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Shifting goal-posts: Govt won’t sell Lanka Hospitals

Jan 15 (ST) Govt, true to policy inconsistencies and shifting goalposts, has decided against selling its majority stake in Lanka Hospitals Corporation (LHCL). Earlier it was widely reported that govt wanted to exit partially or fully from those non-strategic investments in LHCL, Hotel Developers (Hilton), Hyatt Residencies, Grand Oriental Hotel, etc. The latest decision comes on the back of the sale of Bank of Ceylon’s 7.5% in Seylan Bank to a Japanese investor being reversed last month. more..

Confusion, contradictions over Executive Presidency

Jan 15 (ST) A string of decisions by SLFP ministers with President Maithripala Sirisena in the chair, have sparked a heated political debate. Main among them is a proposal by SLFP General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake that they should oppose any moves to abolish Executive Presidency. He also said Maithripala Sirisena should be the party’s candidate at the next presidential election. more..

Who is day dreaming? MR or MS

Jan 15 (Island) 2016 ended with a whimper for Sri Lankan politics; 2017 has begun not with a bang, but political banter. The banter is about who will topple whom and who is day dreaming. They are all daydreaming, all three of them, Mahinda Rajapaksa, RanilWickremasinghe and Maithripala Sirisena. According to President Sirisena, his former boss, and predecessor, is daydreaming when he (Rajapaksa) says that he will topple the govt in one week or two. more..

Wimal Weerawansa’s political presence

Jan 15 (Island) Wimal Weerawansa is under arrest. FCID holds that Wimal abused privileges, especially with respect to the use of vehicles.  He is also charged with outright corruption and nepotism regarding the distribution of houses constructed by the govt while he was a Minister in the previous govt.  NFF which Wimal heads, contends he is innocent.  The jury is still out on the legality of the FCID, but this notwithstanding the matter is now in court.  Court will decide.   more..

Fresh call for justice at Lasantha’s memorial

Jan 15 (SL) Eight years have passed since veteran journalist and the founding editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper Lasantha Wickrematunge was assassinated in broad daylight. The assassins were able to carry out their task and pass through the heavily guarded security check points in the Dehiwala area without facing any obstacles. Following the 2015 Presidential election, govt assured that it will bring to justice those more..

The full fury of the Bullring

Jan 15 (CI) Does it feel like your bats have no corporeal form? That the ball is phasing right through them? That's how it starts out here. You are playing, and playing, and playing at balls, and missing and missing and missing. It's going to get much worse, because listen, the band is in voice. Our fans are in. Best of luck fellas. This is the Bullring. A bouncer comes, and it follows you into your escape route and smacks you. more..

'I told MS and MR I am disgusted'

Jan 15 (CT) Amidst the news about the Hambantota clash and GSP win UPFA MP Vidura Wickremanayake's decision to vacate his parliamentary seat remained unnoticed. CT spoke to vociferous politician who is also a SLFP member in the JO. Explaining his stance he said the decision to vacate his seat was only a thought, and not a final decision. He noted that his parliamentary seat presently belongs to people who voted him. more..

Jugglery behind a condo construction

Jan 15 (CT) Residents' of Epitamulla Road Pitakotte in protest against a new 24-storey condominium about to resume construction in an upscale middle class residential area met their electorate, MP Dr. Harsha de Silva alleging that the Pitakotte MC has taken a bribe to approve the condominium. An 8-member committee setup by the residents pointed out that there are irregularities proven beyond all doubts that corruption more..

No property in Wimal’s name: Shashi Weerawansa

Jan 15 (CT) The NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa's wife Shashi Weerawansa says she does not know anything about the alleged misuse of vehicles by her husband. Q: How did you meet MP Wimal Weerawansa? A: He entered politics in 1994. But he was in politics even before that. I met him in 1994 when he came to our house with one of my brothers. Q: Who was your brother? A: Ajith Kumara. Wimal visited our house more..

Chandrababu accorded a state-head’s reception in Sri Lanka

Jan 15 (T360) The Andhra Pradesh govt seems to be jubilant with the grand reception accorded to Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, during his recent two-day visit to Sri Lanka on the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena. He was invited by President Sirisena just to deliver a lecture on Prosperity for all, but the reception was on par with the state visit of head of a country. President was said to be highly commended with more..

