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New State Finance Minister says main focus on economic development

Mar 26 (FT) Newly appointed State Finance Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe assumed official duties yesterday and asserted that his prime focus would be on economic development. “Being the State Finance Minister is not going to be a cakewalk. There are a lot of challenges we will have to face and I will have a lot of work, I know. Even if there is not work, I will create work because I don’t believe in sitting in a chair and waiting. more..

Venturengine doing away with collateral for business funding

Mar 26 (Island) The traditional banking system has not found an alternative to collateral as a major condition for lending. Insistence by banks on movable or immovable property prior to extending loans to customers goes back decades. But Venturengine, a local Venture Capital concern, dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs, is claiming to have made a difference. Venturengine explained at a press conference that they lend funds but at no time do they insist on collateral. more..

Otara continues to support Earth Hour

Mar 26 (DN) Otara Gunewardene, a renowned Sri Lankan entrepreneur and the Founder of Odel and Embark, pledged her support for Earth Hour Sri Lanka, for the second consecutive year. Otara was nominated as a brand ambassador for Earth Hour in 2014 and since then, she has inspired thousands of Sri Lankans to join the Earth Hour initiative. Many local and global personalities have supported the initiative in different ways. From Sir Richard Branson to Miranda Kerr to Leona Lewis to Sachin more..

PS Chairman killing: Police identify suspect

Mar 26 (DN) The suspect who shot dead Ratgama Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Manoj Pushpakumara Mendis, 37, on Monday night in Hikkaduwa has been identified by the police. Mendis was shot by a gunman who came with two others, at a hotel in Narigama, Waawala while he was attending a party. Mendis died on the spot by two pistol shots, one on the head and another on his chest. Two others, his personal body guards, more..

Softlogic Finance oversubscribed 150%

Mar 26 (CT) In a resounding endorsement of Softlogic Finance and its business strategy, the recent Rights Issue of the Company was over-subscribed by over 150% with the new equity infusion of Rs 401 million, boosting the Total Equity position of the Company to Rs 1.9 billion. The Rights Issue, in which 10 Ordinary Shares were issued at Rs 30 per share for every 28 Ordinary Shares held by shareholders as at 26 Feb 2015, attracted applications for over 20.1 million shares more..

First Vietnam - Sri Lanka talks today

Mar 26 (DN) The first ever official joint meet between Vietnam and Sri Lanka to be held in Colombo since the historic official trade linkages in Hanoi opened in August 2014, will commence today 26, with a call to quadruple trade levels to $1 billion. Vietnam has also announced the removal of its own regulatory lines that stymied eager Lankan tea exporters to its 90 million huge markets. "When compared to the future target of one billion dollars bilateral trade that we want to achieve, more..

Sri Lanka Tourism enters the $40 bn Cruiseline business

Mar 26 (GDI) Sri Lanka Tourism is partnering top blue chip companies to enter the lucrative 40 billion dollar Cruise line business that is estimated to carry 22.3 million passengers and the market growing at 3.2% in volume. Carnival Corporation is the market leader with a share of 48.1% followed by Royal Caribbean Ltd at 23.1%, Norwegian Cruise Holdings at 10.4% whilst MSC at 5.2%. I was delighted to see MSC docking more..

International Cybercrime Conference begins today

Mar 26 (FT) A two-day international conference joint sponsored by the European Union and Council of Europe (CoE) entitled Assessing the Threat of Cybercrime for Govt law enforcement officials, will be inaugurated today. The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and Sri Lanka Computer Readiness Team (SLCERT) are the event’s local hosts. The conference is aimed at Govt criminal justice officials and brings together over 90 senior Govt representatives and industry experts from more..

Effective communication skills help shape children: Gayantha

Mar 26 (DN) Parents and teachers should direct children to become outstanding citizens with thoughtful minds and sensitive hearts who will contribute to the nation's development, Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said. He made this observation at Abiyogaya 2015 the award ceremony of Gampaha Bandaranayake College at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Tuesday. "Many parents encourage their children to become masters in the fields that they [the parents] wish. more..

