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Ravi K tells Customs Dept. not to bow down to political pressure

Mar 13 (DM) Customs Department should maintain its independence and any infraction would be its total responsibility going forward, unlike during the past regime, according to top figures from the govt. “Unlike before, going forward, whether it’s the President, PM or Finance Minister, please don’t allow them challenge you and force you to do things. You 2,600 officials are responsible for reducing the tax burden of our citizens,” more..

Rupee should also be allowed to fall: Major currencies decline between 7%-16%

Mar 13 (CT) Central Bank allowing interest rates to rise in order to stave off pressure on the rupee from depreciating is not enough to take the flak off the local currency, market sources told Ceylon FT. In tandem with allowing rates to rise, it also should allow the rupee to depreciate, so as to ease pressure on the local currency which is being artificially propped up, they said. This has to be looked at in the context that all major currencies have depreciated against the US dollar more..

Sri Lanka to gain GSP Plus

Mar 13 (DN) The prospects of Lanka gaining back the EU's GSP plus preferential trade concessions are brighter, Minister Rishard Bathiudeen said. He made this remark addressing the inaugural ceremony of sixth TEXTECH Sri Lanka 2015 International Expo’ – An International Exhibition on Textile Apparel Technology and Machinery for Sri Lanka at SLECC in Colombo. The loss of the GSP plus concession from the European Union greatly affected the Sri Lankan apparel sector; more..

UK notes concerns over Sri Lanka

Mar 13 (CG) The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office noted the concerns it had on Sri Lanka last year, when it released its annual human rights report. The 2014 report released today by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, said that the human rights situation in Sri Lanka continued to be of concern in 2014, with little overall improvement. UK remained concerned over a number of issues: restrictions on more..

Court issues notice on Ravi Karunanayake

Mar 13 (FT) The Appeal Court yesterday issued notice on six people including Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, the Secretary to the Treasury, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury and Director General of Customs. Several representatives of the Sri Lanka Vehicle Importers’ Association had moved to the Appeal Court challenging Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s order to remove the depreciation tax formula and to impose the brand new vehicle taxes when importing vehicles. more..

Mathews, Herath set to be fit for quarters

Mar 13 (IANS) Sri Lanka were on Thursday a 100 percent sure that skipper Angelo Mathews, down with a heel injury, will be fit for their quarter-final outing of the cricket World Cup in Sydney next week. The Sri Lankans were also hopeful of spinner Rangana Herath being available before the last eight clash. Mathews suffered soreness in his Achilles tendon while batting during Sri Lanka's win over Scotland on Wednesday and did not take the field for the Scots' run chase. more..

Sharma commends SL govt’s initiatives to resolve economic issues

Mar 13 (Island) Measures taken by the new Sri Lankan govt to resolve economic issues and to safeguard democratic rights of its people were exceptional, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said. Secretary–General had made these comments in London on Wednesday during a meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena who is on an official visit to UK, President’s office said. more..

India, Sri Lanka to sign agreements on security, agriculture: Sources

Mar 13 (ANI) India and Sri Lanka are expected to sign multiple agreements during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to the island nation, including those on security, agriculture and infrastructure, sources state. Upon his arrival in Colombo on Friday morning, PM Modi will most likely be received by high-level political leaders of Sri Lanka, with sources adding that a special ceremony is being organised in honour of the visiting dignitary. PM Modi and President Maithripala Sirisena more..

TID and CID to start investigations into Lasantha murder

Mar 13 (GDI) The CID as directed by the IGP on the order of the Mount Lavinia Magistrate is to commence investigations into the murder of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga. Acting Police Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekera said that, Preliminary investigations into the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga was carried out by the Mirihana Police and later, the investigations into the murder were taken over by the Terrorist Investigation Division. more..

Those rejected by people attempting to hold 100 day programme to ransom: PM

Mar 13 (DN) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said that those who had been rejected by the people were attempting to hold the 100 day programme to ransom. He noted those who were behind the endeavour to make President Maithripala Sirisena victorious should be the ones who take the lead role in decision making. He was addressing a ceremony at BMICH under the theme Towards a Positive Political Culture more..

