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Shares edge up from 8-month closing low

Dec 3 (Reuters) Shares edged up on Thursday, recovering from an 8-month closing low hit in the previous session, and snapping a 6-session losing streak as foreign investors bought into big caps. Main stock index ended 0.26%, or 17.87 points, firmer at 6,880.66, after losing 2.7% in the previous six sessions. On Wednesday it closed at its lowest level since Mar 31 at 6,862.79 on worries earnings of financial firms would be hit after the new budget proposals announced were implemented. more..

JVP asks for debate on 88-89 terror

Dec 3 (Island) JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake requested govt to allocate one-week to debate on incidents that had taken place during the time of JVP’s second failed insurrection. House should permit to hold a special debate on incidents that occurred during the 1988-89 terror period, he said. There was a need for the appointment of a special commission to investigate the incidents that occurred during that period when thousands of JVP members were killed by pro-UNP more..

Video: Cabinet nod for Minimum Wage Law for private sector

Dec 3 (DM) Cabinet has approved Rs. 10,000 as the minimum wage for private sector workers, Minister Rajitha Senaratne said today. This follows a Govt decision to introduce a law of national minimum wages for the private sector employees. He said the govt decided a national minimum wages policy by a separate law to the private sector employees according to the request of the Members of National Labour Advisory more..

Fijian firepower for Lanka Lions at Dubai Rugby Sevens

Dec 3 (E24|7) Lanka Lions will be boosted by Fijian firepower at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens this weekend as they make a serious bid to win the elusive Gulf Men's Open title. Cup runners-up in 2013 and semifinalists last year, Lanka Lions are bubbling with confidence after romping to victory in the Eden Park Sevens Series Dubai leg a fortnight ago. “We are going win the cup. I have confidence in the side because of the way boys are playing. We have worked hard and the commitment that more..

Sri Lankans make shaky beginning in tour game

Dec 3 (CI) The Sri Lankans' top order made a shaky start to their tour of New Zealand, losing five wickets for 97 on the rain-curtailed first day of their practice match against the NZC President's XI. Left-arm quick Neil Wagner - who is in New Zealand's Test squad - claimed two of those wickets, after the hosts had won the toss and elected to bowl. Canterbury offspinner Tim Johnston made the greatest impact of the day, taking three wickets for nine from six overs, sparking a Sri Lankan collapse more..

Sri Lanka doctors slammed for strike demanding tax-free cars

Dec 3 (EN) Minister Rajitha Senaratne strongly criticised a strike by doctors in state hospitals who are demanding they continue to get cars without paying the taxes that other people pay. He said the govt could not afford to continue with tax-free privileges for a select few. To continue with the tax-free cars for doctors the govt would be forced to re-impose taxes on many goods on which taxes were reduced in order to more..

GMOA strike to end tomorrow

Dec 3 (DN) The GMOA stated that the island wide strike in effect today is scheduled to be called off tomorrow morning. The strike action was called off after the govt announced that vehicles permits would be issued with several conditions. GMOA Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath said that they strongly oppose the withdrawal of duty free vehicle permits. “This budget had not met the expectations of the public servants. Nothing had been added to their basic salary" he added. more..

SriLankan cancels more flights to Chennai

Dec 3 (EN) SriLankan Airlines has cancelled fourteen more flights between Colombo and Chennai because of the extension of the Chennai International Airport closure owing to flooding. Flights UL 128, UL 129, UL 123, UL 124 of Dec 3, UL 125, UL 126, UL 121, UL 122, UL 127, UL 128, UL 123, UL 124 of Dec 4 and UL 125, UL 126 of Dec 5, have been cancelled. SriLankan’s codeshare partner, Mihin Lanka’s flights of Dec 4, MJ 129 and MJ 130 have also been cancelled. more..

Video: More than 900 hospitals deserted, public strike in action

Dec 3 (DM) Medical services in more than 900 hospitals have come to a standstill today due to the strike action launched by professionals in the medical sector. Many professionals in the public sector including doctors, engineers, accountants and senior public servants are on a token strike today against certain budgetary decisions. GMOA today said that the action was in response to the budget cuts on govt employees’ pension scheme and more..

