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Sri Lanka budget to focus on populist steps ahead of polls

Jan 29 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's new govt will spell out populist measures to cut the cost of living when it unveils a supplementary budget today, but an absence of credible steps to boost revenue could hurt the island nation's fiscal consolidation. New administration of President Sirisena, which ended the decade-long rule of Mahinda Rajapaksa, has pledged to fix a "scary" economy plagued by what it calls faulty data more..

Healthy gift for Independence Day

Jan 29 (DM) After a delay of almost ten years with several attempts to derail or dilute the life-saving move, the Bill to implement Prof. Senake Bibile’s National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP) is finally in shape and will be presented to Parliament next week. It will be one of the healthiest gifts to the people of Sri Lanka to mark the 67th Independence Day in the new Maithripala era of good governance, democracy and social justice. Even last week, as reported in the Daily Mirror, more..

Listeria ride on American apples

Jan 29 (DM) An apple a day will keep the doctor away is a common proverb; but, whether it truly plays a role towards a healthy lifestyle is a question that needs to be probed when considering the recent outbreak of the food borne bacterium Listeria found in American apples. Listeriosis is a fatal illness caused by the bacterium commonly known as Listeria. Sources say that the temporary ban of apples imported to the country from America is only a safety measure taken to more..

HRCSL alerts new govt

Jan 29 (SL) Many national and international human rights activists have observed that Sri Lanka is a country with grave human right violations – the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office also noted recently in an update on the situation during last three months of the last year that concerns over human rights situation of the country still remain. Previous govt was constantly accused of grave human rights violation more..

TNA seeks exclusive body to solve problems faced by Tamils

Jan 29 (CT) The TNA has made a request to President Maithripala Sirisena to appoint an exclusive body to solve the problems of the Tamil speaking people in the North and East. TNA Leader R. Sampanthan said that he will be emphasizing on an exclusive body, to solve the problems of Tamil speaking people when he meets PM Ranil Wickremesinghe next week. Sampanthan added that the party emphasized that lands more..

Cabinet of Ministers: Who is responsible for what?

Jan 29 (ST) Several changes have been made to the subjects and functions assigned to the PM and Cabinet Ministers in the new Government appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena. The President has retained the Defence portfolio as well as the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. Central Bank and the SEC which were under the purview of the Minister of Finance, has been brought under more..

'MR should apologise for Basil’s departure'

Jan 29 (DM) Minister Champika Ranawaka spoke on the anti-corruption drive of the JHU, the corrupt deals that have been exposed so far and for the need to ensure that every individual irrespective of their status, are held accountable for the corruption and financial misappropriations committed during the previous regime. Q: What are the plans that are underway to implement this revolutionary change to more..

Sangakkara 113 sets up Sri Lanka win

Jan 29 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara mounted a sleek 21st ODI hundred on Tillakaratne Dilshan's foundation, to shepherd Sri Lanka toward a consolation victory in Wellington. The visitors were hampered by their own wheezing middle order, and managed only 287 for 5 when a total well over 300 had seemed a possibility for much of the innings. Nonetheless, that total proved 34 runs too many for New Zealand, whose more..

Repeal the PTA: Bishop Joseph

Jan 29 (CT) Mannar Bishop Dr. Rayappu Joseph urged the new govt to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as early as possible and release all the political prisoners through the legal procedure. The Bishop said repealing the draconian law, called the PTA and releasing the political prisoners could be the first step toward a reconciliation process. He said the Tamils have found 'trust' with this govt led by a more..

'Stop mudslinging and prove allegations'

Jan 29 (SL) Former Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena asked the govt to stop mudslinging and conduct impartial investigations if they had committed anything wrong under the Mahinda Rajapaksa govt. He said the govt politicians and the JVP were now vehemently criticizing former President Rajapaksa, his family members, ministers of his govt, MPs, Principals, university lecturers, contractors, etc. more..

Sri Lanka says to return private lands in civil war areas

Jan 29 (AP) Sri Lanka's new govt plans to give back military-held private land in the country's war-ravaged north and release detainees, a minister said, in apparent moves at post-civil war reconciliation with ethnic minority Tamils. Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said that his govt under new President Maithripala Sirisena will ease its military presence, saying that unlike the previous administration that was more..

