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Yahapalanaya to serve Public swiftly: MPs get exempted from duty-free car import ban

Nov 29 (ST) The budget proposal to scrap the duty-free-vehicle-import-permit system is to be relaxed with MPs being given some concessions, Govt has decided. Minister Gayantha Karunatillake said, MPs would be given vehicles on concessionary terms which would be finalised next week. He said it was a parliamentary privilege to provide MPs with vehicles as they required transport to efficiently carry out their duties. more..

Serious financial irregularities, lapses within Central Bank, State-owned Banks

Nov 29 (ST) Auditor General (AG) in his Annual Report for last year has noted several serious financial irregularities and lapses in the State-owned banking institutions including the Central Bank. Among these was the CB’s purchase of property in Brazil for Rs 122.81 million in 2014, for its future operations. However, the CBSL had not obtained prior Cabinet approval to purchase this property, and the future plan for its utilisation had not been decided up to the end of the last year. more..

HRC to play key role in Constitution-making

Nov 29 (SO) Human Rights Commission is expected to play a major role in the Constitution-making process, to ensure the new Constitution will not be like the two former Violent Constitutions. Human Rights Commission Chairman Dr. Deepika Udagama said, “One could safely say, the past two Republican Constitutions were violent Constitutions as they created problems, which caused division among citizens, heightened suspicion and the necessity to contest each other”. more..

Divisions within divisions in UPFA & SLFP

Nov 29 (ST) A top-level meeting President Maithripala Sirisena held with a group of senior Army officers has ruffled feathers in the defence and security establishment. Neither Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiaratchchi nor Army Commander Lt. Gen. Chrisanthe de Silva had prior knowledge of the meeting. Most of the nine senior officers who met President Sirisena at a hotel in Negombo, while he was on a visit there, more..

The Commonwealth, Climate Change, and a Tsar-Sultan standoff in the Middle East

Nov 29 (Island) The CHOGM in Malta this weekend is being seen as a rehearsal for the Climate Change conference starting tomorrow in Paris. And Paris will be hosting the Climate Change conference just two weeks after the deadly ISIS attacks. France is still under Emergency rule, and the City chock-a-block with security details to protect nearly 150 Heads of State/Government and 5,000 delegates who will be attending the conference spread over two weeks. Paris conference is also set to stage more..

Drinks - Adam’s ale and others

Nov 29 (Island) Last Thursday, Minister Sajith Premadasa made his point with a visual aide so it sank into people’s minds. However, one wonders whether all the MPs present in Parliament at the time bothered to comprehend the message, and with honesty, agree with him. He held up two bottles: one a stoppered, labelled bottle given Parliamentarians when within its premises; the other with water from Tissamaharama. Even the not so clear television screen I watch, definitely showed more..

'Importation of cheap Tea will destroy Sri Lanka Tea industry'

Nov 29 (Island) The budget for 2016 had a proposal which has the potential to run into a lot of opposition and gravely affect the govt given the number of people whose livelihoods will be directly affected by it. This is the proposal to allow the importation of cheap tea to be blended with Ceylon tea and re-exported. The need to import tea is not because of any shortage of tea in Sri Lanka, but simply as a means of more..

President Sirisena urges global consultation in Sri Lanka on health of migrants

Nov 29 (IL) President Maithripala Sirisena has invited the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to host a global consultation in Sri Lanka, on the lessons learnt in advancing the health of migrants. The President extended this invitation in a special message to a panel discussion on migration, human mobility and global health, held during the 106th Council Session of the IOM held in Geneva on 26th Nov, which was read by more..

Avant Garde: Maldives awaits Sri Lanka’s investigation

Nov 29 (Island) Maldives says that it awaits the outcome of investigations being conducted by Sri Lanka into an Avant Garde Maritime Services ship allegedly switching off the Global Positioning System (GPS) while passing its shores last month. Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon last week said that they looked forward to Colombo’s inquiry into the accusation by a SL Minister that a vessel chartered by the Galle headquartered more..

Govt leaves no stone unturned to save housemaid

Nov 29 (ST) The Govt is awaiting a response to its legal appeal on behalf of the Sri Lankan housemaid who is to be stoned to death in Saudi Arabia, to decide on an appeal by the State, Deputy Minister Dr Harsha de Silva said. The move came as Sri Lankan officials in Riyadh, continue to visit her, with the latest visit on Sunday (15). Dr de Silva said though the mother of three was convicted of adultery in August this year, more..

