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Church has a re-think following mounting criticism

Dec 17 (CT) Plans to construct the tallest artificial Christmas tree in the world at the Galle Face promenade had run into an early controversy with Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith – head of the local Catholic church saying that funds set aside for this project should be diverted to the deserving poor. The tree which is set to enter the Guinness Book of Records with a height of 325 feet was aimed largely at attracting visitors both local and foreign more..

Arbitration Panel issues Interim Relief on Lak Vijeya coal imports

Dec 17 (FT) Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardane PC appeared for the Lanka Coal Company and reported to the Supreme Court that the Arbitration Panel considered the petitioner’s application for Interim Reliefs and issued the reliefs in respect of the spurious claim of $42,741,750 by the London-based Liberty Commodities Ltd. The Bench, comprised of, Justices Priyantha Jayawardane, Upaly Abeyrathne and Nalin Perera fixed for argument on May 16 the appeal filed by the Lanka Coal Company. more..

NSBM University gets CIOB Green Mark certification

Dec 17 (DM) As the premier professional body which promotes green constructions, Ceylon Institute of Builders (CIOB), presented the coveted CIOB Green Mark award certification and plaque to NSBM University, the first-ever green university in the whole of South Asia. In adherence to the specifications of the govt-owned Building and Construction Authority of Singapore, the CIOB honoured NSBM University situated in Homagama with this prestigious Green Mark certification.  more..

Rupee hits record low: Rs 151.23 against US dollar

Dec 17 (CT) The exchange rate (ER) fell to its lowest value ever at yesterday's trading amidst foreign exits from the govt securities market (GSM), Central Bank data showed. As a result, the ER sharply declined by 49 cents to Rs 151.23 to the US dollar vis-a-vis Colombo banks' average selling price of the dollar for telegraphic transfer (TT) as at 9:30 a.m. on Friday to the real market (ordinary consumer), according to CB's website. more..

Video: To sell the H’tota Port the Govt. called it a white elephant: MR

Dec 17 (DM) Because the government was keen to sell the Hambantota Harbour that it claimed it was a white elephant, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said today. He said people are aware as to how many ships arrive at the Hambantota Port. “When the two ships seized by the port employees departed another two arrived,” Mr. Rajapaksa said. He said his government earned a sufficient income from the port during his tenure and that there was not plan to sell it to foreigners. more..

Belgium to expand trade ties with Lanka

Dec 17 (DN) Two-way trade between Sri Lanka and Belgium is below its potential and to address this issue, both countries need to mull more business partnerships to better reap emerging opportunities, Belgium’s Ambassador to India Jan Luykx said. While expressing optimism on country’s business climate and the prospect of doing business in SL, he noted that relations between SL and Belgium are excellent and said there is huge scope for expansion of trade ties between SL & Belgium. more..

Ruwan refutes MR’s accusation over Navy

Dec 17 (DM) State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene refuted former President Rajapakse's accusation that the navy was sent to sabotage the Hambantota protest and it was a deliberate act to tarnish the Navy's image. “I completely refute former president Rajapakse's accusation,” Minister said. He said that the Navy was deployed to the Hambantota port to secure and release two ships that were held captive by the protesters. more..

Hasan Ali Undermined?

Dec 17 (CT) Supreme Council of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has authorized SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem to decide whether Hasan Ali will remain General Secretary of the Party or not. Accordingly, Supreme Council of SLMC has informed Hasan Ali to meet the Party leader on 2 Jan and discuss the problems that have cropped up. If he does not present himself for this discussion, Supreme Council has also granted Hakeem the authority to make a decision on this issue. more..

'Bonds Scam: Put Mahendran in shackles'

Dec 17 (CT) State Minister Lakshman Seneviratne said that as a member of COPE his recommendation in the probe into the Treasury Bond scam incident is that the former Governor of the Central Bank, Arjun Mahendran, should be punished by putting his feet in shackles. He said any attempt to suppress this probe report and nits recommendations would be tantamount to encouraging a huge national crime. He said he would in no way be a party to that crime, more..

'New Constitution: Parliament debate in Jan'

Dec 17 (CT) The new Constitution along with entrenched democratic reform is to be debated in Parliament in early January next year, Minister Mangala Samaraweera said. He made this statement at the SL-Malaysia Business Forum held in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia and the SL High Commission in Malaysia had organized the Business Forum in line with more..

