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[Last Updated = Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 09:42 am SL Time]
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No foreign influence on government, Sri Lankan President assures

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today assured that his government is not under any foreign influence as some politicians claim and emphasized that the government will not enter into any agreement that can endanger the local economy and the culture of the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the ready mixed concrete factory in Balangoda Friday, the President asserted that the false rumors spread by the political rivals regarding the agreement to be signed with India in the future are utterly baseless.
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LEGAL - SITUATION

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Major General Milinda Peiris has been appointed as the new Chief of Staff (COS) of the Sri Lanka Army effective from 12 February 2016. Major General Peiris is currently the Vice Chancellor of General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (KDU).

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- The Colombo High Court today fixed the date for the trial against the two high profile state officials of the former government charged of misusing state money. Colombo High Court Judge N V Karunathilake fixed the trial against Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Anusha Palpita for 29 April.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka Navy, in accordance with naval traditions, welcomed a South African Navy frigate and two Royal Omani navy ships arrived at the Port of Colombo on Friday (February 12). The South African Navy Ship SAS Spioenkop arrived at the Port of Colombo on 12th February 2016 on a goodwill visit.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- An European Union Parliamentary delegation, led by Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Friends of Sri Lanka Group Geoffrey Van Orden, and including MEP Morten Messerschmidt, called on the newly-appointed Commander of Security Force Headquarters - Jaffna (SFHQ-J) Major General Mahesh Senanayake on Wednesday (10).

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Terrorism Investigation Division has informed the Court that it will take measures against former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) detainees who are refusing to undergo rehabilitation.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- A Sri Lankan court today further remanded the former president and Kurunegala district parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa's son Yoshitha Rajapaksa and four others when they were produced in court today.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka Navy said it has assisted the Coast Guard on Wednesday to arrest twelve Indian fishermen for crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and poaching in island's waters. The fishermen were arrested along with two fishing trawlers while they were fishing in the Sri Lankan waters northwest of Thalaimannar on 10th February 2016.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Senior Solicitor General President's Counsel Jayantha Jayasuriya took oaths today as the 29th Attorney General of Sri Lanka before President Maithripala Sirisena at the President's Official Residence.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- The Sri Lankan government has received a vast amount of details on fraud, corruption and misuse of public funds and resources, that took place during the previous administration and complaints are still being received, Prime Minister Ranis Wickremesinghe said.

Feb 12 (Island) Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said in Parliament that he would meet top security officials today (12) over a threatening telephone call. He said someone had threatened to kill him if he did not recognise the Joint Opposition as an independent group.

Feb 12 (DN) A cache of arms believed to have been buried by LTTE terrorists during the period of war was unearthed by the Madhu police with the assistance of Air Force personnel at a place close to the Madhu Kirisuddhan jungle on February 9. This follows intelligence reports received at an Air Force Camp in Welankulam, Wanni.

More : LEGAL - SITUATION
* Biggest drug bust: Magistrate allows police to detain suspects for questioning (11 - Island)
* Sicille Kotelawala admitted to prison hospital (11 - DM)
* CID probes handing over of elephants to Gota (11 - DN)
More : LEGAL - SITUATION

NEWS - HIGHLIGHTS

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it is considering Sri Lanka's request for a new IMF program for the island nation to meet its balance of payments but the funding will depend on certain conditions.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap joined Minister of Post, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs M.H.A. Haleem and Imam Moulavi M.S.M Thasleem yesterday (February 11) for a tour of Colombo's historic Grand Mosque.

Feb 12 (CP) Geneva- The UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, who visited Sri Lanka last month for a second time, said Sri Lanka should not rush to comply with the commitments that the country has made for the sake of demonstrating compliance.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka will review a controversial deal reached by the previous administration to buy new Airbus aircraft despite huge losses at the national carrier, the Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has said Wednesday.


