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Education bigwigs’ placebo calms down protesting docs

June 23 (Island) More than 200 doctors demonstrated opposite the Education Ministry, Isurupaya in Pelawatte yesterday, demanding schools for the children of medical officers who had returned to the country after completing foreign training or been transferred. The protest was organised by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA). The protesting doctors carried placards with slogans critical of Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam. more..

Govt. made AG a partner in political witch-hunt: Vasu

June 23 (DN) The govt has made the Attorney General (AG) a partner in its political witch-hunt against opponents, Parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara alleged. He said the Constitutional Council has been reduced to the position of a rubber stamp of the govt. He said the government’s political witch-hunt against opponents had gained alarming proportions today and said arrest and remanding of people should be done according to some established standard. more..

Lankaputhra two bad loans amount to over Rs 1000 billion

June 23 (Island) Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne told Parliament that the Lankaputhra Development Bank had given a Rs. 530 million loan to the Tristar Apparel Exports (Pvt) Ltd on cabinet approval in 2007. Saying that the company had paid only Rs. 500,000 back so far Wickramaratne asked if a bank could give such a big loan to a company even on cabinet approval when it was not capable of resettling the loan. He said the govt would institute legal action. more..

Be like Philippines President, buy ministers Toyotas: Ranjan Ramanayake Tells Sirisena

June 23 (CT) Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake has urged President Maithripala Sirisena to take cue from his Philippines counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte and instead of doling out super luxury vehicles at the expense of public money for ministers and deputy ministers, to instead provide them with cheaper vehicles, such as Toyotas. While agreeing that ministers and deputy ministers require vehicles to carry out their duties, Ramanayake questioned more..

Former SEC boss appointed Blue Diamonds Chairman

June 23 (FT) Former SEC Chairman Dr. Dayanath Jayasuriya has been appointed as Chairman cum Non-Executive Independent Director of the troubled Blue Diamonds Jewellery Worldwide Plc. The appointment follows the Chinese controlling shareholder Xia Liqiang stepping down as Chairman but he will remain on the Blue Diamonds Board as Deputy Chairman cum Managing Director. The company also announced the appointment of S. Prabaharan as an Executive Non-Independent Director. more..

Insurers cope with Sri Lanka floods, but risks increasing: Fitch

June 23 (FT) Insurance claims arising from recent flooding in Sri Lanka are likely to be manageable for most local insurers due to low retention levels, but changing weather patterns raise long-term risks, says Fitch Ratings. The agency expects the sector’s underwriting profitability to weaken in 2016, although this is unlikely to threaten most insurers’ credit profiles. A severe tropical storm in mid-May caused flooding and landslides in several parts of the country, more..

Parters in Crime: Gambling on good governance

June 23 (FT) Indi Samarajiva, Sri Lankan blogger and founder of the popular website, recently released a video that simplifies the Treasury bond scam in a most entertaining way. Titled The Bond Game and featuring Casino Centrale, the 007-themed video went viral, being the first simplified explanation in the public domain of a somewhat complex scandal that so far has been best understood mostly by the financial sector. more..

‘Remittances to Lanka witnessing slowdown’

June 23 (DN) Remittances to Sri Lanka is witnessing a slowdown due to the fall in oil prices, but the affect of the slow growth is not yet felt in a big way, Fitch Ratings Senior Director and Head of APAC Sovereign Ratings Andrew Colquhoun said. Sri Lanka has relatively high dependency on money transfers from nationals working overseas particularly in the Gulf region and the growth in dollar transfers back home has slowed like many other countries in South Asian Region. more..

PM disputes borrowings doubled

June 23 (DM) With reference to the report that the Govt had borrowed in excess of the limit approved by Parliament, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament that the Auditor General's observation contradicted against the reports of the Treasury and the IMF. As a result, the Prime Minister said an explanation should be sought from the Auditor General in this regard, and the Public Finance Committee would do it. The Auditor General, in his report submitted to the House said more..

Video: New Customs Ordinance detrimental to country: TU

June 23 (DM) The new Customs Ordinance, if implemented, would reduce the powers of Customs Officers, allow more room for criminals to operate and bring the control of the entire Customs Department under a single individual, Customs Trade Union Alliance charged today. “Amending the 200-year-old Customs Ordinance and bringing in a new one would pave the way for those engaged in smuggling to escape from law enforcement officers, more..

