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Sri Lanka repays Citibank, ICICI Bank loans

Jan 1 (LBO) Sri Lanka has repaid 175 million US dollars in commercial loans, involving Citibank and India's ICICI Bank, and raised only 150 million dollars in new loans, in 2008, the government's debt office said. A 100 million US dollar syndicated loan arranged by Citibank in 2005, a balance 25 million US dollar Citibank loan arranged with the help of NEXI of Japan and a 50 million dollar loan from ICICI Bank arranged via state-run NSB has been paid back. more..

'Seylan equity sale can go ahead under normal process'

Jan 1 (LBO) A proposed sale of Seylan Bank shares by the Ceylinco group can go ahead under standard rules governing such deals, Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said. "Under the normal process the sale of shares can take place," Governor Cabraal said. "Already the trading halt has been lifted." Seylan stocks extended Tuesday's gains to trade at 27.50 up 7.25 rupees in intra-day trading Wednesday on top of a 4.50 rupee increase a day earlier. more..

Fighting poverty to build peaceby

Jan 1 (LG) The year we are just winding up (2008) has been marked by an unprecedented international financial crisis which experts say is as serious as (if not more serious than) the ‘great recession’ of the early 1930’s. Already we see the negative effects of it all over the world, hitting hard especially the poor and the marginalized of all societies. It is in this sense that one has to appreciate Pope Benedict XVI choosing "Fighting Poverty to Build Peace" as more..

On knowledge – Part II

Jan 1 (LG) When Newton formulated the law of gravitation named after him, he neither discovered a theory as such, that described the at least part of the objective world nor discovered a part of the so called objective world. If that was the each planet, of course, taking into consideration not only the gravitational attraction due to the sun but the gravitational forces due to the other planets as well, would have moved along a certain orbit determined by Newton’s laws of motion and his theory of gravitation. more..

'We will win, LTTE will be routed in 2009'

Jan 1 (AT) Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, in an exclusive conversation with the Asian tribune said that the Sri Lanka Army will completely rout the LTTE in 2009. "At the moment troops of our 58 Division led by Brigadier Shavendra Silva has nearly reached Paranthan, and the Paranthan Junction will be taken over tonight. Subsequently, the LTTE's main supply route to Muhamalai, Kilali and Nagarkovil will be cut off," added Army Commander. more..

Sri Lanka shares end 2008 down more than 40 pct

Jan 1 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares ended the year more than 40 percent down but gained slightly during the last trading session of 2008 on Wednesday, and the rupee inched up in limited trade as a state bank quoted firmer rates. The Colombo All Share index .CSE gained 1.25 percent on Wednesday, up 18.49 points to 1,503.02. The rupee edged up to 112.90/113.10 per dollar from Tuesday's 113.10/113.20. more..

400 Traders in Dambulla forced to pay two lakhs each to UPFA

Jan 1 (TC) The government headed by President Mahinda Rajapakse has been accused of forcibly demanding money from traders in Dambulla for election expenses of the ruling UPFA in the forthcoming Central Province elections. Prominent Dambulla political leader Asoka Bandara Tennekoon who crossed over to the UNP from the SLFP some days ago has charged openly that 400 hundred traders and businessmen have been asked to pay Rs two lakhs each to the UPFA election fund by Government bigwigs. more..

Army poised to capture Paranthan by January 1st, 2009

Jan 1 (TC) Latest reports from the Northern battlefront state that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces are poised to capture the strategic village of Paranthan on or before the new year day of January 1st 2009. According to battlefront reports soldiers of 58 division are now about half a mile away from the key Paranthan junction along the Jaffna–Kandy road known as A–9 highway. The Paranthan “Santhi” or junction comprises two inter-sections within 125 metre distance of each other. more..

Three wheelers get cheaper petrol

Jan 1 (BBC) The government says that it has implemented the Supreme Court ruling by reducing the price of petrol by twenty rupees for three wheelers and by two rupees for the general public per litre. According to a cabinet decision taken on Tuesday the public would be able to buy petrol at hundred and twenty rupees a litre while three wheeler owners could buy petrol at hundred rupees a litre. more..

