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Nov 2015 imports down 11%, exports fall 9.3%

Jan 28 (EN) Trade deficit fell sharply in Nov 2015 from a year ago, down by 13.2% to US$ 630 million as imports expenditure fell at a higher rate than the reduction in export earnings. But the trade deficit for the first eleven months of 2015 marginally increased by 1% to US$ 7,566 million. Earnings from exports declined by 9.3%, year-on-year, to US$ 835 million in Nov 2015 mainly due to declines in tea, rubber products, petroleum more..

Eastern International Investor Forum targets US$ 400 million, 200,000 jobs

Jan 28 (Island) Promotion Forum for the Eastern Province targeting US$ 400 million is to be launched in Colombo today. Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) Nasser Ahmed told The Island that investments totaling around US$ 100 million were already in the pipeline, with many foreign investors engaged in a range of industries having confirmed their participation. " They include companies from India, the Middle East and America." more..

Bail application for Gnanasara Thero rejected

Jan 28 (AD) Bail application filed at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court for the General Secretary of the BBS organisation, Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, who was arrested and remanded for contempt of court has been rejected. Attorney-at-law Sumudu Hewage had filed the bail application on behalf of the Bodu Bala Sena organization. The prisons spokesman said that the Buddhist monk was admitted to the hospital based on a request by the latter regarding his blood pressure. more..

Dilhara Fernando gets surprise recall

Jan 28 (CI) Sri Lanka have picked fast bowler Dilhara Fernando for the T20 series against India, which begins on Feb 9. Dilhara last played for Sri Lanka in mid-2012. Legspinnning allrounder Seekkuge Prasanna also makes a comeback. T20 captain Lasith Malinga misses out due to injury, as does allrounder Angelo Mathews, seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. Malinga is still recovering more..

Token strike by lab technologists at National Hospital over punishment transfer

Jan 28 (Island) Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) announced that all medical Laboratory Technologists at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) would stage a token strike today against Health Ministry’s decision to implement a punishment transfer ordered by Rajapaksa govt in 2012 to intimidate trade unions. Vice President JCPSM, Ravi Kumudesh, said former General Secretary of the Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSM) more..

Sri Lanka foreign reserves estimated at US$ 7.3 billion by end Dec: CB

Jan 28 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves were estimated at US$ 7.3 billion by end December 2015. The figure remained unchanged from end November equivalent to 4.6 months of imports, while total foreign assets amounted to US$ 9.1 billion, equivalent to 5.7 months of imports. During the year to November, the overall BOP is estimated to have recorded a deficit of US$ 1,274.2 million, compared to a surplus of US$ 1,628.3 million during the corresponding period of 2014. more..

Homagama magistrate to withdraw from Eknaligoda case due to monks' hooliganism

Jan 28 (AM) Homagama Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake today rejected the bail application filed on behalf of BBS General Secretary Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera and informed that he intended to withdraw from the case. Magistrate informed the court that he had already sought AG's advice regarding the possibility of withdrawal from the case. "I will not change a decision I have taken, even if someone holds a gun to my head more..

Countrywide workshops for journalists on reconciliation

Jan 28 (Island) Recognising the role the media had to play in brining together communities, govt had decided to hold media workshops throughout the country, State Minister A.H.M. Fowzie said. President Sirisena was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the first workshop in Colombo, Minister Fowzie said. "President is very pleased with this move." "The media can build or destroy a politician, an individual or a concept; this is my belief," 78-year-old State Minister said, more..

Electricity demand in Sri Lanka to see an increase this year

Jan 28 (CG) The demand for electricity is to see an increase this year, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) said. The electricity generation has been estimated for the year 2015 as 12901 GWh and it is expected to increase to 13451G within 2016. PUCSL, the electricity sector regulator, is planning to adopt an internationally accepted tool to review the forecasted electricity demand in Sri Lanka and to access the Long Term Generation Expansion Plan (2015-2032) by the CEB. more..

Local activists, organizations condemn President’s statements

Jan 28 (CG) Local activists and organizations have condemned President Sirisena’s recent statements wherein he appears to be indicating a withdrawal from the obligations Govt had committed to in the consensus resolution passed at the 30th Session of the UNHRC in Oct 2015. In a joint statement, 144 local activists and organizations said that it is worth recalling that Govt as a co-sponsor of the resolution in Geneva, more..

