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'Protecting Sri Lanka rupee more important than interest rates'

Feb 15 (Reuters) Minister Ravi Karunanayake said on Tuesday that protecting a fragile rupee was more important than controlling interest rates as the local currency tended not to rebound after a depreciation. His comments came seven weeks after the central bank chief said defending the rupee with foreign exchange reserves doesn't seem sensible as it has always been followed by a sharp depreciation. more..

Sampath Bank posts highest-ever profit of Rs. 9.1 b for 2016

Feb 15 (FT) The year 2016 was yet another successful year for Sampath Bank, wherein the bank managed to achieve its highest-ever Profit After Tax (PAT) amounting to Rs. 9.1 b. This was an impressive YoY growth of 48.8% over Rs. 6.1 b PAT recorded for the previous year.  Profit Before Tax (PBT) too grew by 38.4% to reach Rs. 12.6 b as at the year end, as opposed to Rs. 9.1 b recorded for the comparative year. The main reason for higher PAT growth compared to the PBT growth more..

Commodity Tax on coconut oil reduced

Feb 15 (NR) Cabinet today approved the amendment of the Special Commodity Tax imposed on coconut oil in order to import 40,000 metric tonnes of coconut oil. The proposal in this regard was tabled by Minister Navin Dissanayake. Accordingly the Special Commodity Tax on a kilogram of coconut oil will be reduced by 20 rupees from 150 rupees to 120 rupees. A kilogram of Palm oil has been reduced by 130 rupees to 110 rupees, while other palm oil substances have been more..

'SL war widows face sexual exploitation'

Feb 15 (AFP) Tamil women who survived SL’s civil war now face widespread sexual exploitation by officials in their own community as well as from the army, the head of an ethnic reconciliation body said Wednesday. Former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, chairman of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation, said women who were widowed during the 37-year conflict were among the victims of abuse by officials who frequently more..

Ranil worse than Mahinda says Choka Malli

Feb 15 (Island) A former Deputy Minister of the SLFP led UPFA lashed-out at PM Ranil Wickremesinghe saying he was engaging in the same unacceptable tactics enacted by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. "The PM is worse than the former President", MP Premalal Jayasekera said pointing-out that people’s expectations about Yahapalanaya had now been irreparably shattered. The former Deputy Minister, affectionately called Choka Malli by his friends more..

'Govt should probe alleged rights violations'

Feb 15 (DN) TNA Leader R. Sampanthan has pointed out that if SL was given more time to act on the Resolution on alleged war crimes and human rights violations, UN would have to subject SL’s progress to the highest scrutiny. He made this statement to the media when asked about Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s remarks that the country would make a submission to ask for more time to act on alleged war crimes and human rights violations at the upcoming UNHRC sessions in Geneva. more..

Pension scheme for lankan migrant workers gets cabinet nod

Feb 15 (Island) A pension scheme for Sri Lankan migrant workers would be implemented this year, Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorala said. She was participating in a mobile service program held in Polonnaruwa District recently. The approval of the cabinet had already been granted to the migrant workers pension system and it had been refered to the Legal Draftsman Department and to Treasury, Minister said. more..

Sri Lanka to appoint foreign agents to sell valuable stamps

Feb 15 (Xinhua) Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to appoint foreign agents to sell valuable stamps to foreign stamp collectors in order to earn more foreign exchange. Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that in Sri Lanka, the sale of stamps and associated items for local and foreign stamp collectors was done by the Philatelic Bureau established in 1967. "Sale of stamps to foreign stamp collectors helps in earning foreign exchange and in promoting the tourism industry through natural and more..

Fitch raises outlook on BOC, NSB and People's Leasing

Feb 15 (EN) Fitch Ratings had raised the outlook on state-run Bank of Ceylon, National Savings Bank and Peoples Leasing Plc, a unit of a People's Bank to 'stable' from 'negative' after the sovereign rating outlook was hiked. Sri Lanka has a 'B+' international ratings. BOC and NSB has a 'B+' rating from Fitch and PLC one level lower at 'B'. The full statement is reproduced below: Fitch Revises Outlook to Stable on Three Sri Lankan Financial Institutions: Fitch Ratings has revised the Outlook on more..

Sri Lanka beers sales plunge 40%, arrack up after tax hike: brewery

Feb 15 (EN) Sri Lanka's beer sales volumes have plunged 40% and arrack sales have risen 14% after a steep hike in beer taxes, while toddy industry which pays little taxes are also making gains. Lion Beer, which produces Lion and Carlsberg brands said beer taxes were raised 70% and taxes on arrack, a hard alcohol was raised 25%, leading to a shift in demand. The firm said beer which has an alcohol content of around 5% more..

Move to set up foreign uni in Kalutara

Feb 15 (DM) In a move to set up another non-State degree-awarding institution, Minister Lakshman Kiriella yesterday submitted a Cabinet paper seeking to set up a branch campus of India’s Manipal University in the Kalutara district. The investment involved is said to be US$75 million and would offer degrees in Information Technology, Engineering and Management. However, President Maitripala Sirisena has sought more time to study the paper and make his observations. more..