Anandasangaree list out hardships of Jaffna people

Jan 1 (AT) In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse, it has been pointed out the numerous hardships people of Jaffna are presently undergoing and sought immediate redress. V. Anandasangaree, President – TULF who wrote the letter has urged that Sri Lanka President has to listen to the problems of the civilians from various people without depending on one or two persons. more..

Four years on, Caritas Tsunami relief mission continues

Jan 1 (UCAN) The head of the local Catholic Church’s tsunami relief effort says the Church has learned a great deal from working on this with other aid organizations and is better prepared for any future emergency. Father Damian Fernando, executive director of Caritas Sri Lanka, which is known in the country as the Social and Economic Development Center (SEDEC), has worked closely with other NGOs and more..

Jayawardene praises Bangladesh fight

Jan 1 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene said his team were fortunate to have the cushion of a 500-plus lead against Bangladesh. Set 521 in Mirpur, the hosts gave Sri Lanka a few anxious moments, but were eventually dismissed for 413. "The way they played, I mean they batted very well. So credit should go to them," Jayawardene said. "The only good thing is that we had 521 runs behind us and we knew we had to be patient, bowl in the good areas and create opportunities. more..

Mobile service to deliver school text books

Jan 1 (GDI) The Ministry of Education will conduct a zonal based text book distribution mobile service, throughout the country aimed to overcome the shortage reported in a few schools, the Education Ministry sources said. The mobile service which will be carried out by the Education Publications Department will commence operations on January 6 and continue till January 17. During this period, the mobile service will visit every Educational Zone with focus on remote areas where more..

Incentives to industrial sector to ensure employment levels are maintained

Jan 1 (GDI) Minister of Export Development and International Trade G.L.Peiris said that incentives were given to the industrial sector to ensure that there would not be any loss of employment. The concessions given to the industrial sector included the removal of the 15% electricity surcharge and a 5% allowance on the value of exports if the industrialist was able to maintain former production levels. more..

War is a sacrifice for political gain-Mangala

Jan 1 (BBC) Parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera said that the government is engaged in sacrificing the lives of security forcers for political gain. In a statement issued this week, Mangala Samaraweera claimed that, "three thousand soldiers have died in combat during 2008 and further nine thousand had been wounded". When asked about the source of the figures, he told the BBC, "We get the information from within the military. Government is hiding the damage. more..

Emergency regulations and inconvenience to householders

Jan 1 (LG) Confusion prevails in respect to complying with Section 23 of the Emergency Regulations. I am writing from my own experience as a chief occupant. Quite often the above form is personally handed by a police officer at the premises, with a request to fill same and keep it till it is collected by the police officer himself. At the time of collecting same, the request for an acknowledgment is refused. more..

'Terrorism should be crushed from all fronts'

Jan 1 (MoD) "Today's soldiers, sailors and airmen are required to be competent in a broad array of war fighting tasks. We have to confront terrorism with force to crush it, and crush it forever. Terrorism has to be confronted with military force at every level. We owe it to our future generations to combat terrorism in all its forms and to defeat it convincingly", said Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa more..

SB vows to revive CP with powers of 13th amendment

Jan 1 (LD) "I hope to use the powers given under the 13th amendment to revive the Central Province, making its provincial council that promotes friendship among the peoples of all communities and religions," UNP's chief ministerial candidate S.B. Dissanayake said. He gave the pledge while speaking to journalists outside the Kandy District Secretariat yesterday (Dec. 30th) after handing in nominations to contest the CP polls. more..

Relief package only for companies, not for people - UNP

Jan 1 (LD) The Rajapaksa regime has attempted to deceive the people once again as they are stepping into 2009, by announcing which it claims the biggest relief package in recent history, but in actual fact a mere reduction in fuel and gas prices, said UNP spokesman Gayantha Karunatilake. He accused the present regime of disrespecting the country's law and its people and acting in an authoritarian, shortsighted and inefficient manner. more..

Govt. has gas pricing formula, but opposes same for fuel

Jan 1 (LD) The government’s double standard of implementing a pricing formula for milk powder and gas being imported by the private sector, while at the same time rejecting a similar mechanism for fuel is wholly unacceptable, said attorney Ravi Jayawardena of ‘Corruption Watch.’ He said, “The Supreme Court considered a pricing formula submitted by the Treasury and ordered the petrol price be reduced to Rs. 100 per litre. But, the government is yet to implement that SC order.” more..

