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Wait and see from foreign investors

Mar 11 (ST) This week’s unrest in Kandy and the imposition of a state of emergency immediately led to tourist cancellations and triggered alarm bells in the economy, officials and economists at Treasury/CB said. As long as communal tensions persist, country will be vulnerable to an economic crisis, senior govt official said adding that relations with West Asian countries could get affected and in turn impact on foreign remittance inflows. more..

Unregistered HNB shares held by Harry companies sold this year

Mar 11 (Island) Over 11.3 million unregistered Hatton National Bank voting shares had been disposed by the holder, three Harry Jayawardena controlled/influenced companies in January and February this year, HNB said in a Stock Exchange filing without disclosing who the holders of these unregistered shares were. Three related companies, Milford Exports (7.94%), Stassen Exports (6.88%) and Distilleries Company of SL (3.08%), together held a total of 17.9% of HNB in excess of more..

Battle of Blues: Low scoring game so far – evenly poised

Mar 11 (ST) 139th Royal-Thomian match, which has produced a lot of uninspiring cricket, is heading for an uneventful draw by the end of the second day’s play at the SSC. Royal continuing from their overnight score of 33 for 3, were able to eke out a 12 run lead on the first innings thanks to the 27 runs added by the last pair of Dimal Wijeasekera and Manula Perera. They nicked and nudged their way against a toothless Thomian attack when play resumed at 3.45 after a break of 90 minutes. more..

Tourists cancel visits to Kandy

Mar 11 (ST) Foreign travellers are calling up Kandy hotels to cancel their holiday plans for bookings already placed with most online visitors opting to stay clear of the violence that this week hit the hills. At least 10% of tourists scheduled to visit Kandy cancelled travel plans in the wake of the tension experienced in the district during the past few days. A few hotels had reported 5-10% cancellations by tourists scheduled to holiday more..

Stocks: Foreign buying may slow down

Mar 11 (ST) Colombo Stock Exchange’s (CSE) rally by foreign investors looks dicey now that a state of emergency has been imposed by the govt on Tuesday, some stock analysts say. “From Tuesday onwards some funds were trying to book profits on selected blue chip blocks such as John Keells and Commercial Bank,” an analyst told the Business Times. According to him JKH saw a Rs. 5 drop on Thursday to Rs. 160.50 and stood at Rs. 163 on Friday. He added that calls to sell certain more..

Islandwide survey for mineral resources vital: Dr. Amunugama

Mar 11 (CT) An islandwide survey for mineral resources needs to be carried out to realize the country's true potential in terms of exports and local industry production according to Minister of Sarath Amunugama. The Minister taking China as a role model for mineral resource exploitation and surveying, said Sri Lanka had still not carried out an islandwide survey of the full natural resources and mineral resources deposits and therefore suffered an economic disadvantage. more..

Unrest taking its toll on economy, biz community

Mar 11 (SO) Sri Lanka Tourism sources said currently the situation in the hill country has been brought under control and that it is too early to make an assessment of the damage to the tourism industry and the economy at large. “We need to wait and see and probably it would take around three to four days to make some judgment on the impact of the violence on the country.” Chairman of SLTDA Kavan Ratnayaka said more..

Lack of recognition for innovation in SL

Mar 11 (ST) While innovation appears to be one of the core strengths of some young graduates who pass out from national universities in Sri Lanka, there is lack of recognition for innovation by the industry experts and corporate heads. Sri Lanka ranks 90 out of 130 nations worldwide in terms of innovation, according to the global innovation index report of 2017. Last week the Centre for Biomedical Innovation (CEBI) at University of Moratuwa (UoM) organised an innovation day more..

Paddy farmers battered black and blue

Mar 11 (ST) Sinhala & Tamil New Year is around the corner. However paddy farmers claim they will face a bleak ‘blue’ New Year, unless the state steps in to ensure the guaranteed price scheme for the purchase of paddy is implemented throughout the country. Farmers in Matale DS Division of Laggala & Wilgamuwa complain that despite the floor-price for the purchase of paddy being Rs 38/- per kg, they are forced to sell their produce to traders at prices ranging from Rs. 27 to Rs. 28 per kg. more..

