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October 19, 2017 [GMT]
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India keen to run Sri Lanka airport
[Saturday 2017-08-12 15:00]

India has expressed interest to operate Sri Lanka’s second international airport situated in Mattala, about 40 km from the southern town of Hambantota, where China has majority stake in a strategic port it built.

India has expressed interest to operate Sri Lanka’s second international airport situated in Mattala, about 40 km from the southern town of Hambantota, where China has majority stake in a strategic port it built.


The Sri Lankan government earlier this week cleared Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva’s request for a committee to study the Indian government’s proposal. India proposes to “operate, manage, maintain and develop” the airport through a joint venture, holding 70% of the equity for 40 years. According to the Minister’s Cabinet paper, India is to invest $205 million in the venture, while Sri Lanka would pitch in the balance $88 million.

The development comes less than a fortnight after Sri Lanka signed a $1.1 billion deal with China, giving the state-run China Merchants Port Holdings a 70% stake in a joint venture to run the port. Additionally, Colombo also roped in China to help develop an industrial zone in the adjoining land, spanning some 15,000 acres.

Built in 2010 by the government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa with Chinese loans, the port was deemed commercially unviable by his successor government, which decided to sell a majority stake to service part of the $8-billion debt Sri Lanka owes China. Beijing sees the port as a useful link in its ambitious One Belt One Road initiative. Amid New Delhi and Washington’s known apprehension over the Hambantota agreement — given the town’s strategic location on the island’s southern coast — Colombo tweaked the port deal last month and said no foreign naval ship could call at the port without prior clearance. With India expressing interest to run the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) nearby, Hambantota appears poised to become a hub of rival strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region.

As in the case of the port, it was Mr. Rajapaksa who built the airport with a $190 million loan from the Exim Bank of China. Opened in 2013, the airport has proved a major financial strain, with barely two daily flights. As operational losses persisted, Sri Lanka in December 2016 sought expressions of interest to operate the airport through a public-private partnership. The government received a total of eight proposals, but the recent Cabinet committee has been asked to evaluate India’s proposal alone.

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Release all prisoners detained under PTA: Sampanthan
[Wednesday 2017-10-18 18:00]

Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan yesterday in Parliament urged the Government to release all prisoners detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without further delay.

Delay in provincial polls irks election watchdogs
[Wednesday 2017-10-18 18:00]

Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya who is in receipt of a draft gazette notification on the much anticipated Provincial Council polls, said the Commission cannot act on its own to declare the elections until the Provincial Council and Local Government Ministry decides to do it first. Speaking to the Daily News, the Commissioner who had met with election watchdogs said they were irked at the delay and repeatedly questioned the reason as to why the Election Commission was not proactive on the matter.

Welgama: Govt. has already granted North federalism
[Wednesday 2017-10-18 18:00]

UPFA Kalutara District MP Kumara Welgama yesterday told Parliament that the government had already granted the Northern Province federalism.

Minister Kiriella announces construction of 32 tourist hotels in Batticaloa
[Wednesday 2017-10-18 18:00]

Thirty two tourist hotels would be constructed in Batticaloa and 10,000 direct employment opportunities created countrywide, Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella said on Saturday. Claiming that Sri Lanka had attracted more investors than under the previous government, Minister Kiriella said Trincomalee would be developed with the assistance of Japan.

Parties want new amendment included in gazette notification : Creation of Ambagamuwa polling division delays LG gazette notification
[Wednesday 2017-10-18 18:00]

The delay in the publication of the Gazette notification pertaining to the upcoming Local Government election, is due to the creation of a new polling division within the Nuwara Eliya Electoral district, officials told the Daily News. “We have received a request from political parties calling on the Ministry to create and enlist Ambagamuwa as a new polling division within the Nuwara Eliya Electoral District,” Provincial Council and Local Government Ministry Secretary Kamal Pathmasiri said. We have taken these requests into consideration and have proposed several recommendations,”he said.

UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff met with President Maithripala Sirisena
[Wednesday 2017-10-18 18:00]

The UN Special Rapporteur Mr. Pablo de Greiff met with President Maithripala Sirisena at the President’s Official Residence, yesterday (17). Secretary to the President Austin Fernando, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Prasad Kariyawasam and others participated in this meeting.

Release those detained under PTA: TNA
[Tuesday 2017-10-17 18:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will move an adjournment motion seeking the immediate release of those held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Opposition and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan, who is expected to move the motion, said Sri Lanka had accepted both domestically and internationally that the Prevention of Terrorism Law is draconian, obnoxious and should therefore be regarded as obsolete.

President urged Pakistan to invest in sugar and cement industries
[Tuesday 2017-10-17 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena emphasized the need for further expanding economic relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He made this statement when Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Ms. Tehmina Janjua called on him at the Presidential Secretariat today. He said Pakistan could invest in sugar and cement industries as there is a huge requirement of sugar and cement in Sri Lanka. He pointed out that currently Sri Lanka produces only 20 percent of the sugar requirement.

