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Sri Lanka's credit, current account deficit to be watched: Fitch

Mar 3 (EN) Sri Lanka's credit growth, any widening of the external current deficit that would be worsened by expansionary activities of the state would be watched. SL is now rated 'BB-', three levels below 'BBB-' investment grade with a stable outlook, by Fitch, helped by strong growth, a gradual reduction in the budget deficit and an unblemished debt servicing record, Sagarica Chandra, head of Asia Pacific Sovereigns at Fitch. more..

Estate Worker unions to meet on wage hike negotiations

Mar 3 (ST) Negotiations at the upcoming Collective Agreement for Sri Lankan plantation workers would ensure they get a reasonable and decent hike in their salaries, a govt politician said. State Minister for Plantation and Industry K. Velayutham, who is also the General Secretary of the Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union, said that they would be conducting discussions with nearly 70 unions prior to meeting with the relevant authorities to increase wages of estate workers as a joint effort without biases. more..

Sri Lanka tea export earnings fall sharply in January, volumes up

Mar 3 (EN) Sri Lankan tea export earnings fell sharply in January 2015 from a year ago owing to lower buying power in key markets but volumes increased, with demand recovering in some Middle Eastern countries hit by political troubles. Turkey emerged as the largest importer of Ceylon tea followed by Russia and Iraq, Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers said. Other noteworthy importers were UAE, Iran and Libya. Markets in the Middle East had earlier been affected by political uncertainty more..

State Minister Rosy Senanayake seeks ILO assistance to eradicate child labour

Mar 3 (FT) State Minister of Child Affairs Rosy Senanayake recently sought assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to help eradicate domestic child labour in Sri Lanka. Senanayake met with Global Action Programme Project Director Bijoy Raychaudri to discuss the way forward for Sri Lanka’s child labour policy. The meeting took place at the Ministry of Child Affairs and was also attended by more..

SLT December quarter net down 37%

Mar 3 (EN) Sri Lanka Telecom said December 2014 net profit fell 37% to 958 million rupees from a year ago with a firm suffering a foreign exchange loss for the period which also saw higher finance costs. Group sales in the quarter rose 9% to 17 billion rupees, interim results filed with the stock exchange showed. Basic earnings per share were 53 cents. SLT's mobile unit, Mobitel, reported sales rose 13% to 7.92 billion rupees in the fourth quarter compared with 2013. more..

Removal of a Chief Justice from office

Mar 3 (Island) The removal of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake from office has tarnished the image of Sri Lanka both internationally and nationally. Whether the measures initiated by the former govt for the removal of CJ were driven by political motivations or whether opposition to it was also driven by political considerations is not of relevance. What is of relevance to the image of Sri Lanka is not the intent but whether the procedures as required by the Constitution more..

Gammanpila on Maithri govt, Tamil separatism and Rajapaksa’s return

Mar 3 (FT) Pivithuru Hela Urumaya Leader and former Provincial Councillor Udaya Gammanpila claims the present Govt had mega lies about mega deals and accuses the coalition of cheating people to fraudulently secure their vote. “That is the biggest fraud that took place in this country. Therefore people are now impatiently waiting for Parliamentary election to punish those cheaters for deceitfully stealing their vote,” more..

Sri Lanka Tourism gathers momentum at key Italian Travel Fair

Mar 3 (CT) Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau championed 18 top company representatives in the travel and hotel sectors operating in the Italian market to show case Sri Lanka Tourism at the BIT International Tourism Exchange held from 12– 14 Feb 2015 at Fiera Millano, Italy. BIT (Borsa Internationale Tourisme) is the largest exhibition in the world of the Italian tourist products and contains a comprehensive collection of the best international tourism products from over 120 countries more..

Editorial: No rotis, please!

Mar 3 (Island) President Maithripala Sirisena is in the same predicament as a pregnant woman being forced to push and deliver by a bunch of clockwatching midwives in a mighty hurry. He is coming under increasing pressure to deliver on his promise to change the Constitution and the electoral system before April 23, when Parliament is expected to be dissolved. Leader of the NMJS Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera has, at a recent meeting, expressed his displeasure at more..

