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A fair assessment?

Oct 1 (SO) This year’s milling crowds at the BMICH for the Colombo International BookFair (CIBF) were even more of a phenomenon than in previous years. By all accounts, people had run short of extra petty cash. This was a direct result of rising costs in the midst of last year’s economic meltdown. But the book fair showed no sign of losing the crowds. This went to show that Sri Lankans continue to cherish their love affair with books. This time it seems the authorities had to make some concessions more..

Desensitising a nation

Oct 1 (TM) The carefully-choreographed narrative of an economy on the mend came to an abrupt end with the IMF's post-review statement last week that laid bare the actual ground situation. Head of Delegation of the IMF revealed that the entity had failed to reach a Staff-Level Agreement with the Govt following its two-week-long first review of its 17th intervention in SL, under the $ 2.9 billion bailout package. The reasons cited were the yet-incomplete external debt restructuring process more..

'Holistic development, key to uplifting estate community'

Oct 1 (SO) In a candid interview, Minister Jeevan Thondaman, leader of the CWC and Minister, provides insights into the complex issues facing the estate community in SL. Q: There is criticism that plantation political leaders have not done anything for the estate community. What is your perception of this notion, and what will you do to address this criticism? A: The estate community, comprising some of the most impoverished more..

Biden’s strike solidarity & Trudeau’s bombshell on India

Oct 1 (CT) As world leaders flew from one gathering (G20 summit in New Delhi) to another (UN General Assembly in New York), two side developments made headlines in the news media. Canada’s PM Trudeau dropped a bombshell in a statement to parliament on September 19, that there were credible allegations of a potential link between Indian govt agents and the killing of 45 year old Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, near Vancouver. Mr. Nijjar was born in India and fled to Canada in 1995 more..

Road to recovery: The Good, the Bad and the Mysterious

Oct 1 (ST) It is in the backdrop of some skilful investigative journalism by the UK’s Financial Times on the mysterious Chinese-American behind the even more mysterious St. Kitts bank which holds SL International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) that the IMF team was in Colombo this week negotiating the lending agency’s second tranche under its Extended Fund Facility (EFF). The newspaper revealed some intriguing information about the case filed by the Hamilton Bank, in a NY court against SL more..

RW’s China visit key as IMF notes concerns over revenue shortfall and DDR delay

Oct 1 (TM) SL continues to be on a precarious economic path, with the Ranil Wickremesinghe Govt still grappling to bring the country out of the woods. The outcome of the recent review of the IMF on SL’s economy and governance as part of the fund’s EFF for SL is a clear indication that all is not fine in the paradise isle. The Black Box last week noted that Lankans were currently facing a sense of false security where everything remained more..

Not very diplomatic

Oct 1 (ST) My dear Ali Sabry, I didn’t think I would have to write to you so soon after writing to your namesake from Puttlam who was found to have been involved in some hanky-panky, smuggling several gold bars while returning from overseas. Somehow, it seems as if overseas travel is not healthy for all Ali Sabrys! Your namesake was caught gold-handed at the airport. In contrast, you managed to make headlines while still overseas. That is by having your son with you while more..

Editorial: The India – Canada spat

Oct 1 (Island) Opinion will surely be divided on whether Foreign Minister Ali Sabry should have waded into the ongoing spat between India and Canada on the assassination of a Sikh Canadian citizen allegedly by Indian agents according to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Sabry got a lot of media play in India characterizing Trudeau’s statement to Parliament as outrageous. Colombo, of course, continues to smart under the Canadian PM’s recent remarks about genocide in this country more..

ත්‍රිවිධ හමුදා සාමූහිකයේ...

The conquering hero: Success in Danushka Gunathilaka’s sexual assault case

Oct 1 (GV) In the 11 months just past, several media reports were busy portraying the events in the trial of Danushka Gunathilaka, the SL cricketer charged with sexual assault and violence against a woman in Australia last November, in a very upbeat way. It was a positive update they say, and a win for him that his strict bail conditions were relaxed, in the lead up to the judge’s decision. This is not entirely accurate. In his country of origin he would probably not even have been charged. more..