Sri Lankan president seeks to mend ties with China after port suspension

Mar 26 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena headed to Beijing on Wednesday seeking to end a stalemate over China's biggest investment project in the island which his administration has suspended over allegations of wrongdoing. The review of the $1.4 billion Colombo port city project ordered by Sirisena after he took office in January has become a sore point, with neither side showing signs of backing down. more..

Petition to appoint Dinesh as Opposition Leader

Mar 26 (CT) Former Minister T.B. Ekanayake told that a document signed by MPs is due to be handed over to Speaker requesting that Dinesh Gunawardena be appointed as the Opposition Leader in Parliament. Subsequent to a group of MPs of the SLFP joining the govt, he said, Nimal Siripala De Silva has no ethical right to remain further in the position of Opposition Leader in Parliament. Ekanayake also pointed out that more than 50 MPs of the SLFP have decided that more..

'Govt to expand public sector, but with discipline'

Mar 26 (DM) The new regime will continue to increase the size of the public sector despite its already sluggish nature, according to a top Cabinet minister. “Our govt has decided that the youth of the country needs to get employment, and we will do so,” Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. The biggest allegation against the 2002-2004 UNP govt was that they had not created enough jobs in the public sector. Mirror Business inquired how such a move could be justified; more..

Immigration Department receives 10 dual citizenship applications

Mar 26 (DM) With the govt’s decision to reintroduce dual citizenship status to nine countries, the Department of Immigration and Emigration had already received about 10 such applications by yesterday. Since Monday the department had received applications which were being subjected to examination. Minister John Amaratunga announced on Monday that the issuing of dual citizenship which had been suspended by the previous regime more..

Rajitha’s statements keep changing constantly: Tilvin

Mar 26 (DM) JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne was constantly changing his statements. He expressed these views as a response to a question posed by a journalist. “Minister Senaratne says one thing in the morning and another at the evening of the same day on one topic. His statements are not the same after a week,” he said. Mr. Silva charged that there were allegations of corruption against a of recently appointed ministers whereas more..

Minister trashes pleas of elephant rogues

Mar 26 (CT) Deputy Minister Wasantha Senanayake has resolutely trashed protests by private elephant owners, who have been illegally capturing elephants in the wild and refused to withdraw his complaint made to the CID as a prelude to possible legal action. Wildlife Conservation Department (DWLC) Director General, H.D. Ratnayake said that private elephant owners met Deputy Minister yesterday to discuss the matter but he rejected their pleas to withdraw the case relating to more..

China for win-win deal with Sri Lanka

Mar 26 (CG) Chinese Govt says it is engaged in cooperation with Sri Lanka on an equal footing for mutually beneficial and win-win outcomes. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said that China believes that the govt of Sri Lanka will act in its long-term interests. President Maithripala Sirisena is currently on a state visit to China and will also attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015 at the invitation of more..

Mega water, drainage projects under review

Mar 26 (DN) Over 45 privates sector projects undertaken by various contractors in the water supply and drainage sector and 15 to 20 projects coming under the UDA awarded under the previous govt will be reviewed once again. Water Supply and Drainage Board Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi said that there were numerous complaints received in the manner in which these contracts were awarded and the manner in which they are currently being done. more..

Fishermen's meet got positive vibes from SL

Mar 26 (ENS) Indian Ministry of External Affairs said there was greater receptivity from the Sri Lankan side to Indian proposals made during fishermen's meeting in Chennai, but Colombo would only respond at next meeting in May. "Our understanding of both the atmospherics and receptivity during this meeting, was much better when compared to previous meetings," said MEA spokesperson. Fishermen from India and Sri Lanka met in Chennai for the third time on Tuesday. more..

High level committee to investigate allegations against former Ambassador

Mar 26 (CT) The govt said that Minister Mangala Samaraweera, will be appointing a high level committee to investigate allegations against former Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, on selling arms and ammunitions to Ukrainian rebels. Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera, said Weeratunga, who is a nephew of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had served eight years as the Ambassador to Russia, more..

