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Sri Lanka rupee under pressure, hits record low last week

Feb 19 (Island) The rupee hit a record low last week as panicky importers bought U.S. dollars following the defeat of the ruling coalition parties in a local election, but late selling in the greenback by exporters capped the fall. "SL's long term foreign exchange sources, such as exports and foreign direct investments, have drastically dropped during the last many years and also short term exchange sources, such as sovereign bonds, stocks and other sources also declined more..

We didn't just play as a team, we played as a family: Chandimal

Feb 19 (CB) Dinesh Chandimal, SL skipper, believed that his side had begun to gel as a unit, leaving behind their recent disappointments. He also added that the confidence from the tour will help them in the upcoming days. Sri Lanka had underperformed to quite an extent last year, but made a superlative turnaround on this tour as they clinched silverware across formats, with the latest being the clean sweep over in more..

Ramblings of a non-political voter

Feb 19 (Island) At the outset let me say that I am a totally non-political being. Mind you, I am mightily interested in politics but I support no party unconditionally as do many of my friends. I have voted for every President ever since I first received my voting card many moons ago – Sir John, Sirimavo, Premadasa, SWRD, Ranil, JR, Chandrika et al. (Obviously not in that order.) I have not yet voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa but who is to say I will not do so in the future? more..

Rude but entirely predictable electoral shock

Feb 19 (ST) Those who are bewildered by the results of local govt elections a week ago need a harsh reality check if not a resounding knock to the head. For it must be said that the rude punishment dealt by the electorate to Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition govt was entirely predictable. From mid last year to perhaps even earlier, massively increasing public discomfiture had turned to outright anger directed towards a coterie of quarreling and oftentimes openly incompetent rulers. more..

UN welcomes decision adopted under SL's Presidency to advance work of ...

Feb 19 (IL) Conference on Disarmament (CD) presided over by SL's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, on Friday, adopted a Decision to establish five subsidiary bodies to discuss all items in its agenda, with a view to advance the substantive work of the Conference. Decision described as a "well-brokered balance between flexibility and safeguards and offered more..

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of govt

Feb 19 (Island) Now that the integrity and sincerity of the two major Sinhala partners to keep the coalition govt going have come under greater stress more than at any time in the past three-plus years, they need external players to help them sort out their mutual differences. It does not mean foreign powers that were behind this unholy mess in 2015 but the domestic underwriters of the govt and the larger coalition that made Maithiripala Sirisena the democratically-elected President more..

Year of the Dog dawns with China fast becoming Lanka’s best friend

Feb 19 (ST) Even as the Chinese New Year of the Dog dawned this Friday, it is becoming crystal clear that China is fast turning out to be Lanka’s best friend. And that this country, reduced as it is to the nadir of its economical and political existence and the recent loss of its moral compass, should grip the hand of friendship China, for whatever reason, has so earnestly extended to her. If last week’s election result showed the political negative Yin of Chinese philosophy, it has become vital that more..

මෛත්රී, මහින්ද, රනිල් එකම පක්ෂයක්!!

Editorial: Jonahs fighting, ship sinking

Feb 19 (Island) Several Buddhist prelates have called upon President Maithripala Sirisena, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to do everything in their power to dispel the political uncertainty that has enshrouded the entire country. They warn that the prevailing chaotic situation will take its toll on the economy before long. They have struck a responsive chord with all concerned citizens. We hope saner counsel will prevail. more..

Women to the fore

Feb 19 (SO) The Local Govt elections are over. The debate about the results will go on for some time, as it does following every election, but this is one election with a difference – women have garnered the spotlight thanks to important changes made to election laws. It beggars belief that although women make up 52 percent of the voting population (close to 16 million), Local Govt Bodies and Provincial Councils have only around 2 percent female representation. more..

'President and PM are responsible for the election results'

Feb 19 (CT) Matale District UNP MP, Ranjith Aluvihare says that the promises made when the Good Governance Govt came into power have not been implemented by ministers and officials. "The biggest thing that had an impact on us was the fertilizer subsidy. That money did not go into the farmers accounts, properly. On the other hand, we could not provide the seeds on time; 60% of the people in this country are farmers. more..

Let’s not insult women: Devolving powers to women is no burden

Feb 19 (Island) There have been recent calls not to implement fully the legal requirement of having at least 25% women in each LG authority. A newspaper has reported that the Election Commission is to ask that the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act No 22 of 2012 to be amended to allow councils to be established even without the mandatory 25% quota under special circumstances. This is incorrect for two reasons. First, the 25% quota is of very recent origin more..

Seeking to change Govt through LG results

Feb 19 (SO) Last Saturday, the people spoke. They gave a decision. They handed over control of the vast majority of LG bodies in the country to the newly established SLPP. No one disputes that. However, since then, there have been several disputes. There is a dispute about the mandate to govern the country. Former President Rajapaksa, the de facto leader of the SLPP, is calling for the dissolution of Parliament on this basis. Rajapaksa wants a general election held forthwith. more..

