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Shipping Corporation willing to settle losses suffered by Norochcholai on coal delivery

Feb 21 (Island) Minister Champika Ranawaka told Parliament that the State Shipping Corporation had expressed willingness to pay Rs. 460 million to settle the loss incurred by the Norochcholai Power Plant in obtaining coal. A special investigation committee had been appointed to probe the incident of not obtaining coal on time. Minister said that he had instructed the investigating committee to read his book titled, Power and Power which contained a detailed account on Norochcholai Plant. more..

Dutch honeymooner survives fall from World's End

Feb 21 (AFP) SL troops rescued a Dutch honeymooner who became the first person to survive a fall from the World's End, a 4,000-foot cliff that is one of the country's main tourist attractions. The 35-year-old man had taken a few steps back to take pictures of his new bride when he flew off the unprotected cliff, army spokesman said. "He was extremely lucky because he fell on top of a tree about 130 feet from the top," more..

Sri Lanka coal plant for international tender; may start in June: minister

Feb 21 (EN) An India, Sri Lanka joint venture 500 MegaWatt coal power plant may begin construction by mid this year after environmental clearance is received with international tenders being called for the generators, a minister said. Power Minister Champika Ranawaka said the key sticking point involving the procurement of the most efficient power plants (with the best heat rate) has been cleared with the Indian partners agreeing to go for international tenders for procurement. more..

Gunaratnam to defy deportation

Feb 21 (CT) Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) said that its Politburo Member, Kumar Gunaratnam, has not left the country and would continue to remain in this country. FSP Propaganda Secretary Pubudu Jagoda said, the Judiciary could not issue an order on Kumar Gunaratnam. Jagoda said, therefore, the govt should issue a statement as soon as possible regarding the application submitted, by Kumar Gunaratnam, requesting Sri Lanka citizenship and its political stand on this particular issue. more..

SL to discuss new war crimes probe with UN

Feb 21 (AFP) Sri Lanka's newly-elected govt will next month look to win UN backing for a domestic probe into alleged war crimes under former leader Mahinda Rajapakse. The investigation, which the new administration had promised after winning January elections, comes after the previous regime resisted a UN inquiry into claims that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed under Rajapakse's command in the more..

A brave new State media?

Feb 22 (SO) The changes in leadership that the country's public-owned news media institutions undergo along with changes in govt is now so automatic that it is almost a hallowed tradition. In one venerable public-owned institution, for example, there is a permanent 'consultants' room' where, come regime change, politically appointed senior media managers of the ancient regime are put into cold storage on being displaced in their posts by the political appointees of the new regime. more..

Don’t rush constitutional amendments

Feb 22 (SL) The main issue at the last presidential election was to do away with the pernicious powers vested in the executive presidency and to make amendments to the Constitution to restore much of the executive powers vested in the presidency back to parliament. President Maithripala Sirisena, who campaigned strongly against the powers of the executive presidency and was elected, has set a timetable for changing the executive powers among keeping several pledges given to the people more..

‘New media culture in place’

Feb 22 (SO) No more blowing trumpets, no more singing hosannas excepting that a new media culture has seen the light of day. Any political party can reach out to any state media and will be given the opportunity to air their views unlike during the former regime, so said Minister Gayantha Karunatilake. Q: What steps have you taken to give more freedom to the print and electronic media? You have already unblocked certain websites. more..

Get the RTI right

Feb 22 (NS) The new Govt has hit the ground running when it comes to ‘show’. Allegations are a dime a dozen so to speak, these days. There’s a lot of ‘show’, but little to see, strangely. Sure, the law doesn’t move as fast as the vengeful or the righteous want it to. There is a thing called ‘due process’ after all. This does not sanction the kind of vigilantism that thrills the likes of Ranjan Ramanayake, however. A lot of the ‘showing’ can be ignored and even forgiven, but more..

The unfolding picture

Feb 22 (Island) Given the profligacy of the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa administration where taxpayer funds were extravagantly spent with little regard to the country’s resources and the fact that many Lankans were living way below the poverty line, President Sirisena’s simple lifestyle has won much admiration. As promised, he has not gone into occupation of either President’s House or Temple Trees and continued to occupy a govt bungalow assigned to him as a minister after more..

