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A fake Budget, say Opposition sceptics: A turnaround Budget?

Dec 20 (SO) This time around the traditional budget debate was punctuated by the ever-increasing demands for change by the Joint Opposition as well as various trade unions, workers and doctors. The Govt demonstrated its democratic stance and accommodated many changes. To the Opposition’s query as to how the extra Rs. 7 billion revenue could be raised, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said ways and means need to more..

Names, evidence, crop up in Thajudeen death probe

Dec 20 (SO) Captain Tissa, a chauffeur of former President Rajapaksa, was not an unknown figure to the upper rungs of the previous govt because of the strong link he had with the former first family. When Captain Tissa constructed a house near Medawelikada Road, Rajagiriya, some years ago, the former President, along with some ministers of his govt, visited his place to attend a family function. It demonstrated that Captain Tissa had a position of authority under the previous govt more..

Suresh set a bad example in parliament

Dec 20 (CT) While the tea industry is one of Sri Lanka's main export income earners and the profession of a planter is one of prestigious ones, plantation sector workers are one of the most underprivileged sections of SL society. While the wages of these men and women were increased from time to time, it is universally acknowledged that most of these individuals are just above the poverty line. Speaking in Parliament on Friday UNP MP, Vadivel Suresh, threatened to self-immolate more..

'Maithri – Ranil govt too has failed the people'

Dec 20 (SL) Convener of Voice Against Corruption and JVP spokesman on trade union issues Wasantha Samarasinghe, said that similar to the previous govt, Maithripala Ranil govt too has failed the people. He said that at the time of the election, president Sirisena made many promises to the people, but today he is silent. Samarasinghe said that although the people expected many concessions in the budget, this budget has more..

Number one priority: Go green now

Dec 20 (ST) What was expected to be only hot air from the recent Paris Climate Change summit refreshingly turned into a triumph for the cool heads with a historic agreement being reached. Negotiators last weekend agreed to work out ways and means to bring the Earth’s temperature down below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) i.e. to the point that it was before the Industrial Revolution that provided economic benefits to mankind through fossil fuels at the expense of nature and the environment. more..

First find out who’s naughty and nice

Dec 20 (ST) My Dear Santa Claus, I thought I must write to you as you would be preparing your Christmas gifts these days and there are many people in our Paradise who are in need of gifts — and quite a few of them who don’t deserve any gifts as well. It might make your task a little bit easier if you knew what the best gift to give someone was. The man who most deserves a gift these days is our Budget Boy who is being hammered left, right and centre with his budget now having more more..

'Budget is like a darned cloak with patches'

Dec 20 (SL) Ratnapura District UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said the govt is using every opportunity to target anyone who is against them or supporting the previous regime. He said that they are trying to entice opposition MPs to join the govt, but said that so far they have not been successful in winning the opposition MPs over. However Nanayakkara said that it would not be a surprise to him even if some of them do fall more..

Land prices up 25% in Colombo, suburbs

Dec 20 (ST) Land prices in and around Colombo have seen a near 25% rise over the past few months and after the budget, industry analysts say. With the low interest rates that prevailed during the year followed by currency depreciation, there was a natural increase in asset prices which was supplemented. “This was what was seen during the past 18 months and there was a high dmand for land. Colombo high end residential property has experienced a boom during this time,” more..

Never short of revelations and scandalous behaviour

Dec 20 (SO) This cat who is waiting to catch, not rats, but snippets of interesting news loved the newspapers of Dec 12. You know how cats catch rats: they sprawl completely relaxed as if they are dead to the world and then when a pesky rat dares cross a room believing its enemy the cat is immobilized, it suddenly, with feline swiftness, springs forward, back arched and whiskers twitching and catches the hapless creature. Similarly this cat sits comfortably reading the newspapers more..

Gammanpila’s take on school uniform material vouchers

Dec 20 (Island) Giving vouchers in place of school uniform material has stirred a hornet’s nest! Parents, teachers and principals are all protesting. Their main grouse is this hassles and harasses everyone. Some even allege that this a sinister plot to slowly phase out free uniforms altogether. Some others rightly point out that not everyone needs this assistance. Thus, this will help the govt to identify exact numbers more..

