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Time to reduce fuel prices

Nov 30 (CT) The news this week from the global oil market was excellent. Oil prices continued their plunge and reached their lowest point in four years at less than US$ 70 per barrel. This was on the news that the oil cartel, OPEC, had decided to continue its present level of production. It had been feared that a decision to reduce production would cause an artificial shortage and drive up prices. Meanwhile, the boom in supply from shale deposits in the US is causing a boom in supply. more..

SAARC: China offers a way forward

Nov 30 (ST) Pakistan set the Chinese cat among the South Asian canaries this week in the foothills of the Himalayas. Instead of cooperation, the 18th SAARC summit that concluded on Thursday was a theatre for geopolitical games with India rising up as a bulwark to stop China’s bid to expand its influence in South Asia via SAARC. The Indira doctrine, named after India’s Iron Lady, former Premier Indira Gandhi, is not dead. The doctrine with which India tried to subjugate its smaller neighbours more..

Dilshan: Firebrand among saner men

Nov 30 (CI) Which is Tillakaratne Dilshan's best triumphant sprint? There are so many to choose from, even just in the past few years. In a Super Over against New Zealand in the 2012 World T20, he tore around from long-off, reached over the rope, completed a stellar take, and just kept running, ball in right palm, arms aloft. A few months later, he struck a boundary off his 148th ball to move to his first Test hundred in Australia, then, more..

Reds: Lessons learnt and confused

Nov 30 (ST) My dear Anura Kumara and the rathu sahodarayas, I thought I must write to you because I am a bit confused about what you are saying these days, at a time when everyone seems to be getting ready for the ‘Battle of the Blues’ which will be held in January next year, before the other Battle of the Blues which will be held as usual in March. Now, I agree that Maithri took us all by surprise when he appeared before us and said he was the ‘common candidate’. more..

Share option bonanza for JKH directors

Nov 30 (Island) Mr. Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman of John Keells Holding, Mr. Ajit Gunawardene, Deputy Chairman and Mr. Ronnie Peiris, Finance Director have last week disposed of substantial shareholdings in the company and utilized the cash raised to exercise their rights under the company’s Employees Share Option Scheme. All disposals have been at a price of Rs. 244 per share on Nov. 26 while the share options had been exercised the same day at Rs. 127.50. more..

A Principal's disappearing act

Nov 30 (CT) The reason is yet unknown as to why the principal of Hewawitharana Maha Vidyalaya, Rajagiriya mysteriously disappeared last week. Principal N.N. Chitrapala went missing for five days, and returned home on Monday. Police are still investigating as to why he went missing. Forty-six-year-old Chitrapala took up duties at Hewawitharana Vidyalaya about 1.5 years ago, after his transfer from a school in Badulla. more..

Respiratory units in all State hospitals soon

Nov 30 (SO) Respiratory Units will be set up in all state hospitals soon. “Respiratory diseases are becoming increasingly common today and Children are at high risk. 15% of children in SL suffer from asthma because they inhale polluted air. Inhaled tobacco smoke can cause long term damage to children’s health”, President, College of Pulmonologists, Dr Saman Kularatne said. Habitual smokers could develop Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease if they continue smoking more..

Chamber heads fret over economic instability

Nov 30 (NS) Chamber heads last week noted that while they expect no “serious changes” to the business landscape in the pre- and post-election period, uncertainty in the economic environment in no way will be welcomed. “The business community generally like continuity rather than sudden changes on policies. Elections always bring in uncertainty and that is not welcome. Certainty is generally preferred. That is the only issue that we have. Even if there is no change of the Govt in power, more..

Flagrant violation of polls laws, elections already not on a level field: CMEV

Nov 30 (Island) The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) is currently in the process of recruiting field staff for the 160 polling divisions and field co-ordinators for the 25 administrative districts in the island. Asked whether there have been any violence so far with respect to the presidential election, Manjula Gajanayake, national co-ordinator, CMEV said: "On the day the common opposition candidate was presented to the more..

