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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..

ECT to India Official

Jan 20 (CT) Amidst continuous protests staged by the Port Trade Unions and academics, SL had to look outwards to reduce the tension between Indo-China relations and last week, the Govt officially announced it is awarding India’s Adani Group a 49% stake of the East Container Terminal (ECT), one of the three deep ports SL owns, explaining that they had all the more reasons to do so. But there was neither transparency nor clear policies on more..

Promoting IT exports

Jan 20 (CT) SL’s IT and IT services exports, despite operating in a COVID-19 environment, grew by 10.2% (US$ 0.111 billion or by $111 million) to $1.20 billion, year-on-year (YoY) last year (2020), according to data released by (SLASSCOM, the industry body. This was revealed by Lanka Angel Network (LAN) Director Prajeeth Balasubramaniam to the Media yesterday. LAN provides either seed funding to technology related startups and/or buy into the equity stakes of such startups, more..

Sentence of 4 years RI for contempt of court is unprecedented: Sumanthiran

Jan 20 (CT) Speaking in Parliament today re. Ranjan Ramanayake, Sumanthiran said: “I want to flag one or two issues concerning the responsibility of the parliament in this regard. But before I do that I am bound by law and tradition to disclose my interest in the matter. I am the counsel who appeared for Hon. Ranjan Ramanayake in the supreme court, I was privileged to appear for a clean, honest politician in a court and I am proud of that, nevertheless he has been convicted more..

Here’s how you can help your favourite small business get back on their feet

Jan 20 (Roar) At the time the novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, SL was only beginning to recover from the economic and emotional wounds of the Easter Sunday attacks. But, by mid March 2020, it was clear that the virus was here to stay, forcing us to hunker down and wait it out. From an economic standpoint, this was especially difficult for our micro, small, and medium enterprises. more..

Who should get COVID-19 Vaccine first?

Jan 20 (DM) Sri Lanka is faced with two COVID-19 related medical issues. The first is, which vaccine should we give our population, i.e., US, UK, Russian, Chinese or Indian? International safety approvals, costs, foreign assistance and logistics of distribution and availability of cold chains are the key factors that will be considered in deciding the most appropriate vaccine for Sri Lankans. Let’s leave that to the WHO, Ministry of Health, Medical Trade Unions et al., to grapple this problem. more..

Stormy ports

Jan 20 (ST) So, the stormy East Container Terminal (ECT) issue at the Colombo Port has been settled. Or has it? Prez Rajapaksa, at a meeting with several protesting trade unions, earlier this week reiterated the govt position that 51 per cent of the terminal will be held by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and neither will it be sold or leased, while the balance 49% will be offered to India’s Adani group, which has close links to PM Narendra Modi and his govt, and other investors. more..

Video: Decision on Ranjan’s MP seat within 3 weeks: Speaker

Jan 19 (AD) Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena says that a decision regarding the parliamentary seat of MP Ranjan Ramanayake, who has been sentenced to four-years in prison, will delivered within three weeks after studying the facts pertaining to him losing the seat. The Speaker made these comments after several opposition and ruling party MPs had expressed views regarding the matter at more..

Govt approves to revise Penal Code relate to statutory rape

Jan 19 (DM) The Govt today approved the proposal to revise the provisions of the Penal Code under section 363 relating to statutory rape. Cabinet Spokesman and Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the Penal Code under section 363 makes rape a serious offence and the Penal Code also provides information on the specific offences that fall under that offence. However, he said there is a contradiction in the law regarding statutory rape. more..

Sri Lanka to make sign language recognized means of communication

Jan 19 (AD) The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the proposal to make necessary provisions through an Act of Parliament for making Sign Language a recognized means of communication and to advise the legal draftsman to draft the relevant bill. The proposal has been tabled by PM Mahinda Rajapaksa. Cabinet’s approval to accept Sign Language as a recognized language has been granted back in 2010. There is a significant hearing-impaired community in Sri Lanka. more..

AG finds MCC Compact inconsistent with the Constitution

Jan 19 (AD) The Attorney General has declared the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact to be inconsistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. According to State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne, the Coordinating Officer of the Attorney General, the Attorney General has advised the Secretary to the Prez on the matter through a 20-page detailed instruction letter. The advice of the AG has been based observations more..

Pakistan PM Imran Khan to visit Sri Lanka

Jan 19 (Hindu) Pakistani PM Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in February, according to official sources. He will be the first head of govt to visit SL since the pandemic struck last year. “The visit is likely towards the end of February,” an official source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Mr. Khan’s visit, scheduled a month after Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s three-day visit to Colombo, will likely coincide with the early days of the 46th UNHRC session in Geneva, more..

Five players released from SL Test squad

Jan 19 (SLC) National Selectors released 05 players from the National Test Squad currently taking part in the ongoing Test Series vs England. Accordingly, Dimuth Karunaratne (due to injury), Kusal Mendis, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Kumara, and Nuwan Pradeep will head home tonight. The released players will return to training at the High-Performance Center in Colombo. Whilst in the absence of Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal will continue to Captain the team in 2nd test more..