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Overcome inter ethnic tensions that exist beneath the surface 

Dec 20 (CT) Nationalist Buddhist groups setting up temples and putting up statues in places where there are hardly any or no Buddhists has become a visible source of inter ethnic agitation. The Northern Provincial Council has passed a resolution that no Buddhist temples should be constructed in the North. Many Tamils see the putting up of Buddha statues and the construction of Buddhist temple as a projection of Sinhalese domination in the North after the defeat of the LTTE. more..

'Handing over Hambantota Port to China: Only way to avoid more taxes'

Dec 20 (CT) Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama says we will not lose the harbour although we have given its administration to China. "Sri Lanka has no alternative. If we do not do this, we will have to impose more taxes." Q: The govt claims that a budget aimed at increasing the income and targeting development has been proposed. Will the govt be able to achieve its targets? A: The UNP and SLFP representatives meet weekly under more..

Climate Diplomacy

Dec 20 (DN) Melting glaciers in the Himalayas or the Andes, more frequent storms in the Caribbean or Oceania, changing weather patterns in Africa or the Middle East: the challenges posed by climate change are enormous. The repercussions raise geopolitical questions, have implications for livelihoods and development, and require a strategic response to ensure sustainable development. They raise questions lying at the heart of international politics – sovereignty, territorial integrity, more..

Honouring heroes

Dec 20 (DN) It is true that the valiant heroes who stood against foreign invaders and made the ultimate sacrifices were always considered with honour and respect by the masses, although Colonial rulers branded them as traitors. However, it was not officially rectified, though the country became free of Colonial yolk 68 years ago. Realizing this long felt need, President Maithripala Sirisena revoked the 198-year-old British colonial order, clearing the names of 19 citizens more..

Face The Nation

Reform the Central Bank, but don’t erode its independence

Dec 19 (CT) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, in the economic policy statement he presented to Parliament in Nov 2015, pledged that his Govt would make structural changes in the Central Bank enabling it to engage in their work in a more independent manner. This was a solemn promise. But the Budget speech delivered by his Minister of Finance two weeks later did not mention a word about the Govt’s wish to restructure the Central Bank. The second economic policy statement more..

Editorial: A monster in the making

Dec 20 (Island) Apologists for the incumbent govt claim that some powers of the executive presidency have been curtailed. True, there has been some tinkering with the JRJ Constitution. But, the fact remains that the pledge to abolish the executive presidency has been reneged on and the promised radical break from the past has become will-o’-the-wisp. We are being made witness to gross abuse of power, political interference with vital state institutions including the judiciary, more..

Rajapaksas wanted Prabha dead

Dec 20 (CT) In his book Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy, former Indian High Commissioner for SL and National Security Agency Chief Shivshankar Menon attempts to give an insider's account of the negotiations, discussions and assessments that went into the making of five pivotal choices in India's recent history. In it he says, the Rajapaksas did not want Prabhakaran alive or to take him through more..

Angelo takes two on return to bowling

Dec 20 (CI) Lahiru Kumara, SL's 19-year-old seamer, boosted his chances of playing the first Test in Port Elizabeth by claiming three wickets on day two of the practice match at Potchefstroom. Dushmantha Chameera, meanwhile, went wicketless and proved expensive, conceding 68 runs from his 10 overs. The Sri Lankans had the South African Invitation XI 285 for 8 by stumps. The visitors had made 373 in first innings. Kumara may not have been in the likely XI for Port Elizabeth match more..

Tourism Fest opens today

Dec 20 (FT) The much-anticipated second edition of Tourism Fest 2016 will be inaugurated at the Independence Arcade in Colombo this evening. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe will be the chief guest at the inauguration which will take place at 6:30 p.m. today with the participation of Minister John Amaratunga, Archbishop of Colombo Malcom Cardinal Ranjith and a host of other dignitaries including the diplomatic community. Tourism Fest is a concept of Minister John Amaratunga more..

Distressed Pakistani asylum seekers rough it out in Sri Lanka

Dec 20 (ET) A Sunday mass is under way at a small chapel in Negombo. The building is decked out in multicoloured bunting for Christmas. Interestingly, the worshippers are singing hymns and psalms, not in Sinhalese, not in Tamil, not in any other dialect of the island nation, but in Urdu. Four Catholic bishops visiting from Pakistan are leading the mass for the families of the Christian asylum-seekers from Punjab and Sindh. more..

