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LCs opened before Nov 20: Cabinet exempts increased import duty on cars

Dec 25 (DN) Cabinet has decided to exempt increased import duty imposed by the Budget 2016 for cars including electric vehicles for which Letter of Credits (LCs) had been opened before Nov 20, Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said. This was after several ministers informed the Cabinet that Professional Associations and authorities concerned have made representations to them of the difficulties experienced by their members who have opened LCs for the import of motor cars prior to more..

SL, NZ in battle to improve ODI rankings

Dec 25 (ICC) New Zealand, the finalist of the ICC World Cup 2015, has not played ODI cricket since August and will need to revive its shorter game skills. NZ will take on SL in a five-match ODI series starting in Christchurch on Saturday, with both the sides knowing that they have an opportunity to move up the ICC ODI Championship, provided they win the series by 4-1 or better. If 4th-ranked NZ wins the series by 4-1 or better, then it will move ahead of South Africa into third place. more..

HIV positive cases on the rise

Dec 25 (DM) National STD/HIV Control Programme said the number of HIV positive cases were on the rise with 2,241 HIV such patients and 21 AIDS related deaths reported in the country as at Oct this year. Health Director General Dr. Palitha Mahipala warned that Chronic Kidney Diseases and HIV infections could become one of the biggest national health problems in the country before long if action is not taken to curb them. more..

'Is Hirunika following her father's footsteps?'

Dec 25 (DM) NSSP Leader Vickramabahu Karunaratne yesterday raised doubts whether MP Hirunika Premachandra followed the footsteps of her father who he identified as a hoodlum in Kolonnawa, as she attempted to resolve disputes among mobs. He mentioned that late Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra was a reputed hoodlum who settled disputes among people in Kolonnawa. “It looks like the daughter has taken up the same task of solving people’s issues,” he said. more..

Search on for missing mother and child

Dec 25 (NS) Matara Police have launched a search operation to locate a 35-year-old woman and her 10-year-old child, who are suspected to have jumped into the Nilwala River. A call had come over the 119 emergency hotline at around 11.30pm yesterday stating that a pair of women’s shoes and a traveling bag were lying near Mahanama Bridge along the Nilwala River in Matara. Police who arrived on the scene had inspected the bag and found that it contained information regarding its owner. more..

Ministry to abolish FBR from female migrant workers

Dec 25 (DN) Foreign Employment Ministry is to abolish the controversial Family Background Report (FBR) required from all potential female migrant workers seeking foreign employment. The ministry has already appointed a team to evaluate the practice and the issues that have arisen from the requirement and will take all of it into consideration, Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorale said. more..

Tax on electric cars; Vehicle importers welcome the move

Dec 25 (DM) The Vehicle Importers Association of Lanka (VIAL) welcomed President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to withdraw the 2016-budget proposal to increase the import tax on electric vehicles by 50%. Thus the import tax on electric vehicles would remain at 5%. During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the president had rejected the tax increase. VIAL president Indika Merenchige said the decision to withdraw the proposal was advantageous to the vehicle import industry. more..

X’mas Expressway Traffic Pile-up

Dec 25 (CT) Heavy traffic congestion was reported on the Southern Expressway at the Godagama entry point yesterday with streams of vehicles running over two kilometres in length. Director of the Southern Expressway, S. Opanayake stated that an additional gate was opened to reduce the congestion at the entry point. He added that such a situation was not expected and as a result all motorists have been asked to use another intersection to exit the highway. more..

SL invites Saudi Arabia to set up oil refinery

Dec 25 (AN) Sri Lanka has invited Saudi Arabia to set up a petroleum refinery in the southern part of the island, Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran said. In addition to meeting the needs of Sri Lanka, he said such a refinery could tap markets in neighboring countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Mahendran, who was leading a high-powered delegation to the Kingdom, comprising chairmen and CEOs of banks, more..

Behold the servant king

Dec 25 (DM) A modern thinker Eckhart Tolle, followed by millions invited his students to look at the whole of human history as if it was the history of a single individual. Then they discussed what they saw on the graph. After a sober evaluation they agreed that it looked like the life story of a severely disturbed, insane person! Unprovoked attacks by one group of people on another, murder and genocide on a mass scale, religious intolerance leading to the slaughter of thousands, more..

