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New power plant: CEB union claims tender irregularity, but ministry refutes charge

Aug 15 (ST) Attempts are being made to sabotage the competitive bidding process to procure a 300 MW Combined Cycle Power Plant, CEB Engineers’ Union has claimed, but the ministry has refuted the charge. Eight bids had been submitted for the plant to be built in Kerawalapitiya. After the technical evaluation process, six had been recommended by CEB’s Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) for financial evaluation. more..

Tourism worsens plight of drought-hit Wilpattu animals

Aug 15 (Island) Urging the govt to close the Wilpattu National Park due to ongoing severe drought, Environmentalists lashed out at the Wildlife Conservation Department (WCD) for seeking financial gains at the expense of the animals. Director of Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Sajeewa Chamikara said that national parks should be run according to a management plan, but now they were managed according to whims more..

Maha Sangha has said new Constitution not required

Aug 15 (DM) Asgiriya Chapter Mahanayake Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera stressed that a new constitution was not required and that the Maha Sangha had already informed it to President Sirisena. During a meeting with NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, Ven. Thera said they explained their stance regarding the proposed new constitution to President and PM and that the President agreed to their opinion. more..

Mahendran's, Palisena's reps allowed to observe data retrieval

Aug 15 (DM) The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) allowed legal representatives of CB's former governor Arjun Mahendran and PTL CEO Kasun Palisena to be present when data was being retrieved from mobile devices and copied by the IT experts at the CID. Considering all submissions made by the AG’s Department and the Counsel appearing for Mahendran and Palisena, Commission delivered a 21-page order more..

Central bank suspends PABC primary dealer arm

Aug 15 (Reuters) Central bank suspended on Tuesday the primary dealer status of Pan Asia Banking Corporation (PABC) for six months, following an investigation into alleged irregularities in govt bond sales. Central bank said it imposed the suspension because of the findings of an investigation carried out by the monetary authority related to PABC's transactions with Perpetual Treasuries in govt securities market. more..

Video: Tilak Marapana sworn in as new Foreign Minister

Aug 15 (AD) Minister of Tilak Marapana has been sworn in as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs before President, a short while ago.  He was appointed to the position which was left vacant following the resignation of Ravi Karunanayake over allegations leveled against him over the CB treasury bond scam. Marapana was appointed as the Development Assignments Minister during a cabinet reshuffle on May 22, 2017. more..

Great Escape?

Aug 15 (CT) The mandate of the 3-member Presidential Commission appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena on 27 Jan is to inquire into the issuance of Treasury (T) Bonds from 1 Feb 2015 to 31 March 2016. It, therefore, covers the period the present Unity Govt is in power, after Sirisena's electoral victory over his former boss President Rajapaksa at the 8 Jan 2015 presidential poll. This was the period PM Ranil Wickremesinghe's Governor appointee Arjuna Mahendran, more..

Democracy vs. Autocracy

Aug 15 (FT) Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake resigned. There were many arguments and debates over the issue. There were lot of opinions that the present Govt failed miserably. They came into power pledging that the persons of the previous regime who were responsible for frauds will be punished but in the run a Senior Minister of the present regime had to sacrifice his portfolio on ethical grounds. The report of the commission on bond scam is yet to be issued. more..

PM and his Cronies bankrupting SL

Sri Lanka, China port deal to attract meaningful FDIs: CCC

Aug 15 (LBO) Ceylon Chamber of Commerce says it appreciates the steps taken to develop the Hambantota Port as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) as it marks an important step towards the goal of positioning Sri Lanka as a full-service maritime hub nation. The chamber said in a statement that apart from boosting foreign reserves, the reported scale and size of the investment is expected to generate meaningful FDI in port-related activities, as well as businesses around port. more..

Undecided on no-confidence against Wijedasa: Mano

Aug 15 (NR) Minister Mano Ganesan says party leaders have not held discussions to bring a no-confidence motion against Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa thus far. He said the UNP backbenchers have expressed that a no-confidence motion should be brought against the Justice Minister, however, PM and UNP leader have not agreed to the motion. Minister said the final decision is made by party leaders under the leadership of the Speaker when a no-confidence motion is presented at more..

