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Budget 2016: fixing the economy

Nov 22 (SO) Minister Ravi Karunanayake may be receiving kudos from the country's business elite for his broadly well-crafted, maiden Government Budget presented on Friday, but the middle classes and the nation's poor have been dished out a mixed bag of some benefits along with the prospect of a persistent high living costs. This govt, however, is not to blame for the huge financial burden and excess liquidity generated by the wildly speculative economics of the previous regime more famous more..

Justice must not only be done

Nov 22 (ST) My dear Wijey, I thought I must write to you because you are very much in the news these days, offering legal advice and opinions, boasting about how you had prevented certain people from being arrested and trying to sue other people for hundreds of millions of rupees. You are one busy man! Wijey, we had this image of you being a thorough professional and a decent man in the dark and dirty world of politics. I think you first caught our attention when you headed COPE and more..

Mixed reactions to Budget 2016

Nov 22 (SO) Govt legislators said the Budget would go down in the annals of history as a significant Budget presented by the first national govt in post-independent SL to herald a new beginning for the country and to create a new economic and social order for the people. However, some Opposition MPs said the Budget was a reflection of govt's inability to charter the economy in a new course & expressed their opposition. more..

Kick starting the economy

Nov 22 (Island) 2016 budget presented by Minister Ravi Karunanayake on Friday was undoubtedly a major effort at kick starting an economy that is not in the best of health with so many different policies, programs and intentions packed into a single document. Although the ranks of Tuscany in the shape of a dispirited and divided opposition made some noises in early post-budget comments, the general reaction all round was favourable both from the point of view of the man in the street more..

Tough times, tougher solutions

Nov 22 (CT) The very long Budget Speech lasting for nearly five hours making many of the MPs fall asleep came up with some interesting suggestions. The very first Budget of National Govt had to deal with many challenges. Out of those, the major challenge was to increase the govt revenue, while keeping up with flowery promises given to the public under the fancy slogan of a so called social market economy. The bitter truth is that the majority public seems to be unaware, or unconcerned more..

'No regrets despite many concerns'

Nov 22 (SL) Minister Champika Ranawaka, looking back after a year of pledging his support to the Maithri–Ranil govt, says he never regretted his decision to leave the UPFA. “The society has not changed and we have to look ahead positively,” he said. He regretted however, that some of the promises that were made to the people have yet to be fulfilled, but said that he is glad that country is at least moving in the right direction. more..

Green Budget, envy of the Opposition gives it the blues

Nov 22 (ST) Not many would envy the job of the Finance Minister when the Budget comes around, and not many in particular could have envied the task entrusted to Minister Ravi Karunanayake of presenting a people-friendly Budget, along with one that would set the country on the road to better fiscal management. Hence, as predicted, while the Minister won kudos from those in govt for the Budget, some Opposition members, particularly those of the JVP and joint Opposition group more..

Ravi dumbfounds opposition with fantastic offers

Nov 22 (SL) Minister Ravi Karunanayake, in a four-and-a-half non-stop marathon speech, announced a detailed development budget that kept the usually raucous opposition dumbfounded with his fantastic list of offers. Karunanayake’s speech, as he said, was a projection of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s new economic proposals, which he announced in parliament recently. Those proposals were controversial enough and subject to much criticism by opponents of Sirisena-Ranil govt more..

Controversy over Tamil political prisoners

Nov 22 (SL) Controversial issue of Tamil political prisoners has become a key topic in society in relation to reconciliation. With the recent protest demanding the release of 223 Tamil political prisoners, who have been kept behind bars for a long time, a hartal was held in eight districts of the North and Eastern provinces of the country. Minister Mano Ganesan had urged the govt to release these prisoners immediately as promised by PM more..

Harin - Chathura cold war hots up

Nov 22 (SO) Minister Harin Fernando was livid early this week as he got to know that UNP MP Chathura Senaratne, the son of Minister Rajitha Senaratne, visited his ministry in search of some documents pertaining to alleged deals done by the Minister. Senaratne, despite his links with the SLFP, he contested the last Parliamentary election on the UNP ticket and got elected to Parliament from the Gampaha district. In the run up to the last Presidential election, he was a stalwart more..

