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MR, Keheliya reappear before PRECIFAC

Dec 18 (DN) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and two former Navy Commanders Admiral Admiral Jayanath Colombage and Admiral Somathilake Dissanayake yesterday arrived at the PRECIFAC. Gotabaya Rajapaksa did not appear before the Commission though summoned. Former President Rajapaksa and former Minister Rambuwella were summoned by PRECIFAC more..

John lashes Ravi's Budget

Dec 18 (CT) Minister John Amaratunga said taxes being imposed on several sectors affiliated to the tourism industry by the Budget 2016 proposals would realistically result in obstacles to development objectives. He said that Budget 2016 had imposed serious constraints on development making it difficult to sustain several progressive measures in the tourism industry. "By developing the tourism industry, we intend creating about 500,000 youth employment opportunities in the country. more..

Govt commences process to draft new Constitution

Dec 18 (CT) The govt has embarked on the process to gather public opinion to draw up a new Constitution, said Minister Rajitha Senaratne said. On 18 Nov, the Cabinet appointed a committee headed by MP and President's Counsel Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne for the formulation of a new Constitution. In accordance with its recommendations, Cabinet this week approved the appointment of a committee of 24 experts to gather public opinion and proposals on the matter. more..

Experts say jaffna likely to be submerged by the sea

Dec 18 (CT) Northern Provincial Minister of Environment, Ponnuthurai Ainkaranesan said that experts have specifically warned that the Jaffna Peninsula shall be submerged by the sea due to the changes in weather pattern as a result of global warming. "Tsunami severely hit the Northern and Eastern coastal area in 2004 when 40,000 people were killed in an hour. This created various damages to the properties and killed many. more..

Shared progress and prosperity

Dec 18 (DM) Sunday, Dec 20 is International Human Solidarity Day and this year’s celebration comes after world leaders adopted the sustainable development goals which are a new, inclusive development agenda -- succeeding the millennium development goals -- to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure dignity for all. According to the UN the new sustainable development goals agenda is centred on people and the planet, underpinned by human rights and supported by more..

Sangayana for betterment of Buddha Sasana

Dec 18 (DM) Many voices are being heard from many quarters on the need to conduct a Sangâyanâ for the betterment of the Buddha Sâsana. It has been in the workplan of the govt since its inception as well. Good thoughts. And probably a well-timed move as well. But there are several concerns that one should take into account before moving in this direction. There had already been six Buddhist synods in three different countries – India, SL & Myanmar -- since the demise of the Buddha more..

Urbanisation and leveraging Economies of Agglomeration

Dec 18 (DM) While the former figure is based on the Agglomeration Index, a multi-dimensional measure of the geographic concentration of urban population (which is usually verifiable with satellite imagery of night-time lighting), widely used by the World Bank and other development agencies, the latter simply indicates the percentage of population living within the administrative boundaries of municipal & urban councils, more..

Late vouchers have school uniforms in a twist

Dec 18 (ST) The govt’s sudden decision to do away school uniform material with cash vouchers is causing hardship to both the school administration and parents. The main problem that administrators faced, whether in schools in Colombo, the suburbs and the outstations, was the problem of delivering the vouchers on time to parents before the closure of schools for year end holidays. Several school administrations said more..

Award winning factory closed over Rs. 2,500 pay hike dispute in EPZ

Dec 18 (Island) Among those who had won presidential awards at Wednesday’s ceremony at the Nelum Pokuna theatre was Everest Industrial Lanka Pvt Limited recently closed due to a strike launched by its workers demanding a Rs. 2,500 salary increase proposed by the govt. The factory situated at the Katunayake Export Processing Zone (EPZ) received presidential awards for electric and electronic export category more..

'JVP, a cat's paw of black marketeers'

Dec 18 (DN) The JVP today has become a cat's paw of black marketeers and racketeers. Earlier, it was not so. The country would have been divided long ago if not for the stance taken by the JVP in the past. But, today the JVP is in league with the governing coalition, alleged Janatha Sevaka Paksheya Party's Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe. Amarasinghe made this allegation addressing the first Anuradhapura District meeting more..

