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U.R. De Silva re-elected as President of BASL

The incumbent President of the Sri Lanka Bar Association (BASL), President’s Counsel U.R. De Silva was re-elected as the President of the Association.

He was re-elected as the President unanimously for the years 2018/2019.

De Silva has previously served as the BASL Treasurer in 2001 and as Secretary in 2008.

As the chairman of the Standing Committee of Law Week of the Bar Association for several years and as the Commissioner of the Legal Aid Commission he had organized Law Awareness Programs and free Legal Aid Clinics with members of the Bar for the needy people in the country.

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Sri Lanka to sell off hotels for record-high debt repayment

Sri Lanka's government aims to pay off its record-high debt by raising $500 million this month through development bonds and selling off two state-owned hotels.

Sri Lanka reportedly owes a total of $12.85 billion, including $2.9 billion in foreign loans plus another $5.36 billion in interest. To pay some of that down, the government requested to seek out investors to buy the Grand Hyatt Colombo for $293 million.

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The Grand Hyatt, Colombo

The members will choose the winning investor following a competitive process. Hyatt Group will manage the hotel with 458 guestrooms and 100 apartments for a 20-year term once construction is completed this year.

The Sri Lankan government is also looking for an investor to buy a 51-percent stake in a hotel operating under a Hilton Worldwide brand in the capital city. Hilton Worldwide, who currently operates the property under a management agreement, aims to renew the contract in 2019 when the current one ends. The divestment of these two hotels is just the start of the government's repayment of hefty foreign infrastructure loans this year, which has left the country swamped in debt.

The central bank will also raise $500 million in 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year Sri Lanka Development Bonds out of the $3 billion allotted for the year ahead of the looming due date.

The government is pushing for a Liability Management Act to borrow more funds than the budget allows to repay its debt over the next two years. Meanwhile, it will reschedule some loans as part of its repayment process.


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If 19 A doesn't impede Maithri, I can contest again: Mahinda

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that if the 19th Amendment to the Constitution does not apply to the Presidential Elections held on January 8, 2015, there is no impediment for him to contest again at the next Presidential elections.

Rajapaksa made these remarks while responding to a query sent by President Sirisena to the Supreme Court to clarify whether there was any impediment to continue in the office of the President for a period of 6 years.

If the Supreme Court decides that the elected President can stay in office for a term of six years, both he and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga could contest at the next Presidential election.


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World Bank says global economy is set for a decade of gloom

The World Bank has joined a growing chorus predicting an end to the global economy's strong run. Stock prices are high relative to earnings and volatility is at historic lows, warnings that economists traditionally take as signs of overheating.

"There is a sense in which financial markets appear to be complacent. That makes room for disruption when there are surprises - a repricing of risk," said Franziska Ohnsorge, a World Bank economist.

Her warning echoes those of institutions including Legal and General Asset Management, which fears the US economy and markets will surge ahead this year before rate hikes burst the bubble and cause a recession.

There are other downside risks to the outlook too. The World Bank fears an upsurge in protectionism could stop trade growth from recovering, undermining GDP. Geopolitical tensions pose a threat as well, as the institution cites trouble in the Korean peninsula, turmoil in the Middle East and any re-emergence of governance problems in the eurozone among the potential risks.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the predicted slowdown, even if those risks do not come to pass.

Population growth has driven a substantial portion of GDP growth in recent decades, but this is now slowing. As a result, economic growth, and rising living standards, will have to be driven by productivity growth in future if prosperity is to continue to emerge and poverty to be reduced.

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Hi-speed rail from Colombo to Vanathavilluva

State Minister of Irrigation Palitha Range Bandara said that the government plans to construct a high-speed railway line from Colombo to Vanathavilluva. The Minister made these remarks at a public rally held in Vanathavilluva, yesterday (10).

A feasibility study to ascertain the construction costs will be carried out this year. The proposal for a high-speed railway line was made to further strengthen and expand the transportation system.

Parallel to the construction of this railway line, another rail line from Norochcholai to Mahawewa and Anamaduwa will also be constructed.

The Minister said that the long term objective of this project is to construct a high-speed railway line connecting Colombo, Puttalam, Anamaduwa and Mahawa via Triancomalee.

