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Youth nabbed with fake money worth Rs. 2.9 millon

Feb 13 (DM) An individual was taken into custody for allegedly having in his possession a haul of counterfeit currency notes in the Kotgangoda, Horana area. Police have recovered fake currency notes to the value of Rs. 2,899,500 during a raid conducted after a tip-off received by Horana police. Suspect, 23-year-old resident of Pokunuwita, had 106 nos Rs.5, 000 notes, 1830 nos of Rs. 1,000 notes and 1079 nos of Rs. 500 denomination in his possession at the time of his arrest. more..

Sri Lanka envoy to compatriots: Help Saudis implement Vision 2030

Feb 13 (AN) In an Independence Day message to Sri Lankan community in the Eastern Province, Ambassador Azmi Thassim urged community members to cooperate with Saudi authorities to implement Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020. He was speaking at his country’s 69th Independence Day celebrations organized by the SL Cultural Forum in Dammam on Friday. To begin the event, Thassim unfurled the national flag amid the beat of drums, more..

PIA ends lease deal with SriLankan, US$ 1 million in arrears

Feb 13 (ST) Pakistan’s national carrier has run up more than US$1 million in arrears for the Airbus A330-300 aircraft it wet-leased from debt-ridden SriLankan Airlines last year, sources said. The crisis-ridden Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended its lease with SriLankan on Feb 9 with US$1.3 million still outstanding. It will no longer lease two additional A330-300 aircraft from SriLankan as earlier planned, sources said. more..

Bangladesh to sign FTA with Sri Lanka

Feb 13 (DT) Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said govt will sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka to boost bilateral trade and commerce. He came up with the announcement after a meeting with SL Ambassador to Bangladesh Yasoja Gunasekera at his office in the capital on Sunday. “Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have reached a consensus to sign free-trade agreement (FTA). We are going through discussion about the ins and outs of the agreement,” said Tofail. more..

PM off to Australia

Feb 13 (ITN) PM Ranil Wickremasinghe will leave for Australia on a four day official tour. PM’s four day official tour, on an invitation from the Australian Govt, will commence today. One of the aims of the tour is to mark the 70th anniversary of Diplomatic relations between the tour countries. PM and his delegation will hold talks with Australian PM Malcom Turnbul and Ministers there. Several agreements strengthening bi lateral relations are expected to be signed during the PM’s tour. more..

Vigneswaran vows not to authorise extension of Palay runway

Feb 13 (Island) Northern Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran has vowed that he will not sign any document approving the extension of the Palaly Airport based some 18 km north of Jaffna town. He gave this assurance at last Thursday’s Provincial Council meeting in Jaffna where he mentioned that he would "not approve the runway extension without the approval of a majority in the council," a source quoted the CM as saying. more..

French couple remanded for drawing pictures in train

Feb 13 (DM) A French couple who had been taken into custody by the Police for allegedly drawing pictures in the railway compartments was produced before Galle Chief Magistrate on Saturday and was remanded till tomorrow. The Police told court that the suspects, Gousset Gaeten and Leal De Sousa had caused a damage of Rs.64, 440 to the Railways Department. The suspects, who entered the Galle Railway Station without permission on Friday evening have allegedly drawn pictures more..

Video: Illegal soil excavation: President vows action

Feb 13 (AD) President Maithripala Sirisena says any party found guilty of causing harm to the environment will be punished. He said many new facts regarding an alleged soil excavation racket in Divulapitiya. President was referring to a recent exchange between a Deputy Minister of the govt and state officials in the Gampaha district. He said, “the initial fault was in the hands of the officials of Geological Survey and Mines Bureau which falls under my own Ministry of Environment. more..

Docs oppose compromise formula to settle SAITM crisis

Feb 13 (Island) Throwing its weight behind the GMOA spearheading high profile campaign against the SAITM, GMOF pointed out the former had no objection to setting up of private medical colleges. GMOF President Dr Rukshan Bellana said that the GMOA accepted the setting up of private medical colleges during the previous SLFP-led UPFA administration though it changed its stance subsequently. more..