Commercial Bank receives licence from Central Bank of Myanmar

Nov 30 (Island) The Commercial Bank has become the first Sri Lankan bank to be granted a licence by the Central Bank of Myanmar to operate a Representative Office in the South East Asian republic of more than 50 million people. "We believe that there is further potential to increase bi-Iateral trade between Myanmar and Sri Lanka, and that there is a likelihood of some of Sri Lanka’s leading apparel exporters and other industries setting up operations in Myanmar," more..

Share market on a roller-coaster

Nov 30 (ST) The Colombo Stock Market will be on a roller- coaster ride next month, spilling over to the first week of next year, owing to the multitude of political uncertainties impacting traders’ buying patterns, analysts say. “With each evolving development the share market will ebb and flow,” Murtaza Jafferjee, CEO JB Stockbrokers said. However, he also noted that the environment for equities will remain favourable in this low interest rate regime. more..

We stand by our story: Ravaya

Nov 30 (NS) Despite the State Intelligence Service (SIS) stating that it would sue the Ravaya newspaper for publishing a ‘false’ and defamatory article, the newspaper emphasized that it stood by its story. News Editor of Ravaya, Lasantha Ruhunage, told The Nation yesterday that the paper stood by its story and had no intention of apologizing. “As for legal action (by SIS), we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” he said. more..

Lords to debate Sri Lanka again

Nov 30 (SL) The House of Lords is to have a short debate on Sri Lanka next month, the second such debate to take place within a span of one month. The main focus of the debate scheduled for Dec 11 will be on bilateral trade between the UK and Sri Lanka. Last week the British House of Lords discussed Sri Lanka, including the lifting of EU sanctions on LTTE & Presidential elections. In response to a question, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, a cabinet spokesman at House of Lords, more..

Army says transfer routine

Nov 30 (SL) Army says the transfer of Major General Udaya Perera from Jaffna was a routine transfer after an officer had served in a certain area for a stipulated time period. Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya, said that Perera was appointed to the post of Director General of doctrine and Training in order to benefit from his experience and knowledge. Prior to taking over as the Commander of the Security Forces in Jaffna, Perera served as Security Forces Commander in Killinochchi. more..

Indian focus on Presidential Poll

Nov 30 (CT) Indian PM Narendra Modi's National Security Adviser (NSA), Dr. Ajit Doval, will arrive tomorrow to meet President Rajapaksa and common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, while India is closely monitoring China's presence in Colombo. On Dr. Doval's meeting the two candidates, Director, Security Risks Asia, a South Asian security risk consultancy firm, Rtd. Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle said, it's not unusual more..

Papal visit: Church request ignored?

Nov 30 (ST) The Master of Ceremonies for the papal visit to Sri Lanka will arrive in the country on Wednesday as the Catholic Church yesterday expressed confidence that the visit would take place despite an intensive campaign for the Presidential election. The Master of Ceremonies will meet Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, bishops and other members of the organising committees. Arrangements are due to be finalised by him. Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini, director of the Media and more..

China’s H’tota fuel project runs into fire

Nov 30 (ST) The Govt is considering an unsolicited, single-bid proposal by a Chinese firm to set up a US$ 101 million oil pipeline between the Hambantota tank farm and the Mattala airport despite a study deeming the project to be economically unfeasible. The study was coordinated by the Road Development Authority and commissioned from an independent party by the China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC), which is to build the pipeline, more..

Maithripala’s campaign hits CBK snag

Nov 30 (NS) The Common Opposition has been compelled to limit former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s role in the presidential campaign of Maithripala Sirisena due to pressure from JHU. The JHU, which has expected to play an active role in Sirisena’s campaign, has indicated – through various channels - to the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that Kumaratunga’s role should be reduced, more..

Both campaigns begin in Raja Rata

Nov 30 (NS) Both President Rajapaksa and Opposition’s Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena will launch their respective election campaigns from the North Central Province located interestingly in what was called the Raja Rata or Country of Kings. President Rajapaksa is due to hold his first campaign rally in Anuradhapura while Sirisena’s first rally will be held today in his home district of Polonnaruwa. UPFA is due to hold 66 rallies attended by the president covering more..