GMOA demands Rs.500mn from Gemunu

Jan 28 (DM) GMOA said that it would send a letter of demand seeking Rs. 500 million from Malabe Medical Institute’s Parents Association member Gemunu Wijeratne for allegedly making defamatory statements against the GMOA. He is also the President of the Lanka Private Bus Owners Association. Secretary of the GMOA, Dr. Nalinda Herath stated that Mr. Wijeratne had given false statement to several media outlets, which had damaged the GMOA reputation after it had more..

All-round SL U-19 overpowers Canada U-19

Jan 28 (ICC) Sri Lanka opened its ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016 campaign with an authoritative, dominant performance against Canada to seal an mammoth 196-run victory at the Sylhet District Stadium today. There were four half-centurions in the line-up as Sri Lanka posted 315 for 6. In response, Canada was bundled out for 119 as Sri Lanka sealed victory with minimum fuss. Canada might have hoped to emulate Nepal, who sprung the first upset of the tournament, beating NZ more..

Sri Lanka to screen travelers from Latin Americas, Africa for Zika virus

Jan 28 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka on Thursday said that it would begin screening passengers arriving from Latin America and Africa at the country's international airport to prevent the Zika Virus from entering the island. Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that the screening facilities set up by the Health Ministry at BIA will monitor the visitors to the country to observe whether they are showing symptoms of Zika. more..

Sunset interferes with Independence Day programme

Jan 28 (CT) Govt has been compelled to change plans to hold the nation's 68th Independence Day celebrations in the evening of 4 February and will be now hold the event in two segments instead, Minister Sagala Ratnayake said. He said the change of plan was necessary because the setting sun would block the view of the President and guests sitting in the VIP enclosure at the Cultural pageant in the evening. The military parade is in the morning at Galle Face. more..

Video: Nishantha W at PRECIFAC

Jan 28 (DM) Former Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines Nishantha Wickramasinghe appeared before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC) today. He was asked to appear to make a statement on alleged irregularities said to have taken place at the catering service of National airline when he was the chairman. He is the brother of former First Lady Shiranthi more..

Video: JHU has passed away: Gammanpila

Jan 28 (AD) General Secretary of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), Udaya Gammanpila, says that his former party, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), is the past of the national movement and that it passed away on the day it left the govt to support the Common Candidate. “To put it simply the JHU passed away on Nov 30, 2014.” Because it has not been buried after accepting the passing, that corpse is causing the entire society to smell badly, more..

Minister orders probe on involvement of official in kidney racket

Jan 28 (CG) Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne says he has instructed a three member committee to investigate allegations that a Health Ministry official was also involved in an international kidney racket. He said that the three member committee investigating the alleged involvement of private hospitals in the racket, has now been asked to look at the latest allegation as well. An official of the Sri Lanka Health Ministry has been accused of being involved in the kidney racket. more..

New passenger terminal at Bandaranaike Airport with JICA funding

Jan 28 (LBO) Cabinet has decided to enter into a loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to obtain funds to build a passenger terminal at BIA. Proposed passenger terminal with 180,000 square meters has a higher level access way to the terminal in addition to the provision of electricity, water, waste disposal systems, car parks, sub runways, and other infrastructure. Cabinet has also decided to appoint a Procurement Committee and Technical more..

'Domestic war crimes probe to meet international standards'

Jan 28 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan govt on Thursday reiterated that a domestic probe into alleged war crimes committed in the island nation will meet international standards. Minister Rajitha Senaratne told reporters that the local mechanism would be set up later this month and foreign assistance would be sought only if required. "Of course we will require foreign technical assistance but the process will be entirely local," Senaratne said. more..

Sri Lanka protectionism, license raj up; tinned fish tax to be hiked

Jan 28 (EN) Sri Lanka will re-impose taxes on tinned mackerel and a tax free privilege will also be given to four domestic factories to import mackerel tax free. The tax free privilege will be given by a licence where the benefit will be given to four manufacturers, he said under a proposal brought to cabinet by Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera. State has also slapped price controls of 140 rupees per 425 gram tin can (280 grams of fish without fluid), and 70 rupees per for a 155 gram tin more..