Stop the rumpus at the campus

Feb 13 (DM) SAITM –Sri Lanka’s only private university with a licensce to award medical degrees- is again in the news. Once again, for all the wrong reasons. Student unions, GMOA, public university lecturers and trade unions are calling on the govt to close down the private medical college. GMOA, medical students who benefit through the govt’s free education programme and certain groups of NGOs see the private university’s medical degree programme as a threat to free education. more..

A note for posterity

Feb 13 (DM) The UN report published on Friday Jan 28 describing a culture of torture in this county has been described as a wake up call. But it’s doubtful if it’s going to wake anyone up. The report by special rapporteur Juan Mendez said there were credible reports to show that the notorious white van abductions carried out routinely under the previous regime had continued under the new govt between 2015-16. The govt will of course deny this. As the Yahapalanaya govt began exhuming bodies, more..

GYPSY Swan Song

Feb 13 (DM) A group of Sri Lankan gypsies, members of a small and vulnerable community, has been spotted near some less crowded railway stations recently. We followed their trail in search of their origins and social hardships. The gypsies struggle hard to retain their identity without getting absorbed into the majority. They have always been a group apart even though they have adopted to the general culture of the country. more..

Private medical school graduates must pass licensing exam

Feb 13 (DN) The Deans of eight Medical Faculties have collectively suggested that graduates from all private medical schools in SL should be required to pass a licensing examination before they are allowed to practice locally. The licensing examination will be similar to the exam that foreign medical graduates must pass to be qualified to practice locally. Deans of the Medical Faculties of Colombo, Ragama, Karapitiya, Rajarata, more..

Top officials attempt to clear illegal vehicle assembly plant

Feb 13 (SL) An attempt has been made to influence the police to stop a raid that was launched on an illegal vehicle assembling plant in Minuwangoda on Jan 31. Top govt official had attempted to stop the police from raiding the vehicles assembling plant at Minuwangoda alleging that the owner is a friend of his. However, ignoring his directives, police had carried out raid & had taken illegally assembled vehicles into custody. more..

Exhumation of Keppitipola skull: Relatives up in arms

Feb 13 (CT) The relatives of Weera Monerawila Keppitipola have opposed the attempts to exhume his skull which is buried close to the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy saying it will disrespect the ancient hero. Weera Monerawila Keppitipola was beheaded 199 years ago while sacrificing his life on behalf of the nation during the 1818 revolution. "He would not get the respect and honour he deserves if this is carried out", Dhanaranjani who more..

Sri Lanka launches tender to develop natural gas site in Mannar Basin

Feb 13 (Reuters) Sri Lanka has launched a tender to develop a gas block in the Mannar Basin off its northwest coast, vacated when Cairn India pulled out of an exploration project in 2015 as oil prices plunged. SL produces no oil and is dependent on imports but Cairn India discovered gas in the area in 2011. Govt claims seismic data shows the potential for more than 1 billion barrels of oil under the sea in a 30,000 sq km area more..

Forget about croton leaves, here comes sea weed food

Feb 13 (Island) Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry has taken steps to promote the consumption of seaweed among Sri Lankans. New experiments on seaweed based food products have been started by NARA under the directives of Fisheries Ministry. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said although seaweed based food was consumed by many countries trend was not prevalent in SL. more..

Sri Lanka accused of violating commitment to UN resolution

Feb 13 (CG) Sri Lanka has been accused of violating its commitment to the UN resolution on Sri Lanka adopted by the UNHRC in Geneva. International Truth and Justice Project (ITPJ) said that at least one alleged perpetrator of torture named in a UN report has been appointed to the body in Sri Lanka supposed to protect victims and witnesses, known as the National Authority for Victim and Witness Protection. more..

Big purge at Royal amid charges and counter charges over Grade 1 admission

Feb 13 (ST) A major purge of senior masters at Royal College, Colombo has taken place following recent allegations by Minister Akila Kariyawasam that Grade One admissions to the country’s leading state school were fraught with irregularities. As many as eight members of the senior staff, including two Deputy Principals, two senior Games Masters/Assistant Principals, a Section Head and a senior most teacher at more..

Govt will not legalise prostitution, same sex marriage

Feb 13 (Island) Prostitution and same sex marriages would not be legalised in SL, Minister Thalatha Athukorala said. She made the announcement amidst revelation that more than 4,500 new HIV cases and 24 AIDS deaths were reported in SL in the first six months of 2016, with the number of victims increasing compared to the same period in 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, approx. 2,377 cases of HIV were reported, more..