Friday the 13th doublespeak

Nov 22 (ST) Pope Francis felt the World War Three had started. Maybe not quite, but the indiscriminate attack on those enjoying a typical Friday night out in gay Paree last week brought the world to the brink of it. World War I began a century ago with a single shot fired in Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia. France itself was at the centre of WW II. And now, its colonial legacy in predominantly Islamic West Asia and North Africa has begun to bite back — with a vengeance. more..

Selectors from Mars

Nov 22 (Island) Former great Kumar Sangakkara a decade ago said that selectors like God move about in mysterious ways. He is on the money when you take a look at the recent selections for the upcoming tour of New Zealand. It’s hard to comprehend why the selectors have picked just four fast bowlers for the tour of New Zealand and three specialist spinners! Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha more..

Budget 2016: Good, bad and the dangerous

Nov 22 (Island) The first fully fledged budget of the UNP-SLFP coalition was as cleverly crafted as the circumstances would permit. The govt had some difficult reforms to implement not just because the IMF recommended them but because the reforms mentioned in this budget were a prominent part of the UNP’s own parliamentary election manifesto. In order to head off possible resistance to those reforms, the got has sought to give more concessions to the people – a wise strategy. more..

Vehicle prices soar with the 2016 budget

Nov 22 (ST) In the wake of the govt’s taxes on vehicle imports proposed in the budget, the prices of vehicles are expected to rise at least by Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 2.5 million, motor traders disclaimed. When looking at the budget proposal, it seems everything is all right, but new taxation, the valuation system and the depreciation on currency will jack up the price of vehicles at very high levels, Chairman of the SL Vehicle Importers’ Association Indika Sampath Merinchige said. more..

Ravi K went on and on!

Nov 22 (CT) 20th Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake on Friday, presented the 70th Budget. Earlier described as a Budget for everyone it was dressed up as a road map for economic reform coupled with concessions for certain sectors of the economy. For the ordinary man the Budget brought them reduced prices of at least 11 essential items including gas and kerosene. Ravi K also reduced the tax on environmentally friendly vehicles more..

Glen Falls gushing again

Nov 22 (CT) A once oft visited tourist site, the famed Glen Falls of Nuwara Eliya that dried up 23 years ago, has miraculously begun disgorging rivers of water. Environmentalist Shelton Hettiarachchi said that "The water flow from the Glen Falls was affected in the 1980s when people started illegally cultivating potatoes on the hills close to the Glen Falls. Water was diverted from the waterfall source for potato cultivation and for some of the hotels situated close to the waterfall more..

Chinese funds for Shiranthi’s organization

Nov 22 (SL) A sum of US $75,000 from the Chinese govt has allegedly been deposited in the Siriliya Saviya account, which was established by former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa. The First Secretary of the SL Embassy in Beijing, in a letter in 2010 sent to the Secretary of the Foreign Employment Bureau, has stated that the donation had been deposited in the Siriliya Saviya account at the People’s Bank and it was also mentioned that the official address of Siriliya Saviya was the Carlton Bungalow more..

BIA’s temporary shutdown in 2017

Nov 22 (ST) BIA is scheduled to partially close in 2017 for three months to carry out maintenance work on the runway, CAA Director General H.M.C. Nimalsiri said. This would be decided early since airlines need to be informed one year ahead of such closures. In this respect, he pointed out that this would be the first time such overlaying or re-surfacing would be carried out on runway at BIA since its construction in 1986. more..

CIABOC to investigate former Chairman

Nov 22 (CT) Investigations have commenced into a complaint received against former Chairman Justice Jagath Balapatabendi by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC). A top CIABOC official said that a complaint lodged by the JVP against the former Chairman of the Commission Justice Balapatabendi was covered up with the assistance of another Commissioner of CIABOC. That was prior to his quitting the post of Chairman of CIABOC. more..

Ravi K. to take Sinhala classes

Nov 22 (CT) NOTE: This is pure fiction but has the utmost possibility of turning true. Therefore dear reader, here is your spoiler alert! Minister Ravi Karunanayake reading the Budget for the fiscal year 2016 last Friday proposed and coined several new words to the Malalasekara English-Sinhala Dictionary in order to make the Sinhala language more open to the English and Tamil speaking communities in the private sector. In this manner, he said the private sector will understand more more..

