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'Current political situation helps UGC to maintain autonomy'

Mar 18 (CT) With the change in the administration, the education sector in Sri Lanka is also in a transitional period. FUTA, which was one of the most vocal critics of Education policies of the previous government, also has a new head. Ceylon Today met Dr. Prabhath Jayasinghe to discuss how FUTA plans to navigate this transitional period and the biggest issues of the higher education sector. more..

Trade deficit tops US$ 8b in 2014 as import growth wipes out export growth

Mar 18 (ST) Last year’s trade deficit increased to as much as US$ 8.3 billion from US$ 7.6 billion in 2013. This 8% increase in last year’s trade deficit was disappointing, as the trade gap was expected to be reduced owing to exports gaining momentum and lower expenditure on fuel imports due to declining international oil prices. Although exports increased by 7%, the large increase in imports, especially later in the year, wiped out the prospect of a decreased trade deficit, as well as more..

Modi fails to score on core issues: N. Ram

Mar 18 (Hindu) While his policies on Sri Lanka and China are commendable, PM Narendra Modi’s stance on “core issues” reflects intolerance and stands in variance with the idea of India, former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, N. Ram, said here on Tuesday. “It’s not that everything is bad, but on the core issues of the idea of India, on secularism, policy towards minorities, Article 370, on banning beef-eating, he does not respect the cultures of others,” Mr. Ram said more..

Tharindu Kaushal to replace Herath

Mar 18 (CI) In a late move Sri Lanka have sought to replace injured left-arm spinner Rangana Herath with uncapped 22-year old offspinner Tharindu Kaushal, ahead of the quarter-final against South Africa on Wednesday. Three-and-a-half hours before the toss, the ICC is yet to approve Kaushal as the replacement, but team manager Michael de Zoysa said he could and should be in contention for the match. more..

Govt makes progress in rebuilding constructive relations

Mar 18 (Island) The election of President Maithripala Sirisena and the appointment of a govt headed by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe have seen a turnaround in relations with those within and outside the country. The improvement in international relations has been notable. The PM of India Narendra Modi who won election on a nationalist platform decided to be the first Indian pM in 28 years to visit the country. The last PM of India to visit, Rajiv Gandhi, was almost killed by a blow given to more..

Global tea promotion campaign before Cabinet

Mar 18 (CT) The much awaited global campaign for the promotion of Ceylon Tea is now before Cabinet approval and the brand promotional assistance for indigenous tea brands, as proposed earlier will be advertised in the media soon. These details were disclosed at the first board meeting of the newly constituted Sri Lanka Tea Board which was held last Thursday. “The global campaign and related promotional activities for marketing of tea took centre stage after nearly four years more..

Home is not where the heart is...

Mar 18 (Hindu) “I don’t like it here in Jaffna; life has been very tough,” says 23-year-old P. Alfred. If given a chance he would run back to Tamil Nadu, he says, to complete his B.Com degree. Alfred’s family left Sri Lanka in 1998 and spent more than a decade in a refugee camp in Mandapam, Rameswaram, before returning in 2011, two years after the island’s war ended. “I studied in Ramanathapuram. All my friends are there; more..

'Want to make history for Sanga, Mahela'

Mar 18 (WI) Last year, during the World T20, the Sri Lankan team was desperate to give the most perfect send-off from Twenty20 International to Mahela and Sangakkara, two former skippers and two of the brightest jewels in Sri Lanka’s cricketing crown. That dream was realised when Lasith Malinga lifted the trophy following the conquest of India in the title round. Mahela and Sangakkara have already announced that this World Cup will be their 50-over international swansong. more..

Sri Lanka Cricket in safe hands with AIA

Mar 18 (CT) It was officially announced at the SLC on Tuesday that AIA Insurance will be the official insurance partner of Sri Lanka Cricket, in a historic partnership to protect and safeguard our national asset. They will also boost the Premier Limited Over Tournament and the Premier League Tournament for a period of three years. This is the first of its kind in partnership for AIA Insurance as well as Sri Lanka Cricket. Skipper Angelo Mathews expressing his greetings on behalf of the team via Skype more..

Sri Lanka enters knock-outs without Herath

Mar 18 (DM) Just ten days ago, youngster Tharindu Kaushal was at home watching TV as Sri Lanka team performed in the World Cup more than 8000 km away. But today, he is in with a very real chance of making his ODI debut for the country in a crucial quarter-final against South Africa here in Sydney. After the spin spearhead Rangana Herath was injured on March 1, Sri Lanka were praying for his recovery, more..

