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Sri Lanka officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Known until 1972 as Ceylon, Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest across the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait, and the Maldives to the southwest.

 

Sri Lanka Web Server is Sri Lanka's latest e-commerce & news web site. With a wide variety of information coverage it’s primary goal is to provide a world class service to Sri Lankans and Foreigners alike. Basically focusing mainly in promoting inbound tourism, e-business and highlighting the on going development activities in the country in our journey towards becoming the Wonder of Asia within a few years.

 
     






Sigiriya is a town with a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Central Province, Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, and other structures.

Nuwara Eliya is a city, located in the hill country of the Central Province, Sri Lanka. The city name meaning is "city on the plain (table land)" or "city of light".

Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka.


An orphanage for elephants has been set up by the department of National Zoological Gardens, at Pinnawela, 90 km. from Colombo. It was established in 1975 and several animals brought here at the inception are now mature enough for breeding, which is the ultimate aim of the institution.


98 km. south of Colombo, Hikkaduwa is the place for underwater delight. Site of the famed coral gardens; glass bottomed boats can be hired with the other accessories such as goggles and flippers and you can explore the fantasies under your feet. kindly do not purchase or encourage sale of corals.


  ICT literacy 50% now – Minister Siyambalapitiya  
 

Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, said on Saturday that the ICT literacy, which was 4% when Mahinda Rajapaksa became President in 2005, has now zoomed to 50%.

The Minister was speaking at the inauguration of 11 Nenasalas (Wisdom Outlets) said that out of the 4% persons ICT literate in 2005, 3% were from Colombo and only 1% was from rural areas. The contribution of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) towards implementing the Mahinda Chinthana Policy statement of the government was remarkable.

 
 

The flagship project in this regard was the 1,000 Nensala projects implemented by ICTA. This was carried out based on a concept of President Rajapaksa for making the dividends of ICT accrue to all the people, the Minister pointed out.

Eleven new Nenasalas were set up in the Kurunegala and Puttalam districts on Saturday. According to ICTA, these Nenasalas are set up under the ‘1000 Nenasala’ progrm implemented based on a concept of President Mahinda Rajapaksa for empowering the rural community via information and communication technology. These Nenasalas are equipped with modern ICT facilities including internet.

ICTA sources pointed out that it is significant that 11 Nenasalas were inaugurated on a single day and that it is hoped that by the end of the year, the target of 1,000 outlets could be reached.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Colombo Port to elevate to 21st position in Top 50 World Container Pots List  
 

Colombo, the commercial hub and capital of Sri Lanka, will go up to the 21st position in the top 50 World Container Ports list 2014 with the operations of the new berths of the Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT). Earlier Colombo was in the 32nd position in the Top 50 Wprld Container Ports list.

The new CICT terminals, developed over three stages, opened the third phase of its facility in April 2014 enabling addition of 2.5 milllion teu to the Colombo shipping hub.

With the CICT addition of 2,5 million teu, the total Colombo throughput would be around 6,8 million teu, whereas at present it is at 4,26 million teu.

 
 

World Shipping Council top 50 container ports list shows that Port Bremen/Bremerhaven in Germany is in the 21st position with a volume of 6.12 million teu and Xiamen Port in China is in the 20th position with 7.20 million teu. (KH/SI)

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Growth of 60 percent in Public Sector Employment in 2013  
 

The Ministry of Finance and Planning Annual Report for the year 2013 reveals that the total public sector employment has increased by 60 percent in year 2013 compared to 2003 while cadre utilization increased from around 77 percent to 91 percent. This increase was mainly due to the removal of restrictions on public service recruitment and filling vacancies as well as creation of new cadre positions to accommodate emerging needs.

An appropriate cadre of the public service is an essential component in maintaining a satisfactory performance of the role assigned to the public sector. In the post 2005 period, steps have been taken to address cadre needs of the public sector, following the erosion in public service delivery system due to recruitment embargo that was in force during the previous two decades to trim public services.

 
 

In the context of rural centric development emphasis in Mahinda Chintana Vision for the Future, the expansion of education, health, agriculture and relevant extension services was a priority to facilitate the development objectives. According to the report the actual number of posts utilized is 91 percent out of the total approved cadre of the public sector which is 1,433,600 in 2013, due to shortage of qualified applicants for some posts and administrative and procedural delays in the recruitment process, etc.

Evolution of the cadre has been diversified due to the policy decisions taken in time to time related to the public sector employment. Structural Policy Adjustment system has been introduced to the cadre of the public sector during the period of 2001-2002 by focusing the market driven economic policy. Accordingly the anticipated public sector employment is 450,000 by 2013. By 2003, there were only 633,729 employees in the public service. i.e. public sector employees except the State Owned Enterprises and State Banks. However, under the government policy framework, the development process has been accelerated and public sector employment also expanded simultaneously since 2004.

Being a conflict affected country, an intensive recruitment of security personnel occurred during the period of 2005-2013. Moreover, 21 percent of the total recruitment is teachers while 17 percent is Development Officers. This policy immensely contributed to minimize the unemployment rate and youth unrest of the country. (KH/SI)

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  “Sri Lanka tourism arrivals increase 20.3% in May 2014”  
 

Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals recorded a growth of 20.3 % in May 2014 compared to the same period in year 2013. During the month of May, 2014 recorded 90,046 tourists arrivals in the country compared to the 74,838 arrived in May 2013 which is highest in foreign tourist history for month of May .

The cumulative total of foreign tourist arrival for first five months of 2014 is 624,178 giving record of a 26.5 percent increase from the 493,294 came during the corresponding period in 2013.

Most of the tourists arrived from Western Europe with 200,605 tourist arrivals in the first five months of this year recording an 18 % increase over corresponding 2013 figures. France recording 31.2% ,Germany 22.6% followed by UK topped the list of Western Europe. Arrivals from South Asia, the other region from where most of the tourists come, increased by 19.4 percent in the year with 145,373 tourists visiting the island while, arrivals from India increased 22.3 percent to 64,327 in May.

 
 

In the first five months of the year 108,867 East Asians arrived in the island, an increase of 51.9 percent. Number of Chinese tourists arriving in the island jumped by an impressive 139.6 percent and recorded 43,885.

Arrivals from Eastern Europe increased 46.6 percent with the arrival of 82,271 tourists. Most of the arrivals from Eastern Europe were from Russia with 36,655 arrivals increasing by 77.4 percent.

Arrivals from North America rose by 12.3 percent with 28,699 visitors for the first five months in the year while Tourist arrivals from Middle East rose in May by 34.8 percent to 5,016 and for the year 28,708 tourists arrived from the region.

Notably Foreign tourist arrival from China reached second highest pushing second traditional market of UK in to third place.

In the first five months of the year, 20,539 Australians arrived in the country, an 11.1 percent increase from the previous year.

Sri Lanka has earned US$ 814.9 million from tourism in the first five months of this year, an increase of 34 percent compared to last year.

Sri Lanka met its tourist arrival target of 1.2 million for the year 2013 with the numbers up by 26.7 percent from the 1,005,605 arrived in 2012 and earning US$ 1.718 billion in 2013.

The Tourism authorities have rolled out a global mega promotional campaign during this year in order to keep the momentum going to achieve 2.5 million tourist arrivals target by 2016 , making Sri Lanka, the emerging Wonder of Asia.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Committee to submit proposals to enhance SriLankan's productivity  
 

A four-member committee has been appointed to submit a report together with proposals to enhance the efficiency and productivity of SriLankan Airlines.

Minister of Civil Aviation Priyankara Jayaratne has appointed Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation Ravindra Ruberu (Chairman), Dr. Rajan Raza, Rohan Fernando and Mohan Rathnayaka to the Committee, with a view to make the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines an economically profitable, efficient service. All members appointed are accountants by profession. (kh/dn)

 
 

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka Ranks 69 in Environment Assessment Index  
 

A significant fact is Sri Lanka has defied global trend in air pollution and has shown no deterioration of the ambient air quality. Despite the steady and sharp increase in the vehicular population, which has seen a 33% increase over the past four years Sri Lanka has prevented any slide in the quality of air. This encouraging achievement is attributed to the stringent vehicle emission testing programme introduced by Legislation in 2008.

The EPI is a collaborative project between the Yale Centre for Environmental Law & Policy (YCELP) and the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University. It is supported by the World Economic Forum.

 
 

The EPI calculates and aggregates 20 indicators that reflect environmental data at the national level of each country. These indicators in turn are combined into nine issue categories, each of which fit in to one of two overarching objectives Environmental Health and Ecosystem vitality.

Environmental Health includes Health Impacts, Air Quality ,Water and Sanitation. The Ecosystem Vitality takes account of Water Resources, Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries, Biodiversity and Habitat, Climate and Energy.