Exploiting the Dead to build image

Dec 18 (SL) President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s exposé during the second reading of the budget in parliament early this month as to how Kurunegala District MP, former President Rajapaksa had allegedly exploited even the dead to misuse public monies during his tenure as the country’s executive president has further revealed the extent to which state funds had allegedly been misused. more..

Customs union opposes release of 212 luxury vehicles with tiny tax

Dec 18 (Island) The JVP led All-Ceylon Customs Service Union (ACCSU) urged PM to cancel the order issued by the Director General of Customs to release 212 luxury vehicles which had been imported in violation of regulations. General Secretary of the ACCSU said that Director General of Customs had issued the order to release the vehicles on a directive of Minister Ravi Karunanayake. more..

Wimal under probe over allocation of houses to relatives

Dec 18 (Island) Former National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) Chairman Jayantha Samaraweera has been summoned by the PRECIFAC to be questioned regarding the allocation of houses during the previous administration. Among the beneficiaries had been close relatives of the then Housing Minister and leader of the NFF Wimal Weerawansa, PRECIFAC sources said. more..

Fisticuffs at Sports Ministry

Dec 18 (DM) Cricket Officials Nishantha Ranatunga and Sujeewa Godaliyadda had allegedly been involved in fisticuffs at the Sports Ministry this morning before an inquiry commenced, informed sources said. Sports Director General K.D.S. Ruwan Chandra had called for the officials for the inquiry which had been launched to look into the objections filed against the candidates running for the Sri Lanka Cricket Board. more..

Late wickets puncture SL's aggression

Dec 18 (CI) "This is as green as it gets," said former New Zealand batsman Craig Cumming of the Seddon Park pitch. The seam and swing on offer was far from unplayable, though, and through a combination of enterprising batting, impatient bowling and some luck, Sri Lanka made 264 in the day at a run rate of just under four an over before rain ended play at 4.30 pm. Sri Lanka combated the conditions with aggression. more..

Bills criminalising Hate Speech to be challenged in SC today

Dec 18 (FT) Petitions challenging the Bills commonly described as Hate Speech Bills are to be supported before the Supreme Court today before the Bench comprising Justices B.P. Aluwihare, Upali Abeyrathne and Anil Gooneratne. The petitions challenges the constitutionality of the Bills titled Penal Code (Amendment) Bill and Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill placed on the Order Paper. more..

State funds to be deposited with pvt. banks, too

Dec 18 (Island) The govt said that its decision to deposit state funds with private banks as well was aimed at preventing selfish and unreasonable workers from holding it to ransom by striking at the drop of a hat. Minster Rajitha Senaratne, in answer to a question why government wanted to promote the private banks at the expense of their state counterparts at yesterdays Cabinet Press Briefing in Colombo, replied that no such policy decision had been taken. more..

South Asian mechanism for human rights

Dec 18 (CT) A note on the proposal for a South Asian mechanism for human rights: I propose that the discussion on a South Asian mechanism for human rights should concentrate more on what such a mechanism could positively achieve, rather than on justifying why such a mechanism is needed. In fact, if its useful goal is achieved for the people and States of the South Asian region, the reason why such a mechanism is needed would be self-explanatory. more..

Ranjan Jayalal

Govts never learn only people learn

Dec 18 (CT) On Wednesday, Minister Ravi Karunanayake informed Parliament that the estimated govt revenue would be changed by Rs 7 billion due to the changes made to the budget proposals by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe early this week. The decision of the Prime Minister to bring some changes which includes the increase of the basic salary of public servants, reduction of the vehicle emission fee increase, came after the threats of the trade unions of a countrywide strike. more..

Motor car registrations high at 10,054 in Nov

Dec 18 (LBO) Vehicle registration momentum continued into the month of November due to the pre-Nov 20 budget surge and relaxation of LTV rule, JB Securities said. Total motor cars registrations recorded 10,054 units in Nov slightly down from 10,349 units in Oct but significantly higher than 2,419 units recorded 12 months ago. Brand new car registrations recorded 6,682 units in Nov, the second highest number on record slightly higher than 6,225 units recorded in Oct more..

