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Cash-rich CT Group rationalises investments

May 14 (ST) Ceylon Theatres Holding (CTH) Group, a Sri Lankan holding company and investment arm of several businesses, is undergoing a process of rationalisation and ‘sustainable’ value creation. In one of the most significant business transactions in recent times, the group – involved in the food and beverage sector, consumer goods, retail marketing, property including real estate and condominium development and the financial sector with the Cargills Agriculture and Commercial Bank, more..

Industrial production index down 3.4%

May 14 (Island) Sri Lanka’s industrial production index fell 3.4% in 2012, Central Bank data released yesterday showed. The Industrial Production Index reached 103.8 points in December 2012, down 3.4% from 107.5 points a year earlier. The manufacture of food products and beverages fell 9.5% and 12.1% respectively. The manufacture of tobacco products fell 28.1%. Leather and leather related products fell 10% while the more..

Blind leading the blind?

May 14 (FT) Once high flying Touchwood Investments Plc (TWOD) is apparently facing rough weather with incomplete disclosure given the part sell out by key Directors whilst they themselves have taken up additional responsibilities in troubled CIFL throwing open a barrage of questions over good governance and effectiveness of the regulatory role from shareholders and investment analysts alike. In what some analysts termed as bizarre developments, troubled finance company, more..

HNB records post-tax profit of Rs. 1.27b

May 14 (FT) With Q1 2013 remaining challenging for the banking sector with demand for credit slowing down further, HNB nevertheless siad yesterday it has recorded a growth of 36% in interest income to Rs. 13,683 m in Q1 2013 from Rs. 10,035 m in Q1 2012 due to 11% yoy expansion in its loan book and relatively higher rates of interest. Interest expenses too increased by 46% from Rs. 5,187 m in Q1 2012 to Rs. 7,584 m for Q1 2013 on account of the increase of Rs. 34 b in the deposit base, more..

Sampur swindle?

May 14 (FT) As losses mount at the CEB and its pressures reflect on the monthly electricity bills of consumers, more losses estimated at Rs. 7.63 billion are to be expected annually if the legally null agreement of the proposed Sampur Power Plant is carried forward. Coalition against Corruption brought to public notice that the agreement signed in Oct 2011 between Indian National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) more..

Dialog Broadband to expand LTE service with Rs. 800 m Sky TV buy

May 14 (FT) Dialog Axiata yesterday announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Dialog Broadband Networks (DBN) had entered into a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) with the shareholders of Sky Television and Radio Network (Sky) for the acquisition of 100% of the ordinary shares in issue of Sky at a consideration of Rs. 800 million. Following the completion of the acquisition, Sky will be amalgamated with DBN. Sky is a licensed pay television operator and is currently in more..

Indra Finance gets a license to carry out finance business

May 14 (N360) Indra Finance Limited, a unit of Kandy based Indra Group of Companies has been authorized to operate as a finance company, announced the Central Bank. The license granted by the Central Bank comes into operation with effect from 8th of May 2013. Indra Finance Limited established in 1987, earlier functioned as a Leasing firm. According to the firm’s website, its main line of business was providing structured finance facilities to the customers of Indra Traders Private more..

Broadband charges: SL ranks world’s lowest

May 14 (Island) Sri Lanka has been ranked No.1 in the world with the lowest entry level fixed broadband charges, according to a report published by the International Telecommunication Union report Measuring the Information Society 2012, the TRC said. Sri Lanka is also one of the first countries in the world to narrow the gap between the bandwidth offered to subscribers and actual speed delivered. High speed broadband (HSBB) more..

Govt must reject DMK demand on Sri Lanka

May 14 (NIE) Erstwhile UPA ally and DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Friday reiterated his demand that India should boycott the CHOGM scheduled in Sri Lanka in November. He also urged the Centre to garner the support of other countries to shift the summit to another country. The Union govt will do well to dismiss outright the DMK chief’s injudicious appeal to the Prime Minister to humiliate Sri Lanka again. By earlier succumbing to the tantrums of the DMK chief a supine New Delhi has already more..