More elected SLFPers to defy party ban and attend rally in Ratnapura

Mar 26 (Island) More than 20 SLFP MPs would attend the third rally demanding that former President Rajapaksa be made the UPFA prime ministerial candidate, under the theme, ‘The country is in danger and prepare to face the challenge!’ organised by UPFA allies MEP, NFF, DLF and PHU at the Ratnapura Sivali grounds today, UPFA Ratnapura District MP Ranjith Zoysa said. Zoysa flanked by MP Janaka Wakkumbura, MP Gamini Lokuge, MP Roshan Ranasinghe and several more..

Opposition Leader wants SLFP Ministers to act as watchdogs

Mar 26 (Island) The Opposition would closely monitor the government to keep it in check, said Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva. MP de Silva was among the special invitees to witness newly appointed State Minister of Finance Mahinda Samarasinghe assuming duties yesterday at the Finance Ministry in Colombo. De Silva praised Samarasinghe as a talented politician and appreciated the role the latter had played in Geneva for the sake of the country. more..

US plans to help Sri Lanka on governance, accountability

Mar 26 (KT) US govt said that it was exploring the possibility of increasing its assistance to the Sri Lankan govt to help it tackle issues like governance, accountability, commerce and much more. Addressing the house foreign affairs committee subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal said that after dramatic opening created by election of more..

Is flying the safest mode of travel?

Mar 26 (DM) Is flying still the safest mode of transportation? Yes it is. According to a MIT Professor the death risk for passengers of commercial airlines is one in 45 million flights. The New York Times says a traveller could fly every day for 123,000 years and still be safe! Despite all these assurances and empirical evidence suggesting that flying is the safest mode of travel, the incidents of commercial air plane crashes have been too many last year. more..

Promises kept and freedom achieved

Mar 26 (DM) There seems to be a lot of nit picking about what the government has not done, so it is time to talk about promises already fulfilled, and steps taken to implement the rest. The most important achievement of all is the freedom we have; to talk, to write, to criticise without the danger of being taken away in white vans or murdered like the late Lasantha was. A Sunday paper, owned by the government ran an article last Sunday, indulging in Ranil bashing which is perhaps, more..

National anthem in Tamil: Mixed reactions

Mar 26 (SL) While some political parties have criticised the move to lift certain restrictions on singing the Sri Lankan national anthem in Tamil, many have praised it as a step towards reconciliation. President Maithripala Sirisena has stated last week that the govt would send a circular to all institutions saying that there is no bar on singing the national anthem in Tamil. Upon this decision, certain Sinhala-Buddhist extremist more..

Humble native rice shoots to fame

Mar 26 (ST) While the hybrids are much sought-after, it is a humble but hardy native which has been skyrocketed to fame in Sri Lanka. Goda Wee, an indigenous variety of rice, will go down in the annals of science as the very first plant in Sri Lanka to get its genome (see graphic) determined by a local team of scientists in a local laboratory within the country. This will open up new vistas of possibilities not only in the science more..

SL mulls ways to get more women to work

Mar 26 (EN) With Sri Lanka's male unemployment falling, most new jobs will go to women but barriers to their employment need to be removed, a new UN report said. "Low female labour force participation, especially among women with higher levels of education who are not seeking employment, is a distinct disadvantage economically," said the report on how the island had performed in meeting Millennium more..

Sri Lanka small businesses to get EU funding

Mar 26 (EN) The European Union is considering a request by Sri Lanka for funding to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) improve trade competitiveness, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said. The proposal was discussed at this week's talks between visiting officials of the EU Trade Working Group and Sri Lanka trade officials. The EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation also discussed SL's more..

'Mahinda can contest for premiership if ...'

Mar 26 (Island) The general election would definitely be held this year after the 19th and 20th Amendments to the constitution were passed, SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa assured. Yapa said that a national govt had been formed to amend the Constitution in keeping with public expectations. It was impossible to amend the Constitution without the two parties getting together, he said. more..

ICRC assists clarifying the fate of missing persons in Sri Lanka

Mar 26 (ICRC) The ICRC's Director of Operations, Dominic Stillhart, recently concluded a five-day visit to Sri Lanka. During his time in the country Mr Stillhart met with a number of senior govt officials, including the PM Ranil Wickremasinghe and the Minister Mangala Samaraweera. In these meetings he reiterated that the organization remains committed to their work in Sri Lanka and to providing assistance to vulnerable individuals, more..

