By Lal Gunesekera
The Bonds Division of the Customs Department had a revenue collection of Rs. 7.3 billion in 2009. A sum of US$ 56,978,451 was earned from the duty free shops at the arrivals lounge of the Katunayake International Airport (KIA) and US$ 22,570,509 from the departure lounge with total revenue earned being US$ 78,548,960. The Bonds Investigation Unit (BIU) recovered a total of Rs. 54,534,000 last year.
The Investor Facilitation Centre (INFAC) earned revenue of Rs. 10,664,211,070 from Board of Investment (BOI) enterprises with duty recovered from cancellation of agreements being Rs. 12,766,307.
The Customs at the KIA had a revenue collection of Rs. 452,853,349 last year, while Rs. 84,316,750 was collected mostly from currency cases (Rs. 30,315,241) and gold jewellery cases which was Rs. 28,795,405.
Also during the year (2009), the Customs Narcotics Control Unit (NCU) made two noteworthy detections resulting in the seizure of 2kg 798 grams of heroin concealed in potatoes and continued to maintain its surveillance on all flights arriving from source countries and suspected airports. The NCU conducted joint operations with the Police Narcotics Bureau at KIA, Air Cargo, LCL Warehouses and Container yards.
Since 1984, the NCU has seized 385.723 kg of heroin with the largest seizure of 62.607 kg being in 1990. Among the other narcotics that have been seized since 1984 was hashish (88.904 kg), opium (95.98 kg), cannabis 2.45 kg), cocaine (9.018 kg) and hashish oil (0.0028) in 1994.
The Excise (Special Provisions) division collected Rs. 47,996.88 million during last year (2009) mainly from cigarettes (Rs. 37,670.16 million) and petroleum (Rs. 7,854.18) and also recovering Rs. 600,000 from 20 Court cases.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010
By Lal Gunesekera
Posted by media at 11:36 PM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Commercial Banks in Sri Lanka have registered an upsurge in business in the recent months. In the month of October alone these banks have provided new loans amounting to Rs. 50 Billion, which registers a 20% increase over the same period last year.
Loans from foreign exchange banking units have increased by Rs. 5.2 billion to Rs. 156.3 billion.
However, loans to the government from the banking system, including the central bank, have fallen steeply by Rs. 36.6 billion to Rs. 565.5 billion as the government repaid credit following a billion dollar sovereign debt sale.
Credit from the Central Bank to government has also fallen by Rs. 15 billion to Rs. 85 billion.
Last year, loans to private business contracted as the government ran a deficit of around 10% of gross domestic product and banks bought risk free Treasury bills instead of lending to risky private business. Financial sources said that following a balance of payments crisis in 2008 and 2009, banks curtailed credit and were facing rising bad loans. Central bank data indicates that bad loans were now falling appreciably.
With many incentives and concessions given to the private sector in the new budget potential for banks to increase businesses, especially their lending portfolios have increased and business analysts comment that banks have every possibility of getting further strengthened in the future months.(niz).
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Posted by media at 10:52 PM
In the event of the government facilitating UN Secretary General's Panel to visit Sri Lanka, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings, the LLRC said in a statement.
Following is the statement:
UN SG's Panel
There have been some inquiries from the national media regarding a visit to Sri Lanka by the UN Secretary General's Panel. Any decision to facilitate the UN SG's Panel to visit Sri Lanka lies entirely with the Government of Sri Lanka. If a decision is made to permit such a visit the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings
>> Full Story
Posted by media at 10:49 PM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sri Lanka port handles record four million containers
Dec 21, 2010 (LBO) - Colombo port volumes hit a new record of four million containers Tuesday supported by strong growth in both transshipment and import-export cargo, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said in a statement.
The number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers handled by the port is up 20 percent so far this year from a year ago.
It is also up 11 percent compared with the total of 3.68 million TEUs done in 2008, the highest-ever performance by the port before recession hit global trade.
SLPA managing director Nihal Keppetipola said efficiency improvements and removal of security restrictions with the end of a war had helped increase cargo volumes and reinforce Colombo's status as south Asia's hub port.
The number of import-export containers handed by Colombo is up 25 percent this year compared with last year while transshipment cargo has increased by 18 percent, the SLPA said.
The state-run Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) handling its highest-ever monthly volume of 201,217 TEUs in August this year.
Keppetipola said a new computerised terminal operating system at the JCT costing 800 million rupees helped integrate all terminal operation and plan and optimize rapid movement of containers between the gate and the quay.
This reduced dwell times for containers and turnaround times for vessels, Keppetipola said.
A satellite-based communication system was also added to monitor container stacking
“Last year we reopened the northern entrance, which had been closed for ten years due to security reasons, to facilitate smoother maritime transportation and to increase productivity in the port,: he said.
"This move put an end to the navigation restrictions that have caused congestion at the port causing delays in cargo handling and turn-around times of vessels."
Sri Lanka's 30-year ethnic war ended in May 2009, resulting in the withdrawal of war risk insurance surcharges and accelerating economic growth.
The JCT has handled 2.1 million TEUs this year with the remaining 1.9 million TEUs handled by the privately-owned South Asia Gateway Terminals in which Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings has a 42 percent stake.
Keppetipola said the combined effort of the state-run and privately-owned terminals was critical to Sri Lanka's drive to become a major centre of shipping, trade and logistics in the region.
He said it was "an ideal test case of public-private partnership arrangements in the port management area."
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Posted by media at 9:25 PM
'We have already commenced the battle against them in the international sphere and are committed to continue it'. President Rajapaksa said so at the ceremonial passing out parade of Cadet officers at the Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) in Diyatalawa
today (21 Dec).
