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Sri Lanka set for populist budget ahead of snap polls

Oct 24 (AFP) Veteran Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is expected to unveil a populist budget on Friday hoping to shore up sagging electoral support ahead of a troubled bid to win a third term. Rajapakse, who is also finance minister, has advanced the budget for 2015 by a month to give his govt more time to implement widely predicted tax cuts and public sector pay rises ahead of snap elections in January. more..

Public servants to get Rs. 5,000 salary hike; UNP pledges Rs.10,000

Oct 24 (Island) UNP said President Rajapaksa was expected to grant a 5,000-rupee pay hike to public servants but it would give them Rs. 10,000 when it formed a govt. UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake said that the UNP already knew what Rajapaksa’s ‘Presidential Election Budget’ contained. "He will announce a salary increase of Rs. 5000 for public servants after denying them a hike for many years with the exception of meagre allowances which were totally inadequate to meet the skyrocketing more..

Cabinet sub-committee on CKD met only once since Nov 2012

Oct 24 (Island) Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake acknowledged in Parliament that he couldn't remember precisely how many times 16-member Cabinet sub-committee appointed in November 2012 to look into chronic kidney disease had met. He was responding to a question raised by UNP MP P. Harrison. He said that some recommendations made by the subcommittee had already been implemented though he couldn't remember the number times the members had met. more..

Sri Lanka hires up in Washington amid war crimes probe

Oct 24 (TH) Govt of Sri Lanka has hired its eighth Washington firm this year as it awaits the results of a UNHRC investigation into alleged war crimes. Levick is subcontracting through Liberty International Group, a govt affairs firm owned by former Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), to represent the semi-autonomous central bank of Sri Lanka. “Levick’s mission is to utilize communications supported advocacy to tell Sri Lanka’s more..

Referendum in the offing?

Oct 24 (CT) After the next Presidential Election is held early January, the govt could hold a referendum to extend the life of the present Parliament by a further six years, under powers vested in the Executive, Minister Jayaratne Herath hinted. Herath also said it was the UPFA that is enjoying the benefits of the Executive Presidency that was introduced by the UNP and added it was President Rajapaksa who ended the war though there were several Executive Presidents before him. more..

Govt unions want 25% hike

Oct 24 (CT) Trade unions, aligned with the government, have requested the President to increase public servants' salaries by 25% and to introduce a minimum salary for private sector workers in the budget, which will be presented in Parliament today. Govt Service Trade Union Convention (GSTUC), the Sri Lanka Nidhahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS) and the Lanka Trade Union Central Committee (LTUCC) met President on Sunday to discuss budget proposals. more..

'Canada terror attack: Situation similar to post-1983 crisis in northern SL'

Oct 24 (Island) Regretting the loss of lives due to unprecedented terrorist attacks in Canada during the week, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said the situation there was very much similar to that of Sri Lanka in the early 80s. He likened the threat faced by Canada to the situation that prevailed in the northern region before the LTTE ambushed an army patrol on the night of July 23, 1983 and claimed the lives of 13 servicemen. more..

Cabraal urges to shift from collateralized banking

Oct 24 (DM) Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal urged the banking fraternity to shift from the traditional mind-set of collateralized lending to serve the financial needs of the emerging middle class. Speaking at the 26th anniversary convention of the Association of Professional Bankers of Sri Lanka, Cabraal stressed the importance of extending non-collateralized lending with ‘earnest’. “You also need to now look at moving away from collateral-based banking. more..

30 expat Tamils to contest Canadian polls

Oct 24 (CT) More than 30 expatriate Tamils of Lankan origin are contesting the Local Govt polls in the Ontario Province, Canada next Monday (27). According to informed sources, this is the largest number of Tamils of Lankan origin to contest the Local Govt polls in Canada. Several of the candidates are in their 30s and early 40s and they belong to the second generation expatriate Tamils who migrated to Canada following the civil strife in the island, sources said. more..

Foul coal deal costs CEB Rs. 1.5 billion

Oct 24 (Island) CEB had suffered a loss of Rs. 1,507,044,116.25 due to substandard coal imported for the Norochcholai coal-fired power plant in 2012, Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament. "This loss was due to a massive fraud which took place before I assumed duties as the Minister of Power and Energy. It happened during the tenure of my predecessor. Investigations are underway and I am ready to take action against anyone more..

IUSF slams NMSJ

Oct 24 (CT) IUSF slammed the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) over its approving the present govt's policy of privatizing and commercializing education. Leader of NMSJ, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera recently told the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) Parents Collective (PC), that the government's role was to monitor Private Medical Universities and ultimately ensure quality standards similar to the State Universities with regards to more..

Nine-year-old goes missing

Oct 24 (DM) A nine-year-old boy had been reported missing along with a monk from Batuwita, Horana since this morning while they were in Horana, the missing boy’s grandmother complained to the Police. The monk was a relative of the boy and they had gone to Horana with the boy’s grandmother to purchase a bicycle for the boy who was reported missing. The monk and the boy had gone into a shop while the grandmother was at a bank. She had searched for the duo after she got out of more..

