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Thousands in Sri Lanka drink miracle COVID potion, minister ill

Jan 20 (AJ) A self-styled SL holy man’s supposed miracle potion to prevent COVID-19 has turned sour after a minister who publicly drank it was hospitalised with the virus. Thousands defied public gathering restrictions to swamp a village in central SL last month to get the syrup made by Dhammika Bandara. Minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva was among several politicians who consumed the concoction, but parliamentary officials more..

PCoI report to be handed over to Prez on Jan 31

Jan 20 (DM) Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks will submit its final report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Jan 31, sources from the Commission said. Currently, the Commission is trying to obtain evidence from former CID Director Shani Abeysekara and due to his health condition the Commission could not obtain evidence so far. Sources from the Commission said that the PCOI is trying to obtain evidence from the former CID Director in the near future. more..

All should get opportunities equally: Minister Devananda

Jan 20 (DN) Minister Douglas Devananda said that the people in the Trincomalee District should receive dividends of the development projects and thousands of jobs that are being provided under the leadership of Prez Rajapaksa. He was speaking at the Local Industries Promotion Committee Progress Review Meeting at Trincomalee Secretariat Auditorium recently. State Ministers Kanchana Wijsekara, Prasanna Ranaweera District Development Council Chairman, more..

කොවිඩ් ආසාදිතයින්ට නි⁣වසේ නිරෝධායනයට...

Financial turnaround, with Indian assistance

Jan 20 (FT) Proposal to handover East Container Terminal to the Indian company Adani raised protests among Port Trade Unions and also in and out of Parliament. ECT is not a new subject, which dragged on for over five years, but the protests are a new development. Meanwhile, the country is facing serious financial issues with loans of billions of dollars needing settlement during every year. Govt has boasted the ability to repay loans, but is expecting financial support from friendly more..

Securitisation and militarisation in Sri Lanka

Jan 20 (FT) Militarisation of civilian space began during the first Rajapaksa regime. Yet, it didn’t cause public concern, except amongst certain civil society organisations and communities in the north and east that were directly affected by it. Contrary to criticism levelled by the Rajapaksa regime against the Yahapalanaya regime, Yahapalanaya did not initiate de-militarisation. At most, post-2015, there was a temporary partial freezing of militarisation, which resumed with vigour during the second more..

'Sugar tax reduction profited businessmen linked to govt while losses to state Rs.10 b'

Jan 20 (FT) The reduction of the Special Commodity Levy on sugar from Rs. 50 per kilo in May last year to 25 cents in October has led to losses of over Rs. 10 billion, while businessmen closely linked to the Govt have made billions in profits, SJB MP Eran Wickramaratne alleged. He said the gaja mithuru group of this Govt, along with the help of heads of state operations loyal to them have been involved in this scandal. more..

Covid-19 patient escapes from Punanai Treatment Centre

Jan 20 (FT) A private sector-led council has been formed to champion multi-faceted startups and SMEs in the country as a means enhance their contribution to socio-economic growth. Set up under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the Council for Startups aims to address the key needs and challenges of SMEs and startups through allocation of a range of easily accessible opportunities, including access to over 40 int'l markets for various partnerships. more..

568 stranded Lankan migrant workers repatriated from Oman

Jan 20 (DE) Over 500 SL migrant workers stranded in Oman, included over 300 who had overstayed their visas were repatriated to Colombo in two batches on Thursday (14) and Friday (15). Sri Lankan Embassy in Oman said the 568 stranded Sri Lankans were repatriated by the embassy in collaboration with the President Secretariat and the Foreign Ministry of SL, and was facilitated by SriLankan airlines, which brought home the stranded workers in two batches. more..

PHIs warn of critical time in coming weeks in terms of Covid-19

Jan 20 (DM) While blaming the Health Ministry officials providing false picture about Covid-19 situation to the politicians, the Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union warned of a considerable spike in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks. Union's Chairman Upul Rohana said the Govt did not heed to warnings when the PHIs urged the Govt to restrict movement or lock-down high-risk areas during the festive season. more..

Respect religious beliefs of COVID victims: US envoy

Jan 20 (DM) While saying that US stand with all families who have lost loved ones to this Covid-19 pandemic, US Ambassador to SL Alaina B. Teplitz said their rights and dignity should be respected by permitting the observance of their faith in accordance with international public health guidelines. “Ratified by Sri Lanka in 1955, UDHR Article 18 states that everyone has the right to manifest their religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. more..

India awaits regulatory clearance from SL to supply COVID-19 vaccine

Jan 20 (FT) Sri Lanka is not among the neighbouring and key partner countries to which India today commenced the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, as India is awaiting confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances from Sri Lanka. According to a statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the country will supply vaccines manufactured in India to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles starting today. more..

Triple clusters exceed 50,000 patients

Jan 20 (FT) The triple clusters that emerged from Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda and Prisons yesterday crossed the 50,000 patient count with the detection of 669 COVID-19 patients. Triple clusters currently stand at 50,561 patients, three months since the emergence of the Divulapitiya cluster on 4 October. The patients detected yesterday include 660 associates of the Peliyagoda cluster and nine overseas arrivals. more..

