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Better governance helps Foreign Ministry cut costs, improve savings

July 21 (FT) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has managed to slash costs by Rs. 790 million or 16.6% in the first six months of 2015 ending in June, with a huge chunk of that saving comprising reduced foreign travel by the President. Cumulative costs incurred by Ministry from Jan-June 2015 stand at Rs. 3.96 billion, down from 4.75 billion during the same period last year. Ministry could record a projected savings of up to Rs. 1 billion by more..

Probe sought over reports on Sri Lankan ISIS militant

July 21 (CG) Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL), on behalf of the Muslim Community has expresses its deep dismay at media reports of the first Sri Lankan killed in battle in Syria with the Islamic State (IS) militants. In a letter to President Sirisena, MCSL said that the group of extremists who call themselves the caliphate or Islamic State (Formerly ISIS) is a threat to Islam and the group violates both Sharia law & humanitarian law. more..

Lankans among those seeking Swiss asylum

July 21 (TL) The latest statistics from the State Secretariat for Migration SEM show 11,873 applications between January and the end of June – up 16 per cent on the same period last year. More people requested asylum in the second quarter than the first, with June registering a bumper 3,805 applications. The SEM said the increase in the second quarter was mainly down to higher number of Eritreans arriving from southern Italy. more..

'MR called early polls on PBJ’s advice'

July 21 (Island) Minister Champika Ranawaka has alleged that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had called for an early presidential election on the advice of then Treasury Secretary Dr P. B. Jayasundera. The UPFA and the JVP were represented by Susil Premjayantha and Vijitha Herath, respectively. The then President’s astrologer Sumanasiri Abeygunawardena has been widely accused of misleading the former leader. more..

Video: Akila challenges MR for a debate

July 21 (DM) UNFGG Kurunegala District candidate Akila Viraj Kariyawasam today challenged UPFA rival in the District former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for a public debate. Minister of Education Kariyawasam told a news briefing that he was willing to face the former President for a debate on any TV channel. He said he was willing to debate on the promises given by the former President during his term in office. more..

Yahapalanaya’s political diplomats

July 21 (ST) After taking over as Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera pledged that 70% of Sri Lanka’s missions abroad will be headed by career diplomats. Six months later, he has fallen well short of that target. Some stations that have long been manned by senior Foreign Service officers — such as Beijing and Vienna — are now to be administered by political appointees. The practice of sending non-career diplomats more..

EU observers call for violence free polls

July 21 (CG) European Union (EU) election observers called for a violence free election as they formally began work ahead of the Parliament election. Chief Observer Cristian Preda, speaking to reporters in Colombo today, said that the EU observers will not give special focus on any part of the country during its mission. “We are here for many weeks and I am sure the experience of our experts will be very useful for the analysis of more..

Police impartiality

July 21 (CT) Yesterday this newspaper reported that the police detected a haul of cannabis in one of the security vehicles of UPFA Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister (CM) Mahipala Herath's on Friday. This is an instance of misuse and abuse of power. One will not expect a vehicle detailed for the security of a VIP to be engaged in unlawful activities. This detection was made possible due to a tip off. The Police act on hunches and tip offs. They also do act on leads. But detection of Mahipala Herath cannabis more..

Surcharge those responsible for Mattala Airport cost

July 21 (CT) The Mattala Airport is a colossal waste of public funds. It was estimated to cost US$ 210 million. It was entirely the idea and work of Mahinda Rajapaksa. There is no evidence that he consulted any technical officials in the airport and air navigation field. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) (also known as the Hambantota International Airport) (IATA: HRI, ICAO: VCRI) is an international airport serving the city of Hambantota in southeast Sri Lanka. more..

Daily Mirror Cartoon

Southern Expressway: Govt applies for USD 90 Mn. loan from China Exim Bank

July 21 (Island) The govt has applied for a preferential loan of around USD 90 million from the Chinese Exim Bank for consultancy expenses connected with the extension of the Southern Expressway. China Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka (CHCSL) sources told The Island that China Exim Bank had received the loan application from the Finance Ministry last week. "The preferential loan of around USD 90 million is being sought at an interest rate of 2%. more..

