Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sri Lanka to train Pakistani army to fight Taliban

Colombo has been inundated with training requests since it finally put down the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elaam's (LTTE) 26-year rebellion in a final onslaught which claimed the lives of more than 10,000 civilians and left 300,000 displaced by the fighting.

The apparent accolade for the Sri Lankan forces will cause alarm among human rights groups which have accused the government in Colombo of war crimes over the shelling of civilians in a tiny "no-fire" zone in the last weeks of the war. The government denies the allegation.

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Sri Lanka Air Force 'The Best Air Force in the World'-Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Addressing the newly commissioned officers and passed out airmen at the SLAF Base China Bay today (Aug 21), Secretary Defence Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated that the Sri Lanka Air Force compared to the rest of the world, could be rated as the best Air Force in operation.

"With limited resources and hi-tech machines, the Sri Lanka Air Force defeated the LTTE, purely using their knowledge, skills, and experience. It is the duty of the new officer and airmen to carry this pride of victory to the future unblemished, he further said.

Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the chief guest of the commission and wings parade of No: 50 intake officer cadets and passing out parade of No: 136 regular and No: 96 Volunteer Airmen initial recruit course, at SLAF Base Chain Bay, Trincomalee.

Sixteen officer, including six pilots, were commissioned at the event while 329 regular and volunteer Airmen passed out. Officer Cadet WKRPGS Dharmasiriwardana received the 'Sword of Honour' for his successful completion of the training.

Recruit USD Gunawardana was the best all round recruit of No:94 Volunteer intake of Airman, while Recruit DKT Luids was adjuged best all round recruit of the No:136 Regular intake of Airmen.

The Commander of the SLAF Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonatilake and a large number of senior and junior officers participated at the passing out parade. Parents, family members of the passed out officers and airmen were also among the gathered.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

New CM and provincial ministers of Uva PC sworn in

Aug 20, Colombo: Shashendra Rajapaksa, the elder son of Minister of Ports and Aviation Chamal Rajapaksa took oaths as the new Chief Minister of Uva Province before President Mahinda Rajapaksa this morning at the President’s office.

Four other ministers of the Uva PC were also sworn in before the President along with the new Chief Minister.

Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka was also present at the ceremony.

Shashendra Rajapaksa who is also the nephew of President Rajapaksa received the highest preferential votes in the recently held Uva PC election with 136,686 votes.

Anura Ravindra Vidanagamage, R.M.Kumarasiri, A.M.Buddhadasa and Akalan Sendhil Thondaman were sworn in as the four ministers in the Uva PC.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SSP Vaas Gunawardena’s son remanded

Nugegoda Magistrate Wasantha Jinadasa who inspected, the condition of Ravindu Gunawardena, son of Senior SP Vaas Gunawardena, at the Colombo South Hospital on a directive of Kaduwela Additional District Judge Mahanil Prasanth de Silva, remanded him till August 31.

Earlier, the Kaduwela Additional District Judge remanded the 11 Police personnel allegedly involved in the attack on the SLIIT Student Nipuna Ramanayake.

Crime Division DIG Anura Senanayake who is directing investigations into the attack on Ramanayake said he had deployed a special police team to conduct investigations and record statements of Senior SP Vaas Gunawardena and his wife in connection with the incident.

A statement issued by Police Spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera said that since there is evidence against Mrs Vass Gunawardena, she was to be taken to custody yesterday.

Since the main suspect Ravindu Gunawardena was warded at the Kalubowila Hospital in police custody, prison officials were to go to the hospital and take charge of him and produce him in Court on August 31.

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BOI grabs wind power

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to four companies for investments worth US $ 68 million.

Two investment agreements worth US $ 37 million were signed with two companies to set up two wind power plants at Vidatamunai and Seguwantivu in Puttalam respectively.

The two wind power plants will supply 20 megawatts of power to the national grid. The ventures will utilize 13 and 12 wind turbines imported from Spain at Vidatamunai and Seguwantivu respectively.