'Unethical for UNP to dissolve Parliament'

Mar 3 (CT) Former UPFA Minister, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, claims the UNP Govt in office has no majority and it is unethical for such a govt to talk of dissolving Parliament as the current House had been elected by the people for six years. Sharing of power is a good idea; Yapa said that if a minority cannot form a govt, it should invite the majority in the opposition to form a govt. Yapa is the General Secretary of SLFP. more..

Human Rights and 50 days of Sri Lanka’s new Presidency

Mar 3 (GV) It’s now 50 days since Sri Lanka’s new President took oaths on 9th Jan 2015. This is an attempt to reflect on the first 50 days of the new Presidency. It’s not meant to be comprehensive assessment of the 50 days, but a reflection based on my personal experiences, what I’ve seen and heard in my travels around the country interacting with various people and also what I’ve read. There were three striking things for me in terms of the oath taking ceremony itself. more..

Can South Africa succeed where India and Norway had failed?

Mar 3 (SL) Now that a new Govt has settled down to work in Colombo, an official South African team is back in the country, trying to take forward their post-war truth and reconciliation efforts from where they had left under the predecessor regime of President Rajapaksa. All told, the present double-barrel gun comprising President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should be the welcome change that any peace facilitator in Sri Lanka could do with yet South Africans’ job more..

I've been framed! Squeals Malaka

Mar 3 (CT) "My father was on the verge of a crucial political decision and this was blocked by a particular official, framing me for a crime that I did not commit". The notorious night crawler that he was, that is until the Courts restrained him from entering night clubs. Ceylon Today spoke to the young and free-spirited Malaka Silva, the son of MP Mervyn Silva. There is much more than the so called 'Bad Boy' image attached to him. more..

Still on the drawing boards

Mar 3 (NS) The delay in implementing the electoral reforms has given rise to several questions as to whether the coming election should be held under the existing electoral system; the present preference voting system or whether it should be replaced with a mixed system. According to the agenda of the 100-Day program of the new govt, electoral reform has been given priority. Before the Presidential election, Maithripala Sirisena as a candidate pledged to introduce a mixed system, more..

Ranil’s comments on Media raise eyebrows

Mar 3 (NS) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe last week, raised eyebrows by publicly accusing several Sinhala language newspapers of being in the payroll of former President Rajapaksa and attempting to create communal disharmony. Stating that he would be calling a meeting of media heads and their owners to discuss the situation, Wickremesinghe went onto say that he would ‘see to it’ if any of those he invites did not turn up and called on the public to conduct ‘occupy’ style protests at more..

Postal services hit by labour shortage

Mar 3 (SO) Telemails are faster than telegrams. The Postal Department which is running at a loss can be made a profitable institution or even brought to break even point by introducing modern services, Postmaster General Rohana Abeyratne said. He said we cannot depend on traditional services alone to drive growth. Telemails are also used by the same people who use telegram. Telemails are being used by the govt and more..

Ranil drives Yaha-pala-naya down the Pal-lung

Mar 3 (CT) On February 27 the “My-3” Troika, consisting of Chandrika Bandaranaike, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Maithripala Sirisena, passed its half-way mark on its vaunted pilgrimage to political nirvana which, they said, would be achieved in 100 days. This is the solemn promise they gave the people and, unless they are to be dismissed as a pack of con artistes, their word must be taken seriously. So it’s time to do a reality check to find out, among other things, more..

Repeal genocide resolution before devolution talks, troop moves

Mar 3 (CT) A man or woman must have the courage of his or her convictions. If you do something, do so because you think it is right. If you oppose something, do so because you think it is wrong. If you’ve done something because you think it is right, say so, defend your choice, and give reasons why you thought it was right, if only at that time. If you’ve opposed something, explain that opposition, giving reasons why, at the time, you thought it was wrong. If you’ve remained silent, more..

