Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another Zone at Menik farm closed

(Colombo Lankapuvath) Zone-2 welfare centre of the Menik Farm relief village in Vavuniya was also closed by the Authorities in charge of the northern IDPs yesterday (23).

With the closure of the Zone 2, the remaining number of Zones at the relief village is 4. 855 IDPs who were sheltered in Zone-2 are being resettled in Theravil, Pudukudirippu in Mullativu.

Currently, the total number of IDPs in Vavuniya relief villages has dropped to 16, 531 as for the 22nd of November. This number will be reduced to 15, 676 by tomorrow after resettling the batch of 855 IDPs in Theravil.

According to the Ministry of Resettlement, only 6529 IDPs remain in Kadirakamar relief center while 6677 IDPs remain in Anandakumaraswami Zone 1. Two batches of IDPs; 930, 2395 are remaining in Ramanadan and Arunachalam in zone 4 and zone 3 in the Menik Farm relief village. Out of these 10, 923 IDPs are moving freely outside camps.

Including the 1158 IDPs remaining in Jaffna, the total number of IDPs remaining in the North is 17, 183.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Desi Journalist abused, thrown out of pro-Eelam meeting in NJ

A veteran Indian-American journalist was forcibly thrown out of a pro-Eelam meeting organized by Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA and Ilankai Tamil Sangam when he went to cover the event at Rasoi restaurant in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey on Saturday noon.

Dr Prakash M Swamy, a senior journalist of New York and a United Nations accredited correspondent, was manhandled and pushed out of the venue after being invited to cover the event by the organizers. The organizers also abused him as “an agent of Government of India and Sri Lanka” while forcibly pushed him out of the door in the cold when he pleaded that he had come all the way from New York traveling over two hours to cover the event at their invitation.

According to Dr Swamy, Palani Sundaram, president of Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (Fetna) was heard shouting and giving directions to the volunteers to throw him out saying that the writer could bring disrepute to the organizations with his “negative reporting.”

Dr. Swamy is a Tamil-speaking English journalist who specializes in South Asian affairs and has written several articles and scoops on the formation of Trans-national Government of Tamil Eeelam (TGTE) headquartered in New York and led by attorney Visuvanathan Ruthrakumaran in the Indian media especially for popular Tamil magazines such as Junior Vikatan.

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Sri Lanka gains from Indo-Chinese supremacy battle

As India and China jostle for influence in the Indian Ocean region, the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be getting unintended economic benefits.
China has pledged more financial assistance as Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Shanghai Expo exhibition earlier this month.

China is already the biggest lender for the Indian Ocean island. Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister for Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene says that China has, so far, pledged more than $3bn (£1.9bn) for infrastructure development, maintenance and other projects.

"China has been investing in Sri Lanka when many other countries were reluctant to invest during the war," he tells BBC Sinhala service.

China has finished the first phase of the major sea port of Hambantota on the southern Sri Lankan coast - Mr Rajapaksa's hometown - and is funding a new airport in the south. Chinese firms are also rebuilding roads in the north.

Many other projects are already in the pipeline, including handling a Special Economic Zone, a 900 megawatt coal-fired power plant and the Colombo-Katunayake expressway, the road connecting the capital with the island's only international airport.

China is also funding port projects in Chitagong in Bangladesh and in Pakistan and Burma.

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Sri Lanka reforms tax to boost economy

Mahinda Rajapaksa who sworn in for his 2nd term on Friday (19th) in his capacity as the Finance Minister has unveiled the national budget for the next fiscal year (2011).

This is Sri Lanka's first full-year budget since its long civil war ended in 2009, and its set out reforms to the nation's fiscal and monetary frameworks.

The government has trimmed its budget deficit to 6.8 percent, a main goal under $2.6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme. The IMF wanted Sri Lanka to trim its budget gap to 5 percent by the end of 2011.The total expenditure for 2011 is estimated to be over 1420 billion rupees while estimated income is only 986 billion.

President presenting the 2011 Budget said his government hopes to increase the per capita income of Sri Lanka to US$ 4,000 by year 2016.

No Rs 2500 to public sector

The public sector is given an interim allowance of 5% and increase of Rs 600 cost of living allowance, which is far below the Rs 8000 trade unions and Opposition parties have been demanding. The opposition parties called on the government to increase the salaries of the public sector employees by Rs. 8,000 and a similar increase in salaries for the private sector employees stating the high cost living. The Trade unions had already launched protest campaigns demanding the increment.

During the run up to the presidential elections in January, the Opposition candidate now jailed former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka pledged a 10,000-rupee salary hike to Public sector workers while President Rajapaksa said he was only able to grant Rs. 2,500 as it is realistic. But he has failed to deliver the promised increase in this budget.

President Rajapaksa also announced that government will allocate Rs 3000 Million for the welfare of the disable soldiers while also proposed Rs. 100,000 grant to every 3rd child born to a Soldiers family.

Tax reforms

Import taxes, tax on financial services and companies engage in export businesses were changed considerably to facilitate the trade and investment.

Import taxes on medicine and some capital goods were slashed and car tax was reduced by a quarter. Tax on tourism earnings and income tax on export companies will be trimmed by the new proposals.

Tax brakes were offered to the fisheries, agriculture and construction sector, a policy that aimed at boosting the economic activities in Sri Lanka.

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