Lankan hospital linked to international kidney racket

Dec 3 (DNA) Police in Akola have busted an international kidney racket, by arresting a moneylender who had forced a daily wage labourer to travel to Sri Lanka to sell off a kidney, in order to repay a loan of Rs 20,000. According to a report, incredibly, the kidney racket may be linked to farmer suicides in Vidarbha. A spate of farmer suicides in the region has alarmed the country, but part of the reason is the moneylenders' exploitation poor farmers and labourers. more..

Kiriella says existing govt servants will not lose their pension rights

Dec 3 (Island) The govt had not taken any decision to abolish the pensions of govt servants, Minister Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament. The existing public sector employees would be entitled to their pensions similar to their predecessors, Minister said adding that a new pension scheme would be introduced only to those to be recruited from next year. Sri Lanka, too, would introduce a new pension scheme similar to the ones in practice in many other countries, he said. more..

Video: Sumathipala plans overhaul to transform Cricket

Dec 3 (DM) Former Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) President and the Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala handed over his nomination to contest the presidency of SLC today along with a strong team and claimed he wanted to overhaul and transform cricket in SL. Interestingly contesting in his team for vice presidency would be SLC’s immediate past President Jayantha Dharmadasa for long a bitter rival of Sumathipala in local cricket politics. more..

Sajin Vass Gunawardena's request for foreign travel rejected

Dec 3 (AD) Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya rejected a request made by former MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena to revoke the ban on foreign travel imposed on him. The Magistrate made this direction after considering objections raised by the Bribery Commission. The commission officials opposed to revoking the ban, pointing out that the inquiry against Sajin de Vass Gunawardena involves foreign transactions. Gunawardena, who recently went to Singapore on medical grounds more..

JVP calls upon joint opposition MPs to decide if they are in govt. or not

Dec 3 (Island) Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that MPs of so-called joint opposition should reveal whether they were an independent group of MPs before complaining that they were not given time during parliamentary debates. Participating in the budget’s second reading stage debate, MP Dissanayake said the UPFA had contested as a separate entity and some of its members became govt ministers. "The UPFA MPs are in both the govt and opposition. more..

Video: Who is occupying Barnes Place land?

Dec 3 (DM) Voice against Corruption Organisation today lodged a complaint with the Anti Corruption Committee Secretariat alleging that a former Cabinet Minister had forcibly taken over a Rs. 100 million worth block of land belonging to Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) at Barnes Place, Colombo 7. VAC member and JVP WPC member Sunil Watagala said the 154 perch-block had been taken over by the CMC in 1980 but more..

Port City project to resume soon: Rajitha

Dec 3 (AD) Govt is set to reverse its decision to block a Chinese-funded port development in Colombo, Minister Rajitha Senaratne says. He said govt will give its nod to resume Port City project soon. “Govt wanted to review an environmental management report with respect to the project. That was why we halted the project,” he added. Responding to a question on Avant Garde issue, he said govt has earned revenue to the tune of $525,000 within 6 days from security service. more..

Missing 18-yr-old found dead

Dec 3 (CT) The body of an 18-year-old girl was recovered from a wooded area in Mahiyanganaya yesterday morning. ASP Ruwan Gunasekara, the victim was an employee of a nearby factory in Mahiyanagana. The girl who had left home last Tuesday morning to work, had left work in the office transport around 5:30 p.m. She had gotten down from the bus around 7 p.m., 300 metres away from her house. However, she had not arrived even after several hours which led her uncle to lodge more..

SriLankan Airlines to ditch vanity routes

Dec 3 (EN) SriLankan Airlines will stop flying on vanity routes and pull out of markets it can’t compete in to focus on ones with better yields as it restructures its network, aiming to regain profitability, its chief executive said. “We’re looking at rationalizing all our routes under a strict time line,” said Suren Ratwatte, CEO of SriLankan Airlines and the budget carrier Mihin Lanka. “We have vanity routes - some of them are going to go. more..

Mahindananda takes up plight of UNPers

Dec 3 (Island) Those who had worked tirelessly spending their own money and time to save the UNP when that party was in the opposition had not been able to secure the plum positions under the present govt, UPFA MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage said. The MP pointing towards Minister Daya Gamagae said: "Look at Minister Daya Gamage. He received an unimportant ministry. He was the one who paid electricity and water bills at Sirikotha when the UNP was in the opposition. more..