Rajapaksa seen boosting handouts as Sri Lanka prepares for polls

Oct 24 (BN) South Asia’s fastest growth rate will allow Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to boost spending on pre-election handouts without halting the country’s record improvement in public finances. The govt, which last month cut petrol and diesel prices and slashed electricity tariffs by 25%, will probably also raise salaries for state employees and delay policies such as tax increases, Eurasia Group predicted. more..

SLASSPA Chief calls for restrictions on new security licenses

Oct 24 (DM) Top civilian security firms in the country agreed to increase the minimum wage of a security guard for a day, implement modern technology, and band together against under quoting in tenders; especially to govt institutions to ensure survival of their industry, at the inaugural Sri Lanka Security Service Providers’ Association (SLASSPA) CEO Forum yesterday. “We are morally under obligation as entrepreneurs to treat the poor guards on the ground as well. more..

The ancient cities of Sri Lanka

Oct 24 (BBC) Sri Lanka may be known for palm-fringed beaches, but it also houses a treasure trove of archaeological sites, the most magnificent of which lies in the geographical heart of the country – an area known as the Cultural Triangle. The region is home to no fewer than five Unesco World Heritage sites, including the soaring rock fortress of Sigiriya (pictured), built in the late 5th Century. The Sri Lankan govt launched the Cultural Triangle Project in 1982 to restore, more..

US calls for first joint biz council with Lanka

Oct 24 (FT) Following the Lanka-US trade talks and business forums in Colombo last week, the ongoing bilateral engagement between the two countries received yet another boost on 17 Oct as the US trade emissary for South Asia called for the establishment of the first SL-US Business Council in Colombo. “As far I know there is no SL-US Business Chamber. Frankly, there should be,” Assistant US Trade Representative for more..

Zero exchange control by 2020

Oct 24 (CT) Deputy Governor of the Central Bank P. Samarasiri said the country's exchange control environment will be fully liberalized by 2020. At present, local investments going outside is under the surveillance of the Exchange Control Department. "In Sri Lanka, the exchange control environment is almost liberalized. Now the current account is fully liberalized, with no control for import, export or services; it is fully liberalized. Capital transactions are also now largely liberalized; more..

Cast tax net on show-off society

Oct 24 (CT) The govt needs to drag in high income earners to the tax earners and the informal coporate sector in order to balance the budget and create a fiscal regime conducive to sustainable growth, an economist said. "The share of income of top income earners has increased over the years, reflecting that there is a small segment in the society who earn a lot, and whose income grows at a faster rate, compared to others in society. So, this will lead to a conspicuous consumption that more..

Central Bank clarifies new legislation on sale of land to foreigners

Oct 24 (FT) Following Parliament passing new legislation on sale of land to foreigners, the Central Bank yesterday released a lengthy explanation of the fresh regulations. Given below is the full statement: In 1963, a 100% transfer tax was introduced in the case of a transfer of land to foreigners. Thereafter, in 2002, such 100% transfer tax was suspended, which enabled the transfer of land to foreigners without any Transfer Tax. more..

Big draw for NWS Holdings’ Sri Lanka Business Forum in Tokyo

Oct 24 (FT) The Sri Lanka Business Forum 2014 organised by NWS Holdings Ltd. in Tokyo yesterday saw a big draw of investors and representatives from Japanese companies, who were enlightened on the post-war rebound and potential for growth opportunities. Held at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo, the Forum saw nearly 200 participants who listened to the progress of post-war Sri Lanka from a macro and corporate perspective and the emerging new opportunities for investments, partnerships, more..

Budget 2015: Hopes and concerns

Oct 24 (CT) The President will announce the 2015 Budget in Parliament today (24) amidst hopes and concerns. Economists have over the last few weeks voiced their concerns that the 2015 Budget would be used to attract votes at Presidential and Parliamentary Elections to be held early next year, undermining a crucial fiscal consolidation programme underway. "The govt must remain focused. If it over does the benefits, we could see some belt tightening and difficulties later on, more..

Govt pledges progressive Budget

Oct 24 (FT) As the hours dwindle down to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 10th Budget presentation in Parliament today ahead of widely-expected presidential elections early next year, the focus was more on macroeconomic development rather than specifics by the private sector. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) kept its expectations succinct in a short statement released yesterday. more..

How big data and IoT are changing manufacturing

Oct 24 (Island) Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT)is revolutionizing the world around us – from the medical care we receive to the way retailers market to us – but how is the manufacturing industry benefitting from it? Large manufacturers have been analyzing data to optimize production and processes for many years to drive performance. However, the sheer volume, variety and velocity of data being generated today – along with the new business intelligence tools available more..

