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Construction of World’s Largest Christmas Tree temporarily halted

Dec 7 (DN) The construction of the world’s largest Christmas Tree has been temporarily suspended, Deputy Ports and Shipping Minister Nishantha Muthuhetigama said. No reason for the temporary suspension has been given as yet. The suspension comes in the wake of criticism by Archbishop of Colombo, who termed the endeavour wasteful expenditure, saying the money should be used to build homes for homeless more..

MR’s allegation that govt is selling off assets is malicious: Ravi

Dec 7 (LBO) Govt  rejects allegations made by former president Rajapaksa that the govt is selling off national assets, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. “This govt is making meaningful endeavours to convert the infrastructure facilities constructed by the previous govt at colossal cost with foreign loans,” he said. “Previous govt put the nation in a debt trap making country unaffordable to bring any returns on its development.” more..

Inauguration of Kachchativu chapel indefinitely postponed

Dec 7 (ENS) The inauguration of the newly constructed St. Anthony’s chapel on Kachchativu island on Wednesday has been postponed until further notice due to the demise of J. Jayalalithaa, who died in harness as TN Chief minister in Chennai on Monday. The parish priest of Delft Island, Fr.Jayaranjan, who is in-charge of the chapel on Kachchativu island said that a new date for the inauguration will be announced later more..

Post procedure deaths at NHS: Was inquiry into mishaps exhaustively carried out?

Dec 7 (ST) Was an in-depth situation analysis carried out with regard to the deaths of the four patients who underwent a common heart procedure this week at the Cardiology Institute of National Hospital of Sri Lanka? This was the question of utmost importance being asked in health circles as the three-member team appointed to probe the deaths after angiograms submitted its interim report on Friday. more..

She was a beacon of hope for lankan Tamils

Dec 7 (ENS) The late TN Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s involvement in the SL Tamil issue began almost immediately after she joined the AIADMK and became its propaganda secretary within a year in 1983. It was in the later part of 1983 that over 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamil refugees poured into TN, pushed out by the anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka in July that year. Sensing a great political opportunity to whip up pro-Tamil sentiments, more..

'SLPP, JO have no future outside SLFP'

Dec 7 (DM) Minister Susil Premajayantha shared his views on the current threats faced by the SLFP from the JO and the SLPP as well as his portfolio of Science Technology and Research. Q: Other than the challenges faced collectively by the unity govt, UNP as a political party does not have any significant confrontation in the local political front. But SLFP is entangled with a slew of threats by JO and the newly-formed SLPP. more..

Six months on: Displaced still in camps

Dec 7 (SL) About six months ago the country faced its most dreaded natural calamity in recent history. As torrential rains poured down from the skies, floods and landslides battered the people throughout the country claiming the lives of hundreds. Among the areas that were heavily affected by the floods and landslides was Kalupahana, Bulathkohupitiya. It has been six months since the disaster and more..

Trump presidency may well be the best for SL-US relations

Dec 7 (DM) Even 1,000 coconuts could not stop Donald Trump from winning the US presidential election. A group of TNA politicians dashed 1,008 coconuts to invoke blessings for Hillary Clinton. Still she lost. Now President Maithripala Sirisena has written to President-elect Trump seeking his good offices to bring an end to persistent meddling by the UNHRC in Sri Lanka.   “I sent a special message to Donald Trump asking him to support us at the (council),” President said. more..

Global energy parliament: Habitat harmony

Dec 7 (DM) One of the most important and urgent issues facing the international community is how to create a harmonious habitat for the billions of humans, animals and species on Planet Earth. With the focus on this, the Global Energy Parliament (GEP) will this year hold its Habitat Harmony Conference in Sri Lanka on December 11 amid growing appeals that this festive season be transformed from a big business to a green or eco-friendly season.  more..

