Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sri Lanka tea on top again

Sri Lanka tea has regained its position as top quality tea in the world, Sri Lanka Tea Research Institute (SLTRI) Chairman Dr. Jerry Jayawardane said.

Dr. Jayawardane said the Sri Lanka's export tea consisting a lower quantity of chemical residuals was the main cause to win worldwide acclaim especially from countries such as America, Europe and Japan.

"At the beginning of this year, the price per a kilogram of tea was recorded at Rs.280 at the tea auction in Colombo. The current competitive price of a kilogram of Up Country tea is recorded at Rs. 335.56.

The price was Rs. 330.72 for Middle Country grown tea and Rs. 405.64 for Low Country grown tea, he added
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OIC, 5 cops remanded over Angulana deaths

The Officer in Charge of the Angulana Police post and five other policemen, who were produced before the Mount Lavinia Magistrate in connection with the death of two youth on Wednesday night, were remanded till August 26.

The bodies of two youth, Dinesh Tharanga Fernando (26) and Dhanushka Udayakantha, were found at dawn on Thursday near the Ratmalana Cooperative Society and the Lunawa Bridge, respectively.

They had been taken to the Angulana Police Station, on allegations that they tried to be "funny with a woman" and were mercilessly assaulted by the OIC and a few other policemen. They were later locked up and taken away around 2.00 a.m., two other suspects, who were locked up in the same cell at the Angulana Police Station on Wednesday night, said in statements to the Mt. Lavinia Police.

They gave their statements during the inquiry into the killing of the two youth who were allegedly in Angulana police custody. It is alleged the two youths were taken out of the Police Station and shot dead.

In addition to the statements made by the two inmates in the cell, the parents of the victims too have made statements to the investigators.

According to investigations carried out so far, the arrest of the two deceased youth had been illegal. It has not been mentioned in records maintained by the Angulana Police that the victims had been arrested.

IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne, quoting investigators, said that the Angulana OIC and some other policemen were in an intoxicated state at the time of the incident.

Investigations had also revealed that both youth had been killed with a T-56 rifle. They had been shot at close range.

Two special Police teams are conducting investigations on the instructions of Western Province (East) DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara and Mount Lavinia SSP Hemantha Adikari.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

India in talks with Sri Lanka over prisoner exchange: Tharoor

India is in talks with Sri Lanka to bring back Indians languishing in jails there, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said Friday.

But Tharoor underlined that any exchange of prisoners would take time.

"On Indians in Sri Lankan jails, we are talking to Sri Lanka about a possible agreement to exchange prisoners. Will take time," Tharoor tweeted Friday.

Indians in Sri Lanka's jails allege that Indian officials are unconcerned about their plight.

One of the prisoners told IANS that some of them had spent 16 years in jail and added that Indian authorities were making no efforts to get them released.

According to him, there are 43 Indian prisoners in Sri Lanka -- 28 at Wellikade, 10 in Ngombo and five in Anuradhapura. The convicts are mostly from Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
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Sri Lanka – new opportunity for U.S. Investors

The U.S. Government is encouraging U.S. companies and financiers to invest in Sri Lanka. It urges the U.S. business community to make Sri Lanka their next business stop, said the Washington DC embassy of Sri Lanka.

The U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Commerce Department have announced a conference from October 13 to 14 in Colombo for the U.S. investors, who are interested in investing Sri Lanka.

“This private-public conference will provide the U.S. firms a unique opportunity to be among the first investors in the newly opened regions of Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern Provinces,” said the U.S. government's export promotion and finance internet portal in a recent announcement.

The announcement further said, “Business community will meet one-on-one with Sri Lankan government officials to discuss specific investment opportunities. Targeted industries include IT (internet technology), healthcare, tourism & leisure, infrastructure, diamonds/gems & jewelry, manufacturing processed food and education.”