FINANCE - TRAVEL

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka Central Bank has announced that it plans to sell US$ 75 million worth of development bonds to foreign and local investors. The Public Debt Department of Central Bank will issue US$ 75 million in Sri Lanka Development Bonds of 1 Year 1 month, 2 Years 2 months and 4 Years 4 months tenor to eligible investors for subscription

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Laugfs Power, a subsidiary of Laugfs Gas has acquired the total issued shares of Pams Power (private) Limited on 10th February for Rs. 200 million. Laugfs Gas said in a disclosure to the Colombo Stock Exchange that Pams Power is holding all rights for the development and operation of a 2 MW capacity hydropower project located in Kalaweldeniya, Polpitiya.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Colombo Port has set a new record in container handling volume on Tuesday, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said yesterday. Setting the new record the Colombo Port handled 22,422 TEUs on February 9. The previous record of highest volume of 22,186 TEUs was reported by the SLPA on April 28, 2015.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Asia Pacific's leading luxury hotel group, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, is exploring the possibility of building a third hotel in Sri Lanka. Vice President of the Shangri-La group, Madhu Rao has indicated to Sri Lanka's Minister of Finance, Ravi Karunanayake that the group is happy with the current investment climate in Sri Lanka and is looking at reinvesting on another project.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- A group of representatives of the Colombo Trade Association and the Federation of the coconut and palmyra products Co-operative Societies of the North and North West met President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat today (11), President's Media Division said.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Marking a significant step in its bid to establish a Central Counter Party (CCP), Sri Lanka's Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) today announced that it has issued a Request for Information (RFI) inviting potential suppliers to present information with relation to the supply, implementation and support for a Central Counterparty Institution.

Feb 12 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares edged down for the fifth straight session on Friday to close at a more than three-week low, in line with weaker regional peers, as investors stayed off risky assets on concerns over rising domestic interest rates.

Feb 12 (DM) According to a compensation and benefit survey carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on the country’s IT sector, salaries at entry level on average witnessed a higher rate of increase in comparison to those at senior positions.

Feb 12 (Island) The minimum hotel room rate system would negatively impact the formal hotel sector, which will, in turn, create distortions in the economy, John Keells Holdings (JKH) deputy chairman Ajith Gunewardena said.

Feb 12 (DN) For the first time Meliá Hotels International,17th biggest hotel chain worldwide which was founded 1956 will enter the leisure sector in Sri Lanka this year. The Spanish hotel chain, has 100,000 rooms under their management.

Feb 11 (Economist) SRI LANKA ought to be sitting pretty. Its growth has averaged 6% a year over the past decade. Seven years after a protracted civil war ended, its economy is still reaping a peace dividend.

Feb 11 (IIFL) Bharti Airtel is in talks to merge its wholly-owned Sri Lanka unit into Dialog Axiata in a likely share-swap deal, according to reports. Report says that potential Airtel Lanka-Dialog-Axiata merger is likely to be along the lines of the recent merger of Bharti Airtel and Axiata's telecom units in Bangladesh.

More : FINANCE - TRAVEL
* Sri Lankan stocks end at over 3-wk low on weak global cues (11 - Reuters)
* Sri Lanka state airline reviewing Airbus A350 deal; criminal probe on (11 - EN)
* Landmark partnership between LAUGFS and AIRMAN, Japan (11 - Island)
* JF Tours offers unique experience with re-designed railcar (11 - DM)
* Ceylinco General, Ceylinco Life post Rs. 27 bn premium income (11 - DN)
* Sri Lanka IT professionals insist on greater transparency in ETCA (11 - LBO)
More : FINANCE - TRAVEL

POLITICS - GENERAL

Feb 13 (DN) ‘Pandemonium’ is a commonly used word in reporting contemporary Sri Lankan Parliament, but occasions where Parliament continued its business despite such unruly behaviour and chaos are rare. Parliament last Tuesday not only proceeded amidst heavy disturbances from the UPFA dissidents in the Opposition, but also managed to pass the bill scheduled in the day’s agenda.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- The committee appointed to make recommendations to the government on introducing a suitable pension scheme for the new recruits to the public service seeks views and proposals of the general public on the new scheme.

