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Hambantota Port takes quantum leap, expands services

Feb 25 (CT) Hambantota Port has taken a quantum leap since the establishment of two Private-Public Partnership (PPP) Companies Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) and Hambantota International Port Services (HIPS), set up by China Merchants Port Holdings Company and the SL Ports Authority, a top company official said. "Since commencing operations with the handling of the first Roll-on/Roll-off (RO-RO ) vessel on 18 Dec, Port has come a long way by introducing more..

Subverting Govt through foreign funding

Feb 25 (CT) Civil society organizations opposing the Govt was the norm in those heady days of an NGO managed peace process in Colombo. What can only be described as massive rent seeking had been the principal function of several Civil Society organizations, and they had a field day in devising projects that served little purpose. And as a consequence of this, it was clear they would not take serious efforts to deal with terrorism, because success in that regard would have reduced more..

Everyone in anticipation of Cabinet reshuffle

Feb 25 (CT) Uncertainty seems to be the only certain thing in the prevailing political situation in Sri Lanka with the Govt struggling to get its act together even after two years of suffering and a huge blow at the LG Elections. Just like the previous week, last week also filled with meetings, discussions, disagreements and indecisiveness as both President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe failed to reach a consensus more..

Land like no other in a trance

Feb 25 (ST) It was as if Kussi Amma Sera had gone into a trance. She kept on mumbling, Ehe yanawa, mehe yanawa … ehe yanawa, mehe yanawa (Going here, going there), while preparing the morning tea in a smoke-filled kitchen. Puzzled at first and about to ask what she meant, I recalled a friend saying that the struggle by ruling politicians to form a new government and Cabinet was like the back-and-forth swing of a pendulum in an old grandfather’s clock. Apey desapalagnayin ratata-nung adare more..

Frequent injuries the bane of our cricket

Feb 25 (Island) As the Palace guard, Marcellus said, when he saw the ghost of Hamlet walking over the palace walls in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Similarly, players in the national team are subject to suffering from injuries far too frequently. Are they playing too much cricket or are the fitness regime not being handled by competent staff? Other Test-playing nations do not seem to be plagued with such a plethora of injuries. more..

Nidahas Trophy bound to be another learning curve

Feb 25 (ST) The Messiah has come with his disciples said Angelo Mathews, after SL returned home from a successful tour to Bangladesh. Messiah he referred to was Chandika Hathurusingha, the man who seems to have injected new life to a group of players long plagued by a defeatist mindset. Tri-nation series began with two defeats against Zim and B'desh and critics were quick to write off the team once again. more..

Sharmila Jan gives sterling performance on day 2 of ISAC

Feb 25 (ST) Sharmila Jan of Gateway College Colombo gave a sterling performance in the Under-20 girls’ 200 metres on the second day of the 18th International Schools Athletics Championships (ISAC) at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Sports Stadium, Diyagama yesterday. Sharmila finished the race in 25.27secs which according to IAAF points, she will get 917 points. This is the best performance to date. She has all the capabilities of winning the Under-20 girls’ championship. more..

Favourites sail into the semifinals

Feb 25 (ST) World Champion, Nishantha Fernando and reigning national champion Chamil Cooray along with Shaheed Hilmi and Suraj Maduwantha made their way to the semi-finals in the Men’s Singles event at the 50th Carrom Nationals continued for the 5th day at the Carrom Federation Headquarters, Kohuwala yesterday. In the other quarter-final matches took place yesterday in the Women’s Singles Yasika Rahubadda, Chalani Lakmali, Maduka Dilshani & Joseph Roshita more..

SL business confidence in negative territory

Feb 25 (ST) Business confidence is seen in negative territory while achieving targets set this year for economic growth, foreign investment and tax revenue would be challenging, a BT poll this week has revealed. The poll conducted on email and reaching out to a cross-section of Sri Lanka’s business community, academics and professionals saw mixed views being expressed on the sustainability of a new cabinet/govt. more..

Hathurusingha’s biggest test

Feb 25 (Island) Former all-rounder Chandika Hathurusingha finished off his maiden assignment as SL’s Head Coach in flying colours. The national cricket team arrived in Colombo earlier this week having won the Test, tri-nation and T-20 series in Bangladesh. Some wonder whether we should actually make much noise having overcome lowly Bangladesh. However, the truth of the matter is that Bangladesh have been a strong force at home in recent times. more..