EPI index measures Environmental & Ecosystem Vitality to compare and identify the best protectors and worst offenders of the environment in the world. While health impacts, air quality water and sanitation make up the criteria to measure Environment Health, Ecosystem Vitality is measured by quality of water resources, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat, climate and energy.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka beat England to clinch one day series  
 

Sri Lanka 224-4 (48.2 overs) beat England 219 (48.1 overs) by six wickets.



Sri Lanka eased to a six-wicket victory against England and clinched the one-day series 3-2 after a controversial encounter at Edgbaston. Sri Lanka won with 10 balls to spare thanks to Lahiru Thirimanne's 60.

Lahiru Thirimanne is named man-of-the-match for seeing Sri Lanka home with an unbeaten 60 off 101 balls.

 
 

The man of the series is Lasith Malinga, who has taken seven wickets but, more importantly, has kept England in check at the start and end of their innings in this series. A keenly-fought one-day series came to an end - and it's all set up nicely for the first Test between these sides, which begins at Lord's next Thursday.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi Meet in New Delhi  
 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for bilateral talks this morning at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, where the President was warmly welcomed by the Prime Minister.

The two leaders had an in-depth discussion of issues of mutual concern. President Rajapaksa described the initiatives Sri Lanka has taken with regard to rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction and the ongoing reconciliation process in the country. President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi also discussed the issue of fishermen of both countries and measures that can be taken to find a permanent solution through a process in which the views of fishermen from both countries can be taken into consideration. Both agreed that talks between the fishermen and the meeting of the joint committee of officials must continue.

 
 

Prime Minister Modi expressed his gratitude to President Rajapaksa for participating in his inauguration ceremony, stating that the presence of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) leaders augurs well for the future of SAARC cooperation and solidarity. The Prime Minister was of the view that SAARC must focus on common issues that can benefit the region and reflect our concerns on a global platform.

President Rajapaksa, welcoming the views expressed by Prime Minister Modi, stated that India’s leadership is crucial for the success of SAARC ventures and Sri Lanka looks forward to working with India in taking forward SAARC operations.

The President arrived in New Delhi yesterday (May 26), upon the invitation of Mr. Modi, on a two-day visit to attend the Prime Minister’s swearing-in ceremony.

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Livestock and Rural Community Development Arumugam Thondaman, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Mayor of the Jaffna Municipal Council Mrs. Yogeswaray Patgunarajah, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne and Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in New Delhi Prasad Kariyawasam were present at the meeting

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Pakistan will always support Sri Lanka, Pakistani President Tells President Rajapaksa  
 

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain extended his country’s unwavering support to Sri Lanka when he and President Mahinda Rajapaksa held bilateral discussions in Shanghai, China, this afternoon.

“Pakistan is with you,” President Hussain said. “We have also suffered and still we are suffering from terrorism. Insha Allah, we’d get rid of this menace.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 4th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) that is scheduled to begin tomorrow. President Rajapaksa arrived in the country earlier this morning and is scheduled to speak at the Conference.

 
 

“Pakistan will always support Sri Lanka at international fora,” the Pakistani President said, explaining further that it is because the complaints that are leveled against Sri Lanka “are illogical.”

President Rajapaksa thanked Pakistan for always being supportive of Sri Lanka both during and after the war, including at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“I took a risk,” President Rajapaksa said while explaining the immediate post-war measures the Government adopted. “We released more than 14,000 ex-combatants back into society. I felt that society is the best authority to rehabilitate them. We also released 595 child soldiers back to their parents within one month after the war ended. It was a risk, but it was worthwhile, I think.”

“Hats off to you,” commented the Pakistani President. “It was a tremendous thing. It was a long struggle for your people and your Government. Whatever policies you have adopted, it is evident that they have been successful.”

President Hussain also spoke about Sri Lanka’s support towards Pakistan and elaborated his country’s perception of relations with Sri Lanka.

“The Sri Lankan people and the Government of Sri Lanka have always been supporting us,” President Hussain said. “We have a special feeling towards a few countries.”

The two leaders also discussed reviving cricket tours between the two nations. The Pakistani team is scheduled to play in Sri Lanka later this year, but President Rajapaksa said, “We must go and play there also. We can’t allow the terrorists to have control.”

Other areas discussed included enhancing trade relations. The Pakistani President said that “Sri Lanka is the first country with which we entered (into) a free trade agreement.” But both President Rajapaksa and President Hussain agreed that there is greater scope for increased trade. One option discussed was to exchange business delegations allowing the private sector to explore opportunities.

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, President’s Chief of Staff Mr. Gamini Senarath, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China Mr. Ranjith Uyangoda were also present at the discussion.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Rs. 39 billion for irrigation projects  
 

The government has allocated Rs. 39 billion for irrigation projects. Measures have been taken to address the water issue of the North Western Province, said Irrigation and Water resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. The minister made these observations in response to a question raised by UNP MP Sajith Premadasa in Parliament yesterday. The minister said that the UNP government which allocated only Rs.10 billion for the irrigation sector and did nothing to solve the water issue of the North Western Province has no right to speak about it.

He said that Mahakitula and Maha Kitula tanks have been earmarked for development. He added that 40 percent of the Nalanda Reservoir work is complete. Estimated cost of the project is Rs. 500 million. The minister stated that 40 percent of the Maragahakanda reservoir work is complete and the Kaluganga project has commenced.

 
 

Water of these projects will be supplied to Polonnaruwa soon. Minister Silva said the water supplied to Polonnaruwa will be diverted from Bowatenna to the Kurunegala district.

The minister stated that the Deduru Oya reservoir is constructed with local funds and with traditional irrigation technology. He said those who opposed the project at the outset are commending it now.

The Hakwatunawa project could not be implemented as it would affect 250 families. So, water from the Mahaweli river will be supplied to the Hakwatunawa tank.

The government develops the country while listening to the people's grievances.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Three bridges to be constructed  
 

The construction work of three bridges in the Moneragala electorate commenced, recently.

The project is carried out under the government's rural bridge construction project by the Economic Development Ministry in association with Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd.

Accordingly, the bridge over Hedaoya on Liyangolla - Meegahapitiya road, the bridge over Hulandaoya on Moneragala - Hulandawa Right road and the bridge over the Ranugallaoya on Badalkumbura - Ranugalla road are being constructed.

 
 

Uva Provincial Road Development Minister Kumarasiri Rathnayake told the Daily News that the Economic Development Ministry allocated Rs. 35 million for the construction of each bridge.

A large community including farming families will be benefited with the completion of the project, the minister said.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka "top 10" among emerging economies  
 

Sri Lanka has been identified as a new emerging country among the 10 emerging economies hot on the heels of the countries in the group of BRICS.

A French credit body called Coface which has compared the BRICS countries with emerging countries has said that these emerging countries are accelerating their development and a “top 10” emerges with good production prospects sufficient financing to support expansion of their economies BRICS is an acronym that refers to economic group of Countries that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all of them at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development

"After ten years of frenetic growth" the big five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - the Brics - "are slowing down sharply," the French trade credit and insurance group Coface said.

 
 

In a report entitled "Coface identifies ten emerging countries hot on the heels of the Brics," the organisation said that average economic growth by the Brics this year would be 3.2 percentage points less than the average in the last ten years.

But "at the same time, other emerging countries are accelerating their development," it said.

The growth of emerging economies and the effect this has on world trade flows is closely analysed by economists, because of the huge impact on every aspect of the global economy and power balances.Coface broke the ten new emerging economies it has identified into two groups.

The first comprises Peru, the Philippines, Indonesia, Colombia and Sri Lanka, which it named as a group with various types of new emerging economies.They had "strong potential confirmed by a sound business environment," Coface said.

The second group comprises Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. But these countries are marked by "very difficult or extremely difficult business environments which could hamper their growth prospects," Coface said.

However, the head of country risk at Coface, Julien Marcilly, said that in 2001 "the quality of governance in Brazil, China, India and Russia was comparable to that of Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia today".

But the ten "new emerging countries" currently accounted for only 11.0% of the world population whereas the Brics had accounted for 43% of the population in 2001.

The total gross domestic product of the new 10 was only 70% of the output of the Brics in 2001 and they had a current account deficit of about 6.0% of GDP whereas the Brics had run a surplus on average.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Boost for small scale entrepreneurs  
 

Palmyra production and its by-products are on the rise. Efforts are made for the improvement of coconut related, reed-based, cane-based, handlooms-related and clay-based small industries in the Batticaloa district, said Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda.

The minister was speaking on the occasion of handing over implements to 168 trainees who underwent training in coconut-related products.

About 700 people were trained and implements provided to them at the Batticaloa District Secretariat on Tuesday.