Premadasa Stadium: Security mesh to enclose block C, D

July 21 (DM) A security mesh will be installed at the R. Premadasa Stadium enclosing block C and D as a measure to prevent objects being thrown into or out of the stadium, the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said today. SLC Secretary Prakash Schaffter said they would do their best to complete the work before the next ODI cricket match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan scheduled to be held at the Stadium tomorrow. A tense situation prevailed when two groups of spectators clashed during more..

'Sri Lanka not very concerned about monetary policy due to low inflation'

July 21 (EN) Sri Lanka can maintain low inflation and interest rates and has space to cut rates if economic growth dips and monetary policy was not a concern, Deputy Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said. "Now we are ensuring the lowest ever interest rates in this country. Because inflation has been low, we have been relaxing monetary policy," Weerasinghe told a business forum at the CCC in Colombo. more..

Elections Chief puts fetter on candidates who do not declare their assets

July 21 (Island) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said that he would not issue candidate identity cards to contestants who failed to submit their asset declarations to the election secretariat. Deshapriya said he had informed the general secretaries of the parties of his decision when they met him yesterday at the Election Secretariat. He said that a large numbers of candidates including those from the two main parties were yet to submit their asset declarations. more..

Stocks slip for second day; earnings eyed

July 21 (Reuters) Stocks edged down on Tuesday, marking their second straight loss as investors stayed on the sidelines awaiting cues from June-quarter corporate earnings. Main stock index ended down 0.03%, or 2.27 points, at 7,145.59. It closed at its highest since June 1 on Friday as hopes of political stability after the Aug 17 parliamentary polls lifted sentiment. Turnover stood at 334.8 million rupees, lowest since July 14 and well below this year's daily average of 1.06 billion rupees. more..

Mathews backs misfiring bowling attack

July 21 (CI) Captain Angelo Mathews said offspinner Sachithra Senanayake's reduced potency following remedial work on his action was among the reasons he had not been picked so far in the series. Sri Lanka's bowling has ailed against Pakistan so far, prompting calls for personnel changes, but Mathews felt they were already using their best bowlers. Senanayake was suspended for exceeding 15-degree flexion limit last year, more..

Suspect nabbed at BIA In bid to flee country after raping a minor

July 21 (CT) One suspect involved in the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl was arrested yesterday while trying to leave the country from the BIA. Police investigations are currently underway in search of 4 other suspects inclusive of a female, who are suspects in the gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl in the Batapola, Meetiyagoda area. The 15 year old victim had been manipulated by her boyfriend's sister, and was taken to a hotel, where four individuals had subjected her to gang rape. more..

OICs showing any political favouritism to receive lightning transfers

July 21 (Island) Senior DIG in charge of elections, Gamini Navaratne said that any Officer in Charge of police stations would be transferred out immediately if found associating with or favouring any candidates at the general election. They would be transferred out immediately and made to face disciplinary inquiries against them. He said the police headquarters had already received information of OICs of several stations being biased towards some candidates of both main parties. more..

Ranil slams Transparency Sri Lanka: No politics at PM’s office

July 21 (CT) PM’s office has today criticized Transparency International Sri Lanka for submitting a misleading letter to the the Elections Commissioner and the media, which accused the PM’s office being used for politics. Rejecting the claim the PM’s office wrote to Transparency International SL and stated that legal advice was sought prior to the signing of the MOU between the UNP and other UNFGG member parties. more..

FSP asks Ranil whether he is practising what he once preached

July 21 (Island) The FSP called upon PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to tell the country whether he was not using resources entitled to him as the Prime Minister for electioneering. Politburo member of the FSP and Gampaha District candidate Chameera Koswatte on Sunday addressing an election rally held at Bentara said Wickremesinghe as the then leader of the Opposition had found fault with former President Rajapaksa of using the resources of the president’s office for electioneering. more..