Green gram self sufficiency by year end

May 14 (Island) Sri Lanka would be self-sufficient in green gram by the end of this year and therefore the Ministry of Agriculture had decided to completely halt the import of that pulse, Secretary to the Ministry, W.A. Sakalasuriya said. He said that of the major grains and pulses, only chick peas which were not grown in Sri Lanka, would be imported from next year. A special programme had been prepared to produce 27,000 metric tones of green gram required for domestic consumption. more..

Overlay of BIA runway begins

May 14 (CT) Minister Priyankara Jayaratne said work with regard to overlaying the new runway (tarmac) at the BIA, has begun and will be carried out during 'off peak hours' of flights landing, said to be during the day. The peak hours for flights landing at the BIA are at night and in the morning hours, he said. No flights will be diverted to the Mattala Rajapaksa Airport (MRIA), as the BIA slots cannot land or take off from Mattala. more..

NCP to promote gliricidia based power generation

May 14 (DN) The North Central Provincial Council has come forward to boost the dry zone based gliricidia biomass power in the NCP to generate electricity. The recently established North Central Provincial Environment Authority is being entrusted with the task of promoting the gliricidia cultivation at large scale in the province and pave way to start mini gliricidia (Dendro) based power projects in the NCP in collaboration with Thirappane Labunoruwa “Human and Community Development more..

New partnership will explore how SL can avoid pollution from human waste

May 14 (FT) The Colombo-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage signed a MoU on recently, to improve septage management in the country. The MoU signatories IWMI Director General Jeremy Bird and Secretary Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage A. Abeygunasekera, signed the agreement in the presence of the Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. The MoU provides a collaborative framework for sustainable septage more..

Unannounced raids expose expired drugs

May 14 (CT) Sudden, unannounced investigations in private hospitals in Colombo, Kurunegala, Kandy and Gampaha, conducted by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) yesterday, had led to the busting of six drugs storage facilities found to be storing expired drugs. Based on a complaint received by the Minister Johnston Fernando, the CAA raided drug stores and pharmacies in private hospitals and medical more..

Seven schools in Beruwela to be upgraded

May 14 (DN) Arrangements are in place to upgrade seven schools in the Beruwela electorate as top level schools under the '1,000 Schools Development Programme' launched by the Education Ministry, Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne said. The govt has taken several measures to improve the standards of both primary and secondary education. Plans are underway to provide qualified teachers and physical resources useful to students for their academic activities, the minister said. more..

No importation of foods from bird flu infected countries

May 14 (DM) The Department of Animal Production and Health had decided not to import food consignments from countries that had been identified as being prone to the spread of bird flu, Director General Dr. W.K. De Silva said. “Until the World Organisation for Animal Health gives us the thumbs up about certain high-risk countries we have decided not to import food consignments from them,” he said. The decision had been taken to prevent bird flu from entering the country more..

FUTA won’t join strike against power tariff hike

May 14 (Island) The FUTA will not take part in the strike the Co–ordination Committee of the Trade Union Alliance (CCTUA) will hold on May 21 against the electricity tariff increases. It has, however, pledged solidarity with CCTUA. FUTA sources said yesterday that university teachers were not in a position take part in the planned trade union action because of their 100–day–long strike last year over several demands. more..

800 patients waiting to go home

May 14 (CT) About 800 patients who had been under treatment at the Mental Institute, Mulleriyawa, and are free from any mental illness, are still warded in hospital as their family members have shown no desire to welcome them back home. Among them are those who had been in-house patients for as long as 30-40 years, sources said, adding that some patients had lived their entire lives within the compound, and had died there. They had been accorded the last rites in keeping with their more..

CaFFE lectures opposition

May 14 (Island) The election monitoring organization, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has found fault with the Opposition for not mediating in people’s problems. Executive Director of CaFFE Keerthi Tennakoon, addressing a workshop titled ‘Let’s build civil society solidarity’, held at Kithulkanda Mountain Resort, last Sunday, said that an extremely weak opposition could mediate in people’s problems. As the opposition failed to form a people’s protest against more..

BBS admits Norway visit, but denies taking money

May 14 (Island) The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) dared NFF Leader and Minister Wimal Weerawansa to prove his allegations that they were recipients of funding from either Norway or any INGO or to walk on the road in a loin cloth! "Now that Minister Weerawansa has alleged that we went to Norway to seek funding from an INGO there, it is up to him to prove it. If he does that, we will publicly apologise to the country and immediately more..