Ranil to hold bilateral meetings with world leaders at Davos Economic Forum

Jan 15 (Island) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is scheduled to arrive here tomorrow morning to attend the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which commences on Tuesday. He would also hold bilateral meetings with many  world leaders on the sidelines of the conference. "A record 3,000 leaders from govt, business, academia, NGOs, science and media from over 140 countries would be more..

Govt seeks international assistance to face prevailing drought

Jan 15 (ST) Govt is seeking international assistance to face the prevailing drought situation. Appeals have already been made to World Food Programme (WFP) to provide relief for distribution among those in badly affected areas, and to the UNICEF and foreign nations to purify seawater to overcome the potable water shortage. Decision to seek such assistance has been prompted by concerns that, inter-monsoonal more..

AG exposes huge rice import scandal as govt prepares to import more

Jan 15 (ST) The Auditor General who looked into the import of 257,000 metric tonnes of rice in 2014/2015 says bad practices that included disregard for govt tender procedures had resulted in the loss of more than Rs. 15 billion. Losses continue to accumulate to date due to non-payment of loans taken for the imports and demurrage costs for stocks that remain in privately owned container yards, the AG adds. more..

Bankrupting SL: Millions wasted on abortive deal with US lobby firm

Jan 15 (ST) A deal with a Washington DC lobbying firm by Minister Malik Samarawickrema to increase economic ties with the United States has now been abandoned. This is after more than US$ 150,000 (Rs. 22.5 million) of SL taxpayer’s money has been paid out to this firm. It is not immediately clear whether firm ST&R (Sandler, Travis & Rosenburg) was able to deliver tangible results for the money already paid to them. more..

A new morality in the new year?

Jan 16 (CT) So it's 2017, the year of disaster as predicted by the ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He categorically told the media that the govet would be toppled and he would come back to power. God forbid! An addendum to this was Ranil Wickremesinghe saying he could try it while he (RW) was away in Switzerland. People started criticizing this comment even more than Rajapaksa's threat. They accused the PM of not caring about the country, frivolously belittling major issues. more..

Heavy traffic fines and loss of life

Jan 16 (CT) Sri Lankans faced a shocking and distressing spell during the LTTE conflict when the death smell was in the air persistently. A few decades ago, prior to such an abhorrent phase, the sound of the word death or having to attend a funeral managed to generate apprehension and fear among the people because death occurred in a neighbourhood only once in a blue moon. For the first time people in Sri Lanka were traumatised having to witness cold blooded murdered or more..

Kandy Hospital gears for potential outbreak of deadly influenza

Jan 16 (SO) Following three deaths due to the (A) HINI influenza virus at the Kandy General Hospital Kidney ward, hospital authorities have swiftly moved in to introduce several emergency measures to prevent further spread of the infectious virus. Two kidney patients at Kandy Hospital died of Influenza H1N1 on Wednesday (12). Two of the three deaths reported from the Kandy Teaching hospital were caused by H1N1. more..

How Sri Lanka stalled Hillary Clinton and made Donald Trump win

Jan 16 (SL) On the Instructions of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, I along with MP Dullas Alahapperuma went to the US during the presidential election. We informed  the Sri Lankan community that Hillary Clinton constantly interfered in affairs of Sri Lanka. When we were about to finish off the War, it was dubbed the greatest human tragedy in the world……  It would be detrimental to the interests of Sri Lanka if she were to be elected as president - Bandula Gunawardene. more..

Differing from the EC in its sunny reliance on govt assurances

Jan 16 (ST) European Commission’s proposal this week to the European Union (EU) regarding the restoration of GSP (General System of Preference) Plus to Sri Lanka’s export market did not carry with it, any element of particular surprise. This was a step long predicted. And as a rider, it must be said that the deprivation of the trade benefit to the country under Rajapaksa Presidency was not due to an overriding zeal on the part of the EU to ensure good governance at the time. more..

Sarath Silva Slams Tinkering in Law/Constitution

Jan 16 (CT) Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva says State lands can only be alienated by the President under Article 33 of the Constitution. Land is a provincial subject under Article 18 in the Provincial Council schedule even though it is not implemented fully. Q: You criticized the govt's plan to alienate some lands for the Chinese special economic zone project. Are there any legal flaws in that agreement? A: It was Upali Wijewardena more..