Minor tremor in Polonnaruwa

Mar 13 (CT) A minor earth tremor of 2.9 on the Richter Scale was reported in Polonnaruwa Wednesday night. The tremor lasted a few seconds and was felt in the areas of Bakamuna, Giritale, Kaduruwela and Diya Beduma in the Polonnaruwa District, the DMC spokesman, Pradeep Kodippili said. Residents said they had heard a loud noise before they experienced the tremors. Kodippili said that the Geological Survey and the Mines Bureau will conduct an investigation on the tremor. more..

US welcomes release of Sri Lanka activist

Mar 13 (AP) The U.S. is welcoming the release by Sri Lanka's new govt of a rights activist arrested a year ago for demanding information about people who went missing during the country's decades-long civil war. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki Thursday Balendran Jeyakumari was among eight detainees freed this week. She has been released on bail pending trial. That is seen as a goodwill gesture by the new govt toward the country's estranged ethnic Tamil minority. more..

Rajapaksa says RAW rallied opposition to his presidency

Mar 13 (Hindu) Claiming that Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) conspired with Western agencies CIA and MI-6 to rally the opposition led by President Sirisena against his presidency, former President Rajapaksa says he does not, however, believe PM Narendra Modi or the govt was responsible. Mr. Rajapaksa says he raised concerns with the govt over his belief of a conspiracy. “I said the man [RAW station chief] who is here more..

Treasury bond fiasco: Harsha urges all to wait for findings

Mar 13 (FT) Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva has urged the people to wait for the findings of the three-member committee appointed to probe matters concerning the recent Treasury bond issue. De Silva said he has been inundated with questions as to what the Govt was doing about the allegations of insider dealing with respect to the RS. 10 billion Treasury bond issue on 27 Feb. “These questions seem to be directed at me particularly because I was very vociferous on such matters more..

Modi arrives in Sri Lanka as final stop of his 3-nation trip

Mar 13 (PTI) PM Narendra Modi on Friday flew into SL capital in the early hours for a historic visit during which he is expected to hold talks with the country’s top leadership. Mr. Modi was received by PM Ranil Wickramasinghe at the airport after he arrived in Colombo for a two-day visit at 5.25 a.m. following an overnight journey from Port Louis in Mauritius in a special Air India plane. Sri Lanka is the final stop of his three-nation tour of Indian Ocean island nations that took him to Seychelles and Mauritius. more..

Modi likely to raise China, devolution in parleys

Mar 13 (Hindu) With a 5,000-member strong police contingent on special security duty, Colombo appears all set for PM Narendra Modi’s arrival on Friday. On the eve of his historic visit to the island — the first stand alone bilateral visit by an Indian leader in over 27 years — rows of Indian flags popped up along many Colombo roads, and posters welcomed him in Sinhala. Both Colombo and New Delhi have indicated the importance more..

Namasthe and Ayubowan, Premier Modi

Mar 13 (DM) In what many see as a new chapter in the vital Indo-Sri Lanka relationship, PM Narendra Modi arrives here today for a packed two-day visit—the first official state visit by an Indian leader since Rajiv Gandhi came here in July 1987 with the circumstances then being highly controversial if not explosive. Mr. Modi, widely hailed as one of India’s most powerful leaders and a potential game changer in bilateral and international issues, comes today with the Palk Strait much calmer more..

Fishing in troubled waters needs a certain kind of finesse

Mar 13 (DM) The questions from budding journalists at my Alma mater, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi when I addressed them on Wednesday depicted the present Indian thinking towards Sri Lanka. Although my speech mainly focused on media and its challenges in post-conflict Sri Lanka, the students posed questions on issues in fishing, poaching, Geneva and its related accusations and seeking political solution to the ethnic minority issues. more..

Sinhalese migrant Nalika Padmasena wins Harmony award

Mar 13 (SMH) For Sinhalese migrant Nalika Padmasena her work helping women from culturally diverse backgrounds to speak about domestic and family violence, helped to ease her own homesickness. Arriving from Sri Lanka during the unrest of the mid-1990s, Ms Padmasena took her mind off her own troubles by helping other women to open up and get help for an issue which has long been considered taboo more..

Grade One admission scam

Mar 13 (SL) An astonishing school admission scam has come to light where it is alleged that Education Ministry higher officials were involved in Grade One school admissions with the help of some Principals in leading govt schools in the country. The eligible students in the year one admission waiting list have been overlooked by students from peripheries almost in all leading schools in the country thanks to more..