Anti-Corruption Day event in Colombo: Govt to present National Audit Bill in Parliament

Dec 7 (Island) Presidential Secretary P.B. Abeykoon yesterday said that the National Audit Bill would be presented to Parliament in January next year. President and PM had agreed to do so, he added. Abeykoon was responding to a query posed by The Island to Sarath Jayamanne, PC, Director General, CIABOC. Abeykoon emphasised that President Maithripala Sirisena had given an assurance to Parliament in that regard. more..

Video: Help the poor with money spent on tallest Christmas tree: Cardinal

Dec 7 (AD) Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith urged authorities currently constructing the world’s tallest artificial Christmas tree, which they hope will break the Guinness World Record, to use that money on the country’s poor people instead. “This is an unnecessary cost. It would be better if we can build a house for a poor family using this money or give some scholarships,” he said. He urged those responsible to build the tree halfway if possible and use remaining money more..

SC re-fixes rights petition by ex-diplomat Weeratunga

Dec 7 (FT) Supreme Court yesterday fixed for support on 11 January for granting of leave in respect of the fundamental rights petition filed by former SL Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga seeking to recall the international arrest warrant issued against him by Sri Lankan authorities. Bench comprised Chief Justice K. Sripavan and Justice Prasanna Jayawardane. Colombo Fort Magistrate's Court on 20 October allowed the FCID of the Police to issue more..

Irate ministers vent anger on fraud, corruption uploar at cabinet meeting

Dec 7 (CT) Yesterday's Cabinet meeting turned into a battle of heated verbal exchanges sparked by concerns that former powerful Ministers and MPs were still at large despite serious allegations that they had dabbled in major fraudulent financial transactions and other forms of corruption when they were in the Rajapaksa Govt. The Cabinet meeting at Hall No. 1 of the Parliament Complex was chaired by President with PM attending. more..

Electric trains by 2020: Transport Minister

Dec 7 (DM) Electric train services would be introduced by 2020 marking another step forward in the SL Railways, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said. He said plans were already underway to introduce the electric train services by 2020. While holding a discussion at the Ministry premises he said, the project was revealed during a special technical workshop held in Colombo. “The Asian Development Bank had agreed to release a grant under a concessionary basis for the project more..

Ranil apologizes for burning of Jaffna library

Dec 7 (CT) Extending an apology to the people of the North for the destruction of Jaffna Library during the UNP regime in 1981, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe asked whether JO was also willing to apologize for the things they did while in power. PM extended this apology for the gutting of the Jaffna Library, which is considered a turning point in the N&E conflict. JO MPs at this point heckled the PM who said the govt had "given jobs to people in the North and restored industrial development there. more..

Illnesses mentioned in Duminda’s diagnosis card false: Hirunika

Dec 7 (DN) The illnesses mentioned in the prison hospital diagnosis card of former MP Duminda Silva are all false, said UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra. She said Silva who is in the death row has been diagnosed with chronic headache, giddiness, loss of consciousness and loss of memory. “All these are lies,” she said. “Duminda Silva’s birthday fell on Dec 3 and his family members went to prison and celebrated it. more..

Ekneligoda disappearance Suspects withdraw FR petitions

Dec 7 (CT) The four Army Officers, who were held in remand custody, in connection with Prageeth Ekneligoda's disappearance, yesterday withdrew their Fundamental Rights petition filed in the Supreme Court. Bala Subramanium, Tharanga Gamage, Kanishka Gunarthna and Sammindra Gunarathna had filed FR petitions requesting the Court to release them from custody. When the matter was taken by a Bench comprising Chief Justice K. Sripavan and more..

Container with four vehicles, spare parts worth Rs. 20mn seized

Dec 7 (DM) A shipping container with four disassembled vehicles and several motor spare parts with an estimated value of Rs.20million imported under the guise of vehicle spare parts, had been seized this evening, Customs Director Kapila Ruwan Pathirana said. “A forty-foot container packed with four vehicles and spare parts worth nearly Rs. 20million had been seized by the Customs Central Investigation Unit, while being attempted to smuggle into the country,” more..