Japanese grant to improve educational environment of Kilinochchi Primary School

Mar 18 (GDI) The Govt of Japan has provided US$ 185,425 grant for the ‘Project for Improving Educational Environment of Kilinochchi Primary School under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP). The project aims at construction of a two-storied building and improving sanitation facilities. It is also expected to improve the teaching skill of teachers by conducting a series of teacher’s training programs while conducting training programmes for parents in realizing children’s more..

Umpire communications to be aired during knockouts

Mar 18 (CI) All communication between on-field and TV umpires during referrals, consultations and DRS player reviews during all the knockout games of the 2015 World Cup will be made available to host broadcaster Star Sports to put on air, the ICC has announced. The ICC held a successful trial of a similar broadcast during the ODI series between Australia and South Africa in Nov 2014. This World Cup has had some controversial umpiring decisions - the boundary catch that dismissed more..

Sirisena to call meet on fisheries row soon

Mar 18 (Hindu) President Maithripala Sirisena will soon convene a national-level meeting aimed at addressing the fisheries conflict with India. The decision comes after TNA leader R. Sampanthan, in an executive committee meeting chaired by Mr. Sirisena, emphasised the need to build a national consensus on addressing the conflict. Mr. Sampanthan said that he conveyed to the committee the concerns of northern more..

Sri Lanka’s grace against South Africa’s will

Mar 18 (WI) It’s come down to this now; 12 days, 7 games and 3 victories stand between eight teams and the label of World Cup winners. After a prolonged period of foreplay that involved 42 games, cricket’s pinnacle event has reached the business end, as it were. This is the point of no return, there are no more second chances, no further opportunity to right a wrong. This is when you either shape up, or ship out. Sri Lanka have been here many times in the past. more..

Sri Lanka citizen group calls for state project review, information

Mar 18 (EN) A Sri Lanka citizens' group has called for systematic reviews of large state infrastructure project and more public information to prevent arbitrary decision making in the future. "An essential feature of good governance is that expenditure is planned, undertaken, and reviewed on completion, to ensure that resources are used efficiently," Friday Forum, a citizens group said. "The recent revision of expenditure plans by govt demands that when major changes are made, they are made with more..

MRIA expenditure to increase: Capital repayment to begin in Sept

Mar 18 (DN) Monthly expenditure to operate and maintain the Mattala Rajapaksa Intentional Airport from 2015 Sept will further increase by another Rs. 166 million. This is because the grace period on the loan offered to SL ends in Sept and the capital repayment too has to start. This would be Rs. 2 billion annually. Currently monthly operational expenditure is around Rs. 75 million and with depreciation and interact payments it jumps more..

SpiceRoads Cycle Tours launches Sri Lanka road bike tour

Mar 18 (TDN) SpiceRoads has designed a 12-day Road Biking tour from the northern most point to the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. This SL Tip to Tip by Road Bike tour has been designed for road biking enthusiasts looking to ride big distances with a few gradual climbs. Sri Lanka is an often overlooked holiday destination – mostly due to the recently ended civil war – but it is now a vibrant and safe island to explore with a vast collection of ancient and natural sights and amazing beaches. more..

SriLankan Airlines needs US$ 125mn before end March: PM

Mar 18 (EN) State-run SriLankan Airlines, which ran into heavy sustained losses after its managing partner Emirates was removed by the Rajapaksa regime, needs US$ 125 million by end March to settle fuel bills and loans, PM Ranil Wickramasinghe said. He told parliament since 2011 August, the airline had received US$ 375 million on top of a US$ 520 million equity injection over 5 years. Airline now needed another US$ 125 million by March 31 to pay CPC and repay loans to Bank of Ceylon. more..

Duminda noticed to appear in HC on April 1

Mar 18 (DN) Colombo High Court Judge Devika De Livera ordered to issue notices on MP Duminda Silva and 12 others who were indicted with the murders of Director General of Trade Union Affairs of the former President, Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three others to appear before court on April 1. The High Court Judge ordered to issue notices on Duminda Silva and 12 others when the case filed by more..