WB pledges US$ 1,340 mn aid to Sri Lanka

Dec 17 (DM) World Bank has pledged assistance worth US $ 1340 million to Sri Lanka which will be on a dual format, Minister Ravi Karunanayake announced. He said the total sum pledged by the World Bank will comprise US 440 million as development assistance at the rate which could be as low as 2% while it had also received a further US $ 900 million with a higher interest rate in the form of normal assistance. “SL lost development assistance for which the interest rate is much less more..

Minister debunks politically motivated allegations

Dec 17 (DN) Minister Mahinda Amaraweera denied allegations that 15,000 acres of populated land in the Hambantota area are to be taken over by the govt for the proposed Hambantota Industrial Zone. “Certain political groups are making false allegations that govt is planing to take over 15,000 acres of populated  areas in the Hambantota Industrial Zone. No populated land shall be taken over by the govt. 15,000 acres of land shall only be taken over from the non populated areas in Hambantota,” more..

CTC admits fag price hike hurts, won’t give money to President’s Fund

Dec 17 (Island) Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) said it wouldn’t provide funds to the govt outside the current tax regime under any circumstances. Asked whether the govt had sought funds from CTC to the tune of Rs. 500 mn to be utilised by the President’s Fund as envisaged in Budget 2017, Michael Koest, CEO of CTC said that the govt hadn’t asked for any such sponsorship; nor would the company part with funds even if such a request was ever made. more..

Cancer cure in our queen of fruits

Dec 17 (DM) With creative thinking being promoted in vital areas such as healthcare, Sri Lanka also needs to broaden its outlook and do more research on the preventive and curative properties in all systems of medicine. At present more emphasis is given to allopathy or western medicine but health specialists are suggesting we could use new technology to do more research on natural curative properties in most of our herbs and fruits.   For instance we eat just a small portion of more..

Significance of an apology It’s off –the- cuff, but momentous

Dec 17 (DM) After PM Ranil Wickremesinghe made an apology in Parliament on Dec 5 over the burning down of the Jaffna Library in 1981, some had criticized him saying that it was an unintended and off-the-cuff apology, which is true. Some argue that it was just a snarky retort of the Opposition heckling in the House.   If the members of the JO had not recalled during their heckling of the PM that the library was set on fire during a UNP regime, he definitely would not have apologized to it, more..

Curbing the three-wheeler menace

Dec 17 (SL) The biggest gift India gave to the island nation is the Buddhist philosophy; likewise in my opinion, the bad thing we Sri Lankans have got from India is the three-wheelers,” says Presidential Special Projects Director Prasanna Solangaarachchi. He said he would strongly take up the three-wheeler menace with President Sirisena and make sure that three-wheeler licenses are given only to those above 35 years of age. more..

Wasteful habits, wasted efforts

Dec 17 (ST) Municipal councils across the island are struggling with a multitude of problems in trying to get rid of waste and recycle separated and unseparated waste, while facing challenges from households that are not sorting out their garbage. There are also not enough landfills in the country and households and industries have yet to make a tangible effort to reduce the waste they produce. more..

Chaos in Hambantota: Indicator of Worker Rights of future

Dec 17 (DM) “These employees had no legal document issued to validate their employment. I personally visited the employees at the Port and briefed them about the actual situation of their employment. Most of the employees were recruited to the Magampura Harbour which had been established as the Magampura Port Management Company (MPMC),”  Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunge was quoted in the DM more..

Court re-issues notices on Dhammaloka Thera over loudspeaker issue

Dec 17 (DN) Colombo Additional Magistrate re-issued notices on Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka of Alan Mathiniyaramaya Temple in Polhengoda to appear in Courts on December 23 over a private plaint filed against him for allegedly using loudspeakers in a manner of causing nuisance. The Court on December 6 had issued a conditional order preventing Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera from using loudspeakers more..

SLFP summons Sanath Nishantha

Dec 17 (CT) The SLFP Disciplinary Committee has decided to conduct a disciplinary inquiry into public statements made by Puttalam District SLFP Member of Parliament Sanath Nishantha Perera to the effect that he does not accept President Sirisena's position as leader of the SLFP. The Party Disciplinary Committee has written to Perera asking him to attend a disciplinary inquiry on 7 Jan at 10 am at the Party's Head Office. more..