Yahapalana Scam?: Indian firm gets another contract without tender

Mar 11 (ST) RITES Ltd, an Indian Govt-owned engineering consultancy firm, has won without tender a contract to carry out a feasibility study for road improvement projects in Katugastota and Galagedara in the Kandy district. Cabinet decision published online says it is proposed to expand the road from Katugastota to Galagedara to four lanes; and to build a new four-lane sub-road in the Katugastota town. more..

Disturbance stirs up strong winds and heavy rains

Mar 11 (ST) Sri Lanka is experiencing weather extremes ranging from warm afternoons and isolated heavy rains to misty and cold mornings, along with the lingering drought. In some areas, strong winds of up to 45 kilometres per hour have damaged homes. Meteorology Department said the prevailing cloudy and rainy weather is temporary and caused by a wave type disturbance affecting the southern region. This weather phenomenon is expected to bring rain to many parts of SL. more..

No slowdown in construction sector EDB

Mar 11 (CT) Despite the never before seen boost, the construction sector of Sri Lanka is yet to slow down, with the country's infrastructure requiring a complete revamp and the real estate growth bubble in Colombo not nearing its end. Therefore, the result being that the growth prospects for the country's construction sector still fly high. This was said by the EDB in a statement released on 8 March. The construction sector contributed to over nine per cent of the country's GDP and more..

Facebook shut down till emergency is lifted

Mar 11 (ST) Temporary blockade of access to the social media site Facebook could remain in place till the State of Emergency lapses, authoritative sources said. Govt had initially conveyed to Facebook that the suspension was in place for 72 hours, the sources said. However, it has gone on for longer. Prez Secretary Austin Fernando, who is also chairman of the TRC, said that he could not say when the blockade would be lifted more..

Some Sri Lankans in Singapore sabotaging investment flows to motherland

Mar 11 (Island) Even as PM Ranil Wickremesinghe was wooing around 400 International fund managers and investors attending the "Invest Sri Lanka" Forum in Singapore on March 2, some Sri Lankans with links to the Modern Day Dutugemunu, were mingling with the participants cautioning them that the govt would collapse soon. A Singaporean who happened to sit next to me at the Four Seasons Hotel where the investor forum was held, sought my advice as a journalist on investment returns in Sri Lanka more..

Banned social media sites to be enabled today?

Mar 11 (NR) Federation of Information Technology Industry believes social media sites that were temporarily banned will be enabled today. Chairman Dr. Kithsiri Manchanayake said according to information received the ban will be lifted today. Ban on Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Imo was due to be lifted yesterday. TRC blocked social media networks across the country in order to prevent the spread of communal violence. Accordingly, service providers were instructed to restrict internet more..

I had great hopes in the new govt: Navi Pillay

Mar 11 (CT) Renowned int'l Jurist and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, claimed that the violent attack against Muslims by Sinhala Buddhists in Kandy administrative District was "not a religious clash, but another expression of brutality pervasive in society, a legacy of the long war and two insurgencies. "I had great hope that the new Govt will deliver on the undertakings they gave the HRC. more..

Speaker leads MP team to Kandy

Mar 11 (SO) A delegation of MPs representing all political parties, headed by the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya visited the crisis-ridden areas of Kandy, yesterday. “We have a duty to ensure that no repetition of a crisis of this nature takes place again. Thus, the purpose of our visit was to ensure unity between the Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils,” Speaker Jayasuriya said. Group first visited the Chief Prelate of Malwathu Chapter of Siyam Sect, Most Ven. Thibotuwawe Sumangala Thera. more..

President directs his SLT Chairman-brother to punish corrupt officials

Mar 11 (ST) Amidst mounting pressure from Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) workers, President Sirisena has ordered his brother P.G. Kumarasinghe Sirisena, Chairman SLT to take stern action against corrupt officials and streamline operations. Heeding trade union demands, he directed his brother to immediately stop heavy investments leading to financial instability of the institution and unproductive operations and halt the present restructuring process in the administrative structure. more..

Questions on the need for nation-wide state of emergency

Mar 11 (ST) Ministers who had gathered last Tuesday for their weekly cabinet session on the ground floor of the Presidential Secretariat, once the well of the House of Parliament, pondered. They had been asked by President Maithripala Sirisena to hurriedly assemble on the second floor conference room, just steps away from his office. There, he announced, he had signed a proclamation under Public Security Ordinance declaring more..