Some big hospitals face power disconnection

May 14 (Island) A number of hospitals including three major ones face disconnection of the electricity supply for non-payment of bills for over one year. The three major hospitals, which are under the purview of the Health Ministry are the teaching hospitals in Anuradhapura and Kandy and the Nagoda hospital in Kalutara. The Hambantota, Lunugamvehara and Tissamaharama hospitals, which are run by the provincial councils, have also not paid their electricity bills. more..

CID probe into Matale mass grave begins today

May 14 (Island) The Criminal Investigations Department will begin investigations today, in Matale, into the mass grave found within the Matale hospital premises. This is sequel to Matale Magistrate and Additional District Judge Ms. Chathurika de Silva’s order to the CID last Friday based on evidence presented to Court that the bones and skulls unearthed in November last year from the grave date to the 1987-‘90 period. Thirteen affidavits were filed in the Court last week by more..

UPFA constituent, SLMC supports May 21 strike

May 14 (Islaand) The SLMC, a constituent of the UPFA govt announced its support for the May 21 token strike organised by the Co–ordination Committee of the Trade Union Alliance (CCTUA) against the recent electricity tariff hike. SLMC leader and Minister Rauff Hakeem pledged his party’s support to the strike when he met the CCTUA members at SLMC headquarters ‘Dharussalam’. Spokesman of the Minister more..

Editorial: Revive the Dairy Farming Industry

May 14 (DM) The need to immediately and effectively revive a Sri Lankan dairy farming industry and produce fresh milk for Sri Lanka was underlined by the weekend disclosure that huge stocks of milk powder imported from New Zealand may be contaminated by a toxic chemical and even by radiation. On Friday Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said he was appealing to the people not to use milk powder from New Zealand until conclusive scientific tests were more..

Elections for the Northern Provincial Council

May 14 (DM) The election for the Northern Provincial Council (the first of its kind) is scheduled for September of this year. As the President ‘confessed’, the date will be selected by his astrologer – this to my mind is a shameful confession because it indicates that the President depends on the advice of soothsayers, magicians and other charlatans to make decisions pertaining to the governance of this country. Be that as it may, the announcement of elections to this Provincial more..

Close to home, but not close enough

May 14 (Hindu) The country’s 30-year ethnic conflict may have ended four years ago, but for Gunaratnam Selvi — who remained displaced for considerable part of the war — the daily battle for food is far from over. “I pawned my earrings a few days ago because we had no money for food,” said Ms. Selvi, who has been residing in a thatched-roof home in an IDP camp in Konappulam, Jaffna, since her family’s return in 2002. more..

Vesak Week from May 21 to 27

May 14 (DN) The State Vesak Festival will be held on May 25 at Yudaganawa Rajamaha Viharaya, Buttalla in Monaragala on the directive of President Rajapaksa and the guidance of Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne. Addressing the media, Kelaniya University Chancellor Ven. Dr. Welamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Thera said since five years back, the government held the State Vesak Festival in various parts of the country. more..

Eastern seas still unsafe – Met. Dept.

May 14 (Island) The Meteorology Department said that the influence of the cyclonic storm was still there and requested the fisheries and naval sectors to refrain from exercises in the eastern sea. Duty Meteorologist said that the tropical cyclone in the Southwest Bay of Bengal was centered about 750 km to the Northeast of Trincomalee. She said it was likely to move away from the country in a northward direction. more..

CEB facilitating power mafia

May 14 (CT) Senior officials of the CEB had ignored the proposal to install 'Dispatch Planning Software (DPS)' to monitor the discharge of electricity units produced at various prices in order to facilitate the 'private power sector mafia' at the cost of the poor masses, reliable CEB sources alleged. CEB had so far taken no meaningful steps to install the DPS, allowing operations to continue with the previously installed, outdated software that more..

Sri Lankan President aids Uganda cricketers

May 14 (NV) The next big partnership with Uganda cricket could come out of Sri Lanka’s state house. The men and women’s national teams met today with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Mehta Village in Lugazi, where the head of state had travelled for a meeting with Y N Mehta. President Rajapaksa is in the country on a four-day State visit but took time off to catch a glimpse of the national teams. more..