Swiss seek fresh ties with Sri Lanka

Mar 18 (CG) Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter says Switzerland is willing to open a new chapter in bilateral relations with Sri Lanka following presidential elections. On a visit to Colombo on Tuesday Burkhalter praised the new Sri Lankan govt for its political reforms and its reconciliation efforts with ethnic minorities in the country. Burkhalter stressed that an open und broad dialogue with all parties involved in 25 years of civil war was a key to rebuild confidence, more..

Last-ranked Bhutan stuns SL a 2nd time

Mar 18 (NYT) Inside a monastery high up in the hills that surround Bhutan’s capital city, the players on the country’s national soccer team were consulting the dice. It was just two hours before they were to host Sri Lanka on Tuesday in the second leg of their 2018 World Cup qualification tie, and five days since they had stunned the team, 1-0, in the first leg in Colombo. A victory or a draw on Tuesday would mean a place in the group stage of Asian qualification for the 2018 World Cup more..

Foreign spies helped oust Mahinda: Gota

Mar 18 (Island) Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says that some countries had the wherewithal to overthrow democratically elected govts, though Sri Lanka lacked such capacity. War veteran Rajapaksa points out that there had been many such interventions over the years in various parts of the world. Sri Lanka was a case in point, Rajapaksa said. The ex-Defence Secretary was responding to a query whether more..

China asks SL to protect its investments

Mar 18 (PTI) China asked Sri Lanka to protect the interests of Chinese investors for healthy development of economic and trade ties after the new SL govt began reviewing the big ticket investments, specially the China-funded USD 1.5 billion Colombo Port City project. "We hope the Sri Lankan govt will resolve the issue and protect the legitimate interests of Chinese investors according to law for healthy development of economic and trade ties," said China's Commerce Ministry more..

Youth who shook hands with Modi arrested

Mar 18 (FT) A youth was arrested in Jaffna after he shook his hand with the visiting Indian PM Narendra Modi. The incident took place after Indian Premier completed the handing over of houses built by Indian assistance at Keerimalai. Whilst leaving the ceremony, a youth later identified as a Rajarata University third year student and the senate member of National Youth Services Committee, shook hands with Indian Premier. After Modi’s departure, Indian security officers caught the youth and more..

President tells MR: Allow me to conduct affairs of SLFP

Mar 18 (DN) President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told his predecessor, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to let him conduct the affairs of the SLFP, as its Chairman, without any interference. "I have to say very clearly, if he (Former President Rajapaksa) handed me the leadership of the party, he should allow me to conduct its affairs," the President said, addressing electoral and district organizers of the SLFP, more..

Voters need one year to study new electoral system: Polls Chief

Mar 18 (Island) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya informed party leaders it was not consistent with democracy to introduce a new electoral system and then conduct an election under it immediately afterwards. Commissioner had said so during a meeting on reforming the electoral system held at Parliament complex yesterday attended by party leaders. He pointed out that the people needed at least one year to get used to a new electoral system. more..

Body parts found in garbage dumb

Mar 18 (DM) Sending shockwaves of a gruesome killing, the police found a limbless torso from Dematagoda subsequent to the recovery of a pair of legs and an arm on Sunday and Monday. The partly burnt body of a male without the head and the limbs was found from a garbage dump near the Kalu Palama in Dematagoda yesterday. The victim was found to be wearing a green pair of shorts with no cover on the remaining part of the upper body. A special police guard had been deployed to more..

Ranil fires on all cylinders in Parliament

Mar 18 (FT) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe fired on all cylinders in Parliament, gunning down critics for baseless mudslinging over the recent Treasury Bond issue as well as exposing the improper conduct of various institutions of the past regime and those allegedly connected to it. Using Parliamentary privilege, Wickremesinghe’s special statement was akin to a name and shame exercise but it set the record straight on more..

A long felt need in politics - Code of ethics

Mar 18 (DM) Descent politics was an indivisible concept that had been incorporated into the concept of yahapalanaya, the main slogan of the present govt. The very struggle by the pioneers of the Maithri Palanaya against the corruption committed by the leaders and the officials of the previous govt had asserted the need of a set of corrupt-free politicians especially at the helm. Hence the hundred day programme put forward by the then common opposition as the manifesto of more..

