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VAT: Take people into confidence and be exemplary

May 15 (SL) No democratic govt in its senses will impose additional tax on the people unless dire circumstances force it to do so. However this country is unfortunate to have a set of part educated economists and cranks of the left whose knee-jerk reaction to any tax, particularly if not made in the budget, as IMF or World Bank dictates. Those of the younger generations may believe this crap for some time but seasoned veterans, who have gone through many monsoons, realise that more..


May 15 (SO) Next weekend, the nation celebrates Vesak, the premier sacred festival of our numerically largest religious community, the Buddhists. Whatever their ethnicity, Sri Lankan Buddhists will spend the two days of the Vesak Poya holiday in meditative calm, in symbolic commemoration of the founder of the Dhamma and in festive communal celebration of the beginning of the Path to Moksha. Oil lamps of ritual piety will be lit as will be festive, colourful lanterns, all casting more..

President takes steps to evict former regime’s key players

May 15 (ST) President Sirisena was livid when he learnt at last Tuesday’s ministerial meeting that some key players in the previous govt were still occupying official bungalows. This is despite a number of notices issued to them to vacate. President Sirisena noted that one such person was in former President Rajapaksa’s security contingent, and lived within visible distance from his own official residence at Paget Road. more..

Attempt to trap Udayanga through Ukraine deal

May 15 (SL) The government is making an attempt to arrest SL’s former Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, through an agreement with Ukraine, sources said. According to govt sources the path has been set for the police to seek the arrest and deportation of Udayanga Weeratunga from Ukraine. Weeratunga is wanted in Sri Lanka to be investigated over several allegations, including claims that more..

'Govt will not take-over all of SriLankan Airlines debt'

May 15 (EN) Sri Lanka's central govt is not likely to take-over all debt of loss-making SriLankan Airlines but the balance sheet will be strengthened sufficiently to make it attractive for prospective partner, a minister said. An earlier cabinet decision indicated that the govt would take-over 461 billion rupees (US$ 3.252 billion) of debt. "There has been some confusion about this matter," Deputy Minister Eran Wickremeratne said. more..

Mangala’s absence, a sore thumb

May 15 (CT) Despite President Maithripala Sirisena undertaking two back-to-back foreign visits, one at the invitation of British PM David Cameron and the other from Indian PM Narendra Modi, the absence of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera from both visits has raised eyebrows and concerns. President Sirisena visited London to attend the Anti-Corruption Summit organized by the British Govt, at the invitation more..

New laws for national security, crime busting

May 15 (ST) A new National Security Act and an Organised Crime Prevention Act to replace the Public Security Ordinance will be presented to Parliament by the end of July, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said. He said the new laws while incorporating more safeguards of human rights would also give more power to law enforcement authorities to fight hi-tech and cross border crimes. The Organised Crime Prevention Act was more..

Film Island to attract international shoots

May 15 (SD) Cannes Camera d’Or winner Vimukthi Jayasundara and his fellow Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage are among the co-founders of a new production and distribution company, Film Island, which aims to bring international productions to Sri Lanka. Vithanage and Jayasundara are working with a team of producers and strategic business partners to promote Sri Lanka as a shooting destination and offer more..

‘Sri Lanka must be fearless against England’

May 15 (TG) I feel like an old man trying to keep up with them, Angelo Mathews says with a wry smile as he looks around the Sri Lanka team room at their hotel in Leicester. Four of his young players are engaged in a fierce match of table tennis while most of the others goof around cheerfully. They appear oblivious to the pressures under which Mathews operates for, apart from captaining Sri Lanka in all three formats, more..

Plans to turn around SLCTB, 12,000 layoffs, depot lands to be leased

May 15 (ST) The cash-strapped and over staffed Sri Lanka Central Transport Board (SLCTB) plans to lay off at least 12,000 workers and lease some of its lands to raise Rs. 11 billion to pay EPF and ETF dues to it workers, Transport Ministry Secretary Nihal Somaweera said. He said the current workforce was around 36,000 and this would be reduced to around 24,000 under a restructuring programme. more..