Each MP to receive Rs. 15 million in 2016

Nov 22 (Island) Each MP will receive Rs 15 million each next year from the decentralized budget. Minister Niroshan Perera said that govt will add another Rs. 5 million each to the Rs. 10 million decentralized budgetary allocation of MPs for 2016. Minister was responding to a question raised by MP Dullas Alahapperuma. He wanted to know whether the govt was aware that even though Minister Ravi Karunanayake at mini-budget more..

Joint Opposition in closed door talks

Nov 22 (SL) Joint opposition is conducting closed door discussions with the intention of creating a political change in the near future. According to political sources, pro Mahinda Rajapaksa factions are in the process of winning over those who had strayed from the party. With the toppling of the Rajapaksa regime, many of his close associates abandoned the party and joined the Maithripala Sirisena faction. But according to a senior politician, discussions are currently underway more..

34 Sri Lankan fishermen repatriated

Nov 22 (Hindu) Thirty-four Sri Lankan fishermen who were arrested by the Indian Coast Guard at Kakinada and Mangalore, were repatriated from Karaikal port on Saturday. While five fishermen were brought from Kakinada, the other 29 fishermen came from Mangaluru. The fishermen were arrested under Maritime Zones of India Act, according to Coast Guard sources here. They were released by the courts and brought for repatriation by the police personnel of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. more..

Justice Sarath De Abrew indicted

Nov 22 (SO) The Attorney General has filed an indictment in the Colombo High Court against Supreme Court Judge, Sarath de Abrew with committing grave sexual abuse on a domestic helper on or around June 26 this year. The indictment has been filed under two counts on committing grave sexual abuse, which comes under Section 365 B of Penal Code. This is the first time a sitting Supreme Court judge has been indicted in the HC more..

Tussle for MD’s post at Sri Lanka Insurance

Nov 22 (ST) Musical chairs continued for the second week running at state-owned SL Insurance Corporation (SLIC) where former Managing Director T.M.R. Bangsa Jayah is refusing to quit. Keith Bernard was appointed the new MD last week but is unable to function as Mr. Jayah, brother-in-law of Minister Ravi Karunanayake, continues to remain in the MD’s office. Situation worsened on Tuesday when Mr. Jayah barged into a board meeting and got into a verbal confrontation with directors more..

PBJ’s return to state service thwarted again

Nov 22 (ST) A plan to appoint former Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P. B. Jayasundera as a Senior Advisor to Ministry of Samurdi and Social Empowerment has been thwarted by several senior cabinet ministers. Minister of Samurdi and Social Empowerment S.B. Dissanayake’s proposal to appoint Dr. Jayasundera as a senior advisor of his ministry was rejected by the majority of cabinet ministers. Dr. Jayasundera’s actions and interferences into previous regime’s affairs more..

Govt vows to unearth Rajapaksas’ hidden $ billions

Nov 22 (Island) Govt says it would find the billions of dollars that the Rajapaksas had allegedly hidden in many foreign countries, no matter how long it took. Minister Mangala Samaraweera said he was speaking with responsibility about "the billions of dollars that the Rajapaksas including the birthday boy had stashed away in foreign lands." "They know what we are talking about. Catching big time professional crooks who have covered more..

Selection nepotism fixes proven schoolboy bowler?

Nov 22 (SO) The country’s leading wicket-taker in domestic youth cricket has been shown the door in a shocking move when Sri Lanka’s Junior selectors decided on a 15-man squad for next month’s Under-19 Triangular featuring India, England and the host nation. The squad is also likely to be the same that will contest January’s Youth World Cup in Bangladesh. Lasith Embuldeniya, a left arm spinner took 51 wickets in five matches for Royal College in the on-going inter-school season, more..

Rs 1 b for Sports Land and credit facilities to private sector for development of sports

Nov 22 (CT) The govt through its Budget on Friday has proposed to allocate Rs 1000 Million for development of sports, while also proposing to remove import taxes applicable to sports goods. In his Budget Speech Minister Ravi Karunanayake suggests govt bear the total cost incurred by all National track and field athletes, and the sportsmen and women of a few other chosen fields and their coaches who will participate at reputed international competitions. more..

Names of Officers exposed on Trinco secret cells

Nov 22 (CG) More details have surfaced on the secret cells said to have being in operation at the Trincomalee Navy camp, including the names of the Navy officers alleged to have been involved in taking detainees to the site. WGEID, which concluded a visit to Sri Lanka last week, said that the detention cells at the Trincomalee Navy camp could not have been in operation without the knowledge of the top officials. more..