Green men hang on to force a draw

Feb 25 (ST) It was a narrow escape for Isipathana at the 55th Battle of the Brothers at the SSC grounds, yesterday. Being given the task of making 254 in 57 overs Isipathana were precariously placed at 153 for 7 when badlight stopped further proceedings. Thurstan was in full control of the proceedings since the first ball was bowled on Friday. They ended day one in a strong position after being invited to take first lease of the wicket by posting a formidable total and then having their opponents in all sorts more..

'Everyone is aware of my capabilities'

Feb 25 (ST) Road to Friday’s National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) election was rugged, with both parties trading various allegations. But on the day of the polls, the group backed by outgoing President Hemasiri Fernando recorded an overwhelming victory to take control of country’s Olympic movement. Suresh Subramaniam, a former Davis Cup tennis player, beat rival Rohan Fernando, more..

Distilleries to be listed again on CSE

Feb 25 (Island) Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka (DCSL) will once again be listed on the trading boards of the Colombo Stock Exchange tomorrow following its delisting some months ago consequent to a share swap arrangement between DCSL and its holding company, Melstacorp PLC. Under the share swap, DCSL shareholders were in Aug. 2016 offered four Melstacorp shares for each DCSL share they held and the majority accepted this offer. They were told that they would have preferential more..

Liability Act to institutionalise fiscal consolidation

Feb 25 (SO) Liability Management Law tabled in parliament last week will help the country to institutionalize fiscal consolidation and address budget deficit which has been the island’s main source of instability. Addressing the inauguration of the 12th Annual Inspection Workshop of the IFIAR, CB Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy acknowledged it is encouraging the govt to institutionalize fiscal consolidation by giving teeth to Fiscal Responsibility Management Act. more..

SEC exercises vigilance on Janashakthi share trades

Feb 25 (ST) Janashakthi Insurance PLC’s Rs. 16.4 billion sale earlier this month of its general insurance business to multinational insurer, Germany’s Allianz, has rung alarm bells at the stock market regulator after a spurt in the share price just before the sale, informed sources said. The SEC is investigating a sharp rise in the share price of Janashakthi Insurance which went up by 44% from Rs. 16.10 on Jan 29 to Rs. 23.20 on Feb 1, more..

Vijaya Kumaratunga stood up as a beacon of peace and amity

Feb 25 (Island) I consider myself to be very fortunate for being called upon to speak a few words about our friend the late Vijaya Kumaratunga, undoubtedly the most popular actor and the most popular politician 30 years ago. All of us present here today are his friends and those who loved him. Horrendous though it was, I see Vijaya’s assassination, in a certain sense, as the enactment of a farce. I say so, without any sense of levity, because those who perpetrated that crime more..

British cannons discovered at Trinco construction site

Feb 25 (ST) Two more cannons dating back to the British period have been unearthed at a construction site for an accident ward of the Trincomalee Hospital. Archaeology Director W.H.A. Sumanadasa said the new discovery came days after his department officials unearthed the first cannon. He said further excavations had exposed two more cannons, all of which dated back to the British colonial period. The excavation was carried out with the support of Navy, Mr. Sumanadasa said more..

Farewell, Una

Feb 25 (SO) The funeral of Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in SL, Ms. Una McCauley who passed away suddenly on Friday night will be held later this week in Sri Lanka. UN Colombo Headquarters announced her sudden demise early Saturday. It has been reported that she was fighting a protracted illness and was on medical leave for treatment at the time of her demise at a local hospital. more..

Bank of Maldives soon in Colombo

Feb 25 (CT) The first overseas bank of the Maldives – The Bank of Maldives – will be launched in Sri Lanka soon said Maldivian Envoy to SL Mohamed Shareef. He said, they have seen the rapid growth of trade between the two countries and as their foreign policies are strong and open, they have decided to open their first overseas branch of the Bank of Maldives in SL soon. Top SL tourist hotels are coming to Male and likewise many of the Maldivians are buying properties in Sri Lanka, he noted. more..