Get your candles ready: Power cuts as early as February 2017, no end in sight

Dec 20 (Island) If the readers recall, these columns explained in Sept 2015, that not a single power plant was under construction, and that the Sampur power plant was badly behind schedule. Perhaps, a right thinking Govt would take note of such assessments, and the numerous warnings and reports circulating in the energy bureaucracy since 2012 that a crisis is approaching, and kick CEB on the back, to implement new projects fast, of which the corner stone will be the Sampur projects. more..

7,800 deaths in Sri Lanka per annum due to air pollution

Dec 20 (NS) Chemists highlighted that 7,800 deaths occurred per annum owing to air pollution, half of which was estimated as being due to indoor air pollution. Air pollution levels have risen due to the increasing number of vehicles on the roads. Air pollution levels in Kandy have been found to be higher than that of Colombo. Indoor air pollution affects rural households due to their use of firewood for cooking. Worldwide, annual figure for deaths occurring due to air pollution is 8 million more..

Tokyo Cement opens second cement plant in Trincomalee

Dec 20 (DN) Tokyo Cement Company (Lanka) commenced initial testing of a cutting-edge cement manufacturing plant in Trincomalee at a soft opening ceremony held recently. Fully-automated, hi-tech plant is the company’s fourth mill and is slated to nearly double their production capacity when it begins commercial operations in Feb 2017. The cement grinding mill and bulk cement manufacturing facility once more..

'SL can have night safaris with restrictions'

Dec 20 (DN) The vision of commencing Night Safari Parks in Sri Lanka could become a reality in the future with further development of country’s wildlife conservation. Prof. Lalith Jayawickrama made these remarks at the Deshabandu Lyn de Alwis memorial lecture conducted in Colombo under the theme The Role of Modern Zoos in Education and Wildlife Conservation. A large number of eminent personalities including Wildlife Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, more..

Silkair to add Colombo to route network

Dec 20 (FT) SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines (SIA), will commence flights to Sri Lanka’s commercial capital Colombo on 8 April 2017. SilkAir will operate three flights per week, taking over SIA’s SQ466/SQ467 service. SIA will continue to operate its daily night flight SQ468 and return flight SQ469. The addition of SilkAir to the Singapore-Colombo route will optimise the utilisation of the SIA Group’s resources and present a better match of capacity to demand. more..

PMB releases paddy stocks to market: Bid to control price increase in rice

Dec 20 (CT) Large stocks of paddy stored as security by the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB), was released to the market yesterday. PMB- Chairman M.B. Dissanayake said that this is being done in order to control the price of rice which has seen a steep increase as a result of the festive season. Question: Why is there a delay in issuing stocks of paddy from the PMB to the market? Answer: As at present the PMB has about more..

Bank of Ceylon to open Rs. 8 billion debenture subscription tomorrow

Dec 20 (Island) Bank of Ceylon is opening the subscription list of its 8th listed Rupee debenture issue on Wednesday (21). "Bank of Ceylon is the largest issuer of debentures in SL Debt market with over 77 years of trust, stability and leadership in the SL banking industry, Bank has successfully raised over Rs. 44 billion by issuing debentures in the market. During all those times the issue has been oversubscribed on the same day which showed the high level of investor confidence more..

Sri Lanka on path to raise more taxes and fix state finances: IMF Video

Dec 20 (EN) Sri Lanka's current administration began a drive to increase govt revenues getting more taxes from the people, instead of cutting spending (state austerity) and making the government smaller. Cutting spending is generally opposed by socialists and Keynesians, who want the state to tax people more and spend more. The govt is also on a drive to raise more direct taxes (taxing investible capital and savings) rather than indirect taxes (taxing spending). more..

Court order to arrest Sarath Kumara Gunaratne goes missing

Dec 20 (CT) Former Deputy Minister, Sarath Kumara Gunaratne, for whom an arrest order had been issued by Court, is said to have gone missing without a trace, Police sources said. He was to be arrested for having defrauded a sum of Rs 300 million from the Negombo Lagoon Development Project. Searches carried out by a team from the CID at his house and several other places on 16 Dec proved futile. more..

