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Govt split over Avant Garde

Mar 7 (CT) Govt is split over the Avant Garde Company affair, with several powerful ministers expressing their views in support of and against the Company. Stating his views on this issue, Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said the Avant Garde Company, which is said to have more than 2,000 accusations of fraud against it has been involved in massive corruption. However, Minister Lakshman Kiriella said, in Parliament recently, that Avant Garde had paid proper taxes to govt more..

Swaraj takes up fishermen issue with SL PM

Mar 7 (PTI) India today took up with PM Ranil Wickramasinghe the humanitarian issue of fishermen's rights as controversy raged over his remarks that Indian fishermen may be shot if they intruded into Sri Lankan waters. On a 2-day trip ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also made it clear to him that there was no comparison between the issues of Italian sailors and the fishermen. more..

Talks over prison overcrowding

Mar 7 (CG) A Task Force which will include representatives of Sri Lankan govt ministries has been set up to analyse the causes of overcrowding and to recommend and implement measures to ease congestion in the country’s prisons. This decision was taken during a High Level Round Table on the Legal and Judicial Causes of Prison Overcrowding organized in Colombo. “Overcrowding in prisons affects not just the prisoners, but also their families,” said Sujeewa Senasinghe, more..

Wickramasinghe's threat shows its bad days for India: Congress

Mar 7 (PTI) Targeting NDA govt over SL premier Ranil Wickramasinghe's controversial remarks that Indian fishermen may be shot if they intruded into their waters, Congress today said it was bad days for India if foreign countries felt no qualms while making such threats. "It's bure din for India if SL can dare to flash eyes to India as it hs on fishermen's issues," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said in a series of tweets. "It seems the #56InchChest was only for Indian voters and more..

Sri Lanka says it has lot of expectations from PM Modi's visit next week

Mar 7 (PTI) Sri Lanka has a lot of expectations from PM Narendra Modi's visit next week, top political leaders here said on Saturday while highlighting that a bilateral trip by an Indian premier was long due. "There are lot of expectations from Modi's visit," R Sampanthan, leader of TNA, Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, said talking about the two-day visit of Modi scheduled to begin on March 13. Asked about the expectations from the visit, more..

Women and politics

Mar 8 (SO) Never before, perhaps since times of ancient royalty, has Sri Lankan women played such a pivotal role in politics as they did in the moves to unseat the seemingly all-powerful regime of Mahinda Rajapakse, perhaps the most ‘macho’ of all leading politicians in post-colonial Sri Lanka. It was none other than former President Chandrika Kumaratunga who performed the critical role as facilitator in the dramatic transit of Maithripala Sirisena from the centre of power to more..

The good, the bad and ugly

Mar 8 (NS) Financial irregularity was one of the many charges leveled at the Rajapaksa regime. The rot so to speak began at the top, according to critics. It was and still is argued that this state of affairs is a direct or indirect product of a system of governance marked by centralization of power following the dictum power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign theme, naturally, was good governance. Promises were made to correct institutional flaws, more..

Views on national govt & 100-day program

Mar 8 (SO) Central Committee of the SLFP formed a 4-member committee last week to discuss the formation of a national govt with the major constituent party of the new govt- the UNP. With PM Ranil Wickremasinghe calling for a general elections on schedule, the SLFP and the UPFA seemed to be bidding for a delay till at least the 100 days program, that may require more days than what was initially anticipated. more..

Sataka instead of Sari Pota of yore?

Mar 8 (Island) Whether we will have a parliamentary election within the next few months, as stated by some, or whether the imperatives of fulfilling the pledges in the 100-day program will result in the incumbent parliament serving its full term or something close to that, remain an open question. Most politicians want what serves them best. While the promise of abolishing the executive presidency was a rallying point for forging the common opposition candidacy, a part of constituency more..

Don’t rush through constitutional amendments

Mar 8 (SL) The proposal of a National Govt has been widely acclaimed by most political parties though no one seems to be quite familiar on what it is about. It’s the proposal of President Sirisena and he has not expanded on the proposal very much. With the 100-Day period for implementation of the president’s vital proposals running out fast, the need for elaboration about a National Govt need hardly be stressed. First govt in Sri Lanka to be called a National Govt was that of the govt of more..

