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The twisty Dream of 2020!

Dec 28 (Island) We are moving on to another election year, and what does that mean? It means a helluva lot. 225 to be removed, brought back, or a new pack brought in. It is the problem people face with choosing the unwanted. Let’s just look back at the last two national choices, in 2009 and 2015. In 2009, just after the defeat of the LTTE terrorism and separatism, the pack chosen to power quickly moved to be the biggest of more..

Korean bank to buy control of LOLC’s Cambodian microfinance arm for $ 603.4 m

Dec 28 (FT) A Korean bank is to buy LOLC’s Cambodian microfinance arm for a staggering $ 603.4 million or Rs. 108.5 billion, subject to regulatory approval. The Korean firm is KB Kookmin Bank, which said its Board has agreed to buy 70% stake in Cambodia’s PRASAC Microfinance Institution for $ 603.4 million from LOLC. PRASAC Microfinance is the No. 1 microfinance deposit-taking institution, taking up over 40% of market share in Cambodia with 177 branches. more..

Non-career diplomats likely to return by Jan15

Dec 28 (FT) All non-career heads of missions and diplomatic officials have been asked to return to Colombo by 15 Jan. Some of them are due to finish their terms by the end of the year and will likely not be re-assigned at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Earlier this month, Minister Dinesh Gunewardene had issued instructions to recall all political appointees to SL’s foreign missions with immediate effect. Ministry had sent out instructions to return the career diplomats who have ended their more..

New central bank chief slams neo-liberalism

Dec 28 (EN) SL’s appointed CB governor W D Lakshman said he wanted find alternatives to neo-liberal policies that the island is said to follow, as there was a prevalence of poverty, under-employment and employment despite multiple state programs to change. “Decision makers in different sectors of the economy are confronted with challenge of searching and identifying alternative policy sets of greater efficacy than more..

Russian Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka

Dec 28 (FT) Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov will pay a working visit to Sri Lanka on 14 Jan 2020, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated. According to the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry will met with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 14 January in Colombo. He will also holds talks with PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena. more..

'Master plan for H'tota Port on the horizon'

Dec 28 (Xinhua) A master plan for developing industries around Hambantota Port is on the horizon, says Ravindra Jayawickrema, CEO of Hambantota Int'l Port Services (HIPS) which is a subsidiary of port operator Hambantota Int'l Ports Group (HIPG). He said that a master plan for industries, undertaken by an international group of companies who are competent in the field, has almost been finalised. "What is being envisaged is to allocate a certain area of land within the port more..

CB keeps policy rates unchanged

Dec 28 (FT) Central Bank yesterday said it would keep policy rates unchanged to contain inflation, especially given recent price increases in commodities, but acknowledged its stance could change after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announces the Govt’s policy framework next week. Monetary Board of the Central Bank, at its meeting held on 26 Dec, decided to maintain its accommodative monetary policy stance more..

In Colombo, a nativity play becomes a symbol of inter-ethnic and inter-faith unity

Dec 28 (AN) Christmas carols are sung every year on the last day of class in all SL schools. Holy Family Convent (HFC) School in Colombo too holds its annual Christmas carol service before Christmas, but after school is closed. This year, with an invitation open to all students, parents and alumni of the school, 200 students sang 12 carols in four languages: Sinhalese, English, Tamil as well as Latin. HFC’s annual Christmas carols showed unity because “We live in a multiethnic society more..

Iranian arrested in Mannar seas by navy turns out to be Norwegian and released...

Dec 28 (Island) Questions are being asked as to why a foreigner taken into custody recently in the seas off Silavathurai, Mannar misled the navy regarding his nationality. Well informed sources told The Island that though the foreigner identified himself as an Iranian when the Navy intercepted a dinghy carrying him and a Sri Lankan off Silavathurai, later produced a Norwegian passport bearing No 31268128 issued to Ramin Nazery. The detection was made on Dec 17, 2019. more..

Online train ticket booking facility for foreigners at BIA by 2020: Minister

Dec 28 (DM) Steps would be taken to introduce a relevant mechanism for foreigners to book their train tickets on their arrival at the BIA, State Minister C. B. Rathnayake said. He said there should place a limit when issuing many train tickets for a single person. Those tickets should be issued while registering persons' Identity Card Numbers or Passport numbers. "Our official website of the Railways Department is not efficient and more..

