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Coal tender: Champika rejects allegation

July 14 (CG) Minister Champika Ranawaka strongly denied allegation linking him to a controversial coal tender in 2015. Ranawaka insisted that he was not the Minister in charge at the time tender for the Norochcholai coal power plant was awarded. He called for a full investigation into the tender process followed since 2009 under Rajapaksa Govt. MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara had alleged that Ranawaka was responsible more..

Four held for trying to smuggle heroin to SL

July 14 (PTI) Four persons, including three Sri Lankan nationals, were arrested at Ramanathapuram Railway station near here today for allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin weighing 2 kgs to Sri Lanka, police said. Based on a tip-off, the Q Branch police rushed to Ramanthapuram Railway Station and saw Kannan (29) of Ramanthapuram, Yogeswaran (50), Mohammed Kansoor (45) and Mohammed Niroz (55) from Sri Lanka, acting suspiciously. more..

New microfinance laws come into effect

July 14 (AD) Sri Lanka’s new laws on licensing, regulating and supervision of companies carrying out microfinance business have come into effect with the gazetting of the new Act. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as Minister of National Policy and Economic Affairs, has by order, published in Gazette of July 11, brought into operation the Micro Finance Act no. 6 of 2016. “This is a historical occasion, as Micro Finance industry, which serves a large section of the people, more..

Video: Court case delays tabling of VAT (Amendment) bill in Parliament

July 14 (DM) Govt will not present the proposed amendments to the VAT for the second reading in Parliament next Wednesday, Minister Lakshmana Yapa Abeywardana said. “A four member ministerial committee will submit a new set of proposals to President on Sunday on how further relief can be provided on essential commodities,” he said. He said VAT increase was not effective on any single commodity or more..

Certification from WHO for eliminating filaria, malaria

July 14 (DN) Sri Lanka will receive World Health Organisation (WHO) certification on July 21 for eliminating filaria, Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said. Certification for eliminating malaria is expected in September. WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan is due in Sri Lanka on July 21st for a WHO regional conference, the certification on successful filaria elimination will be awarded then. He said this was a significant achievement for Sri Lanka, which has already eliminated more..

Brexit opens up new opportunities for nations outside EU: Mahinda

July 14 (AD) Former President Rajapaksa says that the recent experience of the European Union has demonstrated that political instability in one country can spread throughout a region and have a devastating impact on far off nations as well. He said that though many have expressed dismay over Britain’s departure from the EU, many Commonwealth nations including Sri Lanka have already shown keen interest in negotiating trade agreements with Britain and this new more..

Video: 90% tax to be levied from tobacco companies

July 14 (DM) Govt has decided to increase the tax imposed on tobacco companies to 90% and the relevant Cabinet paper will be submitted to the Cabinet when it next meets Minister Rajitha Senaratne said. Previous govt had imposed a tax of 67% on tobacco companies but the then Premadasa govt had imposed a 90% tax on tobacco companies. Revenue from tax on tobacco would be higher than that collected from the VAT and as such it would more..

On people, poverty, parties, & the periphery

July 15 (CT) About two years ago, someone pointed out to me that the SLFP housed racists and the UNP housed those who were against racism. I believed him, but pointed out that it’s always a fallacy to associate a political party with a set political ideology, especially in as small and unpredictable country as ours. I also noted that people don’t always pick party-colour on the basis of personal beliefs. This was of course before the 2015 Presidential Election. more..

The un-mainstreaming of hatred

July 15 (CT) Assistant Secretary of USA for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal, currently visiting SL, has issued a warning. The lady, sent here by President Barack Obama, says ‘if Sri Lanka doesn’t make meaningful progress in addressing the accountability issues, the patience of the international community on Sri Lanka will start to wear thin and urged Sri Lanka to take some concrete steps to address the issue of human rights, accountability and reconciliation process’. more..

'New Act doubles state revenue'

July 15 (SO) Minister Ravi Karunanayake lashed out at some Customs trade unions for trying to peddle a political agenda and block the long felt reforms in the Customs Department to increase govt revenue. He said, the on going efforts to bring in a new Customs Act replacing the century old Customs Ordinance have been given misinterpretations by vested interests and the corrupt, but the majority of the Customs officials were taking part in more..