Roar Media launches Tamil edition

Dec 20 (CT) Roar, Sri Lanka's new media platform expands globally, with Roar Tamil. The new edition delivers engaging content that focuses on current affairs, lifestyle and business to Tamil readers in Sri Lanka and abroad. The current digital media landscape of Sri Lanka, while growing in the last two years, still lacks credible, high-quality content for Tamil readers. Roar Tamil was launched in September this year to fill this void. The section publishes articles & other shareable content more..

1.23 lakh tablets on their way to SL seized

Dec 20 (Hindu) Ramanathapuram Town police have seized about 1.23 lakh tablets, mostly pain killers and pregnancy termination tablets, and arrested a person, who took possession of the medicines, clandestinely transported from Chennai in a bus, for smuggling them to Sri Lanka. Acting on the orders of SP N. Manivannan, who received a tip -ff about the illegal transportation of the medicines, ASP S. Sarvesh Raj arrested V. Rajendran (35) and seized the medicines. more..

Namal Rajapaksa questions Vaiko’s stand on fishermen issue

Dec 20 (Hindu) MP Namal Rajapaksa, and son of the former President Rajapaksa, has asked why MDMK leader Vaiko opposed laws that seek to protect Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen. “#Vaiko claims to speak on behalf of Tamil people. Then why oppose laws that protect livelihoods of #SriLanka Tamil fishermen? @narendramodi,” the young MP, who Mr. Rajapaksa considers his political heir, tweeted on Monday, days after more..

National Christmas Celebrations in Negombo on Dec 22

Dec 20 (DN) National Christmas Celebrations will be held in Negombo on Dec 22 under the patronage of President Sirisena. Minister John Amaratunga said it is appropriate to have National Christmas celebrations in Negombo which is a traditionally Catholic and Christian area often referred to as little Rome. “The birth of Christ is the most important religious event. Religious practices of people attending churches, prayers and living up to the Ten Commandments should be considered more..

PM emphasizes promotion of poetry and literature

Dec 20 (ITN) PM Ranil Wickremasinghe said that exceptional literature productions would have been witnessed if there were extremists in the past. The PM made this reference participating in the Poets for Coexistence concert. The event organized by the Ministry for National Coexistence, Dialogue and State Languages was held at the Ape Gama premises in Batttaramulla under the patronage of PM Ranil Wickremasinghe. Poems were rendered in Sinhala and Tamil Languages. more..

Alleged audio tape of MR-Lasantha telephone conversation leaked

Dec 20 (FT) A leaked audio tape has emerged, apparently between former President Rajapaksa and Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was brutally murdered in Colombo in Jan 2009. The audio, presumed to be a leak from a phone tap ordered on Lasantha’s mobile number by Rajapaksa administration itself, was exclusively uploaded on the news website Audio link more..

Mumbai to retain Malinga for IPL-2017

Dec 20 (DM) Lasith Malinga is to be retained by the Mumbai Indians ahead of 2017 Indian Premier League season. Former Australian cricketer Shane Watson, who was the costliest among the overseas players was among those retained. Watson was bought for Rs 9.5 crores by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday released a list of 140 players including 44 overseas cricketers, who have been retained by their respective franchises. more..

Postal strike until Dec 21

Dec 20 (DN) The postal strike launched from midnight yesterday will continue until Dec 21. The trade union action is due to the delay in remedying certain lapses and requirements brought to light by Sri Lanka Post workers in June. “A strike was launched in June and the PM’s secretary promised to look into the issues in six weeks. However, even after a lapse of six months, no solution was provided to the issues,” Postal Service Joint Trade Union Front co-convener said. more..

Courts to be moved against sale of H’tota Port to Chinese firm

Dec 20 (Island) MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that his party would file a private lawsuit against the govt’s attempt to sell 80% of the shares of the Hambantota Port to a Chinese company for a song. The price agreed between the two parties was only USD 1.1 billion. He cited two instances where private law suits had resulted in the Supreme Court annulling the sale of state assets in a fraudulent manner. more..

Ex-Power & Energy Ministry secy. asked to declare assets

Dec 20 (Island) Former Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy M. M.C Ferdinando, has been asked by the Anti Corruption Front (ACF) to declare his assets in an effort to tackle corruption in the power sector. Alleging that former Secretary Ferdinando was behind the controversial large scale coal mafia, ACF Head of the Legal Division, Namal Rajapaksha, said at Society and Religion (CSR) in Colombo alleged that some of Ferdinando’s assets had not been accounted for. more..

