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SL’s trade gap narrows 9.1% in Jan 2016

May 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s exports fell 2.5% to US$ 893.9 million in January 2016 from a year earlier while imports fell at a faster 5.5% to US$ 1,589.1 million. The deficit in the trade account contracted in January 2016, by 9.1% from a year earlier to US$ 695 million compared to US$ 765 million in January last year. The earnings from exports declined for the 11th consecutive month in January largely reflecting continuous decline more..

Sri Lanka seeks FTAs with Singapore, Malayasia and Turkey

May 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka is exploring free trade agreements with Singapore, Malaysia and Turkey, a minister said. “Countries like Sri Lanka need to thrive on the export of products and services on the way to create vibrant economies,” Minister Malik Samarawickrama, said. “We are now on a new journey and are looking at free trade agreements with countries like Singapore, Malayasia and Turkey.” He said that the new Govt has brought in confidence on the part of the international more..

Abusing official status to get oil free of charge

May 6 (DM) The two main political parties in Yahapalanaya held two separate rallies to celebrate May Day last Sunday. The leadership of both parties issued specific instructions to the organizers of their May Day celebrations well in advance not to misuse any of the state-owned resources in connection with the event. The Head and the Second in command of yahapalanaya won kudos from the civil society activists in particular for this decision. However, a purohita hailing from the South and more..

Finance Minister rails against rich nations’ green hypocrisy

May 6 (AD) Finance minister Ravi Karunanayake, who has helped engineer a growth recovery, tells Emerging Markets that he is fed up with pontificating Western politicians telling him to adopt green policies that would end up adding costs for his citizens. Sustainable development will not be an option for Sri Lanka until the costs involved are lowered, he said. While green financing could bring a new pool of investors more..

Sri Lanka to remove anti-export bias in regulations: Malik

May 6 (EN) Govt aims to remove an anti-export bias in govt regulations that has hampered post-war export growth, Minister Malik Samarawickrama said. The govt is putting in place a framework for faster export growth and prioritizing fiscal consolidation, which will bring about stability and subdue inflation, he said at the launch of the World Export Development Forum – 2016 in Colombo. Improving investment policy, ease of doing business and trade facilitation are among its highest priorities, more..

A consultation report on CKDu submits to President

May 6 (PSL) A report, following a three-day international expert consultation to guide future direction for addressing Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Aetiology (CKDu), was presented to President Maithripala Sirisena by WHO Representative to Sri Lanka Dr Jacob Kumaresan at the Presidential Secretariat, today (06). The consultation was organized by the Presidential Task Force on CKDu in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). more..

Sajin says he is being forced to remain silent over allegations

May 6 (CG) Former MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena says he is being forced to remain silent on some baseless allegations raised against him. He said that some media have published false reports on him and yet his hands are tied. He says if there is an investigation on the said allegations and if the police has filed a report in court then it is fair for the media to report on the matter. However he says the police has not filed more..

Ben Bavinck’s testimony within the crucible of war, 1994-2004

May 7 (CT) As a young teenager in the Netherlands Benjamin Bavinck (1924-2011) lived through the occupation of his country by the Nazi Germans. As he traversed the various war zones in Sri Lanka between 1988 and 2004, therefore, and recorded his experiences (in Dutch) in his diaries, he brought an experiential background that few other foreigners would have possessed. This pillar of experience was girded by two other sturdy characteristics: (1) what one can present as Dutch phlegm and more..

Hue & cry over Federalism from Sinhalese indefensible

May 7 (CT) Federalism is not division nor disintegration but a device to distribute the powers to the regions, allowing the different ethnic groups the freedom to preserve their language, ethnic identity, culture and way of life, while preserving the essential unity of the country. This, I have said in parliament several times but sadly it has fallen on deaf ears – There is no denying our Sinhala friends suffer from inborn prejudices and preconceived notions. To quote Dr. K M de Silva, a leading historian, more..

Lives snuffed out in an instant

May 7 (SO) Like any other teenager, Sharon and Imeshi were excited about the surprise party they planned to have last Monday evening for a friend. Everything was planned - a beach restaurant was selected, friends were invited and the parents had been told of the party. Sharon Schuilling and Imeshi Perera had only to make their presence at the venue in time for the big surprise. "She asked her mom to drop her at more..

