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Smuggler caught with five passports, but no action against him

Dec 23 (Island) A smuggler described as a personal assistant of Minister Abdel Hasheem was arrested by the Customs yesterday at the BIA, while he was attempting to bring in four gold pieces, weighing 400 grammes worth over Rs 2 million from Singapore. Contraband had been hidden in his rectum. Suspect had given Customs officers some visiting cards where his designation was given as co-coordinating secretary more..

Wadiwel Suresh apologises for threatening to set himself on fire

Dec 23 (FT) UNP MP Wadiwel Suresh who threatened to set himself on fire if plantation workers were not given a wage hike, expressed his regret to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. He apologised to the Speaker regarding his statement as well as attempts to bring cans of kerosene oil into the Parliament premises, and promised such misbehaviour would not be repeated by him. He further requested permission to issue a statement to the media expressing his regret regarding the incident. more..

Access Engineering progresses in Henamulla Phase II Project

Dec 23 (DN) Urban Regeneration Project, a solution for the relocation of underserved and derelict community settlements scattered across Colombo launched the second phase of the relocation project at Henamulla, in August 2014. Access Engineering, has now commenced operations in the design and construction of the said project which is a part of a drive that was spearheaded by the Ministry of Megalopolis and Western Region Development with the forward vision to upgrade living standards more..

'UNP Constitution to be amended'

Dec 23 (DN) Party Constitution of the UNP will be amended as of a Working Committee decision taken at its last meeting, General Secretary Kabir Hashim said. He said the positions of the party would be streamlined during the amendment of the Constitution. He said some of the existing posts would be abolished, while the powers and titles of some posts would be revised during the amendment. more..

Orofini opens jewellery store in Colombo

Dec 23 (DN) Orofini Jewellery, the fine jewellery chain, opened its third flagship store in Sri Lanka at No: 465, Galle Road, Colombo 3 last week. Orofini makes exquisite pieces of jewellery - each and every piece of jewellery that the company makes is individually designed and made to outstanding workmanship. Being long established and well-renowned wholesale dealers of fine gemstones for many generations, the company provides carefully selected top-quality coloured gemstones more..

Sri Lanka rupee seen falling further in 2016

Dec 23 (EN) The rupee is expected to weaken further next year, possibly to the 148-160 rupee to the US dollar level if monetary policy is not tightened, private sector economists have forecast. The rupee, which has depreciated sharply this year, down 8.7% against the US dollar, hit a record low of 143.80 last week but closed at 143.65/90 per dollar Monday. Shiran Fernando, Head of Economic Research, Frontier Group, said he expects the rupee to continue to weaken in 2016, more..

Power packed BOI, EDB from January

Dec 23 (DN) The govt will bring in several measures aimed at improving the Doing Business Index, Minister Malik Samarawickrama said. He was addressing a capacity building session called Unleashing Human Potential for Boosting Organisational Performance, in Colombo. "When investors come, we want to see that they are looked after well and their needs addressed in a very short time. more..

Nepalese girls being trafficked to SL rescued

Dec 23 (CG) Police in Chitwan, Nepal have rescued five girls from Narayanghat suspecting that they were being trafficked to Sri Lanka. The five girls were being trafficked to Sri Lanka via India. Police said that Maya Tamang, Dolma Tamang, Phursang and Lyanglamu Tamang from the Sindhupalchowk district and Tikamaya Rai of Sunsari district were rescued. The girls who were being taken to Mahendranagar from the capital city when they were rescued. more..

Book thrown at officials over year-end gifts

Dec 23 (EN) Main anti-graft body Tuesday drew attention to the Establishments Code which prohibited public servants from accepting gifts in any shape or form amid a controversy over year-end hampers. CIABOC said paragraph three of the EC expressly prohibited an officer or his or her family members accepting such Christmas or New Year hampers. "An officer or a member of his family shall not accept any presents, gifts, or other benefit other than the ordinary gifts of relatives and more..