Pay hike for CJ, Superior Court Judges

Feb 25 (ST) Parliament will shortly approve a salary hike for the Chief Justice and the Judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Cabinet of Ministers on Feb 20, granted approval for the pay hike, in keeping with the Cabinet Memorandum submitted by Prez, to revise the salaries and allowances of the Chief Justice and the Judges of the Superior Courts, with effect from Jan 1, 2018. The salary increase will be in keeping with the document prepared by more..

SL ready to take in failed asylum seekers

Feb 25 (CT) The Govt will allow thousands of Sri Lankan refugees, who failed their asylum bid in Europe and elsewhere, to enter the country provided they arrive on a voluntary basis, a high ranking official with the Foreign Ministry said. He said the decision was taken at the 4th Joint Committee Meeting on Re-Admission held in Brussels on Monday, last week. "There is an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 Lankans who have more..

US tech CEO, business leader Murtaza Esufally invest in

Feb 25 (ST) New investors have come into Takas Pvt Ltd in the form of US-based Velan Thillairajah, Founder/Chief Executive Innovator of EAI Technologies and Murtaza Esufally, board director at the Hemas Group. Mr. Thillairajah will be also joining the Takas Advisory Board, according to Lahiru Pathmalal, CEO Takas Pvt Ltd. “We are thrilled to have Velan on board. He has led EAI to serve as a collaborative partner with clients like Verizon, Cardinal Health, Neustar, VeriSign, more..

Severe heat levels next week; expert raises alarm over sports events

Feb 25 (ST) Be extremely cautious of outdoor activities next week as the rising heat levels could cause people to go into a heatstroke. This is the warning from Consultant Paediatrician Dr. Ajith Amarasinghe in the light of many sports meets and cricket matches compelling children to be out in the heat. “Humidity levels in Colombo are around 70-75 percent. Next week’s predicted temperature is 30-31C which will give a Heat Index Value between 32-41C,” he explains, more..

Cabinet shuffle to coincide with Ironman

Feb 25 (EN) The coalition govt is due to carry out its first major cabinet reshuffle on Sunday after marathon talks between Prez and PM. The two men had to iron out differences over key positions with the help of trouble shooter Rajitha Senaratne. Ministers have been invited to be at the Presidential Secretariat for the swearing-in at an astrologically auspicious time, but the previously scheduled Ironman triathlon in the same area will clash more..

'Rate cut may have incentivized outflows'

Feb 25 (SO) The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy says that a rate cut on February 15, the Central Bank’s first monetary policy review for 2018 could have partly incentivized outflows from Sri Lanka. Explaining the rationale behind keeping rates steady amidst arguments that the monetary authority should have eased policy rates with a view to stimulate growth, the governor pointed out that the international dimension was one key factor. more..

Feast of St. Anthony’s Church in Katchatheevu draws Indian and local crowds

Feb 25 (ST) Thousands of Catholic devotees from SL and TN in India took part in the annual feast of St. Anthony’s Church in Katchatheevu Island yesterday. Some 1,920 devotees from Tamil Nadu and over 4,000 locals from various parts of the island participated in the ceremonies. Festival which saw the two countries’ fisher folk coming together to celebrate, commenced with the hoisting of the flag on the flag pole donated by Indian devotees to the refurnished church. more..

Political drama climax today; mainly reshuffle of same Ministers

Feb 25 (ST) The suspense for Sri Lankans, kept in the dark for two weeks over the political crisis triggered by results of the local polls, will end today. The Presidential Secretariat on Friday informed new ministers to be present at a swearing-in ceremony at 11 this morning. The move signals the continuation of the SLFP-UNP coalition with most differences resolved, at least for the moment. more..

2 weeks of non-governance & non-opposition

Feb 25 (Island) We can no longer blame the LG election results for the continuing paralysis of govt and the consistently off-the mark criticisms of JO. Much anticipated cabinet reshuffle (even though there is nothing to shuffle in a pack of jokers with no aces, as Pieter Keuneman once wisecracked) would have given something new to write about for the weekend column, but that did not happen at the time of writing. So we are back at the same topic of non-governance & non-opposition. more..

Minister Kabir Hashim’s hogwash

Feb 25 (Island) According to media reports, Minister of Public Enterprise Development and subject minister for the national carrier SriLankan Airlines, Kabir Hashim, responding to a question from JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa is reported to have stated, he had written to Prez Sirisena requesting investigations by the recently appointed PCoI should be based on J.C. Weliamuna Report. Weliamuna Board of Inquiry was hastily appointed, shortly after the installation of the Yahapalana govt. more..