Domestic debt restructuring: An alternate view

Oct 1 (Island) There have been substantial and wide spread criticisms of the recently instituted Domestic Debt Restructuring (DDR) scheme carried out by Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), to reduce the Sri Lanka Govt’s requirements for funding. In this article I argue that the scheme, as structured and carried out by CBSL, is appropriate, given the ground realities in the country, and that the critics have ignored a number of factors which forced CBSL to design the scheme as it did. more..

Election assignment after assignment for SL envoy in Kenya; will we need him here

Oct 1 (ST) In Kenya, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner V. Kananathan is setting records by getting invited to be an independent observer of election after election on the African continent. This time, Liberia’s National Elections Commission has asked him to be part of an observer team for its October 10 elections for a President, Vice President, almost a third of its Senate, and all 73 members of its Lower House, House of Representatives. more..

Little known World Cup snippets

Oct 1 (Island) Cricket World Cup is just around the corner and the national cricket team has enjoyed both unprecedented success and unexpected lows over the previous 12 editions of the competition. One-time champions, SL were also runners-up on two occasions and semi-finalists on one other time. Their campaigns in 1999, where as defending champions they were knocked out in the first round and the 1987 tournament where they failed to win a single game remain disappointments. more..

AASL defends Rs. 700 ride levy decision

Oct 1 (TM) Airport and Aviation Services SL (AASL) has defended its decision to charge a levy of Rs. 700 on PickMe and Uber rides operating from the BIA by contending that the revenue generated will be utilised for the modernisation of airport infrastructure. In June 2023, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva announced in Parliament that permission had been granted to Uber and PickMe to operate at the BIA for a fee, following a series of reports of harassment and overcharging by the taxi mafia at the BIA. more..

දුම්රිය ටෙන්ඩරයේ ඉන්දීය සමාගමෙන්...

Discarded Chandimal goes back to school with golden gift

Oct 1 (SO) Unsung, unassuming and unwanted Dinesh Chandimal will have his name etched in letters of gold when he declares open an indoor practice facility at Dharmasoka College in Ambalagoda this morning. Having being at the receiving end of many a raw deal in his desire to sport the SL colours, Chandimal will be the undisputed toast at his old school where he learnt and nurtured his cricket and went to the extent of spending from his own pocket Rs. 20m more..

Sri Lanka can build strong tourism eco-brand: UN official

Oct 1 (EN) Sri Lanka can build an eco-brand catering especially to younger tourists who feel strongly about the environment, UN Resident Representative to SL, Azusa Kobota said. About 70% of global travellers prioritise sustainability in their holiday choices, marking a ten percent increase from 2021, while around 30 percent of travellers feel guilty about flying, due to carbon emissions, she said. “As the world embraces green thinking during this time of economic recovery efforts, more..

ICC refuses Sports Minister’s request to meet Cricket Coordinating Committee

Oct 1 (ST) ICC has categorically refused to meet a 3-member Sports Coordination Committee in Cricket appointed by Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe. Minister’s latest move is seen as yet another attempt to creep into cricket administration via the committee that has been set up to handle int'l affairs of the country’s richest sports body. Team includes Sidath Wettimuny, former SLC Prez Upali Dharmadasa and Rakitha Rajapakshe, son of Minister more..

Online Safety Bill, an assault on freedom of expression, opinion & information: ICJ

Oct 1 (ICJ) ICJ is concerned that the newly proposed Online Safety legislation, if adopted in its present form, would serve to crush free expression and further contract an already shrinking civic space in SL. On 18 Sept 2023, Ministry of Public Security gazetted a bill titled Online Safety intended to dramatically regulate the content of online communication, including by the general public. ICJ considers that several provisions of the bill would serve to undermine exercise of human rights more..

CoPA takes the mickey out of MoS; ignorance is bliss, was blatantly on show

Oct 1 (ST) Our best athletes have copped out of the Asian Games. Our cricket team has been decimated in the Asia Cup, even as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is indulging in a charity spree to make amends it appears, the national rugby team made its way to Hangzhou with its stepmother and the football clan has been sniffing at the elections, which is now done and dusted. So, one may legitimately ask the question, what does the Ministry of Sports (MoS) do about all this? more..