Lasantha murder: AG’s intervention sought

Nov 29 (SL) The CID has sought advice from the Attorney General to arrest an alleged mastermind in the murder of the founding editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper, Lasantha Wickrematunge. Sources from the CID said that the Attorney General’s advice has been sought to take into custody a military intelligence operative, who is alleged to have been a mastermind in Lasantha’s assassination on Jan 8, 2009. more..

Offshore banking centre instead of casino

Nov 29 (ST) Along D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha, a large extent of land, earlier earmarked for casinos, will now be the venue for the Colombo International Financial Centre. Such a centre, in terms of legislation to be introduced in Parliament by Minister Ravi Karunanayake, will permit foreign and local banks to operate offshore accounts. Broader outlines of the ambitious plan were spelt out when Budget was presented more..

Disaster risk overlooked in Sri Lanka expressway project

Nov 29 (EN) A section of Sri Lanka’s first expressway gets flooded during heavy rains as disaster risk reduction measures such as elevating the road were not implemented as originally recommended, an expert said. The southern expressway linking the capital Colombo to Matara passes through several river basins and low lying areas. Recent floods caused by rain have disrupted traffic on the expressway, which more..

High-powered UN mission due early next year

Nov 29 (SO) A visit by a high-powered UN mission is scheduled for early next year. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and UNHRC Commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein are scheduled to visit the country in February next year. The visit has been on the cards since August this year. It was originally scheduled to take place before UNHCR sessions in September but was postponed at the last minute due to various reasons. more..

Teesha the Sky borne War Dog

Nov 29 (CT) The Commando parachutist 48-year-old Major M.N.P.S. Siranjeewa of 1 Commando Regiment added a new chapter to Sri Lanka's field of parachuting last Saturday (21) when he descended from a height of 4,000 ft holding the pet War Dog, Teesha. Ceylon Today was very interested in Teesha, the dog that went down in Sri Lankan history as the first ever War Dog to Skydive. more..

Fear and suspicion dog EPF-ETF merger

Nov 29 (ST) Plans to remove the EPF from the Central Bank’s control and to merge it with the ETF could fail over a lack of public faith in the Govt’s motives. The move — which has been tried and abandoned by previous administrations — is heavily dependent upon beneficiaries of the two funds accepting any alternative that is proposed. But the overriding fear is that the Govt is either bowing to the dictates of IMF or plotting to dip into more..

A work-in-progress

Nov 29 (Island) The extremists on both sides of the ethnic divide did their incendiary best. Their intent was provocation and given the sensitivity of the issue, they would have been confident of instant success. The extremists up North behaved as if the very existence of the Tamil people depended on changing the name of Nagadeepa to Nainateevu. The extremists down South acted as if any such a name change would cause the immediate disintegration of Sri Lanka. more..

Investigations on Sajin, Priyath complete

Nov 29 (SL) The investigations carried out by the CID into several allegations levelled against former MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena and former Chairman of SLPA, Priyath Bandu Wickrema have been concluded. The CID has handed over the final reports to the Attorney General’s Department to initiate legal proceedings against the two individuals. Gunawardena was investigated for the alleged misuse of 46 vehicles that belonged to the Presidential Secretariat during former regime. more..

Ravi's Rujino Rajina

~Nov 29 (CT) From Pachinko to slot machines, to Black Jack and Roulette, from Chinese Checkers to simple dice games, Sri Lanka has it all when it comes to gambling and anything remotely related to it. Despite the country's majority standing against casinos and gambling of any sort being promoted by the govt, the truth is that there is a similar group of individuals who would frequently gamble as a part of their life. more..

Car dealers hold prices to reduce inventory

Nov 29 (EN) Sri Lanka's car dealers offered pre-budget prices Sunday despite finance minister sharply raising taxes across the board for all vehicles except motor homes, helium-powered blimps and hydrogen fuel cell prototypes. Pre-budget price for all vehicle, said an advertisement in Sunday's Hit Ad by C.S. Car Sale offering small and mid-size Japanese made cars as well as high-end luxury SUVs. Speed Motors of Kirulapone said there was still some time to beat the budget and more..

