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Borrowing for four months nears the whole year limit

June 21 (ST) Sri Lankan Govt spending is running out of control with local and foreign borrowings soaring to more than Rs 1.7 trillion during the first four months of this year – an amount approaching the full year’s borrowing limit, Finance Ministry figures reveal. The total amount of loans taken by the Govt in little over 120 days (upto April) is around 96% of the total borrowing limit of the 2015 budget, a senior Finance Ministry official said, more..

Somawansa to form broadest front

June 21 (SO) Somawansa Amarasinghe, former JVP leader who quit the party in April said he will form the broadest and strongest progressive anti-imperialist front in Sri Lanka with the support of progressive movements in the country at the national convention on June 27. He said that political movements which are not yet political parties had discussions with him to form a broader alliance to contest the next general election. “The name of the party will be decided on at the convention more..

Low quality Cement imported

June 21 (SL) Sri Lanka Cement Corporation has warned customers of low quality cement being imported to the local market. Working Director of Sri Lanka Cement Corporation (SLCC) and Lanka Cement, Reyyaz Salley said that customers should be warned about the low quality cement imported to the local market. “There is low quality cement sold at a very low price in Sri Lankan market. Customers need to be informed about this growing trend of importing low quality cement,” he warned. more..

Mattala Airport will not be shut down

June 21 (NF) Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, deputy minister of Civil Aviation Service, says the Mattala International Airport will not be shutdown. Deputy minister, who inspected the airport today, noted that instead, relief will be provided in order to attract aviation companies. Airport opened Feb 18, 2013 and has been restricted to one flight per day. The airport was built with Chinese funds aimed at facilitating more..

Political leaders swim in stormy seas...

June 21 (CT) Political centre stage looked confused over the past week with signals going in many directions. President Maithripala Sirisena sent shock waves into the calm UNP Sea when Maithri announced at Dambadeniya that he had not entered into any agreement with the UNP, and had not given any assurance that he would make Ranil Wickremesinghe the PM in the next Parliament. He told the SLFP organizers there that if the party stood divided the UNP would form a govt at more..

The Possible Second Date

June 21 (CT) At a recent media briefing on Cabinet Affairs, Cabinet Spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne revealed his latest appointment. As the SLFP's first ever chairman to spearhead the Election Nominations Committee he revealed that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa would not be given nominations for the upcoming election. He made this statement on behalf of President Maithripala Sirisena, who had apparently declined to give his predecessor election nominations more..

Muzammil lifts Gotas ban: Colombo open to pavement hawkers

June 21 (CT) Charging that politicians are playing with the lives of pavement hawkers, Colombo Mayor, A.J.M. Muzammil executing powers vested in him as the City Father lifting the ban imposed earlier by former Urban Development and Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed the IGP, N.K. Illangakoon to allow pavement hawkers back to business on the pavements of Colombo. more..

Central Bank may re- examine finance company ratings by LRA

June 21 (ST) Central Bank (CB) is considering re-examining all the ratings done on finance companies by crisis-hit Lanka Ratings Agency (LRA), following the latter’s rating suspension by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and its withdrawal of the EAP Broadcasting Company Ltd rating, CB sources said. “Over 30 finance companies were rated by LRA out of the 45 that are licensed by CB. We want to find out the details of these ratings,” a CB official said. more..

Plantation worker wage increase: No significant breakthrough

June 21 (SO) The third round of talks on revising the biennial Collective Agreement (CA) on wage increase to the plantation workers is scheduled for June 22, with no signs of any significant breakthrough on the rigid stand of the two negotiating sides - the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) and the three plantation trade unions representing the workers - according to informed sources. The CA having expired on March 31, first round of talks were held on April 24, more..

Rajapaksa rejects Sirisena’s distinguished post offer

June 21 (ST) Former President Rajapaksa has rejected an offer by his successor Maithripala Sirisena to appoint him to a distinguished office if he quits politics. Offer was made by President Sirisena to a six-member Committee of the SLFP on Friday. Committee, named at the SLFP’s National Executive Council meeting chaired by Mr Sirisena on Tuesday, was to evolve ways and means of bringing about unity more..