The BOI also signed agreements worth US $ 6.5 million with two companies to construct and operate a dry port at Orugodawatta. The venture will provide facilities for the Sri Lanka Customs to examine all inbound cargo from the terminal. The companies will provide railway infrastructure to transport cargo from the Colombo port to the terminal. It will be constructed in a 10 acre land and will provide facilities to examine 250 containers at any given time.

Another agreement signed with a company to construct a residential complex at Rajagiriya. It is an investment of US $ 25 million sponsored by investors from Iran. The complex will include 240 apartments in 3 towers constructed in a 180 perch land.
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Govt. vigilant over potential for regrouping of LTTE - President

The Government stays vigilant over the potential for regrouping of LTTE terrorists and takes measures to arrest the LTTE's overseas leaders to protect National Security. Persons who pose a threat to democracy of this country, irrespective of where they stay in the world, the Government will take necessary actions to defeat them, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa speaking at a felicitation ceremony at the Maha Saman Devalaya, Ratnapura.

The new freedom of Sri Lanka is defined as a freedom gained without bowing down to any powerful country. Now the Government is implementing massive development projects to strengthen the country's economy, he said.

The President said that his intention is to rebuild this country in a way that nobody can divide it.' All communities must assist to rebuild this country', he further said.

The President stressed the need for a high standard of discipline in the country and said activities of one or two indisciplined persons could bring a bad name to this country, and the obligation upon the all officials is to pay more attention to the reputation of the country.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Commanders of the three Armed Forces, Inspector General of Police and Civil Defence Force Chief were felicitated at this ceremony.

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National census after 30 years

The Department of Census and Statistics is conducting a national ‘population and housing’ census, Director General of the Department of Census and Statistics, D.B.P.S. Vidyaratne told
The survey is scheduled to be completed by 2011, Director General added.

This is the first ever national census and statistical survey conducted in Sri Lanka after 30 years with the last survey done 10 years ago which did not include the areas then dominated by the LTTE terrorists.

“The initial work pertaining to the mapping of housing units and collecting data of persons living within a domestic unit has been commenced by now in the Grama Niladari Divisional level,” Vidyaratne further said.

The Department seeks public assistance and cooperation to its local staff and Government officials to make the census accurate.

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Market indices record substantial gains at CSE

On Tuesday, the Colombo Stock Market remained positive with the market indices recording substantial gains due to high investor interest in blue chip and hotel stocks.

The All Share Price Index (ASPI) which tracks the movements of all stocks gained 30.22 points or 1.21% to close the day at 2,530.68 points while the Milanka Price Index which tracks the most liquid stocks was up by 23.22 points or 0.82% to close the day at 2,844.51 points. The ASPI growth for the year to date stands at 68.37%. The market turnover increased by 62% to Rs.418.43 from Rs.257.52 million recorded on the previous trading day.

Heavily traded stocks for the day, in terms of volume were Nawaloka Hospitals, Piramal Glass Ceylon, Environmental Resources Investments, Stafford Hotels, Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Cargills (Ceylon), Sigiriya Village Hotels, Lanka IOC and Cargo Boat Development Company.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

'Wings' to six new pilots of SriLankan Airlines

His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented 'Wings' to six new pilots of SriLankan Airlines at a ceremony hosted at Temple Trees on Monday17th August.

The six new Junior First Officers - Eshantha Kaluarachchi, Sagara Wirasinha, Madhini Chandradasa, Sujeeshwa Abeysekera, Sandesh Gunasekera, and Prasad Wickremasinghe - who completed a rigorous training programme at Sri Lankan Airlines, also received certificates from Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa, Minister of Ports & Aviation.

They included one lady Junior First Officer, who is the forth woman to join the proud ranks of pilots at the National Carrier.