Pharmaceutical trade miffed over drug procurements from nondescript channels

May 15 (Island) Sri Lanka’s pharmaceutical industry is perturbed over ongoing moves to procure drugs, particularly oncology (cancer) products, from lesser known, nondescript channels rather than from reputed registered suppliers, solely on the basis of low pricing. It is a risky proposition to purchase live-saving drugs from traders in the pharmaceutical business as it is an open secret that they don’t run companies with work ethics, more..

Abortions: No accurate figures because it is underground

May 15 (ST) Abortion in Sri Lanka is illegal, except when a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. Yet it is also recurrent and widespread. Ever since the Govt closed down abortion clinics in 2007—including a popular UNFPA-funded outfit in the heart of Colombo—women have gone underground to terminate unwanted pregnancies. There are no recent statistics on how many abortions are carried out. more..

Sri Lanka as Attapady, BJP flips a new controversy with magazine cover

May 15 (IE) If PM Narendra Modi’s remark comparing Kerala to Somalia has not hurt the BJP in the state enough, there’s more agony in store for the saffron party. On Saturday, when party boss Amit Shah held a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram to defend the PM’s remarks, he flashed a copy of an Outlook magazine dated July, 2013 that did a cover story on the death of tribal children of malnutrition in Kerala’s Attapady. It was supposed to be Shah’s way of more..

Why the fascination with coal power when better alternatives are available?

May 15 (Island) Many govt officials say we must have coal power now and there are no other worthwhile alternatives. They say that coal is cheap; must build 1700 MW of coal power in Sampur now and add 1500 MW more coal in the South; and environmental concerns are a western luxury. Most recently, Dr. Kumar David in the Sunday Island of May 8 echoed these sentiments. Let me address these and other concerns and offer reasonable alternatives. Inaccuracy 1: more..

Ada Cartoon

The failure of Panama Papers

May 15 (Island) The public release of a big tranche of documents last week, called the Panama Papers, made the headlines in SL, but for all the wrong reasons. Called the largest leak in history, an anonymous source released around eleven and a half million documents, spanning decades, from Panama based law-firm Mossack Fonseca. At around five times the volume of data as an average computer’s total hard drive capacity, the leaked content was far too large to handle for more..

Landslide warning for seven districts

May 15 (AD) With the prevailing weather condition is expected to continue, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) has issued landslide warning for seven districts, a statement said today. The landslide warnings have been issued to Kurunegala, Monaragala, Badulla, Ratnapura, Kandy, Kegalle, and Nuwara Eliya districts. The DMC says that the people living in these districts need to give special attention on all mountain areas, man-made cut slopes, and roads within the area. more..

'We send one thief home, elect another'

May 15 (CT) Chairman of the COPE Sunil Handunnetti says We actually send one thief home and elect another one. Q: You proposed on last Tuesday at a press briefing to publicize the investigations and reports of COPE to the media. What do you hope from this? A: Financial powers are in the hands of Parliament, but politicians do not invest their money in the govt. They are the tax money levied from 22.5 million people of Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka wants to increase tea sale in Korea

May 15 (KT) Korea has huge potential in the tea industry, Sri Lankan producers say. Officials from the Sri Lanka Tea Board and four tea companies flew to Korea to promote their products at Seoul Food 2016 at Kintex in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province on May 10. Sri Lanka is the world's largest exporter of black tea, with 7% of production. "Coffee has long dominated in Korea, but we see a growing trend among Korean consumers for quality tea, and we want to touch that trend," more..

Thane man flies in from Colombo with Rs 10 lakh gold

May 15 (TOI) Customs officials at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru on Saturday arrested a Thane resident for smuggling 330 grams of gold biscuits hidden in his rectum. This comes four days after a woman was caught smuggling gold worth Rs 35 lakh. The value of the recovered gold is Rs 10 lakh, officials said. Vijay Ashok Kumar Wadwani (40) from Thane was stopped by customs officials after he alighted from Sri Lankan Airlines-UL 173 flight that came from Colombo. more..