Lecturers to boycott Peradeniya Convocation

May 14 (Island) Peradeniya academics have decided to boycott their university’s annual convocation in protest against the participation of Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake as the chief guest and the appointment of a deputy vice Chancellor on the basis of his political allegiance. A spokesman said that the university administration had not yet announced that Minister Dissanayake would be the chief guest, but more..

IMF focus on Sri Lanka's reserve position

May 14 (DM) Despite numerous attempts by the Central Bank to justify the country’s current gross external reserve position that now stands at US $ 6.9 billion or equivalent to 4.5 months of imports, the IMF considers this to be relatively low by most criteria and has urged the authorities to strengthen the reserve position. “International reserves are relatively low by most metrics, and encourage strengthening the reserve position more..

Two killed, over 1,600 affected as Sri Lanka battles cyclone

May 14 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka braced for more rainy weather on Tuesday due to a storm off the Bay of Bengal that has affected over 1,600 people and killed two. The storm named "Mahasen" after an ancient Sri Lankan king, lashed the eastern and southern coasts of the island marooning fishermen, tearing down trees and flooding neighborhoods. Floods caused by the cyclone killed two and injured eight others on Monday, more..

UN unaware of letter from Salley

May 14 (CG) The United Nations (UN) headquarters says it is unaware of a letter being received from Muslim politician Azath Salley. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, when asked about the letter raising concerns on threats faced by Muslims in Sri Lanka at the hands of Buddhist extremist groups, said that he will need to see if the letter was received. “We’ll have a look. I think, as we have said many times — either I have said it more..

'No civilian went missing in Vanni'

May 14 (DN) Not a single civilian had gone missing in the Vanni district after the end of the war, Vanni Security Forces Commander and Officer-in-Charge of Displaced Persons in the Northern Province Major General Boniface Perera said. "If anyone says someone has gone missing after the end of terrorism and if they are ready to give information on s who had gone missing etc, and when and where, I am ready to debate with more..

'Attempts to destabilize the country by Anti-National forces'

May 14 (GDI) The Academia claims that anti-national groups, on the behest of foreign forces, are attempting to destabilize the country by holding strikes and demonstrations. They say that these attempts are being backed by the NGOs. The Dean of the Cultural and Languages studies faculty of the Kelaniya University Venerable Ambogama Wimalagnana Thero said that the Tamil Diaspora is financially assisting these anti national forces. The Dean of the Faculty of Information more..

Dalai Lama’s message to the world on religious harmony

May 14 (CT) The valuable message given by the Dalai Lama at the inter faith seminar on the ‘Preservation of Religious Harmony, Co­existence and Universal Peace’ organised by the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), Ladakh group. should be cherished by all peace loving and right thinking people. The great religious leader venerated by all the peace loving people in the world stated thus: ‘As far as the Muslims are concerned it is appropriate for them to have complete more..

'Karuna as a military force is a myth’

May 14 (CT) “Mann expressed concern that govt forces had given excessive freedom to the LTTE-breakaway “Karuna group,” which was using this freedom destructively. Ambassador noted that reports from NGOs and international organizations in the Batticaloa area indicated that the Karuna cadres were roaming freely and out of control through the cities, intimidating the population and plundering NGO warehouses of more..

Editorial : Influenza alert!

May 14 (CT) The threat of an influenza pandemic, be it SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Avian Flu, Swine Flu or any common or garden viral infection, is not something to be taken lightly. Creating the right public response is akin to treading the finest of lines, requiring not just smart talk and fancy footwork, but also perception and perspicacity. Constant reassurance that there is nothing much to worry about encourages, at most complacency, and at worst, a state of denial. more..

Geetha says 500 Lankan women stranded in Kuwait

May 14 (Island) UPFA organizer for Bentara-Elpitiya and actress Geetha Kumarasinghe yesterday said that there were over 500 Sri Lankan housemaids in Kuwait, who had taken refuge at the Sri Lanka Embassy there, unable to return to the country. Ms Kumarasinghe, who was on a visit to Kuwait last week, said that some of their employers in Kuwait had filed action against those Lankan women for violating their contracts and joining other households for higher pay. more..