PRECIFAC to deepen investigations on shady CWE rice deal

Dec 23 (FT) The Presidential anti-corruption commission is to expedite an investigation into alleged financial irregularities in the CWE, which imported 225,000 metric tons of rice during the last quarter of 2014, overshooting Govt orders. CWE was granted Cabinet approval to import 50,000 metric tons of rice from India & Bangladesh but former CWE administration had imported 225,000 metric tons of rice from private parties. more..

Video: Namal posted Yoga picture without my permission

Dec 23 (DM) Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said his son Namal had published his photograph doing Yoga without his permission in the Facebook. He said this to a journalist when he visited the Prison Hospital in Welikada to meet the five army personnel arrested on charges of being involved in the abduction and disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda. “I have been doing Yoga for some time now but it had been exposed in the media only when I visited this school with Namal,” more..

Sri Lankan warships at Cochin Port

Dec 23 (Hindu) Sri Lankan naval ships Samudura and Nandimithra are on a three-day visit to Kochi till Dec 24. The commanding officers of the vessels, Captain P.D.S. Dias and Captain A.M.S. Senavirathna, together with Captain Prasanna Hewage, Sri Lanka’s resident Defence Attaché in New Delhi, called on Rear Admiral R.B. Pandit, Chief of Staff of Southern Naval Command. Various professional activities would be conducted between both navies during port call of the vessels. more..

Video: Hirunika takes law into her own hands

Dec 23 (CT) The man was forcibly taken away by Hirinika’s staff members in a Land Rover Defender belong to her. Defending her staff members’ action Hirunika said last night that all she wanted to do was to prevent a family from breaking up. The victim, Amila Priyanga Amarasinghe said he was personally threatened by the parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra, the Police Spokesman said yesterday. more..

$ 600M WB loan hits snags

Dec 23 (CT) The outcome of Sri Lanka's budgetary support /policy aid discussions with the World Bank may get delayed due to some bureaucratic issues, Treasury Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga said. "Our year end budget deficit is well over the target than expected. It is mainly due to fulfilment of the present government's 100 days programme promises," he said. Samaratunga said that final budget deficit figure can be disclosed after Christmas. more..

Refugees in TN keen to return to Sri Lanka

Dec 23 (ENS) With a fresh hope to live a peaceful life in their homeland in a post-war scenario, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees camped in various places in the State are keen on returning and resettling in the island nation. Of late, Sri Lanka has been offering many employment opportunities in provinces where Tamils live. President Sirisena had announced at a Christmas address in Jaffna on Sunday that special Presidential Task Force would resettle Tamil people to their original places within six months and more..

Govt proposes to increase MPs’ sitting allowance from Rs. 500 to Rs. 20,000 per day

Dec 23 (Island) There has been a proposal to increase MPs’ allowance for attending parliamentary sessions from Rs. 500 to Rs. 20,000. The proposal had been made by the govt to the House Committee, sources said. MPs are currently paid Rs. 500 per sitting day, but some of them have demanded this amount be increased as it has remained static for many years whereas their expenses have increased manifold. more..

'GMOA scared of protesting during Gota’s time'

Dec 23 (Island) The GMOA had suddenly got emboldened after the defeat of the Rajapaksa regime and was spreading false allegations with regard to the proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement with India, Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva said. "PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has clearly stated that there would be neither CEPA with India nor any agreement inimical to Sri Lanka, but the GMOA refuses to accept that and keeps repeating concocted stories." more..

Korea offers fisheries college

Dec 23 (Island) South Korea has expressed its desire to set up a fisheries college here to produce professionals in the fisheries sector who could compete with their counterparts in other countries. At a meeting held between Korean Ambassador to Sri Lanka Won-sam Chang and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development State Minister Dilip Wedaarachchi yesterday, the envoy said the South Korean govt was willing to help develop Sri Lanka’s fisheries industry. more..

January 9 date to start constitutional reform

Dec 23 (ENS) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, will kick-start on Jan 9 next year the constitutional reform process, which was promised in the run-up to the Jan 8, 2015 Presidential election, which had been touted as a struggle to restore democracy in the island nation. An announcement from the parliament said on Tuesday that on Jan 9, PM will move a resolution to form a Constitutional Assembly, comprising the entire membership more..