2015: No world war; it’s year of China’s rise

Dec 25 (DM) As we get ready to say goodbye to 2015 and welcome 2016, we can only heave a sigh of relief that we have been saved from World War III. Among the many negatives that shaped the passing year, the resolve of the big powers, in this case the US and China, to exercise restraint and begin talks to sort out burning issues stands out as a rare positive and gives a glimmer of hope for a shaky peace. We say shaky peace, because the problems that have given rise to a cold war more..

Uproar in packaging industry over polythene ban

Dec 25 (ST) On the heels of the Govt’s proposal to ban asbestos in Sri Lanka, the latest proposal to ban polythene from the country have sent shock waves among some industrialists who are protesting over the issue. J.D.C. Perera, President, SL Institute of Packaging, speaking at the launch of Lankapak 2016 – Premier International Packaging Exhibition in SL, expressed the concern of the packaging industry people, on the decision of more..

Geetha tears into Hirunika

Dec 25 (Island) Having often castigated the previous govt for abusing power, UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra had shown what she was really capable of, UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe said. She said that Hirunika had become a law unto herself. The SLFPer emphasised that there had never been a previous instance of an MP ordering an abduction of a man alleged to be having a love affair with a married woman. more..

Bright lights, bare pockets

Dec 25 (ST) The brightly-coloured lights in Colombo and other cities give the impression that a magnificent celebration is underway for Christmas and New Year but shoppers and traders have mixed reactions. One marked difference from last year is the absence of tension caused by the presidential election campaign with the election meetings of the both main candidates going on side by side with Christmas season. more..

Desmond defends second mandate, families seek answers

Dec 25 (SL) Tears flowed down their cheeks, in some instances tears turned to anger. Families of those reported missing during and soon after the war appeared before the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints regarding Missing Persons last week in Jaffna, in a process in which many have lost faith. The Commission, also known as Maxwell Paranagama Commission, held sittings in Jaffna District more..

Church takes up prisoners’ issue in Christmas message

Dec 25 (Island) In a message to mark Christmas, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference said that special attention should be drawn towards those who had been languishing in prisons without proper trial. They and their families undergo enormous sufferings due to the fact that they were kept in jail without being prosecuted, the statement says. The following is the full text of the statement: "It is the birth of Jesus in more..

Chunnakam wells contaminated with waste oil

Dec 25 (CT) Community Medical Expert Dr. Murali Vallipuranathan said he has examined the water quality of the wells in Chunnakam and other neareby areas and it is evident that the wells are contaminated with waste oil. He added that he was able to see the oil floating in the well water with naked eyes. He said there is evidence with him for such contamination and he questioned whether expert committee was really necessary to more..

'IMF bail-out package for Sri Lanka seen as unavoidable'

Dec 25 (Island) The rise in global interest rates in the wake of the US Federal Reserve interest rate hike, makes unavoidable for Sri Lanka a bail-out package from the IMF, top economist Professor Razeen Salley said. "IMF doesn’t have confidence in the Lankan govt, in particularly its ministry handling the country’s finances, as the maiden budget of the national unity govt has ignored fiscal consolidation — more..

Kusal Janith suspended over doping test

Dec 25 (AD) Kusal Janith Perera has been banned from cricket for a still unspecified period after failing a doping test during an earlier home series against Pakistan, Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said. He stated that the govt will appeal to reduce the suspension period, which could be maximum 4 years. “The second sample (B Sample) of cricketer Kusal Janith has also tested positive for banned substances,” Jayasekara said. more..

Minister mulls only fines on traffic offenders

Dec 25 (DN) In a bid to ease the backlog of cases in courts, the Justice Ministry is seriously considering the imposition of fines on traffic offenders instead of filing cases against them in courts. Minister Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapakshe said a large number of cases have been filed against persons for violating the Motor Traffic Act. "I will discuss with officials of the Motor Traffic Department to put in place a new mechanism through more..

