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Sri Lanka budget to focus on populist steps ahead of polls

Jan 29 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's new govt will spell out populist measures to cut the cost of living when it unveils a supplementary budget today, but an absence of credible steps to boost revenue could hurt the island nation's fiscal consolidation. New administration of President Sirisena, which ended the decade-long rule of Mahinda Rajapaksa, has pledged to fix a "scary" economy plagued by what it calls faulty data more..

MR, Namal should take legal action if falsely accused: JVP

Jan 29 (CT) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son MP Namal Rajapaksa should take legal action if they can prove that they are being wrongfully accused of corruption, JVP Western Provincial Councillor, Nalinda Jayatissa said. "Both are lawyers. If they can prove that they are wrongfully accused of corruption or if they think there is an unfair 'media blitz' against them, they can go to Court. But instead they keep on making emotive statements," he said. more..

Electrified fences to curb human-elephant conflict in Anuradhapura

Jan 29 (DN) Anuradhapura District Secretary Mahinda Seneviratne said electrified fences will be erected extending 250 kms at a cost of Rs. 200 million to curb the human elephant conflict in the district. The electrified fence going round the Wilpattu sanctuary which commenced in 2012 is yet to be completed under the program, he said. Nearly 1,000 requests asking for providing electrified fences to areas closed to jungle have been received during the last five months. more..

Sri Lanka suffers its worst slip in Global Economic Freedom rankings

Jan 29 (FT) Sri Lanka has suffered its worst performance by slipping further in the Global Economic Freedom rankings and remain categorised among mostly unfree countries along with several in the region. As per the index, published annually by Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation, Sri Lanka was ranked at 101st freest with a score of 58.6, down from 90th place in 2014 and by 1.4 points. In 2013 Sri Lanka ranked best at 81 more..

Wele Suda brought Russian women

Jan 29 (CT) The CID is investigating the human trafficking endeavours of international drug kingpin, Samantha Kumara alias Wele Suda. Recent revelations show that he used to bring down Russian women to a luxury apartment in Colombo. A senior police officer, at Police Headquarters, said the apartment was purchased by Wele Suda and that a man used to reside there in order to pay off the Russian women who used to come to the apartment every month. more..

Biswal to arrive here next week

Jan 29 (CT) US Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Biswal, will arrive in Colombo next week, to hold discussions with the new govt of President Maithripala Sirisena. Biswal will be the first high profile US official to visit Colombo since the new President came to power early this month. Biswal's meetings in Colombo will be centred on the UNHRC sessions in Geneva in March this year. A new strategy to probe the alleged war crimes locally with the directives from more..

Westminster Hall debate on Sri Lanka titled Tamil People in Sri Lanka

Jan 29 (TG) A cohort of British MPs, highlighting past failures of the international community to protect Tamils from ethnic cleansing and the need of the new govt of Sri Lanka to take concrete steps to reconcile with Tamils, debated the issue of ‘Tamils in Sri Lanka’ in parliament on Wednesday. Noting concerns about the new Sri Lankan govt’s demeanour towards the Tamil community, and later highlighting that “only a political solution that more..

Ailing Sri Lankan cricketers limping to finish line of pre-World Cup tour

Jan 29 (Stuff) Not much has gone right for Sri Lanka's cricketers on their pre-World Cup tour and there was more calamity yesterday. Fast bowler Lasith Malinga made an instant impact, even though he has been officially ruled out of today's seventh and final one-dayer against New Zealand in Wellington, as he recovers from ankle surgery. Instead Malinga padded up and had a power hitting session in the centre of the Basin Reserve, peppering the RA Vance Stand. more..

GMOA trying to cause rift between Govt. and Health sector: TUCJS

Jan 29 (CT) The Trade Union Collective for a Just Society (TUCJS) said the GMOA is attempting-to cause a rift between the health sector and the govt by objecting to the increase in wages of govt sector workers. Convener of the TUCJS, Saman Ratnapriya said the GMOA had objected to health sector workers receiving the proposed Rs 10,000 wage increase and had requested that it should not be implemented as it would cause a disparity in wages between officials. more..