'Public want Mahinda back'

Feb 22 (SL) Since the recent Regime Change on 9th Jan 2015, the general opinion was in favour of President Maithripala Sirisena and his policy of cleansing the country of bribery and corruption. However there now is a certain level of uncertainty among the people as to whether the present govt can in fact keep to their promises? Leader of the MEP Dinesh Gunawardena said that the UNP led alliance has lost its credibility. He said that more..

Are we going nuclear?

Feb 22 (ST) The Indo-Sri Lanka summit talks earlier this week seem to have gone off smoothly; notwithstanding the outstanding poaching issue it was the Nuclear Pact between the two countries that took most by surprise. That it was kept a well-guarded secret and under wraps belies the spirit of transparency. In whose ultimate interest it was to spring this surprise will remain an unanswered question. Indian media were quick to hail the agreement as a diplomatic ‘tour de force’ more..

Friend vs foe battles in Sri Lanka politics

Feb 22 (NS) “Is this President Sirisena’s govt? If this govt belongs to President Sirisena, how on earth do the SLFP supporters get hammered in villages? How do SLFP supporters lose their jobs? What we ask President Sirisena is to have his own govt by having Mahinda Rajapaksa as the PM. SLFP cannot form a govt at the next election without making Mahinda Rajapaksa the Prime ministerial candidate. President Sirisena will soon realize that forming a govt with Mahinda Rajapaksa is way better more..

'MR must first decide if he will contest as PM candidate'

Feb 22 (CT) General Secretary of UPFA, Susil Premajayantha says that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa must first decide if he would contest as the Prime Ministerial candidate at the forthcoming general election. Q: How will the attempt by Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila to bring back Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Ministerial candidate, at the next general election, affects the SLFP? more..

House unites to approve legislation for the people’s benefit

Feb 22 (ST) Govt gained Parliament approval this week for two vital Legislations that would, to some extent, help overcome its challenges in the international arena, both from the UNHRC as well as the European Union (EU). The long pending Bill to provide protection to victims and witnesses of crime, a key demand of, both the UNHRC as well as activists in the field, was approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The previous Govt’s pledges to introduce the Bill goes as far back as 2008, more..

Crucified at Christchurch: Rise and get on with the job

Feb 22 (ST) It was rather early in the day when I flew out of Christchurch. In mid-country the sky beneath the plane was a sea of clouds. Then suddenly, I saw the row of snow covered mountain peaks jutting out of the clouds like the giant’s kingdom in the sky, where Jack who climbed the bean stalk and slew the monster that was after him. Anyhow I was not in the right frame of mind for fairy tales as the day before the Kiwis had heckled the Lions and battered them badly. more..

'Sumanthiran defends NPC's genocide resolution'

Feb 22 (CT) TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran, defending the NPC's genocide resolution as democratic and timely, emphasized on the need for the war victims to prepare themselves to gather more evidence in order to strengthen the OHCRC's OISL report to be released in September this year. He also added that an internal investigation with the OHCR's supervision, unlike the local investigations in past, is essential to ensure a constructive more..

Nugegoda: Hamlet staged without the Prince

Feb 22 (Island) The event last week which infused a new dynamic into the body politic was undoubtedly the Nugegoda rally organized by Dinesh, Vasu, Wimal and Udaya. If anybody thought it was not possible to stage Hamlet without the prince, they were proved wrong last Wednesday. The rally in Nugegoda organized by four small political parties turned out to be the biggest gathering ever held in the Nugegoda town. The present writer lives only a little distance away and has certainly never more..

SLFP at the crossroads

Feb 22 (SL) The rally, which was held in Nugegoda to support former President Rajapaksa, created ripples among rank and file of the SLFP. The majority of SLFP supporters were in two minds about the rally. As much as they respected former President Rajapaksa as the former leader and the war-winning President produced by the SLFP, they did not want constituent parties of the UPFA to override the political agenda of the party. This rally, which drew significant attention of more..

'Executive power should be with the PM'

Feb 22 (Island) PM Tissa Vitarana the general secretary of the LSSP talks about the contents of the discussion paper on constitutional reform put out by the govt recently. Q: In your day, you would have been a participant in one constitution making process (1972) and a critic of yet another (1978). If we look at this discussion paper put out by the new govt on the proposed constitutional reforms, does this appear to you as a serious more..