Bahrain keen to take more Lankan workers

June 23 (DN) The Chief of Labour Authority of Bahrain, (LMRA), Ausamah bin Abdullah Al-Absi has submitted a proposal to Sri Lanka to initiate a pilot project to recruit skilled and highly skilled as well as semi-skilled workers to Bahrain. Al-Absi who met up with Ambassador of SL to Bahrain, Dr A. Saj U. Mendis, last week said that this will ensure the intrinsic rights and dignity of the potential employees. The duo further discussed, in detail, of the rights of migrant workers, more..

Relief to those who lost land during civil war

June 23 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan govt has enacted a law enabling residents of the Northern and Eastern Provinces to reclaim their land lost to encroachers during the civil war. The law, which will be in force for two years, covers those who were forced to abandon land and other immovable properties and unable to retrieve them due to the internal situation and activities of a militant terrorist group from May 1983 to May 2009. In the event of death of legitimate owners, more..

Tamils stranded in Indonesia face probable torture if returned to Sri Lanka

June 23 (TG) Several of the Tamil asylum seekers stranded after arriving by boat on the Indonesian island of Aceh have been tortured in Sri Lanka and face certain persecution if they are returned, a compatriot living in Australia has claimed. Karikalan, who has agreed only to be identified by a nickname, came to Australia as an asylum seeker by boat in 2010. He was recognised as a refugee – having a well-founded fear of persecution in Sri Lanka more..

Sri Lanka ‘A’ takes flight to England

June 23 (DN) Avishka Gunawardene, an explosive left-handed opener in the Sanath Jayasuriya mould is currently enjoying his stint as a coach and admitted that his new role has brought him immense satisfaction rather than as a player. “At the moment I am enjoying coaching than when I was playing. I enjoyed my cricket also but coaching has put me in a different direction where it looks like I give 200 percent to my coaching,” said Gunawardene who will be taking the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team more..

Elephants for traditional processions from a govt pool hereafter

June 23 (Island) Elephants would hereafter be released for traditional processions of temples and Devalas only on the approval of the Cabinet, Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera told Parliament yesterday. He said the elephants would be released by a committee and not even the Wildlife Minister would be able to release elephants. He made these observations yesterday in response to a question raised Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake. more..

Karunanayake taken to task by JVP for blaming AG

June 23 (Island) Minister Ravi Karunanayake told Parliament that Auditor General’s observation that govt had obtained loans in 2015 exceeding the amounts approved by the Appropriation Bill for the year was a document with no scientific basis and an attempt to create a wrong impression of govt’s financial management. Making a ministerial statement in response to a question raised by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who on the basis of the AG’s comment more..

Incidents of attacks on fishermen have declined: D Jayakumar

June 23 (DC) Incidents of attacks on TN fishermen by the SL navy have declined following Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s proactive measures, fisheries minister D. Jayakumar has claimed. Responding to an issue raised by Congress legislature party leader K.R. Ramasamy in the Assembly on Wednesday Mr Jayakumar said the Chief Minister had ensured the release of fishermen and also their vessels. “In fact, during the previous DMK regime the occurrence of attacks has been more more..

Video: Six indicted for Sri Lankan cricket team attack

June 23 (DM) An anti-terrorism court on Wednesday summoned the prosecution witnesses by June 30 after framing charges against six members of a banned outfit accused in 2009 Sri Lankan cricket team attack case. During an in-camera proceedings on Wednesday held at Kot Lakhpat Jail all the suspects; Obaidullah, Javed Anwar, Ibrahim Khalil, Abdul Wahab, Zubair and Adnan Arshad, pleaded not guilty. The first three suspects were on bail while other are behind bars. more..

Captain Cool in hot water denies having harem

June 23 (Island) Minister Arjuna Ranatunga denied the accusation that he had a harem or did not give anyone almirahs made at the furniture workshop of the Colombo Port contrary to claims being made by trade unionists. He said, he did not sleep with trade unionists’ wives or concubines. "Furniture workshop of the Colombo Port is the largest of its kind in South Asia but the port as well as other govt institutions purchased furniture from private companies more..

RTI: The right step, but a long way to go

June 23 (DM) While the world’s attention will be focused today on Britain’s historic referendum to decide whether it should remain in or leave the European Union, a historic page will also be written in Sri Lanka with the much-awaited though long-delayed parliamentary debate on the draft bill for the Right to Information. Media Minister Gayantha Karunatilake said yesterday, he hoped the RTI draft would get a unanimous ‘yes’ vote in parliament tomorrow. more..