Ravi’s fate hangs in the balance

Dec 20 (CT) Internal clashes in Maithri-Ranil Yahapalana Govt has reached a point where it has put the fate of Minister Ravi Karunanayake hangs in the balance with several senior Cabinet colleagues openly criticizing him. In addition, it proved that every effort taken by Karunanayake to pacify his party colleagues have backfired adding salt to the wounded relationship between him and PM. This column last week reported the clash between Ministers Kabir Hashim & Ravi Karunanayake more..

S. Thomas’ unbeaten in Water Polo in 2015

Dec 20 (Island) In the recently concluded water polo season one team made a stand out performance and that was none other than the under 19 water polo team of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. Captained by Aqeel Sourjah and ably assisted by senior players in the likes of vice captain Kosala Wijewardene, Keshan Munasinghe and last years influential skipper Deelaka Weearathne, the team got off to winning ways when they met their arch rivals Royal College in the annual more..

Priyadarshani leaps 6.43m to set new record

Dec 20 (CT) Long Jumper Chamali Priyadarshani and Hammer Thrower Ayesha Maduwanthi continued their golden run this year as both set new Sri Lanka records at the Athletics Championship of 41st National Sports Festival continued at Diyagama yesterday. Defending long jump champion of South Asian Games, returned to her career best jump of 6.43m in her 5th attempt to erase long standing National record of 6.35m more..

Back-pedaling budget

Dec 20 (Island) The final third reading of the 2016 budget presented by Minister Ravi Karunanayake was due to take place last evening as this is being written. The govt has already, rightly and wrongly, backed down on several of the proposals that had been made in the face of some fist shaking and trade union action that followed the budget speech. That would certainly send out wrong signals to the country that making threats and holding the public to ransom can ensure getting what more..

Indirect taxes favour the Rich

Dec 20 (SO) Nobody likes being taxed. Subsidies and tax cuts are what we all pretty much like to hear in a Budget speech. Taxes are the opposite of subsidies. They are compulsory payments imposed by the govt on certain people or entities. Nobody can escape taxes. If you try to evade it directly, govt will find a way to make you pay indirectly. What gives the govt the right to collect taxes from people or entities? The answer is nobody knows for sure. It's a deeply philosophical question. more..

Budget amendments worsen revenue targets

Dec 20 (ST) Amendments made so far to the govt’s 2016 budget is imperilling the country’s economy due to negative impact on 21 revenue proposals prepared by the Treasury to raise estimated revenue of Rs. 223 billion, economic experts and officials warned. Several budget estimates have gone haywire with the introduction of new amendments. Treasury officials were being pressurised to review the whole budget and more..

TGTE decides to continue push for Eelam

Dec 20 (CG) The Transnational Govt of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), led by former LTTE peace negotiator V. Rudrakumaran, has decided to push ahead with the struggle for Tamil Eelam. TGTE members were called upon to give their opinion to the self styled TGTE Parliament on the different aspects of the hybrid courts and help analyse their potential for and drawbacks in delivering justice to the victims of the 2009 genocide against the Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka. more..

George Soros’ team visits Sri Lanka

Dec 20 (ST) A team from the office of famous capital market investor George Soros was in Sri Lanka earlier this month in a bid to explore the scope of the country’s investment climate and to assess the economic situation, sources close to Mr. Soros said. He is slated to attend the Sri Lanka Global Investment Forum sponsored by business and finance magazine Euromoney next month. “A three member team met with the BoI, SEC, the Central Bank and other state agencies. more..

Horse traders, fisticuffs mar cricket elections

Dec 20 (ST) A 20-year period in cricketing time is huge. Many things could happen and two decades could easily fit into three generations of players. Sri Lanka had just won the 1996 cricket World Cup and against the backdrop of an internal strife that had bugged the country since 1983, it was a time for rejoice. Most Sri Lankan at that time loved the game, country’s cricketers and everything that was connected to it and were over the moon. more..

Bid to remove Sajith from Dy. leader post

Dec 20 (SL) A proposal has been forwarded to PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to remove Minister Sajith Premadasa from the Deputy Leadership of the UNP. It is said that a group of MPs from the UNP have put forward this proposal and going in line with them, the most senior members of the UNP and six other senior Cabinet ministers have affirmed the proposal. They have met the PM recently and have reasoned in length that apart from the positions such as the Chairman, General Secretary, Treasurer more..