Govt will not accept money from tobacco companies: President

Dec 7 (PSL) President Maithripala Sirisena says his govt is not willing to accept even a cent given by the tobacco companies. President made these remarks by joining the budget proposal for financial year 2017 in Parliament today (5). “Though a country has physical development, the main factor of the development of a country is the good health condition of its people”, he pointed out. He said that the objective of more..

Video: SLFP is not divided: MR

Dec 7 (DM) Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the SLFP was not divided and asked how the policies of the party could be protected when they were betrayed by ministerial portfolios being given to the UNP. “The SLFP is not divided. It is not just a name board. How can the party policies be protected when they were betrayed to the UNP? Some SLFP ministers are accusing us of dividing the party while enjoying the perks attached to the ministerial portfolios of UNP govt,” he said. more..

FCID grills Ravana Balaya chief

Dec 7 (CT) Convener of the Ravana Balaya organization Ven. Iththekande Saddhatissa Thera was summoned to the FCID yesterday and questioned in connection with an alleged misuse of vehicles during the tenure of the previous govt. The monk arrived at the FCID to make a statement in connection with this allegation involving vehicles belonging to the State Engineering Corporation that was under the purview of the Ministry of Housing & Common Amenities during past regime. more..

Sumanthiran Vs. Swaminathan on 65,000 houses in NE

Dec 7 (FT) TNA pitched into Minister D.M. Swaminathan in Parliament, demanding his resignation over the controversial Govt proposal to build 65,000 prefabricated steel houses for war affected families of the North and East. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran issued a scathing criticism of Minister, who he said was adamant to go ahead with the controversial housing project, even after Tamil representatives from the region more..

Navy chief advises strengthening maritime security through a proactive strategy

Dec 7 (SLN) Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne addressed the local and foreign student officers of the course number 10 at Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) today (6), on the topic of, A Proactive Strategy to Counter Emerging Maritime Security Threats. The termination of each staff course held at Defence Service Command and Staff Collage is customarily marked with a special speech made by a service commander with the idea of more..

Fines for illicit liquor to go up

Dec 7 (FT) The Govt is exploring the possibility to increase fines on illicit liquor as a measure to tackle illicit drug use in the country, Minister of Law and Order Sagala Rathnayake told the Parliament yesterday. In 2014 alone, law enforcement agencies conducted 114,790 raids in search of illicit liquor. However, the number of raids has reduced to 113,994 in 2015. “In 2014, we were able to find 8.5 million litres of illicit liquor (goda) against 2.35 million in 2015. more..

Sri Lanka steps into Winter Sports

Dec 7 (CT) Sri Lanka will make history by marking their first appearance at the Asian Winter Games 2017 (Sapporo 2017) where four Sri Lankan athletes are set to compete in four disciplines, namely: Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Snowboarding and Biathlon. According to the list of Official Organizers of Sapporo2017, Sri Lanka had confirmed their participation in the above disciplines. Swimmer Azquiya Usuph who more..

China donates 500 cataract surgeries to SL

Dec 7 (Xinhua) A Chinese medical team has arrived in Sri Lanka to donate 500 cataract surgeries to local patients. Organized by Brightness journey of lifeline express 2016, the Chinese Embassy said that over 300 patients had already undergone surgeries by the Chinese medical team at the Kalutara General Hospital. Minister Rajitha Senaratne said China was Sri Lanka's true and close friend who supported the development of the island country. In addition to aid and invest, China has also offered more..

Biz confidence dips in November

Dec 7 (FT) December edition of business magazine LMD reports that business confidence fell sharply to 144 in November, compared to 165 in the previous month. It also notes that this is the steepest decline in the Business Confidence Index (BCI) since October last year. “While there is visible improvement on key infrastructure project execution and clarity on policy from the Government, the environment and policy are still not seen as being conducive for investment growth,” more..

