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Sri Lankan shares end at over 8-month low

Dec 14 (Reuters) The Sri Lankan share index fell to its lowest close in more than eight months on Monday led by blue chips and large-cap stocks as investors turned cautious ahead of an interest rate decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve and holidays next week. The main stock index ended 0.43% weaker at 6,803.08, its lowest close since March 30. "Market is down on lacklustre trade. Foreigners are exiting while the market is in the red zone while retail market is also dull," more..

US blocks visa for Field Marshal Fonseka

Dec 14 (DM) US Embassy has yet not given approval to the visa application submitted by Democratic Party Leader Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka two weeks ago, sources close to Field Marshal Fonseka said today. Sources said the US State Department has blocked Field Marshal Fonseka's visa application for the past two weeks in connection with war crimes charges against SL during the time he was the army commander. more..

FTZ workers step up pressure on govt

Dec 14 (Island) Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union yesterday said that the grouping would launch a campaign on Monday (Dec 14) to win workers’ rights and to compel the government to abolish the budget proposals inimical to the working class. Spokesperson Shantha Liyanarachchi said that workers would protest at the entrance to Export Processing Zones at Katunayake, Biyagama, Ekala etc at 7.00 am on Monday. "We’ll strike on Dec. 19 at EPZs. more..

President to upgrade rapport with Pope - Holy Alliance

Dec 14 (CT) His Holiness Pope Francis will give audience to President Maithripala Sirisena today at the Vatican. This is the second meeting between the two - one, a spiritual leader of Catholic masses spread in five continents and the second, a leader of a small island-nation in the Indian Ocean. Pope Francis visited Sri Lanka in January this year and before leaving for the Philippines after the successful conclusion of a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, His Holiness blessed SL in a twitter message: more..

'EPDP’s pragmatism has benefited northerners'

Dec 14 (Island) The EPDP had done much more to the North and East than the other Tamil political parties, Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Opposition Leader and Former MP S. Thavarajah said. "While most Tamil political parties have adopted a confrontational approach in dealing with the govt, we have obtained numerous benefits for the people of the North and East by being pragmatic," NPC Opposition Leader stressed. more..

A huge petroleum robbery

Dec 14 (LT) It is revealed that the govt has grabbed a huge Rs. 22,049 million as fuel tax without giving the advantage of the fuel prices coming down in the world market drastically to the people. The Leader of the JVP Anura Dissanayaka participating in the budget debate said the price of a barrel of crude oil has come down from US$102 to US$46 but the govt has not given the advantage of this reduction to the people. Instead the govt has burdened the people with huge taxes. more..

Video: Dr. Godahewa further remanded

Dec 14 (AD) Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, former Chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and two others, who were arrested by the FCID, have been further remanded until 23 December. The suspects were remanded when they were produced before Colombo Additional Magistrate today. Godahewa had been ordered to appear before the FCID to record a statement on an alleged financial fraud earlier. Nalaka Godahewa was the chairman of SEC for nearly 2 years more..

Video: 'Had to declare early to force a result'

Dec 14 (CI) Brendon McCullum described NZ's victory in the first Test as bloody hard work, on a surface that flattened out after the second day. Hosts were kept in the field for more than 212 overs, before they completed the 122-run victory mid-way through the fifth day. All four NZ seamers had heavy workloads in this Test, as the team opted to rely on the left-arm spin of allrounder Mitchell Santner over offspinner Mark Craig. more..

Colombo Port City project about to kick start

Dec 14 (CT) After numerous controversies and various protests the Colombo Port City project is at the brink of kick starting its constructions. Recently, it was reported that the latest 2015 report which had been prepared by a team of experts from State agencies and overseas institutions had cleared the US$ 1.4 billion Colombo Port City project of any significant environmental damage. The report clearly dismisses any large scale environmental damage to the area in question and more..

Govt is not even interested in solving spiritual needs of NE Tamils: Catholic priest

Dec 14 (Island) A Catholic religious leader fighting for the rights of the Tamils in the North and East claims that the govt is not genuinely interested in solving the spiritual issues that hinder the path to reconciliation. Rev. Fr. S.V.B. Mangalarajah said; "A lot could be achieved if the spiritual needs of the Tamils could be seriously looked into." Although the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Diocese of Sri Lanka had appealed for the release of lands belonging to places of worship, more..

