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CDS retires

Dec 31 (Island) Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne is retiring today (31) after 39 years of service. He is also the longest serving military officer in the country. He joined SLN at the age of 18 years, as an officer cadet of the 9th Intake and trained in Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee. He later joined the prestigious Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) at Dartmouth, UK. more..

Amitha Gamage appointed Gem & Jewellery Authority Chairman

Dec 31 (TM) Accountant and Gem & Jewellery industry professional Amitha Gamage was formerly appointed as the Chairman of the National Gem & Jewellery Authority. Accountant by profession, Gamage commenced his professional career at KPMG and Meralis Chartered Accountants in the UK and later ventured out in to the Gem & Jewellery Industry to become a learned professional in both Gemmology & Lapidary. He is a member of Gemmological Association of Great Britain, more..

LOLC share price soars on pending Rs. 108 b deal

Dec 31 (FT) The share price of LOLC Holdings Plc shot up to a new 54-week high with investors toasting the impending official announcement on the mega Rs. 108 billion sale of its stake in Cambodia micro finance company. LOLC topped the gainers list yesterday up 22.86% or Rs. 33.30 to close to Rs. 179. It had an intra-day high of Rs. 182.10. Yesterday’s closing bettered the previous 54-week highest of Rs. 133.90. Around 1.4 million LOLC shares changes hands via 2,240 trades more..

Edu. Minister calls for report on sex-ed book

Dec 31 (FT) Education Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said his Ministry would look into concerns raised on the textbook titled Hathe Ape Potha and make the final decision on whether it will be circulated by the first week of January. Alahapperuma said that he had instructed the Education Publication Department to submit a report on the controversial grade seven text book by 3 Jan. The directive was given after a well-known more..

Dilshan to contest at General Election

Dec 31 (AD) Former Sri Lanka Cricket Captain Tilakaratne Dilshan has decided to contest at the forthcoming general election. Speaking to the media in Kalutara, Dilshan stated that he will enter under SLPP. He said: “Both President and PM gave me their blessings to contest at the election. I’m preparing these days to contest under SLPP and be another young strength for President. I have received the news that I will be contesting from Galle. Cannot enter politics without a plan. more..

Karu says successor should take forward exemplary work done by Parliament

Dec 31 (TM) Speaker of the Parliament Karu Jayasuriya urged his successor to take forward the good work done by the Parliament in establishing democracy. He said the work done by the 8th Parliament that commenced in September 2015, was satisfactory and that the world has recognized the Parliament for its efforts to establish democracy. Jayasuriya expressed these views during a scholarship awarding ceremony at the parliamentary complex today. more..

New laws on food hygiene and labelling on fat content from 1 Jan.

Dec 31 (FT) The Health Ministry said that new laws gazetted will make it mandatory to publish the salt, sugar and fat content of solids food item on the packaging from 1 January and will also include new food hygiene standards to be followed by all food sellers. The new legislation was revealed at the press conference organised by the National Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) of the Health Ministry. more..

Has the Ministry of Sports lost direction?

Dec 31 (ST) A recent newspaper report that the Ministry of Sports intends to stop the recruitment of foreign coaches, smacks like the pot calling the kettle black! While it is true that expected results were not realized at SAG, attributing that failure only to foreign coaches, is somewhat foolhardy to say the least. While it is true that the Volleyball Team failed to come up with an expected Gold and Football coached by a local sage, barely raised the dust in Nepal, these results would more..

Price controls on dengue blood tests

Dec 31 (EN) Sri Lanka will slap price controls on a blood test for dengue and another widely used screening, a health official said as intermittent rains pushed the mosquito borne disease towards epidemic levels. “From 2020 a fixed price will be named for the full blood count and NS1 (dengue antigen test),” Anura Jayasekera, director dengue prevention unit told reporters. “After this all private sector hospital should follow these prices.” Price controls can reduce quality of a good or more..