MR shuffles pack for Premiership ?

June 21 (CT) Several sources close to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he had decided to substitute front–runners Wimal Weerawansha, Dinesh Gunawardena, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Udaya Gammanpila with a powerful new frontline group drawn from the SLFP to secure the PM candidacy nomination for himself at the upcoming General Election. Rajapaksa's primary reason for this course correction was spurred by the attendance of many powerful figures of SLFP more..

AH1N1 kills 24 to date

June 21 (CT) At least 24 deaths have been positively identified as being caused by the rampaging influenza virus A-H1N1 over the past few months island-wide. 10 of the 24 victims had been pregnant women. Any pregnant woman develops flu-like symptoms she should immediately seek medical care. The need for immediate medical treatment, if a suspect patient's condition does not improve within 48 hours, in order to avoid pregnancy complications or even death. more..

How can UPFA nominate MR as prime ministerial candidate?, asks Maithri

June 21 (Island) President Sirisena, breaking his silence for the first time, has told SLFP seniors that former President Rajapaksa cannot be nominated as the UPFA’s PM candidate because he had been rejected by the people for running  a lawless and corrupt govt. "How do you expect me to nominate Mahinda as our PM candidate when the vast majority of people have voted against him for not adhering to good governance, rule of law more..

Elephant Anjalee a walking ambassador for zoo's Sri Lankan efforts

June 21 (Stuff) Elephants are so clever that they'll test the pulse of an electric fence with a stick and knock it down if it's not working. Using electric fences to prevent human-elephant conflict is the kind of initiative Auckland Zoo's Conservation Fund has been supporting in Sri Lanka. The zoo's newest baby, eight-year-old Asian elephant Anjalee, is set to be the latest public face of its wildlife preservation efforts. Anjalee is due in Auckland this week after spending 3 months in quarantine in Niue. more..

MSD back in the fold to procure vital oncology drugs

June 21 (Island) Health Ministry’s Medical Supplies Division (MSD) has been brought back into the process of procuring life-saving oncology drugs for the Maharagama National Cancer Institute (NCI) following a spate of hiccups in acquiring supplies. MSD handled this task earlier, but provision was later made for the NCI itself to procure stocks of vital drugs depending on the requirements, they recalled. "This not only resulted in a breakdown of supplies, but also led to allegations of corruption". more..

Heavy wait battle: Sirisena wants to wait, but UNP cannot

June 21 (ST) President Maithripala Sirisena was in Ampara last Sunday when news reached him about the contents of Sunday Times (Political Commentary). He was briefed about the remarks made by Dinesh Gunawardena, a close ally of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and leader of the MEP, a partner in the UPFA. Gunawardena had said in a Q & A that a new political front was in the making under the leadership of Rajapaksa. more..

The President vetoes SLFP ticket to ‘Bring Mahinda Back’! What next?

June 21 (Island) It seemed official and final when the media reported that President Sirisena has rejected the supplications to let his predecessor run for PM. Leave aside becoming PM, there will be no SLFP ticket for Mahinda Rajapaksa, or a spot on National List, even to become an MP. Not to be outdone, the former President is said to have indicated his intention to form his own group and run for parliament (and for PM). Latest development is that the six-member SLFP nomination committee more..

2/3rds passage for 20A

June 21 (CT) This newspaper yesterday reported that nearly 20 minority parties will file plaint in Court against the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) which seeks to dilute the present proportional representation (PR) based system of elections introduced by the Second Republican Constitution of 1978. These developments are in the backdrop that the govt had Gazetted 20A last week with a general election round the corner. 20A is the brainchild of the opposition comprising more..

Mystery deepens over Shiranthi’s Prados

June 21 (ST) An accident in the south involving a Prado SUV bearing unauthorised red licence plates on June 9 is baring some stunning details. Last week, former President Rajapaksa admitted that “this vehicle was one among many imported duty-free into the country by the World Food Programme in the wake of the 2004 December Tsunami. They were released immediately to the WFP for emergency relief more..