Another state hospital for SAITM students: Docs

Dec 25 (Island) All Ceylon Medical Officers’ Association (ACMOA) alleged that the govt was planning to permit the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) to conduct its clinical training at the Sri J'pura Hospital, too. The ministry officials earlier told the Supreme Court that they could allow Avissawella Base Hospital and Kaduwela Medical Officer of Health office for clinical training of SAITM medical undergraduates. more..

Minister shy of appointing independent body to probe railway accidents?

Dec 25 (Island) The Railway Locomotive Engineers’ Union claims that the Transport Minister’s refusal to heed its call for establishing an independent professional body to investigate accidents had led to the deterioration of the railway service. "At present investigations into accidents are conducted by sub-panels in the department comprising officials such as Chief Engineer (Signals), Chief Engineer (Electrical), Chief Engineer (Mechanical) etc. General Secretary of the Union, more..

Justice system obstructs progress towards Yahapâlanaya: AHRC

Dec 25 (CT) President and the PM should explain as to why they are unable to respond positively to the very legitimate demands of the people for making reforms in the policing, the prosecution and the justice systems, says Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). Sending an open letter to the President and PM the AHRC said; ”People have a right to know as to why the Govt is unwilling to give any undertaking about the improvement of these vital areas of life in Sri Lanka. more..

Ayawaya Katada?

Jesus Christ: From Nazareth to Nicaea

Dec 25 (CT) It would be almost impossible to find a human being who has not wondered, Does God exist? When you think of the biblical God, you think of the Trinity; when you think of the Trinity, you think of Jesus Christ: Jesus is the Messiah. Most of us would not wonder, Did Jesus exist? But most of us would wonder, Is Jesus God? How did a man become God? Because God cannot be a human being any more than a human being can be a rock. During the time of Jesus, people believed more..

Heavenly Pardon

Dec 25 (CT) This, in essence is the ultimate Christmas gift of the season, where the Sri Lankan Govt did its utmost to vie for the clemency of the Sri Lankan housemaid who was sentenced to be stoned to death on charges of adultery, a feat not matched by the previous govt which failed in the case of young Rizana Nafeek. The cries for human rights, and mercy reigned supreme when this sentence to death by stoning was reversed on Wednesday by the al Dawadmi Court in Saudi Arabia. more..

SL hope to turn tables on depleted NZ

Dec 25 (CI) In eight ODIs against Sri Lanka in the past 12 months, New Zealand have won six times. Since the teams' most recent encounter - in the opening match of the World Cup - Sri Lanka have lost two of their best ever batsmen, and in this series, they will also be without Lasith Malinga, who remains in Sri Lanka nursing an injured knee. It is fair to say that in these conditions, New Zealand appear a far stronger team on paper. more..

Dr. Dewasiri assaulted

Dec 25 (CT) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri lodged a complaint last Wednesday at the Maharagama Police, alleging a shop owner assaulted him because he demanded a balance of Rs 2 due to him after paying for two prepaid mobile phone reload cards. The former Chairperson of the FUTA said the shop owner had grabbed him by the neck after he had asked for the balance money and had thrown him out saying that no other customer had asked for a balance of Rs 2 before. more..

UNP media advisor Krishantha Cooray to assume duties as Hilton chairman

Dec 25 (AM) Ending a two month long internal power struggle, the UNP's political strategist and media advisor Krishantha Cooray is to assume duties as the Chairman of Hotel Developers Lanka, in January. Hotel Developers Lanka is the holding company of Hilton Hotel, Colombo. Although Cooray was appointed the Chairman of Hotel Developers Limited under the directives of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, he could not assume duties in the position as Sagarika Delgoda, current more..

Freedom concerns over Sri Lanka's digital identity and tracking to be raised: Ministers

Dec 25 (EN) Concerns over state machinery's ability to track activities of citizens though though hi-tech a national digital identity and transactions technology will be raised at the cabinet. Govt is planning to create a National Digital Identity and Transaction Framework with a digital identity database of biometric data as a first step. It will then be linked to a system which can track a variety financial and non-financial transactions. more..

A dynamic economic system or job security?