The trade initiative is the result of a cooperative effort by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington.
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China funds more development in SL

The Exim Bank of China is to provide more than US$ 350 million for two major development projects in Sri Lanka.

The two projects are the Colombo – Katunayake Expressway and the Hambantota Bunkering facility.

The Hambantota Bunkering facility is a major component of the Hambantota Port Development Project, which is also largely being funded with Chinese assistance. Upon completion, the Colombo – Katunayake Expressway will establish a modern and efficient transport link between the Airport to the city of Colombo, reducing the traffic congestions and the travel time.

Agreements on assistance from the Exim Bank of China for these projects were signed, in China August 06, between the Vice President of the Exim Bank Mr. Zhu Xinqiang and Secretary to the Treasury Sumith Abeysinghe.

The signing of the two agreements will pave the way for much needed infrastructure requirements which will have an immense impact on the country’s future socio-economic development.

Congratulating Sri Lanka for the recent victory in defeating terrorism, the Vice President of the Exim Bank Mr.Zhu Xinqiang recalled the strong bilateral relations existing between the two countries and expressed that overall relations between the two countries have been further strengthened and consolidated with closer development co-operation. Recalling the improving trade & investment ties, he indicated that China would be pleased to assist Sri Lanka in her future development efforts.

The Secretary to the Treasury, Sumith Abeysinghe also made use of this visit to meet with the Senior Officials of the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Exim Bank and had extensive discussions on future development assistance.

The Chinese authorities while expressing satisfaction of Sri Lanka’s economic and political stability and placed confidence in the current economic development programme of the Government in alleviating poverty and raising the living standards of the people. They also expressed their keenness to help the Government efforts with an enhanced package of development assistance.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sri Lanka says to issue 5-yr, $500 mln sovereign bond

COLOMBO, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka will issue a new five-year, $500 million sovereign dollar bond in late September or early October and is aiming for a yield of 7 percent, Sri Lanka's central bank said on Thursday.

'Minimum benchmark size in the international capital market is $500 million. So our plan is to go for maximum $500 million,' C.J.P. Siriwardena, superintendent of the central bank's public debt department, told Reuters.

'Our plan is for a minimum five-year considering the medium-term debt obligations. With new developments and the foreign investments in Sri Lanka development bonds, the ideal rate for the country is somewhere around 7 percent.' (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Bryson Hull)
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Post war Sri Lanka's July tourist arrivals up 28 pct

COLOMBO, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals jumped 28 percent in July from a year ago, its second straight rise since May last year due to the end of of a decades-long war, the Indian Ocean island nation's tourism board said on Thursday.
"This is mainly due to the peace situation in the country," S. Kalaiselvam, director general at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, told Reuters.

Overall arrivals in January-July fell 10.6 percent to 129,952 compared to 257,345 a year ago, mainly due to a drop in visitors from western Europe and south Asia.

But more visitors were coming, since January-June arrivals fell by 16.3 percent, data showed.

"We are confident of achieving at least similar to last year's figure and revenue. Our target is to get 2.5 million tourists and $2.5 billion revenue in 2016," Kalaiselvam said.

Sri Lanka's military declared victory over Tamil Tiger separatists in a 25-year war on May 18.

Sri Lanka received 438,475 visitors in 2008, a drop of 11.2 percent from a year earlier. Tourist revenue declined by 11.2 percent to $342 million as visitors stayed away because of intense fighting.

Sri Lanka is targeting half a million arrivals and $400 million in earnings in 2010.
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Lanka gets 'valuable information' from new LTTE chief

Colombo: In an unusual move, Sri Lanka's powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa himself grilled detained new LTTE chief Kumaran Pathmanathan about the international connections of the Tamil Tigers and is said to have extracted some "valuable information".

Gotabhaya, the brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, told a meeting here on Monday that he had asked some questions to Pathmanathan. The fight against the Tiger rebels will continue till its international operations are "completely defeated", he had said.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported today that Pathmanathan, the chief arms procurer of the LTTE who was detained last week and is in the custody of the Sri Lankan Security Services, had met Gotabhaya.