Children affected by violence learn new job skills thanks to funding from the US Govt

Jan 1 (SLE) Seven young men who are victims of violence have acquired new job skills and are ready to reintegrate into society after a job training program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The program, New Beginnings for Children Affected by Conflict and Violence, is funded by a $2.6 million grant from USAID and implemented by Save the Children in Sri Lanka. more..

U.S. Marines deliver Christmas toys to needy children

Jan 1 (SLE) The annual Toys For Tots program was a big hit at the National Cancer Center in Maharagama, Sri Lanka. The Marine Detachment from the American Embassy Colombo had the opportunity to meet with 31 children who are being treated for leukemia and deliver toys to brighten their holiday season. Mr. Upali, the supervisor of the children’s ward was instrumental on helping coordinate the event. more..

U.S. completes Tsunami rebuilding projects in Sri Lanka, Maldives

Jan 1 (SLE) Four years ago, the Indian Ocean tsunami swept over coastal lands in Asia and Africa, killing more than 200,000 people, destroying cities and crippling the ability of the remaining millions to survive. In 2008 in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Agency for International Development completed a new bridge, built and equipped nine vocational schools, rehabilitated three damaged fishing harbors, installed a water supply system and built 87 children’s play parks. more..

Army takes Paranthan while moving closer to kilinochchi and Mullaitheevu

Jan 1 (TC) Sri Lankan Armed forces registered a military triumph on the last day of year 2008 when they began moving into the strategic northern Town Paranthan situated 385 km away from Colombo. The conquest came a day before the target date of New years day on Jan 1st 2009 because troops of 58 division took the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam by surprise in athe early hours of the morning on December 31st. more..

Sri Lankan orchid named after PM Erdoğan

Jan 1 (TZ) In a move to immortalize her love and respect for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Sri Lankan Honorary Consul General of Turkey Bharathi Wijeratne has moved to name a species of orchid after the prime minister. Wijeratne is also working to get a flower named after Turkish President Abdullah Gül. Wijeratne renamed an orchid in the Dendrobium genus "Dendrobium Recep Tayyip Erdoğan" and more..

Ranatunga advised to ‘lie low’

Jan 1 (TI) Arjuna Ranatunga has been advised by the country’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to “lie low” for some days till his removal as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chairman is in all probability reviewed. Rajapaksa, one learns, conveyed that on Sunday during the hour-long helicopter ride from Colombo to a northern area for an alms-giving ceremony organised by more..

Sri Lankan held, sat phones meant for LTTE seized

Jan 1 (TOI) The ‘Q’ branch police on Tuesday arrested a 23-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil for helping the LTTE smuggle goods from the state. Dileepan, a native of Jaffna, was arrested from Red Hills and three satellite phones which he had brought from Switzerland were recovered from him. He landed in the police net after sleuths traced the calls he made to an LTTE organiser, Antony, who was under police detention. more..

Civilian death toll in Vanni rising

Jan 1 (TW) Sri Lanka Air Force continued to launch air strikes in several areas of Vanni in Northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday. The army says the assaults are in support of the government troops on the grounds that are encircling key LTTE held towns. But independent reports say civilian areas are continuously being targeted. Air Force bombers attacked a civilian settlement near Murugananda school in Murasumoaddai on Paranthan - Mullaiththeevu Road killing two females of a family and a male on the spot. more..

Sri Lanka troops take key Tiger town: military

Jan 1 (AFP) Sri Lankan troops Thursday captured a key town held by Tamil Tiger rebels in the island's north after intense fighting that left at least 50 guerrillas dead, the defence ministry said. The fall of Paranthan, just outside the Tigers' political capital of Kilinochchi, has effectively cut off the main supply line to several other vital rebel strongholds, the ministry said in a statement. more..

New Year greetings of the JVP

Jan 1 (LT) We have come through 2008 and have arrived at 2009 with fresh expectations. There is no doubt that everyone is full of hope regarding the New Year. More than piling up hopes it is more important to pay attention to the avenue and process of achieving such hopes. For this it is important to look back and follow-up on the year that we have come through and be heedful regarding the good as well as bad circumstances that have been carried through to the New Year. more..