SriLankan Airlines says cracking down on costly human trafficking

Aug 15 (EN) SriLankan Airlines said it has been cracking down on human smuggling at Colombo’s BIA with at least five people with forged passports detected in recent weeks. A statement said a considerable portion of illicit traffic takes place through international airports, despite stringent measures in place to prevent it. Criminal elements in the region were making many attempts to pass passengers bearing incomplete or more..

JO MPs to boycott SLFP convention

Aug 15 (Island) Joint Opposition MPs of the SLFP had decided to boycott the SLFP Anniversary Convention scheduled to be held on Sept 2 at Campbell Park in Borella, JO MP Ranjith Zoysa said. The party had abandoned the policies introduced by its founder SWRD Bandaranaike, MP said adding that selling off national assets had never been the policy of SLFP. Zoysa said that the incumbent UNP govt led by an SLFP president had leased H'tota harbour to a Chinese company. more..

Video: 'JO is on the brink of being torn apart'

Aug 15 (AD) Leader of SL Youth Front, Shantha Bandara states that the Joint Opposition (JO) was on the brink of being torn apart. He stated that such a situation had arisen owing to the JO’s lack of political knowledge and proper leadership. He further stated that a great many people of the JO were very narrow-minded, politically speaking. He then said that President Sirisena should vest his leadership in someone else by 2025, and remain as the advisor of the party after that. more..

Shiranthi & Rohitha arrive at CID to record a statement

Aug 15 (NR) Former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa arrived at the CID this morning. She was summoned to the CID to give a statement pertaining to the murder case of national rugby player Wasim Thajudeen. Investigations revealed that the Defender vehicle for the commission of a crime had belonged to the Siriliya Saviya project of former First Lady. Red Cross Society had previously informed the CID that more..

Police seek court permission to hold Aava suspects in different prisons

Aug 15 (Island) Police have sought permission from the courts to transfer members of the Aava group now in remand custody in the Jaffna prison to jails in other parts of the country. A senior police officer said that if all Aava suspects were kept in the Jaffna Prison, they could plan subversive activities. Security had been beefed up in the Jaffna Prison due to those reasons, he said. Group which has named themselves as Aava Group was led by a person called Vinodan alias Ava, more..

Now, Ranawaka promises light railways

Aug 15 (Island) Construction work on the country’s first elevated Light Rail Transit (LRT) line between Colombo and Malabe would get underway before the end of this year, Minister Champika Ranawaka claimed. He said that five LRT lines including a line from Fort to Kollupitiya would be constructed under the project. Launched with assistance from JAICA, it would connect highly populated urban areas and run through four Divisional Secretariat areas, he said. They were Kaduwela, Kotte, Thimbirigasyaya more..

New traffic fines put off till month-end

Aug 15 (DM) The gazette notice on increasing traffic fines up to Rs.25,000 will be delayed until the end of this month because of loopholes in the Motor Traffic Act (MTA), Chairman of National Council for Road Safety, Dr. Sisira Kodagoda said today. “Even though the fine for reckless driving has been increased to Rs.10,000, MTA does not give a proper definition of reckless driving and if the gazette more..

Levy on imported sugar increased

Aug 15 (GDI) The Special Commodity Levy (SCL) on a kilo of imported sugar has been increased by Rs. 8 with effect from midnight today (15th Aug). At present, the price of a kilo of sugar in world market has been reduced by Rs. 10. Though the SCL has been increased, the Sugar Importers’ Association has informed the government that there would be no change in the selling price. The decision has been taken today at the Cabinet Subcommittee on Cost of Living. more..

