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Lankan envoy vows to speed up procedures for Gammon Free Zone project

Dec 17 (SG) Azmi Thassim, new SL ambassador to the Kingdom, pinned great hope that the proposed Free Zone project, to be developed by the Saudi-based Gammon Middle East Group, would be instrumental in spearheading a development boom in Sri Lanka. He made the remarks after meeting with Sheikh Rafik Mohammed, chairman of Gammon Group. Thassim discussed with Mohammed the progress of the project. Ambassador promised all support from the embassy to more..

Brandix Chief builds case for rural investment

Dec 17 (FT) Apparel and fabric giant Brandix’s CEO Ashraf Omar reiterated that Sri Lanka has immense potential in the lagging regions for investors to expand business operations. Omar noted the country has many underdeveloped land areas that are untouched by investors which has greater profitability as the costs incurred are lower. “There is a constant complaint that our country does not have resources. I believe that we have land, infrastructure, human capital and more..

Sports Minister refuses to be rushed into revealing Cricket Board corruption

Dec 17 (Island) Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera told Parliament that he would present the findings of the Ravi Algama Committee appointed to investigate the alleged frauds, corruption and waste of public money at Sri Lanka Cricket to Parliament on Dec. 19. The minister said so in the course of an argument following his request for time to respond to a question raised by JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti on the Algama report. more..

Govt blames LTTE for damage to property

Dec 17 (CG) The Govt blamed the LTTE for the extensive damage caused to property in the north during the war. Minister of Housing Sajith Premadasa, speaking in Parliament today, refused to accept claims made by the TNA that the army was responsible for houses damaged during the war. He said that the army took every effort to protect the people and their property during the war and that it was the LTTE which damaged civilian homes and property in the area. more..

Astoria on target to completion by 2017

Dec 17 (ST) Sri Lanka’s newest super-luxury condominium project, the Astoria, is well on target to reach completion by 2017 with construction already having crossed the third floor according to developers, AVIC International. “Construction has already gone past the third floor and we are confident that the remaining work will go ahead as planned. We are very pleased at the reception that the Astoria is getting both in the local market and overseas and we believe more..

Godahewa, two others indicted in HC

Dec 17 (DN) The Attorney General yesterday filed indictments against former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Nalaka Godahewa, SEC former Deputy Director General Dhammika Manjira Perera and Tharunyata Hetak Organisation sports director Ronnie Ibrahim in the Colombo High Court for their alleged involvement in conspiring to misappropriate Rs. 5 million of funds belonging to the SEC. more..

Airport pistol wielder a decoy

Dec 17 (DN) Airport Security authorities yesterday arrested a man with a 9mm pistol tied to his leg at the VIP terminal and the suspect was held under the custody of Customs officials. However, CAA demanded the person's release citing that he was a decoy employed to inspect the security situation of the airport. The CAA in a release said that the security situation of the BIA is constantly monitored at the BIA as many airlines and airports are facing serious security threats. more..

Health Minister counters critics on allocations made to Ministry

Dec 17 (Island) 215 billion rupees had been allocated for the health sector through the 2016 budget though attempts were being made in some quarters to mislead the public, Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said at the opening of a new four storeyed building worth Rs. 320 million at the Castle Street Hospital for Women early this week. He said a certain official of the Health Ministry had returned World Bank funds that had been given to it stating that the work could not be carried out. more..

Budget alterations to cost seven billion rupees more: Ravi

Dec 17 (DN) The amendments proposed to the Budget 2016 by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will result in a Rs. 7 billion impact on the Govt revenue, Minister Ravi Karunanayake informed Parliament. Minister added he would brief the House as to how this income would be recovered when the Budget concludes on Dec 19. He was responding to a supplementary question by MP Bandula Gunawardena. more..

Save our mothers, save Mother Lanka

Dec 17 (DM) Tomorrow is International Migrants’ Day and the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon in a message to mark the event says the world needs to reaffirm its commitment to shape diverse and open societies that provide opportunities and lives of dignity for migrants. According to the UN Chief, international migration needs to be seen as a powerful tool for reducing poverty and enhancing opportunity. That is why there are now some 232 million international migrants bringing more..