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Ex-navy spokesman, five others get bail

Former navy spokesman D.K.P. Dassanayake and five others, held in remand custody, were granted bail by the High Court today.

Commodore Dassanayake and the others were arrested and remanded on charges of aiding and abetting in the abduction of 11 youths in 2008 and 2009.

High Court Judge Manilal Waidyaratne released each of the six accused on a cash bail of Rs.100,000 with three sureties of Rs.1 million each.

While a main witness to the case, B.Vijayakanthan turned hostile recently claiming the statement given by him was made under duress however at a press briefing in July, Police Spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara said the arrest of former Navy Spokesman Commodore D.K.P. Dassanayake was based on strong and clear evidence of his involvement in the disappearance of 11 youth.

 The Police Media Spokesman said the reports obtained from the Tri-Forces, Police and intelligence services confirmed that none of the disappeared youths were involved in any terrorist activity.

“A few officers in the Navy had committed those disappearances by acting wantonly and abusing their powers. Nobody can fault the Navy for those acts,” he said.

Gunasekara, detailing the investigations on the disappearance of 11 youth, said the Police have so far arrested seven Navy officers in connection with the disappearances, including the first accused Sampath Munasinghe, who has been released on bail.

He said the 11 missing persons, on whom investigations were nearing completion, were residents of Mannar, Kotahena, Trincomalee, Grandpass, Maradana, Dehiwala and Dematagoda. He said the CID investigations could reveal that those youth had been detained at two locations, namely at Chaithya Road in Colombo and the Navy Camp in Trincomalee.

He said the CID has received 28 complaints with regard to enforced disappearances in 2008, adding that the rest of the complaints would also be investigated and the offenders would be brought to book.

The investigations on disappearances of youth in 2008 commenced following a written complaint by former Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda to the Colombo Crimes Division on May 28, 2009. The investigations were handed over to the CID on June 10, 2009. The CID has obtained statements from missing persons’ families and naval officers, and scientific evidence based on analysis reports of phone calls.

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Marikkar sends Lokuge to the Hospital

JO MP Gamini Lokuge is said to have sought treatment from a private hospital after being attacked by UNP MP S.M Marikkar during the brawl that erupted at Parliament today. The Parliament gathered for a special parliament sitting to discuss the Bond report which was handed over to the President recently.

The MP’s clashed today when a special statement was being made by Premier Ranil Wickramasinghe.

Despite requests made by party leaders from President Sirisena to present the Bond commission report and other reports regarding 34 other possibly corrupt financial irregularities during the Rajapaksa regime however these reports were not sent to parliament today.

To be presented on the 17th

However, Secretary to the President is said to have informed the Speaker that the reports will be presented to the parliament on January 17 according to advice by the Attorney General.

The move to not present the reports drew serious criticism from the Joint Opposition, the Tamil National Alliance and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna. The situation grew tense when the PM was given the opportunity to make a special statement in parliament as well today.

 parliment guti 1000pxBrawl inside the parliament

 MP’s of the JO voiced their dissent against the PM by showing placards and acting in a disorderly manner. The fight erupted between the two parties when UNP MP’s attempted to respond to the protestors.

While the PM continued with the speech insults and profanities were exchanged between the MP’s as both parties accused each other of being ‘Thieves’. A full-scale brawl erupted when a JO MP threw a book at Wickramasinghe who was still making the speech at the time.

MP Kavinga Jayawardena was taken away from the house by UNP MP’s as he lost consciousness during the tussle between the parliamentarians.

JO and JVP boycott

The Speaker halting proceedings of the house called for a party leaders meeting after the PM’s speech was disturbed continuously. However the JO and JVP decided to boycott the meeting in protest.

As the parliament gathered the PM was allowed to continue with the speech as a result of the meeting. However while some MP’s of the opposition continued to protest, members of the JO were seen leaving the house.


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PM in his speech explained steps taken by the government regarding the bond scam

The PM explained the steps taken by the government from March 2015 to investigate the bond issue he said the government continuously took necessary action and reported details on the issue to the Parliament, COPE committee, Attorney General Department.

“All that remains now is to recover the loss from the wrong doers” the PM said.

Will punish wrongdoers

The PM stressed that any wrong doers will be punished after investigations are carried in to other bond auctions held between 2008 - 2014 as recommended by the President.

