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SLIIT not sold; it only returned MTF money

Dec 13 (ST) Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) has returned more than Rs. 400 million to the depleted Mahapola Trust Fund (MTF) to enable it to continue to grant scholarships to needy students. In the early 2000s, the MTF had contributed Rs. 370 million to the Institute to construct its main building. However, due to dwindling funds in the coffers, MTF officials recently requested that money be returned. more..

Grand old lady devastated as Customs impose Rs. 3.5mn duty on her old car

Dec 13 (Island) The grand old lady was delighted at the prospect of returning home to Sri Lanka from Down Under in the winter of her life. Domiciled in Melbourne, Australia, for two decades plus was indeed a refreshing experience, but there was no turning back as the time was opportune for the elated grandma to go back to where she belonged so that her bones could be interred in her motherland. Bags were packed and octogenarian was eager to fly back to her land of birth, more..

Speaker refers complaint to Privileges Committee

Dec 13 (Island) UNP MP Mujibur Rahuman said that three opposition MPs threatened him with death for speaking about the alleged killing of national rugby player Wasim Thajudeen. Raising a privilege issue, the MP said that while he was speaking during the committee stage debate on budget proposals under the expenditure heads of the Ministries of Foreign Employment and Foreign Affairs, he had been obstructed and three UPFA MPs Johnston Fernando, Indika Anuruddha and Sanath more..

Ada Cartoon

Ex President failed to pay duty

Dec 13 (SL) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had allegedly approved the importation of 211 vehicles without paying taxes. Rajapaksa had approved luxury vehicles to be purchased by his close associates from August 2010 to 2014 December without paying taxes, according to information obtained by the Finance Ministry. From the year 2010 to August 2015, a total number of 32565 vehicles had been imported, investigations by Finance Ministry further revealed. more..

Constructively yours

Dec 13 (Island) Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government will fall, and it will fail. It is a question of when, not if. Saying this now is a bit like vomiting on the Pope – it’s not considered very polite. It is however something those interested in good governance must never forget. A small group I was part of recently was asked by a visiting dignitary whether civil society was too harsh on what was termed ‘the new govt’. Perhaps the question was driven by the international community’s more..

An accountant among NZ's rockstars

Dec 13 (CI) Some wicketkeepers are lieutenants, directing traffic and fine-tuning the field, in support of a captain's grander vision. For much of his career, Mark Boucher was one of these, as was latter-day Kumar Sangakkara. Others are buzzing mosquitoes around a batsman's face, occasionally venturing a stinger. Like Ian Healy or Brad Haddin, more recently. In NZ, thanks in part to Ian Smith, keepers are often referred to as more..

We need a Make-in-Lanka strategy

Dec 13 (Island) It is disappointing that development options for Lanka are Pontius Pilate mantras; there are no concrete decisions, especially on the industrial side either from the government or the private sector. What are Pontius Pilate mantras? Washing one’s hands off and expecting others to deliver the goods. This govt has three mantras it swears by; export orientation, the private sector as the engine of growth and foreign direct investment (FDI). more..

Minister unveils plans to produce lubricant oil locally

Dec 13 (Island) The govt has plans to produce lubricant oil locally and a Cabinet paper has been submitted to implement the project in due course, Minister Chandima Weerakkody told Parliament. Responding to a query raised by UNP Matara District MP Buddhika Pathirana, Minister Weerakkody said that "the govt intended to manufacture tar locally from imported crude oil after a new refinery is constructed as the existing refinery was not sufficient to meet the demand. more..

GMOA says SAITM not entitled to use public resources

Dec 13 (Island) GMOA said in a letter to Health Secretary, Anura Jayawickrama that it was in receipt of information that some students backed by SAITM have initiated a case under the contempt of court proceedings against Health Ministry officials. When this case was taken up for support on Dec 7, 2015 the Attorney General informed court that the AG’s Department has not received any instructions from the officials of more..