Making waves

Dec 17 (DM) Muwan Palessa, or Lama Pitiya Songs; no one can forget these programmes because Sri Lankans knew them intimately. SLBC commemorates its 90th anniversary today. To include a tribute and information for the day, Daily Mirror has spoke to one of its most dynamic people -- announcer, veteran broadcaster, former chairman of ITN and Lakhanda Radio -- Newton Gunaratna. The day when SLBC began broadcasting is a historical day to Sri Lanka. more..

'Even when we yawn it draws attention'

Dec 17 (DM) For the past few weeks, Yasara Abeynayake became a much talked about media personality especially among the followers of social media. She had to face controversial political and social subjects. With her engagement recently to fly- half ruggerite Fazil Mareeja it appears that a full stop had been placed on all these controversies. She is a grand daughter of actor Gamini Fonseka and daughter of more..

President and PM agree to have LG polls before April 10

Dec 17 (DM) President Maitripala Sirisena had made a special point at last Saturday’s All Party Conference. “Although woman candidates were fielded in the past, even woman voters were not keen to elect them”, the president had remarked causing peals of laughter in the audience that included PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. The event was held to discuss the delimitation of electoral wards in view of the next local authorities’ election. more..

Wreckers of underwater treasures must be stopped

Dec 17 (ST) Fish are being dynamited as they shelter in the historically important shipwrecks scattered around SL’s coastline, damaging valuable eco-systems and putting tourist earnings at risk. Blast fishing is one of the most destructive fishing practices, used to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection. The explosion destroys underlying habitat such as coral reefs that supports fish as well as other marine life. more..

Green pitch set to test inexperienced SL

Dec 17 (CI) NZ have quicks who can scythe through top orders in seaming conditions. They have bowlers who can grind out oppositions on flat decks. Their batsmen can thrash their way to big scores in the sun, but there is also grit enough to overturn difficult match situations. Having been on the receiving end of each of these phenomena over the past year, SL might be wondering just what they have to do to beat more..

International Arbitration Center under probe

Dec 17 (SL) Startling revelations have come to light that the Justice Ministry during the former Rajapaksa regime had allegedly misappropriated Rs.136.3 million of public funds to form an international arbitration center. Although a Cabinet approval had been allegedly granted to the former Justice Minister to commence an international arbitration center, the Justice Ministry under its former Minister Rauff Hakeem, more..

'Our seamers will also get assistance'

Dec 17 (CI) Upon seeing the Hamilton track's shock of green on Wednesday, interim head coach Jerome Jayaratne said the surface might have been "understandably doctored". On the eve of the Test, on which the surface appeared a lighter shade of green, Angelo Mathews suggested a spicy surface may work to his team's advantage. His thinking is this: Sri Lanka are already a game down in the series, and a flat surface that produces more..

Liquor companies wage war

Dec 17 (CT) The Supreme Court yesterday informed the Attorney General to furnish a copy of the Gazette notification announcing the tax revisions for liquor manufacturers for the year 2016. Court also ordered the Commissioner General of Excise to issue licences for liquor and beer manufacturers for the month of January 2016, in terms of the existing law. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K. Sripavan, and more..

Divi Neguma becomes Samurdhi again

Dec 17 (AD) The Cabinet has agreed to change the Divi Neguma Development Department to Samurdhi Department. Divi Neguma Development Department was established in 2013 through the merging of the Samurdhi Authority, Upcountry Development Authority, Southern Development Authority, Department of Upcountry Rural Rehabilitation and the Department of the Commissioner General of Samurdhi. more..

Peace, a subject in school soon

Dec 17 (DM) The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), headed by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, had proposed to introduce a new subject called Peace Education and Conflict Resolution to the school curricular, it is learnt. This has been proposed to do as part of its efforts to bring about better understanding among different ethnic and religious groups of Sri Lanka. more..