Asian Games: SL sprinters fail to impress

Oct 1 (ST) SL’s hopes of winning possible medals at the ongoing 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China were shattered after all three 400m sprinters – Kalinga Kumarage, Aruna Darshana and Nadeesha Ramanayake – failed to live up to their expectations in the finals yesterday. Ramanayake, who became the fastest woman in SL history in the 400m at the recent Asian Athletic Championship, clocking 52.61s to claim the gold medal, finished fifth more..

LOLC next stop Congo

Oct 1 (ST) After wrapping up acquiring 28 per cent of the shares of Rwanda’s Unguka Bank from Belgium’s Incofin Investment Management, the LOLC Group in its latest plans is looking to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ghana in the financial industry in line with its African region expansion underscored by the rapidly expanding global footprint, officials said. “DRC will be our next target and we will be involved in the micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs),” more..

Bank bad loan expansion slows in June quarter

Oct 1 (EN) Bad loans at SL’s banks, measured as Stage 03 loans to total loans and advances expanded by 0.5% to 13.7% in the second quarter of 2023, which is a slower pace than the previous three quarters. Bad loans went up 1.9% in the Sept 2022 quarter, and 1% in the December quarter and 1.3% in the March quarter, as debt moratoria also ran out. In SL and other countries, large spikes in bad loans are usually hangover of macro-economic policy deployed target growth. more..

කියන හැටියට ඉන්න බැරිනං...

Social media regulated to avert mounting protest against govt: Hadunnetti

Oct 1 (DM) The govt is plotting to introduce laws to regulate the media and social media in a move to prevent the mounting protests by the people against the govt, JVP politburo member Sunil Hadunnetti said. He said during a meeting with a group of Sri Lankans in South Korea that the govt has introduced various laws to regulate the media as it was well aware that the people are against its actions. "The media disseminate information to the people. If the govt is working to the expectations and more..

National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

Oct 1 (EN) National Christian Council of SL (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such stringent laws. Council called upon the govt to withdraw the bill immediately. The body expressed deep concern over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent more..

Pharmaceutical purchasing: MoUs with 3 countries for direct purchases

Oct 1 (TM) SL is actively pursuing MoUs with India, Bangladesh & Pakistan to directly purchase medicines, bypassing the established procurement process, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said. He said that this decision was aimed at saving a substantial sum of foreign exchange that is currently being drained out of the country through third-party medicine purchases. Moreover, it intends to mitigate potential more..

Police officer involved in Harak Kata’s escape bid arrested

Oct 1 (AD) A police constable has been arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting notorious underworld figure Harak Kata’s recent escape bid at the CID. The officer, who was taken into custody by the CID, will be handed over to the TID for further probes. However, the other police constable, who was identified as Harak Kata’s aide, is still at large. On Sept 10, Harak Kata, who was being interrogated by eight CID officers, had reportedly laced the officers’ tea with poison, more..

Air Traffic Controller shortage hits Sri Lanka’s airports

Oct 2 (SO) SL is on the brink of a major aviation breakdown due to lack of Air Traffic Controllers’ who have migrated in large numbers to Oman and other countries for unmatched financial benefits. An official from Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (SLATCA) said SL should have 150 air traffic controllers to man airports in Katunayake, Ratmalana, Mattala and Jaffna but they currently have only around 80. “Of this 10 moved out to Oman and 10 more are due to go for jobs in Oman and other countries. more..

හිරු ටීවී පත්තරේ විස්තරේ

Rs. 11 billion for EC to conduct presidential poll next year

Oct 2 (ST) With prez elections expected next year, Election Commission has been allocated Rs. 11 billion through the 2024 Appropriation Bill that is due to be presented to Parliament this month. Constitutionally, prez election must be concluded by October next year. Prez Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected by Parliament on July 20 last year, following the resignation of former Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa. As such, Mr. Wickremesinghe is presently serving out the remainder of Mr. Rajapaksa’s term more..