'Ex-LTTE cadres not sidelined'

Aug 15 (CT) Former LTTE cadres are not sidelined from society and providing them with any special treatment will only be detrimental to their own welfare, SLFP Jaffna District MP Angajan Ramanathan said. He stressed that giving them special treatment will make them look separated from the society. "I don't think former LTTE cadres are sidelined by society. I think we have learnt to accept them for who they are and what they have done. Some still sympathize with the LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka’s new Hong Kong project risky for all sides

Aug 15 (CD) Despite the monsoon making the work risky, two dredgers are digging and ferrying sand 24 hours a day for the new Colombo Port City construction site. On land, tight security and vehicle checks are in force at site gates near Colombo’s bustling central business district. Colombo Port City is Sri Lanka’s biggest foreign direct investment project ever. It is also China’s biggest investment yet in Sri Lanka, more..

Video: We're opposed to no-faith motion against Wijeyadasa: Gammanpila

Aug 15 (DM) MP Udaya Gammanpila said they were opposed to a no-confidence motion being moved against Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. He said that some MPs were planning to move a no-confidence motion against Mr. Rajapakshe because he publicly highlighted govt wrongdoings. “These people are at loggerheads with Wijeyadasa for being patriotic. He does not have any power to appoint or dismiss AG. I don’t know why some UNP ministers are accusing him of not removing the AG” more..

Independence Day of India celebrated in SL

Aug 15 (HCI) High Commission of India and the Indian expatriate community in Sri Lanka celebrated the 71st Independence Day of India on today at India House in Colombo. At a flag hoisting ceremony, the High Commissioner, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, unfurled the National Flag and inspected a Guard of Honour presented by the BSF contingent. He read out excerpts from the Address to the Nation on the eve of Independence Day by the President of India, Hon’ble Ram Nath Kovind. more..

'Establishing PMCs no solution'

Aug 15 (Island) Parents Association of the State Medical Faculty Students (PASMFS) said they would meet with leaders of political parties to brief them on the danger of opening private medical colleges without a proper study regarding the situation in Sri Lanka. The PASMFS said the Teachers’ Association of the State Medical Faculties (TASMF), professional groups in the medical field, including Association of Medical Specialists more..

PCB welcomes Sri Lankan board’s decision to tour Pakistan

Aug 15 (PT) Pakistani cricket officials welcomed Sri Lankan cricket board decision to tour Pakistan, eight years after an attack against the team brought top international games there to a standstill. SLC Chief Thilanga Sumathipala said that after reviewing security, team had been cleared to play 3 Twenty20 int'ls including at least one in Lahore, the place where the 2009 attack occurred, which left 8 people dead. Any tour would require govt approval before the team is sent abroad. more..

New program to speed up heath procurement process

Aug 15 (NR) Minister Rajitha Senaratne says a new program has been formulated to complete the health procurement process within a period of 3 months. Accordingly, the procurement process which was expected to take nine months to complete can now be completed rapidly within 3 months as a result of the program. Govt reached this decision in accordance with the 2016-2025 National Health Strategic Master Plan. Govt can now procure pharmaceuticals & medical equipment within more..

Prez instructs officials to complete proper waste management programme by December

Aug 15 (PMD) President Sirisena instructed the officials to complete the implementation of proper waste management programme in the nine provinces of the country by December, in accordance with the Govt policy of providing a permanent solution for the garbage disposal issue of the country by next year. He has given these instructions during a discussion on streamlining the waste management more..

Sri Lanka military officers call on Rwandan lawmakers

Aug 15 (NT) A delegation of 16 officials from SL’s Defence Service Command and Staff College (DSCSC) yesterday held discussions with members of the lower and upper chambers of parliament where they were briefed on Rwanda’s progress and the country’s legislation processes. The officers wanted to particularly know how power is shared between political parties, to which the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, Zeno Mutimura, more..

Handing over of NFTH: Detailed agreement being finalized

Aug 15 (CT) Health Ministry says a detailed agreement, regarding handing over of Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital to the Govt, is being finalized and will be signed soon. The Ministry was responding to the concerns raised by the GMOA. In a media statement, it was stated that the ministry wishes to place on record that the Management and Operations of the above Hospital was taken over by the govt on 1 August 2017 based on a decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers. more..

