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[Last Updated = Fri, Jan 30, 2015, 01:25 am SL Time]
TOP STORY
Sri Lankan government's interim budget brings relief to people, imposes heavy taxes on liquor and casinos

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo:-The new government of Sri Lanka today presented the Interim Budget 2015 in Parliament offering concessions to all sections of the society. Ravi Karunanayaka, in his capacity as Finance and Planning Minister presenting the budget said the government believes in uplifting and developing the lives of every citizen of this country - not just a selected few. The Interim Budget proposes increasing salaries of state sector employees by Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 5,000 out of that will be given in February and remaining Rs. 5,000 in June raising state sector employees' salaries by 47%. About 1.3 million public employees will benefit from the concession.
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SECURITY - SITUATION

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- An expert on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the United States says U.S. can try Sri Lanka's former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa unless there is a credible probe on him by the Sri Lankan government.

** Related Story ::Legal avenues to prosecute Sri Lanka's Defense Secretary for war crimes presented to U.S. Congress

Jan 29, Colombo: The Sri Lanka Navy is to commence a probe in to the appointment of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's second son, Navy Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa. The Defense Ministry has sent a letter to the Navy Commander asking the navy to probe how Yoshitha entered the Sri Lanka Navy and his conduct.

** Related Story ::Sri Lanka Marxist party to lodge complaint against former First Son's appointment to Navy

Jan 29 (Reuters) COLOMBO- Sri Lanka is planning an investigation into accusations of human rights abuses in the final stages of a 26-year civil war amid international frustration at the failure to look into numerous civilian deaths, a government spokesman said late on Wednesday.

Jan 29 (NIE) COLOMBO- Dr.Rajitha Senaratne, spokesman of the Sri Lankan cabinet, has said that he has sought an inquiry into information that former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is using two serving army officers to train 400 soldiers to whip up a bogey about an LTTE revival in the run up to the April parliamentary elections.

Jan 29 (AFP) COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka's new government on Thursday, January 29, accused the military of trying to sow unrest to sabotage its efforts to bring about ethnic reconciliation in the war-ravaged north of the country.

Jan 29 (Island) The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) yesterday complained to the government that while it was being asked to probe the numerous petitions lodged, it did not have the resources to undertake work of such magnitude.

Jan 29 (DN) Responding to a Daily News question as to what Parliamentarian Duminda Silva has to say about his name being mentioned in the statement made by Gampola Widanalage Samantha Kumara alias Wele Suda to the Criminal Investigation Department, Parliamentarian Duminda Silva's father, A. V. P. Silva said that no statement could be made to the media without any legal advise from the Lawyers handling the case on behalf of his son.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday said more attention would be paid to national security and a well-structured plan would be implemented to ensure national security for the welfare of the country and the people. Every effort would be initiated in strengthening the national security within the democratic framework according to the Constitution, the President said.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- Lawyers and representatives of trade unions and civil society in Sri Lanka Wednesday commenced a protest campaign demanding the resignation of Chief Justice Mohan Peiris. Carrying placards and shouting slogans protesters gathered opposite the Supreme Court complex premises in Hulftsdorp this morning at 8.30 a.m.

Jan 28 (CP) Canberra- A group of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers were legally detained at sea by Australian immigration authorities last year, the High Court of Australia ruled today. Today the Australian High Court, by majority, dismissed the charges filed by a Sri Lankan asylum seeker of Tamil ethnicity against the Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and authorities that he and 156 other Sri Lankans were falsely imprisoned when they were detained at sea on a Commonwealth vessel.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- The National Executive Council of Sri Lanka has decided to appoint a special unit to investigate the attacks on the media in the past few years. National Executive Council (NEC) member and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader, MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that the special unit will investigate the murder of journalists Lasantha Wickrematunga and Dharmeratnam Sivaram, the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda and attacks on several other journalists and media rights activists.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption in Sri Lanka says it has received over 100 complaints of corruption following the conclusion of the Presidential election. Director General of the Commission R. Dharmawardena has told the media that the Commission has received about150 complaints after the conclusion of the Presidential election.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- The Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Mohan Peiris has been informed that his appointment as Chief Justice is illegal. The Office of President Maithripala Sirisena has informed Chief Justice Peiris that his appointment by the previous President is illegal.

More : SECURITY - SITUATION
* Lawyers demand death penalty for those responsible for killing prison inmates (28 - Island)
* Swindlers nabbed in Kurunegala (28 - DN)
More : SECURITY - SITUATION

NEWS - HIGHLIGHTS

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- The European Commission has offered Sri Lanka assistance in meeting the regulatory requirements that would enable an early lifting of the ban on fish exports to the European Union. The European Commission has assured to help Sri Lanka meet the EU requirements when Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met with the officials of the European Commission in Brussels.