Also present at the ceremony were Hon. Sarath Kumara Gunarathna, Deputy Minister of Aviation, Mr. Nishanta Wickremasinghe, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, Members of the Board of the airline, and parents of the new Junior First Officers. (Pix Sudath Silva)

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First phase of Hambantota project nearing completion

The first phase construction work of the Hambantota harbor is nearing completion with over 75% work successfully completed at present, Sri Lanka Ports Authority sources said.

The port project is scheduled to be completed by 2010, one year ahead of the scheduled time period. The project is expected to be completed in four phases and would take 15 years for the completion of the entire project.

After completion the harbor will facilitate 33 vessels to anchor at once and modern technology will be utilized to handle the operational work of the harbour.

A key aspect of the new economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and China was the agreement by China to fund the Hambantota Port Development and related development at a cost of US $ 450 million. There was an additional agreement to fund the new oil refinery costing US $ 1 billion.

Minister of Ports, Dilan Perera in an interview said that the Ministry of Ports has under taken five mega development projects including Colombo South Harbour Project, Oluvil, Galle and Kankesanturai harbour projects.

“Hambantota might be the second biggest city in Sri Lanka. It is an entirely new place which consists of a new port, airport, highways and a huge amount of commercial buildings,” Ports Minister said in an interview with the ‘dailynews’ paper.

Meanwhile the Minister noted that a comprehensive plan has been drawn up to develop the Galle harbor with a separate area dedicated for Yacht Marena. He said that the UNESCO Plan will also be taken into consideration when implementing the new changes to the Galle development project.

Speaking on the current development programs that are underway in the southern region Minister Perera said that work is being done in the aviation sector as well.

“The new airport in the Southern Province will be a reality very soon.”

The arrival and departure lounge in the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Colombo has already been completed and a range of new features have been added to the airport. The entire BIA is looking much better than what it was. It has been able to cater to more aircraft now. When the second airport comes up in Weeravila, more airlines and tourists will come to Sri Lanka,” he said.

Minister Perera said that the amalgamation of sea cargo and air cargo could immensely benefit for the speedy development of the country>> Full Story

Sri Lanka rupee firms on foreign inflows-dealers

COLOMBO, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's rupee strengthened on Monday on high foreign buying of government securities and the absence of central bank intervention, dealers said.

But the central bank said it had not stopped its present policy of mopping up dollars to prevent appreciation, and said Monday's action was a one-off event caused by an especially large batch of foreign purchases.

"The central bank's intervention is not seen and there is an inflow of $200 million into the market, probably from foreigners to buy government securities," a currency dealer said on condition of anonymity. Two other dealers confirmed the move.

The rupee LKR= currency traded at 114.80/85 a dollar, up from Friday's close of 114.90/95.

"There were large inflows for government treasury bills and bonds, therefore there was a pressure for rupee to appreciate," Nandalal Weerasinghe, assistant governor at the central bank told Reuters. "But we will continue to buy to prevent appreciation."

The central bank had been buying dollars at 114.90 rupees over the last three months to prevent appreciation caused by high inflows into government securities, and to help it boost foreign exchange reserves. (Additional reporting by Shihar Aneez,; Editing by Bryson Hull)
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Vavuniya flooding subsides

More than 500 internally displaced persons, who are accommodated in the Menik Farm, who were taken to safer areas by the security forces due to the flooding, have now returned to their camps.

On August 15 around 500 IDPs out of 37,000 who are in Zone 1 shifted to safer locations by the security forces to avoid hardships caused by the rains, said a senior government official in Vavuniya.

All measures have been taken to meet emergency requirements of the people affected and sufficient food and drinking water were supplied.

More than 500 IDPs returning to the welfare centers only 50 remain to return, the official said.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spin king in Trinco in search of talent

The big question facing Sri Lankan cricket at the moment is what after world’s highest wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan retires from the game. The ace-spinner has indicated that he will be retiring from the game in November next year. Although Muralitharan hasn’t spoken on what he intends to do in post retirement, he gave an hint that coaching maybe an option when he conducted a coaching clinic in Trincomalee on Friday to young spinners of the area.