Kanchana Ratwatte appointed new Chairman of Bank of Ceylon

Dec 28 (FT) Top lawyer of both public and private sector fame Kanchana Ratwatte has been appointed as the Chairman of Bank of Ceylon, the country’s largest financial institution by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Finance. He is a lawyer by profession and has an LL.B degree from the University of Colombo. Ratwatte has appeared on behalf of numerous clients including corporate entities in both criminal and civil areas of the law. more..

UNP leadership battle looms over WC

Dec 28 (FT) The leadership battle within the UNP is poised to take a fresh turn with supporters of MP Sajith Premadasa pushing for a new Working Committee (WC) to be appointed early in the New Year, soon after the current one’s term expires next Tuesday, a party member said. The term of the UNP Working Committee will come to an end on 31 Dec. Earlier this month, Premadasa supporters had sent a letter with 25 signatures asking for UNP Leader Wickremesinghe to call for a WC meeting. more..

STF leads in 2019 narcotic detections

Dec 28 (Island) A record 1,842 suspects have been arrested in connection with heroin-related offenses in 1,752 countrywide raids carried out by law enforcement authorities in 2019. According to information made available by the STF headquarters, PNB, Navy, Customs and STF conducted operations on their own or jointly with sister services. Since the conclusion of the war in May 2009, the role played by the elite STF in more..

Sujeewa Rajapakse appointed Chairperson People’s Bank

Dec 28 (TM) Sujeewa Rajapakse has been appointed Chairman of People’s Bank. Rajapakse is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) with more than 30 years of experience. He is a past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) and is the Managing Partner of BDO Partners Sri Lanka, an international accounting network. He holds an MBA from the Post Graduate Institute of Sri Jayewardenepura. more..

Piano virtuoso in bid to help boost Sino-Lankan cultural ties

Dec 28 (Xinhua) Lankans today know China mostly for its economic assistance, but concertmaster and president of the Chamber Music Society of Colombo Lakshman De Saram hopes that a recent recital by a piano virtuoso will help showcase China's wealth of culture and musical talent. When Lu Yao, an award-winning graduate of the Beijing-based Central Conservatory of Music, walked on to the stage of the Lionel Wendt Theatre, "Some audiences were taken aback by his boyish appearance," more..

A/L results out; 181,126 students eligible for university entrance

Dec 28 (DM) The Department of Examinations said 181,126 candidates who sat for the GCE A/L Examination-2019 have become eligible to apply for university entrance as per the released examination results which could be obtained via A total of 281,786 candidates sat for the examination for three subjects. The results of 71 candidates have been suspended due to various irregularities, more..

DMK, PMK slam Lanka govt over decision to suspend playing of national anthem in Tamil

Dec 28 (HT) Tamil Nadu’s major opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and BJP’s ally Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) on Friday attacked the newly-elected SL govt under President Gottabaya Rajapaksa for suspending the playing of National Anthem of the island nation in Tamil on its Independence day in February. DMK president MK Stalin hit out at the Sri Lankan govt’s decision of mandating singing national anthem only in Sinhala saying this move had disappointed him. more..

Corrupt DMT employees make suckers out of driving licence applicants

Dec 28 (Island) Minister of Transport Service Management and Minister of Power and Energy Mahinda Amaraweera revealed that some of those who underwent diabetes tests to obtain driving licences were tricked into paying Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000 each by a corrupt group at the Werahera branch of the Department of Motor Traffic. Amaraweera said the corrupt workers falsely claimed that the blood sugar levels of some applicants were high and took bribes to more..

Sri Lanka expects 4-4.5% growth in 2020, inflation 4%: CB Governor

Dec 28 (EN) Sri Lanka is expecting 4 to 4.5% economic growth in 2020 and inflation below 4% and a higher 6.5% growth in the medium term with better policies Central Bank Governor W D Lakshman said. Sri Lanka’s growth has fallen sharply in 2019, after the collapse of the rupee currency in 2018 and a suicide bombings in April. Second quarter output growth was 1.6%. The growth is likely to be around 2.7 to 2.8% in 2019. more..