Feb 12 (CP) Chennai- Following the arrest of twelve Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy yesterday, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi again asking to take action to find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Applications are invited from Sri Lankan students (excluding PIO, OCI card holders & NRIs) for nomination to undergraduate course in Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Medicine (MBBS) and Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) under the Self-Financing Scheme for the academic year 2016-17 against the reserved seats of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe accompanied by his wife Maithri Wickremesinghe has left for India Friday to visit the Lord Krishna Temple at Guruvayur in Kerala state of India.

Feb 12 (CP) Colombo- A coordinating office of former President and Kurunegala District parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa was opened this morning at Nelum Mawatha, Battaramulla. The media unit of the former president said the office will facilitate coordination of political affairs and public relations.

** Related Story :: Sri Lanka's joint opposition to form a new party under former president's leadership

Feb 11, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has identified the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector as an important aspect to be developed due to its contribution to the economic development of the country, employment generation and reducing the poverty.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Marxist party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) today questioned why the government is not reducing the fuel prices while the oil prices plunge in the world market. Speaking to media today, the General Secretary of JVP Tilvin Silva said the government is like a "black market" keeping the public benefitting from the low global fuel prices.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena says that although the common nature of the world politics as well as national politics is that power corrupts the politician, it is the responsibility of the politician not to be destructed from power but to use that power for the betterment of the people.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- The Sri Lankan government announced today that it plans to use canal network in Colombo for transportation as a measure to ease the traffic congestion in the capital city and also to promote tourism. Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka has proposed to implement a project for introduction of transportation scheme over canals in Colombo.

Feb 11 (CP) Colombo- The Sri Lankan government Thursday condemned the long range missile launch by North Korea on Sunday and called upon the East Asian state to abide by the international obligations. "The Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka condemns the launch of a long range missile by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on 07th February 2016," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement today.

Feb 11 (CP) New York- The New York based global rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the appointment of former Army Commander and Democratic Party leader Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka as a member of the Sri Lankan parliament.

Feb 11 (CP) Washington, DC- The United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) Wednesday announced an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for an opportunity for a project on Strengthening Investigative Journalism Sri Lanka.

Feb 12 (Hindu) Aimed at designing a reconciliation mechanism in the post-civil war Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Friday appealed to the victims on both sides of the divide to participate in a consultation process.

Feb 12 (Island) The Constitutional Council (CC) has only endorsed a presidential recommendation in appointing Jayantha Jayasuriya as the Attorney General. President Maithripala Sirisena recommended him for the post and sought the CC’s approval. Earlier he had submitted three names expecting the CC to pick one of them, but one half of the CC refused to do so

Feb 12 (DM) A supplementary estimate was presented to Parliament yesterday to seek its approval to spend a sum of Rs 17.2 million to settle the outstanding bills for the emergency medical treatment of the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Nayaka Thera in Singapore. This amount is to be spent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Feb 12 (DN) The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is to take tough decisions against party dissidents at a crucial Central Committee meeting to be held today at the Presidential Secretariat under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena.

Feb 11 (Reuters) Just over a year after a new leader was elected and Sri Lanka's business ties with China came under close scrutiny, Colombo is reversing course by resuming a stalled port project and naming Beijing as the front runner for a new special economic zone.

More : POLITICS - GENERAL
* ‘President will never accept foreign judges’ Former President accused of raising Geneva bogey (11 - Island)
* UPFA dissidents’ demands: PM agrees for final solution (11 - DN)
More : POLITICS - GENERAL

SPORTS

Feb 12 (ESPNCI) On a dry surface in a dusty Ranchi ground, India's top order moved into customary home form, and their bowlers exposed a fragile Sri Lanka top order. Shikhar Dhawan was bruiser-in-prime, unleashing an early shellacking that brought him 51, and set the team on course to a big total. They reached 196 for 6, thanks to helpful hands from the top five, which today included a pinch-hitting Hardik Pandya. That total was 69 too many for Sri Lanka.

