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Rs. 172 billion Chinese Port City project still in stormy seas

Feb 8 (ST) Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera did not mince his words when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy Liu Jianchao on Thursday. Casting diplomacy aside, he told China’s Assistant Foreign Minister, “Our Govt has not taken a decision to go ahead with the Chinese-backed Colombo Port City Project. News reports are completely wrong.” The assertions came after Liu told Samaraweera that China more..

President Sirisena’s 67-year question and the 100-Day Plan

Feb 8 (Island) "We have failed in the essential task of nation building," said President Chandrika Kumaratunga in her speech to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence. That was in 1998. Seventeen years later, on Independence Day last week, President Maithripala Sirisena soul searchingly spoke of our "great responsibility and duty … today to ask where we have gone wrong, and how we could correct those errors, (and)… as we look at the path we have trod more..

Thirty thoughts on the First 30 days

Feb 8 (Island) 1. The President: Excellent; no two words about this. Maithripala Sirisena is not loud in his manner nor speech but is strong and gives the impression he brooks no nonsense. So we really are in good hands. Objectively comparing him with former presidents, to me he tops the list. He delegates; he listens to advice; he prioritizes the welfare of the nation and its people. Remember he said he was the servant of the people. He is completely free of vaulting ambition more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Feb 8 (ST) Civil Aviation Director General H.M.C. Nimalasiri has rapped the SriLankan Airlines, over what he calls its pilots deactivating “certain functional and vital flight instruments/engines” in flights engaged in commercial operations. In other words, they were trying to practise simulated conditions with passengers on board. This, he has said in a note to the national carrier’s CEO Kapila Chandrasena, is “with a view to getting an more..

Experience key for top-heavy Sri Lanka

Feb 8 (CI) Sri Lanka sometimes go into global tournaments underdone. Other times they have carried misfiring personnel. Occasionally key players have been injured, or, like on this occasion, poor form has pockmarked their approach to the big events. They rarely seem to have the firepower of the 'favourites'. They are so beset by poor governance they played the last World T20 in the middle of a contracts dispute. But they won. more..

Maithripala Sirisena’s govt eyes better business for Sri Lanka

Feb 8 (National) With Sri Lanka recently coming under new rule, measures including tax increases and the scrapping of major tourism projects have taken companies by surprise. But there is also a sense of optimism for the business outlook, with experts saying that the country could emerge much stronger in the long run under a more transparent and fairer govt. “In the short term there is a large amount of uncertainty and more..

Supermarket liquor sales expected to dip as customers asked to pay VAT

Feb 8 (Island) Supermarkets are anticipating a dent in their liquor business following last week’s collective decision to pass on to customers the Value Added Tax (VAT) on alcohol sales imposed by the 2015 budget. It came as a shock to tipplers to discover that prices of local liquor products had been pushed up by as much as Rs. 65 to Rs. 100 per 750ml bottle, depending on the brand. Attempts by supermarkets to urge more..

Rs. 2.5 Bn Tea promo funds move to Treasury

Feb 8 (ST) The Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) is set to, reluctantly, pack off Rs.2.5 billion to the Treasury as part of govt plans to bridge the budget deficit using excess monies held by departments. SLTB officials say they were in the dark over recent govt moves until it was announced as part of the budget proposals to transfer excess monies held by state departments to the Treasury to bridge the budget deficit. more..

Elections to local govt bodies: Govt to consider Delimitation Committee reports

Feb 8 (Island) The govt has not finalized yet whether elections for the local govt bodies would be held under the first-past-the-post system or the proportional representation system as it has to consider the reports of delimitation committees, Parliament was told. Public Admin, Provincial Council and local govt Minister Karu Jayasuriya said that the govt would convey its decision very soon after studying the reports by the delimitation committees. more..

Multi-million rupee big onions and rice scams at Lanka Sathosa

Feb 8 (Island) Shocking revelations of two multi-million rupee scams involving the procurement of imported rice and local big onions by Lanka Sathosa during the latter part of the former govt, have now emerged, officials said. Under the two deals pushed through during end Nov and Dec 2014, the financial losses suffered by this govt-owned institution were substantial, they said. "A top level probe is called for to get to the bottom of how more..