Video: Mangala's full speech at UNHRC

Mar 2 (IL) It is an honour for me to be here today, representing the Govt of Sri Lanka following the historic Presidential election that took place in my country 48 days ago on 8th January 2015. As this august assembly would be aware, 81.52% of the registered voters in Sri Lanka from all parts of the island including the former conflict affected areas in the northern and eastern provinces exercised their franchise at this election. more..

TNA to discuss reforms with Indian PM

Mar 2 (IANS) Sri Lanka's main Tamil political party on Monday said it will seek to discuss devolution of powers to the provinces when it meets Indian PM Narendra Modi in Sri Lanka. Modi is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on March 13, his first since taking office last year and which will also be the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister to Sri Lanka in over 25 years. India has been backing devolution of powers to the provinces in Sri Lanka under an agreement reached between more..

Kerry hails UNHRC on Sri Lanka

Mar 2 (CG) US Secretary of State John Kerry, today hailed the role played by the UNHRC on Sri Lanka. In his speech during the High Level segment of the 28th session of the UNHRC, which began today, Kerry noted that there is an opportunity for change in Sri Lanka. “Consider the indispensable role the HRC has played in encouraging leaders to live up to their promises and commitments in countries such as Burma and Sri Lanka, where there are opportunities for real change,” he said. more..

TNA cracks whip on hardliners

Mar 2 (PTI) Sri Lanka's main Tamil party has censured two hardline members for their anti-party activities, including "unwarranted and unacceptable" criticism of its leaders. TNA central committee condemned the conduct of lawmakers Suresh Premachandran and Ananthy Saseetharan for criticising party leader R Sampanthan and senior member MA Sumanthiran. Party resolution said Premachandran and Saseetharan were more..

Principal molested female students

Mar 2 (CT) Female students from a popular school in Gangaihala Korale, Gampola have been subjected to sexual abuse on a regular basis by the Principal of that school. These girls were taken to an empty class room under the guise of disciplinary action and were subjected unwelcome sexual advances by the principal. These girls were from grade 8, 9 and 11. The girls have complained of the matter to a teacher in the school who took necessary action against the principal by more..

President notes attempts to rule

Mar 2 (CG) President Maithripala Sirisena today noted that there are attempts by some countries to rule Sri Lanka by seeking to sign various economic deals. The President said that Sri Lanka has always played it safe since independence from British rule in 1948 and will not allow the island to be ruled by a foreign country once again. He said that Sri Lanka must be mindful of such attempts as it looks to develop and move forward. President said that today major countries invade small states more..

President says he dodged CEPA talks in Delhi

Mar 2 (PTI) President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he deliberately avoided having Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India on the agenda during his recent visit to New Delhi. "I want to assure you that I will not enter any agreement with any country that will be harmful to our businesses," he said while addressing local businesses during the weekend. He said he had cancelled some 16 more..

Public protest against asbestos factory to be constructed

Mar 2 (Island) Residents, members of the clergy and civil organisations took to the streets blocking Colombo-Puttalam main road on Saturday protesting against constructing of a roofing sheet factory near the Anawilundawa bird sanctuary. Protest march commenced from the Sri Ratnasiri Vihara in Nalladarankattuwa was supported by people of Arachchkattuwa, Helamba, Watawana, Nalladarankattuwa, Puthupanthiya and shop owners had shut down their business places to more..

Ravi Wettasinghe remanded till May 25

Mar 2 (AM) Businessman Ravi Wettasinghe, who had been on an open warrant, was today ordered to be remanded till May 25 Colombo High Court in connection with a criminal fraud case. The Attorney General had indicted Ravi Wettasinghe for swindling a company director named Don Anthony Rohan Mallawaarachchi of Rs.10 million after promising him to provide a house in Nawala area on or around Sept 16, 2005. The case was heard without the accused being present for several years. more..