Elephant calf allegedly kept illegally inside temple premises

Jan 29 (DM) In what is thought to be a clear violation of rules, a two and half year-old elephant calf had been found inside the Alan Mathiniyaramaya Temple in Polhengoda this evening along with another 20-year-old female elephant that was also being kept at the temple. The raid was conducted on the instructions of Deputy Minister Wasantha Senanayake, who had arrived at the spot accompanied by wild life officials and more..

LSSP reiterates commitment to SLFP

Jan 29 (Island) LSSP Chief Prof. Tissa Vitharana reiterated his commitment to the formation of a new SLFP-led govt at the next parliamentary election. He insisted that he wouldn’t under any circumstance join a new political front headed by former President Rajapaksa comprising a section of the SLFP, left political parties for the next parliamentary poll. Since the conclusion of the presidential poll, newly elected President more..

Economic benefits of reopening closed roads

Jan 29 (CT) 'Freedom of movement' is a basic human right. It's enshrined in the UN's Declaration on Human Rights, to which declaration Sri Lanka is a signatory. New UNP/SLFP coalition govt led by SLFP leader and President Maithripala Sirisena and UNP leader and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe knew the importance of practically implementing this right, without paying mere lip service to it. That was the reason why no sooner Sirisena was elected to power at the presidential poll more..

Scientists rebel against reappointing of RRI Chairman

Jan 29 (Island) Scientific Staff Officers Association (SSOA) of Rubber Research Institute has protested against re-appointing of its former Chairman under the new govt. President of SSOA, Dr. U.N. Ratnayake said that former Chairman J.Y. Peries had worked at the RRI from Dec 2005 to Jan 2015, but achieved nothing in one of the premier scientific bodies in the country. "We heard that Mr. Peries is going to be reappointed as the chairman and our union is against the appointment," more..

Goodbye to the first ever lady Chief Justice of Sri Lanka

Jan 29 (CT) My Lady the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court. President Court of Appeal and other Judges of the Court of Appeal. Learned High Court Judges and other Judicial officers. It is with overwhelming pleasure I rise today on behalf of the un-official Bar to convey our deepest gratitude to your ladyship for a battle that you fought at great sacrifice that put two years of your life in to hibernation with much anguish more..

A chequered transition

Jan 29 (CT) Mohan Pieris had to go. Unfortunately the means used to eject him seem too Rajapaksa-like for comfort. After they got rid of Shirani Bandaranayake through an illegal-impeachment, the Rajapaksas could have replaced her with another Supreme Court justice or a legal luminary with some degree of independence. Instead they chose Mohan Peiris, a man infamous as a Rajapaksa-cipher. By doing so the Rajapaksas indicated clearly the subservient and partisan role allotted to more..

First ever Institute of Traditional Plants

Jan 29 (CT) Sri Lanka's first ever Institute of Traditional Plants was launched in Negombo on Tuesday under the patronage of Ton Ton Metal Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, in collaboration with the Japanese Albion Cosmetics (Pvt) Ltd and the Tokyo University of Agriculture. The inaugurated institute will conduct research into indigenous and traditional herbs and medicinal methods, in order to modernize the field in a timely fashion. Sunil Gamage, Consul General of Sri Lanka for Japan, more..

Sri Lanka's new govt plans fresh war crimes probe

Jan 29 (Reuters) Sri Lanka is planning an investigation into accusations of human rights abuses in the final stages of a 26-year civil war amid international frustration at the failure to look into numerous civilian deaths, a govt spokesman said. Former president Rajapaksa, who was ousted in a surprise election defeat this month, had refused to cooperate with any U.N. investigation into claims the army committed atrocities in more..

Health sector salary dispute between docs and others heats up

Jan 29 (Island) The Trade Union Coalition for a Just Society (TUCJS) lashed out at the GMOA claiming that it was the only union that opposed the salary increase of Rs. 5,000 to govt sector employees. Convenor of the TUCJS, Saman Ratnapriya, said that President Maithripala Sirisena had, in his manifesto, pledged to increase the salaries of govt and private sector employees. "He pledged to increase the salaries of govt employees by Rs. 10,000. more..