 
 

The ceremony was presided by Batticaloa Government Agent P. S. M. Charles.

The minister said during the conflict, the people depended on others for survival. “After the war, we are trying, under the Divi Neguma scheme, to make people stand on their own feet. By cooperating with the government, we are empowering individuals islandwide,” he said.

They in turn are empowering their families. The families are empowering the society and the nation, the minister said.

Minister Devananda said: “On behalf of the Tamil people, I extend my gratitude to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa for their efforts to uplift the economy and livelihood development activities of the war-affected youths and widows in the Northern and Eastern provinces.”

“You have all rights as anyone else in this country. It is our duty to serve you and take you towards prosperity. All efforts are being made to promote small and middle scale entrepreneurs in the Eastern province,” he added.

Resettlement Deputy Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan is also working hard on these projects, the minister said.

Ministry Secretary T. S. Sivagnanasothy, Coordinating Secretary to Minister Douglas Devananda, former UPFA Parliamentarian K. Thangeswary and Divisional Secretaries of the fourteen secretarial divisions in the Batticaloa District were present.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  This is not a victory of war, but a victory of peace - President at Victory Day Celebrations  
 

Let us determine to live in our Motherland without betraying the freedom won by our war heroes with sacrifices of their eyes, heads, flesh and blood as well as their lives. Remember, they departed to save an undivided nation. They bid farewell to their lives to build a nation where people will live together, said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The President was addressing the nation at the fifth anniversary Victory Day celebrations held this morning in Matara.

 
 

"This is not a victory of war, but a victory of peace. No mercenaries came to fight and sacrifice their lives for peace. It was our armed forces that liberated hundreds of thousands of people kept by the terrorists as hostages" he said. " To celebrate this great victory is a duty of a grateful nation that gives utmost consideration to human values. Hence, irrespective of objections from anyone, irrespective of who participates or not, we should celebrate this great victory forever" President Rajapaksa emphasized.

Full text of the speech: This country was united as a free country on a day like today (May 18), in 2009. Every inch of our country and the two thirds of the coastal line was regained for our mother Lanka on a day like today, exactly five years ago.

Peace, stability, real democracy and every freedom were offered to Sri Lankan people on a day like this. You can see the war heroes who sacrificed their limbs and eyes to gain this victory, are walking in this parade. The officers and other ranks, regiments who joined the humanitarian operation, are also walking along in this parade with their regimental flags.

Today we exhibit you the various kinds of weapons used to defeat the ruthless terrorist. The troops that forged ahead in the battle front, defeating the enemy are walking in this parade. Are not we feel a pride when we witness them? We achieved this victory through the contribution of Tri Forces, Police, Civil Defence Force, Intelligence Services, Buddhist monks who went to camp by camp, chanting pirith to bless soldiers, the Catholic priests, Muslim and Hindu priests and civilians who offered prayers and blessings at their places of worship.

You know that I made your expectations a reality by giving the leadership with great attention and great determination, without any uncertainty, without being conquest by anyone, as the leader of this country as well as the leader of the Armed Forces, according to the mandate people gave me in November 2005, to bring peace to this country, defeating terrorism which engulfed this country for decades.

I believe the victories which Government gained in Presidential Elections, Parliamentary Elections and Provincial Council Elections are the mandates offered us, again and again by the people for executing our duties properly. I categorically state that I will face every challenge against our country in future as I did in the past and as I am doing at present, honouring the people’s confidence.

You are aware that I recognize the issues of the people and find answers to them without any fear. The biggest problem was the terrorism which has been lasting for thirty years. We solved it in a short period of four years. Then the development which has been missing, is now being carried out continuously by us with a long lasting vision.

We didn’t wait until the terrorism to end to build the country. We started developing the East while starting the humanitarian operation to liberate the North. We stared the development in the South. Therefore, the war heroes, after liberating the North came to their villages through the areas with developed infrastructure.

We like to ask the persons who born in the South and joined the armed forces and police at that time whether the same Matara they witness today.

We have build highways, ports, airports, fisheries harbours. We spent millions of rupees to develop infrastructure facilities. We have build new hospitals and improved facilities at most of the existing hospitals. We have provided drinking water. We have established Mahindodaya technology and computer laboratories in 1000 schools. We have taken steps to teach science, mathematics and computer science as well as English and Tamil to school students. We have recruited thousands to the public service. We took steps to make the country self-sufficient in rice. We have improved the production of maize and several other food crops and developed flower, cinnamon, tea and other agricultural crops..

This country that has been freed, belongs to you and your children. We have solved the historical problems faced by the country. Furthermore, the efforts made by us to restore democracy and restore freedom cannot be underestimated. We have succeeded in holding the elections for the Northern Provincial Council and restore democratic rights of the people.

We have liberated the country without imposing media censorship and we even allowed the media to visit the front during the conflict. That freedom has been further strengthened today. If there is any protest against the government anywhere in the country, today the people can witness live without any restriction. When talking about democracy, it should be reminded that one should consider the situation before the elimination of terrorism too.

Today, there is confidence among the people in the world about our Motherland. At that time only 400,000 tourists arrived annually. Now the tourists arrival has gone up to 1.7 million per year. In addition, another 2 million Sri Lankans travel abroad and return to the country annually. Then, the terrorist were to decide if an international game of sports could be held or not by issuing death warnings. We have organized the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting with the participation of 49 countries last year. Recently we hosted the World Conference on Youth. Now Sri Lanka has become a favorite venue for international conferences. The world now recognizes that we have not only the peace but also the strength to host such international gatherings. Similar to raising our national flag, we have also raised our country high.

We do not have anything to hide. Hence, we opened our doors to the world. But some people with vested interests try to use this openness for other purposes. Some people want to pay homage to the burial place of the most ruthless terrorist who killed thousands of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims kept the people as hostages. Nobody wanted to pay respect to thousands of people who were killed under the orders of this terrorist leader.

Nobody wants to remember and pay homage to those who were killed by the LTTE such as Alfred Durayappa, Amirthalingam, Neelan Thiruchelvam, Ravi Raj, Kadirgamar, Sam Thambimuttu and P. Dharmalingam, father of TNA MP, Dharmalingam Siddharthan. They all are victims of terrorism. Those who value peace should pay homage to such people who sacrificed their lives.

Currently, media highlights the kidnapping of Nigerian children by the terrorists. For 30 years, the terrorists abducted many children in Sri Lanka. Over 600 abducted children were rescued by the armed forces during the final stages of the battle. We have handed them over to their parents so that they could go back to school. We took steps to provide them equal facilities as other children of the country. Some countries are blind and deaf to these. They are opposed to our victory day celebrations.

This is not a victory of war, but a victory of peace. No mercenaries came to fight and sacrifice their lives for peace. It was our armed forces that liberated hundreds of thousands of people kept by the terrorists as hostages. To celebrate this great victory is a duty of a grateful nation that gives utmost consideration to human values. Hence, irrespective of objections from anyone, irrespective of who participates or not, we should celebrate this great victory forever.

Today there are recruits to the armed forces from the North. Those who involved in acts of terrorism and killed people and those who left the country due to the treats from the LTTE have joined the diaspora today and their attempts to revive terrorism is the biggest crime against Tamil people in this country. This negligible number of persons who receive dollars are doing a great harm to the country. We have established a Parliamentary Select Committee has been appointed for a dialogue and that is the best forum for discussions on a national issue. It is the duty off all political parties to join this Committee and discuss this.

The Tamil people came to the South for protection, then. Even today most of them live in the South. 58 percent of the Tamil people live outside North.

Our communities want to join. The fear and mistrust lasting 30 years must dispel. We are aware that every year the number of persons visiting North from South increases. This is a new country, which is being built.

It is easier to take decisions when peace and understanding between the communities increase. Solution without peace is temporary. As such some people are trying to wrest this peace.

If you respect those war heroes, you must protect the peace won by them with the sacrifice of thousands of lives.

Remember, they departed to save an undivided nation. They bid farewell to their lives to build a nation where people will live together. Let us determine to live in our Motherland without betraying the freedom won by our war heroes with sacrifices of their eyes, heads, flesh and blood as well as their lives.

Wish you all a bright future!

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 
   

  Batticaloa on the road to prosperity  
 

While the opening of the Manmunaithurai bridge by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last month marked an important milestone in the accelerated development activities for the Batticaloa district, the already completed mega development projects during the years 2009 - 2013 and others in progress from the beginning of this year, would transform the once terrorism-ravaged district to a prosperous region, offering enhanced livelihood facilities and socio-economic development to its 600,000 inhabitants, government sources said.

There has been a marked improvement in the standard of living and income levels of the large number of families who have been living below poverty line, unable to engage in any professional activities or economic activities due to the long drawn out battle against terrorism and restrictions imposed on them by the LTTE, the sources said.