Dec 25 (Island) Do many Sri Lankans seek job security without bothering much for a dynamic economic system in which anyone with enough energy and talent could fast track their way up for social advancement? That was quite a poser which emerged recently at an event in Colombo. This became an observable fact as Kabir Hashim, Minister of State Enterprises was speaking at the Lanka Hospitals after commissioning the Hospital's state-of-the art gastroenterology (GE) centre more..

Govt Analyst's report submitted to court

Dec 25 (DN) Govt Analyst's report on the weapons and ammunition stored in the second ship of Avante Garde Company was submitted to court on Dec 4, the Justice Ministry stated. The ministry in a press release stated that the Galle Magistrate sought the Govt Analyst's report with regard to 816 weapons and 20,935 ammunition found in the second ship belonging to Avante Garde Company on Oct 30. The release added that the report was issued to the relevant stakeholders by Dec 4. more..

Surprise Cabinet reshuffle in early January

Dec 25 (AM) Nearly four months after the formation of a national unity govt, President and PM are looking at a surprise cabinet reshuffle, authoritative govt sources said. Under the new reshuffle, a highly influential minister might lose his ministry, they further added. "He will be given another ministry as the Minister has run into some problems with the top rung leadership of the govt," a senior govt spokesman said. more..

570 prisoners released for Christmas

Dec 25 (DM) Five hundred and seventy inmates in prisons across the country were released today on a presidential pardon as a part of Christmas celebrations, the Prisons Department said. Accordingly, 570 prisoners who had not committed grave crimes were released today. “Fifty eight inmates were released from Anuradhapura Prison, 58 from Welikada, 51 from Mahara and 55 from Negombo. Nine female inmates were also among the released,” the department said. more..

Pradeshiya Sabha Act to be amended to help estate community

Dec 25 (Island) Provincial Councils and Local Govt Minister Faiszer Mustapha said that his ministry had decided to amend the Pradeshiya Sabha Act for the benefit of the estate workers. He said the amendment would make it possible to use the Pradeshiya Sabha funds to serve the estate settlements. The Act 1987 No 15 would be amended soon, Minister Mustapha said, adding that the draft amendment would soon be presented to Parliament once it passed muster with the Cabinet. more..

Unemployed graduates threaten scheduled Sathyagrahas if talks fail

Dec 25 (Island) Unemployed graduates threaten to launch sathyagrahas in every district from January if the scheduled talks at the Prime Minister’s office on Monday fail. Convener of the Combined Association of Unemployed Graduates (CAUG), Dammika Munasinghe, said that there were more than 20,000 graduates awaiting public sector employment since 2012. He said some of them had joined the private sector as more..

President’s Christmas Message

Dec 25 (PSL) Christmas symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ who assumed a powerful voice, teaching us lessons of kindness and charity that have lasted for more than 2000 years. The Christian message of humanity, love to all beings and humility is seen in the birth of Christ taking place in a stable shared by animals and his first worshipers being humble shepherds. The philosophy of Jesus is both eternal and universal. Irrespective of one’s faith, we all have a sense of duty to more..

PM’s Christmas Message

Dec 25 (GDI) PM Ranil Wickramasinghe sharing his Christmas message with the Sri lankan people says "The message of Christmas is also a message that the world today wants to hear – it transcends ethnic, religious and other man made limits, transforming lives and filling hearts with the joy of the Season." The full message issued by PM, "Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ whose life was marked by love, forgiveness and mercy to all mankind. For centuries, His love has ignited more..

Give benefit of fuel price reduction to the people: JVP

Dec 25 (LT) "What is grave is that not only the government but Indian Oil Company too gets this extra profit. They sell 20 million liters monthly. As such, the extra profits they take to India from Sri Lanka are a staggering Rs.320 million. Recently, it was said a formula would be introduced to calculate fuel prices. Minister Chandima Weerakkody said in parliament that a formula would be presented within a week. more..

Sri Lanka celebrates Christmas in hope for stable 2016

Dec 25 (Xinhua) Along with millions of Christians worldwide, Sri Lankan Christians on Friday celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ by partaking in religious festivities and celebrations organized in many parts of the country. The year witnessed two crucial elections in the island nation which led to a govt change after 10 years and this year's Christmas was celebrated peacefully following celebrations which began earlier in the month. Many parts of the country including the capital and more..