Patali’s arrest was legal: Acting IGP

Dec 31 (Island) Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne told the National Police Commission that the arrest of MP Champika Ranawaka had been done properly. A spokesperson for the NPC, Nishantha Weerasinghe told the media that Wickramaratne had appeared before the NPC yesterday. Last week the NPC instructed Wickramaratne to submit a report on the arrest of MP Champika Ranawaka. more..

6 arrested near RMV while accepting bribes

Dec 31 (AD) Six suspects have been arrested at the Werahera office premises of the Department of Motor Traffic for operating as middlemen. Investigations revealed the group promised to provide the driver’s license during a short time span and extorted Rs.10,000. Upon questioning the suspects information of other brokers of similar nature were uncovered. Police said an extensive investigation has been launched. The arrested group will be produced before Court today. more..

Video: Four air force personnel killed in fatal crash at Warakapola

Dec 31 (AD) Four air force personnel have died after the three-wheeler they were travelling in collided with a truck on Kandy-Colombo main road, the Police said. The accident took place at around 4.00 a.m. this morning (31) at Demmaladeniya area in Warakapola. Preliminary police investigations have uncovered that the three-wheeler in question which had been returning from a funeral crashed against a truck as the driver fell asleep. The four air force personnel reportedly died on the spot. more..

Central Bank to punish eight banks for flouting price controls

Dec 31 (EN) Central Bank said it will punish eight banks for not meeting price ceiling set for loans, invoking sweeping powers given to the agency by its US architect 70 years ago. People’s Bank, Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Indian Overseas Bank, MCB Bank, Public Bank Berhad, Standard Chartered Bank, Amana Bank and Axis Bank have failed follow the price controls. “CBSL intends to take appropriate measures more..

SLTDA warns stern action against discrimination of local tourists

Dec 31 (Island) SL Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has warned that it would take stern action against any licensed establishments which adopt discriminatory practices against local tourists by following a foreigners only business policy at their establishements. "Several complaints have been made by domestic tourists stating that they are not allowed to enter certain restaurants and hotels in Hikkaduwa/Arugambay, where these establishments seem to have a foreigners only policy," more..

UNP MPs visit market to inquire about rice prices

Dec 31 (FT) A group of UNP MPs who visited the Narahenpita market said that despite a Rs. 98 maximum retail price for a kilo of rice being in place, most varieties are rice are being sold at Rs. 100-Rs. 115 a kilo. UNP MP Nalin Bandara who was among a group of five UNP MPs who visited the market said that the varieties sold at Rs. 98 were of poor quality. “We went around the market & inquired about price of rice and found that despite a maximum retail price, most traders are selling at higher prices more..

Karu exerts pressure on NPC

Dec 31 (CT) Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who had summoned officers of the National Police Commission (NPC), had reportedly exerted pressure on them to transfer certain officers, who had been tasked with conducting probes into a series of high profile cases, sources said. Furthermore, the Speaker had reportedly exerted pressure on the officers of the NPC not to make permanent, officers who are involved in more..

Tree planting campaign commences on Jan 1

Dec 31 (Island) Public Administration, Home Affairs and Disaster Management Ministry has taken measures to implement a tree planting program in govt premises on Jan 1. National program to plant one million trees will commence on Jan 1 at the Mahamevuna Uyana in A'pura. Program named, Growing tree for growing country, is implemented in line with Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s environmental policy statement with the objective to increase forest density from current 29% to 31% more..

Indian zoo to get four Asiatic lions from SL

Dec 31 (Island) Nandankanan Zoological Park at Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India will soon be getting two pairs of Asiatic lions from Sri Lanka. A proposal in this regard has been approved by the State Govt 15 days back. "We have already held talks with Sri Lanka Govt in this regard. The lions will be brought as part of an animal exchange programme in which the zoo has given the option of exchanging tigers or exotic birds with the lions," informed Nandankanan Deputy Director Jayanta Das more..