 
 

The fear psychosis widely prevailing among them due to the LTTE terror regime and the ethnic clashes perpetrated by them are tragic memories of a by-gone era and the people are now living in an atmosphere of brotherhood and happiness, engaging themselves in livelihood and economic activities under the development projects implemented by the Government, the sources said.

With maximum facilities extended by the Government in agricultural sector , there has been a marked increase in agricultural productivity and the agricultural families of the 1,000 villages of the district have been provided marketing facilities as well, the sources said. Programs to uplift educational and health facilities to them have been implemented on an unprecedented level while the Ministry of Economic Development has also launched specific programs for their economic development in par with the national development, the sources said.

The vast infrastructure works on road networks already completed include express ways, roads to agricultural areas, fisheries areas, villages and areas under the jurisdiction of the local authorities.

The allocation for the current year to improve the road network in Manmunai North, Kaththankudy, Manmunaipatru, Manmunai West, Eravur Town and Eravurpatru is Rs.208 million, according to the Batticaloa secretariat. Rs.137 million has been allocated to the Kalkudah area for improving road networks in Koralaipatru North, Koralaipatru South, Koralaipatru West, Koralaipatruy Central and Koralaipatru Eravur. Rs.168 million has been allocated for the Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) areas of Manmunai South, Eruvilpatru, Porativupatru and Manmunai Southwest in the Pattiruppu region. Rs.345 million has been allocated for the 345 GS divisions under the 'one program for one village'. Under the 'Dilvi Neguma' program, Rs.60 million has been allocated at the rate Rs.20 million for each constituency.

Around Rs.90 million has been allocated at the rate of Rs.30 million for each constituency for the construction/ rehabilitation of rural roads and bridges. For improving sanitary facilities in schools a total of Rs.18 million has been allocated at the rate of Rs.06 million for each constituency. Several development projects were completed in the recent years encompassing vast sectors including, roads and bridges, irrigation, agriculture, fisheries, livelihood, shelter, education, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and tourism.

The total amount allocated spent is a staggering Rs.54,837.39 miilion. About 58 % percent of it was on roads and bridges, 26 percent on shelter, 8.5 percent on agriculture, 04 percent on education ,0.5 percent on tourism and 0.2 percent on fisheries. Road network having received the largest allocation, 936 Km roads were rehabilitated and 33 small/medium bridges were reconstructed.

Consequently areas which had limited access facilities during the conflict period, now have been connected to all villages, towns and all parts of the country. Roads and bridges linking Chenkalady - Karadiyanaru , Batticaloa - Kokkadicholai and Oddamavady - Vaharai are important landmarks.

These have contributed to improved marketing facilities to the villagers, increased resource availability and less time and transportation cost. In the agricultural sector , 277 irrigation tanks and channels have been rehabilitated, resulting in the extent of cultivation increasing to 98% from 60 % and doubling agricultural productivity from 59,227 Mt to 102,366 Mt.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  WB supports urban services improvement with $ 147 m support  
 

The World Bank said yesterday it approved a credit of $147 million to help rehabilitate basic urban services and improve liveability in two major cities beyond Colombo – Kandy and Galle city regions.

The project seeks to produce a more spatially balanced distribution of economic opportunities, while at the same time reducing congestion in the capital and improving overall liveability.

“Sri Lanka’s Urban Vision is to develop more and better competitive, environmentally sustainable and well-linked cities,” said Françoise Clottes, Country Director Sri Lanka and Maldives. “Well-functioning and productive urban centres are essential to put into motion and support the transformation of the Sri Lankan economy and efforts to translate economic growth into rapid poverty reduction.”

 
 

Known as the Strategic Cities Development Project, it will improve selected urban services and public spaces in Kandy and Galle. The project will focus on improving deteriorated municipal infrastructure and services such as traffic management and public transport, water supply system, and major public spaces in Kandy.

These improvements will enhance liveability for local residents and reduce congestion for commuters employed in the city. The project will also reduce flooding in Galle and create more public spaces to improve the quality of life for residents.

“The most important consideration in the preparation of this project has been the sensitivity to the rich history and culture of both cities and fully understand the way their residents use urban services and spaces when enhancing them,” said Project Leader of the World Bank, Zhiyu Jerry Chen. “This development work will further enhance the attractiveness and liveability of these two cities.”

Kandy and Galle not only have historical significance but also rich cultural and heritage value that needs to be protected and restored. While improving urban services and public spaces, the project will also focus on strengthening institutional capacities and work closely with partners to ensure a sustainable urban development process.

The project will be managed by a Project Management Unit (PMU) under the purview of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.

The PMU will play a critical role in coordinating all agencies and municipalities involved in project implementation, ensuring overall quality and timeliness of investments. In addition, the PMU will provide administrative services to agencies involved in the project.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  USD 3.5 bn investment for SME development  
 

The North was no longer a lagging province and was taking the leadership role in creating growth in the SME sector and in many areas, said Ajith Nivad Cabraal ,Governor Central Bank participating in a inspection tour to Jaffna.

"It is very satisfying to see the marked transformation of the North over the last five years and the massive development that has taken place. A lot has been achieved but there is a lot more to be done to realize the potential of the North," he said.

The SME sector is the backbone of the economy in any country and it is no different in Sri Lanka. Banks and the Central Bank have a great role to play in supporting people's innovative ideas so that they can continue to find ways and means of economic activity.

 
 

The banks have to change their attitudes if SMEs are to succeed. Banks must not think that the SME sector is only about agriculture. They must support agriculture, but at the same time they must support new industries, new enterprises and new skills that are needed by society.

Banks also must find the ways and means of providing the capital as well as loans to enable people to do their business.

"At the Central Bank, we have changed our attitude and we have got a regional development focus which is to promote the SME sector. Every day we are searching for new ways in which we can provide the necessary capital for businesses to run effectively," Cabraal said.

The Government has supported the SME sector and wishes to ensure that the SME sector in all parts of the country is supported very significantly.

To make it easier for people to do business, a lot of investments have been initiated in many areas. Restoration of electricity, doing up the roads, ensuring there are banks and finance companies, ensuring the schools are developed and the other Government services are developed are all part and parcel of improving the infrastructure.

An investment of US$3.5 billion had been incurred to ensure the infrastructure is of a certain standard to support SME development.

That benefit can only be enjoyed if the SME sector grows rapidly in the next few years. SMEs have been invited to make use of these facilities and capital opportunities to do their businesses at a much wider level than before. A lot has been achieved and several new businesses have been started.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Bilateral trade with EU edges to US$ 5 b.  
 

Minister Bathiudeen addressed the second EU-Sri Lanka Trade Dialogue that commenced at Galadari Hotel, Colombo on May 7.

It was organised by the European Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ECCSL), the session, the second in its series since its commencement last year, aims at promoting EU-Sri Lanka bilateral trade further.

"I believe it's a timely initiative for two reasons," said Minister Batbhiudeen, addressing the event, and added, "Firstly, I am confident that, this initiative will help, to identify potential markets, in the EU for, selected products and services, such as IT-BPO, Agro Food and Beverages, Electronics, Gems and Jewelleries, and Rubber and Plastics, while establishing, business collaborations for, mutual benefits.

 
 

In 2013, the total bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and EU, stood at $ 4.9 bn.

Sri Lanka's total exports to the EU market have increased to $ 3.27 billion, in 2013 from US $ 2.7 Bn, in 2009. Even in the first quarter of this year alone exports to EU increased by 16.3% to $ 896 mn.

Simon Bell (Director-ECCSL) addressing the event, said, "Sri Lanka's export value addition has been remarkable and a great success. Often American and European officials are unaware of this."

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Colombo to retain its beauty  
 

As the Urban Development Authority based on the observations of the present urbanisation trends suggests that around 60 percent of the population would be living in urban areas by 2020. Accordingly the average rate of urbanisation in the country during the period 2010 to 2020 would be in the range of 3–4 percent per annum.

Yet, the story before 2009 was totally contradicting. Before a permanent peaceful condition prevailed in the country, the City of Colombo and all other provincial urban centres lost many opportunities to achieve sustainable urban development during the recent past. Threats from terrorism was a huge drawback for many development activities not only in the North and the East but for the entire country.

 
 

Following geo-political changes that took place in the country in May 2009, more attention was paid to the overall development of the country by the Government. Out of which developing the country's commercial hub the Colombo city became a priority. The City of Colombo continued to grow as the prime Commercial Capital of Sri Lanka. If not for the drawbacks we experienced before 2009, the strategic location of Sri Lanka in general and the City of Colombo in particular, located in close proximity to vital international marine transportation routes, would have grown dramatically as the key commercial hub of Asia.

