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Budget 2016 – Citizens have high hopes: Poll

Nov 20 (FT) A nationwide survey, finds an overwhelming majority (99%) of respondents agreeing that Budget 2016 should be both people- and business-friendly. The need of the hour for respondents is economic relief from the state, especially by way of lower prices for essential goods and services. Coupled with requirement of improvements to the economy and solutions to employment issues, this would create a country with fewer problems, respondents to the poll say. more..

CAA Chairman resigns

Nov 20 (DM) Chairman of Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA), Dr. R.M.K. Ratnayake has tendered his resignation to Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. He said that he had decided to resign for personal reasons, and his resignation letter had been submitted to the ministry last week. When asked about media reports that a dispute with Mr. Bathiudeen had led to his resignation, he said, “I have decided to resign because of my health. I have to undergo several medical tests. more..

Harin hits out at Cabinet conspirators

Nov 20 (DN) Minister Harin Fernando hit out at conspirators within the ruling camp trying to sabotage the understanding between the UNP and the SLFP for petty political gains. Speaking at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, minister said some ministers of the Cabinet, including Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne unfairly criticised him for defending the govt's position on the Avant Garde issue during television debates. more..

Weapons in ship from Sri Lanka raise alarm

Nov 20 (Hindu) Case of m.v. Avant Garde, a floating armoury, has acquired a new dimension since SL Navy boarded the vessel on Oct 6 to discover a massive stash of weapons on board. The discovery has sounded a security alarm as the vessel, before being rested at the Galle harbour, had been to the Indian territorial waters while carrying its cargo of weapons. Last weekend, on the order of President Sirisena, SL Navy took over the ships cargo of weapons and ammunition more..

Govt’s first full budget today

Nov 20 (Island) Sirisena-Wickremesinghe govt’s first full budget will to be presented to Parliament today at 2 pm by Minister Ravi Karunanayake with total govt expenditure for the next year estimated at Rs 1,941 billion. With today’s presentation of budget proposals commences Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill presented to Parliament on Oct. 24, by Minister Lakshman Kiriella. It is the first full budget of the new govt, which previously presented a mini-budget on Jan 29, this year. more..

Budget 2016 to herald new beginning: Govt

Nov 20 (FT) Ahead of the unity govt’s new Budget today, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said it would herald a new beginning for the country. He also said Budget 2016 would be a watershed in the onward journey of the country. Optimism and confidence was shared via a special statement after putting finishing touches to the Budget proposals to be presented in Parliament today. more..

Invest for tomorrow, invest in children

Nov 20 (DM) Today is Universal Children’s Day. Going beyond words, it means a recommitment by all govts to the UN’ Convention on the Rights of the Child -- the right to life, to health, to education and to play, the right to family life, to be protected from violence, not be discriminated and to have their views heard. On Dec 14, 1954, UN General Assembly passed a resolution recommending that all countries should mark a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide more..

Move to abolish Executive Presidency: Birthday gift to MR

Nov 20 (DM) The best gift to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his 70th birthday was given by none other than President Maithripala Sirisena. On Wednesday when Mr. Rajapaksa was celebrating his birthday with unprecedented publicity in the historic city of Anuradhapura, the Cabinet met in Colombo to approve a proposal submitted by the President to abolish the much-hated executive presidential system. Interestingly, the proposal was brought to Cabinet this time in the name of more..

'Sri Lanka needs a stabilising mechanism'

Nov 20 (DM) One year after defection from the UPFA, Megapolis and Western Region Development Minister Champika Ranawaka, said he was satisfied with the achievements made after the change of govt on Jan 8. Also, he said there was much more to be achieved. Q: It is now one year of your defection from the UPFA to support President Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate at that time. What do you feel about more..

Grade V Scholarship exam taxes children’s mental health: study

Nov 20 (Island) A study conducted by a doctor for his MD research has revealed that Grade five scholarship exam adversely affects children’s mental health. Dr. Dimuth Peiris of the Medical Faculty of KDU said that 557 children who had participated in his research were categorised as children likely to develop unsatisfactory mental health status and children unlikely to develop unsatisfactory mental health status. more..