Rapid progress on new flyovers

Dec 17 (DN) Work on the proposed three new flyovers at Rajagiriya, Ganemulla and Polgahawela is progressing rapidly. RDA Director of UK Steel Bridges and Spanish Flyover Project, Piyal Warnakulasuriya said that these flyovers will ease the heavy traffic congestion in Borella, Rajagiriya, Ganemulla and Polgahawela areas and avoid delays experienced by motorists. He said the Rajagiriya flyover will be constructed in two phases. more..

Sasikalaa makes political mark, SL Prez heeds her plea on Katchatheevu festival

Dec 17 (TOI) A letter written by SL President Maithripala Sirisena and one by his minister Arumugam Thondaman on the fishermen issue and addressed to former chief minister J Jayalalithaa's close aide VK Sasikalaa was lost in the din of cyclone Vardah. SL President conceding to a request from Mrs Sasikala to permit 100 TN fishermen to attend the Katchatheevu church festival could be her first political achievement. more..

How to stop tender benders: Transparency the only way

Dec 17 (ST) The only way to stop commission payments in the award of tenders was for procurement processes to be transparent with as much disclosure as possible, a World Bank (WB) specialist said this week. Infrastructure was a service offered to the public. “So on the face of it, why should anything be confidential?” asked Laurence Carter, the Senior Director of the WB’s Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). more..

Mohamed Mansoor named SLMC General Secretary

Dec 17 (NR) SLMC has appointed Mohamed Mansoor as the party General Secretary. Party leader Minister Rauff Hakeem speaking to media after a discussion with officials of Elections Commission said Commission accepted Mohamed Mansoor as the party General Secretary. He said there were rumours that there was an issue pertaining to the post of party Gen. Sec. adding legally SLMC did not see a need to be wary. more..

Granite-tough Sri Lanka braced for South Africa cricket tour

Dec 17 (AFP) Buoyed by victories in their most recent five Test matches, Sri Lanka embark on a two-month tour of South Africa with a three-day match against a youthful South African Invitation XI, starting in Potchefstroom on Sunday. It is likely to be a relatively gentle introduction to a tough challenge in a country where Sri Lanka have struggled on four previous tours. In anticipation of having to deal with South Africa's strong fast bowling attack more..

Developing school athletes no easy task

Dec 17 (CT) Up to the 1960s there was no political involvement, especially, in school sports events like the junior national and the public schools meets. We do not mean by that, school children should be banished from being in the limelight in sporting programmes. If activity related to traditional dance rituals and entertainment needs to be carried out by them it would be quite alright with their involvement in such activity at these events. It should be done not only with the idea of happiness more..

He wanted more than a mere thank you

Dec 17 (DM) 26-year-old Japanese woman who was in the country as a tourist had complained to Galle Police that a steward of the hotel she was staying at had sexually abused her. She had gone outside to take a shower since the bathroom of the hotel was located outside. Realizing that she had closed the room door accidentally leaving the keys behind, a steward had been asked to go and fetch her keys. The steward who had managed to retrieve the keys with the aid of a hook sent through more..

Ada Cartoon

How did Sajith Premadasa amass so much wealth? Petition seeks to clarify

Dec 17 (CT) A petition against Minister and MP of Hambantota Sajith Premadasa‘s accumulated wealth has been finalized to be submitted for investigation by CIABOC. Minister Premadasa’s recent spending habits and doling of massive amounts in cash donations to temples has raised suspicion as to how he had accumulated such wealth despite being a mere politician. The petition is also been made to investigate those that may gifted monies to Minister over the years. more..

The role of civil society in Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review

Dec 17 (CT) Sri Lanka’s game playing at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) during its first two reviews in 2008 and 2012 tested the ability of this human rights mechanism to achieve its aims and maintain the integrity of its principles, including objectivity and transparency. This post explores how the proactive participation of civil society pushed back against the rights ritualism displayed by the SL state at the UPR. These analyses are particularly relevant to the Sri Lankan state, more..