He also said former President and the then Minister of Finance Mahinda Rajapaksa should make a statement regarding this to parliament.

Parliament was rescheduled to January 23 by the Speaker at the end of the day.

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UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka meets Jaffna Commander

The visiting UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka met the Commander, Security Forces - Jaffna (SF-J), Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi during their visit to the Northern Province on Saturday.

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Commander of Security Forces in Jaffna, Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi greeting Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka, Hon. Ranil Jayawardana.

According to Army media, the delegation led by the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka (APPG - SL), Hon. Ranil Jayawardana was briefed on the post-conflict military commitments in the region and civil-military cooperation projects with special focus on peace-building and reconciliation efforts, by the Jaffna Security Forces Commander during the meeting.

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They were also educated on other humanitarian projects, initiated by the SFHQ-J in coordination with civil sector participation.

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Political leadership reinforcing misogynistic attitudes: CaFFE

Political parties are pitting female candidates in losing battles says Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, executive director of Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE). According to him, political parties have placed their female candidates for the local government election for electorates where there is a powerful, often male, candidate contesting from another political party.

He made this statement during a program to train female candidates for the coming local government election at Madurankuliya, Puttalam.

“Female candidates must contest in at least 10% of the wards in a particular electorate and political parties often pit their female candidates against very strong male candidates. In most cases women candidates are competing against former chairmen of a local council or an extremely popular figure,” he said.

CaFFE has noted that political parties have given up attempting to win the seats in which their female candidates are competing and that this might adversely affect their ability to win a majority in an electorate.

“This might lead to many unstable electorates and you will see people complaining that this is the fault of the Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP), which is not the case at all,” he said.

CaFFE executive director added that the decision taken by political parties to put their female candidates against very strong male candidates will also strengthen the perception that women can’t successfully contest against male candidates.

“One of the main reasons why we campaigned for this new electoral system is because we wanted women to contest elections and win. We didn’t want women to just get through affirmative action. By putting a female candidate against a former chairman of a local council and not giving her the necessary support to carry out a strong campaign, political parties are ensuring that misogynistic attitudes are reinforced,” he said.


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Special Parliament sitting tomorrow

A Special Sitting of Parliament has been convened at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow to discuss the Bond report following the request of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Acting Secretary-General of Parliament Neil Iddawala issuing a press release yesterday said all Parliamentarians have been informed to attend the Special Sitting. Speaking to the Daily News, Iddawala added a Party Leaders Meeting chaired by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has been scheduled for 2 p.m. today to discuss tomorrow’s agenda. He said it is most likely that the Prime Minister would make a statement at the commencement of Sittings. When inquired by the Daily News, Parliamentary sources said a copy of the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Bond issue had not been received by Parliament until yesterday and whether it would be tabled on Wednesday would be known only after the Party Leaders’ Meeting.

The Prime Minister addressing the UNP Convention rally at Campbell Park on Sunday stated that he had formerly requested Speaker Jayasuriya to convene Parliament ahead of schedule to discuss the Commission report.

The first sitting of Parliament for 2018 was earlier scheduled for January 23.

Source : Daily News

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Prohibition on sale of liquor to women removed

The Sri Lankan government announced today that the prohibition placed on women to purchase alcohol has been removed. Excise Notification No. 666 of the Gazette Extraordinary had imposed a ban on the sale of liquor to women and employing women in places where liquor is manufactured or sold.

Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera put an end to this draconian legislation by signing the Excise notification Gazette Extraordinary in this regard.

According to the Excise Act, Section 11.2, it is prohibited for a tavern to sell alcohol to personnel in uniform, minors and people who are under the influence of alcohol.

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Postal Votes to be handed over to Postal Department on Jan. 11

The Election Commission said that postal votes for Local Government Elections will be submitted to the Postal Department, on January 11.

Acting Election Commissioner M.M. Mohamed said that the name lists of government workers who are eligible to cast postal votes were certified at the District Election Office yesterday.

This year 560,536 government workers are eligible to cast postal votes, he said.

Postal Votes could be cast at Election Offices, District Secretariats and at Police Stations on January 22 and at other Government Institutions, postal votes could be cast on January 25 and 26.

Source : Daily News

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