'Tamil issue pushed to margins as India, Sri Lanka rework ties'

May 15 (PTI) In the new equations in the aftermath of regime changes in New Delhi and Colombo post 2014, the ownership of Sri Lankan Tamil question that India had assumed all through the ethnic conflict is no more at the centre of the table, says a new book. The two countries are now engaged in reworking their relations in terms of regional or maritime security and economic development, says the book more..

Stop complaining, Sri Lanka needs huge investment and only China can help

May 15 (FP) Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena visited India for the second time since his election in January 2015. He met PM Narendra Modi for the sixth time (including meetings at international summits) in 16 months, since becoming president. After coming to power, he had signaled his desire to move away from his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa's overt pro-China approach, and to be more sensitive to India’s concerns of a growing Chinese footprint in the island nation. more..

Supplementary Estimate vote report out on Tuesday

May 15 (ST) The four-member Committee appointed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to probe the controversy over the supplementary estimate vote in Parliament, will submit its report on Tuesday. Committee was appointed consequent to allegations by the Joint Opposition (JO) that the vote was miscalculated to favour the Govt with two extra votes, when in fact, the vote had been tied at 31 each. The four-member committee headed by Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan and more..

London Stock Exchange to invest here

May 15 (SO) A high-powered business delegation from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) will meet PM Ranil Wickremesinghe this week to discuss and finalise an investment agreement. The discussions to be held in Colombo on Wednesday will be based on the setting up of a global IT support centre that provides IT services to stock exchanges globally. The support centre to be set up at TRACE Expert City in Maradana more..

Commercial Bank of Ceylon hacked?

May 15 (AM) Commercial Bank of Ceylon, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, has apparently been hacked, with its data posted online May 12 by the Bozkurtlar hacking group, which has also posted seven other data dumps from banks in the Middle East and Asia since April 26. The group, believed to have Turkish ties, released data from five South Asian banks on May 10. It also dumped data online from UAE-based InvestBank on May 7 and data from Qatar National Bank on April 26. more..

More accidents due to Vesak illuminations

May 15 (SO) Electrocution from illuminations in homes, pandals and most buildings in the city during Vesak, has hit a new high resulting in hospitalisation and even fatalities, National Hospital sources said. “In recent years, more victims of electrocution had been admitted to the Accident Service than those with burns from candles and oil lamps in lanterns,” Director, Accident Service, Dr. Mrs. Samindi Samarakoon said. “We can expect more victims this year as many persons are in the habit of more..

Smuggled drugs flood Sri Lankan market

May 15 (Island) The widespread use of unregistered pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka has caused deep concern in the marketplace, but industry players warned that the problem is exacerbating with brisk business for smugglers raking in big bucks. There is a growing demand for these products because even doctors serving in govt hospitals openly prescribe these drugs to be purchased from private pharmacies as part of the therapeutic more..

Video: Wariyapola abducted youth rescued

May 15 (AD) The 20 year old youth who was abducted for ransom in Wariyapola has been rescued by police. Two suspects have also been arrested following the incident, the police confirmed. Victim Mohammad Aasif, was last seen leaving a shop owned by his father approximate 700 meters away the place where he was abducted. An area resident has heard Aasif was screaming for help and he had also witnessed a white colour car speeding towards Melwatta road. more..

Families in Nalluruwa displaced by gale

May 15 (DM) More than 35 families living in Nalluruwa were displaced when a gale hit the area. About 30 houses were affected and five were damaged extensively in the incident. Several carpentry shops were among them. Residents said the gale blew for about two minutes amid torrential showers and lightning. One individual had been injured when a tree fell on his house. Others however, escaped unhurt. The power supply to the area had come to a standstill when more..

Grandma raped and killed

May 15 (CT) Sri Lankans lived in a civilized, disciplined society before Victorian morals were rooted in the island. Folklore says that a beautiful woman wearing all 64 traditional jewellery could walk safely from Point Pedro to Dondra (Devundara) even at night. How did such a society transform itself into a one in which fathers raping their own daughters, grandfathers raping their granddaughters and even grandmothers being raped? more..