For the countless jobless, deadly mines are a lifeline

Dec 17 (ST) They earn about 25,000 rupees a month, but the women of Muhamalai, who are digging up many types of explosives including anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines and unexploded ordnance, are doing priceless work in the largest minefield in Sri Lanka. Tamil terrorist fighters and SL’s military laid thousands of mines in the area during the war years. After combat ended, Devlon Assistance for Social Harmony more..

Major campaign underway to popularise new RTI Act with public, media

Dec 17 (ST) The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) commenced a major campaign to popularise the newly enacted Right to Information (RTI) Act with the public and media with a series of workshops in Galle, Gampaha, Colombo and the launch of a Citizen’s Manual on the law which will come into operation on Feb 4, 2017. The purpose of the RTI law is to foster a culture of transparency in public authorities by giving effect to the right of access to information and thereby promote more..

Govt open for suggestions on Mattala Airport: Eran

Dec 17 (DM) Days after signing the framework agreement for restructuring the Hambantota Port, the govt remains open for suggestions for the development of the Mattala International Airport, State Enterprise Development Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne said yesterday. He emphasised the fact that the airport was a white elephant but however the govt hoped to consider business propositions rather than developing it as an international airport. more..

SL rice crop to shrivel in record drought

Dec 17 (EN) Sri Lanka is heading for a sharp drop in rice production in the main cultivation season with only a third of the area sown so far amid the worst drought in at least 5 years, with import restrictions already pushing rice prices up. By early December only 30% of the 830,000 hectares of paddy that can potentially be grown during main Maha main rice cultivation season has been sown, B V R Punyawardena, agro-climatologist more..

A strong self regulatory media authority will prevent govt interference

Dec 17 (ST) The absence of a strong self regulatory media authority paves the way for Governments to step into regulate the media, warned Kjersti Løken Stavrum, former Secretary General of the Norwegian Press Association. She made the remarks while delivering a lecture at a seminar titled “What are the Challenges for Self Regulation” at the Sri Lanka Press Institute on Thursday. Ms. Stavrum served as Secretary General of the Norwegian Press Association for three years. more..

Index of Industrial Production sees growth

Dec 17 (NR) The Index of Industrial Production has increased by 4.3% in the month of October compared to the monthly average production in 2015. Manufacturing industries, paper and paper products and furniture showed great progress in October in comparison to the average monthly production in 2015. The volume of food products increased by 0.5%. The industries wood products decreased by o.4%, electrical equipment by 3.5% and chemical & chemical products by 2.3%. more..

Slams Bond Scam, a Ranil Conspiracy

Dec 17 (CT) Former Chairman of COPE, D.E.W. Gunasekara said that, money earned fraudulently through the Treasury Bond scam is being used to set up media institutions in order to enable Ranil to take over total power in the country. He said that by suppressing a serious financial fraud of a nature that has never taken place in any country in the world, and attacking media institutions, Ranil is trying to transform his position into more..

President meets Malaysian King

Dec 17 (PSL) The official meeting between President Maithripala Sirisena and King of Malaysia Sultan Muhammad was held today (16) at the Palace of the Malaysian King. During the discussion, the Malaysian King praised the activities of the new government of Sri Lanka. He also commended the manner in which the consensual government functions. Malaysian King further said that he had directed the Malaysian Govt to give every required support to Sri Lanka. more..

President visits Brickfields Buddhist Temple

Dec 17 (PSL) President Maithripala Sirisena and his delegation in Malaysia, visited Brickfields Buddhist Temple in Malaysia today (17). The President who went to the temple, met the Chief Incumbent of the temple Ven. Kirinde Sri Dhammarathana Thero and looked into his well-being. Chief Incumbent and the Buddhist monks chanted pirith and blessed the President. The Brickfields Theravada Buddhist Temple has been established by the Sinhala Buddhist people who live in Kuala Lumpur. more..

10 dead, several injured in bus and van collision in Jaffna

Dec 17 (AD) At least 10 persons were killed and several others wounded following an accident involving a van and a bus in Chavakachcheri, Jaffna. Police said that a SLTB bus traveling from Jaffna to Vavuniya had collided head-on with a van traveling from Colombo to Jaffna at around 1pm today. The bodies of the deceased have been placed at the Chavakachcheri Hospital while 6 persons who were injured more..