Commercial hub

The present government’s policy framework the Mahinda Chinthana: Vision for Future has correctly recognized these development trends and strengthened the institutional frame work which directly involved the Urban Development Sector and adopted clear strategies to develop Colombo and other important and regional centres of Sri Lanka.

A number of projects were implemented to upgrade the physical condition of the Colombo city based on the garden city concept. A lot of leisure activities for the public have been created providing opportunities to witness real freedom.

The regeneration of the city from its present state to face the new development demands would transform the entire city profile into a different scenario with a huge value addition to the properties while addressing sustainability issues of development. With the limited space being the biggest challenge raising new buildings would be a rare opportunity for development planners. And simultaneously the city icons and its characteristics need to be preserved while the demands of a commercial hub are met.

Under the current Urban Regeneration Program of the Urban Development Authority two iconic buildings of the Colombo city will be renovated and refurbished.

According to a spokesperson from the UDA media unit the former St. John's fish market building and Gaffoor building in Colombo Fort area will be renovated and refurbished making them high tech economic centres of the Colombo Metropolitan area.

Gold centre

The former St. John's Fish market will be upgraded to a gem and jewellery trading centre with 83 shops, banks, restaurants and many other modern facilities. The renovation program already started and the UDA plans to complete the project by mid May of this year.

“At present there is no specific place where a customer or a foreigner can find a collection of gem and jewellery shops. People have to travel to different places in Colombo looking for a good bargain in buying gems and jewelery,” said Assistant Director (Architect), UDA, Avanthi Jayasinghe, who is in charge of the project.

The previous fish market place now turning in to a gold market will be fully equipped with all the related necessary accessories. The building will also include a branch of the Gem and Jewellery Authority for the benefit of the businessmen to certify the quality of the goods they buy. “Money exchangers, banks will also be a part of the complex,” said Avanthi. It will be a modern hitech shopping mall with escalators, public addressing systems, lobby exhibition areas, food courts etc. “The target groups would be couples getting ready to get married and tourists looking for Sri Lankan gems - other than a normal jewelery buyer,” explained Avanthi. Thus the shopping mall will also have branded clothing shops as well for the benefit of the engaged couples.

Sri Lanka Army's Fourth Engineering battalion will take over the construction work under the guidance of the Urban Development Authority.

Gaffoor building

The Gaffoor building, an icon of the Colombo Fort area which was constructed during the colonial era, will be renovated to accommodate several super markets and a hotel. The ground floor will be reconstructed to accommodate six supermarkets.

A hotel with sixty rooms will be built which will belong to the City Hotels Group and the area would be from the first floor to the third. “The initial refurbishing work have already started. But we cannot do it in a rush as we have to keep the old colonial architectural designs in tact. That would be the uniqueness of the building,” said Deputy Director (projects) of the UDA, Lavanya Weerasuriya. who is in charge of the construction work.

“We believe that this building which is more than 100-years-old will be a great tourist attraction considering its architectural value and location,” she said. Plastering and other construction works to hold up the exterior of the building is taking place and around 200–250 persons are involved in the project.“The interior would be modified to accommodate the super markets and the hotel requirements,” she said. Reconstruction works of the Gaffoor building is being taken over by the Navy under the instructions of the UDA.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  "Divi Neguma" - The first Dept. administered by Community organizations  
 

The Divi Neguma Department is the first ever Department which is controlled by an Administrative body appointed by the people and through which an opportunity has been afforded for all its activities to be administered by the Community Organizations, said Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development on Sunday (27).

The Minister was speaking in connection with the commencement of official duties of the department and the Zonal Office I at Battaramulla on Sunday. The Head office of the Department is established at Castle Street, Colombo 03 while six Zonal Offices have been established covering the whole Island.

 
 

Accordingly, these Zonal offices have been established at Battaramulla ( Zone I-Colombo District), at Wariyapola ( Zone II – Kurunegala District), at Peradeniya (Zone -III- Kandy District) at Buldjens Road ( Zone 4-Hambantota District) , at Meththa Mawatha( ( Zone-V- Anuradhapura District) and at Mannar ( Zone – VI-Vavuniya District) respectively. Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa declared open the Head Office and Zone I office today while the other Zonal Offices were declared open by the relevant additional Director Generals under the auspices of regional political leadership. Participating at the inauguration ceremony, Minister Basil Rajapaksa stated,

"Today is a very happy day for me. Since today is my birthday as well, I wonder how painful it would have been for my mother at my child birth. I had to undergo such difficulties to form this department. Not only it was painful, but His Excellency the President obtained the approval for this at greate risk. I think, the Ministers are aware, how difficult it was to get the approval, if not for His Excellency. I had to establish this Department to honor a promise given during the tenure of office by Minister Pavitha Wannniarachchi, who had promised with the concurrence of His Excellency, to make all the employees permanent and grant them pensionable status. This was a very big challenge. However, we also realize that while doing this, something similar should be done for all the beneficiaries in the country as well. That is why we established this department."

"The Departmental system is introduced by Britain to control the countries under colonialism. This departmental system exists in these countries. Under this system, while controlling the country, they managed to send across all the resources of the country to their Queen. Departments like Audit Department were established for the purpose of collecting taxes from the people in time. We also had to go to courts when the relevant Act was presented, deviating from this system. I explained that this is not a department of the traditional system, but a department intended for the benefit of the people of the country. Those who instituted legal action and those in the courts did not understand this simple truth. It is our own employees who instituted legal action, irrespective of those who passed judgments. This department came to light in such a painful situation", the Minister added.

"Today I am very happy having been involved in this process. If we are to achieve complete success, we will have to visit every village, every household in order to find redress for the people, thereby converting them as the real administers of the department. Therefore my earnest request to you is to fullfill their requirements. At the same time, I undertake to fulfill your requirements if any. . I will undertake to look after the future of the employees. However, I cannot do things in my way alone. There is Public Service Commission. There are circulars. There are Trade Unions. All have to adhered to.

"There is a works force of more than 30,000 in this department. In my Ministry there are more than 100,000 employees. They have a great responsibility to work towards upliftment of the people. We need around 18 billion for their salaries alone. Around nine billion is needed to pay the newly appointed Economic Development Officers. So, do not fail in your duty. I have great confidence in you.

"This department has three pillars. First is the departmental officials, running down from the Director General. To make matters easy, we have established 06 zones, taking into consideration the geography of the country as well as economic patterns of the people. From the beginning we have decentralized the power. There are six heads of Departments. This was done in order to distribute power, when handling a project of such magnitude. Second is the CBO structure. This has representations from village level to a National Congress level. This is the first time an administering body has been included in the department over and above the Head of the Department. This is the only department in the country which is administered by the community. Therefore it is close to the people, controlled by the Community Based Organizations. Samurdhi Officer is not an administrator but a facilitator. This is similar to our co-operative system. We should allow the people to run the department. We have only to guide them and provide facilities.

"Third is the Micro Finance network. Success of any organization depends on the financial management. Rural poverty is the result of non existence of a financial power. When compared with the richest people in Colombo, the villager is in a more stronger position. This is not a commercial bank. It is a bank of the community. I do not wish to open a commercial bank with hard earned money of the poor people as a capital. "This is a turning point in the lives of the Sri Lankan people. Main responsibility of the Divineguma Department is to fulfill every requirement of the people. Presently our economic growth rate has gone up to 7.3%. I have received a letter from an European country saying Sri Lanka is heading the list of five best countries for investment. Therefore I am happiest person in the country. His Excellency the President has change the trajectory of the country. Everybody has worked with devotion. I expect the same devotion in the future too.

Peoples Representatives including Senior Minister A.H.M.Fowzie, Minister of Power & Energy Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Indika Bandaranayake, Member of Parliament, Duminda Silva, Provincial Health Minister Hector Bethmage and a host of senior state officials including R.A.A.K.Ranawka, Director General of the Divineguma Department were among the large gathering on this occasion.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka and Bahrain sign three MoUs to further strengthen ties  
 

Sri Lanka and Bahrain signed three Memorandums of Understanding yesterday on sports, culture and arts, and another between the University of Colombo and the University of Bahrain.

The agreements aim to further collaboration and strengthen the relations between the two countries.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was received at the Al-Sakhir Palace by the King of Bahrain His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Kalifa and other high-level Bahraini officials.

 
 

Prior to the signing, President Rajapaksa received a warm welcome at the Palace.

President Rajapaksa said that this visit being the first ever state visit of a Sri Lankan President is an indication of the "warmth and maturity of the relationship between our two countries."

During bilateral discussions, the two leaders discussed a number of matters of mutual interest while also expressing the mutual support of the two countries in the international arena.

"The leadership of the President is well-known." King Hamad told members of his delegation "He has done a good job for the stability of the region."