Media: Status quo and future

May 7 (DN) It was last Tuesday, World Press Freedom Day that PM Ranil Wickremesinghe spoke a few home truths about the current status of the media industry in Sri Lanka. He was addressing a gathering of media owners, media managers, academics and intellectuals in the media field and working journalists at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations in Colombo at the presentation of the Report titled Rebuilding Public Trust. An Assessment of the Media Industry more..

Sri Lankan govt begins implementing IMF austerity demands

May 7 (wsws) The IMF announced last week it had reached agreement with the Sri Lankan govt for a $1.5 billion bailout loan. Colombo sought the 3-year Extended Fund Facility loan to avert the country’s precarious balance of payments crisis. The deal, which must be ratified by the IMF’s board in June, is subject to the govt implementing major social austerity cuts. Todd Schneider, the IMF’s Sri Lankan mission chief, told the media the deal was “subject to the completion of prior actions.” more..

Rehabilitated LTTE cadres: No longer stuck in NO - GO ZONE

May 7 (DN) I fought for eight years of my life, eight years that I cannot take back, said Kulandavel Thayaparan while enjoying the cup of tea arranged by the Commissioner, Bureau of Rehabilitation at Ape Gama in Battaramulla. Thayaparan along with 34 other LTTE ex-combatants are being taken on a five day trip around the country starting from Nuwara Eliya to a 3D film in Bambalapitiya. more..

A country ruled by legends

May 7 (SL) Tales and legends cannot develop a country. If legends could develop a country, Sri Lanka would be the first to attain development. Although, legends cannot develop a country, they can gain people’s loyalty to a certain extent. Thus, when stories fail to make any change towards the betterment of people, they will reject those orators in no time. The former President also related so many stories. He used to consider the Buddhist monks who were in the audience as sole witnesses more..

War against Rajapaksa regime debts begins

May 7 (SL) The govt this week began its war against the massive debts accumulated during the Rajapaksa regime. “This time it is a war against massive debt!” the Ministry of National Policy and Economics Affairs announced. “The unprecedented and senseless borrowing of the previous regime has resulted in a whopping debt burden of 8,475 billion rupees. This is equivalent to 75% of the country’s Gross National Income. The annual debt servicing costs us 1.303 billion rupees, more..

Mahinda Amaraweera

7th year of LTTE’s fall marked with battle in Parliament

May 7 (CT) As Sri Lanka is entering the seventh year of defeating the LTTE this month with the death of its leader V. Prabhakaran, the brawl in Parliament between some of the Joint Opposition members and the ruling party members over the issue of strengthening the security of former President Rajapaksa, had turned the Parliament into a battlefield. Seven years ago Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka led the SL Army and gained a remarkable victory over the LTTE on 18 May 2009. more..

The supreme skunks of peoples’ sovereignty

May 7 (Island) Parliament will soon not be the August Assembly of debate that we have known it to be. Even before changes are made to the Constitution, steps are to be taken to make it relevant to the new quality of people’s democracy it seeks to demonstrate, where priority will be on physical combat than verbal duel where the blow is from the hand and foot and not the thought and word. There could come a time when the Speaker adjourns a formal sitting, and allows a more..

A special police team to raid illegal mining

May 7 (PSL) President Maithripala Sirisena has given instructions to deploy a special police team directly under the IGP to raid illegal mining across the country which cause great harm to the environment. The President, as Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, has given these instructions while presiding over the progress review meeting of the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau (GSMB), more..

Editorial: Rewinding democracy

May 7 (Island) We thought it was only the police who were dependent on rewinding and reviewing CCTV footage to do their job. But, the national legislature, too, has demonstrated during the last few days that it cannot conduct its affairs without the help of CCTV cameras. Following Tuesday’s brawl in Parliament, the Speaker ordered that the culprits responsible for it be traced with the help of CCTV cameras. A hastily conducted inquiry led to the suspension of two MPs. more..

Are our Tamils fit for devolution?

May 7 (Island) My recent probing into the question of the problem of the casteist racism that afflicts both the Sinhalese and the Tamils – the Tamils to a much much deeper extent – leads me to ask whether a solution to the ethnic problem can be found through devolution. My expectation is that the Sinhalese might conceivably make a success of it because their casteist racism is much less than that of the Tamils. On the other hand, I expect that if more and more devolution is allowed to more..