Ven Sobitha’s death: Carlo blames too many cooks

Nov 29 (Island) When word came from Singapore on November 8 that Venerable Sobitha was dead my emotions overwhelmed my reason. To admit this is not necessarily to embrace unreason. Some critics jibed that my reason must have fled to brutish beasts. A Shakespearian insight came to mind: He jests at scars that never felt a wound. Remember, it was the judgment of the great 18th century rationalist philosopher David Hume that reason is and ought only to be the slave of passions. more..

One in 10 people live with a disability in the Northern province

Nov 29 (Island) Since the war ended, many people have been left with spinal cord injuries and other similar disabilities. Through a Micro Project implemented by the German Embassy, Motivation Sri Lanka has included 50 wheelchairs in a grant of Rs. 1,965,000.00 to be used for peer group training. "We have identified over 200 people living with spinal cord injuries in the Northern province and a wheelchair can only be used for 5-6 years. more..

SL Navy arrests eight Indian fishermen

Nov 29 (PTI) Sri Lankan Navy personnel on Sunday arrested eight Tamil Nadu fishermen when they were fishing near Neduntheevu, almost near the Lankan coast, a fisheries department official said. They have been taken to Kangesanthurai along with their two boats, Assistant Director of Fisheries Gopinath said. The fishermen were almost near the Lankan coast when they were arrested, he said. While four fishermen hail from Rameswaram, four others are from Pudukottai, the official said. more..

NPC members claim a security withdrawal

Nov 29 (DM) Personal security officers providing security to three Northern provincial councillors including Opposition Leader have been withdrawn without an earlier notice, NPC member Anandi Sashidaran claimed. The police officer who was serving in her personal security division since last April has left yesterday citing that he had been summoned to the particular police station where he had been serving. “Police had not informed me with regard to the security withdrawal. more..

Diaspora hails de-listing, offers assistance

Nov 29 (SL) Reconciliation moves in Sri Lanka has received a much needed boost with the Tamil Diaspora offering assistance after the govt de-listed several organizations accused of having links with the LTTE. The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the de-listing opens the doors for discussions, which will prevent future conflict and ensure healing between and within communities. more..

Dutch tower collapses

Nov 29 (DM) A 150 foot tower built by the Dutch, located at Kandawala along the Baseline Road in Katana has collapsed yesterday. A Maternity Clinic building and electricity cables were damaged in the incident. Residents said the tower had collapsed due to road development work carried out near the tower. Some residents have tried to take away the bricks of the tower as they have been numbered. It was reported that the Dutch used this tower to monitor coastal areas and to measure range. more..

Maskeliya Plantations PLC secures another global achievement

Nov 29 (Island) Maskeliya Plantations PLC., estates owned by Richard Pieris Group of Companies, including five smallholders, who supply Green leaf to manufacture in three Maskeliya Plantation factories, have secured the Rainforest Alliance Certificate. This was the first time in Sri Lanka that the Rainforest Alliance (RA) – Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) Group Certificate was secured by so many estates, together with the bought leaf suppliers. more..

Foot-board travel on long distance trains banned

Nov 29 (DM) Long distance train passengers will be banned from travelling on foot-board with effect from Dec 1 as a preventive measure of possible accidents, Railway Department said. Chief Security Officer of Railway Department Senaka Jayasena said the ban will be applied only for long distance train passengers and after the progress of the regulation is examined, it will also be applied to office train commuters. more..

No pro-LTTE events in North

Nov 29 (SL) Police had not received any complaints on Friday during the remembrance day events held to mark the Tamils killed during the war. ASP Ruwan Gunasekera said that the Tamil people had the right to commemorate their loved ones and the police had no issue with that, as long as the events were not held in support of the LTTE. Both Christian and Hindu rituals were held in the North in remembrance of the dead with the participation of TNA NPC member M. K. Sivajilingam. more..

Falling branch kills man sheltering from train

Nov 29 (ST) A 37-year-old man who was sheltering from the rain under a tree on Baseline Road, Colombo died after a branch fell on him causing fatal damage to his spinal cord, a coroner’s court was told this week. The deceased, Samantha Warnasiri an accountant attached to a shipping company from Kelaniya, was riding his motorbike with his wife when it suddenly started raining. In the hope of finding shelter from the winds and lashing rain the two stood under a tree. more..