From Aluthgama to Teldeniya: Fearful continuities, fruitless govt change

Mar 11 (Island) Teldeniya is the last straw, if one was needed, to break the last strand of credibility of the govt. Most people took for granted that if there is one area where the present govt could automatically differentiate itself from its predecessor (Rajapaksa regime) it would be in putting an end to mob violence against minorities. That assumption and assurance went up in flames when Aluthgama history was allowed to repeat itself in Teldeniya and other northern towns more..

The fire will spread if not contained and extinguished immediately

Mar 11 (Island) I phoned a relative in Kandy and asked him what’s up. Trouble was, he said, over next to nothing; but inflamed. Tisaranee Gunasekera as she always does, has analyzed and suggested remedies very accurately in an article titled: The beast rides again.My intended innocuous article written for this Sunday will remain in my file. The conflicts conflagrated in Ampara and still burning in Teldeniya and Digana and spread to Kandy, takes top slot in the mind. more..

Army engineers to rebuild damaged houses in Kandy

Mar 11 (ST) Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake, in battle fatigues, appeared before TV cameras after meeting representatives of Sinhala & Muslim business community in Kandy on Friday. He lost little time in blaming the Police for the escalation of violence in the area and declared they should take the responsibility. Remarks came as Prez Secretariat announced that a Committee of retired judges would probe more..

Rajanganaya drinking water project suspended after uproar

Mar 11 (AD) A decision has been taken to temporarily suspend the Rajanganaya drinking water project, which had been the cause for yesterday’s tense situation in Thambuttegama. Anuradhapura district secretary R.M. Wanninayake said that a decision on whether the project will be recommenced will be taken after discussions with representatives of farmers, officials of the irrigation department and other relevant authorities. more..

The abortion debate in Sri Lanka

Mar 11 (CT) Who has the power over a woman's reproductive choices? Is it the woman herself? Or is it the State and the society at large? This age-old controversy has turned into a heated debate in the case of a termination of a pregnancy, or in other words, an abortion. Programme of Action of the Int'l Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) broadly defines reproductive health as including all matters relating to the wellbeing more..

Gajendrakumar goes to Geneva

Mar 11 (CT) President of Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) Gajendrakuamar Ponnambalam left for Geneva on Friday, to hand over a petition, bearing 200,000 signatures, urging the UN Security Council to engage in investigating war crimes allegations. The signatures, which are being collected at the moment, will be taken to Geneva by Selvaraja Gajendrakumar, who, together with Ponnabalam, more..

Official committee to make periodic briefings

Mar 11 (SO) The Official Committee with regard to the restructuring of the national carrier, which has not met for the past two weeks will be hopefully meeting next week to review proposals of Nyras, Secretary to the Treasury Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga who heads the Official Committee said. He said the Official Committee will revisit the proposals of Nyras and make periodical briefings to the Ministerial Committee headed by PM more..

IMF withholds disbursing 5th tranche

Mar 11 (CT) The IMF on Friday, withheld the release of its fifth tranche, of US$ 246.7 million, of its $ 1.5 billion three-year extended fund facility (EFF) with Sri Lanka, entered into in June 2016. The withholding of the fifth tranche was tied to Sri Lanka not implementing an automatic pricing mechanism (APM) for fuel at the pump revolving round variables such as the spot rupee rate of the US dollar & int'l oil prices. more..

Multi-million rupee alleged fraud in shipping company

Mar 11 (Island) A shipping business entrepreneur has complained to the CID that two directors of the company had allegedly defrauded more than Rs. 42 million by securing credit facilities from a financial institution without either his knowledge, as Chairman, or his wife, who also serves as a director. The company had appointed the two new directors in 2015 on the assurance that they would generate new business by more..

Prez Sirisena able to deliver long term benefit to Sri Lanka: Indian Prez

Mar 11 (PSL) The Indian President Ram Nath Kovind says the current President Maithripala Sirisena has been able to deliver long term benefits to Sri Lanka while establishing peace and reconciliation in the country. Indian President further said that after President Sirisena became the Head of State, the economic, cultural and trade relations between the two countries reach new heights. He made these remarks during a meeting with more..