More : SPORTS

Feb 12 (PTI) An inter-state cricket betting racket has been busted in Hyderabad with the arrest of one person, who allegedly indulged in betting during the recently-held T20 match played between India and Sri Lanka held in Pune, police said on Thursday. Based on specific information, the Commissioner's Task Force, East Zone Team, busted the inter-state cricket betting racket and yesterday arrested the accused, Dinesh Agarwal, after raiding his house at Puranapul here, they said.

Feb 11 (ESPNCI) In the first match, India's batsmen seemed not to know much about the pitch in Pune. They also seemed not to know much about Sri Lanka's second-string seam attack. Actually, no one did. Why would they? After a year of modest performances, and with the frontliners all in the sick bay, these new guys were selection Hail Marys. For a change, someone up there answered the prayers of Sri Lanka's fan base.

Bangladesh Under-19 bat on overcast morning

Feb 11 (ESPNCI) Bangladesh Under-19s captain Mehedi Hasan Miraz opted to bat in their semi-final against West Indies Under-19s on an overcast and foggy morning in Mirpur. Miraz thought it was a good track to bat on and they would look to score at least 250 to put West Indies under pressure.


WORLD

Feb 12 (Reuters) Major powers agreed on Friday to a cessation of hostilities in Syria set to begin in a week and to provide rapid humanitarian access to besieged Syrian towns, but failed to secure a complete ceasefire or an end to Russian bombing. Following a marathon meeting in Munich aimed at resurrecting peace talks that collapsed last week, the powers, including the United States, Russia and more than a dozen other nations, reaffirmed their commitment to a political transition when conditions on the ground improved.

More : WORLD

Feb 12 (Dawn) WASHINGTON- The Obama administration has informed Congress that it is committed to improving Pakistan’s precision strike capability, which is seen as a veiled reference to F-16 fighter jets. In a document released this week, the US administration told US lawmakers that its Foreign Military Funding (FMF) to Pakistan would focus on seven priority areas “identified and agreed to with the government of Pakistan”.

Feb 11 (BBC) A wild elephant went on an hours-long rampage in India's West Bengal state, sending residents fleeing in panic. Officials fired tranquillizer darts to control the animal after it damaged dozens of homes, cars and motorbikes.

Feb 11 (BBC) The US Senate has voted unanimously in favour of tougher sanctions against North Korea, after the country's recent nuclear and rocket tests. It targets anyone who directly or indirectly helps Pyongyang's weapons proliferation or human rights abuses.


About Sri Lanka ::-
Introduction to Sri Lanka ::-

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island paradise in the Indian Ocean with white sandy beaches lush greenery, exciting adventures, amazing wildlife, cascading waterfalls and a rich heritage. The island of Sri Lanka is roughly pear-shaped. The total area of Sri Lanka is 65,610 sq km. Sri Lanka’s coastline is about 1,340 km (about 833 mi) around.

The people in Sri Lanka are warm and friendly. Sri Lankans are known for hospitality in all over the world. People in Sri Lanka ethnically fall into four main categories. The population of Sri Lanka is about 20 million. Sri Lanka has a tropical climate. Sri Lanka has a democratic government. Sri Lanka is mainly an agricultural country. Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy, famous for its production and export of cinnamon, rubber and Ceylon tea, which remains a trademark national export. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of export, and further declined to 16.8% in 2005 (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments have reached 63%. The GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% during the early 1990s, until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000, with average growth of 5.3%.

Sri Lanka, with an income per head of $1,350, still lags behind some of its neighbors including Maldives and Mauritius but is ahead of its giant neighbor India. Its economy grew by an average of 5% during the 1990s during the 'War for Peace' era. According to the Sri Lankan central bank statistics, the economy was estimated to have grown by 7% last year, although inflation had reached 20%.

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