McCullum's century of sixes

Dec 13 (CI) 2: Times BJ Watling has taken nine or more catches in a Test. In this game, he took six in the first innings and has three in the second so far. He is the second New Zealand wicketkeeper with nine dismissals in a Test, and the first to take nine catches: McCullum had eight catches and a stumping. If Watling takes another catch in Sri Lanka's second innings, it will become only the fifth instance of a wicketkeeper taking ten catches in a Test. 100: Number of sixes for McCullum more..

Referendum will determine new Constitution

Dec 13 (CG) A referendum will be held to decide on the final proposals to the new Constitution, Minister for National Dialogue Mano Ganesan said. The Minister, who is part of a steering committee tasked with drafting a new constitution, told The Sunday Leader that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had proposed that the public be allowed to decide on the way forward. A Cabinet sub-committee headed by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe was recently formed to draft the new Constitution. more..

'There’s no meaning strengthening parliamentary system if MPs hit each other'

Dec 13 (Island) Political parties have a responsibility on the conduct of their MPs and those parties should take disciplinary action against the parliamentarians who behave in a violent and irresponsible manner, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said. Participating in the committee stage debate on the budget proposals under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media, more..

Tamil Parliamentary Group seeks clarification on UK's funding to SL

Dec 13 (Island) Siobhain McDonagh, Senior Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils in the British Parliament, has sought a clarification from Foreign Minister Hugo Swires on how the £6.6m funding the British govt has granted to Sri Lanka will be spent. In a letter, the Group has expressed concern over the money allocated for Sri Lanka's military reforms as the country's army has been accused of war crimes. All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils has also expressed more..

What of attacks on journalists in the North?

Dec 13 (SO) The owner of the Uthayan newspaper, TNA MP E Saravanbavan queried as to why the Govt was only investigating the murder of editor Lasantha Wickrematunga and disappearance of cartoonist Pargeeth Eknaligoda and not the attacks on scribes in the North. He commended the Govt's move to make sound progress on the two incidents but cited that there must also be a concerted effort to investigate incidents of attacks on journalists from the North & East. more..

India funds 200-bed hospital ward in SL

Dec 13 (PTI) India has constructed a 200-bed hospital ward complex costing $13 lakh in Tamil-dominated former war zone of North. Project in the northern district of Vavuniya has been implemented under full grant assistance of the govt of India. “This complex aims to improve the existing infrastructure of the hospital and fulfil the medical care needs of in-patients admitted to the hospital from Vavuniya and adjoining districts,” more..

Rs. 2,000 m to boost livelihood in North

Dec 13 (SO) Ten well-formulated projects that UNF Govt will be implementing in the North next month, under its reconciliatory program, will have salutary impacts on uplifting the living conditions of the people of the conflict-torn region, authorities said. Consequent to the initial allocation of Rs.2000 million under a Cabinet paper submitted by Minister D.M. Swaminathan. Implementation process will begin next month under management of Steering Committee of which he is co-chairman, more..

New Audit Act to impose surcharges

Dec 13 (SO) The proposed Audit Act will empower the Auditor General to surcharge govt officials found responsible for any lapses the Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe said. He said the responsibility of directing the relevant govt officials to take corrective measures lies with COPE and COPA. Two Committees will issue directives based on audit reports submitted to Parliament. He said the AG's Department will also broadbase the auditing process without confining it to financial auditing alone. more..

Two Tamil prisoners resume hunger strike

Dec 13 (SO) Two disgruntled prisoners at the Welikada Magazine prison resumed their third day's fast last week and more are expected to follow, demanding that the govt keeps its promise on their early release, prison sources said. This follows one month after Tamil prisoners in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) called off their nine-day fast-unto-death, The second fast-unto-death staged by the Tamil prisoners in more..

COPE to summon 23 public institutions

Dec 13 (Island) Parliamentary watchdog committee COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) has decided to summon 23 public institutions during the first three months of next year (2016), according to COPE sources. The first to appear before the COPE will be the Bank of Ceylon on January 5. The other public sector institutions scheduled to be hauled before this regulatory financial watchdog to answer allegations against them are the Sri J'pura General Hospital (Jan 6), CEB (Jan 7), more..