Arjuna Ranatunga slams Sri Lanka board over whitewash

Aug 15 (AFP) Former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga blamed Sri Lanka's cricket board for the squad's crushing three-test series whitewash on home soil against India. Ranatunga said Sri Lanka's XI could not be faulted for the humiliating 3-0 drubbing described by skipper Dinesh Chandimal as the worst series of his career, but squared the blame entirely with management. "Sri Lanka cricket is going through the worst period," he said. more..

The Portuguese as demonic Mârayo

Aug 16 (CT) This essay* decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Mârayâ, the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of more..

What is wrong with nationalism?

Aug 16 (CT) There is nothing wrong with nationalism if it is moderate, balanced, civic, and realistic enough to incorporate global trends. Nationalism at a personal level might manifest as patriotism, to mean love for one’s country of origin or even adopted country. There can be people who could balance between the two without much antagonism. Love for the country or country of origin also could be identified different to nationalism or patriotism in a more sublime and a sophisticated form. more..

False claims about herbicide Glyphosate

Aug 16 (SO) I was amazed to read shockingly irresponsible headlines over the recent past which claim that the weed-killer glyphosate has destroyed health in the plantations sector, particularly, given that there has yet to be reported a single credible case of Glyphosate causing harm to the health of a single person in the plantation industry, let alone the wider agriculture sector in Sri Lanka or anywhere else in the world. more..

Farmers cry foul, Threaten more strikes

Aug 16 (SL) The farming community will to take to the streets once again as no solution has been given to address their concerns, the convenor of All Ceylon Farmers Federation, Namal Karunaratne said. However, when inquired from subject Ministers P. Harrison and Daya Gamage they said mechanisms for the provision of solutions for the farmers’ issues are currently being implemented. Last week farmers took to the streets and protested. Dairy farmers also staged a protest recently more..

On religion, intolerance and economic prosperity

Aug 16 (SL) Some moons back, in the course of a conversation with an overseas-based Sri Lankan academic who was then in Colombo on a short vacation, I was struck by a remark he made on what he discerned as the growing religiosity of Sri Lankan society. He was of the opinion that Sri Lankans – broadly speaking – were becoming increasingly assertive of their religious identities, and reckoned that this development did not bode well for our future. The rising influence of religion, he felt, more..

'Recent increase in security has caused fear among Northerners'

Aug 16 (CT) SLFP Jaffna District MP Angajan Ramanathan said the recent increase in security of the North has caused fear among the people of the region. "People of the North have also gone through lots of problems. Police raids and increase in the STF security with the Army happened before as well. Remembering the past activities people tend to think that govt is trying to control them by making use of STF or Police. more..

Education in the doldrums

Aug 16 (CT) I have spent the last few weeks looking at both our parliamentarians and the public service, and these are certainly areas in which reforms are urgently required. At its simplest, we need a public service that works efficiently for the public, rather than for politicians. We need politicians who understand what their responsibilities are, to constituents as well as to the country at large, and who fulfil those responsibilities efficiently and effectively. more..

What’s next? Who’s next?

Aug 16 (CT) My last article on the correlation between political stability and foreign direct investment is starting to make more rational sense with the recent events unfolding at a rather breathtaking pace. Some key milestones have been achieved through public pressure on the current political establishment. In this context it is increasingly evident of the instability that is prevailing. In such a scenario the country is set to lose further on the economic front more..

Mahinda Deshapriya

Bond scams, Geneva process and RK’s resignation

Aug 16 (Island) The unprecedented political crisis caused in the wake of the alleged CB-Perpetual Treasuries bond scams has threatened the continuation of the UNP-SLFP coalition. Perpetrated in Feb 2015 and March 2016, the alleged scams, compelled President Sirisena to appoint a 3-member PCoI by January this year to probe the complicity of the then Governor, Singaporean Arjuna Mahendran, his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius, as well as the UNP, in the deceitful transactions. more..