Ex CJ will not file case

Nov 30 (SL) Former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva says he will not file a case against President Rajapaksa contesting for a third term in office, even though it was decided so earlier. He said that he cannot agree with the opinion of the Supreme Court that it is not illegal for the President to contest for a third term in office. Sarath N Silva however felt it will serve no purpose in going to court over the decision as it is the same court which will need to give the ruling. more..

Rs 450 million per Govt MP and Opposition MPs who cross over

Nov 30 (ST) Govt is to allocate funding for over 150 special development projects using the carry forward allocations of the earlier 2014 budget. High level govt authorities have issued a directive to immediately allocate Rs.450 million per head as development funds to selected MPs. Top govt sources, who declined to be named, said that allocation (Rs. 450 million each) would also apply to MPs who cross over to govt ranks. more..

Crow Island beach park development gets under way with WB assistance

Nov 30 (ST) Crow Island in Mattakkuliya, a landscape similar to that in the Eastern coast with a slum environment, thin lanes tightly packed with dwellings, Hindu kovils and churches is to be developed into a public recreational facility under the Metro Colombo Urba Development Programme (MCUDP) with World Bank assistance next year. This was disclosed by Rosanna Nitti, Task Team Leader of MCUDP when she made presentation on the overview of programme in Colombo more..

No local alcohol, cigarettes sales at supermarkets

Nov 30 (ST) Sri Lanka’s anti-drinking and anti-smoking lobby must surely be celebrating (with soft drinks!) for, since the past month, local alcohol including beer, and cigarettes have been off the shelves at local supermarkets. While these products are available at wine stores and other small shops (for cigarettes), alcohol and cigarettes stopped selling at supermarkets since the 2015 budget was presented on Oct 24 due to a VAT issue. Both products were removed from the VAT list more..

Jolted UPFA takes countermeasures; Maithripala campaign begins today

Nov 30 (ST) Opposition political groupings backing Maithripala Sirisena as the presidential candidate against Mahinda Rajapaksa are still in search of an identity. Names of different political fronts and even going it alone as an independent candidate are not being ruled out as the squabble continues. The hot favourite appears to be Apey Jathika Peramuna (AJP) or Our National Front (ONF) with telephone as its symbol. more..

Defection detractions and constitutional red herrings

Nov 30 (Island) Our political system is broken in a fundamental sense as a result of the dismantling of the time honoured procedures for periodically changing govts and for providing people with real alternative choices of govt. Govt changes and choices of govt that are fundamental to democracy have been turned into a farce in Sri Lanka thanks to the operation of the executive presidential system, even if not necessarily due to the system itself. The farce has become the routine after 2010. more..

Facilitating Rajapaksa’s departure

Nov 30 (Island) This piece is drafted on the premise that Mahinda Rajapaksa can be defeated on January 8, 2015, which is not the same as saying it is a certainty - that is too early to judge since the gravity of the Maithripala Sirisena challenge may or may not endure. This assumption delimits the scope and defines the structure of my essay. Brevity being the soul of wit, I eschew repeating "Assuming that my supposition is correct" in the body of the text. The logically separate matter of predictions more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Nov 30 (ST) Representatives of advertising companies queued up outside the Colombo residence of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Friday. They made different presentations to her on the propaganda campaign for the Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena. That included not only campaigns in both print and electronic media but also on how to tackle the social media. more..

Sri Lanka's budding real estate industry aims to change Colombo's skyline

Nov 30 (Xinhua) Real estate in Sri Lanka has become an attractive post-war investment option attracting major foreign investment. Backed by development initiatives launched by the govt and ambitious plans afoot by the private sector, its future looks promising. Foreign investors have been quick to sense this evolution with reputed multinationals such as Hong Kong's Shangri-la, India's Krrish and Australia's Crown joining local companies to more..

Confusion confounded in country's colour politics

Nov 30 (CT) The political centre-stage in the country looked confused in the week gone by and the people were kept guessing round the clock as to what would be the outcome in the political scene. Following SLFP General Secretary, Maithripala Sirisena's crossover to become the common candidate, for which Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera of the JHU claimed credit in a media interview, all eyes were focused on more..

Maithri to ink multiple deals

Nov 30 (SL) Common opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena, is to sign multiple agreements tomorrow, which includes one with the UNP. Agreements are to be signed outside the Vihara Maha Devi Park in Colombo. Meanwhile, the JHU is expected to take a final decision either today or tomorrow morning on if it will also sign an agreement with Sirisena and back him at the Presidential election. more..