Sri Lanka mulls smart cards, GPS for public transport

Dec 14 (EN) The govt is working to improve public transport as a viable alternative to private cars and considering technology like smart cards for payment and satellite positioning for time tables. “Public transportation in Sri Lanka is entirely out-dated and needs to undergo genuine modernization as soon as possible,” said Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne. “Previous govt poured in millions to building second and third ports and airports more..

JVP condemns TISL’s Integrity award

Dec 14 (CT) The chief opposition whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake has today condemned Transparency International Sri Lanka’s genuineness in awarding this year’s integrity award to the former editor and the forever chairman of the Ravaya Guarantee Limited Victor Ivan. JVP leader asked “how on earth could Transparency International grant this award to Victor Ivan who has been involved in much corruption himself besides being a person who has no integrity at all. more..

Leismaniasis spreading, warns experts

Dec 14 (DN) A flesh-eating skin disease known as Leismaniasis, transmitted through sand fly bites, is reportedly spreading in the country. Tropical medicine experts at the Peradeniya University warned that the disease is fast spreading. The Director, Centre for Research in Tropical Medicine, Prof. S.A.M. Kularatna said, the disease is spreading via a certain species of sand flies. The affected people will have lesions on their faces, arms and body. Lesions can evolve overtime, more..

Govt open to deal with allegations

Dec 14 (CG) Govt says it is open to deal with allegations raised against the armed forces over various incidents related to the conflict, ranging from allegations about secret detention centres, to torture, disappearances, rape and executions. Minister Mangala Samaraweera says as a democratic nation, Sri Lanka should be open to deal with such allegations as democracies do and the way to deal with such issues is by more..

Gayoom meets Maithripala on Emirates flight

Dec 14 (CG) Former Maldives President and President of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, met President Maithripala Sirisena while the President was on his way to Rome. The meeting took place onboard the Emirates flight President Maithripala Sirisena was travelling in to Rome. “It was such a privilege to meet HE president of Sri Lanka @MaithripalaS on board a Dubai- bound flight,” Gayoom tweeted. He also tweeted an image of him greeting more..

'Muslim bias in school uniform vouchers'

Dec 14 (CT) Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) has criticized the govt's move to dole out cash vouchers to parents of school children for the purchase of school uniform materials. National Organizer of the BBS, Ven. Witharandeniye Nanda Thera said that their objections were twofold. One relates to the financial hardships faced by those in rural areas to travel to the schools to collect the vouchers while the other is to do with what appears to be a racial favouritism practiced by the Govt in the process. more..

Planned island-wide strike called off

Dec 14 (AD) A planned island-wide strike by a collective of govt, semi-govt and private sector trade unions scheduled for tomorrow have been called off after talks with the govt. Representatives of the trade unions earlier held a discussion with PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and govt officials regarding theirs objection to certain proposals made in 2016 budget. Strike action was about to commence from 7 am on Tuesday. more..

President of Rotary International appointed SL's special ambassador: Ranil

Dec 14 (DM) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that the govt had decided to appoint the president of Rotary International, K. R Ravindran, as a special ambassador to attract foreign investment. Speaking at a banquet of Rotary International last night, he said Ravindran would be responsible for bringing investments into Sri Lanka: “Bring in funds to the country and not for the political leaders, including me,” he told him. PM also focused on what seemed an appropriate topic more..

Media Minister wants media freedom queries referred to journalists

Dec 14 (Island) One who raised questions about media freedom in the country today could ask the journalists who had been enjoying freedom since the Jan 8 presidential poll, Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said in Parliament. Many journalists had been too scared to write for fear of reprisal before Jan 8, but now they could write anything except matters which would affect the national security, he said, participating in the committee stage debate on budget proposals more..

President meets with Pope Francis

Dec 14 (PSL) President Maithripala Sirisena called on His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican today. Pope Francis expressed his happiness over the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him when he visited Sri Lanka last January and said that Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation with friendly people. His Holiness commended the initiatives taken by President towards peacebuilding and reconciliation in the country. more..

