One of his sisters Nirosha Siriwardene was in tears when she described to the media the affection and love her brother had for her. In a pitiful coincidence the deceased Prasad had embraced her in the morning before he had set on his fateful mission on that day and had inquired from his sister “will you cry in the event I die” more..

Speculation and denial in illegal elephant case

Mar 20 (SL) Director General Wildlife Department is once again accused of attempting to prevent his officers from taking action against illegal elephant owners. Last week, we reported as to how the Director General H D Ratnayake came to the rescue of an elephant owner from Meerigama who kept hold of two elephants illegally. Since it has now come to the limelight that Ratnayake is aiding and abetting illegal more..

Russia pledges to back Sri Lanka in international arena

Mar 20 (Island) Russia says that it would continue to support Sri Lanka in the international arena. Military Attache to the Embassy of the Russian Federation, Captain (Navy) Igor Pavlov addressing a ceremony to celebrate the "Defender of the Motherland Day" in Colombo recently, said that the traditionally friendly relations between his country and Sri Lanka was based on mutual respect, understanding and cooperation. more..

India blocks China entry into Saarc

Mar 20 (TT) India has blocked a fresh thrust by China to join the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a grouping New Delhi dominates, arguing that the alliance first needs to clarify its objectives in strengthening ties with new partners. The foreign ministry has communicated to all other member states of the Saarc —Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — that it is uncomfortable more..

Hartal in Trinco, demo in Colombo

Mar 20 (CG) A hartal was staged in Trincomalee today against the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka submitted in Geneva while a protest was also staged outside the US Embassy in Colombo by a group of people from Mannar. The Trincomalee police said that shops in Trincomalee were shut as a mark of protest during the hartal while public transport was also at a virtual standstill. The hartal in Trincomalee had been more..

AI told of special intelligence unit

Mar 20 (CG) Amnesty International (AI) says it has received particularly disturbing reports that Sri Lankan intelligence forces may have created a special unit to monitor those suspected of conveying information to the UN. The London based international human rights group said that the Govt of Sri Lanka continues to wage an aggressive campaign against those advocating for accountability and human rights. more..

Fingerprint collection to begin for eNICs

Mar 20 (ST) The Department of Registration of Persons (the identity card office) is to start collecting fingerprints this year to issue 16.5 million electronic identity cards (eNICs) in 2016 that will include biometric security features such as fingerprints and bar codes. Fingerprints will be collected manually at 331 district and divisional level units and scanned and entered into a national register. The department set up a National more..

SLFP Jaffna organiser flays Ananthi over ‘Geneva lies’

Mar 20 (Island) Northern Provincial Council (NPC) member, Angajan Ramanathan yesterday said that Tamil speaking people wouldn’t be deceived by fellow NPC member, Ananthi Sasitharan’s widely reported allegation that children in the Northern Province were still living under warlike conditions, though fighting ended in May 2009. Jaffna District SLFP Chief Organizer Ramanathan was responding to Sasitharan’s accusations more..

Karunanidhi doubts Lanka's intention to solve fishermen issue

Mar 20 (PTI) Raising doubt over Sri Lanka's intention to solve fishermen issue, DMK President M Karunanidhi today slammed the latest incident of arrest of Indian fishermen by the island navy, saying if it wants a solution for the matter it should not indulge in such acts. Referring to yesterday's arrest of 75 Indian fishermen by Lankan navy, Karunanidhi said it was shocking and would not have happened without the SL Govt's knowledge. more..

Army attracts new recruits from Tiger bastion

Mar 20 (MoD) The newly recruited batch of Tamil women soldiers began their basic training in Mullaitivu recently. The batch includes 29 female recruits enlisted to the Army from the Mullaitivu region. The inaugural session of the training course began on Monday at the Security Forces Headquarters- Mullaitivu under the patronage of Commander SFHQ-(MLT) Major General Jagath Dias. more..

Fugitive drug kingpin caught in Kandy hotel

Mar 20 (Island) Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested two drug lords––a Canadian of Sri Lankan origin and a Pakistani who, on March 5, attempted to smuggle into the country 36 kilos of heroin with a street value of Rs. 360 million in two unaccompanied boxes declared as hardware items. The suspects were being detained by the PNB under detention orders and the 53-year-old Pakistani, Mohammad Waali, more..

Violence-prone political culture

Mar 20 (CT) In spite of the frustratingly low enthusiasm and the absence of political activism by the opposition parties, electioneering in this country is not totally devoid of violence. The first fatality in the electioneering for the Southern and Western PC polls was reported on Tuesday. A supporter of a UNP Gampaha District candidate was killed in Dompe, allegedly by the supporters of the ruling UPFA. Electioneering in Sri Lanka is prone to violence, however, more..