Trade, not joy visits, crucial

Feb 15 (CT) In this era of trade, when the head of a country visits a large economy, he's generally accompanied by a large trade delegation in attempts to further trade and investments. But that doesn't appear to be so in respect of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe's current visit to Australia. The delegates comprising this visit numbered a total of eight. Of those eight, one is the Premier's wife Maithiree and, among the balance seven are two ministers and one Deputy Minister more..

අපි කන්නේ හරි චයිනීස් කෑම ද?

Yahapâlana neoliberal state reforms Vs Democratic state reforms

Feb 15 (CT) A German friend of mine whom I met after 7 years in the middle of our conversation asked me about the state reforms project of the Yahapalana govt. He said that many people whom he had so far talked to gave a positive nod in spite of the presence of some minor difficulties. Lankans, have been talking about the state reforms since the second republic constitution was promulgated in 1978. Three main questions have been posed, namely, The executive presidential system more..

Palpita says he released funds for Sil Redi with approval from above

Feb 15 (Island) The former Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Anusha Palpita told the Colombo High Court as a defence witness, that he released the money for the distribution of Sil Redi with the approval of the authoritatives officers of the TRC. Palpita is the first accused and Lalith Weeratunga, the Secretary to former President is the second accused indicated with allegedly abuse of public funds up to Rs. 600 million in the run up to the Presidential poll. more..

Upper limit for 15% special interest to senior citizens’ deposits increased to Rs 1.5 Million

Feb 15 (AD) The upper limit to pay 15% special interest on fixed deposits maintained by senior citizens in the licensed commercial banks and the licensed Specialized Banks has been increased up to Rs. 1.5 million from the current limit of Rs. 1 million with effect from March 1. On the instruction of the Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Treasury Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga has informed Central Bank more..

Sri Lanka and Australia in talks over energy, agriculture, maritime security

Feb 15 (EN) Sri Lanka and Australia has discussed co-operation in energy, agriculture, mining and education during talks during a state visit of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. PM Malcolm Turnbull told a joint press conference that Australian education institutions had established links with Sri Lanka which was aspiring to be an education hub in South Asia. About 7,500 Sri Lankan students were also studying in Australia at present. more..

SAITM graduates attending clinical training amounts to criminal offence: GMOA

Feb 15 (Island) Higher Education Ministry’s proposal to permit Malabe private medical college – SAITM MBBS graduates to participate in clinical training amounts to a criminal offence, says GMOA. "SATIM has not yet been recognised by the SLMC. Therefore those who pass out with an MBBS offered by the SAITM are not medical students but laymen. Exposing a patient to a laymen in clinical training in surgery, more..

'Enrolment of students to SAITM will continue'

Feb 15 (DM) Chairman of SAITM, Dr Neville Fernando said that a decision would be taken on whether to suspend the enrolment of students at SAITM for six months after discussing this matter with the Higher Education Ministry. Till then more students would be taken in, he said. The lecturers of the institution were paid very high salaries in order to provide a good education to the students. If students were not enrolled more..

SAITM: IUSF to launch countrywide protest from today

Feb 15 (DM) The IUSF said the six months' suspension on admitting students to SAITM would not make any difference and vowed to launch a countrywide protest campaign from today. IUSF Convener Lahiru Weerasekara said that they could not agree with the proposal made by the Deans of the eight State Medical Faculties and Minister Lakshman Kiriella to suspend admissions to the SAITM until the completion of periodic review more..

Match fixing embroils SLC

Feb 15 (SL) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) which is already in turmoil over the past several months has now been exposed to another controversy involving match fixing in the Premium ‘B’ tournament. The venues of the matches have been changed less than 15 hours before the games started and the field settings have been intentionally placed in a manner so as to enable the batting side to score more runs freely to win the matches. more..

'HC appointment made to appease govt ally'

Feb 15 (Island) Alleging that since the change of govt in January 2015, every sector, including the judiciary had deteriorated, top JO spokesman Prof. G.L. Peiris accused the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration of elevating a relatively junior lawyer to the rank of a High Court judge to appease a particular political party. Peiris, a former law professor alleged that Batticaloa based Ramanathan Kannan of more..

Water Board union claims disruption of water supply to several areas

Feb 15 (Island) Water supply to Matara, Weligama, Mirissa and Karagoda – Uyangoda area had already been disrupted due to the work to rule campaign launched by Engineering Diplomates Association (EDA) of National Water Supply and Drainage Board, spokesman for the association said. President of the EDA, Upali Ratnayake said they launched the trade union action due to govt’s failure to solve problems more..

We may have to give up farming: Nuwara Eliya farmers

Feb 15 (ST) Nuwara Eliya was once known as the Land of English vegetables but today farmers in the area face desperate times as prices of vegetables have dropped drastically. Hundreds of kilos of vegetables are being turned into compost, emphasising the urgent need for a proper distributing system for vegetables. In 1828, when then Ceylon was under British rule, Englishmen introduced vegetables for their more..