The arrival of country’s favourite cricket son to Ehambaram Stadium in Trincomalee attracted huge number of cricket enthusiasts who have been able to only follow him in television.

Muralitharan flanked by his childhood coach Sunil Fernando and team-mate at St. Anthony’s College, Piyal Wijetunga, the current spin bowling coach at Sri Lanka Cricket, mixed with the locals freely while speaking to the young bowlers on spin bowling and searching for talent.

Around 150 cricketers had come in for the session conducted by the bowler with the support of his sponsors Ceylinco Life.

Deputy Chairman of Ceylinco Life R. Renganathan, and Samitha Hemachandra, Deputy General Manager of Ceylinco Life were present at the occasion.

"Trincomalee has talent but they have gone backwards due to the problems that we had during last few years. But if companies like Ceylinco can come forward for the development of the game, we can see more talents coming through," Muralitharan, who is a Brand Ambassador of Ceylinco Life told journalists.
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Devotees gather in large numbers at Madhu

A large number of Catholic devotees turned up yesterday (Aug 16) at the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu for the festive High Mass which was held in a free environment for the first time. Devotees in their public and private vehicles had a hassle-free journey sans security checks to participate in the feasts, and enjoyed their religious freedom having stayed overnight at the church premises which was cleared of mines by the Security Forces ensuring their safety.

Some officials said that the turn up of devotees exceeded their expectations.

The Madhu shrine premises was filled to its full capacity as the final day mass began yesterday morning. Devotees irrespective of ethnic differences gathered there, displaying a rare gathering of unity in a free environment.

Rt. Rev. Malcom Ranjith Fernando,the new Archbishop said that the Madhu feast is celebrated in a peaceful country for the first time.

"We should rise above our narrow differences to march towards a society where morals and values reign, he said.

He said people should be committed to create a society where they react to situations not by their emotions but by their brains. He said he prayed that all the displaced civilians now living in camps will be soon resettled and allowed to participate at the feast to make it a real feast in a peaceful country.

Above all these facilities what we admire is the free access made available by the Government, Edvin Calistas who used to visit this shrine annually for decades, said.

Former Archbishop Oswald Gomis, Jaffna Bishop Thomas Saundranayagam and Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph also participated in the mass.

Ministers Milroy Fernando, Sarath Kumara Gunaratne and Northern Province Governor Major Gen. (Retd) G.A Chandrasiri also participated at the Mass.

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WFP increases assistance to IDPs in Sri Lanka to $ 134.9 million

The Executive Director of the World Food Program, (WFP), has approved a budget increase of US $ 17.09 million for the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (PRRO) for Sri Lanka by bringing the total budget of the PRRO to US $ 134.9 million for 2009.

WFP's Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (PRRO) help sustain disaster-hit communities as they re-establish livelihoods and stabilize food security. The new protracted relief and recovery operation for Sri Lanka for the period 2009-2010 aims to provide food and protect livelihoods of displaced people, returning internally displaced persons and those affected by the conflict but living in their own homes. Under the continuing WFP's operations, the agency will provide rations to over 280,000 people accommodated in temporary welfare centers. In the recent months, WFP has also scaled up the provision of additional fortified food to all children under the age of five years and for pregnant and lactating women in the temporary camps.

Ms. Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of WFP in conveying the increased budget of the PRRO to the government of Sri Lanka has assured the desire of the WFP to continue its cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka to stabilize food security and restoration of the livelihood of IDPs. Ambassador Hemantha Warnakulasuriya welcomed the continued support and cooperation of the WFP to Sri Lanka, a food deficit country emerging from a conflict, for its effort to eradicate hunger and malnutrition and restore livelihood of IDPs. He further added that this is an acknowledgement of the efforts of the Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka to improve the living conditions of IDPs and restore their livelihood.

All activities under the PRRO will be implemented through the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development, which will have primary responsibility to implement the PRRO, ensuring sustainability through integration with government policies.
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