How can Sri Lanka tackle cost of living?

Feb 19 (SO) One of the popular topics of discussion in Sri Lanka and the main concerns for the public at large today, is the cost of living and its impact on the livelihoods of people over time. Cost of living is the average cost of the basic necessities of life, including food, shelter, and clothing. This is statistically represented through a wider measure known in economic terminology as Inflation. more..

Hoorey Hora

Feb 19 (CT) In the book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, its author John W Whitehead states “This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls. When the govt views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their govt, when govt officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the govt routinely violates more..

Directions to be seen

Feb 19 (CT) Sri Lanka witness to periodic elections with unerring regularity missed that opportunity for three years. On that score there was no loss in quality of governance. The polity however lost its ability to assess the force of the sub currents and the magnitude of the iceberg developing underneath. With elections now behind us, it is not the statistical exactitudes that press for relevance. In what direction is the polity moving and at what point will it stop in 2 yrs are the critical questions. more..

Diplomatic community concerned over MR returning

Feb 18 (SL) The diplomatic community is concerned over the possibility of former President Rajapaksa returning to power in the near future. Western diplomats are believed to have raised their concerns with the Govt and among the diplomatic community. The concerns arise from steps taken by President Sirisena to have talks with the JO to form a UPFA Govt. There are fears that if a UPFA Govt is formed it will set the path more..

Two reservoir projects: Questions over tender procedures

Feb 18 (ST) The awarding of the contracts to design, build and finance the Kumbukkan Oya and Heda Oya reservoirs in the Moneragala District has run into problems after questions were raised about the manner in which the tenders are being awarded. Plans were initially made to call for tenders for the two projects under the open bidding system but there was a sudden change in the procedure with the Ministry of Irrigation and more..

50 Jaffna youths to join Army as militarized recruits

Feb 18 (MoD) A total of 50 unemployed boys and girls in the Jaffna peninsula, including rehabilitated former LTTE combatants who have now joined the Sri Lanka Army under the militarized category reported for non-military duties on Thursday at Security Force Headquarters - Jaffna, adding a new chapter of goodwill, understanding and reconciliation between civilians and members of Security Forces. more..

Prof Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera’s demise: Call for probe

Feb 18 (CT) Two weeks after the untimely death of Professor Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera - Chief monk of the Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara more questions are being asked on the circumstances that led to his demise amidst calls for a thorough probe into the incident. At first they said that the priest had been gored by the temple elephant- Miyan Kumara while he was feeding the animal with tamarind and more..

Illegal demolition caused building collapse fatalities

Feb 18 (ST) The seven people crushed to death in a warehouse collapse this week would have been alive if the building housing it was not being demolished illegally, leaving a wall unsupported that fell over on the victims. Officer in Charge of the Grandpass Police Station, Chief Inspector Vimal Shantha, said neither the police nor the CMC had been informed about the demolition of the building in Grandpass last Wednesday. more..

LG electoral system: Review needed, say minority party heads

Feb 18 (SO) Amid the general contention over the hybrid electoral system introduced for the Feb 10 LG polls and criticism surfacing on a daily basis from political parties and political observers over its many shortcomings, Sunday Observer spoke to leaders of three political parties of the minorities for their views. State Minister of Education V. Radhakrishnan, leader of the Upcountry People’s Front (UPF), more..

Sri Lanka has already missed three buses in digitalization: Dialog CEO

Feb 18 (CT) A leading telecommunication industry figure asserted that Sri Lanka had missed Three buses in digitalization and urged stakeholders including the Govt not to miss the fourth, as several neighbours of the South Asian country had already surpassed Sri Lanka in digitization. Speaking at a networking event under the theme –Sri Lanka Digital Transformation: Innovation and Economic Growth on 17 Feb, more..

TNA’s setback in North: Symptomatic of people’s shift in focus

Feb 18 (CT) While the entire country was in a state of confusion, last week, over the fate of the Unity Govt, Tamil political circles in the North too had a few things to ponder, following the LG polls held on 10 Feb. It was not only the two major parties in the South that faced an unexpected setback, but also the TNA in the North. TNA, which contested under the House symbol of the ITAK, secured 40 of the 56 Councils in the Northern Province. more..

'FTA with Singapore makes Sri Lanka attractive digital hub'

Feb 18 (DN) SL’s IT industry has been one of the most remarkable success stories in the country’s economy, said Minister Malik Samarawickrama. He was speaking at the IT-BPM Brand Launch at BMICH yesterday to launch the official brand of the Sri Lankan IT-BPM sector – Island of Ingenuity. “IT industry has emerged and become globally competitive due to the unique talents of our people, the focus on high quality and reliability, but more..