Sri Lanka and Bahrain established formal diplomatic relations in 1992 and a new Sri Lankan mission was established in the capital Manama in February 2013.

The strengthening of relations between the two countries is evident politically and economically.

In 2009, Sri Lanka hosted the Prime Minister on a two-day visit during which the Prime Minister donated $1 million to reconstruction work in the North.

Economically, trade between Sri Lanka and Bahrain has seen an increase from $7.3 million in 2003 to $34.9 million in 2013.

The Sri Lankan delegation at the bilateral discussions included External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera, Labour and Labour Relations Deputy Minister Sarath Weerasekara, Western Provincial Councilor Nowzer Fowzie, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Bahrain Anura Rajakaruna along with members from the business delegation were present on the occasion.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  SLT inks $ 415 m ICT investment deal with BOI.  
 

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the flagship national ICT solutions provider and premier broadband services and backbone infrastructure operator, announced yesterday that the company has received flagship status from the Board of Investment (BOI) after committing a total investment of $ 415.44 million to undertake telecommunication, information technology, broadband and infrastructure expansion in the country within the next two years.

On Wednesday, 23 April, the company entered into this landmark multi-million dollar telecom investment agreement with the BOI. BOI Sri Lanka Chairman Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera and SLT Group Chairman Nimal Welgama signed on behalf of the two organisations in the presence of SLT Group CEO Lalith De Silva.

 
 

This investment agreement will encompass the expansion of multi-faceted national ICT infrastructures: Internet Data Centres (IDCs), voice services, enterprise and wholesale services, high speed broadband services, Peo TV expansion, fibre optic network expansion, 4G LTE expansion, international connectivity, Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and Wi-Fi wireless broadband projects. The SLT Group has invested over $ 1.3 billion in telecommunication service provisioning since coming under the BOI umbrella in 2007, which includes the total value commitment of this new agreement; and the overall investment the group has made throughout its entire 150-year span which is enormous in terms of magnitude. Since obtaining BOI approval in 2007, SLT has invested in excess of Rs. 57 billion/$ 485 million to improve the country’s telecommunication infrastructure.

Welgama commented: “Investments made by SLT towards the country for a period of over 150 years have placed Sri Lanka as well as our country’s entire ICT sector at the forefront of the region by facilitating multi-faceted ICT solutions to the nation and helping to increase its strategic geographical advantage. We are indeed humbled by the confidence placed in us by the GoSL and BOI.” Dr. Jayaweera said: “We are happy to see the initiatives taken by Sri Lanka Telecom to change the techno-landscape of the country, and play a major role as the facilitator of investments into our country and I take my hat off to the SLT team. We need this kind of development to take our country’s economy to $ 100 billion GDP within the next couple of years in line with the GoSL’s economic goals. We believe that major developments like this will take this country to the next stage of development. This will bring many more benefits in its wake, including other indirect investments and more FDI streaming to the country, etc. The BOI is very glad that we can be the initiators and we are ready to assist Sri Lanka Telecom and any other investor.”

De Silva commented: “This is a very important milestone for Sri Lanka Telecom and the entire country. We strive to meet the needs and wants of a large private sector, Government sector, SMEs and micro businesses as well as individuals and endeavour to provide world class ICT services and technologies which will certainly catalyse national development in the years to come. This new investment planned by SLT to establish the country’s ICT infrastructure will lead towards Sri Lanka being attractive for investments and conducive towards overall economic growth in the future.

“The company has undertaken to continuously upgrade infrastructure and has extended its reach to ensure convenience and enhancement of lifestyles of our entire nation. We are proud to play this lead role in strengthening the country’s ICT infrastructure to achieve the country’s vision of transforming Sri Lanka into the ‘Wonder of Asia’ with the great support extended to us by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka.” Soon after the end of the conflict, SLT was at the forefront to rebuild and restore the national telecommunication infrastructure in the cleared areas of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country.

The Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) has entrusted SLT with the task of building the National Telecommunication Backbone Network (NBN) to provide high speed connectivity, with highest redundancy and uninterrupted access to services to all telecommunication service providers in Sri Lanka.

With all these endeavours SLT will be a catalyst for change and transformation in Sri Lanka and thereby truly unite the entire nation as ‘one country, one voice’.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  To be ready for 2015 holiday season US$ 25 m cable car, ice skating rink in Mahagastota  
 

For the first time in Sri Lanka, MLM Associates will be designing and constructing an ice skating rink in conjunction with the cable car project which was set to be erected in Nuwara Eliya between Lake Gregory and Mahagastota. The entire project will be completed at a total investment of US $25 million.

The cable car project was due to be completed in April this year but due to difficulties and a lack of support from the Forest Department in the clearing of lands for the construction of permanent structures, the project had to go through a complete redesign.

Due to the redesign of the project and plans to introduce the ice rink along with a gym and a hot water swimming pool, the company was able to bring down the return ticket price from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 700.

 
 

“We are awaiting the clearance of land in Single Tree Mountain to be approved within the next two months in order to be able to work on the permanent structures as the project will also include a luxury hotel. We are currently under discussions with the Land Reforms Commission (LRC) in this regard. With the cable cars, the installation and operation will hopefully be completed by April 2015,” Milanka Gajanayake, Executive Director, MLM Associates said.

The project is being segmented into three phases that would extend to nearly 7.5 km, with the first phase pulling out from Lake Gregory to Single Tree Mountain with an investment of US $ nine million alone.

The cable cars would be dual powered; solar and wind and each cabin would have the capacity for 15 persons. Over 750,000 visitors travel to Nuwara Eliya each year and there is hope of attracting 70% of these travellers and holidaymakers for rides on the cable car.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Hambantota FTZ to be ready by June  
 

The Ruhunu Magampura Port is now turning out to be a major transshipment hub fulfilling one of its prime objectives. A $550 million tax-free port zone is being set up outside the port, with local and international companies expressing interest in setting up shipbuilding, ship-repair and warehousing facilities in the zone. Two ships carrying loads of vehicles at the harbour are seen.

 
 

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  SriLankan signs MRO deal with IndiGo  
 

SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka announced the signing of a long term Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) agreement with InterGlobe Aviation Limited (“IndiGo”) , India’s fastest growing low-cost airlines with the largest market share, consisting of a fleet of 78 Airbus A320 aircraft flying 482 daily flights to 36 destinations.

The agreement, comes into effect from 1 April 2014, and will see SriLankan Airlines’ Engineering Division carry out ‘C’ checks on IndiGo’s entire Airbus fleet.

 
 

SriLankan, which has been providing such MRO services to IndiGo since February 2009 on an annual contract basis, reached the impressive milestone of completing the 100th IndiGo ‘C’ check in January this year.

SriLankan Airlines Head of Engineering, Priyantha Rose attributed SriLankan Engineering’s excellent maintenance track record and relationship with IndiGo over the last five years to the success of the new agreement, which was awarded on a competitive basis.

“We have developed an excellent relationship with the IndiGo management in the last five years and the selection of SriLankan to continue to provide maintenance services was aided in no small part by a meeting of the leadership of both airlines which took place late last year in Delhi, as part of initiatives to expand the scope of services and mutual cooperation in the areas of flight training, GSA networks and other areas in the Aviation field.”

The agreement which will secure a multi-million dollar revenue for SriLankan over the long duration of the agreement, comes at a time when the Government of Sri Lanka is focusing on promoting the country as an aviation hub, in line with the ‘Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future’, and aviation services as a key economic development that demonstrates the market-based viability of constructing MRO, Training and other related infrastructure facilities at the country’s second international Airport Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) in Hambantota, which celebrated its first year of operations in March this year. The commitment to by the Government to build the new MRO facility will also give a much needed boost as a strategic investment in the country’s Deep South hub and will contribute enormously towards increased employment thereby assisting the country’s already impressive economic development.

Speaking further on the benefits of the MRO agreement to the country, SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena said: “This agreement stands as confirmation of the level of trust SriLankan Engineering has always maintained among its partners and the efficiency of world class service offerings it has maintained in its 30 year long history of operations. In addition, with Sri Lanka fast moving ahead in terms of developing itself as a hub for air and sea transport, this agreement will kick start the MRO operations at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport which will deliver the same high quality and efficiency. SriLankan Airlines remains committed to helping see the vision set out by the Government to develop the five economic metro regions of Sri Lanka, come to fruition. This agreement will not only bring about increased foreign investment and exchange, but it will also boost both the opportunities and need for skilled labour in order to facilitate this agreement with IndiGo.”