Prez & PM paint their rainbow Blue & Green

Jan 16 (ST) Gala of ceremonial openings to herald economic boom plus the unveiling of Sirisena’s secret weapon to crush Rajapaksa threat The New Year sparklers came belated but they came nevertheless when both President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe emerged from their sullen corners last week, firing all guns in unison to spray paint their rainbow blue and green. Rajapaksa’s declaration two weeks ago that he will topple the govt this year seems to have finally jolted more..

Editorial: Curry leaves, crowbars and Maithri

Jan 16 (Island) The SLFP (Maithri faction), which is toying with the idea of fielding President Maithripala Sirisena at the next presidential election, has been testing the water for the last few days. Some of its prominent members have, at media briefings, said the party wants him to contest again. Interestingly, not even former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who, together with others, helped Sirisena secure the presidency, seems enamoured of the idea. She has recalled, at a recent media conference, more..

Aluth Parlimenthuwa

Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop on war crime probe – but to what end?

Jan 16 (SL) The way the two major Govt camps led by SLFP President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe are behaving, it looks as if there is no communication at all between the nation’s top two leaders. For, both camps, and more especially their respective leaders seem to be relying ever more on the media for communicating their respective and oftentimes differing ideas on issues, and not just to the nation or their allies and political Opposition alike. more..

Yahapalanaya 2017: A Dismal Anniversary

Jan 16 (Island) The MP for Kurunegala, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has announced a wish, intent and threat, a three-in-one package for the New Year. Perhaps it is also a resolution; that is to topple the existing Sirisena/Wickramasinghe coalition and to establish a new govt. Its composition and contours have not been defined but it is a certainty, that the new regime he is contemplating will be totally controlled by him, even if he does not have an official position in it. more..

What’s cooking in the Lankan cricket pot?

Jan 16 (ST) Certainly this is more serious than we thought it was. Though the prevailing silence is eerie, by now, Lankan hierarchy should have been screaming foul and bringing the house down. Still, though unacceptable, it happens to only countries like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. But, replacing the Nov 2017 Sri Lanka tour of South Africa with a series against India, is preposterous. To add to it, Future Tours Programme (FTP) more..

Kumara, Lakmal a glimmer amid catalogue of pain

Jan 16 (CI) Sri Lanka were beaten by increasingly convincing margins through the series and ESPNcricinfo looks at whether anyone emerged with credit. 7: Lahiru Kumara (two matches, 11 wickets at 26.45): Bustling, intense, well-built, refreshingly cranky, Sri Lanka have unearthed a bowler of real potential here, and if they can salvage a long-term match-winning quick from the wreckage of this series, it might almost have been worth it. There are plenty of wayward balls for now, more..

SriLankan Airlines plans daily Muscat-Colombo flights

Jan 16 (TOO) With growing trade and tourism links between the Sultanate and Sri Lanka, SriLankan Airlines, is to introduce daily flights between Muscat and Colombo. Siva Ramachandran, chief commercial officer, SriLankan Airlines, said that the daily flights are planned from April/May this year. “Currently, we are flying five times a week. But from this summer we will be flying seven times a week as we want to give our passengers increased connectivity,” he said. more..

Singapore retailer Mustafa returns to SL

Jan 16 (ST) The BOI is stepping on the pedal to revive Sri Lanka’s investment climate, facilitating clearances for several stalled projects worth millions of dollars in addition to new Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) this year. Several investors who abandoned their projects during the previous regime are returning to revive their stalled projects due to confidence building efforts of the BOI, chairman of BOI Upul Jayasuriya said. more..

SL’s horrors away from home continue

Jan 16 (Island) When  the national cricket team took wings to South Africa in early December, no one expected them to set the world alight. This was a young side whereas South Africa had just thrashed Australia down under. You would have been happier had the team drawn a Test match. Least, you would have been satisfied with a  couple of individual performances. But what the Sri Lankans gave us in South Africa was a shambolic performance. Not a single batsman was able to score a century! more..