'Electricity conservation not a political joke'

Mar 13 (DN) Attempts to conserve electricity should not be made a political joke by politicians to achieve petty political gains, said Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka. He made these observations at the awards ceremony of the Energy Conservation Competition held among school students under the National Energy Conservation Programme organised by the Power and Energy Ministry in collaboration with more..

Central Bank bond issue: ‘We will get an answer soon enough’

Mar 13 (DM) Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva asserts that his commitment to a corruption- free market is undeterred. He said that the govt is committed in ensuring economic justice to the masses of the country. Following are excerpts of the interview. Q: You’ve been a vociferous critic of the previous regime. Don’t you feel that there is something wrong when one primary dealer is allocated over 5 billion more..

Buyers of illegally caught fish have duty to ensure ocean resources are not depleted

Mar 13 (ST) Countries which buy fish poached by Indian fishermen using destructive bottom trawlers in Sri Lankan seas have obligations under international conventions to ensure that oceanic resources are maintained, a maritime law expert said this week. “Even if you divide them up, the oceans are one,” said Nirmala Chandrahasan, author of the book Maritime Boundaries in the Indian Ocean: Sri Lanka and the Law of the Sea. more..

Japanese coal-fired power plant to be built in Sampur

Mar 13 (Island) Public hearing on the second coal fired power plant in Sampur, Trincomalee is coming to an end shortly and plans are underway to call tenders in May. CEA Chairman confirmed that the public hearing on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was under way. A senior CEB engineer said: "Though it is a joint venture, everything was done according to the whims and fancies of the Indian company. more..

Filmmaker who helped expose Lankan war crimes seeks Modi intervention

Mar 13 (TOI) British writer-filmmaker Callum Macrae has urged PM Narendra Modi to "show courage and commitment" in pushing Sri Lanka to address war crimes ahead of his visit to Colombo. "(The Sri Lankan govt should) allow a genuinely independent international process of justice - something which can command support and trust of all communities of Sri Lanka," Macrae said. The filmmaker, who took the picture showing more..

Fisheremen issue will take sometime to resolve: Modi

Mar 13 (Hindu) India and Sri Lanka on Friday inked four agreements, including on cooperation in customs, as PM Narendra Modi held talks with SL President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo. Later, he was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the presidential secretariat. Modi and Sirisena then held delegation level talks after which the two sides inked four agreements. The agreements are for exemption from visa for holders of diplomatic passports, more..

Trade unionists threaten to surround Parliament

Mar 13 (Island) Inter Company Employees Union (ICEU) said yesterday that the govt should present a Bill to Parliament this month to make it compulsory for employers to grant Rs 2,500 salary increase promised to private sector workers in the mini-budget. ICEU President Wasantha Samarasinghe addressing a rally at the Muttiah grounds in Colombo warned that if the govt failed to do so his union members would more..

Sri Lanka develops device to forecast rainfall

Mar 13 (Island) Lankan scientists have developed mobile weather stations capable of capturing and transmitting near real-time rainfall data. Equipped with atomic clocks for precise time and date readings the devices log on to global positioning satellites (GPS) automatically. The devices are based on open-source technology and rely on local materials — at USD 250, they are far cheaper than standard, WHO-certified more..

Japanese aid, for long haul

Mar 13 (CT) Japanese aid to Sri Lanka is certain for a 'long, long' period of time. Japan's Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Nobuhito Hobo, speaking to this newspaper yesterday said though Sri Lanka has reached lower middle-income status, with per capita GDP hovering close to the US$ 4,000 range, that has however not taken the shine off of Japan's desire to continue to assist Sri Lanka. Japan, the world's third largest economy, is one of Sri Lanka's largest donors. more..

Another Yahapalana disaster?

Mar 13 (CT) Many thought that the regime change would be the harbinger of prosperity – a thriving economy, a buoyant stock market and a flood of foreign investment. Two months into the utopia of change, the reality is far from that envisaged. The stock market, prior to the election stood at a modest but stable 7300 points. All sentiments were that a bull run would soon ensue with the market witnessing an unprecedented gain. This clearly never materialized, and more..