Peace and reconciliation, the key issues

Dec 23 (DM) In a significant move, National Christmas Festival for the first time was held in Jaffna last Sunday and President Sirisena -- the first Head of State to preside at such a festival -- pledged that Govt would within 6 months find a just and fair solution to the issues concerning tens of thousands of displaced families. President, in his speech telecast live, said he and the govt were committed to reconciliation and a lasting peace, rehabilitation and restitution. more..

Christmas message - 2015

Dec 23 (DM) We enter the season of Advent and Christmas this year in a land that has undergone significant political changes. Last year we kept the feast of Christmas alongside a keenly fought election campaign. The world or the society we live in intrudes into religion and religion permeates society and is called to make an impact for good. Gospels bring out this historical-political dimension clearly, in situating the nativity in a given historical framework with an Emperor, more..

'11 budgets without amendments in a row'

Dec 23 (DM) Ronnie de Mel earned the reputation of having held the post of the Minister of Finance for 17 years under the UNP govt which was elected in 1977. He was first elected as MP for Devinuwara in 1967 under the SLFP ticket. It was thought the best time to interview Ronnie de Mel was now as the presentation of the 2016 Budget and its adoption was just completed. Q: As the minister of finance of this country how many budgets more..

CBEU accuses govt of weakening state banks to privatise them

Dec 23 (Island) Bank employees alleged that the govt was working according to a plan to privatise the state banks. General Secretary of the All Ceylon Bank Employees Union (ACBEU) Gamini Rathnasiri said 18 points in the budget were inimical to the banking sector but they had not been amended. He said govt's decision to withdraw accounts of govt institutions from state banks and remove pawning business from them more..

Court orders baby elephants to be released to DWC

Dec 23 (SL) Baby elephants and baby tuskers kept illegally by VVIPs and several members of the Buddhist clergy during the previous regime were released to the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) following a court order when they failed to submit the necessary documents to prove ownership. The CID claims that influential individuals who had the baby elephants under their custody had allegedly forged documents to more..

Manpower agencies banned from FTZ

Dec 23 (ST) Representatives of manpower agencies have been banned from entering Free Trade Zone areas with immediate effect and employers have been warned against providing employment to individuals recruited by them. BOI Chairman Upul Jayasuriya said that operations of these manpower agents will no longer be tolerated inside the Zones and employers have been advised to recruit directly. more..

India, Sri Lanka discuss ETCA

Dec 23 (Island) India and Sri Lanka discussed the contours of the proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) at the fourth round of Commerce Secretary-level talks held here on Monday. The talks were led by Indian Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia and TMKB Tennakoon, Secretary in the Sri Lankan Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Esala Weerakoon, more..

LPBOA to stop beggars, peddlers in buses

Dec 23 (DM) Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) said it was going to request IGP N.K. Illangakoon take action to bar beggars and peddlers in their buses. “We are going to request the IGP to take action to prohibit begging and the selling of goods inside private buses from January following complaints from many passengers,” LPBOA Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne said. According to Motor Traffic Act of 1951, more..

SLTB agrees to pay employees EPF dues

Dec 23 (DN) The Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) informed the Court of Appeal that the Transport Ministry has submitted a Cabinet memorandum requesting money from the Treasury to pay the EPF dues to SLTB employees. The Counsel who appeared on behalf of the SLTB made this remark when a writ petition filed by Samastha Lanka Motor Sevaka Samithiya (SLMSS) of the SLTB, a trade union affiliated to MEP more..

Video: A commission should look into Wilpattu: Bathiudeen

Dec 23 (DM) A commission should be appointed to look into the Wilpattu deforestation controversy, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said. While refuting allegations that he had illegally re-settled internally displaced Muslims in Wilpattu, Bathiudeen said if such illegal constructions had happened, it could be investigated through Commissions or the Police. “Presidential Commission, Bribery Commission, FCID, CID more..