Sri Lanka to extract more taxes from people to pay state salaries in 2016 budget

Nov 20 (EN) Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake is expected to outline new measures to raise taxes from the people to pay hiked salaries of a bloated public sector and also show the way to trim tax holidays given to private firms. Up to August 2015, salaries and pension of state workers totalled 470 billion rupees compared to tax revenues of 773 billion rupees, or 60.7 cents out of every tax rupee paid by citizens to the state. more..

Seeking justice for inmates killed in Welikada

Nov 20 (SL) Three years have lapsed since the Welikada prison riot that took place on November ninth, 2012 killing 27 inmates. The govt has changed. Commissions have been appointed and reports have been produced – but no action has been taken against those who are responsible for the riot and the killing of the inmates. Many alleged it to be an organised massacre backed by the officials of the former regime. more..

New look Parliament soon

Nov 20 (DN) Three foreign teams are presently engaged with the Parliament Secretariat to formulate a plan to modernise and strengthen the activities of Parliament, Parliament Secretary General Dhammika Dasanayake said. USAID, UNDP and Westminster Foundation for Democracy have agreed to give their support for this. Visiting delegations of these organisations are holding discussions with Speaker, Deputy Speaker, more..

President’s, PM’s residencies to be relocated: Champika

Nov 20 (DM) Describing the govt’s plans regarding the proposed Megapolis, Minister Champika Ranawaka said that the official residences of the president and the prime minister would be moved to Sri J'pura, Kotte close by the Parliamentary Complex. According to the plans, Sri J'pura Kotte, administrative capital will be expanded towards Kadawata, Kaduwela and Kottawa to create one large administrative city, more..

VAC questions lethargic attitude of state bodies dealing with corruption

Nov 20 (DN) Members of the Voice Against Corruption (VAC) urged the public to express their views against the lethargic attitude of organisations investigating bribery and corruption to take legal action against bribes and mega scale financial misconduct. VAC convener Wasantha Samarasinghe said VAC has lodged 170 complaints at ACS, FCID, CID and the Bribery Commission up to now. more..

'After abolition of executive presidency, Maithri may contest again'

Nov 20 (Island) Presidential advisor Shiral Lakthilake said that there couldn’t be any reason for President Maithripala Sirisena to refrain from contesting the next general election as his party’s PM candidate. President Sirisena heads both the SLFP and the UPFA. Having fulfilled the promises made in the run-up to the Jan 8 presidential poll, President Maithripala Sirisena could join the fray if the people wanted him to. more..

‘Tiger’s missing family reappears after more than five years’

Nov 20 (Island) Members of a family who surrendered to the armed forces in 2009, had been dropped at their residence in Varani, Jaffna last week by some unknown persons, Leader of DPLF D Siddharthan said. "They are the wife and three children of prominent LTTE cadre Vinayagam," he said, pointing-out that "Vinayagam’s wife had surrendered to the armed forces with her children at the end of the war in May 2009, more..

Standard house number plates from CMC

Nov 20 (DM) CMC is to introduce a standard plate with the house number on it for the City of Colombo and will provide the plates to householders and govt and commercial establishments in the near future, said Colombo Mayor A.J.M. Muzammil. 120,000 assessment number plates would be distributed to all homes, diplomatic missions and commercial establishments in Colombo 1 to 15. more..

Preying on the innocent

Nov 20 (CT) The modern world, if given the opportunity, will boast on how it has left behind the bestial natured concepts such as slavery and has come to be what it is today. Albeit, the truth is that slavery exists. Modern day slavery has become exclusive to the girl, the sister, the aunt and the mother; basically the modern world's slave is the female sex worker who has to sell her body to earn a frugal living to survive. Recently, the police raided a brothel in the Gampola area more..

FR case over racial and religious identities of parties

Nov 20 (Island) President’s Counsel, Prasantha Lal de Alwis has filed a fundamental rights violation petition, in Supreme Court, complaining that political parties with religious and racial identity, should amend their registration identities, or they should be taken off the list of registered political parties. At the parliamentary elections in Aug 20, such political parties had confused him and subjected him to discrimination in violation of Articles 10 and 12 of the Constitution, petitioner has argued. more..