Chandimal's baila sets Sri Lanka's tone

Dec 18 (CI) Willow usually emits a crack when it meets leather, but over the years Sri Lanka No. 4s have had the knack of making it sound like music. Aravinda de Silva started the party, playing rollicking innings, with hooks and pulls that thrilled fans like stadium-rock riffs. Sri Lanka were a garage band when he started in the eighties. In 1996, he helped make them global headliners. Mahela was of a more classical bent; more..

A record 99 for McCullum

Dec 18 (CI) 99: The highest number of consecutive Tests by a player from debut, now held by Brendon McCullum after he took the field in this match. During the Dunedin Test, McCullum had equalled AB de Villiers on 98. McCullum made his debut in Hamilton and got to the record at the same venue. The record of playing most consecutive Tests at any stage of a career is 153 by Allan Border. 26: Sixes by Angelo Mathews as captain of SL in Tests, including his 3 in this innings on first day. more..

Kulasekara replaces Prasad in ODI squad

Dec 18 (CI) Nuwan Kulasekara has replaced the injured Dhammika Prasad in SL's squad for the ODI series in New Zealand, which begins on Dec 26. Prasad had been ruled out of the entire tour when he sustained a back injury during the tour game against NZ's Board President's XI in Queenstown. Uncapped Vishwa Fernando had replaced Prasad in the Test squad, but for the ODIs the selectors chose to go with the experienced Kulasekara, who has 182 wickets from 168 ODIs. more..

SL's anti-graft body stalls X-mas bribes

Dec 18 (EN) Sri Lanka's main anti-graft body will take stern action against both givers and takers of end-of-year gift hampers which have become a way of bribing private and public sector officials, a commissioner said today. The authorities say key personnel, including police officers, customs officials and bureaucrats were being given expensive year-end gifts as an inducement in anticipation of favours and practice would be considered corruption. more..

'Clawed our way back in last half hour'

Dec 18 (CI) A change in atmospheric conditions as rain closed in on the ground may have played a role in New Zealand's late surge, Tim Southee has said. Sri Lanka had been 259 for 4 after 64 overs before Trent Boult claimed two wickets in an over. He first had Milinda Siriwardana nicking an away-seamer to first slip, before Kithuruwan Vithanage's leg-side flick took the leading edge three deliveries later. That ball carried to a diving Brendon McCullum at mid off, before Rangana Herath was run out more..

Phone jammers for all prisons next year

Dec 18 (Island) The govt had decided to install mobile phone frequency jammers in all prisons as a solution to the problem of inmates running underworld operations from jails with the help of smuggled mobile phones, Minister D.M. Swaminathan told Parliament. He said that such jammers had already been installed at the Welikada Prison and the results were very impressive that prisoners there now could not direct operations outside walls the way did in recent past. more..

Bookie approach of SL cricketers probed

Dec 18 (DM) A bookie had made approaches to cricketers Rangana Herath and Kusal Janith fix the result of the first Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies played between Oct 14-17 in Galle. Having refused the offer, the two have reported the matter immediately to the anti-corruption unit of SLC and an investigation is being carried out by the authorities concerned. A SLC official confirmed the approach but said that under strict ICC more..

Indian girl contacted ISIS agent in Sri Lanka

Dec 18 (TOI) A 16-year-old college girl from Pune, who was allegedly in touch with the arrested Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) executive Mohammed Sirajuddin, has been put under surveillance for her suspected Islamic State (IS) links, Bhanupratap Barge of the anti-terrorism squad, Pune unit said on Thursday. Sirajuddin had formed closed groups of IS sympathizers, including boys and girls from Maharashtra, on Facebook and WhatsApp. He was allegedly spreading IS activities online and more..

Professional bodies criticize hate speech laws

Dec 18 (CT) Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) explained that the proposed two draft bills on anti-hate speech laws seeking to criminalize the instigation of communal violence and disharmony were not very healthy pieces of legislation. President of BASL, President's Counsel Geoffrey Alagaratnam said that on the looks of it, the two draft bills, Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) and the Penal Code (Amendment), presented by Minister Gayantha Karunatilake more..

Rajapaksa govt spent Rs. 108 mn on a certificate awarding ceremony: JVP

Dec 18 (Island) The incumbent govt should learn from the experience of its predecessor and refrain from profligacy, a JVP MP said in Parliament yesterday. JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa said that Rajapaksa regime had spent Rs. 108.2 million on a ceremony, where the National Vocational Qualification had been presented to 2,797 persons in Matara. He blamed the present govt for not taking those responsible more..