Photo focus: Our vanishing wildlife

May 15 (ST) The burning of forest reserves, the prevailing drought and clearing of land for development projects have all contributed to the diminishing space for the denizens of the wild. It has also contributed to animals being cut off from sources of their food. As a result these animals have been forced to move into areas inhabited by humans with deadly consequences to the animals. Last week several animals died as a result of human action. The past few weeks has been more..

F.J. & G. de Saram mark 175 years with new Rs 5 stamp

May 15 (ST) The Philatelic Bureau on Friday issued a new postage stamp in the denomination of Rs. 5 to mark the 175th Anniversary of F.J. & G. de Saram, Attorneys-at-Law. F.J. & G. de Saram was founded by Fredrick John de Saram, who commenced his practice of law with his apprenticeship with Andries Martensz in 1841, making this the oldest law firm in Sri Lanka. In later years, three of FJ’s sons and one of his daughters joined his practice, including Frederick John de Saram (Jnr.) and more..

PM to seek Parliament opinion for vehicle order

May 15 (DM) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe would seek the opinion of Parliament on the security vehicles to be ordered for him, a statement from his office said. “The decision to seek advice from the House has been made as several MPs including Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake had made certain statements about the matter," statement said. Statement said only Rs. 128 million had been spent for the two vehicles. more..

Top level German delegation arrives in SL

May 15 (Island) Uwe Beckmeyer, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will visit Sri Lanka from May 15-17 accompanied by a large business delegation. This is a follow-up to the visit of President Sirisena to Berlin in February this year. The growing political and business relations between Germany and Sri Lanka, prompted an official visit by Beckmeyer, thus showcasing SL’s potential with Europe’s largest economy. more..

Special seminar on RTI for MPs tomorrow

May 15 (AD) A special seminar will be held tomorrow on the proposed Right to Information Bill for the MPs, the PM’s office announced today. All the MPs are invited for the seminar which is scheduled to be held in Colombo, the statement added. The seminar will be held with the participation of the PM and President Maithripala Sirisena. The Right to Information draft bill was presented to Parliament by Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka on March 24. more..

JVP blames Lanka PM, Prez for inaction against wrongdoers

May 15 (PTI) JVP accused President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe of influencing graft probe against the wrongdoers from the previous Rajapaksa administration to protect them. "Both President and PM are slowing down investigations because they want to protect the corrupt," Lal Kantha, a JVP senior said. He said the civil society organisations were focusing attention on the lethargy of more..

Specialised geriatric hospital to open in Hendala

May 15 (ST) An elderly care health facility costing a massive Rs.1000 million is to be opened soon in Hendala to cater to the growing number of older citizens in the country. The facility which is being constructed on the site where the leprosy hospital stood will consist of around 200 rooms and will have state of the art facilities for acute care for the elderly. The facility to be opened end of this year will have 200 health staff including doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. more..

Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam awarded Gratiaen Prize 2015

May 15 (ST) Poetry took centre stage last evening as Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam was awarded the Gratiaen Prize 2015 for his unpublished manuscript White Lanterns – Wesak 2011. The annual prize recognises the best work of creative writing in English by a Sri Lankan resident and comes with Rs. 200,000 in award money. This year’s judging panel for the 23rd edition of the Gratiaen Prize included Captain Elmo Jayawardena, Tracy Holsinger and Dr Dinali Devendra. more..

How Yahapalana Ministers misuse Peoples' hard earned money

May 15 (SL) Astonishing revelations have confirmed how the national govt formed to wipe out unnecessary expenses in govt institutions is now spending millions of public money to rent out office buildings for its ministers. It is surprising to note that the cabinet of ministers has granted approvals to ministers to rent-out office space from private parties when there are 16 vacant floors which can be used for ministries and more..

Wisdom of a Monetary Board impassively watching over a fast declining capital base

May 16 (CT) A response issued by the Central Bank to an article published by this writer in this series drawing the attention of the top political leaders and the members of the public to continuing losses in the Central Bank has been carried by Daily FT in its edition on May 9, 2016. This is a salutary development and should be promoted by all means. That is because it paves the way for the public to have a productive discussion on the subject and help the govt to map out strategies more..