Bribery Commission: No resources to probe petitions

Jan 29 (Island) The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) complained to the govt that while it was being asked to probe the numerous petitions lodged, it did not have the resources to undertake work of such magnitude. Deputy Minister Harsha De Silva requested the CIABOC to probe the circumstances under which prime property at Colpety which earlier belonged to Ceylinco Shriram had been more..

Asylum seeker advocates dismayed by High Court ruling

Jan 29 (PA) Refugee advocates have slammed a High Court ruling that the Australian Govt acted lawfully when it detained 157 asylum seekers at sea for a month last year. The Tamil refugees had fled Sri Lanka via India before being intercepted by the Australian customs vessel Ocean Protector in June. It was reported at the time that they were held at sea, without being told where they were going, for a month while Australia tried to return them to India. After refusing to meet with Indian govt more..

'A lot of homework to do before Sri Lanka can attract enough FDIs’

Jan 29 (Island) 'Sri Lanka has got a lot of homework to do before it can attract enough Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and become a vibrant economy in Asia, Ravi Dissanayake, Divisional Merchandising Manager, Vogue Tex Group of Companies told The Island Financial Review recently. The Vogue Tex Group of Companies is a leading manufacturer and exporter specializing in up-market ladies-fashion garments catering to independent brands in Europe, US and the UK. more..

Water tariff reduction in the air

Jan 29 (Island) Water tariff was likely to be reduced shortly but there were no signs of electricity prices being brought down though all three turbines at the first coal fired power plant complex at Norochcholai were feeding the national grid. The Norochcholai power plant complex has been running at maximum capacity producing 600MW of electricity. Sources said the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB) had not decided more..

'Not expected but good to be back at SEC'

Jan 29 (FT) Tilak Karunaratne, who assumed duties yesterday as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman, has told the staff that it was good to be back though he didn’t expect to make a return. He also told said stabilising the stock market was a priority and he would resume his job with an open mind and would study all issues carefully. Karunaratne also had a meeting with the heads of divisions of the SEC as well as one-on-one meeting with Officer-in-Charge and more..

Economy grew by 7.7% in 3Q 2014

Jan 29 (CT) The Sri Lankan economy grew by 7.7% during the third quarter of 2014 supported by strong performance in the Industry and the services sectors. The industry sector, which posted a growth of 12.4% in the first half of 2014, maintained its growth momentum in the third quarter recording an expansion of 12.6%. The performance in the industry sector was supported by the significant growth observed in the construction, manufacturing and mining and quarrying sub sectors. more..

Colombo Uni Senate votes for ouster of VC

Jan 29 (Island) Colombo University Senate unanimously had decided yesterday that its present Vice Chancellor Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama was not suitable for the post, sources said. They said the Colombo University Arts Faculty Teachers’ Association (AFTA) and Colombo University Federation of Teachers’ Associations (CUFTA), who earlier demanded the resignation of the VC, had moved the matter at the Senate more..

Sampath Bank offers customers revolutionary online experience

Jan 29 (Island) Sampath Bank recently launched their new online experience developed by Pyxle, premier provider of award winning internet business solutions. The unveiled Sampath Bank site www.sampath.lk is a revolutionary new platform featuring dramatic advances in navigation, an updated look and feel and a wealth of useful financial information for clients and online visitors. Featuring a needs-based structure and intuitive navigation with wizard-like product more..

Laksala retains growth momentum, to set up more outlets

Jan 29 (DM) Laksala, the leader in handicraft, gift & souvenir market in Sri Lanka has recorded a 25 percent year-on-year growth. The supplier base too has continuously increased and recorded over 8,000 craft entrepreneurs in 2014 from various parts of the country. Laksala continues to uplift the living standards of those occupied in rural cottage industries. Anil Koswatte Chairman & CEO Laksala stated that, with the implementation of a well design business plan Laksala, was able to more..