SriLankan Airlines says performance improved in FY16

May 7 (FT) SriLankan Airlines yesterday announced it has recorded a significantly improved performance at the close of the Financial Year ending 31 March 2016 (based on un-audited financials) compared to the previous year – despite several legacy issues still remaining unresolved. Given the complexity of the business, these issues are being addressed in a responsible manner together with the shareholder as part of more..

Emergency power requirement 35 MW, not 55 MW: Dy. Minister

May 7 (FT) The Government says that the actual emergency power requirement of the country was 35 megawatts and not 55 megawatts, as the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) announced recently. “There is an emergency power requirement of 35MW from Ukuwela upwards, due to the system weaknesses. Therefore, we are now in the process of setting up power generators to have an uninterrupted power supply from Ukuwela,” Power and Renewable Energy Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera said. more..

Petition against appointing defeated candidates as MPs fixed for support

May 7 (Island) Supreme Court fixed for support on May 26, 2016, the fundamental rights violation petition filed by D.E.M. Gunesekera and Somaweera Chandrasiri complaining that the appointing of defeated candidates to Parliament on the National List was unconstitutional. The respondents, Members of the Elections Commission needed time to file proxy. The petitioners have said that to appoint candidates rejected by the voters, is a violation of Right to Franchise of the voters. more..

Mathews wants Sri Lanka to warm to the spirit of 2014

May 7 (CI) "It's going to be cold for us," said Angelo Mathews as Sri Lanka shook off their jetlag at Lord's having arrived for their two-month tour in what has been presented in England as a mini-heatwave. It's a good job they didn't land last week when many cricket grounds in England had a covering of snow. While a warm spring day in London remained a world away from Colombo, Mathews was delighted to have some sun on more..

SL American elected delegate in US elections

May 7 (LR) Sri Lankan American, Patrick Rutnam, was elected out of 59 candidates to represent the Democratic party in support of Bernie Sanders, in a delegation of 7, representing California District 30 which represents the San Fernando Valley in the city of Los Angeles at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. Mr. Rutnam, is the son of George and Sonya Rutnam, and grandson of the late Evelyn and Dr James T. Rutnam. His late uncle Rajah Rutnam was the first SL migrate to the US in 1953. more..

My mother is my role model: NHL scholar

May 7 (LR) SL-born NHL scholar Prasanthan Aruchunan says his mother was a role model in the pursuit of success in Canada. Aruchunan who is 17-year-old high school student says his mother held multiple jobs to support him and his sister when they first arrived in Toronto, Canada 10 years ago. He made history as the first student in Ontario to receive the National Hockey League (NHL) scholarship from Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Prasanthan is incredibly smart. more..

Sri Lanka Navy exports 9 Patrol Craft for the first time in the history

May 7 (SLN) Winning one of the biggest defence contracts in the naval history, Sri Lanka Navy sold 9 small patrol craft, indigenously built by the Inshore Patrol Craft Project of the Navy established at Welisara, to the Nigerian Govt today (6) at its’ premises. The deal is a milestone in the annals of the Sri Lanka Navy as this is the very first transaction, where the Navy involved internationally to earn foreign exchange to the country. more..

You can take 100% of what you earn in Pakistan: SL businesses told

May 7 (Island) The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka ( NCCSL) convened a press conference last week with Pakistan High Commissioner Maj. Gen. Syed Shakeel Hussain on the possibilities for trade and investments between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The H.C. said the investment climate in Pakistan could be described good and benefits for investors were exceptional. He said, "We will not restrict you taking your profits. You may take 100% of what you earn." more..

House of shame: The parliament we deserve

May 7 (NS) Recent brawl in the parliament between the members belonging to the joint opposition and those in the govt benches was one of the worst of its kind. It, perhaps for the first time in the history of the parliament, resulted in hospitalization, though for a day, of one of its members. Brawls in the parliament are not a new thing. Many an argument has ended in pushing around or fisticuffs even in the good old days when most of the people’s representatives were educated men and women more..