South Korean ROKS calls at Colombo Port

Dec 3 (DM) A Naval ship of the Republic of Korea, ROKS Chungmugong Yisunshin, today called at the Colombo Port after conducting five-months of counter piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and Gulf of Aden. The ship arrived on a three-day goodwill and replenishment visit. Commander Yoo Jae Man and Republic of Korea Naval Escort Task Group 19th were welcomed by the Korean expatriates in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval customs on its arrival. more..

Cabinet approves right to information bill

Dec 3 (IANS) Cabinet has approved a key legislation which will ensure the public has access to information from state institutions. The Right to Information Bill has been approved by the cabinet and would soon be presented to parliament, Minister Rajitha Senaratne said. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament that the bill would be discussed at provincial level and then be presented to parliament to be approved and made law. more..

Video: Strike to continue till morning

Dec 3 (DM) The token strike launched by GMOA and 18 other public sector professional outfits would continue until tomorrow morning, the GMOA said. The decision to continue the strike had been taken during the GMOA Central Committee meeting held today with other 18 outfits including Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association and State Engineers Service Association. The strike was based on several demands of the public servants against certain budgetary decisions. more..

MS calls for Opposition support to enact new Constitution

Dec 3 (DM) President Maithripala Sirisena today urged the Opposition to support the govt to formulate and enact a new Constitution and to put the nation on the right track. "We need the blessings and support of Opposition MPs to enact a new Constitution," President said during the committee stage debate on the budget in Parliament today. "I personally feel all powers of the Executive President should be handed over to Parliament" he said indicating that time is right for reforms. more..

Vehicle permits restored for exec. grade state employees

Dec 3 (DM) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament today that public servants would be given a permit to import a vehicle once in ten years. He said the permits would be issued only twice during their career. It was impossible to give a vehicle permit once in five years considering the traffic congestion on the roads. He said govt had no option but to introduce a contributory pension scheme for public sector more..

Education: The elusive & much maligned 6%

Dec 4 (CT) The eagerly anticipated 2016 budget has already given rise to much discussion, debate and controversy. Trade unions including the powerful GMOA and the Sri Lanka Administration Services Union (SLAS) are threatening strikes mainly over the withdrawal of duty free car permits. A no confidence motion signed by 44 parliamentarians against the Minister, Ravi Karunanayake has been handed over to the Speaker. Opposition MPs have been threatening to make sure budget is defeated. more..

A Buddhist requiem for Stanley Tambiah

Dec 4 (CT) Final answers are never possible in post conflict societies. What is possible is to dig in to the past and to dig in to the truth. These truths when unearthed, reveal different perspectives. At the end, if we are lucky, we find common ground that produces reconciliation and harmony. That is precisely what Social Anthropologist Sarath Amunugama did when he offered a Buddhist requiem for his teacher, fellow researcher and friend Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah. more..

A defiant death

Dec 4 (SO) Despite assurances by the Attorney General's Department of the swift release and rehabilitation of detained Tamil prisoners, several remain behind bars with no conclusive dates of their release. The AG's Department said that it would complete formalities to release a batch of Tamil prisoners who were detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. A decision to release 20 such prisoners was taken last week more..

Is death penalty a capital punishment

Dec 4 (DM) Death is painful and unpleasant. Animals or human beings want to live at least one minute more at the death which is common to all. Life is pleasant and enjoyable during the lifetime. One being got the right to take this precious life of another? Is he/she not liable for the maximum punishment depending on the gravity? In the animal kingdom, the law of the jungle and the survival of the fittest prevails. Carnivores kill prey for food, but do not kill unnecessarily. more..

Pointing towards the Moon

Dec 4 (SL) Egypt’s beleaguered ruler – former President Hosni Mubarak is now standing trial after three decades of looting and pillaging his country’s wealth. For most Egyptians, this is viewed as a major victory; there is a feeling of intense optimism here on the streets of Cairo, and even though nothing is fundamentally different, expectations are high. According to writer Simon Black, Mubarak was a symbol of tyranny, and a great deal of blood was shed to topple his regime. more..

'SLC election I'm confident of winning'

Dec 4 (CT) Former President of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Nishantha Ranatunga is at present re-contesting the post. He is doing so amidst several allegations of corruption being levelled against him. But Ranatunga in an interview with Ceylon Today said, none of the allegations have been proved so far, and that he is confident of winning yet another term. Q: Why did you choose to contest the upcoming SLC Board elections? more..