'We were only opposing external investigations'

Mar 8 (SL) The former govt came under constant criticism of the UN officials for their unwillingness to work with the UN resolution passed on Sri Lanka to carry out international investigations into alleged war crimes and other human rights violations. The former govt was also accused of developing hostile foreign policies towards western countries and blocking the UN probe into the country. more..

Poaching: Don’t fear to rock the boat

Mar 8 (ST) During his successful visit to the Northern Province last week, President Maithripala Sirisena seems to have been well received by the people – and the region’s political leaders. His subdued presence lacking the fanfare and security detail that accompanied his predecessor stood him in good stead. Soothing words calling for reconciliation helped. This visit needs to be reviewed in the backdrop of an outlandish resolution that was passed just last month by the NPC damning more..

Truth bites: So we hear nothing but the tooth

Mar 8 (ST) My dear Rajitha, I thought of writing to you because you are very much in the news these days, telling us what Maithri and his team have already done, would want to do and what we should do for them in return in your new role as Cabinet spokesman for the govt in addition to looking after our health. Now that over fifty days have elapsed since you took on your job, Rajitha, I hope you don’t mind me sharing some thoughts with you especially about the manner in which you have gone more..

'Govt not in agreement'

Mar 8 (SL) TNA is adamant that they will not accept a domestic investigation into the war and have consistently demanded for an international investigation. They believe that unless the current govt changes its policies there cannot be real reconciliation. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that the majority of the current govt were part of the previous regime and they still have the same policies. more..

Kandy: Another Nugegoda

Mar 8 (Island) Kandy has long been known to be a bastion of the UNP. Maithripala Sirisena got 54.5% of the votes in that district and had a majority of 88,000. Even though MR did win some electorates even in this district, one may say that the political initiative in Kandy has now passed on to the UNP once again after the interruption of 2010. This is now arguably one of the Sinhala majority districts where the SLFP and by association Mahinda Rajapaksa is weakest. more..

An economic body blow?

Mar 8 (Island) In Sri Lanka our culture is such that politics always takes centre stage. For two weeks the Nugegoda rally of the pro-Rajapaksa camp kept tongues wagging until the Kandy meeting held last Friday. For the next two weeks, people will be discussing the Kandy meeting. In the meantime, there were plenty of sideshows, such as the controversy over the Colombo Port City with one section of the govt saying that it will continue while another section says that it has been more..

'I will not serve Sri Lanka after WC 2015'

Mar 8 (CT) World Cup 2015 the Sri Lankans have been performing satisfactorily except for the fact that they have been pushed up due to their performing with the bat only. But, there is no chance of justifying the performing of their pace bowlers. Although Chaminda Vass was made the special fast bowling coach two years into his stint, another bowling consultant Rumesh Ratnayake was also brought in for a period of more..

WC 2015: Ireland beat Zimbabwe

Mar 8 (CI) Ireland hung on like they would for dear life, beating Zimbabwe by five runs in one of the most thrilling finishes in this World Cup. After 657 runs and 17 wickets, a game of fluctuating fortunes came to an end when Ireland's captain William Porterfield ran hard from long-on to take the final catch of Tawanda Mupariwa, who had almost clinched it for Zimbabwe with two fours and a six in the penultimate over. Zimbabwe, whose campaign is now effectively over, hung their heads low more..

The preferred option

Mar 8 (SL) From an analytical point of view the consensus is that if President Maithripala Sirisena had real depth of long term political stratagems, he would have kept former President Chandrika Kumaratunga as a close confidant. Instead by in effect alienating the former President he has prompted Kumaratunga to exit from the scene, at least for the moment, but by doing so has lost the support of a great many SLFP MPs who have an appreciative liking for Mrs Kumaratunga. more..

Chaos, confusion continue in 15% interest drama

Mar 8 (ST) Chaos and confusion prevailed for the third week running in the 15% special interest rate scheme for deposits of senior Sri Lankan citizens, this time when banks received instructions on its implementation. Despite the Central Bank and SL Banks Association issuing guidelines, there was still ambiguity over this issue. The interpretation of Central Bank announcement last week appeared to have foxed many banks, more..