Constitution Making: SLFP, UNP harbour different priorities

June 23 (DM) As the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly forges ahead, it has become visible that the principal parties of the govt-the UNP and the SLFP- has different priorities in making the new Constitution to replace the current one. Committee met with PM Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Chair on Tuesday, and discussed the way forward. The UNP is primarily for the abolition of the executive presidency whereas the SLFP headed by President Sirisena thinks otherwise. more..

Two key Army officers to appear in court

June 23 (SL) Director Military Intelligence, SL Army, Brigadier Suresh Sallay and a representative from the Commando Regiment are to appear before Mt. Lavinia Magistrate and Additional District Judge Mohommad Sahabdeen on July 12 as per the court order delivered to the Army Commander on May 30 in connection with the investigations into the murder of the founding Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge. The failure of the Army Commander to more..

The approvers are leaving the Yahapalana building

June 23 (DM) A few days ago a die-hard UNP loyalist shared a story on Facebook. The claim was that the First Phase of the Colombo-Kandy Expressway would be completed in 36 months. There was a comment along with the post: ‘For the bayyas who are saying that the Yahapalana Govt is not doing anything.’ The post captures the essence of this Govt: Promises. It’s all future tense. In the early days (and let’s include 100 or even 300 days beyond more..

Mail pile up: Devilry but no delivery

June 23 (ST) With despondency written large on her face, 18-year-old Thirumularly Raj Gavisia was standing outside the desolated counters of the Kotahena Post Office. The reason: She could not send her entry for a competition in time because of the postal strike. “I managed to find the stamps, but the officials are not accepting my letter,” Gavisia said. Postal workers launched islandwide trade union action from midnight last Sunday, paralyising postal services. more..

Govt seeks $ 100 m from WB for reforms agenda

June 23 (FT) Govt is seeking $ 100 m funding from the World Bank to fast-track its economic reform plans focused on competitiveness, transparency and fiscal sustainability. The Cabinet paper submitted by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe as the National Policies and Economic Affairs Minister to implement the Competitiveness, Transparency, and Fiscal Sustainability Development Policy Financing program of the World Bank with the participation of more..

Civil society lashes out at judiciary, some Independent Commissions

June 23 (Island) The Attorney General’s Department, some Independent Commissions and essentially the judicial process came under heavy flak at a public meeting held by the NMSJ and Purawesi Balaya (People’s Power) at the Public Library on Wednesday evening. Convenor of the NMSJ Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya alleged that the AG’s Department had not acted swiftly and decisively to initiate judicial process on the basis of completed police investigations. more..

Tobacco tax to be raised to 90%

June 23 (CT) Minister Rajitha Senaratne said he wants to increase the tax on tobacco to 90%, in a bid to compensate the removal of VAT imposed on outpatient services at private hospitals. "Cabinet discussed the VAT imposed on private hospitals twice. I was opposed to this tax because it burdens the people. So finally we agreed to remove this tax," Senaratne said. However, the health minister plans to increase the tax on tobacco, which can be pumped into developing the health services. more..

Fisheries, Defence Ministries, NARA, Navy sign pacts to tighten security within SL territorial waters

June 23 (Island) The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry in collaboration with the Defence Ministry and Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) entered into two agreements to further strengthen the maritime surveillance and security of the country on Tuesday in Colombo. A MoU between the Fisheries Ministry and SLN was signed by Ministry Secretary Managalika Adhikari and Commander of SLN Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera to provide Ministry’s Vessel Monitoring Service (VMS) facility to the Navy to more..

COPE raids SPC warehouse: Over Rs. 1 B worth outdated drugs found

June 23 (DN) Outdated drugs worth over Rs. one billion was found by Parliament members of the COPE during a sudden inspection of a warehouse belonging to State Pharmaceuticals Corporation at Gonawala, Kelaniya, yesterday. The COPE team included Chairman Sunil Handunetti, Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, MPs Asoka Abeysinghe, Hector Appuhamy and G. Srineshan. COPE had received a tip-off on the existence of outdated drugs at the warehouse. more..

'People of war-torn N-E can now genuinely feel the change'

June 23 (DN) The people in Sri Lanka’s formerly war-ravaged Northern and Eastern provinces can now genuinely feel the change in terms of freedom of movement, TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran said. TNA MP said so addressing a gathering at the US Capitol Hill Congress building last week during a panel discussion on ongoing constitutional reforms in Sri Lanka. “Nevertheless, there is more to be done to bring back normalcy to their lives,” Sumanthiran said. more..

