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The Sirisena-Rajapaksa pow-wow

May 10 (SL) Attempts made by a substantial section of SLFP MPs to make former president Mahinda Rajapaksa the prime ministerial candidate of the party at the forthcoming parliamentary elections under the leadership of President Sirisena could be seen as an endeavour to wipe out the country’s political developments during the past six months and ignore the momentous event of January 8. No doubt the SLFP which ruled the country for a near decade with utmost confidence and more..

Department of Posts considers income tax payment at post offices

May 10 (SO) Department of Posts which depended on traditional services, is turning into an institution that provides modern services to customers. Department plans to introduce various services jointly with Govt and private sector institutions soon, Postmaster General D.P.L. Rohana Abeyratne said. Department holds discussions with IRD to start a mechanism facilitating the individuals to pay their income taxes at post offices. more..

How about some Yahapaalanaya for the private sector?

May 10 (NS) The private sector is corrupt. No, it’s not the JVP, FSP, one of the many parties that grew out of the Communist Party or one of those people who used to call themselves left intellectuals that said it. It was the leader of the undisputed right wing party of Sri Lanka which is also the all-time favorite political party of the private sector who said it. When Ranil Wickremesinghe says there’s hanky-panky in the private sector he has to be taken seriously not least of all because he is the Prime Minister, more..

Curiouser and curiouser

May 10 (Island) Politics in Sri Lanka gets curiouser and curiouser by the day if we may borrow from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. If the UPFA was serious about the No Confidence motion it presented against Public Order and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga quite some time ago, they would have moved it and, given their parliamentary majority, carried it putting both President Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe into an uncomfortable bind. more..

'Ties with China not severed'

May 10 (SL) Minister Mangala Samaraweera stated that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family at large had stashed away US $ 18 billion abroad. The Minister said that Sri Lanka is seeking the assistance of four countries to trace and recover this money, but he declined to name the countries involved. He said that the US$ 18 billion includes US $ 2 billion in a Dubai bank which is already known. Foreign Minister said that more..

The forgotten workers of May Day

May 10 (ST) May Day came and went, and as always, it was a political show of strength with workers of the world divided and what was meant to be their day overshadowed by politicians. May Day is not even celebrated in May in the country where it was first declared – the United States, which instead marks Labour Day in September with a holiday just to relax. In Russia, it is a case of flexing military muscle on May Day. Around the world there are new fears among the working class more..

The power of once: powerless PM post

May 10 (ST) My dear Mahinda maama, I thought I must write to you because you seem to be very much in the news, even more so than Maithri – even though you are out of office and out of power. And you seem to rather like it, too, often making comments on Yahapaalanaya to the media, so that you can get your 15 seconds on the news. You must be happy that there was at least a May Day rally in honour. All these years, I thought that May Day was for the workers to celebrate but this year, more..

'Mahinda and Maithri must unite'

May 10 (SL) Former Minister Dullas Alahapperuma is an experienced politician who has taken many a tough decision in his political career. The Sunday Leader spoke to him to obtain his views on several controversial issues which took place last week including the meeting between President Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa. Q: What was the goal of the meeting between President Maithripala Sirisena and more..

Maithripala Blue or Green or what?

May 10 (NS) Sometime late last year Maithripala Sirisena effectively left the SLFP. As predicted, he was installed as the leader of the party he left the moment he was elected President. He became the leader of a party whose entire membership almost campaigned against him. It certainly didn’t make for ideal leader-follower relations. The confusion was exacerbated by the fact that not only did he appoint the leader of a party with a (relatively) paltry parliamentary presence more..

Kurunegala: Politics on steroids

May 10 (Island) Not since 1992/93 has this country been on a political roller coaster as it is today. We are experiencing game changing events virtually every week. The game changing event of the past week was the pro-Mahinda rally in Kurunegala last Friday. It was held soon after the breakdown in talks between the Sirisena and Rajapaksa factions of the SLFP. One of the main points discussed at this meeting was the prime ministerial candidacy of the UPFA. more..