Joint venture to open Indo Lanka ferry connectivity

Dec 7 (DN) Indo-Lanka ferry service commenced in 1914, connecting Dhanushkodi in TN with Talaimannar in Mannar in northwest SL. MMBL-Pathfinder Group along with Aitken Spence and Norled AS a leading ferry operator in Norway will set up a consortium and jointly invest to re-launch the much talked about ferry service connecting TN with SL. As a first step, joint venture proposes to establish a passenger and cargo ferry more..

Reclaimed land blocks at Port City to be ready by early 2019

Dec 7 (EN) The first blocks of land reclaimed from the sea in a Chinese backed project near SL's Colombo port will be available for construction in early 2019. Reclamation re-commenced apace after Sri Lanka's new administration signed a revised agreement with China in September, allowing the project which was halted on environmental grounds in early 2015 to proceed. Thulci Aluwiharei, head of Business Development and Strategy at the project company, more..

Merrill J. Fernando honoured with FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism

Dec 7 (FT) The man known as the Teamaker, Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, was honoured in the United Kingdom with the FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism 2016, recently at the Royal Automobile Club in London.  The award recognises business ethics, emphasising his unique philosophy that making business is a matter of human service. At the presentation of the award by Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the Royal Automobile Club in London, more..

Waters Edge, UDA and Sports Ministry to establish a Leisure Sports Island

Dec 7 (Island) Waters Edge Hotel in Battaramulla, the UDA and the Sports Ministry entered into an agreement to establish a Leisure Sports Island across the lake beside the Hotel as part of its envisaged mix development plan. The signing ceremony was held with the patronage of Ministers Champika Ranawaka and Dayasri Jayasekara. Chamath de Silva, chairman-Waters Edge and the board of directors participated in the event more..

Editorial: Curiouser and curiouser

Dec 7 (Island) That the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe govt is going hell for leather to throw some members of the Rajapaksas clan behind bars is only too well known. Its leaders made various allegations against their predecessors before the last two elections, but they have so far failed to prove at least a single charge. This does not mean the leaders of the previous administration are paragons of virtue. Public perception is that the previous administration was one of the most corrupt regimes more..

Top points scorer Madhuwantha dropped

Dec 7 (CT) National Rugby Selection Committee made a surprise move by omitting top points scorer of the schools rugby season Samuel Madhuwantha of St. Anthony's College, Kandy, from the touring squad ahead of the Under-20 Junior Asian Rugby Championship which will be worked off in Malaysia from 11-17 Dec. Utility player Madhuwantha and prop forward Isuru Udayakumara of Isipathana were two players not considered by the national selectors for the final 25 member touring squad. more..

Taxing telecom a tragedy!

Dec 7 (FT) Slapping higher taxes on data is a regressive move that could discourage ecommerce development in SL, an expert said, expressing scepticism of Govt plans to establish a separate platform for web-based businesses, as it could discourage tech giants and was an untested frontier. Despite the Govt pledging higher allocations for Telecom and Digital Infrastructure Ministry, Prof. Rohan Samarajiva pointed out that more..

What is wrong with Centre-Periphery Report?

Dec 7 (Island) It would have been admissible if the Sub-Committee made their observations, as the above matters pertain to the centre-periphery relations. However, they have gone beyond and made direct recommendations and quite deterministic or ultimatist ones for that matter. This is as if there were no demarcations between the Steering Committee functions and Sub-Committee functions! There has been a clear extremism in that respect and in the recommendations. more..

Policy contradictions hold back economic prospects

Dec 7 (Island) The year 2016, which started with the now forgotten Sri Lanka Economic Forum, attended by the likes of George Soros and Joseph Stiglitz, is going to end up with disturbing economic fluctuations and continuing policy contradictions. The high-ranking politicians seem to grab every opportunity to attend such conferences abroad as well without gaining benefits to the nation. As I predicted in the immediate aftermath of the local economic forum held in January this year more..