New year massage of the President

Jan 1 (LT) Never before has the dawn of a New Year brought welcome expectations of unity and prosperity to our nation as we see today states President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a New Year message to the nation. The message: "We have great confidence that the determined path we have traversed so far will result in a sustainable peace to our country and people. I am aware this will bring great joy to all of you who have watched with great patience as we proceeded in the search for peace with justice and dignity to all." more..

2009 will see end of conflict -- Anura Priyadharshana Yapa

Jan 1 (GDI) The year 2009 can be described as a year which directs Sri Lankan society along a new path, kindling new hopes and aspirations, Minister of Mass Media and Information Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said at the special new year celebration. The minister, extending new year greetings to the people of Sri Lanka, predicted that the 2009 will go down in history as the year in which the conflict ended and enabled people to live in a peaceful and prosperous country. more..

'May the dawn of the New Year enable all to live peacefully'

Jan 1 (LP) The dawn of the New Year will enlighten our lives as well as the environment said the Opposition Leader Parliamentarian Ranil Wickramasingha in his New Year message. “With the New Year we will move forward with a new vigour and resolution overcoming all the difficulties: said Mr Wickramasingha. He further said it is a crucial time when the value of humanity is lost. more..

'Sustainable solution to energy crisis in 2009'

Jan 1 (GDI) Minister John Seneviratne expressed optimism yesterday that 2009 would see the energy crisis resolved permanently. Issuing a statement, the Minister noted that such hopes can be entertained because the power projects in Upper-Kotmale, Kerawalapitiya and Norochcholai are now nearing completion. He also pointed out that plans were in place to start the Sampur Coal Power Project in April this year, and that it would add 200 mega watts of electricity to the grid system. more..

Danduwam Mudalali runs away from Hungama

Jan 1 (LP) Piyadasa Ratnayaka alias 'Danduwam Mudalali' involved in the financial scam to the tune of Rs. 6,500 million from depositors has fled his home town Hungama. He was granted bail by the Hambantota Magistrate following a financial scam allegedly engaging in an unauthorised financial scam duping depositors in Hungama. The Hambantota Magistrate issued a stay order prohibiting Danduwam Mudalali from leaving the country and ordered him to report to the Hungama police every Sunday. more..

New Year Message of Minister of Foreign Affairs

Jan 1 (LP) I have great pleasure in sending this message to all Sri Lankans at home and abroad on the happy occasion of the dawn of the New Year - 2009. The past year has been quite significant in raising Sri Lanka's international profile. The notable highlight of our successful diplomacy was the hosting of the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo, with the participation of 8 Heads of State or Government and 7 Observers. more..

'Deed distribution tremendous success'

Jan 1 (SAMN) Provincial Councils have granted title deeds to a unprecedented number of landless citizens in 2008. Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake was unanimously appointed Chairman at the Provincial Council Land Ministers' conference held at Bay Beach hotel, Tangalle. A two day land ministers' conference of the Provincial Council was held for the first time with the participation of land ministers of seven Provincial Councils in the island. more..

Bus crew uniforms, ticketing machines

Jan 1 (SAMN) Uniforms for bus crews and ticketing machines has been made mandatory in the Western Province from today following the Supreme Court order given recently. Accordingly, the Lanka Private Bus Owners Association made arrangements to provide uniforms to the bus crews at a ceremony held in Colombo Wednesday. The ruling given by the Supreme court would be definitely implemented from today. more..

Funds to uplift Veddah community

Jan 1 (SAMN) The Government has reserved Rs. 50 million from the Budget 2009 to upgrade the living standards of the Veddah community, Housing Minister Geethanjana Gunawardena said. He said that special attention will be drawn towards the housing problems of them. Minister Gunawardena said during his visit to Dambana he had promised the vedda chieftain Uruwarige Wanniyalage Eththo that immediate steps would be taken to address their problems. more..

Seylan depositors left in a timeless quandary

Jan 1 (LD) Seylan Bank that was saved from a disastrous crash with the intervention of the Central Bank that took over its management and left it under the Bank of Ceylon with a new board of directors has stopped all withdrawals, say customers who wanted to have their monies back before the New Year. Customers who have small and medium scale deposits as fixed savings were told they could withdraw their deposits, only if they had matured and not otherwise. more..