Docs step up campaign against private medical college

Dec 17 (Island) Govt doctors who have been agitating against the Malabe private medical college demanded that the state take it over. General Secretary of the GMOA Dr Nalinda Herath said that disgruntled branch unions had informed its Executive Committee that steps should also be taken to ascertain whether the PMC had followed govt approved standards in admitting students to it. Dr. Herath said since 2010 the GMOA had more..

The challenge of balancing; Hate speech laws with the freedom of expression

Dec 17 CT) President Ford conceived a country for the American people as a place where they can disagree without being disagreeable or distasteful. This sums up the essence of balancing the freedom of expression with the need to prevent all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance. Hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, colour, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits. more..

Public inquiry into illegally kept elephants soon

Dec 17 (Island) Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera told Parliament that a committee headed by retired SC judge Gamini Dissanayake would soon initiate an inquiry into cases of illegally keeping elephants. Minister Perera said the committee would also look into missing elephant registry. The Minister sought public help to identify those having elephants without licences and information could be provided to the committee scheduled to commence investigations next week, the minister said. more..

Ana Punchihewa

Freedom of (Hate) Speech

Dec 17 (CT) Recently the Govt tabled two anti hate speech Draft Bills in Parliament which seeks to criminalize by interpretation anything said that could allegedly instigate communal violence and disharmony. Minister Gayantha Karunatilake presented the two Bills titled Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) and the Penal Code (Amendment) which are yet to be taken up for debate in what seemed to be like a hasty decision by some, because it was presented during more..

'Swing could be bigger factor than seam'

Dec 17 (CI) The grass on the Seddon Park surface promises plenty of seam movement, but it is swing through the air that may define the match, Kane Williamson has said. Significant grass cover remained on the pitch on the eve of the match, but Williamson, who plays for Northern Districts on this ground, suggested batsmen should be just as wary of swing, bounce and carry, as there may be less deviation off the deck than expected. "We've played on the surface a lot, and it always is green," more..

I will fulfill promises given to people at Presidential Election: President

Dec 17 (PSL) President Maithripala Sirisena says he would fulfill the verbal and written promises given to the people at the Presidential Election – 2015. He added that he politically takes pity on those who counting days for the govt to collapse shouting that the election promises of the govt have been blown, and making various statements on political platforms, Parliament and to the media. more..

Plantations firms warn of higher losses from wage hike

Dec 17 (EN) Sri Lankan plantations companies have warned that a wage hike demanded by labour unions would increase losses at a time when commodity prices remain low, with workers themselves losing if the industry collapses. With wage talks deadlocked, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon, which represents listed regional plantations companies, said unions would have to accept either the PA’s proposal for productivity linked wages or a revenue sharing model. more..

Development Officers’ Union to contest LG polls

Dec 17 (Island) Sri Lanka Development Officers’ Union thoroughly disappointed with the Yahapalana regime would field candidates against the govt at the forthcoming local govt election, General Secretary, SLDOU, Ajith Jayasundara told a media briefing in Kandy. The Sri Lanka Development Officers Union would contest all Pradeshiya Sabhas and all other local bodies at the next election, Jayasundara said. He said candidates would be fielded under a left political party. more..

Minister Seneviratne says he had no hand in missing EPF funds

Dec 17 (Island) The then special EPF committee at the CEB was responsible for the misappropriation of Rs. 300 mn EPF funds belonging to its employees, invested in Treasury bonds in 2009, Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne said. Minister Seneviratne, who held the Power and Energy portfolio in 2009, said that he as the subject Minister had not interfered with the EPF funds of CEB. He said that full report on the misappropriation more..

Australia and SL discuss human rights issue

Dec 17 (CG) Australia and Sri Lanka have had talks on several key issues, including on reconciliation and human rights. The issues were discussed at a meeting held between the Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ric Wells and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said. Ric Wells led the Australian delegation to inaugural Senior Officials’ Talks with Sri Lanka in Colombo this week. more..