Jan 29 (CP) New York- Sri Lanka's new government has already taken important measures to improve free expression and other rights, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said releasing its World Report 2015 Thursday. The new government, elected after the HRW World Report 2015 was finalized, has restored blocked news websites, eased media restrictions and ordered a fresh investigation into the 2009 killing of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga, the New York-based rights watchdog said in a statement.

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- The government of Sri Lanka has banned the setting up of casinos and other gaming facilities in projects that come under the Strategic Development Act. The new government on Thursday announced that it plans to ban the luxury casino projects given the green light by the previous government under Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka became less economically free last year as the foundations of economic freedom remain weak according to the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation. Sri Lanka ranked 101 among 186 countries with a score of 58.6 out of 100 and listed in the category of "Mostly Unfree".


FINANCE

Jan 30 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) is to launch an awareness programme to provide pensioners with a sound understanding of personal financial planning. The CSE entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Pensions; to educate retired personnel on the diverse avenues of investment available to them.

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers Wednesday approved a proposal made by the Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne revise the legislation to require manufacturers to cover cigarette packs with pictorial warnings .

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Development Dr. Harsha de Silva has lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption in Sri Lanka on the irregularities committed in the Hyatt Regency Hotel Project in Colombo.

Jan 29 (AFP) COLOMBO- Sri Lanka's new government has announced hefty taxes on top companies in a bid to raise revenue, accusing the previous regime of fudging the figures and leaving the economy in a "sad state."

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell on Thursday from a near two-week closing high the previous session, led by John Keells Holdings Plc after the new government cancelled approval for it to help build a casino, brokers said.

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan rupee forwards ended weaker on Thursday due to importer dollar demand despite moral suasion by the central bank, while exporters awaited direction from a supplementary budget, dealers said.

Jan 29 (island) 'Sri Lanka has got a lot of homework to do before it can attract enough Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and become a vibrant economy in Asia, Ravi Dissanayake, Divisional Merchandising Manager, Vogue Tex Group of Companies told The Island Financial Review recently.

Jan 29 (DN) Access Engineering has secured a contract with ITC Limited; one of the largest diversified conglomerates in India for the upcoming hotel and residences project; ITC Colombo One.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- President's Counsel, Ronald C. Perera has been appointed as Chairman of the state-run Bank of Ceylon by Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayaka, with effect from January 27. Perera assumed office Wednesday 28th January.

Jan 28, (CP) Colombo- NDB granted 2 long term facilities aggregating to Rs.3.3 billion towards construction and commissioning of two wind power projects in Vallimunai and Puloppalai of the Kilinochchi District.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo: MRL Corporation, an Australian mining company exploring graphite in Sri Lanka, said it is on track to start production from its Aluketiya graphite project in Sri Lanka in the September quarter 2015 after drilling returned assays of up to 99.3% total graphitic carbon (TGC).

More : FINANCE
* Sri Lanka rupee forwards down on importer dlr demand; budget awaited (28 - Reuters)
* Sri Lankan shares near 2-wk closing high; budget awaited (28 - Reuters)
* LRA rates Lanka IOC at AAA (28 - DN)
* EFC highlights ‘disastrous implications’ of ‘ad hoc wage increases’ to private sector (28 - Island)
* Etisalat celebrates 25-year journey with rewards of 250 lakhs (28 - DM)
* Sri Lankan rupee steady; market seeks clarity from budget (28 - Reuters)
More : FINANCE

POLITICS - GENERAL

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- Visiting UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State for Sri Lanka, Hugo Swire, travelled to Jaffna today, 29 January, 2015. This was the Minister's first visit to Jaffna.

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) member Jayasinghe Bandara was sworn in as a Parliamentarian today to fill the parliamentary seat vacated by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake is to resign today after she resumed duties as Chief Justice yesterday. Dr. Bandaranayke resumed office as Chief Justice yesterday after she was unceremoniously removed from office by the previous government.

** Related Story ::Sri Lanka's impeached Chief Justice returns to Supreme Court to resume duties

Jan 29 (CP) Colombo- The government of Sri Lanka will present to parliament today an urgent bill in the form of an amendment to the 2015 Appropriation Act that was presented by the previous government. The proposed amendment will give legal effect to the new government's budgetary proposals.

Jan 29 (WSJ) COLOMBO– "I know a guy" is the single most important and commonly used phrase in casual business conversations in Colombo. This South Asian city has a surprisingly sophisticated corporate scene,

Jan 29 (NIE) COLOMBO- Justice Kanakasabapathi Sripavan will be the second Tamil to be Chief Justice of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court when he takes over on Friday following the retirement of Shirani Bandaranayake.

Jan 29 (AP) COLOMBO- A Sri Lankan minister says the country's new government plans to give back military-held private land in the country's war-ravaged north and release detainees in apparent moves at post-civil war reconciliation with ethnic minority Tamils.