Govt to extend controversial detention law by 2 more years

Feb 8 (ST) The new Govt is to extend for two years a controversial law which allows the Police to detain for upto 48 hours persons arrested without a warrant on charges of murder and other serious crimes. The Minister of Justice has issued a Gazette notification to extend for another two years the operation of the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Special Provisions) Act No. 2 of 2013, a law that was opposed by the UNP more..

Video: Conspiracy investigations are suspicious: JVP

Feb 8 (LT) There is a serious criticism regarding the slowness of the investigations being carried out to find whether there was a conspiracy while results of the presidential election were being released says the Leader of the JVP Anura Dissanayaka. He said the investigations should have been completed within 24 hours. He said delaying investigations would allow conspirators to plan their statements so that more..

Bypassing Cabinet, Rajapaksa paid Rs. 1.39b to US firms and middleman

Feb 8 (ST) The Presidential Secretariat, under the previous UPFA Govt, paid a staggering Rs. 1.39 billion to a middleman and two public relations agencies in the US to promote Sri Lanka and lobby on behalf of the former Govt. Though the Cabinet did not approve the payment, the Presidential Secretariat had directed in writing that the amount be approved by Central Bank’s Monetary Board and remitted directly more..

Fly High and Fall Flat

Feb 20 (DM) Think twice before agreeing to appear on the cover of a business magazine. A cautionary notice (need it be enlarged to the extent of a ghastly warning on a pack of cigarette) as the perilous rate of casualties of the introduced icons is phenomenal. Those who zoom to the maximum and strike cover page, often end in a free fall to crash land on the buttocks. In the streets of Colombo, in its halls of infamy-rather than call it loosely, city’s rouge galleries -- history keeps repeating more..

Exploring international and domestic modalities for truth and justice in Sri Lanka

Feb 20 (SL) The ‘Declaration of Peace’ by the Govt of Sri Lanka at the 67th Independence Day Celebrations held on 4th Feb 2015 is a notable shift in its recognition of the past and the need for healing and unity. The LLRC made a similar recommendation, as did the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts (PoE). Recognizing the past is the first in a process needed to address past violations, provide answers regarding missing persons, initiate more..

Two year-old is latest fatality in preventable road deaths

Feb 20 (ST) Two-year-old Oshada Shasmika from Weligama was the latest victim of a series of road tragedies, victim of a hit-and-run accident with Tangalle police still seeking the killer driver of the speeding jeep. The fatality rate from accidents has been rising steadily, and police say a combination of overloaded vehicles and bikes, new ways of road construction, lack of speed limit signs and private bus drivers dodging speed traps by phoning each other more..

'India did not insist on 13 A plus implementation'

Feb 20 (Island) India has not insisted that the 13th Amendment Plus pledge which former President Rajapaksa had given it, be implemented, the govt said yesterday. Asked if Indian PM Narendra Modi had during last weeks official talks with President Maithripala Sirisena in New Delhi, insisted that the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution be improved to 13A Plus as promised by Rajapaksa, more..

FSP alleges govt. following Gotabhaya policy

Feb 20 (Island) The Australian High Commission declined to comment on a simmering battle between Australian passport holder Noel Mudalige also known as Kumar Gunaratnam and the Sri Lankan govt over the former’s right to engage in politics here. Mudalige, a Central Committee member of the breakaway JVP faction, the FSP, holds an Australian passport bearing the number N 1016123. more..

SLFP still undecided on Prime Ministerial candidate

Feb 20 (DN) The success of a party does not depend on a single person but on the cooperate mechanism of all to win an election, said SLFP National Organiser MP Susil Premajayantha. He said the SLFP has not yet decided on a Prime Ministerial candidate, but will decide on it at the appropriate time. MP Premajayantha was addressing a media conference after assuming duties as the SLFP National Organiser. more..

Sri Lanka apparel industry expects 3D printing, holographic clothing

Feb 20 (EN) New technologies like 3D printing and holographic clothing could disrupt the apparel industry, a senior official working for a top exporter has warned. "I see this physical form of product being eliminated," declared Udena Wickremasooriya, Director, Brandix. "There are multiple technologies coming out. 3D printing is possible. Holographic clothing and virtual clothing are not very far away." more..