Sunil Handunnetti

FLSP allowed to carry out Satyagraha near Fort Railway Station

Nov 20 (AM) Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage today refused a request made by police to remove the stage erected by the Frontline Socialist Party protesters near the Fort Railway Station. The FLSP is conducting a Satyagraha Campaign near the railway station, demanding the release of its Central Committee Member Kumar Gunaratnam. Police told the Magistrate that the stage has been erected on land belonging to Railways Dept and that it causes public disturbance. more..

Govt faults section of media for cooking up stories

Nov 20 (Island) The govt has accused a section of the media of cooking up stories. Minister Mangala Samaraweera said it looked as if certain sections of the media had gone berserk after being freed from years of suppression. "We will protect media freedom as pledged. But, it looks as if some media personnel did not know how to handle their new found freedom in the absence of the white van threat. Some of the stories that appear in the media have no basis whatsoever," he noted, more..

PRECIFAC records statement from MR

Nov 20 (DM) Former President Rajapaksa appeared before PRECIFAC today to make a statement. Rajapaksa is accused of using State media to promote his Presidential election campaign ahead of the Presidential election, without paying the amount quoted to other candidates. During an election, under election laws, candidates are treated equally and State media is expected to give equal coverage and accept more..

Achieving full employment

Nov 20 (CT) Full employment is an economic situation in which virtually all who are able and willing to work are employed. Some economists consider that having less than 3% of unemployment rate as full employment. At least due to two important reasons any meaningful economic reform should target to achieve full employment, not one million jobs, as has been promised by the new govt. I concluded last week’s column as follows: “Near zero unemployment rate has nothing to do more..

Sarath Kumara Gunaratne released on bail

Nov 20 (AD) Former Deputy Minister Sarath Kumara Gunaratne was released on bail after he appeared before the Negombo Magistrate’s Court today in connection with a case for allegedly threatening and verbally abusing a police officer on duty. He was ordered released on two personal bail of Rs 500,000 each. Gunaratne had been accused of verbally abusing and threatening a police officer who was on duty in the Negombo Town during the last Presidential Election. more..

China contributed almost US$ 10 billion to SL

Nov 20 (CG) China has contributed almost USD 10 billion to Sri Lanka so far, China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka Yi Xianliang said today. “Sri Lanka being located in the middle of Indian Ocean does not mean there is (special) investment advantage. There are other coastal countries in this region at the same time having same advantages as Sri Lanka. But China still attaches importance on the China-Sri Lanka cooperation,” he said. more..

Fisheries Ministry toys with passenger boat service

Nov 20 (Island) Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry is planning to start a passenger boat service between commercial harbours and fisheries harbours in the country to solve the problem of heavy traffic congestion on main roads. Fisheries State Minister Dilip Wedaarachchi said that he had already received several proposals in that regard. He noted that the Chinese had already consented to provide assistance to set up transport boat service. more..

Request to sell Sicille's jewellery to pay depositors

Nov 20 (DM) Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya ordered the CID to submit a report to Court on the feasibility of auctioning the gold and gems belonging to Sicille Kotelawela (the wife of Lalith Kotelawela, the former Chairman of Ceylinco group) which are said to be lying in a local bank -- and paying the depositors with the money so obtained. This order was made by the magistrate when the magisterial inquiry into the wrongful use of Rs 4.3 billion deposited at the Fingara was recalled. more..

Sri Lanka to allow tea imports: FM

Nov 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka plans to liberalize the tea industry through allowing tea to be imported into the country and add value and exported, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said delivering the budget speech. “Sri Lanka has less value-added tea in the market. So we would like to encourage more value added tea based products,” he said. “There was demand for us to relax rules so that teas can be imported to Sri Lanka. more..