'Investigations on former Govt not suspended'

July 21 (CG) Govt says investigations into allegations of corruption and fraud by the former Govt are continuing. Minister Palitha Range Bandara said that the allegations into some members of the former regime are being closely looked into. He said that more and more information has been unearthed with regards to the alleged large scale fraud committed by the former Govt. However Range Bandara said that the law will be strictly followed and the current Govt will not take more..

Sri Lanka’s new President has a plan for everything, except media reform

July 21 (LA) All kinds of newspaper columnists’ tropes slide easily into a review of Sri Lankan opposition coalition candidate Maithripala Sirisena’s unexpected and virtually peaceful election win over incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week. Strong tests have been set for the new president, the first 100 days have been found to be key, his coalition will be fragile and time will tell, but let us hope wise counsel will prevail. more..

Dominant Pakistan look to seal series

July 21 (CI) Some time in the past year, tables have turned, boots have switched feet, and these teams have exchanged personalities. So far in the series, Pakistan have been defined by consistency. Someone in the top three has found a way to make runs, the men in the middle have contributed, and Shoaib Malik has tapped into his experience to prove a canny finisher. Sri Lanka meanwhile, have relied on the spectacular performances - like Kusal Perera's in Pallekele - to remain competitive. more..

How shrimp farming wreaked havoc in SL

July 21 (IFL) We are not far from the ocean here. The air smells of salt and sulphur, of marine life. But the square of black, cracked mud in front of us, bounded by its four crumbling walls of sand, is no place for living things. It was previously a pond for cultivating tiger prawns, the lucrative species that was the reason for cutting the lush mangrove forest that once covered this area. The recent history of this abandoned place is sadly representative of the story of thousands of hectares in this region more..

'JVP attempts to mislead voters'

July 21 (AD) Former President Rajapaksa issuing a statement on Tuesday charged that the JVP speakers have been trying to mislead voters by saying that there was no point in voting for the UPFA because Mahinda Rajapaksa could lose his civic rights. Statement said, “Speaking at an election meeting, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that president Sirisena had told him that if a Presidential Commission more..

SLMC woos predominantly Sinhala villages

July 21 (CT) Three Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC) candidates, contesting under the UNP ticket at the General Election, from Digamadulla District, were accorded a rousing welcome by the Sinhala villages of Ampara, Dehiettakandiya and Maha Oya and assured of their fullest support. When SLMC's former MPs Fizal Cassim, H.M.M Harees and M.I.M Munsoor visited these villages and their supporters greeted them and listened to their talks in various pocket meetings organized by them. more..

Programme to encourage differently abled to vote

July 21 (Island) A programme has been launched by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) together with the Election Commission and Ministry of Home Affairs to encourage differently abled citizens of the country to exercise their franchise at the forthcoming general election following the Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya’s special circular, Manjula Gajanayake, National Co-ordinator of CMEV, said. 900 Grama Niladaris in six districts would be trained in partnership with more..

Video: Probe source of funding to Muslim extremists: BBS

July 21 (DM) The BBS urged the govt to investigate the alleged funds that were coming to Muslim extremists and expose them to the country. “It should investigate how the funds are coming to them, from which countries and for what and publish the details to the country,” Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera said. “Most of the problems are created because of not revealing to the public facts relating to the Welikada, more..

MR misleads people by telling lies

July 21 (CT) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who nurtured the LTTE in the latter stages of the war, has the audacity to accuse the UNP Govt of doing the same, said the deputy leader of the UNP, and Minister Sajith Premadasa. Addressing a crowd at Agunukolapelessa, Hambantota at a campaign meeting, he also said all the subsequent govts since the inception of the LTTE terrorism have done their utmost to contain their brutal activities. "Former President accused UNP of nurturing LTTE. more..

Lankan navy attacks Tamil Nadu fishermen

July 21 (PTI) Sri Lankan naval personnel on Tuesday allegedly assaulted three local fishermen and snatched their mobile phones while they were fishing in Lankan waters, police said. Quoting one of the victim fisherman Jenold, police said that the men were fishing in Lankan waters when the naval personnel asked them to leave. The naval personnel jumped into their boats, allegedly attacked them and snatched their mobile phones even as the fishermen were getting ready to leave, police said. more..