JVP piqued by SLFP moves

Mar 2 (Island) The JVP yesterday warned that the formation of a national govt would jeopardise efforts to bring in crucial constitutional reforms as envisaged in President Maithripala Sirisena’s polls manifesto. Therefore, an agreement between the SLFP and the UNP was inimical to the much touted 100-day project meant to drastically dilute executive powers of the incumbent president, JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said. more..

Liberal party opposes abolition of executive presidency in haste

Mar 2 (Island) The Liberal Party in a statement issued to media said that it had decided to oppose on-going efforts to abolish the executive presidency in haste and called upon all those concerned to study proposals it had put forward to a Parliamentary Select Committee to pave the way for a modified presidency based on the principles of separation of powers. Statement issued by Leader of the Liberal Party Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP said: "At its Executive Committee meeting held on more..

Video: Court of Appeal dismisses Shashindra’s petition

Mar 2 (AD) Court of Appeal on Monday dismissed the petition filed by ousted Chief Minister Shashindra Rajapaksa seeking to make the appointment of Harin Fernando as the Uva Chief Minister illegal. The respondents in the case include former Governor of the Uva Province Nanda Matthew, and thirty four Provincial Councillors, including incumbent Chief Minister Fernando. Fernando sworn in as the new Chief Minister as the former Govt failed to maintain a majority in January. more..

MS to meet EC

Mar 2 (DM) President Maithripala Sirisena hopes to meet Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya soon to discuss the proposed electoral reforms, Cabinet Spokesman and Minister Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday. He said that the enactment of electoral reforms was a key election promise made by President Sirisena during his campaign and as such he believes the govt is obliged to fulfil this promise to the people. more..

Govt shuts CHOGM office

Mar 2 (CG) The Govt has decided to close the secretariat opened in Colombo during the CHOGM in 2013. Acting Foreign Minister Ajith Perera said that it was decided to shift all operations of the secretariat to the Foreign Ministry. Perera said that it was found that millions of rupees was being spent on the CHOGM secretariat for very little work. He said that the Govt feels all the operations of the CHOGM secretariat can be conducted from the Foreign Ministry and so all the equipment more..

Murali asks Sri Lanka to rest injured Herath

Mar 2 (AFP) Former Sri Lanka leg-spinner Muthiah Muralidaran pleaded on Monday for key spinner Rangana Herath to be kept on ice for the World Cup quarter-finals after suffering a nasty injury to his finger. The 36-year-old Herath needed four stitches in the spinning finger of his left hand after he tried to stop a full-blooded drive from England's Jos Buttler in Wellington on Sunday. Sri Lanka won the match by nine wickets and with the 1996 champions almost assured of a quarter-final spot, more..

Video: Police to re-enforce helmet laws

Mar 2 (DM) Wearing full-face helmets by motorcyclists will be banned from 21 March, SSP Ajith Rohana said. Earlier, the police banned the use of full-face helmets and later temporary suspended the regulation due to several issues. He added the law will be implemented as they witnessed many incident where thieves were taking advantage of these helmets to carry out robberies in the recent past. “Several reports have been received of more..

'Nimal wants to defend crooks'

Mar 2 (CT) Was Opposition leader Nimal Siripala Silva not ashamed of his act of protecting crooks, by attempting to prolong the life of Parliament, PM Ranil Wickremasinghe asked, when he met UNP supporters in Nuwara Eliya. UPFA had attempted to defeat President Sirisena, employing underground tactics. If Sirisena lost, his family members would have been murdered, he said. There were MPs in the previous govt, who attempted to defeat Sirisena, employing every possible method. more..

Massive protest by estate workers

Mar 2 (Island) A massive protest was staged yesterday in Matale town by estate workers demanding that they be provided with basic facilities. The protest had been organised by the Upcountry People’s Movement for Social Justice. Several thousand demonstrators complained that the estate people had not been given their right to a decent life since the days of British governance. Around 250,000 families in the estate sector were forced to live under many hardships. more..