'Political change at provincial level needed'

Jan 29 (CT) MP and EPDP leader Douglas Devananda said the Tamil people should make a change in Provincial politics similar to that at National level, where they showed interest in the last presidential election. "ITAK Leader Mavai Senathirajah said that a specific time frame has been given to the new govt to solve the issue of the Tamil People. But that is just an eye wash to cheat the people," he said. Devananda added that if there is no proper solution for the problems more..

MR’s sons no longer rugby team captains

Jan 29 (DM) Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s sons Yoshitha and Rohitha are to be removed from the captaincy of the Rugby teams of the Navy and Army respectively, on the instructions of a highly placed official. Instructions had been issued to the relevant officials in this regard. Yoshitha Rajapaksa was the captain of the Navy team and his younger brother Rohitha Rajapaksa was the captain of the Army team. more..

State sector employees receive Rs. 10000 pay hike in two installments

Jan 29 (AM) The new government announced a salary hike of Rs. 5000 for state sector employees effective from February. Finance Minister Ravi karunanayake, in its first budget speech, also said that a further increment of Rs. 5000 will be given to state sector employees in June. He also urged the private sector to grant a salary hike of Rs. 2500 for its employees. Meanwhile, retired state sector employees will also receive a pay hike of Rs. 1000 from April. more..

Proposal to impose 80% pictorial warnings on tobacco packs approved

Jan 29 (NS) Cabinet has approved a proposal made by Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senaratne to make it compulsory for tobacco companies to cover 80% of the surface area of tobacco packs with pictorial health warnings. Accordingly, the proposal made by the minister to revise clause No. 34 of the National Authority Bill on Tobacco and Spirits to include information on the danger of health hazards that could be caused by the use of tobacco products in the packs containing tobacco products and more..

Sripavan; Second Tamil to become Lankan Chief Justice

Jan 29 (ENS) Justice Kanakasabapathi Sripavan will be the second Tamil to be Chief Justice of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court when he takes over on Friday following the retirement of Shirani Bandaranayake. The first Tamil to hold the highest judicial post in Sri Lanka was Suppiah Sharvananda, who served between 1984 and 1988. Born in 1952, Sripavan was educated at the Jaffna Hindu College and Law College in Colombo. more..

Joint trade union alliance accuses govt of reneging on key promise

Jan 29 (Island) Joint Secretary of the joint trade union alliance Anton Marcus on Tuesday accused the new govt of reneging on one of its key promises to increase the salaries of private sector employees by Rs, 5,000. Marcus, who a prime mover of the alliance of 16 trade unions said he with a few key trade unionists had a discussion with Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake in his office and the Minister had claimed that he had no jurisdiction to compel the private sector employers to grant more..

Wigi, Swire discuss situ in Jaffna

Jan 29 (CG) Northern Province CM C V Wigneswaran and British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire met in Jaffna today and discussed the situation in the north. Wigneswaran said that at the meeting, the issue over the military presence in the north including on private land being occupied by the army, was discussed. At the meeting Wigneswaran had said that the Tamils were concerned over comments made by the new Govt that the army will not be immediately withdrawn from the north. more..

TNA rejects domestic probe

Jan 29 (IANS) Sri Lanka's main Tamil party Thursday said it would oppose any domestic inquiry into the alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the country's civil war and reiterated its call for an international probe. TNA spokesperson Suresh Premachandran said that the Tamil minorities in the island nation had no faith or trust in a domestic inquiry, noting that numerous domestic commissions were futile in the past. more..

Govt is to make a promise

Jan 29 (CG) Govt is to make a special statement during the 67th Independence Day Celebrations to be held on 4th Feb, where is will assure the public that a situation similar to that which occurred during the war will not take place in future. Cabinet of Ministers approved the joint proposal made by Acting Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera and Minister of Home Affairs and Fisheries Joseph Michael Perera to make the statement on Peace at the 67th Independence Day Celebrations. more..

Sri Lankan shares end lower

Jan 29 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares fell on Thursday from a near two-week closing high the previous session, led by John Keells Holdings after the new govt cancelled approval for it to help build a casino, brokers said. PM Ranil Wickramasinghe on Thursday said the new govt had blocked three casinos approved by the previous administration, including a $400-million project by Australian gaming mogul James Packer's Crown Resorts Ltd and John Keells Holdings Water Front properties. more..