Rajapaksa deciding to flee Habmantota not surprising: UNP

July 21 (AD) Former Minister Dilip Wedaarachchi, says that it is not surprising that Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to flee from Hambantota because he failed to provide the much needed water supply scheme, a programme to develop agriculture and improve the livestock industry in his hometown district. Former President had stated at a meeting held in Mawathagama recently that he decided to contest more..

Tea Smallholder Factories makes loss in June quarter

July 21 (EN) Tea Smallholder Factories, which makes black tea from tea leaves bought from small farmers, slipped into the red in the June 2015 quarter as the prolonged slump in commodity prices took its toll. Firm made a loss of 326,000 rupees in the June 2015 quarter compared with a profit of 19.4 million a year ago, a stock exchange filing said. Sales fell 18% to 516 million rupees during the quarter, said the firm which is controlled by John Keells Holdings with a 37.62% stake more..

Trade union boss flay Rajapaksa

July 21 (Island) Joint Convenor of Civic Organisations and Trade union Alliances (JCCO&TUA), Saman Ratnapriya said that the country could not afford to dwell on the international diaspora and the LTTE as it was time to move forward. Ratnapriya said that the duty of the govt to be elected next month was to refrain from living in the past and move forward and forge ethnic harmony. Citing the example of South African leader, Nelson Mandela, he said that more..

Three army personnel arrested in white van

July 21 (AD) The police on Monday have arrested three armed army soldiers in civvies who were travelling in a white-coloured van with fake number plates. Suspects were arrested by a patrolling team attached to the Mirihana police last evening at around 7.30 p.m. ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said. Arrested soldiers have been identified as personnel attached to the personal security squad of a Major General. more..

Don’t let MR & RW insult your intelligence

July 22 (CT) MR destroyed people’s watchdogs to rob the wealth of the nation. In 2001, a Constitutional Council (with five members appointed on the nominations of both the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition) was setup by CBK’s 17th Amendment to ensure the independence of the watchdogs (Judiciary, Auditor General, Attorney General, Election Commission, Human Rights Commission, Corruption Commission, Finance Commission & Delimitation Commission etc). more..

Battle challenges for Mahinda Rajapaksa

July 22 (CT) This election will be recorded in the history of Sri Lankan politics as an election that was largely fair and balanced in its overall conduct. Can former President Mahinda Rajapaksa make a comeback in the present political landscape? Mahinda Rajapaksa enters this election without his previous unlimited state resources. He does not have state media or any other state resources in his disposition. In fact, state media has become very critical for the former President as more..

Political parties clean their stables

July 22 (SO) With the conclusion of handing over nominations for the August 17 Parliamentary Election, several prominent politicians ended up disappointed due to not being accommodated. While it may not be a serious disappointment for those who made their first ever appearance before a party nomination board, it is not so for those who have held portfolios and senior positions in the party. Several political parties have decided against more..

End communal politics: Hameed

July 22 (SO) The All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) led by Rishard Bathiudeen will field candidates in seven districts on the UNP while contesting under its own symbol in the Ampara District, ACMC general Secretary, Y.L.S. Hameed said. The ACMC will collaborate with the UNP in Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Wanni, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala and Puttalam Districts, he added. "A total of 25 candidates will contest from the ACMC. The highest number 10 will be in Ampara," more..

'Kalmunai, a separate administrative district'

July 22 (SO) The SLMC is currently working out a manifesto that reflects political, social and religious aspirations of the Muslim community, SLMC General Secretary and State Minister M.T. Hasan Ali said. It will take about a week for this process to be completed, he said adding that the basic aspirations of the SLMC are also reflected in the MOU that was signed recently with the UNP. The SLMC is contesting the Vanni and Batticaloa electoral districts on its party symbol Tree while more..

'I don’t have money for polls campaign'

July 22 (SL) Senior SLFPer, Minister Reginald Cooray announced that he had decided not to contest at the upcoming election due to the lack of funds to carry out his election campaign under preferential voting system. According to him, politics in the country under the present system has further deteriorated and he does not have a colossal amount of money, unlike other candidates, to spend on his election campaign. more..