Electoral reforms in the context of a new Constitution

Dec 4 (DM) With the approval of President’s Cabinet Paper, it has been decided to adopt an entirely new Constitution, not to tinker any more with the 1978 Constitution as we have been doing so far through 19 Amendments. Those engaged in the process of electoral reform, which began in the 1990s but gathered considerable momentum in the failed attempt to enact the 20th Amendment earlier this year, must now step back and situate their efforts within larger context of Constitutional reform. more..

Time the People said a loud and a firm NO to Medics without Ethics

Dec 4 (GV) I respect the medical profession when it respects the Oath of Hippocrates. I will respect them if they stand for patients’ rights. I would have respected them if they stood up for much needed reform in this country; independent commissions, electoral reforms and at least for the Right To Information Bill (RTI). But they have not and they don’t. They have not stood for the people and will not. Not even with other professions and members of the health sector. more..

'Budget signals beginning of govt's end'

Dec 4 (CT) Budget 2016, which was presented to Parliament recently, received mixed responses. CT interviewed President of NTUC K.D. Lalkantha regarding Budget 2016 and asked whether the employees will benefit from it. He said "trade unions demanded a salary hike for the private sector employees. We believe that the minimum wage of the private sector employees should be equal to that of the public sector employees. more..

Editorial: Rekindling suicide culture?

Dec 4 (Island) Attempts are being made in some quarters to make a hero out of a northern schoolboy who recently committed suicide purportedly in a bid to pressure the govt to release the LTTE suspects in custody. This kind of ill-conceived glorification of the unfortunate incident for political purposes is an indication that the separatist forces which survived the decimation of the LTTE’s military muscle in 2009 still consider children expendable in trying to achieve their goal. more..

MTI highlights economic reality of Sri Lankans working abroad

Dec 4 (FT) There have been calls to ban Sri Lankan maids from going abroad. Emotionally, this is understandable, but logically and realistically consider the following as well: We have 1.7 million Sri Lankans working abroad, remitting over $ 6.5 B and there about five million people (25% of our population) who depend on this. Also, it is this inflow that is helping to pay for the imports (the cars we drive in Colombo) and to ‘hold’ our currency at least where it is today. more..

Sumedha qualifies for Olympics with stunning feat

Dec 4 (Island) SL Air Force and Sri J'pura University thrower Sumeda Ranasinghe stunned country’s athletics enthusiasts with a new Sri Lanka record mark which earned him Olympic qualification on day one of the South Asian Games athletic trials. Sumeda cleared a distance of 83.04m in his fifth throw to lower the national record, held by Asian Championship medallist Sachith Maduranga, by more than 3 metres. more..

The de-proscription of Diaspora entities

Dec 4 (Island) Former Govt of Sri Lanka proscribed 16 Diaspora entities and 424 individuals under UN Security Resolution (UNSCR) 1373. UNSCR 1373 is implemented under UN Act No. 45 of 1968. Under terms of the text of this Resolution, the Council decided that all States should prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, as well as criminalize the willful provision or collection of funds for such acts. The funds, financial assets and economic resources of those who commit or attempt to commit more..

'Hotel rooms up from 1,200 to 33,400'

Dec 4 (CT) Hotel rooms which were a mere 1,200 when the then State Minister J.R. Jayewardene, regarded as the father of Sri Lanka tourism, took over the development of the industry 50 years ago, has now increased to 33,426, covering both the formal and informal sectors. Tourism Minister John Amaratunga speaking at a function in Colombo on Monday said that the industry plans to have 45,000 rooms on stream by 2018 and four million tourists by 2020. more..

Two Tamils in Cabinet panel to draft new constitution

Dec 4 (NIE) Cabinet sub-committee for drafting a new Constitution for the island nation, which was formed on Wednesday, has two Tamils - D.M.Swaminathan, Minister of Rehabilitation and Resettlement; and Mano Ganeshan, Minister for National Dialogue. While Swaminathan is a Ceylon Tamil from Jaffna, Ganeshan is an Indian Origin Tamil from Colombo. This is the first time the Tamils are involved in Constitution making in Sri Lanka. more..