'Sri Lanka battling corruption like China'

Jan 29 (EN) Sri Lanka is battling corruption just like China, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had told Beijing's envoy to Colombo, his office said in a statement, as 71,000 Chinese officials were punished for graft in 2014. China's ambassador to Colombo, Wu Jinaghao had met Karunanayake at his office Wednesday. Sri Lanka's new administration had heavily criticized Chinese funded projects for inflating cost, through more..

Dropping Upul Tharanga a blunder, yet…

Jan 29 (Island) Sri Lanka icon with the cherry, who holds the world record for the most number of wickets in international cricket, in Test and ODIs, Muralitharan, said a mouthful when been shocked at the absence of opener Upul Tharanga from the 15-member squad for the World Cup in 2015. Murali knows what he is talking about, unlike the square pegs in round holes, in the panel of National cricket selectors, headed by its Chairman Sanath Jayasuriya, a cricketing legend. more..

Sri Lanka gets Facebook Lite App

Jan 29 (EN) Social media giant Facebook has launched what's been called a stripped-down version of its mobile app, aimed at users with low-end mobile devices in emerging markets that include Sri Lanka. Facebook had confirmed to it that "Facebook Lite" was an official app. It is available in eight countries: Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, Nepal, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Facebook Lite takes less than one megabyte of storage space, much less than more..

Sri Lanka is ready to take center stage

Jan 29 (WSJ) The following op-ed was contributed by Richard Armitage, Kara Bue and Lisa Curtis. Mr. Armitage was deputy secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. Ms. Bue was deputy assistant secretary of State for political military affairs from 2003 to 2005. Ms. Curtis is Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Sri Lanka has rarely, if ever, topped any U.S. foreign-policy agenda. more..

A Whistle-blower protection act

Jan 29 (GV) The presidential election results of 8 January suggest that a significant segment of our electorate concurred with the assertion of the then common Opposition that bribery and corruption that tainted the administration of the incumbent president Rajapaksa which, in turn, tainted him, was a sufficiently serious flaw to deny him a third term. Candidate Sirisena promised the Sri Lankan electorate that, if elected, he would wipe out corruption and establish good governance. more..

The future state of the nation

Jan 29 (FT) In the run-up to Independence Day 2015, we must thank God for Sumanthiran. He is indubitably a moderate and an intellectual. Let us give thanks also for the Sunday Observer, which is a State-run newspaper not given to running stories or distorting them in a manner inimical or embarrassing to the Govt of the day. Therefore, when Sumanthiran says something to the Sunday Observer, I take it seriously because I know I am on safe ground. Sumanthiran tells the newspaper that more..

The tale of two CJs

Jan 29 (FT) Eventually, it all ended the way it began. The high domed, iconic red roofs of the Superior Court Complex shimmering in the scorching sun. A gathering of black coats outside the gates at noon. Activists and demonstrators, their protest ended, chatting in small groups. Journalists, cameras poised, standing by the gates endlessly waiting for the footage of the day. Dressed in a simple grey Kandyan sari, Shirani more..

Politicians and astrology

Jan 29 (Island) In The Island of 19 January 2015, N. Amarasekera of Colombo writes: "It was the late Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru who pooh-poohed astrological predictions as inspired guesses, but as there is a saying that a sucker is born every minute one may have to give in to the majority’s wishes!" If I understand NA correctly, what he is saying is this: "Although JN pooh-poohed astrology he nevertheless gave it to his people because most of them were born suckers". more..

Editorial: Probing jail massacres

Jan 29 (Island) New Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe has appointed a committee to probe the killing of 27 prisoners in the Welikade Prison riot in 2012, we are told. This is a step in the right direction because previous investigations have left many questions unanswered and the public none the wiser. Prisoners are also humans, as is written on prison walls and their rights must be respected. However, one should not lose sight of the fact that victims of the Welikade riot were no babes more..