Probe Fraud at Sri Lanka Rugby Union

Feb 22 (NS) It is a well known fact that the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) president Asanga Seneviratne and most of his subordinates were “Yes Men”, of the toppled Rajapaksa family. And now even after the people had sent home a failed Head of State, Seneviratne and his Administration is poised to be re-elected “uncontested” at next month’s election of office-bearers of the SLRFU. The Nation over the past 14 months had well documented the history, geography, more..

The message it conveyed

Feb 22 (NS) The rally held in Nugegoda on Feb 18 was history making. It was a well-attended gathering with a massive crowd probably close to 50,000 filling up all the space available in the built up town center. People from distant places like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Badulla and Amparai had come as revealed by the attendance books placed in various places in the rally grounds for people to sign-up. Nugegoda would not have seen a rally of this size any time in the past. more..

Stalled talks on Krrish resume tomorrow

Feb 22 (ST) Indian-based Krrish Group will be returning to Sri Lanka next week for discussions with the new govt on the long delayed controversial multi-million rupee Krrish Transworks Tower project, a top official said. Krrish, since May 2013, is yet to make a final payment of Rs 589.7 million to close the four acre land lease deal. The total payment made by them was Rs 4.4 billion while the total payment to the UDA to commence more..

Poor fielding hurting Sri Lanka

Feb 22 (CI) Afghanistan have spoken of their intent to upset an established cricket side, and with Sri Lanka having lost both warm-ups and the tournament opener, they would appear to be ripe for the plucking. Only, few teams have been better at putting away Associate nations than Sri Lanka, particularly at major tournaments. Netherlands were the most recent victims, in last year's World T20, but Canada and Kenya have also been dealt with severely in past World Cups. more..

Contraband ivory still at Customs

Feb 22 (SL) The shipment of contraband blood ivory that was seized by Sri Lanka Customs in May 2012 while being transshipped to Dubai from Tanzania are still lying at Customs warehouse, Customs officials said. This shipment of 359 elephant tusks, which is believed to have been removed from poached African elephants in Kenya, were to be handed over to a powerful politician in the previous regime, but was prevented by the Customs Department as it was against the country’s more..

Colombo Fashion Week to create financial opportunities for designers

Feb 22 (CT) The annual HSBC Colombo Fashion Week (CFW), in its 12th year, will focus on promoting Sri Lankan designers in international markets by building their profiles and creating a retail presence for them, with the long term vision of creating a lucrative fashion design industry in Sri Lanka."One of the three basic aims when we started out 12 years ago was to ensure that fashion designers made money out of what they were doing. more..

CBSL lends Rs 12.3 B to govt: Pressure for rupee to dip, rates to rise

Feb 22 (CT) Starved of US dollars due to the lack of inflows coupled with Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) artificially keeping the value of the rupee up and market's excess liquidity being swallowed up due to Govt of Sri Lanka (GoSL) having to meet foreign debt servicing commitments, thereby causing upward pressure on rates, are currently buffeting markets, sources said. As a result of liquidity demand by the state, CBSL lent Rs 12.3 billion to the same by buying Treasury (T) bills more..

Vehicles damaged at H’tota port

Feb 22 (SL) A number of brand new vehicles imported to Sri Lanka have been damaged at the Hambantota port while being offloaded from ships. General Manager of the harbour said that eight vehicles have been damaged in accidents when being offloaded. The accidents had occurred mainly due to irresponsible driving at speeds ranging from 70 to 90 miles per hour when the vehicles were offloaded to the dock. Since there is no proper insurance coverage and since the harbour more..

Indian fishermen invading Lankan waters; no arrests

Feb 22 (ST) Indian fishermen are continuing to gain unimpeded access to Sri Lanka’s territorial waters as the Navy is refraining from making any arrests of poaching fishermen, a top minister said. “We have to admit that no action is being taken against the Indian fishermen involved in poaching now,” minister Rajitha Senaratne said. Meanwhile Fisheries Ministry Secretary Nimal Hettiarachchi said govt had asked for a postponement more..

Sri Lanka owes US lobby group

Feb 22 (SL) A lobby group based in the US has said the Sri Lankan Govt was three months in arrears on payments for a contract it terminated last month. Connie Mack, executive vice-president of Levick Strategic Communications, as saying its client, Sri Lanka’s central bank – whose chief has been replaced by the new govt – was three months or $180,000 in arrears on payments for the contract it terminated on Jan 28. Mack said he planned to meet with the SL ambassador in the US soon more..