SL to have International Financial Centre

Nov 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s govt will make a financial centre within Colombo, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said while delivering the budget 2016 speech. A Colombo International Financial Centre, a specific zone in line with Dubai financial centre will begin operations on DR Wijewardene Mawatha, he said. “Casino center of the previous administration will be converted into this center inline with the financial center of Dubai.” He also said that a new an exchange management act will be brought in more..

Oil leak sparks major fire at Meethotamulla

Nov 20 (Island) A fire that broke out in the Meethotamulla area yesterday morning damaged seven houses. One of them was almost gutted. Some of the residents claimed that there had been an oil leak the previous day in the Wellampitiya police area. Ceylon Petroleum Cooperation had been informed of the oil leak but no action had been taken, they complained, adding that an investigation had been launched only after the fire. Oil leaking from a CPC pipeline was found in the canal more..

'Samantha Power's visit mysterious'

Nov 20 (CT) PHU Secretary MP Udaya Gammanpila says the visit of US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power, is mysterious, as her personal social media sites and websites, as well as the Foreign Ministry website, have been silent about her imminent visit. He told the media that "her visit to Sri Lanka from Nov 23-26 gives rise to two questions. She has the right to travel all over the US, which is fair enough as she is the US envoy to UN. more..

Damayanthi summoned to PRECIFAC again

Nov 20 (CT) Former Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Damayanthi Jayaratne was summoned again to the Special Presidential Commission to obtain another statement from her regarding the issue of 3,384 weapons without licences to Rakna Lanka. A spokesman of the PRECIFAC said that she was questioned for several hours and a statement obtained. Former Additional Secretary to the Defence Ministry accepted during previous public hearings in the presence of more..

Mahapola bursary increased to Rs.4000

Nov 20 (Island) Govt has decided to provide cash vouchers in stead of uniform materials to schoolchildren from next year in terms of a recommendation of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management. Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said that the change in procedure had been approved by the Ministers on the recommendation of its Committee on Economic Management, after having considered several factors including complaints more..

Jayalalithaa writes to Modi on fishermen

Nov 20 (TOI) A day after 14 TN fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy for crossing the IMBL, chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Friday sent a letter to PM Narendra Modi seeking his immediate intervention. "It is unfortunate that, in yet another incident, 14 fishermen who set sail from the Rameswaram and Mandapam fishing bases in Ramanathapuram district on three boats were apprehended by Sri Lankan navy on Nov 18. more..

Warner Stand closed for England v SL Test

Nov 20 (Lords) The programme of works to redevelop the Warner Stand has been delayed, necessitating the closure of the stand for the England v Sri Lanka Investec Test Match in June 2016. Work began on 7 September to demolish the original stand. During this process, the presence of asbestos (chrysotile, also known as white asbestos) was discovered deep within the structure of the stand, which opened in 1958, on two separate occasions. In neither instance was asbestos more..

Sri Lanka raises PAYE threshold, corporate tax at 15 and 30%

Nov 20 (EN) Sri Lanka has raised a tax free threshold for pay as you earn (PAYE) tax on salaries from 750,000 to 2.4 million rupees a year and corporate income tax will be at 15 and 30%, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. All other personal income tax will be charged 15 percent, he said. No exemptions will be given. Corporate income tax will be brought down to 15% for most companies. The higher 30% rate will apply to alcohol, tobacco and gaming firms. more..

First and only CM of NE Provincial Council attempts to bring Tamil parties together

Nov 20 (Island) First and only Chief Minister of North East Province Varatharaja Perumal said that he found all Tamil political parties did not have a common agenda. "I’m now just an ordinary citizen, leading a very simple life. And this small man is making small attempts wherever possible in uniting Tamil political parties in a bid to make them adopt a common stand when they addressed issues concerning Tamil more..

Govt to raise Rs20bn from new excise duty for motor cars

Nov 20 (LBO) Govt is to introduce a unit rate of excise duty for the vehicles on the basis of cubic centimeters (cc) that generate 20 billion rupees for govt. A new valuation system was introduced recently taking full option manufactures price as the tax base, due to the reports on revenue leakages from the under valuation of motor vehicles for tax purposes. “To further strengthen this process of collecting the duly payable taxes, I propose to introduce a simple unit rate of more..