CCD arrests conman who feigned to be President’s adviser

Dec 28 (AD) The fraudster, who feigned to be an adviser to the President and threatened the principal of a leading school in Moratuwa, has been arrested today (27). The police said he was taken into custody this afternoon under the charges of identity fraud, threatening and assault. The suspect was identified as Sriyananda Tissa de Alwis, who had been residing in Moratuwa area. Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) said the suspect will be produced before Moratuwa courts tomorrow (28). more..

Telecom regulator issues warning over premium call back scam

Dec 28 (DM) The Telecom Regulatory Commission of SL (TRCSL), requested people not to call back or send an SMS if they receive unknown international calls. "The TRCSL receives several complaints in this regard. As soon as the telephone call is received it is disconnected and displayed as a missed call," TRCSL Deputy Director of Compliance, Menaka Pathirana said. "Most of the people who received such telephone calls attempted to return the calls to the displayed international number. more..

Video: Current govt mars national reconciliation process: Sumanthiran

Dec 28 (AD) MP of TNA, M.A. Sumanthiran says the incumbent govt is marring the national reconciliation process. Speaking to the media of the govt’s decision to sing the national anthem only in Sinhala at the upcoming National Day celebration, MP said, this indicates the direction in which this govt is moving in order to create a singular, majoritarian rule. In 2015, when a new govt came into office, they started moving in the direction of national direction, more..

Fighting misinformation, campaign fund monitoring needed to improve ...

Dec 28 (FT) PAFFREL has proposed stronger efforts to fight misinformation, monitor campaign funds, and limit the number of candidates to save public resources, in its latest report compiled after observing multiple elections. The interim report looked at the 2019 Prez Elections, as well as election law violations, making a comparison between the incidents that occurred in 2010, 2015, and 2019. A total of 672 incidents were reported this year, a decrease from 2015’s 710 incidents more..

Ranjan goes public with A/L results

Dec 28 (TM) Former State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake publicly displayed his A/L exam results on his personal facebook page. Ramanayake sat for the exam at the Kotte Ananda Balika Vidyalaya in August this year. According to the results sheet posted on his Facebook page, Ramanayake has scored an ‘A‘ for English, an ‘S’ for Political Science, an ‘S‘ for Communication and Media Studies and 50 points for the Common General exam. However, Ramanayake had failed Christianity. more..

Video: Rajitha remanded until Dec. 30

Dec 28 (AD) Colombo Additional Magistrate has remanded former Minister Rajitha Senaratne, who is currently receiving treatment at Lanka Hospitals in Narahenpita, until Dec 30. Magistrate has visited MP Rajitha Senaratne at Lanka Hospitals. The officers of the CID, who took Senaratne into custody at 2.10 p.m. this afternoon (27), had informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate of the arrest. more..

2020: The Challenges

Dec 29 (SO) The current year was defined by two very significant events in Sri Lanka – the Easter bombings and the ascension of Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the Presidency. A people who had lost all hope after the tragic events of April 21 saw a saviour in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as national security was uppermost in their minds. Since coming to power in November, he has delivered in spades. But looking ahead, 2020 will be an even more challenging year for the nation. more..

Restricting social media understandable

Dec 29 (CT) Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya recently said that new laws should be introduced to control the impact of social media with a focus on the circulation of hate speech, false statements/news and distorted images during election period. He added that new laws regulating social media or controlling it during the election period should be made, if existing laws were insufficient to control hate speech and misinformation. more..

'Fraud/bribery caused Kandy highway delay'

Dec 29 (SO) Govt of Sri Lanka has no international problems according to State Minister Dilum Amunugama. Within the country, however, the UNP and its bigwigs’ attempt to steer the Govt into int'l problems such as the Swiss Embassy incident. It is now clear that this was a fabrication, he said, adding that, by fabricating diabolical lies such as this, the UNP and its allies imagined they could embarrass the President, but it smears more..

The Khasoggi case

Dec 29 (Island) Gwynne Dyer, a regular columnist for our stablemate, The Island, placed his finger right on the spot when he concluded his Christmas day contribution to the paper by saying of the Jamal Khasoggi murder in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Turkey that "as for the prime mover in the crime, he escapes any criticism at all from his foreign friends, who want to go selling him arms and buying his oil." There was global condemnation of the atrocity with the whole world other than the United States more..