Pakistan's silent partition

Jan 29 (AJ) Pakistan’s story began with a parting — partition from India — and now, for a growing number of people, it is ending with another parting. Negombo, a beach town, is refuge for hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims fleeing persecution in Pakistan. According to UNHCR, there was a nearly 780 percent increase in the number of Pakistani asylum seekers in Sri Lanka from 2012, when 152 people sought asylum, to 2013, more..

Beginning a new beginning

Jan 29 (SL) If the very election of President Maithripala Sirisena has heralded a new era for many in Sri Lanka and those in the international community his PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has since sought to concretise those hopes, expectations and aspirations into what could be loosely described as a policy statement of what truly has become a national govt that had been attempted in the past but never ever materialised. With the countdown for the promised 100-day reforms ticking by more..

Sri Lanka chooses changes

Jan 29 (EAF) The recent election of President Maithripala Sirisena heralds a golden opportunity for Sri Lanka to heal old wounds and to open up its economy — and for the West, India and even East Asian countries to re-engage. In Nov 2014 the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, called an early election in the hope it would be a cakewalk. Instead he was defeated by an effective opposition challenge that tapped into a groundswell of popular resentment with one-family rule. more..

Thalatha on her plans to ensure security of migrant workers

Jan 29 (CT) UNP MP Thalatha Atukorale was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Employment. Ceylon Today speaks to her about the challenges she faces and what she plans to do to assure the safety of Sri Lankans working abroad, especially women working in the Middle East and how to ensure the welfare of their children and families. Q: In your opinion what are the biggest issues and challenges you face to more..

Etisalat celebrates 25-year journey with rewards of 250 lakhs

Jan 29 (DM) Etisalat Lanka, the only network in Sri Lanka to complete 25 years in the mobile telecommunications sector, introduced a promotional scheme to reward its loyal customer base of 4.5 million connected to the 072 network. Etisalat began 2015 by rewarding the first two batches of winners from the 25-year anniversary promotion, marking its dominant presence in the industry in the new year. The network aims to thank and reward its entire customer base with more..

Why did Maithri send Dhanapala to UNHRC?

Jan 29 (CT) No doubt Presidential Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala is now in Geneva to met UNHRC High Commissioner, Zeid Hussein to discuss the issue of the war crimes probe against Sri Lanka. The UNHRC is expected to present a report in March which may contain the necessity to initiate such a probe against Sri Lanka and the refusal by the previous Rajapaksa government to permit the probing team passage to Sri Lanka to conduct investigations. more..

'National security, govt's prime concern'

Jan 29 (SO) With the shift to a new Govt it is speculated by different parties, people and experts of the field the possibility of changes in the defence sector. With a new State Minister appointed and a senior Administrative officer appointed as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, would there be drastic changes in the field of defence? What is the new approach of the Ministry? Answering to these questions Secretary to Ministry Basnayake more..

The Royal Cabinet and school chauvinism

Jan 29 (CT) A hot topic among the middle class circles in Colombo and on social media in the last couple of weeks was the humongous number of ‘Royalists’ in the Cabinet. Factually that’s true. But why is there such a big noise about it and a waving of the blue-gold-and-blue flag, two months before the Royalists can do it at the SSC grounds? We had a period close to a decade which was dominated by an extra-large Cabinet that drew Ministers who went to so many unheard of schools. more..

The challenges of a 100-day govt

Jan 29 (CT) The common opposition probably shot itself in the foot when they declared the 100-day plan and made it their winning slogan, during the Presidential election campaign of Jan 2015. The promises of a small cabinet, concessions to the people, end to bribery and corruption, introduction of the independent commissions, abolition of the 18th amendment, revamping the executive presidency and constitutional reforms are laudable tasks for a coalition that did not even command more..

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