Bacteria to be released to fight dengue virus

Dec 31 (RN) National Dengue Control Unit will introduce a particular bacteria-laden mosquito to control the spread of dengue, in February. Director of National Dengue Control Unit Dr Anura Jayasekara said that mosquitos infected with the Wolbachia bacteria which has the ability to block the spread of the dengue virus will be released as a pilot project in Feb 2020. He said when mosquitos infected with this bacteria mate with the dengue mosquitos more..

Thisara joins Army as Major

Dec 31 (Island) Leading all-rounder Thisara Perera has joined Sri Lanka Army. Thisara has enlisted to the Gajaba Regiment and holds the rank of Brevet Major. He will be playing domestic cricket for Army this season. "General Shavendra Silva invited me to join Army. I have enormous respect for General Shavendra and it was a request that I could not turn down," Thisara said. Army has been investing a lot to improve their cricket and become a force in the domestic season. more..

CID grills Rishad

Dec 31 (DM) MP Rishad Bathiudeen has recorded a statement before the CID today (30). MP said he arrived at the CID this morning after being summoned to record a statement over the April Easter Sunday attacks. The MP recorded a statement for close to three hours. MP said he is prepared to assist in investigations in any manner possible. Meanwhile, tabling facts before Court last Monday Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris said statements are expected to be recorded from more..

Tourism wants gratis visa scheme to continue

Dec 31 (FT) The tourism industry is urging the continuation of the fee-free visa regime, as it has been helpful for the post-Easter Sunday setback and key for a more complete recovery, whilst any loss of revenue to Govt is insignificant considering the net $ 4.4 billion it brings in as foreign exchange earnings. Appeal by the private sector reportedly follows lobbying by Immigration and Emigration Dept for the suspension of the fee-free visa scheme for more..

Sampanthan’s Colombo-7 residence: UNP defends decision

Dec 31 (DM) Justifying the decision to provide an official residence to TNA leader R. Sampanthan, UNP MP Palitha Range Bandara said his party took this line of thinking upholding its policy of standing up against racial discrimination. He said UNP would not go against the move to provide the said facility to Mr. Sampanthan as it looked into the interests of all Sri Lankans. “Our founder leader the late PM D.S. Senanayake established our party by assembling representatives of all ethnic groups. more..

Ex-Customs DG sworn in as Northern Governor

Dec 31 (FT) Senior SLAS officer with vast experience P.S.M. Charles was appointed as the Northern Province Governor by Prez yesterday. Charles previously served as the District Secretariat of Vavuniya and Batticaloa. She also served as Director General of Customs and Secretary to the Health Ministry. During the end of the conflict in 2009, Charles was in charge of the refugee camps in Vavuniya, housing about 290,000 people from the war-torn districts of Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, more..

Video: President looks into gathering personal information under one data center

Dec 31 (AD) President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has focused his attention to gathering of all personal information such as National Identity Cards, driving licenses, immigration and emigration documents, registration of births and deaths under one data collection center. During a discussion with the officials of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology held today (30), Prez will be instrumental in reducing time, more..

Reining in private buses

Dec 31 (DM) Transport Services Management and Power and Energy Minister Mahinda Amaraweera had said last week that loud songs and improper video clips would be banned from being played on radios and TVs in private buses from Jan 1 (Tomorrow). Citing that the songs played at high volume irk the commuters, he had stated that classical songs with proper videos would be distributed among the bus crews. Nobody would forget the Minister’s promise on the issue as more..

Sumanthiran’s disservice to Tamils

Dec 31 (DM) I take exception to an observation by Mr M. A. Sumanthiran PC in an article titled, “Legal challenges faced by the Federal party in its 70-year history,” Daily Mirror, 27 Dec) He says that in the said case the court endorsed or approved advocacy of a confederal form of govt in this country. I was the Counsel for the Petitioner in that case and consider it my duty to set the record straight in the public interest. My learned friend says, “According to the judgment (i.e. Chandrasoma) more..