Premier directs suspension of loan instalments of ethnic violence victims

Mar 11 (Island) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday directed officials to inform commercial banks to suspend instalments on loans obtained by the victims of last week’s ethnic violence in affected areas of Kandy district. The premier presided at a meeting at the Kandy district secretariat to discuss the restoration of property damaged or destroyed in the clashes and providing compensation to the victims. more..

Sweeping visa policy changes to attract professionals and investors

Mar 11 (ST) Sri Lankans who have obtained citizenship in other countries will be able to obtain a lifetime permanent resident visa in Sri Lanka for US$ 1,500, with permission to work. This will be one of the features of a new visa policy effective from next month. The sweeping changes aimed at attracting SL professionals living overseas and bringing in more foreign investments would be implemented in 3 stages starting from April 2. more..

Fiddling while Kandy burns

Mar 12 (SO) It was only a week ago that we wrote in these pages of the forebodings of ethnic unrest in the country. In that period of time, our worst fears have come true: violence has erupted in Digana and Teldeniya, leaving two people dead, properties destroyed and a wave of mistrust and suspicion between the Sinhalese and Muslim communities. Now, a state of emergency has been declared. At the time of writing, Police curfews are in place to maintain peace. more..

Building a Third Force

Mar 12 (CT) It is the belief shared by all non-racist, non-xenophobic Sri Lankans that, particularly after the most recent outbreak of mayhem provoked by simply being different, an alternative to the two main political configurations is needed and urgently so. I have deliberately omitted consideration of the JVP as an alternative because its persistent adherence to a discredited set of political beliefs and its deification of Rohana Wijeweera, its leader until he was terminated with extreme prejudice more..

Digana Village: Shreds of humanity amid violent tragedy

Mar 12 (SO) As news spread about unrest in Teldeniya following the funeral of lorry driver A.P. Kumarasiri on Monday (5), Padmini Senarath Yapa says the first thing her husband was to remove the sign above their gate that said Masha-Allah. By Wednesday, looking around her broken front door and shattered light fittings, Padmini slaps her forehead with her palm. “We forgot that there is another sign on top of our front door,” more..

Recent anti-Muslim violence & How best to curtail them

Mar 12 (CT) Compared to anti-Muslim violence at Aluthgama in June 2014, both the govt action against the racist mobs in Kandy and the condemnation by almost all important political leaders against the incidents give some hope that there are possibilities of curtailing communal violence in Sri Lanka in the future, if the determination and political resolve are not diminished, and necessary actions are taken impartially and consistently. more..

Black March

Mar 12 (Island) Unlike the anti-Muslim riots in Aluthgama four years ago, the horrible violence in Kandy, Digana and surrounding areas was covered in great detail by the mainstream media. As a consequence of dealing with the fallout of the violence over social media, some insights are worth sharing. This is particularly pertinent in light of the censorship of social media carried out under Emergency Regulations by the govt, ostensibly with the intent of controlling, curtailing and more..

Devils’ Force sets Hill Capital alight

Mar 12 (CT) The silent tears fall on smouldering embers but it cannot douse the flames of hatred which engulfed the hill station town of Digana that witnessed a bloody cycle of ethnic violence where the minority Muslims was targeted at the beginning of this week. It all began with hate speech and provoking statements on the so-called social media following the death of a trucker and another individual both belonging to majority more..

An unhappy SL and an unfortunate people

Mar 12 (ST) Some months ago, I happened to have a chance conversation with a fellow traveller en route when returning to Sri Lanka. Highly educated in the engineering sciences, he hailed from Mawanella and after a while, the exchange turned to a discussion on how his village had changed with the passing of time. I remember when we were children, he said ‘our Muslim neighbours and their children would treat our houses as if it was theirs and we did the same with them. more..

Editorial: Army, police and satanic forces

Mar 12 (Island) The army has launched a rebuilding drive in the wake of communal violence in Kandy. Army Commander Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake himself has pledged to repair damaged houses, shops and places of worship before Vesak. It may be recalled that the army carried out a successful rebuilding operation after the Aluthgama riots in 2014. It has also played a pivotal role in rebuilding programmes in the former war zone and clearing mines therein. more..

Sathyagraha at Viharamahadevi Park