Jan 29 (Island) Joint Secretary of the joint trade union alliance Anton Marcus on Tuesday (Jan. 27) accused the new government of reneging on one of its key promises to increase the salaries of private sector employees by Rs, 5,000.

Jan 29 (DN) The residents of Harithgama, Pilana, Galle staged a protest campaign opposite the Galle District Secretariat yesterday, blocking its main entrance demanding drinking water which they alleged had been deprived for over 10 years.

Jan 29 (Guardian) Sri Lanka's new president has reinstated the country's chief justice, who was impeached two years ago after she refused to back a law granting wider powers to the former president's brother.

Jan 28 (CP) Chennai- The conditions in Sri Lanka's Northern and Eastern provinces are still not conducive for the voluntary repatriation of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister of that state O. Panneerselvam told the central Indian government today.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake returned to the Supreme Court complex today two years after she was unjustly impeached by the previous government.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) member of the North Central Provincial Council Peshala Jayaratne was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of the Province before the new Governor P.B. Dissanayake this morning.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- The Education Ministry of Sri Lanka has decided to increase the annual budgetary allocations to the education sector. Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam says that the allocations to the education sector will be increased to 6 percent of the GDP.

Jan 28 (CP) Colombo- Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka successfully completed a native tree planting project in a four-acre tea estate in Atabage, Gampola on January 24, 2015. Fourteen volunteers participated in this program, ranging from children to senior citizens.

Jan 28 2015 (IRIN) MANNAR- Less than three weeks since Sri Lanka voted in a new president, rights activists and other NGOs say there are already encouraging signs that they may have more freedom to work under the new administration, including in the former conflict zone in the north.

Jan 28 (Arab News) The first foreign envoy to call on the new Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena, within hours of his Jan. 9 victory over Mahinda Rajpaksa, was India’s High Commissioner in Colombo Yashwant Sinha.

More : POLITICS - GENERAL
* International audit firms tasked with probing Basil, Wimal (28 - Island)
* I regret the decision -Tissa (28 - DM)
* Govt. has given priority to rule of law - Archbishop (28 - DN)
* Sri Lanka's government coalition reaches agreement on constitutional proposals (28 - CP)
More : POLITICS - GENERAL

SPORTS

Jan 29 (NDTV) Wellington- Sri Lankan fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara was reprimanded for aggressive celebration of Luke Ronchi's dismissal during his team's seventh ODI against New Zealand here today. "Kulasekara admitted to a breach of Article 2.1.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel,” said the ICC in a statement. After claiming Ronchi's wicket, Kulasekara aggressively changed direction towards the dismissed batsman, which was considered unacceptable by the match officials.

More : SPORTS

Jan 29 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara added another milestone to his already storied career when he broke the world record for the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper in one-day internationals against New Zealand in Wellington on Thursday. The 37-year-old Sangakkara, who is expected to retire from international cricket after the World Cup, passed Adam Gilchrist as the most successful wicketkeeper with the dismissal of Corey Anderson in the seventh and final one-dayer.

Sri Lanka 287/6 (50.0 ov) New Zealand 253 (45.2 ov)

Jan 29 (ESPNCI) Kumar Sangakkara mounted a sleek 21st ODI hundred on Tillakaratne Dilshan's foundation, to shepherd Sri Lanka toward a consolation victory in Wellington. The visitors were hampered by their own wheezing middle order, and managed only 287 for 5 when a total well over 300 had seemed a possibility for much of the innings. Nonetheless, that total proved 34 runs too many for New Zealand, whose lower middle order was characteristically spirited, after the innings had sustained early setbacks.

Sri Lanka 287/6 (50.0 ov) New Zealand 96/3 (23.4 ov)

Jan 29 (ESPNCI) Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat as both sides' captains were unavailable for the final ODI of the series. Angelo Mathews had recovered from the calf injury that had kept him out of the two previous matches, but was out with the flu, while Brendon McCullum was being rested for the final game. Kane Williamson led in his stead.


WORLD

Jan 29 (BBC) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suit, decorated with his own name, has been severely criticised on social media after reports said it cost nearly 1m rupees ($16,000; £10,000). Mr Modi was photographed wearing the suit at his meeting with US President Barack Obama in Delhi recently. From a distance, it appeared to be a classic navy blue pinstripe design.

More : WORLD

Jan 29 (BBC) At least 12 people have been killed in a suicide attack on a funeral in eastern Afghanistan, officials say. Many more were wounded at the ceremony, which was apparently being held for victims of an earlier militant attack.

Jan 29 (BBC) The Malaysian government has officially declared the disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight MH370 an accident and says there were no survivors. No trace of the Beijing-bound aircraft has been found since it disappeared on 8 March 2014.

Jan 29 (BBC) India's Supreme Court has ordered internet giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to block adverts for pre-birth tests that reveal a child's sex. Such adverts are illegal in India because of the widespread underground practice of aborting female foetuses.


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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