Jaffna Authorities act fast against alarming hike in alcohol, drugs use

June 21 (ST) Police in the Jaffna district have undertaken special round-the-clock patrolling and formulated an Anti-drug plan to eradicate this menace from the region, said a senior police official. Newly appointed Headquarters Inspector (HQI) of Jaffna, Fredrick Woodler, said he has started awareness campaigns on the use of these dangerous drugs in all the schools in the district. “We have identified issues in more..

Kshenuka cleared, will be ambassador in Thailand

June 21 (Island) Following the submission of an investigation report initiated by the Ministry of External Affairs through the facilitation of the Public Service Commission, Ms. Kshenuka Senewiratne, Additional Secretary to the Ministry has been cleared of all allegations leveled against her over a period of several months regarding the refurbishment of the residence to the Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva during more..

Basil denies Money in Dubai

June 21 (CT) Basil Rajapaksa, ex-Minister of Economic Development who is out on bail facing allegations of misuse of Divi Neguma funds said, that he has no money in Vietnam or anywhere else and added claims to the contrary were total lies. "I have no money here nor have I transferred money to Vietnam. it's a total lie," he said at the Merchants' Ward of 'National Hospital – Colombo' where he is being treated for a spinal problem. more..

Billions worth of assets stashed overseas

June 21 (NS) Foreign assets amounting to billions of rupees allegedly in the hands of the former directors of the Golden Key Credit Card Company should also be confiscated in order to pay off the depositors, Golden Key All Depositors Association President Dushanthi Hapugoda said. While welcoming the govt’s agreement to repay 41% of the moneys belonging to depositors of Golden Key Credit Card Company, more..

Minister Amunugama signs science and technology agreement with China

June 21 (Island) Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama signed an agreement of mutual co-operation in the field of science and technology with the Minister of Science & Technology of China, Prof. Wan Gang during an official visit to Beijing from June 12-14. Two important MoUs were entered into with the Chinese authorities during this visit. One was on the establishment of a Sri Lanka-China Joint Laboratory on Biotechnology while more..

Fresh questions over Sri Lanka budget deficit, national debt numbers

June 21 (EN) Sri Lanka is discovering spending commitments in roads and water of as much as 800 billion rupees which were apparently not passed through a parliament approved budget allocations, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. So far road spending of 510 billion rupees, which were apparently off-budget have been discovered, he said. Karunanayake said Highways Minister Kabir Hashim had a team more..

CAA to unshelve leading paint brands

June 21 (NS) The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) will begin a crackdown on paint manufacturers who flout regulations on lead content next week and resort to pulling certain brands off the shelves, CAA’s Information Director Chandrika Thilakaratne said. “We are collecting samples of paint and will test them to verify if they contain the high levels of lead which is revealed in a new research,” she said. There was a legal ruling which prevented more..

Constitutional Council in limbo

June 21 (NS) The Constitutional Council (CC), the body empowered under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to set up the independent commissions, is currently in limbo amid bitter divisions in the government and opposition ranks. Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that the govt was trying its best to persuade sections of the opposition to agree to a proposal which suggests the names of three civil people to the council. more..

20A: Revolt by smaller parties

June 21 (ST) Minor and minority parties will meet PM Ranil Wickremesinghe today to protest over the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution, party representatives said. The meeting will be a prelude to a discussion with President Maithripala Sirisena tomorrow where they will call for the withdrawal of the 20th Amendment that seeks to change the electoral system. In the event of the failure to secure an assurance more..

Best run rate, most stumpings for Pakistan

June 21 (CI) 17: Total Tests that have ended with a result after the first day saw no play. Seven such Tests have been played since 2000; the last two being between England and New Zealand in 2013, and India and Australia in Mohali in 2013. 8.11: Pakistan's run rate during their chase of 90. They scored 92 runs off 11.2 overs. This is the best run rate in Test history for any team batting at least 10 overs. No team had previously scored at a run rate of more than eight. more..

Naduwa or Naduth Hamuduruwange Baduth Hamuduruwange?