Debt-laden SL to curb high life for officials

May 7 (Reuters) Deputy minister Lakshman Yapa Abhayawardene has asked President Sirisena to stop officials flying business class as part of govt efforts to reduce the country's ballooning budget deficit. He also asked Sirisena to direct ministers and govt officials to monitor the financial management of all ministries. "I expect your personal and dedicated intervention to implement a strong fiscal management system," more..

Ayush Scholarship 2016-17 from Indian HC

May 7 (FT) The High Commission of India Colombo has announced the offer of a few scholarships for Sri Lankan Nationals under the Ayush Scholarship Scheme for UG/PG/Ph.D courses in the Indian Traditional system of Medicine under the Delhi Declaration for South East Asian (SEA) countries for the academic year 2016 – 2017. The Government of India selects meritorious Sri Lankan nationals for award of these scholarships in consultation with the Ministry of Higher Education of Sri Lanka. more..

An unconventional road trip in Sri Lanka

May 7 (NT) A tropical island country off the Indian coastline and close to the equator, Sri Lanka is nothing short of exotic. Having survived numerous colonial conquests, a civil war and a tsunami, the country is still licking its wounds. Yet the people of the land are warm, hospitable and charming. The beauty of the island lies in its culture and tradition that seems to be untouched by the vulgarity of modernity. An unconventional road-trip in the south-western region of the country began with more..

Sri Lanka may tap into Mahela’s inside knowledge of England

May 7 (TG) Mahela Jayawardene is used to being compared with the classiest batsmen of the modern generation but at Lord’s on Friday he was being linked with those famous double agents Guy Burgess and Kim Philby – at least Jayawardene was a better cricketer than Philby, who played for Westminster School with only modest success. The Sri Lanka team are in England to play three Test matches and five ODIs and it was suggested more..

Malaysian company signs agreement to construct lubricant manufacturing plant

May 7 (Bernama) Malaysian transformer oils, lubricants and petroleum derivatives manufacturer and marketer Hyrax Oil Sdn Bhd, which exports to more than 35 countries, will be investing US$30 million (US$1.00=RM4.00) to establish a four million litres per month lubricant blending plant in Muthurajawela in western Sri Lanka. The 2.02 hectare plant is Hyrax Oil's second plant outside of Malaysia after the first joint-venture plant in Johannesburg, South Africa. more..

PRECIFAC to probe former minister after Senior State Counsel’s submissions

May 7 (DN) A decision as to whether former Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena will be investigated by the PRECIFAC will be taken after Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara makes his submissions, Commission Chairman High Court Judge Preethi Padman Surasena said on Thursday. He made this announcement in reply to lengthy submissions made by Abeywardena’s counsel Shavendra Fernando PC urging that his client be released form the investigations made by the commission. more..

Crooks joining Maithri to avoid prosecution; Maithri needs numbers to fight Mahinda?

May 7 (CT) NMJS, a brainchild of late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, which was instrumental in the current govt coming into power, and several civil society groups are planning to stage a massive protest against the govt beginning next week. Several activists belonging to these groups had made a firm decision about this move last Wednesday after carrying out an in-depth analysis on the failure of the govt to punish more..

Chandrika to speak at UNGA Special Session

May 7 (CG) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), will represent the Govt of Sri Lanka at a Special Session of the UN General Assembly to be held on 10th & 11th of May 2016 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Kumaratunga will speak on the reconciliation work being carried out by the Govt of Sri Lanka in her speech titled Leading by Example: Innovative Partnerships and Responses. more..

Gota, Namal to appear before PRECIFAC

May 7 (DM) Former defense secretary Gotahaya Rajapaksa and MP Namal Rajapaksa have been asked to report to PRECIFAC next week. A spokesman said they had been asked to appear before the commission to make a statement in connection with an allegation that they had misused flights operated by the Air Force. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is expected to appear before the commission on Monday while Namal Rajapaksa will have to report to Commission on Tuesday. more..

Video: Innocent Sajin joining Yahapalanaya

May 7 (DM) While claiming that he was not willing to be a state witness in any court case, former UPFA MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena said today that one of the Rajapaksas was attempting to politically victimize him. He said he would soon disclose the details and reliable evidence against this particular Rajapaksa whom he described as the invisible hand spewing out many baseless allegations against him. more..