Chambers and businesses briefed on commercial mediation

Jan 16 (Island) Introduction of Commercial Mediation will offer Sri Lanka’s business community an optional dispute resolution mechanism in addition to litigation and Arbitration, both of which are riddled with delay and expense. Mediation, if practiced in strict compliance with its intrinsic principles offers a process that will hopefully be devoid of those evils, said Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilake, CEO of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. She made this observation, at a preliminary briefing convened by more..

TUs object to GSP+ assessments on labour rights

Jan 16 (ST) European Commission (EC) this week recommended the restoration of the trade concessions for SL but came under criticism from local trade unions who believe the core issues of labour rights are yet to be addressed. The mere fact that EC has included labour rights especially freedom of association and collective bargaining indicates that this too was an issue similar to the matter on human rights, FTZ Workers Union President said. more..

SL losing ground in Russian tea market

Jan 16 (EN) Sri Lankan tea brands are losing their share of the tea market in Russia, one of the main buyers of Ceylon tea, a brokerage has warned, noting that crude oil prices will have an impact on demand. “Sri Lankan brands have lost share and domestic brands are gaining ground,” Asia Siyaka Commodities said in a report. It said that Russia’s World Trade Organisation obligations to Sri Lanka on duty reductions on value added teas had been met by end-2016. more..

President to take control of Lotteries

Jan 16 (CT) Lotteries Board sources say that preparations are underway to bring National Lotteries Board and the Development Lotteries Board under the purview of President Sirisena. It is reported that the President has informed State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena to look into the present problematic situation at the Boards and submit a report to him. A special discussion is due to be held tomorrow between the Minister & Lottery Marketing Representatives Association. more..

‘Sri Lanka interested in buying oil from Iran’

Jan 16 (PT) Minister Susil Premajayantha told Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Sri Lanka hopes to resume oil imports from Iran after resolving the outstanding financial issues between the two countries pertaining to previous purchases. Premajayantha, on a visit to Iran upon the invitation of Iran’s Vice President for Science and Technology Affairs Sorena Sattari, also expressed hope that energy relations more..

Azwer accuses govt of anti-Muslim attitude

Jan 16 (FT) A.H.M. Azwer, Secretary General of the Muslim Progressive Front has said that the Muslim MPs and Ministers in this Govt have been forced by this so-called Yahapalanaya to flee hither and thither as if being stung by a hive of wasps of Sigiriya. “They are made to run from pillar to post to make representations to the Government regarding the precarious and pathetic position the Muslim community is facing today as a result of anti-religious and racist elements more..

Hayleys unveils Sri Lanka’s largest capacity solar power plant in Welikande

Jan 16 (FT) Hayleys Group jointly with Windforce Ltd., in the forefront of renewable energy in the country, has commissioned their solar power plant. Located in Welikande in the Pollonnaruwa District, the 10 mega watt solar plant has been installed with a solar tracking system that will follow the sun’s rays to ensure an incrementally higher yield of approximately 20% energy, than the fixed tilt system. At full capacity, the plant could contribute 22,000 mega watt hours to the national grid more..

All systems go for Krrish square project construction

Jan 16 (ST) The US$ 650 million-Krrish square project construction is now underway following the final payment (about Rs. 690 million or US$5.3 million) plus fines for the delayed payments being made, top officials of the BOI and UDA confirmed. Krrish Transworks Colombo (Pvt) Ltd, local company of the Krrish Group signed a supplementary agreement with the BOI on Nov 29, 2016 to complete the project in 48 months, more..

Sri Lanka decades behind ETCA with India, just catching up now: Economist

Jan 16 (DM) Sri Lanka is at least three decades behind in getting into a much deeper trade, services and investment agreement with India, and therefore the country is now in a catch-up phase of the lost opportunities through its proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), according to an international economist.   “Sri Lanka, in my view, is playing catch-up. When we liberalised in 1977, I would have thought, if I were designing Sri Lanka’s trade strategy, more..

RPC estates leaving much to be desired, says agricultural specialist

Jan 16 (Island) Agricultural Specialist, Consultant, to The Ministry of Plantation Industries, Jivaka Atapattu, who we interviewed last week, said Regional Plantation Company Estates' performances were now not at their best. Jivaka Atapattu, in his position as Consultant to the Industry, personally assigned by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Plantations, Naveen Dissanayake, was an experienced Planter who also served with Ranjan Wijeratne. more..