EU agrees to help Sri Lanka lift ban

Jan 29 (CG) The European Commission has offered Sri Lanka assistance to meet the regulatory requirements that would enable an early lifting of the ban on fish exports to the EU. This follows talks held between Sri Lanka and the European Commission. Minister Mangala Samaraweera, concluded a two day official visit to Brussels today. He met Belgian Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders more..

16,700 graduates to get new jobs

Jan 29 (CT) Deputy Minister Dr Harsha de Silva, said the 16,700 graduates who were formerly employed at the Ministry of Economic Development would be transferred to other areas of the public service. According to the Deputy Minister, these graduates were given permanent govt employment for a salary of Rs 28,000 per month with very little work to do. "They were mostly reading books and idling away their time," he stated. In the meantime, General Secretary of Graduate Employees' more..

Dhanapala briefs Ra’ad Hussein

Jan 29 (CG) Jayantha Dhanapala, Senior Advisor on Foreign Affairs to President Sirisena, met the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in Geneva today, and briefed him on the policies of the newly elected Govt. The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland said that also met the President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Rücker, as well as all members of the Human Rights Council in Groups. more..

Sri Lanka bans planned luxury casinos

Jan 29 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's new govt has blocked three casinos approved by previous administration, among them a $400-million project by Australian gaming mogul James Packer's Crown Resorts Ltd. Widely-expected move redeems an election pledge by new President Maithripala Sirisena to cancel the Crown Resorts licence. Sirisena won a Jan. 8 election, ending a decade of authoritarian rule by President Rajapaksa. more..

SL to probe tax-arbitraging car assemblers

Jan 29 (EN) The govt will probe car assembly firms in Sri Lanka for alleged tax avoidance, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said while creating space for similar businesses in three wheelers and motor cycles. A committee made up of Commissioner General of Motor Traffic, Department of Commerce Director General and Auditor General, Attorney General will be appointed to investigate this matter. There have been reports that some vehicle assembly companies, which imported parts more..

New budget brings consessions

Jan 29 (CG) The interim budget of the new Govt, which was presented to Parliament today , saw several concessions being announced including a reduction in the price of a 12.5kg domestic gas cylinder, sugar, milk powder and Kerosene. 15:29 – Sri Lankan Airlines losses over past 5 years Rs 100bn. Mihin Airlines losses over past 5 years Rs. 15bn. The 2 airlines will be merged to increase productivity; 15:28 – Pension scheme for Self employed persons; more..

Sri Lanka's revenue deficit expands, budget deficit at 4.4%

Jan 29 (EN) Sri Lanka newly elected administration said it will keep the budget deficit at 4.4% of GDP but the revenue deficit has deteriorated by 149 billion rupees from an already over-ambitious surplus projeced by the last regime. Minister Ravi Karunanayake said total revenues would be revised down to 1,622 billion rupees for 2015 from 1,689 billion rupees projected in a budget by the ousted Rajapaksa regime amid more..

Smaller vehicle prices down through interim budget

Jan 29 (AD) The interim budget of the new govt proposed to reduce the import tax on motor vehicle of less than 1,000cc engine capacity. Depreciation tax value on the import of hybrid motor vehicles would be removed from midnight today. Sri Lanka Motor Vehicle Importers’ Association chairman Indika Merinchege said through the removal of depreciation tax value would mean something like increasing the tax by 10% imposed on import of around a 2-year old hybrid vehicle. more..

Heavy one-time taxes on Casino, Satellite TV Networks, Telcos, CSN

Jan 29 (AM) In what seems to be a Robin Hood budget, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake imposed heavy one time taxes on Casino owners, satellite television networks and sports TV channels. Casino owners in the country, irrespective of their dates of registration, have been hit with a one-time payment of Rs. 1 billion. Carlton Sports Network (CSN) which was owned by the former President's son, Yoshitha Rajapaksa has also been hit with a Rs.1 billion one-time tax. more..

Sri Lanka cuts taxes on consumer goods, building material, cars

Jan 29 (EN) Sri Lanka cut taxes on over a dozen consumer goods ranging from sugar, milk powder and canned fish in the interim budget for 2015 presented by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and removing Customs duties on cement and steel. Govt is expected to lose 92.4 billion rupees as a result of these reductions, but one of taxes were slammed on large corporates, telecom firms and television channels, but more..