Good news: Animal lovers can now insure their pets

Oct 2 (ST) Animal lovers are in for some good news with a comprehensive pet insurance scheme to be launched next Wednesday, coinciding with World Animal Day, by the SL Insurance Corporation (SLIC). The insurance cover, Petsurance, in the initial stage will focus on pet dogs. It is expected to be extended to other animals if the pet project succeeds. Petsurance offers medical insurance coverage for sudden illnesses and sickness, except for congenital and pre-existing conditions. more..

Mullaitivu Magistrate’s resignation: Lawyers call for probe

Oct 2 (TM) The legal fraternity called for an impartial investigation into the controversial resignation of Mullaitivu Magistrate T. Saravanarajah, who has cited death threats and intimidation as causes for his notice. Bar Association of SL (BASL), Young Lawyers’ Association, and Lawyers’ Collective issued statements calling on the Govt and the Judicial Service Commission to launch an inquiry into the sudden resignation. more..

Minor flooding hits Southern Province amidst South-Western monsoon

Oct 2 (Island) As heavy rains continue to lash the southern province due to the South-Western monsoon, DMC on Friday reported minor flooding in multiple areas. The incessant rainfall has caused rivers, including Kalu, Gin, Benthara, and Nilwala, to overflow, leading to localized flooding incidents. DMC has taken proactive measures to address the situation, deploying army personnel to the Galle and Matara districts to assist residents who may be affected by the floods. more..

British-born Lankan girl to represent Britain in gymnastics

Oct 2 (Island) British-born Sri Lankan girl Minuli Sohansa Adikari, aged 11, daughter of a gymnast and gymnastic coach, has been selected to represent Great Britain at the upcoming Gutenberg International Acro Cup in Germany in October. Talking to Sunday Island, Minuli said that her aim is to participate both in the Olympics and the World Championship and get gold medals in Acrobatic Gymnastics one day. “I would also like to be a gymnastics coach and a judge”, she said. more..

Basil offers support to President on condition he disowns Lanza’s alliance

Oct 2 (ST) A political alliance that sought to support Prez Ranil Wickremesinghe at an election has become shaky due to recent developments. Triggering the unease is the outcome of a recent meeting Prez Wickremesinghe had with SLPP founder and main strategist Basil Rajapaksa. The latter sprung a surprise offer – full support for Wickremesinghe’s candidature at a prez election. more..

Against elections or against economics?

Oct 2 (GV) In his latest column, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka criticises two economists for what he interprets to be a call for postponing presidential elections next year. Both economists, Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy and Nimal Sanderatne, have not, to be sure, actually called for elections to be postponed or cancelled; they have only pointed out that economic imperatives tend to take a backseat when elections, particularly divisive elections, are around the corner. more..

Working people, IMF, Regime of repression

Oct 2 (DM) SL’s economy is now on autopilot. The Govt – emasculated of making any economic policies – is merely following the IMF and the World Bank. SL’s Finance Ministry may as well sit in Washington, or all the same it can be in Colombo following what is printed in the IMF agreement of March 2023 and the World Bank Country Partnership Framework released in June 2023. Indeed, a close reading of both these documents makes it clear there is no role for the Govt more..

'Local students ill-prepared for real challenges'

Oct 2 (TM) SL’s traditional examination-driven education system prioritises memorisation over practical and applicable skills, potentially leaving students ill-prepared for real-world challenges, said IPS Research Economist Priyanka Jayawardena. According to Jayawardena, IPS research also underscores the challenges faced in delivering quality education, particularly in disadvantaged schools, where shortages of more..

Global economic crises & need for financial structure overhaul

Oct 2 (DM) UNCTAD in its update Trade and Development Report released on 12 April warns that developing countries are facing years of difficulty as the global economy slows down amid heightened financial turbulence. Many developing countries face a deepening development crisis as soaring debt levels and higher servicing costs squeeze productive investment in both the public and private sectors. A shortfall of international liquidity has already turned unforeseen shocks into a vicious financial more..