Biswal wants SL to be the next Singapore

July 15 (FT) US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, currently on her sixth visit in 20 months to Sri Lanka in her current capacity as US Assistant Secretary of State responsible for South and Central Asian Affairs, speaking to a group of senior business leaders at GFH Colombo on Wednesday said former Singapore Premier Lee Kuan Yew wanted to turn Singapore into a Ceylon. Conflicts reversed the fortunes for Sri Lanka, but now it is time to make Sri Lanka the next Singapore. more..

Unethical media practices by Neth FM

July 15 (GV) On June 14th, 2016 the Balumgala news programme on Neth FM sought to discuss the construction of a mosque at Sri Maha Vihara Road, Kalubowila, Dehiwela. We reproduce below a letter written by a civil society body with regard to what they call unethical media practices by Neth FM. Of particular concern is the failure on the part of the presenters to interview any Muslim member of the congregation or a trustee of the mosque. The Balumgala of June 14th, 2016 is more..

'We don’t trust this Govt'

July 15 (CT) The govt is only busy hunting members of the Joint Opposition and not working for the benefit of the people, Anuradhapura District MP Shehan Semasinghe charged. He asked whether it is the law enforcing authorities or members of the Cabinet that decide who will be arrested and when. Q: What is the stance of Joint Opposition on arrest of MP Namal Rajapaksa? A: We are not against govt officials more..

Western hypocrisy and UN call for accountability in Sri Lanka

July 15 (Island) These days the media all over the world is buzzing with various news items, commentaries and articles on terrorism that is gradually stretching its ugly claws all over the world, almost like an epidemic. While acknowledging the obvious fact that terrorism is not born inside a vacum, but rather that it surely has its own particular socio-economic causes and factors, the point that no conscientious person could deny is that terrorism in itself is an intolerable evil, more..

Firms say no issue with colour bar but don’t isolate them

July 15 (ST) New regulations introducing a colour chart to indicate the levels of sugar quantity in soft drink bottles have been welcomed by large beverage firms but they urge that the restrictions should apply to all food items. ”Whilst we concur that consumers should have an informed choice of food and beverage items with ample nutrition declaration, it’s disappointing that the regulators only target types such as beverages and try to almost instill fear in the consumer’s mind,” more..

W.D.J. Seneviratne

Constitutional reform: Making people partners

July 15 (DN) Constitution is the fundamental law of the country. It supersedes all other laws. They are derived from and subordinated to it. It involves vital aspects such as the nature of the State and principles of Statecraft, human rights and freedoms of the people, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the land, law and order et al that are essential for a civilized existence as human beings. Though couched in legal terminology it affects all aspects of social life and has a decisive effect more..

Towards most favourable tax regime in SA

July 15 (SL) In a bid to transform Sri Lanka into the most favourable tax regime in South Asia, the United National Front has given an undertaking to IMF to redraft the Inland Revenue Act, with a view to creating new income tax legislation that is both in line with international best practices. The govt hopes to implement clear and transparent reforms aimed at widening the tax net such that over time, tax rates may be reduced. “We will submit the draft act to Parliament by March 2017. more..

‘Global pacts can help solve fishermen row’

July 15 (Hindu) International treaties and conventions on the Baltic Sea may help in arriving at a solution for the fishermen problem between India (TN) and Sri Lanka (NP), according to Nirmala Chandrahasan, a veteran legal expert. Dr. Chandrahasan, who published the book Maritime boundaries in Indian Ocean: Sri Lanka and the Law of the Sea, said conventions essentially dealt with marine conservation & research. more..

Call to create endowments’ culture in Sri Lankan state universities

July 15 (ST) A call to create a culture of endowments (donations) to Sri Lankan state universities was made this week by Thilak Karunaratne, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, when be delivered the keynote address at the 34th AGM of the Alumni Association of the University of Colombo held in Colombo. He emphasized the need to encourage the culture of making endowments for universities which is virtually non-existent in Sri Lanka. more..

Mackwoods battle takes new turn with Sri Lanka's Agalawatte Plantations sale

July 15 (EN) A battle among shareholders of privately held Mackwoods group took a new turn with the sale of a controlling stake in Agalawatte Plantations, to Sri Lanka's Browns group. Browns said in a stock exchange filing that it bought 60 a percent stake of APL made up of 15.2 million from Mackwoods Plantations, for 20 rupees a share on July 14. The Mackwoods group has been embroiled in litigation after some members of the controlling Nonis family went to court alleging that more..