"It transpired that at the meeting that went on for a little more than an hour, KP had disclosed (to the Defence Secretary) valuable and detailed information regarding the international connections of the LTTE network -- in response to questions by the Defence Secretary," the newspaper said.
It said several high ranking defence officials were also present at the meeting.

Source: PTI
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Mobile Service to issue identity documents to IDPs

The Constitutional Affairs and National Integration Ministry in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) implemented a program to issue legal documents including National Identity Cards (NIC) to the IDPs in Vavuniya. The final Mobile Service being conducted today (13) at Vakarai covering 16 Grama Niladari Divisions.

The first mobile documentation program to issue legal documents to IDPs in Vavuniya was held at the Kadirgamar Welfare Village recently.

At the Kadirgamar Welfare Village Mobile Service nearly 2,050 applications for birth, death and marriage certificates and 1,553 applications for NICs were received from more than 3,500 IDPs, the ministry sources revealed.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Development Bonds oversubscribed

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) announced that the $150-million Development Bonds (SLDBs) it floated to eligible foreign and local commercial banks has been oversubscribed 1.3 times.

The total bids received have amounted to $195.5 million and the government had accepted $190 million of two-year SLDBs.

The offer was opened on August 6 with the settlement on August 18. This SLDB issue is within the annual borrowing limit approved by Parliament for 2009 and the funds mobilized through the new bond issuance are to be used to settle maturing SLDBs of $175 million.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Peacetime Sri Lanka Will Offer Better Returns, Jim Rogers Says

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lankan stocks may offer better returns as the end of the 26-year civil war frees up government spending for investments in infrastructure and agriculture, investor Jim Rogers said.

The island-nation’s benchmark index has gained 33 percent in the past three months, the second-best performance worldwide as the army defeated the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam in May. The Colombo All-Share Index was the region’s third-worst performer in the past two years as record spending on defense strained government finances, and the country sought an International Monetary Fund loan.

“When you spend a lot of money on bullets, you don’t get much return,” Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, said in a phone interview yesterday. “If governments can spend money on infrastructure and developing productive assets, then Sri Lanka’s strengths will become even stronger given that the war is over.”
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Record victory for UPFA in Monaragala District

The United People's Freedom Alliance won 9 of the 11 seats on offer in the Moneragala District, receiving 159,837 votes (81.32%). The UNP has taken the remaining 2 seats, with 30,509 votes (15.52%).

Analysts point out that this is a resounding victory for the UPFA, when compared with the 2004-election results, in which the UPFA gained 97,878 votes (66.24%). It has been pointed out also, very clearly, that the UNP has suffered another sever set-back in 2009, since it was able to gain at least 33.12% (48,930 votes) in 2004. The people of Moneragala have overwhelmingly endorsed the UPFA’s political programme, concerning development and reconstruction.
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Sri Lanka ruling party wins local elections

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's nephew Shashindra Rajapakse (C) arrives a polling station in rural Moneragala district during Uva Provincial Council election Aug. 8, 2009. Xinhua Photo)
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COLOMBO, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's ruling party United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has recorded a significant victory in the provincial and local elections held Saturday.

In the final official results declared here Sunday, in the central hill area's Uva Province, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's party has recorded a landslide victory by bagging 25 seats in the 34 seat council, while the main opposition United National Party scored seven seats.

In the minority Tamil dominated Municipal Council of Jaffna and Urban Council of Vavuniya, the ruling party and their allies have made significant gains.

The UPFA and allies won control of the Jaffna city by winning 13 of the 23 seats on offer. Their main rival, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has finished with eight seats..

The election was the first in Jaffna since 1998. Jaffna, the cultural capital of the minority Tamils, came under government control in 1995 after being controlled by the rebels for many years.
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