Govt in the grip of racketeers: Anura Kumara

Nov 22 (Island) JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake accuses many in the govt of being pawns of racketeers. "They have been purchased with money, vehicles, women and houses," Dissanayake said, referring to accusations that sections in the govt are defending the controversial company, Avant Garde. "It is not only in this case where wrongdoers are yet to be apprehended; there is conspicuous sloth in bringing to book people involved in large scale fraud", he said more..

Sampanthan has no issue with Nagadipa

Nov 22 (Island) TNA leader, R Sampanthan struck a note of discord with fellow party member and CM of the NPC C.V. Wigneswaran when he said he saw no reason to change the name of the island Nagadipa, located off the Jaffna coast. Wigneswaran proposed that the Tamil name for the island, Nainativu, be used as the official name. Nagadipa is an important destination of Buddhist pilgrims who believe that the Buddha visited the island to settle a dispute between to Naga Kings, Chulodara and Mahodara. more..

Promised Yahapalanaya: Telecom, Mobitel heads roll ahead of Hutch deal

Nov 22 (ST) Heads rolled from the Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel Boards this week amidst reports that the management was clearing the decks for a massive corporate deal in the offing. Thusitha Haloluwa was removed from the Mobitel board while Krishantha Cooray and Firo Farook were sacked from the SLT board. All three had opposed proposals to increase the salary of Chairman P.G. Kumarasinghe and directors more..

VAT rise means you will pay more for utility bills

Nov 22 (ST) Utility bills including charges of electricity, water and telephone are set to rise with the revision of the Value Added taxes (VAT). These are among a host of other utility charges which will be increased in terms of a Budget 2016 proposal to increase VAT from 11 percent to 12.5%, a senior Inland Revenue Department official explained. However, the increase in VAT will not apply to certain wholesale and retail trade because the Govt wants to stabilise food prices. more..

Sri Lanka’s biz community happy with budget concessions

Nov 22 (ST) Sri Lanka’s 2016 budget presented on Friday drew mixed reviews while two issues stood out – whether the bureaucracy is capable of quickly implementing the decisions, particularly taxes, and not addressing the foreign exchange crisis. However the business community was by and large happy with the outcome as Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s proposals addressed many of their concerns in whipping up foreign investment, tackling the shortage of skilled labour, more..

New Constitution coming: Constitutional Assembly to be set up shortly

Nov 22 (ST) He timed it for the week that marked the first year since he quit the previous Govt to contest presidential election against Mahinda Rajapaksa. Obtaining the approval of the Central Committee members of the SLFP, which he now leads, to show it was their initiative, President Sirisena last Wednesday gave a two-page note to his ministers. Titled Amendments to the Constitution, it read: more..

The Depravity of Terrorism

Nov 22 (Island) The news of the coordinated ISIS attack in three places in Paris was shocking. Before I could sympathise with the dead and injured, I turned personal and thanked our good karma that my son decided to take a short break in London and not Paris which he adores. Voicing this relief to him when he phoned once returned home, I get this blithe reply: "I would never have been in any of those places." "But you could have. You so love their outdoor cafes." more..

Burma power transfer thornier than Lanka

Nov 22 (Island) The Aung San Suu Kyi– NLD (National League for Democracy) triumph is a big forward step but two inherited problems remain. First, 25% of parliamentary seats are reserved for khaki clad thugs who will also appoint three ministers including defence. It will take time and tactical sagacity, but until the political interference and the power of the army are destroyed, Burma will live in the shadow of a return to brutality and dictatorship. more..

Good governance googly at World Cup winning captain

Nov 22 (ST) He captained the prestigious club and then went on to captain the national team to great heights winning the World Cup, so it was quite in order for the Executive Committee of the Grand Old Club to organise a felicitation for its illustrious member who had now gravitated into politics and become a Cabinet Minister. The proposal came from those committee members who were from the minister’s old school and more..

Rakna Lanka contract with Avant Garde under review

Nov 22 (SO) Ministry of Defence has sought the opinion of AG’s Department on the possibility of terminating the contract Rakna Lanka has signed with the controversial private maritime security services company, Avant Garde. “We are in the process of evaluating the possibility of terminating the said contract. All documents relating to the agreement have been sent to AG’s Department for assessment. more..