SriLankan Airlines Engineering, with a staff of 600 highly trained, qualified and dedicated Engineers, Technicians and Support staff, has a proven track record in aircraft maintenance, having provided industry recognised quality maintenance services to state-of-the-art technology Aircraft, for the past two decades. Its specialities lie in servicing and repair of airframes, engines, component maintenance and inventory management, Base Maintenance services in Colombo, up to and including Aircraft Overhaul, along with its satellite operations located in South India and Male, enabling it to provide line maintenance support at important locations in the region.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka Has Achieved a Lot, Korean Envoy Tells President Rajapaksa  
 

During a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on April 21 evening at Temple Trees, Special Envoy and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Mr. Yu Myung-hwan said, “Sri Lanka has achieved a lot” since the war ended.

“The integration of former LTTE soldiers and the very swift return of internally displaced persons” are two examples Mr. Myung-hwan cited as the post-war progress that can be seen in the country. He further stated that the government is to be commended for conducting the first ever election to the Northern Provincial Council in a free and fair manner as well as establishing the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons.

 
 

President Rajapaksa said he is waiting for the report of the Commission to consider what further action may be required. The President also encouraged the visiting special envoy to visit the Northern Province.

“You should visit that area to see the development,” President Rajapaksa said. “We gave more preference to the North in development than the South.”

Mr. Myung-hwan reiterated his government’s support to Sri Lanka and its commitment to maintaining strong bilateral relations. “We will do our best to help your government to develop,” he said Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne was present at the meeting.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka’s economy to grow 7.8%, Sustained momentum in construction, manufacturing sectorsy  
 

The Central Bank has estimated that the $ 67 billion economy would grow at 7.8 percent this year. The Central Bank has cut the repurchase rate by 125 basis points (bps) and reverse repurchase rate by 175 bps between December 2012 and January 2014 to stimulate economic growth, which picked up to 7.3 percent last year from 6.3 percent in the previous year.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan economy is poised for a stronger performance with the recovery observed in the external sector, sustained momentum in construction and manufacturing sectors and with monetary aggregates performing as expected, and inflation remaining low and stable, stated the Central Bank in its Monetary Policy Review.

 
 

Gross official reserves are estimated to be around US dollars 8.0 billion as at end February 2014, which is equivalent to 5.3 months of imports. The reserve levels are expected to further improve with the proceeds of the US dollars 500 million sovereign bond issuance in April 2014, the Bank said.

The Central Bank also decided to maintain the Standing Deposit Facility Rate and the Standing Lending Facility Rate of the Central Bank unchanged at their current levels of 6.50 percent and 8.00 percent. Inflation remained low for March 2014 recording 4.2 percent, unchanged from the previous month, while core inflation increased marginally to 3.4 percent in March from 3.1 percent in February 2014, the Bank added.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Explore Investment Opportunities In Sri Lanka - Malaysian HC  
 

Sri Lanka offers immense opportunities for Malaysian investors, especially in infrastructure development, Malaysia's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Azmi Zainuddin said.

The Sri Lanka government is determined to attract investments to the country after the end of the 30-year-long civil war in 2009, he said.

"Malaysian companies have always been here, even during the war, especially in the telecommunications and infrastructure segment. Now there are more opportunities available and we should take advantage of it," he said.

Among others, the hospitality industry is booming is Sri Lanka, he said.

 
 



Malaysia should capitalise on its good bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka to have a bigger presence in the country, he said.

He said people-to-people ties are also good, with tourist arrivals from Sri Lanka reaching 64,051 last year, a two per cent increase from 62,821 in 2012.

This year, Tourism Malaysia expects a total of 70,000 tourists from Sri Lanka.

According to reports, Malaysia's private sector investment in Sri Lanka to date has topped US$1.5 billion.

According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, bilateral trade in 2013 between both countries stood at US$577.66 million, with exports from Sri Lanka at US$44.92 million and imports at US$532.74 million.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Traditional Industries promoted through Divi Neguma  
 

Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises that saw a complete destruction during the period of the armed conflict are now fast developing in the North with the massive investment by the Government to improve these industries, Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda said in Kilinochchi.

The Minister said that Kilinochchi district was one of the most affected areas in the Northern Province during the conflict , but the unfailing efforts and massive investment on the part of the Government within the past 5 years, had put the development of the traditional, small and medium scale industries which had to be started from a scratch on fast track.

 
 

The Minister said that any service of his ministry was available to anyone who desired assistance in whatever the way the need.

Minister said so at a recently held ceremony at Kilinochchi district Secretariat to mark the distribution of industrial implements to those who underwent training, conducted by "Divi Neguma" program.

The Minister also said that the 98 trained in Palmyrah based industries by the Palmyrah Development Board and the 33 trained in diverse disciplines of industry by the Industrial Development Board needed to make endeavours to produce high quality products.

"If they can produce high quality products the marketing of the items would not be a problem for them and it will help improving their living standards also", he added.

He said any help needed concerning quality improvements to their products could be obtained from the officials of the National Crafts Council.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  President opened new building complex, South Eastern University  
 

President Mahnda Rajapaksa declared open the building complex of the Management and Commerce Faulty built at a cost of 260 million rupees. It has been constructed as a fully equipped building. Thereafter the President declared open the library building named after the founder of the Eastern University, late leader of the Muslim Congress M.H.M. Ashroff.

The building has cost 200 million rupees. The President inspected the Museum built adjacent to the library, which displays traditional cultural values. The President was presented with the first membership card of the Ashroff Memorial Library. Thereafter the Information and Management Network of the library was vested in the students.

 
 

The President exchanged views with the academics and the students. Parliamentarians, University Grants Commission Chairperson, Ksanika Hirimburegama, Vice Chancellor Dr. S.M. Mohamed Ismail were present on the occasion.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  President opens Manmunai Bridge in Batticaloa  
 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa vested with the people the Manmunai Bridge Saturday marking another milestone in the country's development.

The bridge which is the first east-west land connection across the Batticaloa lagoon on Colombo-Batticaloa A-4 road via Pothuvil , has been constructed through a 1,206 million Japanese Yen (close to Rs. 2 billion) grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The 210m long bridge fulfills a long felt need of the people in the Eastern Province. Before construction of the bridge the access between the west and east was by a small ferry. During the rainy season due to floods the ferry service comes to a halt and the people have to travel about 30km to access the other side.

 
 

The new bridge will ease the burden of transport and the farmers as well as the traders will immensely benefit.

The project was implemented by the Road Development Authority (RDA) of the Ministry of Ports and Highways in cooperation with JICA. The Manmunai Bridge construction commenced in 2012, and it marks 60 years of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Japan.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 
   

  Sri Lanka's First Automated Micro Cars production line opened  
 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated Sri Lanka's first automated motor vehicle production line of Micro Cars at the Polgahawela Industrial Zone on Saturday (19)..The President thereafter inspected the production including the hi-tech welding plant.

Also ,the Chairman of Micro Cars Dr. Lawrence Perera presented to the President a Micro van which is the latest model of Micro vehicles. It is expected to export these Sri Lankan manufactured Micro Vehicles to Bangladesh and at the ceremony the Chairman officially handed over the documents of the first consignment of vehicles to the President.

 
 

International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister and Deputy Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen were present at the ceremony.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 
   

  WB tips Lanka to lead South Asia’s growth  
 

The World Bank expects Sri Lanka to lead South Asia in economic growth this year benefitting from recent rebound and enhanced capacity but the country faces many risks to the positive outlook.

“Sri Lanka would continue to grow at 7.3% this year as the economy was sustained by new capacity from infrastructure investments and rebuilding after the country’s recent conflict,” the World Bank said in its twice-a-year ‘South Asia Economic Focus’ released yesterday.

Forecast of 7.3% in 2014 for Sri Lanka is far above South Asia average of 5.2% as well as estimate for India of 5.7%, Pakistan’s 4%, Nepal’s and Maldives’ 4.5%, 5.4% of Bangladesh and 3.2% by Afghanistan.

 
 

The World Bank said the stronger momentum of activity projected for the second half of 2013 will also lead to stronger carry-over into 2014 for Sri Lanka.

“This growth is supported by an increase in capacity from new infrastructure investments and rebuilding. But a relatively protracted recovery in high-income countries and tightening of international financial conditions will constrain a more robust rebound for Sri Lanka within the forecast horizon,” the World Bank added.

It said South Asia in general appeared to have largely recovered from last year’s financial turmoil caused by changes in US Federal Reserve monetary policy. Many were rebuilding currency reserves while curbing current account deficits. But these successes on the external side were accompanied by looming problems in the domestic economy. Economic growth could be held back by unstable banking sectors, inflation, fiscal deficits and debt, and persistent shortfalls in energy and transport infrastructure across the region.

“Now that external pressures are waning, it’s time to refocus on addressing problems within the economies in South Asia so that countries can boost growth and reduce poverty,” said South Asia Chief Economist Martin Rama. “The good news is that across South Asia there is a growing momentum in support of reforms to increase growth because governments recognize this is the best way to overcome poverty.”