SLFP split with a section still with former President

Mar 8 (CT) Confusion is most confounded within many political parties as the new govt treads on to meet the deadline of its 100-day programme. President Maithripala Sirisena views pressure from his SLFP seriously, with some in the rank and file ignoring party directives. In reality the SLFP is split with a section of the party still with former President Rajapaksa. It was clear from last Friday's UPFA meeting held in Kandy where several SLFP MPs boarded the stage defying more..

Prepare Jetties before launching ferry service: Sri Lanka tells India

Mar 8 (ENS) Sri Lanka has asked India to prepare the jetty in Rameswaram and help Lanka prepare the jetty at Talaimannar before launching a passenger ferry service between the two ports. The plea was made by the Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during talks with the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Briefing newspersons on the talks, Lankan spokesman A.M.J.Sadiq said that India wanted the ferry service to be started next week. more..

JVP trade union files petitions against alleged irregularities at J’pura Hospital

Mar 8 (Island) JVP-led Samastha Lanka Suwaseva Sangamaya has petitioned the Bribery Commission on an alleged shady transaction relating to cabling and the installation of software and hardware systems at the Sri J'pura General Hospital in 2012, and a series of other irregularities costing Rs. 500 million during the former administration of this key medical facility. Despite payments made to the private company more..

CBSL lends Rs 31B to the Govt. US$ 157M spent to protect rupee

Mar 8 (CT) A sum of US$ 155.6 million was drawn out from Central Bank of Sri Lanka's (CBSL) foreign reserves to prevent depreciating pressure on the rupee, while CBSL lent Rs 31.1 billion to the Govt for foreign debt servicing at Friday's trading, an analysis of current 'open market operations' data showed. CBSL is at present preventing the rupee from depreciating beyond the Rs 132.90 level to the US dollar in interbank spot trading, with banks doing trades on seven day forwards more..

Sri Lankan Cricket Team honoured at the Victorian Parliament Australia

Mar 8 (LG) The Sri Lankan Cricket team received a very special welcome at the Victorian Parliament in Australia in the Cricket World Cup tour in Australia recently. There were two parts of this memorable event. First, the Sri Lankan team was called in to the Parliament’s Chamber and an official recognition was mentioned by Telmo Languiller the Speaker of the Victorian Parliament with the sitting Parliament with the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews. And five names of the team were mentioned more..

We are here to stay in SL: Airtel & Hutch

Mar 8 (CT) Bharti Airtel Lanka, and Hutchison Telecom Lanka, assured in unison and in combination that they will continue their operations in Sri Lanka and debunked a Fitch report that there was speculation that the two international telcos would exit their operations here. "This is an absurd story which has been very speculative and we have no intention of closing the operations in Colombo, a top source from Airtel said. more..

Coast Guard releases five Sri Lankan boats

Mar 8 (Hindu) Five Sri Lankan fishing boats, which had been apprehended by Indian Coast Guard personnel last year on allegedly for illegal fishing in Indian waters, were released from Tuticorin on Saturday based on repatriation order. With the aid of Coastal Security Group police, the detained boats were handed over to Coast Guard personnel, Tuticorin to carry out other formalities. Commandant A. Athinarayanan, Commanding Officer, ICG, Tuticorin, told The Hindu that more..

SLFP bigwigs silenced by Kandy rally?

Mar 8 (NS) SLFP politicians who took part in the Kandy rally, aimed at obtaining support to make Mahinda Rajapaksa the UPFA prime ministerial candidate, say they have not been informed of any disciplinary action being taken against them. Meanwhile, SLFP bigwigs have mainly chosen to remain silent regarding the matter. The SLFP had earlier banned its elected representatives from attending rallies organized by other parties. However, several MPs along with a large more..

Karuna ready to testify

Mar 8 (SL) Former LTTE Eastern Province leader and SLFP member V Muralitharan (Karuna Amman) says he is ready to give evidence in the new domestic investigation of the war. Muralitharan, who split from the LTTE and eventually entered politics, said that he had earlier given evidence on the war before the LLRC was ready to do the same in the proposed domestic probe. “I will give any support to a domestic more..

'Sanga an absolute gentleman, all time great'

Mar 8 (Island) Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke paid a glowing tribute to Kumar Sangakkara ahead of the team’s epic World Cup clash here at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Sri Lankan was ranked world’s number one cricketer for several years and has been a thorn in Australia’s flesh over the years. Clarke said, "Sanga certainly is as good as any player I’ve played against. He’s a wonderful batsman. His statistics show that in both Test and ODI cricket," Clarke said. more..