Drought: Be prepared, warns WFP

Feb 13 (DM) Sri Lanka should be prepared to face challenges ahead, especially when it comes to food security, which would be brought on by the drought, World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said. According to the WFP, which quoted a research carried out by several agencies including Irrigation Dept and Dept of Census and Statics, has currently felt only 50% of the effect of the prevailing drought. more..

Deng Xiaoping’s quote…..

Feb 13 (CT) Minister Malik Samarawickrama has spoken extensively, on the Colombo Port City project which is being carried out with the help of China, in an interview with Ceylon Today. China's ability in erecting mega constructions dates back to several centuries with its historic Great Wall which remains one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Taking into consideration the new world order under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping China has reformed itself from hardcore communist political more..

Isn’t it time for Sri Lankan Muslims to reassess their politics?

Feb 13 (CT) Spate of latest scandals involving Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) MPs and its leadership demand that the Muslim community should reassess their politics and free itself from this party which, many accuse, betrayed the community for positions and perks . SLMC came with the slogan of Islam and Unity. However this slogan was abandoned  since inception. Throughout it has been a one man show of its founder Late M.H.M. Ashraff, and has been known for scandals. more..

Yahapalana Scams

Dhananjaya de Silva to lead Sri Lanka A

Feb 13 (CB) All-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva has been named the captain of Sri Lanka A side for the two unofficial Tests against England Lions. The 15-member squad announced on Monday (also includes opener Dimuth Karunaratne and offspinner Dilruwan Perera. The 25-year old, who made his debut in July 2016 against Australia, had a good start to his career, stroking a fine ton and an unbeaten half-century in the third Test in Colombo. He followed it up with a century and more..

Only oppose degree outlets: Gammanpila

Feb 13 (NR) UPFA MP Udaya Gammanpila says the Joint Opposition does not oppose private education, however opposes private institutions which operate with the objective of earning profits only. He said UPFA has never been afraid to speak against wrongdoing. MP Gammanpila said Ministers SB Dissanayake, Rajitha Senarathne and Lakshman Kiriella ask the party if the reason it didn’t object to the Kotalawala Defence University was because, it was afraid of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. more..

Sri Lanka SOE borrowings deteriorate

Feb 13 (EN) Sri Lanka's state owned enterprise borrowings have started to rise steadily from Sept 2016, which usually points to a deterioration in their finances, with December borrowings spiking sharply. The central govt, private sector and SOEs together borrowed Rs 116.5 billion from the banking system in December, up from Rs 92.6 billion in November. Private sector borrowings were Rs 78.7 billion, slightly down from more..

Eye lenses price to be reduced

Feb 13 (AD) Minister Rajitha Senaratne has directed his Ministry Secretary to issue a Gazzette notification on reducing prices of eye lenses. Price of eye lenses is expected to be reduced by Rs. 20,000 and National Drug Regulatory Board has initiated a program in this regard. An eye lens imported from India for Rs. 6,000 is sold in SL at a price of Rs. 25,000 – Rs. 30,000. Meanwhile, a program to provide eye lenses free of charge to the patients coming for eye surgeries at govt hospitals more..

Remembering Upali Wijewardene

Feb 13 (Island) 34th anniversary of the disappearance of Mr. Upali Wijewardene, the Founder Chairman of Upali Group of Companies, and the party that accompanied him, falls today. The Upali Group, its employees and sales agents countrywide have made elaborate arrangements to commemorate the anniversary with religious ceremonies such as Bodhi Poojas, Alms Givings, Pahan Poojas and Blood Donation Campaigns. A special Bodhi Pooja will be held at more..

Special panel of doctors to examine Duminda

Feb 13 (DM) Colombo Additional Magistrate Aruni Attigalle today directed the Prison Authority to produce suspect Duminda Silva, who is on a death row, in Colombo National Hospital (CNH) to examine his health condition under a special panel of doctors. The Magistrate issued the directive to the Director of CNH Dr. Anil Jasinghe seeking a comprehensive medical report on the suspect as to confirm suspect's inability of more..