Sri Lanka’s Covid-19 death toll hits 273

Jan 20 (AD) SL has confirmed three new Covid-19 related deaths today (19). Following the new development, total lives in the country claimed by the coronavirus outbreak reached 273. The first victim is a 68-year-old man who was residing in Aranayake area. He was transferred from Mawanella Base Hospital to A'pura Teaching Hospital after testing positive for the virus. He was suffering from an infection in the respiratory system caused by Covid-19 pneumonia, more..

Dr. Padeniya’s Contempt of Court case deferred

Jan 20 (CT) Court of Appeal, yesterday, deferred further hearing of the petition filed against the President of the GMOA Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya to 3 March. The GMOA Head has been charged with criticism of the Government, while making aspersions on certain cases. The petition filed by two civil society activists was heard before a two-Judge Bench of the Court of Appeal consisting of its President Justice Arjuna Obeysekara and Justice Mayadunne Corea. more..

Environmentalist accuses govt of resorting to trickery to hand over 800,000 acres to...

Jan 20 (Island) Prez Rajapaksa’s Gama Samaga Pilisandara is a psychological operation to counter people’s resistance to a move to hand over chena and grasslands to large companies, environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara said. Chamikara claimed that the govt had earmarked 800,000 acres of land to be given to corporations, and those lands would mainly consist of forests and areas used for chena cultivations more..

Lions Club of Sri J'pura Kotte together with the 54 Division – SL Army plant trees

Jan 20 (Island) The worth of trees will never diminish, its significance continues to exceed as a result of global warming and adverse climate change taking place in today’s world. Large scale destruction of fauna and flora has led to environmental threats disrupting the forest coverage, endangered species and depriving the future generations of cleaner air (Oxygen)to breatheo. As a means of supporting the cause of reforestation, the Lions Club of Sri J'pura Kotte (District 306 C1) more..

Wigneswaran alleges Govt trying to deceive UNHRC

Jan 20 (Island) Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kutani (TMTK) leader C.V. Wigneswaran, MP, alleged that the govt was making a fresh bid to deceive the Genava-based UNHRC by appointing another Commission of Inquiry. Former Justice Wigneswaran, who served as the Chief Minister of the Northern Province during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure as the President, emphasised that there was absolutely no use in appointing a CoI now. The 46th Geneva sessions are scheduled for Feb-March 2021. more..

Decision on $ 1.5 billion China swap within fortnight

Jan 20 (FT) The decision on a $ 1.5 billion swap with the People’s Bank of China will be notified within the next week or two, Central Bank officials said, while talks for a $ 1 billion swap with the Reserve Bank of India were also proceeding. Negotiations with the People’s Bank of China have reached the final stage with a decision already made by China Central Bank. The decision is expected to be conveyed to the SL Central Bank more..

Kohli, Starc and Jadeja: Udana picks his favourite batsman, bowler and all-rounder

Jan 20 (ANI) SL pacer Isuru Udana said that India skipper Virat Kohli is the best batsman in white-ball cricket while admitting he likes Ravindra Jadeja as an all-rounder. "I think the best batsman in white-ball cricket is Virat Kohli, best bower I'll go for Mitchell Starc and I like Ravindra Jadeja an all-rounder," Udana said. Last month, Kohli was named the ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade and the ICC Men's ODI Cricketer of the Decade. Udana, who will be turning up as Icon Player for Bangla Tigers more..

Standard Chartered donates to Foundation of Goodness

Jan 20 (CT) Standard Chartered SL announced the donation of Rs. 3,680,000 (USD 20,000) to Foundation of Goodness (FoG) to improve the digital literacy skills of students at their centres in rural villages. The donation will help equip the centres with upgraded IT infrastructure, benefiting over 2,500 students in the Northern, Eastern & Southern provinces. “SL saw a sudden switch in the education system from physical to virtual due to the pandemic driven nation-wide lockdown, proving more..

No definite negotiations with IMF: CBSL Governor

Jan 20 (TM) While discussions between the Central Bank of SL (CBSL) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) continue on various technical matters, there has not been a definite series of negotiations between the Central Bank, the Treasury, and the IMF with regard to Sri Lanka’s request for a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), according to the CB Governor. CBSL Governor Prof. W.D. Lakshman disclosed this more..

Spotlight on Dickwella after Galle defeat

Jan 20 (Island) Sri Lanka will have a couple of days to regroup in Galle ahead of the second Test match on Friday at the same venue and the performances of certain players will come under the spotlight. The hosts lost the opening Test match by seven wickets on the final morning as England enjoy their excellent record in SL. England teams of good old days barely lasted three days in the scorching heat of Galle, but they have reversed the trend in recent times. In a row, England have now won five Tests in SL. more..

Speaker participates at CSPOC

Jan 20 (DN) Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana, participated at the virtual session of the Standing Committee Meeting of the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC) Yesterday. He participated in this meeting as the representative for Asia Region. It was the 25th conference of the Standing Committee Meeting of the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth. Dhammika Dasanayake, Secy General of Parliament more..