Delay in announcing results and other travails of Polls Chief

Feb 18 (ST) Just days before the local polls, the Election Commission said that results would be announced early, as early as 7.30 pm in local authorities with lesser number of voters. Alas, the first result did not arrive till after 12.15 a.m. on Sunday. The Commission, constitutionally empowered to be an independent body, had a message posted on its website. See screenshot of the web page: The announcement, however, more..

Prez & PM crucified for sheltering crooks

Feb 18 (Island) Mahinda Rajapaksa and his poroppaya scored a significant victory and the yahapalana parties suffered defeat. Electorate reverted to Jan 2015. By reverted I mean, Feb 2018 statistics are like Jan rather than Aug 2015. In Jan MR polled 47.6% of the national vote. He drew a small Muslim, Upcountry Tamil & Sinhala Catholic vote, say 4%, and therefore a core 44% was Sinhala-Buddhist (SB). This implies that about 63% of SB population threw in their lot with him. more..

The govt’s consummate crisis in the face of Mahinda’s unconsummatable win

Feb 18 (Island) There is no pussyfooting around the political shellacking at last week’s polls, that the President’s and the PM’s teams got at the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s budding party of old bloomers. Not surprisingly, the shellacking has precipitated a consummate crisis in the so called national-unity govt. While the results of LG elections have created the current crisis in the national govt, the same results cannot provide any mechanism or mandate for resolving that crisis. more..

Crisis changes from day to day, nation awaits its future course

Feb 18 (ST) With the gusto of a king in the days of yore, President Maithripala Sirisena declared ahead of the local polls he would not hesitate to wield a sword to fight corruption. Such was the dedication of the SLFP leader to battle a malaise now grown to cancerous proportions. At least figuratively, this is what he did during the polls campaign. The climax was a public pledge — not to work after polls with those corrupt politicians more..

Official says CEB engineers blocking emergency power purchases

Feb 18 (ST) The CEB’s plans to put in place standby arrangements for emergency purchase of power supplies ahead of possible drought conditions have been stalled due to ongoing trade union action by engineers. As a result, standby arrangements in the event of a breakdown of power stations also have been affected, a Power & Renewable Energy Ministry official said. In view of the impending drought situation, CEB was planning to buy100 Mw supplementary power as a standby more..

PM skips India trip

Feb 18 (GT) Beleaguered PM Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said he has cancelled a planned visit to India due to the ongoing political crisis in his UNP party over its recent defeat in local polls. “I have been asked by the party to stay and face this situation,” Wickremesinghe said. He had been expected to attend an information technology meeting in New Delhi, his officials said. PM said he planned to reshuffle his cabinet. Wickremesinghe’s centre-right UNP and President Sirisena’s more..

President has not consulted me yet: AG

Feb 18 (CT) President Sirisena has not consulted Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, even by last night, on whether there was a possibility of replacing PM with a member of the SLFP. This is a sequel to news reports in all media yesterday that Prez Sirisena had assured the JO Parliamentary Group on Friday morning that he would consult the AG on the possibility of appointing an SLFP PM on the assurance that more..

More members than labourers in some councils

Feb 18 (ST) Some of the local councils will have more members than the number of labourers to maintain sanitation facilities and cleaning up roads in the council areas. In most Pradeshiya Sabha areas of the Matara District, the number of labourers is less than the council members. The Devinuwara PS area will have 21 members, but only 18 labourers to serve the people, while in Akuressa 25 members have been elected to the council which has 24 workers. more..

25% of foreign workers on construction sites are Chinese

Feb 18 (Island) About 25% of the foreigners now working here on large construction projects are Chinese, Mr. Christopher Joshua of Access Engineering PLC, the largest construction company listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange said last week. Joshua, a Director of Access and Ms. Champika Dodanwela. CFO of Seylan Bank were the main speakers at an event organized by the CSE and the Colombo Brokers Association to make presentations on Access and Seylan. more..

'Govt now trying to postpone PC polls'

Feb 18 (CT) Although the final report of the Delimitation Committee, appointed by the Govt to determine electoral divisions for the Provincial Council elections, to be held according to the new mixed system, is ready, the Govt is not accepting it and is pointing out mistakes of the officials, in an attempt to further postpone these elections. Elections to six PCs are due to be held in September this year and elections for more..

Piyasena Fernando only JVPer to win a ward

Feb 18 (ST) 74-year old M. Piyasena Fernando became the only JVP member to win a ward at the Feb 10, LG elections. He was elected to the Wekada North ward of the Panadura Municipal Council with 566 votes with his closet rival K. Kandane of the UNP, a former Mayor of the Panadura MC coming in second with 472 votes. Pushpa Fonseka who contested from the SLFP obtained 322 votes. Mr. Fernando started politics as a member of the LSSP and joined the JVP in 2001. more..