SAITM CEO denies fleeing to Russia

Feb 13 (Island) CEO of SAITM Dr Sameera Senaratne said that he didn’t flee the country, but left for Russia on an important mission with a team of colleagues last week. Speaking over the phone form Russia, he said "the trip was scheduled long ago and after the mission is accomplished I will return to Sri Lanka soon." Dr Senaratne who had complained to police that he faced death threats said he was provided security from Colombo prior to his departure from the BIA by the police. more..

SLFP yet to decide on referendum: Dilan

Feb 13 (DM) Days after the UNP spoke of a referendum on the proposed new Constitution, SLFP said it had not yet decided to go in for a constitution requiring the approval of people at a referendum. State Minister Dilan Perera told Daily Mirror that there was no decision by the SLFP at the moment to support any constitutional amendment that would need a referendum. “At the movement the SLFP has appointed a committee to look into these matters. It is still continuing its work,” more..

Video: Avant-Garde floating armoury inquiry begins

Feb 13 (DM) Colombo Chief Magistrate Lal Ranasinghe Bandara today allowed the defence counsel to file preliminary objections on March 15 in the case where former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Nissanka Senadhipathi and six others were facing corruption charges filed by the Bribery Commission with regard to Avant Garde Maritime Services Ltd. The BC said the suspects had committed an offence by permitting more..

24 arrested over Mirijjawila protest further remanded

Feb 13 (NR) 24 suspects arrested and remanded for behaving in an unruly manner during the opening of the Southern Development Project in Hambantota earlier this year have been further remanded till the 27th of Feb. The order was issued by Hambantota Magistrate Manjula Karunarathna. Out of the 25 individuals who were arrested and remanded for unruly behaviour, one individual was released on bail. The individual was released on three surety bails worth 500,000 rupees each. more..

Nothing wrong in appointment: Tennakoon

Feb 13 (CT) A number of prominent and respected Supreme Court and High Court Judges, in the recent past, were not in the judicial service when they were appointed, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon of the Centre for Human Rights said. Commenting on the Judicial Service Association (JSA) Judges' opposition to the appointing of Ramanathan Kannan, a lawyer from the unofficial bar, as a High Court judge, Tennakoon said, "for example Mark Fernando, Shirani Bandaranayake, Dr. A.R.B. Amarasinghe, more..

Video: 'Only solution is to abolish SAITM'

Feb 13 (DM) The only solution to resolve the SAITM issue was to abolish it and not appointing various Commissions to come up with different solutions, IUSF said. IUSF Convener Lahiru Weerasekara said it was the responsibility of President to abolish the private medical university. “President’s political alliances and affiliations are not important in this issue. It doesn’t matter whether he holds the power or not. more..

Rajitha wants to educate Ministers?

Feb 13 (NR) Minister Rajitha Senarathne has requested PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to conduct awareness campaigns to educate Ministers on a suitable code of conduct. He made the request during a discussion held with the PM last evening. Issuing a statement, Ministry of Health said the discussions were held prior to Premier leaving for Australia on a diplomatic visit. Minister said certain individuals attached to the govt are misusing the freedom they have been granted. more..

More buried LTTE arsenals unearthed

Feb 13 (Island) Police recovered a stock of explosives including landmines buried at a location near Sarasalai in Chavakachcheri in Jaffna on Saturday. The police found 34 hand grenades, 10 RPG bombs, mortars and several other explosive items. The area is not currently inhabited by people, police said adding that they believed the explosives had been buried by the LTTE during the war. Chavakchcheri police and Army are conducting further investigations. more..

UN and EU envoys to hold talks with Wiggie

Feb 13 (CG) UN and EU envoys to Sri Lanka are to hold talks with the Northern Province CM C V Wigneswaran this week. EU office in Colombo said that the EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Tung-Laï Margue, will visit the Northern Province from 15-17 Feb. The EU office said that Ambassador Margue, together with the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Una McCauley, will meet Wigneswaran on 15 Feb. more..

SL skies becoming dangerous for aircraft

Feb 13 (Island) Air Traffic Controllers Association said that there was a severe risk faced by the aircraft using our air space due to an acute shortage of their staff. A spokesman for the association said matters had taken a turn for the worse with the closure of BIA during day time for relaying of the runway thereby resulting in more flights touching down and taking off in the night. "The minimum requirement to operate the service is 120 air traffic controllers but right now there are only 82," more..