UN chief notes changes in Sri Lanka this year

Dec 17 (CG) As 2015 draws to a close, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that among the highlights of this year was the changes which took place in Sri Lanka. Despite the daunting situations, Ban said that political progress and smooth transfers of power over the past year, including in SL and Nigeria is encouraging. Ban summed up the pivotal year in which the UN marked its 70th anniversary by highlighting landmark steps taken to advance sustainable development, more..

Yes, my daughter-in-law is studying at SAITM: Rajitha

Dec 17 (DM) Minister Rajitha Senaratne admitted that his daughter-in-law was studying at Malabe private Medical College and added that not only her but that many of his relatives were studying there. He said the Health Ministry permitted to facilitate clinical training for students at the SAITM following a court order on a payment of Rs. 50,000 per student and there was no personal or political consideration involved in that decision. more..

Over stayers engaged in unethical conversion: Minister

Dec 17 (DM) Five foreigners who were arrested for overstaying their visas had engaged in unethical conversion of people of various faiths in the country, it was alleged in Parliament. As many as 402 foreign nationals who had illegally stayed in Sri Lanka after coming into the country using tourist visas had been arrested this year, Minister S.B. Navinna told Parliament. He said three foreign nationals have been found begging on the streets after coming into the country using tourist visas. more..

Turkey to provide US$ 350mn for development projects in Sri Lanka

Dec 17 (LBO) Finance Ministry is to enter into an agreement with Turkey that will enable Sri Lanka to have US$ 350 million from Turk Exim Bank to implement development projects in Sri Lanka. The cabinet has approved a proposal to sign this MoU with the intention of strengthening the financial relationship with Turkey, which is an active member and the present Chairmen of G-20. Meanwhile the cabinet nod has been given to examine the possibility of obtaining loan facilities for more..

Fulfill duty to nation instead of trying to topple govt: President

Dec 17 (PSL) President Maithripala Sirisena says everybody should be committed to fulfill their responsibilities for the country and the future of the country, without trying to overthrow the government, from the day it was elected to power. “The political program of the most countries is to work together to take their countries forward, giving their assistance to the new govts being elected in the democratic system. more..

Central bank to tighten monetary policy

Dec 17 (EN) Central bank is now veering towards tightening monetary policy with inflation seen edging up, Nandalal Weerasinghe, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank said. “One monetary policy, we are on the tightening side,” he said. “Market rates are going up. In future, we are ready to take whatever policy measures are needed – if monetary policy needs to be tightened.” The new govt had been expected to reduce the budget deficit but there has been huge fiscal slippage this year which has put more..

Sri Lankan shares hit 2-week closing high

Dec 17 (Reuters) Shares ended firmer at a near two-week high on Thursday, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 25 basis points, the first in almost a decade. World stock markets jumped on Thursday as investors chose to take the first hike in U.S. interest rates since 2006 as a mark of confidence in the world's largest economy, also lifting the dollar but piling on the pain for oil prices. The main stock index ended 0.39% firmer at 6,859.99, its highest since Dec. 4. more..

Govt withdraws amendment to Penal Code

Dec 17 (CG) The Govt has decided to withdraw the proposed amendment to the Penal Code following opposition raised by some MPs. Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament today that as a result of the concerns raised the Govt will not take the Bill for discussion next month. Apart from the Parliamentarians who raised concerns over the Penal Code, local civil society were also not happy. more..

Basil Rajapaksa summoned by Colombo HC

Dec 17 (AM) Colombo High Court today issued summons on former Minister Basil Rajapaksa and former Director General of Divi Naguma Department Kingsley Ranawaka on the case regarding alleged financial fraud at Divi Naguma Department. They were ordered to appear in court on March 10, 2016, by High Court Judge Padmini Ranawaka. AG recently indicted Rajapaksa and Ranawaka at the Colombo High Court on six counts, covering alleged offenses under Presidential Elections Act more..