National Dengue Mosquito Control Week begins today

Mar 26 (Island) Health Ministry has commenced a National Dengue Mosquito Control Week commencing today. About 10,353 dengue cases have been detected and twenty persons have died so far this year. A countrywide National Dengue Mosquito Control Week would continue till April 2. The principal aim of the programme was to detect dengue mosquito breeding places in high risk areas, including residencies, schools, educational more..

Presidential Commission gearing up for netting corrupt politicos et al

Mar 26 (Island) Special Presidential Commission investigating major cases of corruption will meet on March 31, 2015 to formulate a plan of action. A spokesperson for the Commission said that members of the investigative body had met at its office at the fifth block of the BMICH on three occasions. The official said that they had so far received six complaints. The official said that the Commission would shortly request IGP more..

Traveling to US with a Young Man: Mangala clarifies

Mar 26 (CT) Minister Mangala Samaraweera rejected the news reports, which alleged he had spent time with a young man at a luxurious New York hotel during his recent trip to the US. Responding to an inquiry, Minister’s office has sent the following statement, concerning the reports in news sites that claim the ‘young man’ with whom he is having a relationship is his Public Relations Officer, Sameera Manahara. more..

'SL keen to attract Pakistani investments'

Mar 26 (LBO) Sri Lanka is keen to attract Pakistani investments in sugar, cement, textiles, dairy production, chemical plants, pharmaceuticals and IT, finance minister Ravi Karunanayake said. He was speaking at a reception hosted by the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo on the occasion of the National Day of Pakistan on 23rd March 2015. The minister further stated that Pakistan is second largest buyer more..

Reliving the ghosts of '77

Mar 26 (CT) Aseeming constitutional crisis has erupted to determine who will be the Opposition Leader. This has come about after a score of SLFPers crossed over to govt ranks on Sunday, accepting Cabinet portfolios among others, while still remaining in the party. With the SLFP which functions as the main Opposition party in Parliament, now, seemingly, willingly, broken into two, with one side in the ranks of the govt, headed by UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who more..

Bora Diya Pokuna from a buddhist perspective

Mar 26 (CT) After many conversations about the film with Malathi de Alwis and then reading her review `Bora Diya Pokuna Creates Ripples’, in Colombo Telegraph. I am inspired to express my own views, especially in terms of the film’s Buddhist framework. By calling Bora Diya Pokuna a Buddhist Parable Satyajith Maitipe seems influenced by the Jataka story format as it starts with the past (the yatagiya dawasa) with Ariyalatha’s childhood in the village school of Giribawa where more..

Daily Mirror Cartoon

Sri Lankan shares fall for 4th session on margin calls, political woes

Mar 26 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares fell for a fourth straight session on Thursday and closed at their lowest in more than seven months as investors sold stakes to settle margin trading ahead of quarter-end, while political uncertainty also weighed on sentiment. The main stock index ended 0.72%, or 50.20 points, weaker at 6,922.83, its lowest close since Aug. 8 and further moving away from the key psychological support level of 7,000. It has lost 5.39% in the past 19 sessions. more..

Now, other health unions demand Rs. 10,000 increase, threaten strike

Mar 26 (Island) Over 15 trade unions of the Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) have warned they will stage a token strike tomorrow demanding an increase in allowances. Govt doctors have been given Rs. 10,000. General Secretary of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSM), Saman Jayasekara said their unions had held several discussions with Health Ministry and Treasury following the 15,000-rupee increase in DAT Allowance of doctors. more..

TNA urges President, PM to visit Mullaitivu

Mar 26 (CT) TNA Vanni District PM Sivasakthy Anandan alleged that properties still under the custody of the Security Forces in the Mullaitivu District were stalling the process of resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons in those areas. He has appealed to President Maithripala Sirisena, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and govt officials to visit the Mullaitivu District to familiarise themselves with the problems there and solve them immediately. more..