Full Text: MR's interview to The Hindu

Mar 13 (Hindu) Q: This was an election you were so confident about; you called them ahead of time. What do you think contributed to your defeat? A: I misjudged the North and the East vote. In the South I have won, but I didn’t expect the North and East vote to go this way. Even in provincial elections, turnout had been 55%, this time it was over 80%, I don’t know how. When I saw that, I knew that I am going to lose. more..

Shares end at 5-week low

Mar 13 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares fell for the 10th straight session on Friday to a five-week closing low, with the day's turnover slumping to a one-year low, as investor worries over rising interest rates weighed on sentiment. The main stock index ended 0.25% lower, or 17.82 points weaker, at 7,091.25, its lowest close since Feb. 5, extending the fall to 3.09% in the last ten sessions. The day's turnover stood at 265.9 million rupees ($2 million), the lowest since March 21 last year and less than a fifth of more..

WC 2015: New Zealand beat Bangladesh

Mar 13 (CI) New Zealand ended the group stage with a perfect six-out-of-six record, but their bowlers were fully challenged for the first time in this World Cup as they sneaked a three-wicket win over Bangladesh. The win ended a five-year losing streak against Bangladesh, and it was was hard work all the way for the tournament favourites. Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman made New Zealand count to 288, the biggest total they have conceded in this tournament so far, more..

India wants bigger role in Sri Lanka

Mar 13 (CG) Indian PM Narendra Modi said that SL has the potential to be India’s strongest economic partner. Addressing the SL Parliament, Modi said that India will work with SL to address Sri Lanka’s concerns to boost trade and make it more balanced. “India’s trade environment is becoming more open. Sri Lanka should not fall behind others in this competitive world. That is why we should conclude an ambitious more..

WC 2015: England beat Afghanistan

Mar 13 (CI) It was time for England to bid farewell to the World Cup and Sydney dutifully laid on a suitably hangdog English day, more downcast than overcast, and a match ravaged by rain. A revised target easily achieved; Afghanistan dispatched on a gloomy evening with nearly seven overs to spare in a run chase cut to 25 overs. What a way to go. It could have been worse. When rain intervened for a third time, and eventually curtailed Afghanistan's innings at 111 for 7, England briefly faced more..

Finance Minister flayed for delaying salary, allowance increases

Mar 13 (Island) GMOA  accused Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayaka of deliberately delaying pay hike and increase in DAT allowance for doctors. GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath said that though Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Health Secretary Dr. D. M.R.B. Dissanayaka, Secretary to the Public Administration Ministry and the Finance Secretary Dr. A. Samaratunge had agreed to pay the revised salaries and the increased DAT Allowance, Finance Minister Karunanayaka more..

A new page in Indo-Lanka cooperation: President Sirisena

Mar 13 (GDI) President Maithripala Sirisena said the Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka and his own recent visit to India has turned a new page in cooperation between our two countries. The agreements that we have reached today on a wide range of cooperation that covers economic and trade relations, health, education, regional security, sea and air transportation and especially the development of the country, more..

Mahela Jayawardene to play for Sussex

Mar 13 (Guardian) Sussex have signed Mahela Jayawardene for the first half of this season’s NatWest T20 Blast. The 37-year-old batsman, who will be available for Sussex’s opening seven matches of the competition, has scored more than 4,000 runs in 170 Twenty20 matches during his career, including almost 1,500 runs in 55 T20 internationals. He was part of the Sri Lanka side that won the World Twenty20 title last year – having also helped them reach the final in 2012 & 2009 more..

Knitting the India-SL relationship closer

Mar 13 (Hindu) On his three-nation Indian ocean tour, PM Narendra Modi has made it clear he envisions a new maritime security architecture for India island neighbours, which will draw them into a closer security net, making the Indian ocean, India’s ocean. Amongst the countries of the IOR, Sri Lanka is the most significant in this, and in his departure statement, Mr. Modi said he looks forward to forging a new partnership with one of our most important neighbours, with major agreements and more..

Reserve Bank of India, Sri Lankan Central Bank enter $1.5 bln currency swaps

Mar 13 (PTI) Reserve Bank of India has agreed for a $1.5-billion currency swap agreement with the SL central bank to help the island nation keep its currency stable, PM Narendra Modi said. Agreement was announced after a meeting between Modi and President Maithripala Sirisena here. “The Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have agreed to enter into a Currency Swap Agreement of $1.5 billion. more..