Amir Ali refuses Azwer's seat

Nov 30 (CT) Dissident Eastern Provincial Councillor, Amir Ali has refused to fill the vacancy in Parliament, created by the resignation of UPFA MP, A.H.M. Azwer. Ali said he refused to accept the offer, as it came at a 'crucial time' and at a time the BBS had also signalled its support for President Rajapaksa. Azwer resigned from Parliament on Friday at a request from President Rajapaksa, so that Amir Ali could take his place. more..

SLMC and MR hold crucial talks

Nov 30 (CG) The SLMC has had crucial talks with President Rajapaksa as the party looks to decide who it will support at the Presidential elections next year. An SLMC delegation led by SLMC leader and Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem met the President and a govt delegation which included Minister Basil Rajapaksa, and detailed to them the core issues faced by the Muslim community in Sri Lanka, more..

We too have files says Champika

Nov 30 (CG) Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) General Secretary and former Minister Champika Ranawaka claims he too has files on the Govt and will make them public. His comment comes after President Mahinda Rajapaksa had said recently that he has files on those who left the Government, but will not make them public. Ranawaka accused the Finance Ministry of stealing from the public through the price of petrol. more..

Sri Lanka opposition parties unite against Rajapakse before polls

Nov 30 (AFP) Sri Lanka's opposition parties formally launched their bid Sunday to topple long-serving President Rajapakse at January elections, with prayers and public meetings in the island's old capital of Polonnaruwa. Main opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena, 63, who quit as health minister from Rajapakse's govt, was expected to address a rally later Sunday in Polonnaruwa, more..

Port workers for poll work; labour hired; officials deny

Nov 30 (ST) More than 1,000 workers of the Colombo Port and heavy equipment, including cranes, have been moved out from the premises for pro-govt election activities, hampering day-to-day operations of the port, trade union officials said. Allegation came as the BASL resolved to provide legal assistance to any groups or individuals to initiate action against the misuse of state property during polls campaign. more..

Navin resigns, joins opposition

Nov 30 (CG) Minister of State Management Reforms Navin Dissanayake has sent his letter of resignation from his Ministerial post, to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In the letter, Dissanayake explains the reasons behind his resignation adding among them was that he was unable to carry out his responsibilities and meet the needs of the people in Nuwara Eliya District, who he represents. more..

How not to run a country

Nov 30 (CT) Undoubtedly, the most bizarre of the characters that influenced the President in the period after the election of 2010 was Sajin de Vass Gunawardena. He was not a relation, and he did not have the professional or academic credentials of the other characters discussed here. Indeed he had hardly any qualifications but, ever since Mahinda Rajapaksa became President, he occupied positions of trust and responsibility. It was claimed that the reason for the confidence the President more..

Desertions, defections dominate as govt romps home at a canter

Nov 30 (ST) The sense of euphoria among ruling UPFA members that was prevalent when President Rajapaksa presented his Govt Budget to Parliament on Oct 24 had rapidly evaporated by the time the final vote on the Budget was taken on Monday. Within the course of the month, much had taken place within the political landscape of the country, some expected, others unexpected. What was expected was for President Rajapaksa to announce his intention to seek a third term in office and more..

Role of satellite phones in Maithripala's defection

Nov 30 (CT) Satellite communication is a method of communicating around the globe via a satellite. A satellite sent to space for the purpose of telecommunication, receives and retransmits the signals sent from a satellite phone, back to Earth. The ground area that receives the retransmission is called a satellite footprint. In Sri Lanka, for an individual to own and use a mobile satellite phone, requires a licence. more..

ID Cards to be fast tracked

Nov 30 (SL) Department of Registration of Persons says it will issue identity cards to over 100,000 persons who have no ID cards at present. Commissioner of the Department Sarath Kumara said that mobile services will be conducted to issue ID cards in Badulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ratnapura, Jaffna, and the Eastern Province as well as in some other areas. He also rejected media reports which stated that as many as 500,000 Sri Lankan citizens do not have ID cards. more..