Krrish Square finally off the ground

July 15 (DN) The construction of one of Sri Lanka’s most controversial projects, Krrish Square Tower by Indian investors has finally begun on the US$ 650 million mixed development project at the 4.3 acre Transworks Building site in Fort. The project was first launched as a BOI venture in September 2012 but was stalled in March 2013 due to a controversy of payments due to the releasing of the land to the then UDA. more..

Editorial: What’s cooking?

July 15 (Island) Visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal appeared in a local television show preparing what looked like a broth the other day. She was assisted by no less a person than legendary Sri Lankan chef Publis, who has stirred culinary passion in many of his admirers, both local and foreign. The culinary show and Biswal’s mission here reminded us of a story about a crafty youth who made a nail soup. more..

Helping agricultural exporters meet sanitary & phytosanitary standards?

July 15 (IPS) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues are a major consideration for companies engaged in international trade of agricultural produce. Agricultural exports (tea, spices, coconut, etc.) account for almost one-fourth of SL’s total exports, providing an important source of foreign exchange and livelihoods for people in the country. However, earnings from agricultural exports experienced a notable decline in 2015, falling by 11.2% to USD 2,481 million. more..

The state should continue to run Srilankan Airlines: Poll

July 15 (FT) The latest nationwide survey conducted by research firm TNS Lanka, reveals that the majority of people believe that the country’s national carrier should continue to be run by the state. The magazine notes: “Nearly three-quarters of those polled are of the view that the state should continue to run Sri Lanka’s national carrier, with some among them asserting that if the Govt operates it properly, it can earn huge profits. more..

Obama’s disappointing Sri Lanka policy

July 15 (TW) Sri Lanka’s compliance with a recent UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka was discussed in detail on June 29, during the HRC’s 32nd session. Significantly, the resolution – designed to heal the wounds of decades of war – was co-sponsored by Colombo last October. Since longtime autocrat Mahinda Rajapaksa unexpectedly lost a presidential election in January 2015, the new govt has assiduously worked to repair relations with a host of Western nations, especially United States. more..

First ever visit by Standard Chartered’s CEO

July 15 (FT) Standard Chartered’s Group CEO Bill Winters is on an official visit to SL today. It is the first time that Sri Lanka has been graced by the visit of a Group CEO of the international bank and the Sri Lanka branch office is honoured to have the opportunity to showcase the franchise’s long local association to the bank’s top leadership. Standard Chartered Regional CEO ASEAN and South Asia (ASA) Ajay Kanwal, who visited Colombo last Nov, will accompany Winters on the visit. more..

Video: People paid VAT for exempted services: former CJ

July 15 (DM) Imposing VAT increment on services, which were exempt, was illegal and people had already paid the extra money, former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva said People have already paid 15% as VAT in the healthcare sector, which is a VAT exempted service, he said. “If a Bill was presented in Parliament to implement VAT, it is in effect from the date it was presented in Parliament. Normally, a Parliament decision is more..

Tax code a concern, but Sri Lanka remains a strategic location: Noritake Japan

July 15 (Island) The current tax code of Sri Lanka might have an impact on the prices of our fine porcelain tableware supplied to the domestic market as well as around the world, and thereby our competitiveness too, but still, Sri Lanka strongly remains a strategic location for us given the definite advantages in the past and the prospects in the future, Yoshitaka Mabuchi, director, Tabletop Group, Noritake Japan said. "Increased taxes are a concern for our manufacturing business more..

57 hospitalised after wasp attack in Sri Lanka

July 15 (IANS) At least 57 people, most of them students, were hospitalised after a swarm of wasps attacked a school in Sri Lanka on Thursday, sources from the school and a health centre said. The attack occurred in the afternoon in the Padaviya locality, a remote area in Anuradhapura district. Fifty five students -- aged between eight and 18 years -- and two teachers of the Sripura Jayanthi Maha Vidyalaya School were admitted to the regional hospital, a source from the health centre said. more..