Fast and furious: Future of SL’s cricket

May 10 (ST) Recently I watched a clip made during the heydays of the great West Indian fast bowling machine that took Caribbean cricket to astronomical heights. After the legendary bodyline series which was used only as a ploy to curb the Bradman dominance over the Englishmen, this was the time when a cricketing nation used fast bowling as a ramrod to counter any batsman’s dominance at the crease. more..

Ball in Maithri’s court

May 10 (SL) The meeting between the defeated president and the winning president was given as much hype as was possible for a team that has very little access to media institutions. Yet what the meeting has achieved is give a few column centimeters to newspapers and several seconds of news coverage. Essentially it was, as a regular observer said, “nothing but a damp squib.” The fact remains that for all the exhortations by Mahinda Rajapaksa supporters, Mahinda knows more..

MS-MR combo better than a MS-RW combo

May 10 (CT) Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, former Associate Professor at the Department of Economics and Statistics at the University of Peradeniya suggests that a Sirisena-Rajapaksa President/Premier combination would be far more beneficial to the country than the obtaining Ranil-Sirisena combination. Parliamentary election will be a contest between the UNP and their allies, and the SLFP as there will be no third or fourth force at play inclusive of the JVP and others, he added. more..

US to ease Ceylon Tea trade with Iran

May 10 (ST) The United States has agreed to find a solution to the direct payment for Sri Lankan tea exporters from Iran within a few months. During discussions with the US Charge d’Affairs Andrew Mann and the Commercial Officer in Colombo, local authorities and Plantation Ministry officials highlighted concerns on how the industry was impacted due to their inability to obtain payments for tea exports through Iranian banks. more..

SL tea prices stagnate below 2013 levels

May 10 (EN) Sri Lankan tea prices have continued to fall with averages in April stagnating even lower than two years ago as troubles in key markets affect demand, brokers said. Colombo’s tea auction average for the month of April 2015 was 408.35 rupees a kilo, down 55.71 rupees from 464.06 rupees of April 2014, Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers said in a report. The decline is also reflected in US dollar terms when compared to the corresponding period of 2014. more..

English signature of a CB governor appears on new currency notes after over 26 years

May 10 (ST) Central Bank recently issued for circulation a new currency note of Rs.5000. It is being introduced by the new government in view of the shift in demand for high denomination currency notes coupled with changes in price levels and increase in per capita GDP in the country in recent times. The signatures of new Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake in Sinhala, and Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran in English appear on the obverse of the note. more..

Sri Lanka embarks on a business plan to develop China Bay oil storage facility

May 10 (ST) Sri Lanka will soon formulate a business plan to expedite the development of China Bay oil storage facility as a major step towards making Trincomalee a regional petroleum hub with Indian assistance, a top official revealed. Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy, Dr. B.M.S Batagoda said that a ten member task force is now working out business plan aimed at harnessing full potential of tank farm. more..

Sri Lanka now ready to overcome EU fish export ban

May 10 (Island) The task force appointed by the PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe in early January this year to work towards the lifting of the European Union’s (EU) ban on the local fisheries export to the region which was imposed in mid January this year has completed its work and listed all legislative requirements in line with EU’s requirements. Spokesman for Sea Food Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka Colonel Channa Weeratunga said that the task force has also completed drafting more..

Sri Lanka and China have lot to learn from each other, says Port City official

May 10 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka and China have a lot to learn from each other as its people have been closely linked through ties of religion, culture and trade for generations, a Chinese company official said. Managing Director of the Colombo Port City Project, Jiang Houliang, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Ranbhumi National Rally for Unity in Sri Lanka, said that while the two countries shared a relationship that is older than either of their modern civilizations, more..

Sanga hassled by UK immigration officer

May 10 (ST) SL cricket star Kumar Sangakkara, currently in England turning out for the English county Surrey, had to taste the bitter side of the United Kingdom Immigration Department in London. Sangakkara, who was in London during the final week of April to play Surrey’s Division II match against Essex at the Kennington Oval, is believed to have been questioned by an immigration officer when he returned to London yesterday. more..