SJB MP reveals how Aussie-Lanka combine gypped Mahinda Rajapaksa Govt

Jan 20 (Island) A company that had undertaken to manage the Embiliptiya Paper Mill had mortgaged the facility and its properties to a private bank and fled the country to Australia with the proceeds, Parliament was told yesterday. A company by the name of Auslanka had been formed by businessmen from Sri Lanka and Australia and won the management contract from the Mahinda Rajapaksa govt, in 2011, on a 30-yr lease, more..

Akalanka: A youth who balanced sports and education to perfection

Jan 20 (CT) Multitasking by any means is not a walk in the park. Writing youre A/L exam away from home while participating at the Asian Games adds pressure, and not everyone is able to strike a balance of that sort, but one determined teenager knew he could, and achieved it against all odds. Akalanka Peiris went into history as the first student to sit the A/L exam outside the country. The opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games was held on 18 Aug at Gelora Kamo Stadium in Jakarta. more..

Dribblers from the City of Ruins

Jan 20 (ST) A video clip circulating in the social media of a young girl dribbling and juggling the football, has gone viral. Digging deep it was identified that the girl was Sasindi Nimsara, a 12-year-old who represents Bandiwewa Maha Vidyalaya in Polonnaruwa. But going more deep, it was revealed that Sasindi was a student of Polonnaruwa Girls’ Football Academy (PGFA), run by its Head Coach Pubudu Saman Paranagama, who also happens to be the football coach more..

Priority lending for MSMEs: CB

Jan 20 (FT) Joining the effort to propel Sri Lanka to 6% growth in 2021 the Central Bank has decided to keep policy rates unchanged and will introduce priority sector lending targets for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to propel rapid economic expansion, top officials said. Taking advantage of the steep decline in interest rates engineered by five policy rate changes in 2020 and other measures, Central Bank said more..

Vehicle import ban breeds racketeers

Jan 20 (SO) The Govt in March 2020 decided to halt the import of vehicles aimed at protecting the country’s economy as the SL rupee plunged and the economy took a free fall owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks. Then again in November the same year the Govt again extended the ban on all non-essential imports including vehicles. While it was a body blow to the country’s vehicle importers many, however, faced the situation bravely understanding that more..

Editorial: ECT, Port City and Potemkin village

Jan 20 (Island) East Container Terminal (ECT) dispute remains unresolved. Protesting port workers have rejected a govt condition for negotiations as a Hobson’s choice; they have said the govt has offered to discuss the issue, provided they agree to consider the proposed joint venture between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and India’s Adani Group as non-negotiable. Having further talks on the govt’s terms will be tantamount to an endorsement of ECT deal, the protesters have said. more..

Ashantha de Mel to quit as Sri Lanka Cricket Team Manager

Jan 20 (DN) SL Cricket Team Manager Ashantha de Mel will be resigning as the team manager after the second Test against England. He said, “I will be resigning from the team manager’s post from the end of this two-match Test series against England due to personal reasons. I took this post of team manager on a temporary basis.” SL’s hopes were also shattered ahead of the second Test against England in Galle with the news that more..

Fall armyworm: Strategies for effective management

Jan 20 (Island) Fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera; Noctuidae), a quarantine pest, has been identified as a very destructive insect pest of Maize/Corn. This insect originated in Americas and invaded the African region in 2016 and was detected in India the following year and perhaps would have naturally migrated to Sri Lanka last year from India. Now, it is reported that FAW is present in all districts of Sri Lanka except Nuwara-Eliya and Jaffna. more..

Biden-Harris administration, US-China relations and need for co-operation

Jan 20 (DM) The US democracy which the Biden-Harris administration is taking over is a severely wounded one. The biggest hurdles the administration face is a deeply polarized US society. A society in which minorities have been marginalized and racial schisms promoted. Gun violence has been condoned and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of the poor promoted. A hallmark of the past regime has been promotion of anti-immigrant sentiment, more..

ECT, Economy & Politics

Pragmatic economic policies for post COVID economic growth

Jan 20 (ST) Containing the spread of COVID-19 is the immediate and paramount concern. At the same time the adoption of correct economic policies for recovery and growth must address the fundamental weaknesses of the economy. They must be pragmatic and realistic. The repayment of foreign debt obligations this year is an immediate and pressing task. The Govt is confident of meeting these obligations despite low foreign reserves and the deteriorating balance of payments. more..

Have Tamils benefitted from UNHRC resolutions?

Jan 20 (DM) Last week 11 Tamil political parties and civil society groups wrote to 47 member states of the UNHRC urging them to refer Sri Lanka to the UN Security Council and set up an int'l outfit similar to the International Independent Investigatory Mechanism (IIIM) on Syria to inquire into the crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The letter was signed by R. Sampanthan, Leader, TNA, G.G. Ponnambalam, Leader, TNPF Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, Leader, TMTK, more..