June 21 (Islnd) The state owned ITN recently aired a live program titled Naduwa. It was an interview of Mr Arjuna Mahendran, Governor of the Central Bank hereafter referred to as AM by Mr Mahesh Senanayake, a Marketing Manager in a mercantile establishment experienced in TV presentations but not experienced in the workings of financial markets. The topic was the much talked about alleged Treasury Bond scam which resulted in AM taking a leave of absence from office more..

Rathna Sri Wijesinghe

Chairman of Bribery Commission must go

June 21 (Island) Most readers would undoubtedly be aware that, other than in respect of routine administrative matters, no outsider should ask a Commissioner or employee of an Independent Commission to discuss with him matters relating to the work being carried out by it. No room is provided for any unauthorized person to go into specific matters pertaining to an investigation or other related issues until such time as the Commission concerned has reached a firm and more..

What is Wigneswaran’s game plan?

June 21 (Island) An editorial in the Tamil newspaper Valampuri of 6 June said in translation: "We observe recent speeches of the CM are unusual... he has a habit of severely criticising President Maithiripala Sirisena... the CM has already spoilt his relationship with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe... why does the Chief Minister, who never blamed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in this way, blame President Maithiripala Sirisena? Is this stand for the purpose of supporting more..

Keheliya accuses Rajitha of telling lies

June 21 (CG) Former cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella has accused current cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne of telling lies over a meeting held last week to discuss the future of the SLFP. Senaratne told reporters at the post cabinet press conference on Thursday that during the SLFP meeting President Maithripala Sirisena had said that former President Rajapaksa will not receive nominations more..

Presidential Commission staff-crunched

June 21 (CT) Presidential Commission has received more than 800 complaints against heads of govt organizations, statutory boards and corporations. But the Commission is unable to investigate these allegations because of a shortage of Police personnel, sources said. Secretary of this Commission, Lacille de Silva, said petitions had been received against many politicians at Pradeshiya Sabha and Provincial level in connection with serious misuse of govt resources. more..

Probe to uncover politician behind them

June 21 (CT) A secret probe has been launched to expose the political hand behind the wave of murders last year in Kotakethana, Kahawatte Minister John Amaratunga said. He said that one could not ignore the statement made by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in parliament to the effect that there was a politician behind these killings. Amaratunga added that a Police report has been called for in this connection and will be used in the inquiry to uncover the identity of who more..

Importers & exporters stagger as dollar rises

June 21 (ST) The depreciation of the rupee against the dollar has pushed up prices of drugs, imported food and essential goods, with the impact felt hardest in the housing sector. President of the National Chamber of Commerce, Tilak Godamanna, said imported products were going up in price not only because of the appreciating dollar but also because of the duty component charged by Customs on the rupee value. more..

N’Eliya powerless after winds blow ancient tree onto electricity pylons

June 21 (ST) A 100-year-old tree has crashed on four electricity poles in Paranakada Vidiya in Nuwara Eliya, before landing on a parked van, when it was uprooted by high winds, cutting power supplies to the whole of Nuwara Eliya yesterday morning. The Sri Lanka Electricity Board was up and about all day trying to remedy the situation which was caused by North-West winds creating havoc in the district since Monday. The Timber Corporation has cleared the roads of branches. more..

Public awareness on Cancer, Health issues- College of Surgeons

June 21 (ST) Raising awareness among the public on important Health issues including Cancer, and the dangers associated with seeking medical treatment from unqualified practitioners, will be among the highlights at several upcoming events organised by the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka. Among the events will be a photography exhibition as well as a Walk to educate the public on Cancer and disease prevention, said College of Surgeons President, Prof Kamal I. Deen. more..

Ratnapura to be first child-free Labour experiment

June 21 (ST) National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has launched its first initiative, to introduce a Child Labour Free Zone in Ratnapura district by next year. NCPA Chair Natasha Balendran said child labour cases were reported highest in the Ratnapura district and hill station areas. “The reason that Ratnapura district is the first to conduct the initiative is because it has many large-scale and small scale plantations more..