UN Group on missing confirms visit

May 10 (CG) The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has confirmed the dates of its visit to Sri Lanka this year. The Working Group, which is currently meeting to review almost 400 cases of enforced disappearance from 30 countries, said it will visit Sri Lanka from 3 – 12 August 2015. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances had sought approval from the former Govt to visit Sri Lanka but the visit was never approved. more..

‘Security breach not linked to Sri Lanka unit dissolution’

May 10 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan Army on Saturday denied that the dissolution of the President’s Security Guard (PSG), which had been existence since 2008, was in response to a recent incident of breach of security of President Maithripala Sirisena. Asked whether the move to disband the Guard was due to the incident wherein an Army corporal was found with an unauthorised weapon in the vicinity of the President, attending a party meet at the Hambantota district on April 25, more..

Ex-COO of RADA arrested for tsunami fund fraud

May 10 (EN) Police Saturday arrested Saliya Wickramasuriya, former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA), over alleged fraud in use of tsunami rebuilding funds. ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said Wickramasuriya was arrested under the public property act. “He was arrested by Special Investigating Unit operating in police HQ which is conducting further investigations,” more..

Smaller parties unhappy with Sri Lanka electoral reform plan

May 10 (Hindu) Sri Lanka’s smaller political parties representing minority communities have expressed opposition to the proposed 20th amendment to the constitution which incorporates reforms to the electoral system. “We are opposed to the move of bringing electoral reforms as an urgent bill. We are for reforming the system but we want the next election to be held under the existing system of proportional representation,” said Mano Ganesan, a leader of a Tamil political party. more..

New Defence Hq. probe report out soon

May 10 (SO) Investigations on the construction work on the Defence Headquarters in Akuregoda will be finalised this week. A special committee was appointed by the Govt in mid March this year to look into all aspects of the project and detect unwarranted costs. "The committee report will reveal all the shortcomings and point out how and where wastage occurred," Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. The committee was appointed by Cabinet on a proposal made by the Finance Minister and more..

Wilpattu burns

May 10 (NS) With the issue of unauthorized settlements in the region surrounding Wilpattu National Park now reaching boiling-point, Secretary to the President, P.B. Abeykoon has directed the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment to conduct an immediate investigation. Secretary Nihal Rupasinghe on Friday confirmed that a directive had come from the Presidential Secretariat to probe the matter. more..

UNDP honors Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

May 10 (Island) Professor Mohan Munasinghe, who shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace, was honoured by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with a special award presented by Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator, UNDP, on behalf of Helen Clarke, UNDP Administrator. The plaque was bestowed for outstanding contributions to sustainable, inclusive and resilient development and assisting UNDP build empowered lives and resilient nations in the Asia-Pacific Region, more..

20A to Parliament only after reaching consensus

May 10 (CT) President Sirisena has promised the JVP yesterday, that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution containing electoral reforms will not be tabled in Parliament without receiving the approval of all the political parties. Therefore, the President has decided to hold a discussion with all party leaders prior to submitting the Draft of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution to the Cabinet for approval on Wednesday. JVP said, the President informed them of these decisions at more..

President orders halt to deforestation in Wilpattu

May 10 (AD) President Sirisena has ordered an immediate halt to deforestation and proposing land lots near the Wilpattu National Park. He has instructed relevant authorities to implement the law against any person responsible for such illegal acts while the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment has also been instructed to take necessary action in this regard. Meanwhile all state officials in the area more..

Colombo-bound Malaysian Airlines flight makes turn-back

May 10 (MK) A Malaysian Airlines plane headed for Colombo, Sri Lanka, made an air turn back after circling the Straits of Malacca for two hours. According to aircraft tracking websites, Flight MH179 had flown in circles (known as a holding pattern) over the ocean west of Pulau Ketam since about 11.30pm. "MH179 is returning to Kuala Lumpur after two hours of fuel burn to reduce landing weight," Flightradar24 tweeted at 1.30am. It then landed safely in KLIA 20 minutes later. more..