Budget deficit at 6.1% of GDP in March

June 23 (EN) Sri Lanka has run budget deficit of 6.1% of GDP or 180 billion rupees in the first quarter of 2016, sharply lower than the gap a year earlier, provisional data show. The govt has earned revenues of 345 billion rupees in the first quarter up 21% from a year earlier. Monthly revenues are now in the range of 115 to 117 billion rupees, achieved in the last quarter of 2015, up from around 90 billion rupees in the beginning of 2015. more..

Drug mafias, Private hospitals: Licensed blood suckers?

June 23 (CT) Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne is never out of the frame as far as news coverage in the Press or TV goes. He likes to wax eloquent about the nasty drug mafia in Sri Lanka and the bloodsuckers in private hospitals. He's of course right on target on both counts. What this editorial is all about today, however, is that it appears he has not heard about Ralph Waldo Emerson saying that "What you do........speaks so loud.......that I cannot hear what you say." more..

What does true political change imply?

June 23 (CT) I had the good fortune of attending a meeting organized by civil society organizations which worked to oust the Rajapaksa regime and helped bring the present govt into power. It was held at the auditorium of the public library on 21 June 2016 and was well attended. It demonstrated that people had and are having great expectations from the govt but were anxious about the slow pace at which the govt was moving It showed lot of soul searching was going on as to more..

Nearly 50,000 heroin addicts in Sri Lanka

June 23 (DM) About 50,000 heroin addicts were reported in Sri Lanka while nearly 200,000 people were reportedly addicted to cannabis, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board Chairman said. Chairman Prof. Ravindra Fernando said about 1000 to 2000 people were getting addicted to drugs annually. “We are not getting exact details of the drug addicts as they are doing it secretly. But we hope to conduct a survey to identify the people addicted to drugs next year,” more..

Sri Lankan shares hit 2-mth closing low

June 23 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares fell for a fourth straight session to hit a two-month closing low on Thursday as investors turned cautious ahead of a rate announcement by the central bank. The central bank will announce June monetary policy rates at 1230 GMT on Friday and the market broadly expects rates to be left steady for a fourth straight month, although a possible rate hike is not ruled out. more..

MP Claims VAT increase is to get tax evaders and to narrow gap between rich and poor!

June 23 (Island) The govt said that the main objective of increasing the VAT was to impose taxes on big businesses who had been evading taxes while reducing the financial burden on consumers. UNP MP Ajith Mannapperuma said for years large business ventures had used devious methods to evade taxes and VAT would help eliminate that practice. "Big businesses have continuously evaded most of the taxes through various means and as a result consumers have been burdened more..

Video: Ulterior motives behind arrest of govt’s opponents: Wimal

June 23 (DM) JNP MP Wimal Weerawansa charged that the govt was imprisoning its opponents at a rate as it intended to hold a referendum to adopt its new Constitution which was aimed at dividing the country. “The govt is planning to implement a new constitution by obtaining a two thirds majority at a referendum and is doing the utmost to prevent a free and fair referendum. Any shortfall for the special majority at the referendum would be met by more..

VAT not applicable to medicines, channelling fees: Govt

June 23 (Island) The cost of medicines and channelling fees payable at private hospitals was exempted from Value Added Tax, the govt said yesterday. Minister Rajitha Senaratne told the media in Colombo, that the recent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) was not applicable to the services provided by private hospitals. The VAT cannot be used as an excuse to jack up charges for in house treatment since it did not apply to medicines and channelling fees, he emphasised. more..

Mahinda says wait and see when asked about new political party

June 23 (CG) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says no one has been recruited to a new political party nor has the joint opposition formed such a party. Speaking to reporters after visiting Parliamentarian Udaya Gamanpila at the Welikada remand prison today, Rajapaksa denied claims that some members of the joint opposition are to join the Govt. When asked when the new political party of the joint opposition will be formed, he said the public will need to wait and see. more..

Baby elephant saved after falling into an uncovered drain dies

June 23 (MO) The brave baby elephant that was rescued after it fell down an uncovered drain in Sri Lanka has died after the vet who was caring for it went on holiday. The calf, which was dramatically filmed being pulled from the well, sustained a leg injury when it fell and was in a critical condition at a transit home when it died. The vet who was caring for the little elephant went on holiday on June 17 and officials were left unsure how to care for it more..