'There is absolutely no substitute to a Constitutional Settlement'

Feb 15 (DM) Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is an expert in governance and peace. He has submitted research papers on the subjects in int'l conferences. In 2013, he attended a High-level Civil Society Round Table during the tenure of Barack Obama, former President of the USA. He is one of the founders of SL Chapter of Transparency Int'l & CMEV. more..

Constitutional bond scam, coup or cyanide capsule?

Feb 15 (DM) Mangala Samaraweera announced to the Foreign Correspondents Association last Tuesday evening that the govt had decided that it was worth the risk to go for a referendum on a new Constitution. Lakshman Kiriella reiterated this in Parliament, saying that the government’s decision was that it would garner the support of the SLFP for a new Constitution and face a referendum. Why a new Constitution/Referendum while an economic crisis looms? more..

COPE: Another Rs. 110 bn missing

Feb 15 (DM) The COPE has presented its third interim report to Parliament on February 8, which pinpointed Rs. 110 billion losses incurred to the State from 15 State institutions. The interim report has covered activities from 1 May 2016 to 31 August 2016, based on the inquiries carried out in 15 State-owned institutions. If one peruse the list of the institutions that had been under scrutiny by the Committee one would be surprised as to how could the institutions such as more..

PM says refugees safe to come home

Feb 15 (AP) SL asylum seekers held on Pacific island camps who could potentially find new lives in US are free to return home without fear of persecution, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said. He made the comments during a visit to Australia in which he discussed with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull bilateral cooperation on combating people smuggling. No Sri Lankan asylum seeker has reached Australia by boat since 2013. more..

CC submit proposals to President

Feb 15 (CT) Secretariat of the Constitutional Council yesterday handed over to President Sirisena a comprehensive document including proposals, views and alternative opinions on devolution of power harnessed from multiple sources. Alternative opinions on devolution of power submitted in the report of the Centre and Periphery Committee, which was compiled by Constitutional Assembly and made public have also been taken into consideration in compiling this document. more..

Video: Secretary alleges involvement of unwanted groups in RTI process

Feb 15 (AD) A policy decision will be taken regarding Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, Secretary to the Media Ministry Nimal Bopage said. “This is not to ban Facebook, but to regulate it,” Bopage added. He also went on to say he has already communicated this to his superiors. “Sometimes I’m thinking of what would happen if we are to ban Facebook for just one day,” he said. Bopage said they receive number of complaints over Facebook related issues daily. more..

Govt prioritising achieving zero hunger & undernutrition

Feb 15 (NR) Concluding a 3-day mission to SL, Executive Director of UN World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, joined govt, civil society, private sector, academia and UN community in the launch of the National Strategic Review on Food Security and Nutrition – Towards Zero Hunger. Cousin praised the efforts of the Govt to place food and nutrition security at the core of the country’s overall development agenda. more..

Country’s largest prison nearing completion

Feb 15 (DN) Construction work on the Angunukolapelessa New Prison which is the largest prison complex in the country being built at a cost of Rs. 4,000 million, is nearing completion. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera who inspected the progress of work on the new complex, said it would be opened by President Sirisena. The new prison which will replace the Tangalle Prison has accommodation for 1,500 inmates and is equipped with a gymnasium, swimming pool & a playground. more..

Evening show continues regardless

Feb 15 (DM) A young personal secretary of a prominent politico in the Kalutara area has made it a practice to summon young female school teachers to his office in the evenings for official discussions. Many concerned parties have time and again complained to the politico about this unusual dubious practice, but the latter has so far turned a deaf ear to the complaints against his secretary. Meanwhile, some informed ones say that the secretary refers some of the attractive ones more..

Differently abled War Heroes get service pension benefits

Feb 15 (MoD) Service pension benefits were awarded to the differently abled prematurely retired War Heroes in an event held today (14). Accordingly, officers with less than 10 years of service and other ranks with less than 12 years of service in tri forces and police personnel with less than 10 years of service, who got disabled due to terrorist acts and retired, will be eligible to receive the pension. more..

Sri Lankan gang of jewelry robbers jailed for 5 years in Dubai

Feb 15 (KT) Six Sri Lankan men, who formed a gang that targeted villas and rob jewelry and valuables and cash, were each sentenced to five years in jail. The six men, aged between 26 and 40, were found guilty by the Court of First Instance of robbery at night with the use of sharp tools, damage of private property and trespass. The six accused, including five unemployed and a driver, damaged a safe in the complainant's villa in addition to four bedroom doors. more..

Malinga best in world and primed for PMs XI

Feb 15 (AAP) SL superstar Lasith Malinga ready to make international comeback in Australia, starting with Wednesday's Prime Minister's XI clash. Sri Lanka bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake has declared Lasith Malinga the best T20 bowler in the world as he prepares to make his return to international cricket in a three-match series against Australia. Malinga is set to face the Prime Minister's XI at Manuka Oval in Canberra on Wednesday, with the match live streamed on more..