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Special Committee to look into journalist disappearances in the North

Following concerns raised by media activists in the North, a special committee is to be set up to investigate disappearances and deaths of journalists in the region. The Secretary to the President is to head the committee which will also probe into various issues faced by regional journalists and make recommendations to rectify them.

The committee will also include the Director General of the Government Information Department, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Media, and the Commissioner General of the Department of Labour.

The committee is expected to report back to the President in three months time.

Expressing his concerns at the meeting Northern journalist Kandasamy Selvakumar said no action had been taken previously despite concerns being raised regarding these journalists.

According to them legal action had only been taken regarding two out of 44 journalists named as dead or missing in a report handed over to the government two years ago.

 

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Sri Lanka to release 69 Indian fisherman

The Sri Lankan courts in Jaffna and Vavunia today ordered the release of 69 Tamil Nadu fishermen lodged in prisons there, an official in the district courts said.

The fishermen, arrested on various occasions on charges of crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by the Sri Lankan Navy, would be brought back here after completing necessary formalities, Manikandan, Assistant Director of Fisheries Department said.
A Sri Lankan court had yesterday (28) released 20 fishermen, arrested on January and February this year on charges of poaching into the island nation's waters, and they were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at the IMBL by the Lankan authorities.

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A Code of ethics for Web Media

A Code of ethics for web-based media and journalists will be launched at the Professional Web Journalist Association (WJA) annual general meeting tomorrow. (29)

The event which is to be held at the JAIC Hilton will be held under the auspices of President Maithripala Sirisena. Minister of Finance and Media, Mangala Samaraweera, and other government dignitaries will be in attendance as well.

According to the WJA, the new code of ethics will ensure responsible journalism from web journalists and media organisations.

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Two JO stalwarts to support Maithri!

While former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Nimal Lanza extended his support to the Joint opposition today (28) during a press briefing two JO stalwarts have decided to support President Maithripala Sirisena.

According to sources Secretary of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna and Kaduwela organizer Somaweera Chandrasiri and Central Provincial Council Member of the National Freedom Front Nimal Premawansa have agreed to meet the President today and extend their support to him.

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Credit Suisse to keep SriLankan afloat

The Sri Lankan government has successfully negotiated a long-term credit package of 200 million U.S. dollars with the Credit Suisse Bank in order to keep its debt-ridden national airline afloat, local media reported Wednesday.

The cabinet which met earlier this week has approved to obtain the funds. State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeyardena said that out of the 200 million dollars, 50 million dollars was obtained as a short term loan facility.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said last year that Sri Lanka's national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, had been facing a massive debt of 3 billion dollars and was a "landmine" for the country's economy.

Wickremesinghe blamed the previous administration for mismanaging the national airline which led to colossal losses.

He said the government was in search of an international investor to manage the airline on a Public and Private partnership.

However, with this loan, Yapa said, it was expected to strengthen the government's guarantee for the ongoing discussions with several investors to run SriLankan Airlines.

Yapa said the government did not intend to liquidate the national carrier under any circumstances but the massive debts stood as an obstacle to the successful conclusion of negotiations with private investors.

The Sri Lankan government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena after being elected to office in 2015, ordered a criminal investigation into alleged corruption at the national airline during the previous regime, saying it involved "billions of dollars".

As a result of its mounting debts, Sri Lankan Airlines suspended its flights to Paris and Frankfurt from October and November last year, stating that the government had made it clear that it will no longer fund continuing losses.

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Over Rs. 130 mn worth heroin seized this year – Sagala

The Special Task Force and the Police Narcotics Bureau and the Organised Crimes Division has seized heroin stocks valued over Rs. 130 million this year and going by this record, the eradication of drugs from Sri Lanka is imminent, Law and Order & Southern development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said.

The Minister said this achievement was made possible due to the systematic programme was undertaken to combat drugs and organised crime in recent times.

The STF alone had seized 5385.266 grams of heroin valued at nearly Rs.53,852.660 up to December 27 this year, while the Anti-Narcotics and Organised Crimes Division has seized 8226.659 grams of heroin valued at nearly Rs. 82,266,590 during the same period.

The STF had also arrested 303 suspects during 285 successful raids while the Anti-Narcotics and Organised Crimes Division has arrested 167 suspects during 160 raids.

The Minister said an operation was also underway to nab leading underworld characters conducting their drug cartels and other underworld activities from abroad.

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Sagala slighted: Control of Police over to Piyasena Gamage

President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed MP Piyasena Gamage as the State Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development.

Gamage is said to have been sworn in before the President today (28).

Speaking to ISIS news the stalwart of the SLFP said the new appointment comes at a time where the President has been unhappy with the conduct of the current Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development, Sagala Ratnayake. “He intends to now control the Police through Piyasena Gamage,” the source said.

Minister Sagala Ratnayake was earlier accused of supporting the Rajapaksa’s by various individuals.

 

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LKR 2.5 billion dairy sector boost from France

Marking over 45 years of development cooperation between Sri Lanka and France, The French government has agreed to extend development assistance to Sri Lanka to the tune of Euro 13.9 million (approximately LKR 2,514 million) via a concessional loan. The loan will be uitilised for the development of 'Six Mini Dairies' Project.

The Ministry of Finance in a statement further said that the proposed project will include complete modernization of the pre-selected sixmini dairy cooperative societies and organizations by establishing state of the art equipment chains to produce pasteurized milk and sterilized milk at a capacity of 4,500 liters per day.

dairy 1

Caption: Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunga signed the relevant Protocol Agreement on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and Mrs. Isabelle MISCOT, Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of France in Sri Lanka, signed the relevant agreement on behalf of the Government of French Republic.