Sampanthan frowns on Tamil People’s Council

Dec 23 (CT) Opposition Leader and TNA Leader R Sampanthan said recently that his party shall not encourage acceptance of nor accept into its membership any member from any other organization without the consent of the party leadership. He added that such acceptances would create confusions and complications in future and give rise to rifts within the TNA, which has on its own merit obtained the unanimous support of more..

JHU-controlled WPC Health budget defeated

Dec 23 (CT) The 2016 budgetary allocations, for the JHU-controlled Western Province Health Ministry, submitted by JHU's Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe, was defeated by 22 votes yesterday. 45 members voted against while only 23 voted in favour. The majority of the UPFA and six JVP councillors voted against the health allocations. Meanwhile, councillors of the UNP voted in favour of the budget but three UNPers more..

2016: The fall of a nation

Dec 23 (CT) The coming year will be like no other in recent memory. It will be the Year of the Big Bang. That’s easy to predict because the Prime Minister has pretty much put us on alert in his important Sujatha Jayawardena memorial oration. What is not easy to predict is what that Big Bang will blow up, what will be left standing, and what will be born as a result of the Big Bang. The PM announced that the coming constitution will have three focus areas. These are abolition of executive presidency, more..

CSD will admit only children of teetotalers and non-smokers to its preschools

Dec 23 (Island) Director General of the Civil Security Department Chandraratne Pallegama has issued an order not to admit children of parents who consume liquor and smoke tobacco to the preschools managed by the CSD. CSD currently manages 547 preschools where around 14,432 children receive education. Around 1,057 CSD personnel were engaged in teaching and managing those institutions. CSD Director General had decided to accept applications only from families more..

Thilanga Sumathipala

Tamil politician from Jaffna praises President

Dec 23 (CT) Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be minds." Same thing can be said to the citizens of our country who once believed that they are the superior race and considered others to be minorities. This superiority complex which infected the minds of our ancestors was passed down from generation to generation. The minority complex was also passed down more..

Govt has let down TNA says Yogeswaran

Dec 23 (CT) Batticaloa District, TNA MP, Seenithamby Yogeswaran, pointed out that the current govt has failed to support the TNA in return even if his party is indirectly pledging its support to the govt of good governance. "There is a change in govt but we have not changed the people. It is the same people in a new govt. That is the difference between the former and present govt," he said. He further said, "TNA still believes in this govt. We are indirectly supporting this govt; more..

Indo-Lanka ties witness bonhomie in 2015

Dec 23 (PTI) Indo-Lanka relations gained momentum in 2015 after Maithripala Sirisena's stunning upset win over strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in SL's polls as the strain in ties gave way to bonhomie with exchange of top-level visits and signing of a nuclear pact. Sri Lanka witnessed a huge political change in the beginning of this year when Sirisena trounced Rajapaksa in the January 8 presidential race, ending his 10-year-rule. more..

Sri Lankan shares edge up in thin trade

Dec 23 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares closed marginally higher on Wednesday, snapping a two-session losing streak in thin trade ahead of a long weekend, led by market heavyweight John Keells Holdings. Turnover slumped to the lowest level since March 24, 2014 at 205.2 million rupees ($1.43 million), against this year's daily average of 1.08 billion rupees. The market is expected to be lacklustre with low turnover due to year-end holidays starting this week, stockbrokers said. more..

SriLankan sends plane to bring passengers stranded in Bangkok

Dec 23 (DM) SriLankan airlines has dispatched a plane to Bangkok to bring bank the remaining passengers because of the cancellation of a SriLankan flight from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, the airlines said. The flight, UL1423, is scheduled to land in Colombo at 5:15 p.m. today. The engine cowling of a Bangkok-Colombo flight had been damaged when a baggage cart operated by the airport’s ground handlers had accidently crashed into the aircraft on Tuesday night. more..

Minister Mustapha issues challenge to UPFA partners to contest alone

Dec 23 (Island) Minister Faiszer Musthapha has issued a challenge to UPFA allies to contest forthcoming local govt elections on their own and win seats if possible. He said that UPFA constituents had ridden the SLFP piggyback to Parliament, PCs and LG bodies. "Now these minor parties pretend to lead the UPFA and try to dictate terms to the SLFP members who actually helped them get elected. more..