Proposal for a hybrid system

Mar 18 (DM) I have had some valuable comments and criticisms on “Electoral Reforms: Proposal for a hybrid system without preferential votes”, published in the newspapers about 6 weeks ago. Considering the various views that have been expressed, I am now submitting some amendments to my original proposal. I believe that this revised proposal would be more acceptable, especially to minority groups (parties), as it would be a fairer system to determine number of seats on the basis of proportional more..

'Govt should rush into enacting constitutional reforms'

Mar 18 (DM) MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardane is a vociferous critic of the present govt both in and outside Parliament. In an interview, former Minister, Mr. Gunawardane said the electoral reforms should be enacted along with constitutional amendments. He is optimistic that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa will make a comeback as the Prime Ministerial candidate at the next election. more..

Aluthgama Report: Fingers point at hate speech

Mar 18 (SL) Hate speech was seen as one of the main causes behind the Aluthgama violence last year and proposals have been made to ensure history does not repeat itself. The Law and Society Trust (LST) and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) jointly organized a public discussion on the Aluthgama Riots and Its Aftermath to officially mark the release of a report produced by the LST on the Aluthgama incident. more..

Helmets: Alternative design to head off robberies

Mar 18 (ST) With the number of snatch-and-run bank robberies by criminals wearing full-face helmets increasing, manufacturers here have been asked to design a head protector that gives maximum protection to riders but also enables the security officers to identify criminalsthe wearers. Motorcyclists had expressed concern over a recent ban on the full-face helmet and this had prompted the Minister John Ameratunga and the Police more..

Nurse-midwife clash: More than meets the eye

Mar 18 (CT) From last year, the health sector had no dearth of inter-professional conflicts, which resulted in protests, fasts and countrywide strikes. Amidst the doctor-nurse conflict, which is still burning beneath the ashes at the moment, the nurse-midwives conflicts has risen again. Govt Midwifery Services Association has been engaged in a fast opposite Health Ministry for 14 days, demanding ministry to withdraw a circular, more..

Sri Lanka keeps rates unchanged in March amid gilt yield rise

Mar 18 (EN) Sri Lanka kept policy rates unchanged in March following a tightening in February and said inflation is expected to remain low and private credit and economic activity to keep growing. On February 27, the Central Bank closed a 5% window where excess liquidity was deposited, pushing up overnight rate to around 6.5%, while a fully auction-based system for goverment securiies has also pushed up the risk free yield curve. more..

'Challenge has been to evolve'

Mar 18 (CI) After Mahela Jayawardene's final match for Sri Lanka ended in a World Cup quarter-final defeat to South Africa, he said that he would probably be allowing himself a lie-in. Jayawardene and his great friend Sangakkara were hoping for a glorious swansong in their final World Cup but neither could pull Sri Lanka out of the fire against an irresistible South Africa. Mahela has already called time on his career in Tests and more..

Six-point criteria for dual citizenship

Mar 18 (CT) Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Public Peace, Disaster Management and Christian Religious Affairs, Chulananda Perera, said the govt has decided to declare the six-point criteria required to qualify for dual citizenship. Perera said the qualifications required to obtain dual citizenship have been prepared according to a new administrative system and that Cabinet approval was granted last week. more..

Sajin Vaas grilled by FFID

Mar 18 (HN) Police Monetary Crime Investigation Unit today questioned UPFA MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardana in connection with a monetary fraud. The CID and the Bribery Commission questioned Sajin Vass on several occasions in the past with regard to collecting assets through illegitimate means. The CID recently questioned MP Vass Gunawardana’s wife as well under the Money Laundering Ordinance. more..

SLFP MPs protest outside Central Bank

Mar 18 (DM) Number of MPs of the SLFP protested outside the Central Bank today against the controversial Treasury Bond issue and the Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran's failure to resign pending investigations. MPs demanded the removal and the legal action against CB Governor Mahendran while shouting slogans surrounding the Central Bank. SLFP leading MPs including Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva, more..

Sangakkara rues being undone by spin

Mar 18 (CI) Sangakkara was unhappy with Sri Lanka's capitulation to South Africa's spinners in the quarter-final at the SCG. JP Duminy, who picked up a hat-trick, and Imran Tahir, who finished with 4 for 26, ensured the early pressure did not dissipate and helped bowl Sri Lanka out for 133. Steyn, Morkel and Abbott had been able to move the ball at pace and unsettle the batsmen, as Sri Lanka reached 47 for 2 in the 15th over when spin more..