FLSP dismisses Drug Policy Bill

Mar 8 (NS) Despite the National Medicinal Drugs Regulatory Authority Bill (National Drugs Policy Bill) being passed in Parliament, the Frontline Socialist Party (FLSP) has dismissed it as a bill which seeks to privatize the health sector. Frontline Socialist Party Propaganda Secretary, Pubudu Jayagoda alleged that the drug policy was passed in Parliament in an undemocratic manner. He also remarked that this can also be considered as a way to privatize the Health Sector. more..

Wigneswaran is a liar: Ranil

Mar 8 (CT) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has described Northern Province CM, C.V. Wigneswaran as an irresponsible man and a liar whom he would not meet even if he (Wickremesinghe) went to Jaffna. Wickremesinghe said that Wigneswaran will have to explain himself to the Tamil speaking people as lots of Tamils were criticizing him today. Wickremesinghe has claimed that Wigneswaran was playing politics more..

Heads of foreign missions nominated

Mar 8 (SO) External Affairs Ministry has nominated the new heads of missions to 27 Sri Lankan embassies whose ambassadors were recalled to depoliticise the foreign service after new govt took office. List of nominations have been submitted to the 18-member High Posts Committee of Parliament headed by former PM Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. Former legal advisor to Foreign Ministry Dr. Rohan Perera, will be posted as the SL’s next Permanent Representative to UN in New York. more..

Minority parties sidelined

Mar 8 (NS) Minority parties claim to have been sidelined in the drafting of the new electoral reforms. According to TNA MP Suresh Premachandran govt hasn’t reached out to the Alliance with regards to the proposed electoral reforms. The party believed the forthcoming elections will be held under the present preferential voting system and the new Cabinet decision came as a surprise. “They must appoint a committee as promised and consult the minority parties before any reforms are introduced” more..

Sanga to retire from Test cricket in August

Mar 8 (NS) The great Kumar Sangakkara, easily the best batsman/wicket-keeper produced by Sri Lanka has finally decided to end his glorious international cricket career in August. Sangakkara is due to retire from one-day international cricket at the end of the ongoing cricket World Cup along with his long time buddy Mahela Jayawardene, but had left a window open in Test cricket allowing for plenty of chitchat amongst more..

China asks Sri Lanka to protect interests of investors over suspended port project

Mar 8 (Xinhua) China has urged Sri Lanka to respect bilateral agreements and business contracts, and protect the interests of its investors following the suspension of a multi- billion-U.S. dollar project, Chinese Embassy said. At emergency meetings with PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang also asked the Sri Lankan side to cherish the results of mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two countries, more..

MS to meet Tamil diaspora, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Lanka

Mar 8 (ST) President Maithripala Sirisena, who left for Britain on a three-day visit, will meet with members of Tamil diaspora groups in London. These include the British Tamils Forum and The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils. He will also hold talks with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka, chaired by Lord Naseby. His predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had avoided all meetings with Tamil diaspora groups and was routinely met with street demonstrations by more..

Huge foreign bank accounts exposed

Mar 8 (ST) Billions of rupees enough to bridge 75% of the Budget deficit have been illegally deposited in three countries – Ukraine, the UAE and Switzerland — by leaders of the former govt and top officials, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. He said the Govt had worked out a plan to recover this money and preliminary investigations had revealed the names of the persons holding the accounts and other details. more..

MRIA to be grounded

Mar 8 (SL) The govt has decided to cancel all passenger flights to the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA). Vice President of the Airport and Aviation Service (Sri Lanka) Limited Sanjeewa Wijeratne said that landing passenger planes at MRIA will be completely cancelled from April 1. He further said that even though approximately Rs. 250 million has been spent on maintaining the airport, only two passengers have arrived at the airport last month. more..

Hybrid cars at Hambantota Port up for auction

Mar 8 (ST) A majority of around 2000 imported hybrid cars lying idle at the Hambantota Port will end up at the auction block at the port’s vehicle park, as a large number of small used car importers have failed to clear their vehicles with high taxes due, motor traders said. If the importers fail to clear vehicles before a stipulated date then the authorities have no option other than auctioning it, official sources warned. Minister Ravi Karunanayake has refused to grant concessions for more..