Udayanga missing: Second team also returns without suspect

Feb 25 (ST A 2-member team that flew to Dubai — armed with an Interpol Red Notice from its headquarters in Lyon, France — to seek the arrest of wanted former SL ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, also returned empty handed on Friday. Team comprised Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda and Senior Superintendent P.K.D. Priyantha, Director of the FCID. Earlier, moves for Foreign Minister more..

Rice imports continue despite bumper harvest

Feb 25 (ST) A glut of rice, the result of a bumper harvest, has not prevented the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to go ahead with more imports. The move has caused concerns for the Department of Agriculture, which has made recommendations to the Agriculture Ministry on the situation and sought its intervention. Agriculture Department Acting Director General Sisira Kumara confirmed that he has recommended that more..

Air Force seeks runway access at Mattala

Feb 25 (ST) The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) is seeking access to a runway at the Mattala Int'l Airport to be used in case of emergency and for national security purposes, a senior official said. The SLAF is also seeking a block of airport land to be used by the military in case a need arises. Civil Aviation Director General H.M.C. Nimalsiri also confirmed that the SLAF had sought runway access and land at the Mattala airport and more..

For women candidates battle is far from over

Feb 25 (CT) The struggle against gender inequality in politics and the fight for constitutional reform in this regard were advocated continuously by various scholars and women activists throughout the political history of SL. Yet, statistics show that the number of women in politics in Sri Lanka at local govt, provincial as well as national level lags far behind in comparison with other South Asian countries. more..

Over 300 students kickstart energy efficiency at school level

Feb 25 (SO) Over 300 students in nine Provinces have been empowered to become Champions of Green Energy as Sri Lanka pushes forward on the agenda to shift from fossils to renewable energies. Students, youth and teachers representing schools from all nine provinces took part in an interactive series of training courses aimed at enhancing awareness, knowledge and enthusiasm on renewable energy and more..

Bellanwila chief prelate’s death: Police await JSC report to probe coroner’s complaint

Feb 25 (CT) The Police are awaiting a report from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) prior to carrying out investigations into a complaint made by the Colombo City Coroner, Iresha Samaraweera, regarding the procedures adopted during the inquest into the death of Sri J'pura Uni Chancellor Professor Bellanwila Wimalaratana Thera. "The Coroner's complaint to the IGP is being taken on a serious note and more..

‘Just implement the law, fulfill the 25% quota’

Feb 25 (SO) As uncertainty loomed over fulfilling the mandatory 25% quota for women councillors in the new local govt institutions last week, the Election Commission was inundated with a tsunami of inquiries, compelling it to hold back to back meetings with party leaders and women’s groups to explain and explore the best way out of the situation. It was said, practical difficulties were there and at least 10 councils out of 340 more..

Sri Lanka debt burden Rs 417,913 per person

Feb 25 (ST) Sri Lanka’s debt had gone up to Rs. 417,913 a person by the end of 2016, a jump of nearly Rs 45,000 within a year, Auditor General has reported. By the end of Dec 2015, the per person debt had stood at Rs 373,462. This had increased by Rs. 44,451, representing an increase of about 12% by Dec 2016, AG said in his report on Public Debt Management. By the end of 2005, the per person debt stood at Rs 108,908. more..

PM takes Law and Order to avert cabinet crisis

Feb 25 (EN) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe took the ministry of Law and Order in a bid to avoid an embarrassing hold up of the new cabinet as Sunday’s swearing-in was marred by Prez Sirisena throwing a spanner in the works. Sources close to both sides said that Sirisena at the last minute refused to give the Law and Order ministry to Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka and PM stepped in to take the portfolio on a temporary basis. more..

Sri Lanka re-shuffles UNP ministers, UPFA changes planned says President

Feb 25 (EN) President Maithripala Sirisena has sworn in new ministers from the UNP with changes from his UPFA promised later. PM Ranil Wickremesighe is the law and order minister, and Kabir Hashim as minister of highways. "I congratulate the newly appointed Cabinet, State and Deputy Ministers," President Sirisena said in a message. "These changes as well as those soon to be made on the UPFA side more..