Pope sees signs of the times

Dec 29 (ST) The 2019th birth anniversary of Jesus Christ was celebrated throughout the world on Wednesday, but the message from the Pope was a sombre reminder that there was need for concern for believers around the world. He told the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s highest ranking administrative body; “Today we are no longer the only ones who create culture, nor are we in the forefront or those most listened to….. We are no longer living in a Christian world, because faith-especially in more..

Micro finance: Many women left destitute

Dec 29 (CT) "At that moment, I could not understand what I should do. The only thing I wanted to see was an end to this suffering. I had taken so many insults. I wanted to put an end to that, I couldn't bear it anymore". Her voice cracked and tears were pouring down her cheeks. I wanted to say something to comfort her. I wanted to tell her that everything would be okay and would be back to normal soon and that she need not worry anymore. more..

TNA and Muslim parties in N&E

Dec 29 (CT) An English language daily, recently, came out with a banner headline highlighting that the TNA would support the UNP, if the party needed a majority in Parliament after the General Election expected to be held next year. The news story quoting TNA Jaffna District MP, M.A. Sumanthiran despite making an error that EPRLF still remained in the four-party TNA coalition had pointed out that Sumanthiran mentioned about his support to the UNP at a meeting held in Kayts a week ago. more..

Sixth week of the GR Presidency

Dec 29 (Island) We are now past the fifth week of the Gotabhaya Rajapaksa presidency which officially began on Nov 18, but have not yet completed six weeks. The six weeks will be completed only on Jan 2. That we are now rid of the raving lunacy of the yahapalana regime seems almost too good to be true. But it is true, the yahapalanites are no longer in charge! We no longer have to switch on the TV and watch a demented yahapalana leader screaming into camera that Raaajapaksas will be jailed, more..

Anura Disanayake

With a passing decade, the national in nationalization

Dec 29 (SO) For ten years without war, there should have been something better to show. Half of the decade saw rulers trying to undo the gains that others made in the other half. The good news is that the light is seen at the end of the tunnel. The policy confusion and missteps of the last govt has led to a transition that is tougher than most, however. Vision is called for, at this conjuncture when the nation has taken the correct path at the crossroads. Crass anti nationalism was made a way of life by more..

'Sri Lanka aims at stable rupee, forex reserves, IMF engagement'

Dec 29 (EN) Sri Lanka will aim for forex reserve collection and exchange rate stability and will engage with the IMF based on the current policy framework, the island’s newly appointed Central Bank Governor W D Lakshman said. Sri Lanka has depended on debt in the absence of foreign direct investments, he said. SL is at the moment in an IMF program after the central bank’s soft-pegged exchange rate regime got into a crisis in 2015/2016 due to liquidity injections to keep rates down. more..

Mentally stressed Rajitha gets admitted to hospital

Dec 29 (CT) Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on the day after Christmas, paid an impromptu visit to the Dept of Motor Traffic (DMT) in Werahara. The public, who were waiting in queues to obtain services from the DMT, conveyed their grievances. First the Prez spoke with the public, and spent time with them asking questions such as when they arrived at the DMT and how long they had to wait. Thereafter, he went to certain places more..

Unfinished business of 2019

Dec 29 (TM) With two more days to go for a brand new decade, it is appropriate that we reflect on what 2019 had in store for Sri Lanka. The year will be remembered for two things: The tragedy of 4/21 and the election of a new President. 2019 began like any other year with the usual festivities and a complacent Govt that was more or less on autopilot mode due to a full-scale cold war between the President and his own Cabinet. The year began with political tension at boiling point, more..

Indian beauty culturists tap SL salon industry

Dec 29 (ST) Indian beauty culturists are tapping the salon industry to enter into the Sri Lanka market in a big way through joint venture and franchise holder firms threatening local beauty parlours. A network of 100 beauty salons is to be opened in the country employing Indian beauty culturists along with local assistants with the involvement of a leading Indian salon and spa company, a group of SL beauty culturists complained. This group has sent a letter to Prez Rajapaksa informing him about more..

SLC calls separate tenders for TV/Radio and Digital Broadcast rights

Dec 29 (ST) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is floating three separate tenders for TV and Radio Broadcast rights, TV Production rights and Digital Broadcast rights for the next three years as their partnership with Ten Sports ends on March 31, 2020. Even though TV and Radio Broadcast rights and TV Production Rights were floated separately during their last bidding process in 2013, the Digital Rights were not floated separately. more..