CoL burning increasingly bigger hole in many a pocket

Oct 24 (Island) The Island spoke to several citizens yesterday to learn what they would like to see in Budget 2015, the proposals of which are to be presented in Parliament today. Shoba Ranasinghe, a young mother of two children who together with her husband runs a pastry shop at Mattegoda said, "Our children go to government schools. Monthly school fees for each of them is Rs 1,560 which used to be some Rs300 a few years ago. With the increase of cost of living, more..

'No individual can be denied an NIC'

Oct 24 (CT) Commissioner General of the Department of Registration of Persons, R.M.S. Sarath Kumara, believes a leader should be able to risk losing popularity when working for the betterment of the general public. While noting that it was a struggle at first to convert the department and its staff to be people-friendly, the commissioner said a public servant must have three main qualities – a complete knowledge of the subject matter, more..

Editorial: Ottawa terror

Oct 24 (Island) Wednesday’s attack on the Canadian parliament has proved once again the growing vulnerability of the world powers to terrorism. Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself has said Canada is not immune to terrorist attacks. Whoever would have thought a few years ago that the tranquility of Ottawa would be shattered in this manner? A gunman forced his way into the parliament complex and traded fire with the police before perishing. more..

A Comment on the Campaign to Abolish the Presidential System

Oct 24 (Island) This comment is being written with the objective of highlighting certain considerations that have not received adequate attention in the ongoing campaign for abolishing the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka. Participants of this campaign including certain writers whose views receive well-deserved respect often tend to overlook the circumstances that culminated in the promulgation of a new constitution in 1978 the main innovative element of which was more..

Ranjan Ramanayaka - Part 2

A way out from the constitutional impasse

Oct 24 (FT) Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva setting forth an argument that constitutional obstacles do exist for the incumbent President to contest for a third term notwithstanding the removal of two term limit of presidents made on 9 Sept 2010 by way of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution has gripped the political and legal circles in perplexity over the issue. As opposing opinions have emerged over time, the Sri Lanka Bar Association in considering the importance of more..

From ethno-nationalism to good governance

Oct 24 (CT) The decision of the EU Court of Justice to remove the ban on the LTTE on technical grounds has come as the govt and political parties are mobilizing for snap presidential elections likely to take place in January. The immediate response of the govt to the EU decision has been to describe opposition politicians and civil society activists who travelled to the West in recent times as traitors who contributed to the decision to lift the ban on the LTTE. more..

Dousing Fires

Oct 24 (CT) The date was 31 January, 1996. The time was 10.30 a.m. The venue was Janadhipathi Mawatha, or Queens Road, Colombo Fort. It was one of the most traumatic landmarks in the annals of Sri Lanka’s economy. The country’s economic nerve centre, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, was blown up by the LTTE, through a lorry bomb laden with 200 kilos of explosives, to smithereens. It was also a new chapter in more..

Why Wiggy missed a train

Oct 24 (NS) Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council, C.V. Wigneswaran is a former judge. A man of words. An educated man who commands respect. A civilized man, some would say. A lot has been written about him. He has his cheering squad and he has his detractors. When he entered politics some of the gloss of vocation, ancestry and education was bound to be lost. Hobnobbing with those, who not too long ago genuflected before a common thug was certainly not flattering. more..

Till it’s time to crossover

Oct 24 (NS) Minister Navin Dissanayake last week sought to quash rumors regarding his impending crossover from the UPFA to the UNP. He was quoted in the media as insisting he would not leave the govt on any account, but would rather return to practicing law if he lost his ministerial portfolio. Dissanayake however, is no stranger to jumping ship. He was among the 17 UNP MPs led by Karu Jayasuriya, who crossed over to the govt in 2007 to ‘strengthen the hands of the president’ during more..

Special-needs kids showcase their talents

Oct 24 (SO) Imagine being filled with emotion, yet unable to express how you feel. That’s what many children with special needs face. Through art, however, all children may freely express their feelings. As an art teacher for special-needs children, Lakisha Fernando sees the value of art in her classroom every day. “Children who have problems with speech, language and motor skills struggle with verbalising what more..

Bonanza; Sri Lanka has to draw lessons from the Indian experience

Oct 24 (CT) A bonanza according to Oxford Dictionary is ‘a situation in which people can make a lot of money or be very successful’. Recent developments in India show the benefits an economy can obtain by having in place a well-regulated regime for the micro finance industry. In India micro lenders are strictly regulated by the Reserve Bank of India; borrowing customers are barred from having more than two simultaneous loans with a combined value of Rs. 50,000, more..

Short on strategy, long on sectarianism: Come on opposition; wake up!

Oct 24 (CT) At the time of writing, latish in October, political soothsayers predict presidential elections are on course for January. I have no idea how Pope Francis’ visit is to be slotted-in, but am certain Sarath Silva’s constitutional challenge will be seen off, irrespective of its legal rectitude. The regime did not invest effort and squander decency, impeaching, popping up henchmen, and despoiling the higher judiciary for nothing. On the Rajapakse side strategy is well integrated, more..

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