PM announces several budget changes

Dec 14 (LBO) PM Ranil Wickremasinghe told Parliament on Monday that govt is ready to add 2,000 rupees monthly allowance to the basic salary of public servants from next year. He said, govt expects to complete adding 10,000 rupees allowance to the basic salary in three stages. “This morning several unions requested me to add 2,500 rupees to the basic salary. I told them that I will discuss the matter with Finance Minister and Treasury.” Wickremasinghe told Parliament. more..

Sri Lanka vehicle eco tax Rs 1,500, revenue licenses up by 15%: PM

Dec 14 (EN) Sri Lanka will charge an extra 1,500 rupee fee from vehicles for emission tests and annual revenue licenses will be upped by 15%, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said as a trade unions and bus transporters threatened a general strike. A budget for 2016, proposed a 5,000 rupee vehicle emission tax and 25% rise in the annual revenue licenses. In Sri Lanka some taxes are raised by mid-nigh gazette as if by Royal Prerogative and parliament is only informed later. more..

Sri Lanka blinks in union showdown to avert shutdown

Dec 14 (AFP) SL's govt Monday raised the basic salaries of more than a million public-sector workers and announced plans for a national minimum wage in private sector to try to avert a general strike. After unions had threatened to stop work from Tuesday, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe promised that all 1.3 million public-sector worker would receive a basic 10,000 rupee a month ($70) increase from January, backing down on more..

COP 21: Lame new labels; Same old questions – Sri Lankan solutions

Dec 15 (CT) This Paris conference is the last change for the UNFCCC to limit the rise of global temperature to 20C. If the global leadership collective do not have the commitment and the will to break through the various deadlocks and resistive forces arrayed against this, the world must resign itself to the rapid degeneration of our planet and its creatures via convenient ignorance, past concern, past alarm, past inaction… to doom. We all know that if we continue the way we have more..

Consensual politics must ensure consensus on economic policies

Dec 15 (ST) 2/3 majority by which the budget was passed was a reaffirmation of the political alliance between the two main parties. It did not signify an economic consensus on the budget. Some MPs who voted for the budget expressed concerns regarding several budget proposals and implied their disagreement with the fiscal and economic policies of the budget. This lack of consensus within the govt is a serious hindrance to effective implementation of economic policies. more..

Wet and wayward

Dec 15 (SO) Technical measures to lower greenhouse gas emission and climate change mitigation are still poorly understood by many nations, a recent study done on 52 countries has revealed. The study focused on national targets, designed to cut emissions and mitigation strategies stated in the reports submitted by countries at the COP21 Summit. Conducted by a German think tank, New Climate Institute in cooperation with more..

UPFA supporters reject President Sirisena

Dec 15 (CT) "When Chandrika returned to the party after working against it, the party embraced her with both hands and elected her as the leader. Only I am subject to all sorts of harassments. If I had an aristocratic background, I would not have faced any of these harassments". This was told by President Maithripala Sirisena in the presence of several SLFP MPs. It is true that he was flatly rejected by the UPFA supporters as evidenced by the recent parliamentary election results. more..

President sings but is it from one song-sheet

Dec 15 (ST) So President Sirisena had attended a felicitation event for Sri Lanka’s legendary musician, Pandit W.D. Amaradeva. Not only did President Sirisena quite rightly praise Pandit Amaradeva for his undoubted contribution to the world of music but joined him in singing some songs composed by Amaradeva. Not having heard Maithripala Sirisena sing though I have heard him on political platforms and in personal conversations with him, I have no knowledge of the president’s vocal more..

Business leaders hail scrapping of CEPA

Dec 15 (SO) Business leaders and trade experts have hailed the announcement by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe that the govt had scrapped the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India. Instead they have backed the govt’s intention of adopting a more limited and focussed trade and technical cooperation pact with Sri Lanka’s giant neighbour that would be more beneficial to the country. more..

Free Lanka Maatha…

Dec 15 (SL) Vasupattha Hemadah was in full flow at the popular TV talk show Bahubootha. IMF, WB together with Western neo colonialists and fellow travellers have sabotaged the scheme to enable our poor school children get their free quota of cloth for their uniforms… This was sabotage to destabilise this country by changing the system of direct ceremonial presentation of cloth at state expense to students by Ministers and having it covered on national TV as was done under our govt, more..