CB Governor expresses optimism of GK disbursements by Christmas

Dec 13 (Island) Treasury is expected to send the imprest by tomorrow for the reimbursement of holdings of Golden Key (GK) depositors under the second phase, Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran said. "We were optimistic of receiving it last Friday or by Monday, the latest", he said. In what’s certainly good news to long-suffering investors, Governor Mahendran expressed hope that the disbursements could be done by Christmas. The proposed second round, for which more..

Curb the dengue sting now before it gets out of control: Health officials

Dec 13 (ST) Dengue is on the rise with seven deaths being reported in the past two months and the past two weeks alone seeing 599 cases, bringing the total to 44 deaths and 26,243 cases for this year, a health official said. However, the highest number of deaths and cases were observed during the first quarter of the year, while there was a drop in the second quarter, official said, warning that once again an increasing trend was observed. more..

Total power collapse at Norochcholai

Dec 13 (ST) All three units of Lakvijaya coal power plant in Norochcholai were out of commission yesterday. One of the units had been shut down for a planned maintenance, they said. A second suffered a minor technical malfunction while the third tripped yesterday. As a result, all 900 megawatts of electricity provided to the national grid by Lakvijaya were not available. CEB officials said the shortfall was being met by other sources, particularly hydropower. more..

Over 500,000 vehicles enter Colombo daily

Dec 13 (CG) The govt has identified heavy road congestion as one of the major issues facing Colombo, Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne said. Wickramaratne said that 500,000 vehicles entering Colombo daily is neither eco-friendly nor an efficient means of getting from home to work or school. “Time is wasted and people arrive late at offices and classrooms, tired and frustrated. The main railway station, Fort Railway station, hasn’t changed since Independence in 1948,” he said. more..

US and India displeased with North Lankan CM Wigneswaran

Dec 13 (ENS) Super Power United States as well as Regional Power India are none too happy with the political conduct of C.V. Wigneswaran, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province. US and Indian envoys have directly conveyed to him their concern that his unhelpful and radical posturing could jeopardize the Lankan govt’s bid to find an amicable solution to the long-standing Tamil question. more..

Ranil to brief Parliament on talks with trade unions

Dec 13 (CG) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is to brief Parliament tomorrow on the talks he had with trade unions on the 2016 budget. PM will make a special statement in Parliament tomorrow on the talks he had with the trade unions yesterday and today. Some trade unions have already said that the talks had not been positive and as a result they will go on strike on Tuesday. Among the trade unions scheduled to strike are those affiliated to the train, health and electricity board. more..

Compensation soon for 44 slain media persons: PM

Dec 13 (ST) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe suggested a compensation scheme for families of journalists and other media persons killed while on duty. Speaking during the committee stage budget debate on the allocation for the Ministry of Mass Media and Parliamentary Affairs, PM said a compensation plan would be implemented for 44 media persons, who were killed during the period of the former regime due to political reasons. A majority of them were from the North. more..

President stalls bid to buy transport equipment from India

Dec 13 (ENS) President Maithripala Sirisena has put on hold a proposal by the Minister of Transport, Nimal Sripala de Silva, to buy rail locomotives and carriages; 500 omnibus engines and 500 gear boxes from Indian public and private sector suppliers using the remainder of an USD 800 million Indian Line of Credit extended in 2010. His move follows an adverse report by a committee appointed by the Ministry of Transport more..

Wijeyadasa must come clean on friendship with arms dealer

Dec 14 (ST) This morning the Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe must ask himself a few simple questions: Has he as a member of parliament availed himself of any generous hospitality in the past extended to him and his family by the controversial Avant Garde chairman, the arms dealer Senadhipathi whom he has been defending so vigorously in public in recent times as being innocent and devoid of any wrong doing? And whether, even if he, Wijeyadasa, has not more..

Budget 2016: Controversy over education & health numbers

Dec 14 (CT) A controversy has arisen relating to the education expenditure vote in Budget 2016. A section of Opposition Parliamentarians has accused the Minister of Finance of adding some fictional numbers to the budgetary expenditure under the education vote. University academics too have questioned the validity of increased expenditure on education in terms of the country’s total output, known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to critics, there has been more..