Slow action in Muttur and Trinco murder probes

Dec 20 (SL) Investigations into the killing of 17 workers of French NGO, Action Against Hunger (ACF) and five students from Trincomalee are being hampered due to the non-cooperation of the military. The investigations are currently being carried out by the CID after fresh probes were launched this year into the two incidents. Trincomalee assassination of NGO workers, also known as the Muttur Massacre took place on Aug 14, 2006, when 17 employees of the French NGO Action Against Hunger more..

Power supply plans for Colombo Port City revealed

Dec 20 (Island) With the decks cleared for the resumption of work on the Colombo Port City project in the coming weeks, developer, China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), last week revealed that Sri Lanka Govt has entered into an agreement with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) to obtain a soft loan under Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) for funding several power requirements of more..

Witness in Thajudeen murder missing?

Dec 20 (SL) A witness in the Wasim Thadjudeen murder trial, who had expressed willingness to testify on behalf of the Thadjudeen family, had reportedly disappeared and had vacated the premises that he was residing in as well. According to information received, the witness is said to be a close associate of the Rajapaksa family and was facing several charges against him over large scale fraud. He was a person who had fled the country and went into hiding in London. more..

Kusal to take the ‘B’ test

Dec 20 (ST) Kusal Janith Perera who is in the middle of a doping scandal took wings to Qatar yesterday, to face the Testing of the ‘B’ sample. He was accompanied by prominent lawyer Dinal Philips. Reports claimed that the test was positive because of drugs he had taken to treat a leach bite on the recommendation of a physiotherapist but they failed to inform the ICC about the usage of the substance. However, it has now transpired that that during the recent West Indies tour of Sri Lanka, more..

Politics bedevils solution to Palk bay poaching

Dec 20 (ST) On Oct 1, Navy boats were patrolling the seas when they came across – a common occurrence now – Indian bottom trawlers poaching off Point Pedro coast. When the Navy approached the intruders to round them up, however, one of the trawlers turned sharply into a Dvora and damaged its hull. This week, a spokesman described it as an aggressive manoeuvre. “In order to arrest them, more..

Bishops ban Christmas trees and Santas in churches

Dec 20 (ST) For the first time in history, the Catholic bishops have decided there should be no Christmas trees or Santas in churches during the festive season. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo and president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of SL, has sent out a circular, banning Christmas trees and Santas in Catholic churches of all dioceses. Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini, the Church’s Social Communications Director, said the bishops believed that Christmas trees and more..

Colombo Lotus Tower project gets go ahead

Dec 20 (ST) Govt has given the green light to continue the multi-million dollar Colombo Lotus Tower project without offering any compensation for the delay in the construction. The negotiations to go ahead with the project were completed with an offer to give a new extension to the agreement to complete the tower by Oct 2017. The lotus-shaped tower due to be used for communication, observation and other leisure facilities, costing US $ 104.3 million, funded by EXIM Bank of China more..

Rs 2,500 wage hike for estate workers too

Dec 20 (SO) Labour Minister W.D.J. Senewiratne's proposal yesterday to extend the Rs 2,500 salary hike for the private sector to the plantation sector came even as the parliament police foiled Badulla District UNP MP Vadivel Suresh's apparent attempt to self-immolate. Parliament Police officers last evening prevented Badulla District UNP parliamentarian Vadivel Suresh trying to bring two cans of petrol and kerosene to self-immolate more..

S. E. Asian-based maritime security firms move to Sri Lanka

Dec 20 (SO) Dismissing speculation that foreign companies would handle the task undertaken by the Sri Lanka Navy from Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd, Defence Secretary, Karunasena Hettiarachchi said there was no Government decision to hand over operations to any other party. "There is no change in the Govt's decision that SL Navy and Rakna Arakshaka Lanka should handle operations, earlier handled by Avant Garde Maritime Sea Marshalling Operations," he said. more..

Planters Association unaware of estate sector salary rise

Dec 20 (SO) The Planters' Association was caught unawares yesterday when Labour Minister John Senewiratne said the proposed salary increase of Rs.2500 would be extended to the estate sector as well. Planters' Association president, R. Rajadurai claimed that he was not informed of the decision. "I was told that there was a talk but we were not informed. Our position is that we are unable to pay an increase. I don't know if this is to be given as an allowance or added to the basic salary. more..