Ex-President slams budget, macro-management, economic freedoms

Nov 29 (EN) Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa has slammed a budget and economic management by the new administration, saying the rupee is falling and budget numbers had been fudged while also criticizing a few several given to the people. As expected he criticised moves to list state enterprises in the CSE. Under his tenure state enterprise like SriLankan Airlines, which re-nationalised lost more than Rs. 100 billion. more..

No special security check for Maldivians in Sri Lanka, embassy says

Nov 29 (Haveeru) Despite reports of an extensive security search of Maldivians who travelled to Colombo on Saturday, the search had not been extraordinary, the top representative of Maldives in its closest neighbour said. Maldives High Commissioner Zahiya Zareer said that there was no evidence to suggest that Maldivians had undergone a special security check at BIA. However, Zahiya noted that as most Maldivians carry food items, the search had targeted cardboard boxes. more..

Sri Lanka: A paradise island

Nov 29 (YEP) From elephants and leopards to cave-temples and tea plantations, not to mention sandy surf beaches and a cerulean blue coastline, the island of Sri Lanka has much to discover. Few countries have so many Unesco World Heritage Sites packed into such a small area whilst it is probably the best destination in Asia for viewing wildlife. Sri Lanka lies just under 11 hours away and its diversity makes it ideal for a multi-centre holiday, ideally on a guided tour. more..

She wears my ring, say UK bird researchers

Nov 29 (ST) A bird found with a ring on Puttalam lagoon last week caused puzzlement over the link between the ring and the bird. The ring was etched with the words British Museum London and bore other markings that were meaningless to many people. One erroneous report stated, “London Museum bird accidentally lands in Sri Lanka with a Stolen Ring” and said the ring was silver. But the bird neither visited SL more..

Govt loses 147 billion rupees in tax revenue

Nov 29 (GDI) Finance Ministry has said that the Govt has lost an income of 147 billion rupees due to the concessionary vehicle permits. Due to the concessionary vehicle permits from 2012 to this year, the Govt has lost a tax income of 147 billion rupees. The Finance Ministry said that 32,237 vehicles have been imported to the country from 2012 to August this year with the concessionary permits. Govt has earned only a tax income of 63.8 billion rupees from those imported vehicles. more..

Final warning issued to Ex MPs

Nov 29 (SL) The Public Administration and Management Ministry has issued a final warning to the former Parliamentarians who have not vacated their official residences so far, asking them to vacate them immediately. Minister Ranjith Maddumabandara said that if these MPs fail to immediately vacate the official residences, legal action will be initiated against them. At least 25 former MPs are yet to hand over the official residences given to them. more..

Climate change has come to stay, Earth getting warmer

Nov 29 (ST) Last week, it rained so hard in Mannar that the rain gauge notched 350mm (12 inches) within a day. The waterways overflowed. It was a downpour of tremendous proportions. But, beset like the rest of the world by climate change problems, it was hardly unusual for SL. There is no sugarcoating it. SL faces issues due to global warming. Most notable one is a change in rainfall patterns. There were more floods and more..

'Indifferent officialdom and frustrating red tape hampering investments in Sri Lanka'

Nov 29 (Island) With a largely callous officialdom and frustrating red tape hampering investments, the govt should adopt new legislation to facilitate potential investors to secure the required approvals from local authorities within a reasonable time frame, says Mrs. Deepani Samarasinghe, one of Sri Lanka’s leading woman entrepreneurs. Ministers can give assurances and invite investors, but the follow-up process is appalling. There is only helpless all around as officials more..

Well-known Gastroenterological Surgeon passes away

Nov 29 (ST) Renowned Gastroenterological Surgeon Prof. Dayasiri Fernando passed away yesterday in Colombo. Prof. Fernando pioneered the establishment of Gastroenterology in SL and was the founder President and later patron of the Gastroenterology and Digestive Endoscopy Society of SL. He was the former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at University of Sri J'pura where he was the Professor of Surgery. He also served as the Acting VC of the university. more..

Foreign judges for war crimes tribunals: BASL on the fence

Nov 29 (ST) Bar Association of SL took a non-committal stand on the issue of foreign judges sitting on war crimes tribunals expected to be set up soon. It stated that these must inspire the confidence of stakeholders and be within the country’s Constitution, a position the Govt has also taken. Statement issued by BASL admitted that SL’s existing judicial and prosecutorial systems have not met the confidence of many concerned. more..