Looking back from 21st century in Sri Lanka

Dec 15 (SL) ‘Within a month I had occasion to visit the chapel of my alma mater, Trinity College, Kandy (TCK) on two occasions. The first was to be part of the final rites for a good man and a dear friend. The second was to attend the Carol Service held on the first Sunday of December at this most unique of Christian places of worship. While the event held on the first Sunday of December is truly a visual and aural treat for even a catechumen like me, the history of the Holy Trinity Church, more..

Talking Politics with Wasantha Samarasinghe

Asalanka, bowlers hand England second straight loss

Dec 12 (CI) England Under-19s captain Brad Taylor's four-wicket haul was in vain as his side lost to Sri Lanka Under-19s by 52 runs in their second match of the tri-nation series in Colombo on Monday. It is England's second successive defeat in the tournament and leaves them at the bottom of the table behind India and Sri Lanka. Taylor took 4 for 34, striking with key top and middle order wickets to restrict Sri Lanka to 191 after the hosts had opted to bat. SL captain Charith Asalanka top-scored more..

Keeping to the agenda for change

Dec 15 (Island) The role that civil society played in the change of govt that occurred in January at the presidential elections, and which was reaffirmed at the general elections of August, was celebrated at two events held last week. One was on World Anti Corruption Day which fell on Dec 9. This event was actively supported by the newly independent Commission against Bribery and Corruption, and especially by its Director General, which has a giant task before it given the extent to which more..

Thajudeen's Life Story - Uncle narrates

Dec 15 (CT) "Wasim was six years old then. Suddenly, he disappeared and all of us were panicked. We looked for him everywhere, even in the deep well in the garden. Eventually, we found him hiding behind the kitchen door. I beat him. He remained silent and at last asked why I beat him. I replied it was because he terrified us. The look he had in his eyes when he asked that question and the look in the eyes of his dead body on more..

Another high-level US visit to SL this week

Dec 12 (TD) Another high-level U.S. visit to Sri Lanka occurs this week. Since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January, there seems to be no limit to the number of times that senior State Department officials visit the island nation. Counselor Thomas Shannon will be in Sri Lanka from Dec 14-16. He’ll spend a couple days in Bangladesh prior to his arrival. Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South & Central Asia will join him, as will Manpreet Singh, more..

Editorial: It’s Port City, stupid!

Dec 15 (Island) One is all at sea as regards the govt’s position on the Colombo Port City project which was put on hold immediately after the Jan. 8 presidential election. Chief architects of the new regime first claimed that they had been constrained to do so owing to environmental concerns among other things. Environmentalists and anti-corruption activists who had thrown their weight behind the new administration hailed the suspension of the project as a very progressive move. more..

ADB funds $ 200 m for Integrated Road Investment Program

Dec 12 (FT) Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Govt yesterday signed two loan agreements for the implementation of the Integrated Road Investment Program which was designed to ensure rural road connectivity between the selected rural hubs and the adjacent socio-economic centres of SL. Total investment cost of this program is $ 906 million of which $ 800 million is planned to be obtained from ADB in six tranches under more..

Guides explore 150 years of history at iconic hotel in Sri Lanka

Dec 12 (FRV) After completing a landmark restoration of its historic North Wing, Galle Face Hotel is launching history tours this month for in-house guests. The half-hour tour unveils hidden art from a famous painter, ushers guests into storied spaces not normally open to guests, and shares numerous tales of famous visitors. Four British entrepreneurs opened the hotel in 1864, positioning the hotel as a pivotal player in Sri Lanka’s history. “Over the last century and a half we have more..

Sri Lanka tea prices perk up

Dec 12 (EN) SL tea prices perked up at the weekly Colombo auctions possibly in response to urgent orders for the winter. Prices of high grown teas rose sharply and low growns also did better at last week’s sale. High grown teas from regional plantations companies had excellent demand. Teas from the western slopes of the central hills rose 20 rupees a kilo and some types as much as 40 rupees. High priced teas from Uva region also rose by similar margins for some types. more..