Welikada Prison Superintendent transferred

Jan 28 (DM) Senior Superintendent of Prisons Anura Ekanayake, who was in charge of the Welikada Prison, had been transferred to the Prisons Headquarters with immediate effect, Prison officials said today. Sources said Mr. Ekanayake was transferred due to allegation of providing special treatment to the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena Ven. Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara Thera, who is in remand custody at the Welikada Prison Hospital on charge of contempt of court. more..

Ranil fumes over media & war crimes issue

Jan 28 (CG) PM Ranil Wickremessinghe today in Parliament slammed some media institutions on the manner they had reported the issue over the involvement of foreign judges in the accountability process on the war. He insisted that govt will not agree to an international war crimes tribunal on the Sri Lanka issue. “We have not signed the Rome statute,” he said. PM said that he met President Sirisena and more..

Is Ethnotionalism the religion of Sinhalas?

Jan 29 (CT) Outside a modernist paradigm, I have always doubted that all forms of nationalisms–especially an ethnonationlism is the rigorous form of religion that was seen in the 20th Century. Because like in religions, nationalism demands unquestioned worship of the unknown past/divine origin, an overflowing emotion capable of blinding the immediate realities and a pride in some kind of mission of the choseness. What is once again seen on the streets (now even in court houses) more..

Let’s break Blue Wall of Silence!

Jan 29 (CT) The dire necessity to free the Police from the clutches of political interference is often debated and discussed at length, irrespective of the govt in power at the time. During the past year, the Police Department came under severe criticism, at a time when a govt whose main election pledge was establishing good governance was in power. This includes promises to put an end to an era of arbitrary arrests, torture and killings. It is in this midst the media reported yesterday that more..

Faiszer rejects international aid in investigating war crime allegations

Jan 29 (FT) Sri Lanka today has a very independent judicial mechanism in place, therefore the international community should not demand an international process to investigate war crime allegations, pointed out Minister Faiszer Musthapha. He stressed that “at present the country has a very good judicial system so nobody should point a finger and say that there are issues with regard to the Judiciary and therefore we need more..

Gnanasara should not be allowed to gain Martyr status

Jan 29 (CT) After hypocritical rounds of cries about the supremacy of Sinha Ley and displays of Sinhala flags denoting unfounded patriotism, the Nation has now been given the next dose of entertainment – Arrest of Gnanasara and the unruly behaviour of so called ruffians in saffron clothing. In fact, this is not the first time where he has been taking both Buddhists in particular and Sri Lankans in general on a jolly good ride into make them believe as if he is some sort of born again reformist more..

Shifting from political motives to economy

Jan 29 (SL) It has been over a year since the good governance govt led by President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe came into power. In the process, they were able to present an interim budget to the Budget 2015 and presented their maiden budget – budget 2016 last year. With all this behind, the new govt’s resume it seems timely to analyze whether the country has achieved the required financial goals and to witness whether the new govt has delivered justice to the alleged economic atrocities more..

Great pavement grab

Jan 29 (NS) Pavements in Pettah have been invaded by the hawkers again who were given slots in the Federation of Self Employees market (FOSE market) in 2010 by CMC to engage in their trade activities. These hawkers now repossessing the streets is an obstruction for thousands pedestrians, shoppers and vehicles that throng Pettah streets. Nation learnt that they only have to buy a parking ticket to set up a stall more..

Editorial: A foreign invasion!

Jan 29 (Island) The JVP has let out a howl of protest against an Indian invasion, calling upon Parliament to thwart it. Our Rathu Sahodarayas usually see, in a glass of water, more crocodiles than a vast reservoir can hold. So, one may think that they are all out to forestall a possible scenario fraught with the danger of Indian boots being inducted on Sri Lankan soil again. But, this time around, they are not girding up their loins against a military intervention. Clad in shining armour they are straddling more..

Get national priorities and values right

Jan 29 (Island) We have democratically chosen to uphold human dignity and human rights and follow a sober path of living in mutual concord, mutual forgiveness, reconciliation, justice and peace, after a fratricidal war. Yet we seem to have only begun this path of progress and advancement. While the majority of the people have clearly opted to strike out on a new path some politicians now ensconced in power seem to be hesitant and reluctant to take the decisions they very well know to be right more..

Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya

Upped electric motor vehicle tax, a matter to be considered

Jan 29 (Island) The increased tax on electric motor vehicles by the govt is a matter to be considered because electric vehicles will be the future. They are also more cost-effective than fuel consuming vehicles, Managing Director Prestige Automobiles Heinz Reuter said. "Sri Lanka is an important vehicle market in the Asian region, that is why these two versions of BMW i series electric cars were launched here after Singapore, Reuter told the launch of both vehicles at Waters Edge, more..

Putting Sri Lanka on the tourist map

Jan 29 (FA) Sri Lanka is a country with everything a tourist could possibly want. It has mile upon unbroken mile of pristine tropical beach for sun seekers, or verdant tea plantations for those who prefer chillier climes. Wildlife can be viewed up close and personal in scores of national parks, or spotted simply wandering at will through jungle and across paddy fields. The country is also replete with history. Some eight World Heritage sites conserve its ancient Buddhist, Hindu, & Islamic traditions, more..

Forsaking work for facebook

Jan 29 (SO) The mobile internet users in Sri Lanka, a country which has more mobile phones than its population, is booming. Although it is a positive development it could have a negative impact on the country's economy. A recent survey by the Govt revealed that over 60% of State sector employees waste at least two hours a day browsing facebook. This revelation would certainly grab the attention of the private sector as well. more..

Musically yours, from Jaffna

Jan 29 (Hindu) In all his music videos, T. Thuvarakan is a picture of concentration. Playing two keyboards simultaneously, his fingers deftly search for the right note, not missing them even on one occasion. A big fan of Tamil film music, the 21-year-old’s most recent videos are that of hit Kollywood songs, including Thalli Pogathey (Achcham Enbadhu Madamaiyada), Thangamey (Naanum Rowdy Dhaan) and Aaluma Doluma (Vedalam). What’s so special, you might ask. more..

Milantha’s sixes too much for Kurunegala

Jan 29 (CT) Young left hand batsman Lahiru Milantha smashed seven sixes and five fours in his 43 balls 78 as Galle Guardians beat Kurunegala Warriors by eight wickets in their SLC Super T20 match. Chasing 130 to win, Milantha smashed the ball all over the park, as along with Udara Jayasundara (39) the pair added 108 for the first wicket in 73 balls. Kurunegala had no answer against Galle as they used 7 bowlers, before Chamara Kapugedara picked up two wickets. more..

SLC constitution to be changed by Act of Parliament

Jan 29 (DN) Former interim committee chairman Sidath Wettimuny is hopeful that the proposal put forward by some of the interim committee members to change the Sri Lanka Cricket constitution would be implemented soon by PM Wickremasinghe and Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera. "When I handed over a copy of the constitution proposal to PM and to Sports Minister they both accepted that there needs to be a more..

SriLankan Airlines starts thrice-weekly non-stop flights to Guangzhou

Jan 29 (EN) SriLankan Airlines is introducing thrice weekly non-stop flights from Guangzhou to Colombo from January 2016, on three of its four frequencies, to better position itself to exploit the large and growing Chinese tourist market. “The flying hours of these non-stop frequencies are estimated to be 5 hours and 40 minutes whereas the previous operations via Bangkok took 7 hours and 30 minutes of flying hours,” a statement said. Guangzhou route will have the highest frequency with more..

Time for Justice in Sri Lanka

Jan 29 (NYT) Just a little over a year ago, voters in Sri Lanka rallied to elect a new president, with high hopes that he would usher in a new era of govt accountability and bring healing to a country fractured by the brutal civil war that ended in 2009. President Sirisena has taken bold steps to fulfill those hopes since his election last January. But the wounds of war cannot be healed until a transitional justice process demanded by the UN in a resolution last October moves forward. more..

Video: 'Remove stickers within a week'

Jan 29 (DM) One more week would be given to bus operators residing outside the Colombo District to remove any form of stickers or banners, which could be interpreted as racist, Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne said. “We have received many complaints regarding the pasting of stickers, on some private buses, which incite or perceived as racist from outer Colombo Districts such as more..