New Act to check corruption: More clout for Auditor General

Dec 14 (SO) Auditor General's Department will be given the requisite powers to play its expanded role under the 19th Amendment, when the Audit Bill is passed in Parliament soon, said Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe who assumed duties as the 39th Auditor General of Sri Lanka on Nov 27. The former Director General of Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board, Wijesinghe, more..

Sri Lanka’s deficit of justice cannot be corrected by laws alone

Dec 14 (ST) Euphoria in regard to the Cabinet decision this week that SL will sign the International Convention on Enforced Disappearances must be tempered by several factors. First, a sober appraisal makes it evident that though we have ratified a bewildering array of such treaties, a huge gap exists between international commitments and practical realities. Unfortunately this is so even when we have enacted domestic legislation giving effect to international obligations. more..

Gota & The Gunaratnam Affair

Dec 14 (CT) During the 1988-1990 period, the state security apparatus under the political direction of President JR Jayewardene and President R Premadasa is said to have killed about 60,000 young people in the south and the JVP also went on a killing spree on the pretext of opposing the 13th amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. During the same period, Lieutenant Colonel Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa was said to have been in charge of the SL Army base in Matale district more..

'Budget concept mauled beyond recognition'

Dec 14 (CT) Former Minister G.L. Peiris spoke about the state of the nation's security, the country's foreign policy, various allegations, Budget 2016, and made comparisons between the two regimes. Q: What do you make of the country's security situation? A: Today, there is a very obvious threat to the security of the country. We cannot take seriously the various statements of people, in whom we have reposed trust, more..

Good governance and political will

Dec 14 (GV) The military is a microcosm of the society it comes from. Lankan society has been experiencing a ceaseless wave of violent crime at least from 2006. Fact that murder and rape proliferate does not mean every Lankan is a murderer or a rapist. There have been several incidents of uniformed men committing crimes against ordinary citizens, including child rape, even outside of the North and the East. This doesn’t mean that all military men are criminals; more..

Copies of Loss

Dec 14 (GV) Three pictures hang in my study. (Not my study actually, contractually; the bank retains the mortgage. I do not write in, from a room of my own. Besides: designed, constructed, lived in by others, their trace lingers upon this space.) The first picture: a photograph of the young, handsome, meticulously coifed Richard Manic – Manic, not manic – de Zoysa, of his face – an image that still bruises, incites me – off the web, the Daily News if memory serves, framed together with more..

'Current approach to taxing trade unsustainable'

Dec 14 (CT) Budget 2016 presented in Parliament last month stirred up many controversies. It came under many criticisms as well. In order to get the broader picture of the Budget Ceylon Today interviewed Executive Director Dr. Nishan de Mel and Head of Economics Subhashini Abeysinghe, at Verite Research. Both of them stressed that Govt is finding it difficult to move away from trade taxes because of the weakness more..

Vehicle prices to stabilize with taxes remaining

Dec 14 (DN) 2016 budget proposal to increase taxes on motor vehicles will entice more second hand vehicles to be imported to SL, Vehicle Importer's Association Chairman Indika Merenchige said. He said that this is because it will be around 30% less than that of a brand new vehicle. "Yes it will be a saving for the country on the long run," Association members met Minister Ravi Karunanayake and it was confirmed that Finance Ministry will not re adjust the motor import tax structure more..

Political bankruptcy of Joint Opposition

Dec 14 (CT) Professor G.L. Peiris criticized the manner the present govt is dealing with the Tamil diaspora organizations and warned that the govt's attitude towards those organizations would renew the Eelam dream of the LTTE locally as well as internationally. After former Minister late A.C.S. Hameed it was Professor G.L. Peiris who closely associated with the LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingam and even had the opportunity of meeting the outfit's bigwigs abroad more..

'JVP cannot be bought for money'

Dec 14 (SL) JVP Politburo member and Head of the National Trade Union Center (NTUC), K.D. Lalkantha observed that the JVP has lost faith in the national govt and said the budget 2016 has nothing that benefits the common man. Instead he said that the general public has been further burdened as all imposed taxes will eventually pile onto the shoulders of the people. more..