Three more rallies for Mahinda

Feb 22 (CT) Leader of the MEP, Dinesh Gunawardena, said three more rallies similar to the 'Nugegoda rally,' in support of former President Rajapaksa, will be held soon. He said three major rallies will be held in different locations in the island to support the former President Rajapaksa and name him as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the upcoming general election. "We are hoping to organize three more rallies, most likely in Kandy, Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. more..

Mihin cancels Boeing deal; Airbus planes instead

Feb 22 (ST) Mihin Lanka has cancelled a deal for two Boeing 737-800 aircraft after convincing the international leasing company that the costs associated with changing its Airbus fleet to Boeing would cripple its finances. After protracted talks, the California-based Air Lease Corporation (ALC) has agreed to let Mihin have three Airbus planes instead, said Nishantha Ranatunga, former CEO, who spearheaded more..

Justice will prevail maybe next week says Hirunika

Feb 22 (Island) Asked whether she feels confident justice will prevail in the case of the murder of her father – Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, Hirunika Premachandra, WPC member, said: " I think so and very soon, maybe even next week." "When we came out of the previous govt we were under death threats and we really did not know whether we will win or lose. But President Maithripala Sirisena and Dr. Rajitha Senaratna were two individuals who stood by me, more..

EIA Report on Port City under a cloud

Feb 22 (NS) The Colombo Port City project which made headlines for the past few months regarding its current status has again attracted controversy. The Nation reliably learns that one of the committee members appointed by the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe to review the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the Colombo Port City is also the environmental consultant for the project, which leads to conflict of interest. Environmental Lawyer, Jagath Gunawardana commenting more..

Constitutional reforms in crisis

Feb 22 (CT) SLFP is in two minds regarding the proposals in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said they were wondering whether to support the proposals or not, since the relevant clauses, amend the electoral system, have not been included. Under these circumstances, SLFP says that, 19th Amendment to the Constitution cannot be passed more..

'No girlfriends on foreign service'

Feb 22 (CT) The govt will, within the next fortnight, appoint its diplomatic mission heads world-wide and reinstate the diplomats who were interdicted without valid reasons. Deputy Minister Ajith C. Perera said 70% of the appointments would be members from the Foreign Service and 30% would be professional and intellectuals who can take Sri Lanka forward in the global arena. "We will not, on any ground, appoint relatives, friends, girlfriends and ex-girlfriends to any diplomatic post. more..

Honorary positions under the scanner

Feb 22 (SL) National Executive Council is to review the professorships and other honorary positions granted to various persons by NGOs over the past few years. Committee has agreed to forward these allegations to the recently appointed Center for investigating Bribery and Corruption and to the IGP. Those who received these honorary positions have even been granted stickers to paste on their vehicles. The individuals have used their positions and stickers to paste on their vehicles. more..

Champika fed up

Feb 22 (CT) It has been reported to Ceylon Today that Chief Secretary of the JHU, Minister Champika Ranawaka, is extremely displeased with the govt as they are still following an inactive procedure by not taking legal action against those accused of corruption and fraud, which have been revealed so far. JHU has decided to give a leeway of another month or so, to see whether investigations will be launched into frauds and corruption more..

Smuggling out foreign currency the latest fad

Feb 22 (NS) Undeclared foreign currency amounting to nearly Rs.70 million has been seized by Sri Lanka Customs at the BIA since the beginning of this year, leading officials to suspect that smuggling foreign currency has become the latest trend for smugglers. Customs Director (Legal) Leslie Gamini said four people have been arrested at BIA by Customs officials during the past 2½ months while trying to smuggle foreign currency out of the country. This included one individual who more..

18,000 soldiers to go back to their regiments; no more labourer jobs

Feb 22 (ST) Nearly 18,000 soldiers who were deployed to work on development projects under the former Ministry of Defence and Urban Development will go back to their regiments soon. This is in keeping with the pledge made in the election manifesto of President Maithripala Sirisena who promised to stop the employment of military personnel in occupations that undermine their dignity. The previous govt had deployed around 18,000 military personnel to work in most of more..