Depositors protest against moves to liquidate GK

May 10 (Island) A group of Golden Key (GK) depositors demonstrated in Colombo last week against reported moves by the Central Bank to liquidate the troubled Ceylinco subsidiary, the continued payment of a hefty Rs. 375,000 monthly remuneration to the CEO of the company and the failure of the chairman of the newly-constituted board to initiate a dialogue with long-suffering investors.  Opposing any attempt to liquidate the company, they called for the implementation more..

Next general elections on present PR system

May 10 (ST) Upcoming parliamentary elections will be held under the existing proportional representation system even if Parliament approves the 20th Amendment on electoral reforms. However, such approval will hinge on agreement on the reforms being reached by different political parties. In the event such agreement is not possible, President has declared that Parliament would be dissolved possibly by late next week. more..

Prove the allegations, I’ll quit: Namal

May 10 (CT) Responding to allegations levelled against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family of possessing a wealth of US$ 18 billion, MP Namal Rajapaksa vowed to quit politics if charges were proven. MP Rajapaksa took to social media last morning to respond to Foreign Minister Mangala Samarawera and tweeted "If Min. Mangala Samaraweera can prove that Prez. Rajapaksa, my Mother, brothers, or I amassed a fortune of US$ 18 billion, I will quit politics." more..

Maithripala hails Cameron’s win

May 10 (SL) President Maithripala Sirisena termed as ‘splendid’ the victory at the UK elections by British PM David Cameron. Sirisena also said that Sri Lanka looks forward to deeper ties and cooperation with Britain following Cameron’s re-election as Prime Minister. “Congratulations on your splendid victory. Sri Lanka looks forward to deeper ties and cooperation with the UK. – Maithri,” the President tweeted. Following his re-election, Cameron announced his new cabinet but more..

President’s security and a failing police

May 10 (ST) Taking part in last week’s Vesak ceremonies in different parts of the country dotted President Maithripala Sirisena’s diary. One such event was the opening of a giant pandal in Pepiliyana on the eastern outskirts of Nugegoda. The annual event has been organised by the group of apparel and construction companies owned by Daya Gamage, Eastern Provincial Councillor, known to be one of those bankrolling the UNP. more..

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

May 10 (CT) Yesterday this newspaper carried an article where the UPFA's Kotte Mayor Janaka Ranawake and opposition leader UNPer Sugath Appuhamy had allegedly been involved in a brawl. Though Sri Lanka's Local Councils/Local Govts such as Kotte are subordinate to the provincial councils, which in turn are governed by Parliament, because the House is the country's ultimate lawmaking body, nevertheless, elected representatives, even to local bodies such as the Kotte Municipality, more..

John Kerry’s visit: The changing dynamic of US-Lanka relationship

May 10 (Island) It has been a calm week in Colombo after the 19A storm of the previous week. It is a different story in Britain, where the Tories have won a stunning majority after all the predictions about a hung parliament and Scottish king makers going to London. The Liberal Democrats who were David Cameron’s coalition partners have been decimated. The Labour has been gutted with the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) sweeping 56 out of the 59 seats from Scotland, which have traditionally more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

May 10 (ST) The role of spokespeople is to set out the official line of the bodies they represent so people not only in Sri Lanka but also the world over get things right. More so, with those speaking for the Govt, it becomes essential. Former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella often did not get things right. This is why he was lampooned so much by cartoonists and became the butt end of media criticism. more..

CB mulls publishing inflation survey results

May 10 (NS) The Central Bank says it would continue to conduct inflation expectation surveys and even considers publishing the results on a regular basis in order to avoid building up of adverse inflation expectations among the general public and to guide the monetary policy formulation and conduct. The Central Bank commenced conducting inflation expectation surveys on a regular basis since 2006 and the results of these more..

Additional protection for Sigiriya mirror wall

May 10 (Island) In the wake of recent incidents of vandalism caused to the Sigiriya mirror wall, additional security measures are to be taken by the Department of Archaeology in collaboration with the Central Cultural Fund. The most recent such incident was a young woman from Batticaloa defacing it with a hairpin by scribbling a name. She was sentenced to two years of imprisonment by the Dambulla Magistrate but was granted more..