Sports Minister cancels SLC transfers

Jan 1 (LD) Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge has cancelled the transfers given to seven Sri Lanka Cricket employees by Arjuna Ranatunga, the chairman of its dissolved interim committee, and reinstated them in their former positions. The minister has personally handed them over the relevant documents today. The seven employees had been transferred to outstations from the SLC headquarters in Colombo, effective from October 01st, 2008. more..

No Tamil knowledge among 90 pc of public servants

Jan 1 (LD) Constitutional Affairs Minister Dew Gunasekara says more than 90 per cent of public servants is without any knowledge of the Tamil language, a situation which has created serious administrative problems. Mr. Gunasekara says that as a solution, his ministry will bring in legislation to make basic Tamil language knowledge mandatory for all public servants. more..

Bus fare reduction next week

Jan 1 (DN) The Government will reduce bus fares by 4.3 per cent with effect January 6, National Transport Commission Chairman Prof. Amal Kumarage said. Prof Kumarage said the lowest fares of Rs.6 and Rs.9 will not be revised. “Following the Rs.10 reduction in diesel given in the relief package by the Government, we have unanimously decided to reduce bus fares to benefit the commuters in the country,” more..

PAFFREL to deploy 3,000 monitors

Jan 1 (DN) The People's Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) will deploy over 3,000 officials for the observation at the forthcoming Central and North Western Provincial Council elections to be held on february 14. According to PAFFREL president Kingsley Rodrigo, their organisation was one of the handful of a bodies approved by the Elections Commissioner for election monitoring. more..

Inside manipulation ?

Jan 1 (DM) The Financial Times has learnt that there were only two directors existed at the golden Key Credit Card Company at the time when the crisis really began before Christmas. The directors namely the Finance Director, Golden Key Group, Saradha Sumanasekara, and Niranjan Fernando (A Group Director of Golden Key), were entrusted to attend the days to day affairs of the company since other members of the board commenced tending their resignations starting from the month of October 2008. more..

Yapa skips opportunity to lead Wayamba PC

Jan 1 (Island) The UPFA has dropped a plan to replace former Wayamba Chief Minister Athula Wijesinghe with Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa as its chief ministerial candidate for the forthcoming Wayamba PC polls. Although Wayamba campaign manager Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday told The Island that they never contemplated fielding Yapa, well informed sources said that the SLFP topbrass had recently agreed on Yapa’s candidature. more..

Santa late, goodies not enough

Jan 1 (Island) Santa has arrived in this trouble-torn land days after Christmas. He must have come riding a three wheeler––hence the delay––if his decision to give the trishaw fraternity preferential treatment is any indication. Santa looked different this year. He had dyed hair and a thundering moustache with a saataka around his neck. The fuel price revision and the economic stimulus package the government unveiled on Tuesday had more..

Adieu 2008! Bienvenue 2009 !!

Jan 1 (DBS) This is the time when the world rings out the old year and rings in the New Year. Adieu 2008! Bienvenue 2009. The ushering in of a new year is usually a happy ,festive occasion. It is a time of renewed hope where we look forward to the future with optimistic confidence. I must confess that I was in no buoyant mood on December 31st. Reflecting on the sad events of 2008 simply made me gloomy and despondent. The loss of a loved one was particularly saddening. more..

Kotelawala barred from leaving country

Jan 1 (DM) The Mount Lavinia Chief Magistrate, yesterday, barred Mr. Lalith Kotelawala, the chairman of the Golden Key Credit Card Company, a subsidiary of Ceylinco Consolidated, from leaving the country and noticed twelve persons, including its board of directors, to appear in court. Magistrate Harsha Sethunga made this order on Lalith Kotelawala and Sicille Kotelawala more..

Sri Lanka says poised to take rebel capital

Jan 1 (Reuters) Sri Lankan troops were poised to enter the de facto capital of the Tamil Tigers after capturing strategic areas around the town following heavy fighting with the rebels, the military said on Thursday. Government troops captured Iranamadu junction, south of the rebels' self-proclaimed capital of Kilinochchi, and Paranthan town to the north, from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the military said. more..