Murder of DIG’s driver CID: examines CCTV

Dec 20 (CT) CID has commenced examining CCTV recordings, in the New City of Polonnaruwa, in order to obtain clues with regard to the murder of Police Sergeant T.G. Wijenayake (1786), who was the official driver of Senior DIG, in Charge of the Presidential Security Division, S. M. Wickremasinghe. The body of the Sergeant, who had been hacked to death, was found at the official residence of the Senior DIG in the new city of Polonnaruwa in the evening of 16 December. more..

Over one third MPs should be probed

Dec 20 (DN) A public interests litigation activist yesterday filed a writ petition in Supreme Court seeking a Mandamus Order directing the Bribery Commission to initiate a credible and independent investigation into the abuse of the tax-free permit scheme by 85 Govt and Opposition MPs. The petition had been filed by Nagananda Kodituwakku naming the CIABOC which has failed to perform its statutory duty on the plausible complaint more..

A quest for ethics

Dec 20 (DM) Judicial independence, a vital dimension for a vibrant democracy, is being gradually restored by the National Govt, but the process is still slow and the notorious laws’ delays have often resulted in only the rich and powerful being able to afford the cost of getting justice.  Now, the National Govt is considering a proposal made by a large number of ministers to set up a wide-powered Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) to expeditiously try & punish those found guilty more..

Retired Banker uses maths skill to uplift Tamil Children’s theatre

Dec 20 (DM) Mithrarathna Kanaththage, a retired banker, has introduced five new methods to solve the famous Theorem of Pythagoras recently. He presented his methods to the Kelaniya and Sri Jayawardhanepura Universities. There, they were tested by Maths professors and presented to the National Educational Institution at Maharagama and finally to the International Mathematical Council. The Pythagorean Theorem can be proven by more than 300 methods. more..

'We will not quit govt until SLFP CC decides'

Dec 20 (DM) State Minister Dilan Perera, who is also the spokesman of SLFP speaks about the current political situation, challenges lying ahead for his party and the way forward. Q: How do you see the current political situation in the country? Our country is not used to this kind of politics. Two main parties are together and govern. This is an experience. It was Mahinda Rajapaksa who really wanted to experience this first more..

Transport Ministry to limit three wheeler imports

Dec 20 (DM) Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the ministry had decided to limit the importation of three-wheelers in future and to issue licences to drive three-wheelers only to persons above the age of 35 years. While holding a discussion with several three-wheeler associations at the ministry, he said there were about 1.2 million three-wheelers in the country and new rules and regulations would be introduced regarding more..

'Unity Govt is like husband and wife maintaining a Joint Account'

Dec 20 (DM) Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake speaks about corruption investigations, present status of the govt and the way forward. He expresses his views in this regard. Q: How do you analyse the current political situation? Compared with what existed prior to Jan 8, 2015, what we have achieved today is more than enough. It was actually a terror period. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake rightly called it Black Decade. more..

'US eyeing Trinco harbour to expand naval bases'

Dec 20 (Island) Leader of LSSP Prof. Tissa Vitharane warned that the US was eyeing the Trincomalee harbour as part of its naval base expansion project. He called upon PM to resign over the rapid deterioration of the country’s economy. He said the five-year economic plan of the govt had miserably failed and it had led to a serious economic down turn and made every citizen in the country suffer except the wealthy. more..

Kalubowila hospital treats over 4,000 dengue patients

Dec 20 (Island) The Colombo South Teaching Hospital yesterday said it had treated more than 4,000 dengue patients since the beginning of the current year. Hospital Director Dr Asela Gunawardane said that a large number of dengue patients, treated by the hospital, were from the Dehiwela, Mount Lavinia, Maharagama, Piliyandala, Kesbewa & Moratuwa. About 60 of hospital staff members had suffered from dengue. more..

Govt looks to reassure shipping lines

Dec 20 (SL) The govt last week looked to reassure shipping lines calling in at the Hambantota port after a protest by employees led to them virtually taking hostage of a foreign ship before the Navy moved in and set it free. The govt had reached an agreement with China Merchants Port Holdings on operating the Hambantota port. However temporary employees at the port objected to the agreement, raising fears they will lose more..