Sri Lanka look to fine-tune rusty attack

Feb 20 (CI) At the top level, Sri Lanka's cricket travels in waves that crescendo every four years: at the World Cup. Since 2012, there has been busy talk of building for the next event - of putting in place tested personnel, fitted with a strategy that matches players' strengths, and the conditions. Many months of success in 2014 suggested Sri Lanka were on course for another good campaign, but their plans have now run aground in New Zealand. more..

Chrishantha De Silva appointed new Army Commander

Feb 20 (AD) Former Chief of Staff of the Army Major General Krishantha de Silva has been appointed as the 21st Commander of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) by President Maithripala Sirisena. Major General A.W.J.C De Silva has been appointed as the 21st Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, effective from February 22, 2015 on the directions of the President Maithripala Sirisena as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence announced on Friday (20). more..

Ready for early parliament polls

Feb 20 (CG) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says the Government is ready to go for early Parliamentary elections, if the need arises. Speaking at an event in Colombo today, the Prime Minister noted that the Government is looking at 100 days since taking office, to complete its 100 day program. He said that in order to achieve that goal the Government needs the support of all the political parties represented in Parliament. more..

Sri Lanka expands discussions for Fund-Bank program

Feb 20 (EN) Sri Lanka's Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has begun discussions with World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati as part of raising an estimated 4.0 billion dollar financing package backed by the International Monetary Fund. Indrawati had said the Bank would "favorably consider" a request for a Development Policy Loan Sri Lanka's embassy in Washington said. more..

Govt defends decision to send four men back to Sri Lanka

Feb 20 (ABC) The Federal Govt has defended sending four men back to Sri Lanka this month after intercepting their boat off the Cocos Islands, describing it as a people smuggling venture. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said interviewers determined the men were not refugees, and their return to Sri Lanka sent a "very strong message to the people smugglers". "The intelligence tells us that the people smugglers just haven't given up more..

Arjuna dismayed by delay in punishment

Feb 20 (AD) Minister Arjuna Ranatunga today expressed dismay at the delay in punishing of corrupt officials charged with misconduct under the previous regime. Speaking to media during an inspection tour at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) this morning, the former cricketer said that he was also part of the then UPFA govt for a period and that he opted to quit because he “couldn’t bow my head to unnecessary things.” more..

Return of MR

Feb 20 (CT) AMahinda Rajapaksa 'comeback' meeting, though sans the 'Prince of Denmark,' was a massive crowd puller at its 'inaugural' rally held in Nugegoda on Wednesday, according to this newspaper's yesterday edition. It was a meeting held to show the crowd the support the former President still has, though trounced at the last month's (January) presidential election, but more importantly, that Rajapaksa should also be the next prime ministerial candidate of the UPFA, more..

Reappearance of Rajapaksa cult at Nugegoda

Feb 20 (CT) It was very true that those who gathered in ‘a hundred thousand’ or those who spoke on behalf of Mahinda Rajapaksa at Nugegoda didn’t care about ‘corruption, human rights violations or dictatorship.’ As Dayan Jayatilleka has opined they WANTED him for the ‘Nation’ instead. It was also clear from the speeches and also from the mood of the crowd that this ‘nation’ that they talk about is not the ‘Sinhala-Tamil-Muslim-Burgher’ nation. It is not the political or more..

Daily Mirror Cartoon

Sri Lanka stocks edge up, gains in Nestlé, Distilleries

Feb 20 (EN) Sri Lankan stocks closed higher for the second day Friday led by gains in beverage and food firms which reported improved December 2014 quarter core earnings, brokers said. All Share Price Index edged up 8.74 points (0.12%) to end at 7,314.91 while the S&P SL20 index, rose 23.35 points or 0.57% to close at 4,136.69. Turnover was 1.1 billion rupees with several off-the-floor negotiated deals in John Keells Holdings and big banks, brokers said. more..