Vidya rape and murder convicts split and sent to separate prisons
[Tuesday 2017-10-17 18:00]

Prison authorities yesterday transferred four of the seven convicts sentenced to death for raping and murdering Jaffna schoolgirl Vidya Sivaloganthan from the Pallete Bogambara prison yesterday due to security concerns, according to sources. Two of the convicts had been transferred to the Welikada prison and the other two to the Mahara Prison, sources said. The other three convicts would be further held at the Pallekele prison.

TNA seeks fiscal powers in new Constitution N&E PCs should be integrated - Sumanthiran
[Tuesday 2017-10-17 18:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on Sunday stressed that Provincial Councils (PCs) should be given fiscal powers through the new Constitution. At the same time, the TNA has said that devolution of power to Provincial Councils must be done in a manner where the Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils could be integrated in a way so that the authority devolved to PCs cannot be taken over by the Government. This was stated by TNA Jaffna District Member of Parliament and President's Counsel M. A. Sumanthiran, in response to an inquiry made by Ceylon Today.

South Asia’s Best
[Tuesday 2017-10-17 18:00]

Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy has been named Central Bank Governor of the Year, South Asia by popular publication house GlobalCapital at the GlobalCapital Markets Awards ceremony in Washington DC on 14 October, which coincides with the World Bank-IMF Annual meetings. GlobalCapital is a leading news, opinion and data service for people and institutions working in international capital markets. Here the Governor poses with the award he received on Saturday

IMF delays Sri Lanka loan review, urges more reforms
[Tuesday 2017-10-17 18:00]

The IMF on Monday urged Sri Lanka to continue fiscal consolidation and tighten monetary policy and said it had agreed to delay the next review of its 3-year loan until the government submits the 2018 budget. The International Monetary Fund loan is worth $1.5 billion and Sri Lanka has already received around $520 million in three previous instalments. The next review should be completed before for Sri Lanka gets the forth tranche. Sri Lanka has already passed a new revenue act to boost revenues and curb the budget deficit.

Ex-MP Soosaithasan dies
[Monday 2017-10-16 17:00]

Leader of the Opposition and TNA R. Sampanthan yesterday condoled with the family members of former TULF parliamentarian P. S. Soosaithasan, who died recently. Following is the Condolence Message issued by MP Sampanthan: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the demise of former TULF Member of Parliament P. S. Soosaithasan. I have known the late Mr. Soosaithasan for a long time, and also had the opportunity to work with him closely during and after his tenure in Parliament.

Namal Rajapaksa gets bail Top News
[Monday 2017-10-16 17:00]

UPFA Member of Parliament Namal Rajapaksa and seven others in remand custody over the incidents that occured during protests held on the previous week in the area over proposed plans to hand over operations of the Mattala airport to a private firm were granted bail today. Mr Rajapaksa was released on bail of f Rs 500,000 each of three sureties. Mp , DV Chanaka was also released but 32 others including MP Prasanna Ranaweera were further remanded.

‘Political prisoners’ claim shows TNA’s duplicity: PHU
[Monday 2017-10-16 17:00]

The Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) said today the Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA)’s efforts and backing to get those who were arrested under terrorist charges released, showed their duplicity. Addressing a news briefing, PHU Leader MP Udaya Gammanpila said the TNA wants action against soldiers for war crimes which they didn’t commit, but at the same time wants to get terrorists released.

SF’s motive is to expose Mahinda
[Monday 2017-10-16 17:00]

Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has said he has entered politics and holding a minsterial post for the sole purpose of exposing the wrongs committed by his archenemy, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Addressing a ceremony held at Thamibiligasmulla in Kiribathgoda to establish the UNP’s 13th branch in the Kelaniya electorate on Saturday, the minister said:

Nuke issue may have denied Sirisena the Nobel peace prize
[Monday 2017-10-16 17:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena, who was nominated for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, missed out on the coveted award. But ironically, the winner of the award was the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which relentlessly campaigned for a UN treaty banning nuclear weapons — a treaty which Sri Lanka voted on last July.

MR says called for early polls to expedite end of executive presidency
[Monday 2017-10-16 17:00]

Parliamentarian and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday claimed that he did not have sufficient time to abolish the executive presidency and it was in order to expedite the process that he prematurely called for a presidential election. He made these remarks in reply to a question posed by the media as to why he did not do so as called for by the National Movement for a Just Society, even after having the required two-thirds backing in Parliament and the people’s mandate.

Dispute over prisoners: TNA boycotts President’s functions in the north
[Sunday 2017-10-15 19:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday boycotted a state festival presided over by President Maithripala Sirisena in Jaffna in protest over the failure to resolve an going issue over Tamil prisoners in custody. The boycott came after Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan wrote to President Sirisena on Thursday seeking the release of prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

India, SL vow to find permanent solution to fishermen issue
[Sunday 2017-10-15 19:00]

India and Sri Lanka on Saturday vowed to find a permanent solution to the vexed fishermen issue at the earliest. The two sides held ministerial-level talks on the issue during which various aspects related to it were discussed. the Times of India reported. The talks were held between Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh and Sri Lanka's Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

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