ISIS recruiting agent in Sri Lanka!

Dec 20 (CT) A SL national has been identified as an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) recruiting agent in Sri Lanka by Indian Police. Last week, a 16-year-old from Pune had wanted to join the IS after being radicalized by IS sympathizers and radicals on several social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp and other human resources via which she managed to trace an IS recruiting agent in Sri Lanka. more..

Govt trying to privatise everything: MR

Dec 20 (SO) UPFA MP Mahinda Rajapaksa told Parliament the Govt hopes to sell many public sector organisations which were either started or developed during his time and pointed out that Norochcholai power plant, Mobitel and Mattala Airport are some of the institutions listed to be sold. He alleged the govt is attempting to privatise everything including electricity, ports, airports and that the entire Budget has been formulated to sell State resources and collect revenue. more..

UDA takes over Port City

Dec 20 (SO) Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said the Govt was prepared to resume the Port City Development Project if the Chinese Company agrees to launch the US$1.4 billion project on a 99-year lease. Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday said the Cabinet had decided to hand over the Port City Development Project to the Urban Development Authority which comes under the purview of the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Region Development. more..

Running repairs to Ravi’s budget omnibus

Dec 20 (ST) In his own teaser ahead of the Nov 20 budget proposals, Minister Ravi Karunanayake described it as revolutionary. Even the smartly attired and well coiffured Colombo District MP did not envisage that his proposals would cause a revolution in many fronts. Just to name a few — the displeasure in both UNP and SLFP parliamentary circles including ministers, the private sector, trade unions, administrative service more..

The next frontier in constitutional voyage

Dec 20 (Island) Time will tell if PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Sujata Jayawardena Memorial Lecture, on Dec 11, will become a historical companion to JR Jayewardene’s Dec 1966 address to the Ceylon Association for the Advancement of Science (CAAS, now SLAAS), and Dr. Colvin R de Silva’s Dec 1969 talk to the Socialist Study Circle. Those familiar with Sri Lanka’s seemingly never ending constitutional voyage will know that it was at the CAAS, in 1966, JRJ first made the more..

Election Bribes, Budget Reversals and Trade Unions

Dec 20 (Island) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe managed to avert a major strike action, almost a general strike by several Trade Unions at the last minute by agreeing to reverse some budget proposals. Maithripala-Ranil administration deserves a pass mark for averting a strike by a large number of public and private sector employees at this juncture, and an A* for getting itself into a situation which could have brought about a virtual general strike, after being in office for less than four months. more..

Secret Dubai account: Govt fails to unlock vault

Dec 20 (ST) Govt’s intensive efforts to obtain details of money deposited by a former VVIP’s son in a Dubai bank have come a cropper. Authorities in the emirate have made clear that the request cannot be proceeded with since it would be contrary to their banking laws and practices. One source said the Dubai authorities contended that substantial evidence had not been presented to show that such funds were lying in a bank more..

CID probe on missing notebook, IB pages

Dec 20 (SL) Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jayantha Wickremaratne has allegedly denied knowledge of the police possessing the notebook of the founding Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge following his assassination on January 8, 2009. Wickremaratne, it is learnt, had denied knowledge of the notebook in a statement given to the CID last week in relation to Wickrematunge’s murder investigation. more..

First serial killer behind bars

Dec 20 (CT) on 10 Oct 2015 was the first news media to disclose the possibility of a serial killer roaming the Kotakethana and Kahawatte areas. And again on 25 Oct, Ceylon Today, which travelled to the misty SL Whitechapel, reported that the serial and mass murders that had occurred in the village might have had political backing and immunity. Today we stand proven that SL's first ever serial killer is behind bars, awaiting more..

CAA move to monitor private hospitals may bring down charges

Dec 20 (ST) Consumer Affairs Authority’s move to monitor private hospitals is expected to bring down the cost of medical expenses for patients. CAA Director Rohan Meewanage, who is in charge of pricing and management, said the decision to monitor private hospitals was taken following complaints that several private hospitals were charging exorbitant rates for channeling doctors, medical tests & in-house treatment. more..