The high quality equipment will allow stable, homogenized and high quality products with computerized monitoring. In addition, technical assistance will also be extended to dairy farmers in order to improve the breeding process by a French non-profitable entity and to carry-out a proper market survey on the dairy sector of Sri Lanka.

It is also expected that, this initiative will support the government’s ambitious target of achieving self-sufficiency in dairy production by 2020 and to contribute to closing the gap between demand for dairy and local supply.

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South Africa follows Sri Lanka; sugar tax on fizzy drinks

South Africa is the latest country to have slapped taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks in a bid to reduce consumption and slow an increase in health epidemics such as diabetes and obesity.

The South African government said last week that it will start to collect a levy of 2.1 cents per gram of sugar on drinks where sugar content is above 4 grams per 100 milliliters from April 2018.

The Sri Lankan government’s 2018 budget presented to parliament last month by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera proposed to introduce an excise duty of 50 cents per gram of sugar contained in beverages. Though many here in Sri Lanka opposed the tax, this bold move by the Minister is sure to discourage unhealthy diets and offset the growing economic costs of obesity as well as diabetes.

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Ravi claims to be a victim of media hype (video)

Ex-minister Ravi Karunanayake claims he is a victim of media hype and says his innocence will be proven by the report into the Central Bank bond issue.

Truth will prevail when the commission hands over its report to the president before December 31, he says.

 Answering questions put to him, Karunanayake said he wanted to create a new political culture and also to prove that he came to politics to serve the people, not to earn money.

He said other ministries should take him as an example and support any investigations.

Once the report is released, he said he would carry on with his active politics, honestly and speedily.

 To serve the personal needs

 Attempts were made to stop politicians like us, who press forward, to serve the personal needs of a few, he said.

Karunanayake said that at present, he was listening to the grievances of the grassroots level UNP supporters, after helping the party to prepare nominations for the LG polls.

He said the supporters placed trust in him and that he wanted to take that forward by creating a new political culture for the UNP.

UNP will win

Answering another question, the MP said the UNP would gain a grand victory at the upcoming election to allow ‘concentrate politics’ for all.

The country could achieve growth through a future vision by the president and the prime minister taking it forward together, he said.

Commenting on the economy, he said that the government was able to restore the economy and grant certain concessions to the public within a very short period, after the Rajapaksa regime caused the economy to go down on its knees.

The progress is slow but steady, with the 10.7 per cent revenue now raised to 15 pc, said Karunanayake.

People want work done

He remarked that incumbent minister Mangala Samaraweera needed to focus more on work rather than on talk, as the public wants the work done, not excuses, by taking firm decisions.

It appears the country is falling into an abyss, as those who do the work in the good governance regime are being looked at indifferently, said the MP.

He said that not everyone is needed, but that if the president and the PM got together and with the support of a handful, a programme should be prepared to push the country forward quickly.

After the LG polls are over, promises to the public should be fulfilled, he added.

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Japanese FM to visit Sri Lanka

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will visit Sri Lanka from January 4 to 6, 2018, a statement from the Japanese embassy here said yesterday.

This is the first time in fifteen years that a Japanese Foreign Minister will be visiting Sri Lanka.

The statement said, “This visit is aimed at further consolidating the “Comprehensive Partnership” between Japan and Sri Lanka based on previous visits by Sri Lankan leaders by President Maithripala Sirisena in May 2016, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in April 2017".

"Strengthening cooperation and collaboration with Sri Lanka is important for the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific area based on the rule of law,”

During his visit, Kono will pay courtesy calls to the President and the Prime Minister, as well as have a meeting with Tilak Marapana, Minister for Foreign Affairs in order to discuss bilateral relations, regional and international matters.

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Country in financial turmoil : EAP businesses sold to Malaysian Company!

The fact that EAP businesses are being sold to a Malaysian company goes on to prove that the country is in a financial crisis says Parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardena.

“A newspaper has reported that EAP group of companies is now set to be sold to a Malaysian Company which proves my claim that the country is in a financial crisis” the MP said adding that the statements made by the UNP after the budget has caused these issues. The parliamentarian made these comments at a press briefing held in Punchi Borella by the Joint opposition Economic research unit yesterday (26).

Financial Market Crippled

The MP also claimed that due to the statement made by the Central Bank’s financial committee on December 5, investors of the financial markets have been scared off.

He said the announcement of abolition three licensed Sri Lankan financial institutions could even result in the collapse of the stock market.

“The Central Bank has announced that the licence of Central Finance and Investment will be cancelled while Standard Credit Ltd, and CIty Finance Corporation are on shaky ground” the MP said adding that around 12,000 depositors are now trying to take their money back thereby causing a crisis.

Depositors in trouble

“Seniors, Pensioners and normal depositors have put in their money to these institutions” he said pointing out that there is no system to help out the public when a private firm collapses.

According to the MP IMF criticized the move to use public tax money to bail of Golden Key depositors when the company collapsed so following the new methods to follow with regards to such companies introduced in 2011 therefore making the Central Bank responsible to ensure the depositors protection.

“No one wants to invest in the country now” the MP maintained adding that if depositors attempt to withdraw large amounts it will cause further issues.

Request from the President

He also mentioned that through spreading reports of financial misconducted of the former government the whole financial system has collapsed. He requested the President to look in to these allegations to ascertain their truth. “We request he look in to the troubles of the people without only focusing on the election” Gunawardena said.

Related Central Bank announcement

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