Dangerous ethnic politics in monopolising the national anthem

Dec 31 (DM) Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the election to the highest political office in the land without the help of the Tamil voters. But on the day of swearing-in, he pledged to be the prez of all citizens of the country. His first month in the office has thrilled his supporters and reassured many of his detractors. Mr. Rajapaksa, not a traditional politician, performed better than his elder brother, former prez Mahinda could have, more..

No evidence to suggest link between beer and homosexuality: Dr Anil Jasinghe

Dec 31 (RN) There is no evidence to suggest a direct link between beer consumption and homosexuality, National Health Services Director General Dr Anil Jasinghe said. Nor has there been any medical research conducted on the matter, he added. Dr Jasinghe was speaking at a special press conference where he touched on the near-moral panic triggered by a prominent Buddhist monk when the latter suggested a causal relationship more..

2019 will always be remembered for Easter Sunday tragedy

Dec 31 (ST) The year 2019 was marred by the worst terrorist attack in Sri Lanka since the end of the three-decade-long war against the LTTE–The Easter Sunday bombings. The Easter Sunday terror attacks left 268 dead. The bombers, who were all part of the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), carried out a coordinated series of suicide attacks on churches and five-star tourist hotels. At least 40 foreign nationals and 45 children more..

Sri Lanka to build 300 university colleges for higher education: Minister

Dec 31 (EN) Sri Lanka will set up 300 university colleges where students who cannot enter state universities can join and earn a higher national diploma, Higher Education Minister Bandula Gunewardene said. This year 181,000 students has passed the A/L exam earning entry qualifications for universities. However there are only about 30,000 seats in tax-payer funded universities, leaving about 150,000 high and dry, he said. more..

'Govt will not conduct political witch hunt'

Dec 31 (FT) The SLPP said the Govt did not intend to conduct a political witch hunt against Opposition politicians, insisting the arrests of MPs Champika Ranawaka and Rajitha Senaratne were conducted in accordance with the law. State Energy Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena said the Govt did not interfere with investigations of law enforcement agencies. He pledged the Govt would take measures to allow law enforcement more..

It’s going to be a bumpy 2020

Dec 31 (RN) A New Year dawns and as always, we begin to hope for a better and more successful twelve months. For us of the fourth estate, life continues attempting to make sense of the economic and political challenges the country will face. The political drama begins on Jan 3 when Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa delivers his policy statement in Parliament. In the House will be the same people who were there over the past 4 years, more..

Bank bad loans spike to 4.9%, non-banks 9.7% in Sept

Dec 31 (EN) Bad loans in Sri Lanka’s banks grew to 4.9% of assets in the September quarter from 4.8% in June, while those in non-bank finance companies grew to 9.69% from the 9.09% in the aftermath of a 2018 collapse of the currency. The rate of bad loan accumulation seems to have slowed in the banks 0.1% in the quarter. So far the level of bad loans is much lower than had come from previous collapses of soft-pegs. more..

Aviation Minister to upgrade B’caloa airport to make it international

Dec 31 (Island) Talks have already been held with India on developing the Batticaloa Airport, Minister Prasanna Ranatunga says. He said the Indian govt had extended its fullest cooperation to develop the domestic airport and it had been discussed with Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu recently. Minister has already requested the Civil Aviation Authority for a report on measures to be taken to develop more..

Parliament readies itself to welcome new President

Dec 31 (FT) The ceremonial sitting of the new Parliamentary session will commence at 10 a.m. on 3 January with newly-elected Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa scheduled to make his inaugural address to the House. He is the first Prez to be elected to office without having served as a MP prior to his election as President. The new session will commence ending the prorogation of Parliament which the Prez did on 2 Dec in keeping with more..

Video: Ex-SPC chairman arrested over white van media briefing

Dec 31 (AD) Former Chairman of State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) Rumy Mohamed surrendered to the CID this morning, the Coordinating Officer of the Attorney General said. It is reported that Rumy Mohamed was absconding from police over the controversial white van press conference held last month. Colombo Magistrate’s Court yesterday imposed an overseas travel ban on Rumy Mohamed. more..