Kerala IS couple visited SL before vanishing

July 15 (ENS) Fathima (Nimisha) and Eeza (Bexon Vincent), the couple from Kerala, who have allegedly joined the Islamic State, were in Sri Lanka for over two months before disappearing, a highly-placed source said. According to Indian intelligence agencies, Lanka has emerged as one of the hotspots for Islamic studies, mainly for the Salafi sect following Wahhabism. It is also an easy access destination for Indians more..

President conveys good wishes to new British PM

July 15 (FT) President Maithripala Sirisena has conveyed wishes to the new PM of United Kingdom Theresa May as she began her duties on Wednesday. President in a Twitter message wished May, UK’s second female PM, “strength and good luck” as she takes charge of the country reeling from Brexit - the decision to leave the European Union. “Wishing Theresa May strength and good luck as she begins to lead the United Kingdom in this important period of transition,” President said. more..

Costly BIA ground handling delays more Jet Airways flights to Colombo

July 15 (FT) India’s privately-owned international carrier Jet Airways said that it was keen to expand services to Sri Lanka but costly ground handling charges at the BIA were a deterrent. “Given the growing demand for Sri Lanka, we are keen to increase our services from the current two flights per day from Mumbai. However, cost factors, especially high ground handling charges, have posed some setbacks,” Jet Airways Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing Colin said. more..

CC opposes pay hike for Auditor General

July 15 (Island) Constitutional Council (CC) has turned down a request for increasing the salary of Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe. The CC members said a request from the Auditor General’s Department had been submitted and included in the agenda of the Constitutional Council’s last meeting at the Parliament complex on July 07. The CC met with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya presiding. The request sought approval of CC more..

FM responds to Cardinal's criticism

July 15 (Island) Minister Ravi Karunanayake informed Bishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith that the new Customs Act did not contain a clause beneficial to criminal elements such as drug barons. The Cardinal demanded to know whether the proposed Customs Act contained a clause beneficial to criminal elements as claimed by the Customs unions. The prelate said a delegation of Customs trade unions had briefed him on the proposed Act and requested his intervention. more..

Sri Lanka-built race car flies to Silverstone with Emirates SkyCargo

July 15 (DM) When Emirates flight EK651 took to the skies from BIA on Sunday, July 10, its cargo hold held a unique example of Sri Lankan ingenuity and mechanical proficiency – a racing car designed, developed and built by the students of the University of Moratuwa. D-MORA P1 was on its way to the iconic Silverstone Circuit – the home of British motorsport – in Northamptonshire, England, to compete in the world’s biggest student motorsport competition, more..

Govt urged to avoid collision course with judiciary

July 15 (Island) Alleging that the govt is as corrupt as the ousted Rajapaksa administration, People's Intellectual Assembly (PIA), civil society organization promoting good governance warns of dire consequences unless UNP-SLFP coalition makes a course correction. PIA comprising individuals who backed Maithripala Sirisena's presidential campaign also alleged that parliament and judiciary were on a collision course more..

VAT Amendments legality challenged Jayakody files SC petition

July 15 (CT) MP Sisira Jayakody of Kelaniya yesterday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, under Article 121 of the Constitution and Article 63 of SC rules 1978, against the Bill titled VAT amendment. MP Jayakody filed the petition through Attorney-at-Law H.M. Thilakaratna. Attorney General was cited as respondent. According to the petitioner, imposition of VAT and respective percentages and rates chargeable; the taxable limits of goods and services in determining taxable transactions, more..

Suwanda Pirunu Adaraya lands Lucky in Court

July 15 (CT) Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya granted approval to Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) to launch a probe into a breach of trust case involving veteran film star Lucky Dias who is alleged to have obtained a loan of Rs. 784,000 for the production of a tele-drama titled Suwanda Pirunu Adaraya and failing to repay the loan. Colombo Chief Magistrate ordered the CCD probe after a complaint lodged with it by the Manager of Knorr Lanka Textiles, Dhammika Dias, on 30 June. more..

BCCI owes Murali $400,000, Mahela $500,000

July 15 (AFP) Highest wicket-taker in the history of cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan is an asset for any team he gets associated with. His presence makes a tournament rich but it seems BCCI doesn’t feel obliged to have him in the IPL. Muralitharan, one of the greatest spinners of all time, shocked everyone when he revealed that the richest cricket board and the owner of the richest cricket league IPL, BCCI still owes him $400,000. more..