'Repealing executive presidential powers, electoral reforms should happen together'

Feb 20 (Island) The proposed constitutional amendments for repealing the executive presidential powers must go together with electoral reforms to replace the current proportional representation with the first-past the-post system with limited PR, as pledged in the ‘Maithripala Manifesto’, Leader of NUF M.M. Zuhair PC said, addressing a panel discussion on the proposed constitutional amendments, organised by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute more..

Delay of UN war report right thing to do: UK Dy HC

Feb 20 (AD) The decision by the UNHRC to delay the investigation into the end of the Sri Lankan conflict despite being difficult for those who gave information was the right thing to do, Laura Davis, British Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka says. ‘Those who provided information to the investigation – and especially those who did so in the face of intimidation – may find the delay difficult to accept. But it was the right thing to do: more..

Blinded ex-soldier identifies his attackers from their voices during trial

Feb 20 (Island) An ex-soldier Bope Weeratunga Sumanasekera blinded by an acid attack was recently able to identify all four perpetrators by recognizing their voices during the hearing in the Galle Provincial High court. Fifth accused hadn’t turned up as he was indisposed. Five members of the same family had been indicted in the High Court for attempted murder of Sumanasekera by attacking him with clubs and throwing acid on him. The case was taken up before Galle High Court Judge more..

WC 2015: New Zealand beat England

Feb 20 (CI) Tim Southee produced one of the great displays of ODI bowling and Brendon McCullum hammered a World Cup record 18-ball fifty as New Zealand produced a display of scarcely believable dominance in Wellington. Southee's figures of 7 for 33 were the third best in a World Cup, the best for the country in all ODIs and only the third time a New Zealand bowler had taken a five-wicket haul in the tournament. England subsided to 123 in 33.2 overs after deciding to bat first more..

Over 4,000 Indians to attend Katchatheevu feast

Feb 20 (AD) The annual St. Antony’s church festival at Katchatheevu islet off Sri Lanka would begin on February 28, with 4,336 pilgrims from India getting registered so far to participate in it, Indian officials said today. The annual feast of the church would being that day with the hoisting of the flag. Officials said 110 mechanised boats had been kept ready to take devoteees to the island, while two were for security purposes, PTI reported. more..

About 32,259 child abuse cases from 2009 to 2014

Feb 20 (Island) Child Development State Minister Rosy Senanayake revealed that about 32,259 child abuse cases had been recorded in Sri Lanka during the period of 2009 to 2014. National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) last year recorded 9500 complaints out of over 99,000 calls received via the NCPA’s 24 hours free helpline 1929. Most complaints were from Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara Districts. Minister pledged to take steps to enact the Children (Judicial Protection) Bill more..

Police mistakenly took away my vehicle: Raththaran

Feb 20 (AD) UPFA SPC member Krishantha Pushpakumara, popularly known as “Raththaran,” says that police have seized an SUV belonging to him, mistaking it for one of the vehicles missing from the Presidential Secretariat. The vehicle, which was handed over to a private establishment in Kurunegala to repair a technical fault, was taken away by police officers this morning, he said. Pushpakumara stated that 4 other vehicles which were at the location have also been taken by more..

President defuses star wars crisis

Feb 20 (EN) President Maithripala Sirisena has accepted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's nominee, Krishantha de Silva, for the post of the new army chief in a move to patch up a rift in the new government, official sources said. Sirisena, under pressure from former army chief and ally Sarath Fonseka, had been keen to appoint Major General Mahesh Senanayake, an officer who had been politically victimised by the former regime. more..

Sri Lanka condemns killings in Egypt

Feb 20 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan govt on Friday condemned the gruesome killings of 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians by a terrorist group in Libya on Feb. 15, a statement by the Foreign Ministry said here. The Sri Lankan govt said that the killings, which were carried out by the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), were barbaric and the manner in which the killings were carried out has outraged the collective conscience of the world, and is a crime against humanity. more..

How did Yoshitha go abroad amid probe: JVP

Feb 20 (DM) JVP today criticised the decision to allow former President’s son Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa to leave the country when there was an ongoing investigation into allegations made against him. JVP MP Vijitha Herath said the defence secretary had assured they would appoint a committee to look into the privileges afforded to Mr. Rajapaksa. “We complained that Yoshitha Rajapaksa had given special privileges during the previous govt. But in the wake of all these allegations more..