We are now at a significant phase in the humanitarian operation. Our endeavour is to win hearts and minds after freeing the people and lands from terrorism. The humanitarian operation includes de-mining, resettlement and providing basic requirements among other tasks. All development programmes carried out in the North and East are part of the humanitarian operation, the President stated.
He stressed that this humanitarian operation will not stop until the painful memories of terrorism and all thoughts of separatism are
removed from people's hearts.
'You pass out today to contribute to this noble humanitarian operation', the President told the Cadet officers.
A person does not excel through talent and knowledge alone. Instead, the most important element is the love for one's country, he pointed out.
'The government not only lined up the security forces for the humanitarian operation but also organized the people against terrorism.
The government received tremendous support from the people in eliminating terrorism', he said.
'The highest tribute to these people is to ensure that terrorism does not raise its ugly head', he emphasized.>> Full Story
Posted by media at 8:16 PM
By Jayantha Kovilagodage
Sri Lanka onion prices to rise after Indian export ban
Dec 21, 2010 (LBO) - Prices of onions and leeks in Sri Lanka could rise after India's decision to suspend exports of onions, a trade official said.
Pettah Wholesale Traders' Association vice chairman Nihal Seneviratne said 90 percent of Sri Lanka's onion requirement is imported from India and imports from other origins would be more costly.
India on Monday suspended exports of onions, a key food staple, after prices of the vegetable soared, adding to the government's inflation woes.
Sri Lanka might be forced to import from sources like Pakistan, China, Egypt and the Netherlands, Seneviratne told Vimasuma.com, our sister news website. "Pakistani onions are not as good as Indian onions and they spoil quickly," he said.
"To ship onions from China takes about a month and requires use of a refrigerated container. Therefore, onion imports from these countries will invariably be more expensive than from India."
Even if the government reduces a 10-rupee a kilo import tax on onions retail prices cannot be reduced under present conditions, Seneviratne said.
Stocks of onions in the Pettah wholesale market were running low and Indian exporters had even taken back cargoes of onion already loaded on ships, he said.
Prices of onions grown in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula as well as leeks are likely to rise.
Sri Lanka imports 4,000-5,000 tonnes of onions a week from India which supplies about 60 percent of the world requirements of onions.>> Full Story
Posted by media at 8:04 PM
Monday, December 20, 2010
Mirza Mohiddin Baig was arrested in Colombo last year
Mumbai's Anti Terrorism Squad is questioning a key member of Dawood Ibrahim gang for alleged links with the banned outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to supply arms for terror activities in India.
ATS has sought a fresh remand for D-Company top lieutenant Mirza Mohiddin Baig, currently under Crime Branch's custody, to question him in connection with terror links in the country.
Additional Director General of Police, Rakesh Maria, has confirmed to MiD DAY that Baig is being interrogated for terror links in India. He refused to give further details.
Baig, who was on the Interpol's wanted list, had been arrested in Colombo on May 8, 2009, after a long stint in Sri Lanka, and deported to India. The police had recovered three pistols and 18 live rounds from him.
Since then, the gangster had been in judicial custody until last week when the Crime Branch took over, after his name cropped up again after intelligence reports indicate that D-Company is procuring arms and ammunition from the remaining members of LTTE for operations in the country.
Investigations by ATS and the Crime Branch provide evidence that D-gang members have allied with the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba for spreading terror in the country. Reports indicate that under the 'Karachi Project', terrorist organisations have been using Dawood's network in India for logistic support.
A few hundred of the LTTE core cadre have gone underground with huge quantities of arms and deadly explosive RDX after the Sri Lankan army stormed their bastion killing their leader V Prabhakaran last year.
Baig was arrested soon after the operations.
Sources informed that Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence operatives have covertly trained and armed members of LTTE to carry out attacks in India. Even more so after the Indian Peace Keeping Force was deployed in the Island since late 1980s.
Reports indicate that LTTE have also been selling sophisticated arms and explosives to the Maoist factions across the country.
Baig's questioning assumes significance in light of reports that LTTE is planning to target the country's Prime Minister and Home Minister.
Police sources said that Baig could also be questioned for the alleged involvement of D-Company, directly or indirectly, in the Varanasi bomb blast earlier this month.
Baig climbed up the mafia ranks after he was running illegal ISD facilities. Dawood's second-in-command, Chhota Shakeel, soon made him the nodal person in Mumbai.
The gangster from Kortula in Karim Nagar district in Andhra Pradesh was assigned the task to deliver arms to D-Company shooters in Mumbai, before he was arrested by the Crime Branch's Criminal Intelligence Unit.
An AK-47 rifle and four imported revolvers were recovered from Baig during the raid on his hideout in 2000.
The gangster had then confessed of having links with gun suppliers in Bangkok, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a former Crime Branch officer said. Baig soon jumped bail and escaped to Dubai and later surfaced in Colombo.
Rashid Malbari, another ace shooter in Dawood's gang, was carrying out underworld operations from Sri Lanka.
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Posted by media at 9:56 PM
(SLBC) Sri Lanka is to provide support to enhance legal section in Fiji Island. Visiting Fijian Chief Justice Anthony Harold met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees this morning. At the discussion he pointed out that many Sri Lankan legal experts are engaged in state and private legal activities in the Fiji Island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that service of the Sri Lankan legal experts should be obtained in more efficient manner and pledged necessary support and advice to streamline legal activities in the Fiji island.
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Posted by media at 9:52 PM