Compulsory reinsurance coverage with NTF

Dec 18 (FT) Govt has made it compulsory for all insurance companies to obtain 30% of their reinsurance needs through the National Insurance Trust Fund. According to Cabinet Spokesman, the proposal made by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, to obtain a reinsurance coverage from foreign reinsurance companies to minimize the risk in case of unordinary loss. more..

Govt mulling English in Pirivenas

Dec 18 (DM) Govt is looking at the possibility of providing 'pirivena' education in the English Medium, Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam informed Parliament. In his response to a question asked by MP Buddika Pathirana, the minister said a committee has been appointed to look into the matter and that English Medium would be introduced in the 'pirivenas' based on the the recommendations made by this committee. Mr. Pathirana highlighted that only one privena in the country that more..

Heated exchange over failure to appoint envoy to UK

Dec 18 (CG) A heated exchange of words took place in Parliament today over the failure by the Govt to appoint a new High Commissioner to the UK. Opposition member Udaya Gammanpila asked the Govt if it is not giving importance to Sri Lanka’s relations to the UK and if that is why a new High Commissioner has not yet been appointed to the vacant position. Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva responded by insisting that Sri Lanka does more..

ARTICLE 19 wants Right to Information Act adopted without any changes

Dec 18 (Island) ARTICLE 19 has urged the Sri Lankan parliament to adopt the draft Right to Information Act put forward by the cabinet, which if passed without changes, will be one of the best in the world. "The draft Right to Information Act put forward by Cabinet would firmly protect the right in law and therefore we urge parliament to adopt the Act without changes, so that the people of Sri Lanka can begin to use it," said Thomas Hughes, ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director. more..

Import of 700 luxury vehicles; Ravi denies reports

Dec 18 (DM) Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake today denied reports that 700 vehicles had been undervalued had ordered to be released from Customs without levying the actual import duty. He told Parliament that those who had imported these vehicles were asked to pay a duty surcharge of 35%. The minister said the Govt had also taken steps to stop the release of containers carrying undervalued goods until the importers pay the duty on the actual value of the goods. more..

Sri Lanka aims to expand air links with China to attract more tourists

Dec 18 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka is targeting more Chinese airlines to arrive in the island nation as the govt looks to further expand its tourism industry next year, Senior Advisor to the Tourism Minister, Felix Rodrigo said. "Sri Lanka is an island which means tourists can only reach here by air transport. Establishing strong air links will boost our tourism industry," he said. Presently the govt is negotiating with the Chinese govt to expand more..

Grade-5 scholarship exam cut-off marks

Dec 18 (DM) The cut-off marks of the 2015 Grade-5 Scholarship Examination had been released by the Examinations Department today. School cut-off marks (Sinhala Medium-Boys Schools) Royal College, Colombo-184 Dharmaraja College, Kandy- 182 Ananda College, Colombo-181 Nalanda College, Colombo - 179 Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala- 179 School cut-off marks (Sinhala Medium- Girls Schools) Visaka Vidyalaya, Colombo- 184 Devi Balika, Colombo- 181 Mahamaya more..

Sri Lankan shares up led by blue-chips

Dec 18 (Reuters) Shares ended firmer for a fourth straight session on Friday at a more-than-two-week high led by blue chips, despite some selling by foreign investors. Turnover was subdued as many investors and stockbrokers were on holidays ahead of Christmas next week. Main stock index ended up 0.36% at 6,884.69, the highest close since Dec 1. Foreign investors sold a net 99.1 million rupees worth of equities on Friday, extending the net outflow to 4.17 billion rupees so far this year. more..

'Ended the era of political interference by Executive into Judiciary & Legislature'

Dec 18 (PMD) Ended the era of political interference into the fields of the Judiciary and Legislature by the Executive through curtailing the powers of the Executive Presidency, said President Maithripala Sirisena. He made these observations participating at the annual conference of the Judicial Service Association of Sri Lanka, today. The President further said that he has taken his maximum efforts to restrict the powers of more..