On Sri Lanka, the World Bank report said risks to the outlook include maintaining fiscal consolidation, the precarious financial position of CEB and CPC, weathering global commodity prices, declining exports-to-GDP and managing the economic fundamentals in the face of currency fluctuations of major trading partners. The three primary challenges to foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka, according to the World Bank are 1) policy uncertainty and inconsistency with respect to macroeconomic and trade and industrial policy 2) administrative, bureaucratic and organisational constraints and 3) relatively high production costs.

With regard to precarious financial position of CPC and CEB, the World Bank report said a drought in 2014 would increase the already-substantial losses of the CEB. Inadequate rainfall increases the cost of electricity generation because it is produced by furnace oil rather than hydropower. The unresponsiveness of electricity tariffs to changing conditions has already undermined the viability of the CEB. As a result of its higher dependence on thermal power, the CEB’s operating loss would increase. This would trigger further below-cost provisions of furnace oil by the CPC to the CEB increasing the CPC’s losses as well.

The greater the losses of the CEB the more it undermines private-sector credit growth and by extension, investment and GDP growth. The situation could be aggravated by the Government having to transfer additional resources to bolster the balance sheets of these two State-owned corporations – a substantial fiscal cost.

Increased administered prices to cover the losses of the CPC and CEB could have temporary inflationary impact and reduce overall consumption expenditure.

World Bank also said rising global oil prices and depreciation of the rupee could put pressure on prices. It noted that given the growth in two key export sectors – tea and apparel remains stagnant, there is a risk that there will be a continued decline in the exports to GDP ratio. “There needs to be a new thrust towards diversification of both product and export markets to ensure that the trade balance remains manageable,” the World Bank said.

Impact from the depreciation of the Indian Rupee was also highlighted. “Further depreciation of the Indian Rupee could reduce FDI inflows and tourist arrivals from India and inhibit Sri Lankan exports to India,” World Bank said.

India represents the single largest trading partner and the single largest source of tourist arrivals. India is also the single largest source of imported goods and depreciation would likely drive up imports from India thereby inflicting further deterioration in the trade balance.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  New US$ 3 m chemicals company at Biyagama Zone  
 

The BOI signed an agreement with S &D Chemicals (Pvt) Ltd., a company specialized in the manufacturing of Industrial chemicals used in the textile industry as well as polymers for textile processing, coatings and water treatment operations.

This new project will have a total value of US$ 3 million. The company will employ 100 staff including 25 highly skilled local and overseas chemical engineers and industrial chemists. With such a skilled work force, this company whose manufacturing plant will be located at the BOI Export Processing Zone at Biyagama, will be engaged in a high technology area of production.

 
 

The investor, Dayantha de Silva, a qualified chemist with postgraduate qualifications in polymer science said :"This is the first time in Sri Lanka that a company will be manufacturing the full range of products needed for textile processing and wet processing of garments. The Company also has foreign offices in Bangladesh, Maldives and Vietnam and buyers in India, Oman and Dubai.

"We are also excited about the possibility of exporting our products in the region and our target is to become a leading manufacturer of textile axillaries, polymers, dispersing aids and polymeric coatings for different substrates in the region.In the future we are planning to diversify into other chemicals applications as well."

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Banking sector poised for growth  
 

Local banking sector is expected to record a considerable growth in market earnings from December 2014 to March 2015 to between 11 to 13 percent despite a sharp drop in interest rates and a slow and gradual pickup in the economy.

Banking, energy and manufacturing sector earnings lead from the front and expect returns to record an upwardtrend towards medium to long term in line with expected growth in earnings in the sector, Softlogic Equity Research reported.

The banking sector is expected to take centrestage in the December quarter due to high performance, which trend is expected to continue.

 
 

However the heavy capital gain in NDB during the previous year (December 2012) has blurred the overall outlook of earnings during the December 2013 quarter signalling a completely negative outcome, the report states. Excluding the one off exceptional performance in the NDB, which expected earnings to be flat during December 2013 / March 2014 E which is a further downgrade from our previous forecast in the last quarter. It is said that policy rate cut was implemented which has resulted in a slow and steady decline in interest rates in the market. Amidst, lower interest rates, rising consumer demand and strong growth in exports. The sector expect a healthy growth in market earnings during Dec 2014E / Mar 2015E earnings to 11 percent to 13 percent, its sources said.

Banking Finance and Insurance sectors show a 40 percent year on year dip which weighed down overall earnings performance reasoned by significant earnings dips in selected banks and finance companies due to impairment components hampering bottom line growth.

The notable earnings dip of 94 percent year on year in National Development Bank's earnings due to a one-off capital gain in the corresponding quarter was an added negative contributor.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  New engineering faculties to be opened in Colombo, Jaffna, Kelaniya, J’pura universities  
 

New engineering faculties would be opened in the Colombo, Jaffna, Kelaniya and Sri Jayewardenepura universities in the coming years to cope with the engineers shortage in the country, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairperson, Prof. S. S. M. K. Kshanika Hirimburegama said yesterday.

Addressing an MoU signing ceremony to introduce a local engineering degree under the newly founded Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC) at the UGC auditorium in Colombo, Prof. Hirimburegama said that Sri Lanka was facing a severe shortage of engineers in view of the country’s rapid development since the end of the war.

 
 

Opening up new engineering faculties would also tempt more students to study engineering subjects, she added.

Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama said that plans were underway to establish a virtual campus of the Colombo University in Hambantota by 2016 to provide more technological education for students.

Unlike the traditional subjects, modern and practical subjects would be available in those universities to produce more engineers, he added.

Statistics revealed that there was a growing demand for engineers in the fields of industrial, thermal and power, naval and marine engineering, he said.

According to the Higher Education Ministry, at present, Moratuwa, Ruhuna, Peradeniya and South Eastern universities have engineering faculties. The Moratuwa University annually produced only 125 civil engineers and 100 information technology engineers.

There are also plans to expand the existing engineering faculties in the country.

At present, engineering, physical science, computer science, Information and Communication Technology, Transport and Logistics, Statistics and Mathematical Finance, Management and Information Technology are some engineering courses available at national universities.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Lanka Fastest Next to China - UK FT  
 

Sri Lanka's economy grew at a rate of 7.2 per cent over the past financial year, making the island one of Asia's fastest-growing markets after China, states the Financial Times of London in an article.

The successful issuance of a sovereign bond suggests that no extraneous factors deterred investors against a backdrop of heightened appetite for the emerging market and frontier debt, according to Murtaza Jafferjee, the head of brokerage JB Securities in Colombo.

 
 

The South Asian country sold $500m of five-year debt on Tuesday with a coupon of 5.125 per cent - its lowest to date - and attracted more than $4bn in orders. Interest was particularly strong from US investors, who took up almost half the deal the Financial Times states.

In January, Sri Lanka raised $1bn in a separate sovereign issue, offering a five-year bond with a 6 per cent yield at a time of growing worries over emerging and frontier markets as the US Federal Reserve rolls back its ultra-easy monetary stance.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Massive profits earned by sugar factories post take over  
 

The Sevanagala and Pelwatte sugar factories recorded a massive profit of Rs. 14,860 million in 2013 after these companies were taken over by the government.

These companies were sold by the UNP government to a close friend for a song. These companies were taken over by the government on November 11, 2011 fulfilling another pledge in the Mahinda Chinthanava policy framework. Over Rs. 297 million derived from the company’s profits in 2013 were distributed among the employees and the farmers at the Sevanagala and Pelwatte sugar factories.

 
 

The Sevanagala Sugar factory had savings running into Rs. 300 million and sugar and spirit stocks to the value of Rs. 150 million when the company was sold to a friend of the then UNP government only for Rs. 550 million. The total value of the loan granted to the employees and farmers was Rs. 120 million at that time.

The company management gave more prominence to the production of spirits than sugar and the sugar production of the company which was 24 ,396 MT in 2002 dropped to 6,000 MT by 2011.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Newly constructed Ranpokunugama Divi Naguma Public Fair vested on the public  
 

The newly constructed Ranpokunugama Divi Naguma Sathi Pola was declared open by Mrs. Pushpa Rajapaksa, Attorney at Law and Chairperson of the Liya Abhiman Organization on 6th April 2014.

Under the guidance of Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development Divi Naguma Sathi Pola development programme has been initiated throughout the country. As per the instructions of Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, funds are provided by the Ministry of Economic Development for this Sathi Pola Development project.

 
 

Sarana Gunawardena, Deputy Minister of Petroleum Industries, Provincial Council Member Upul Mahendra Rajapaksa, Priyantha Pushpa Kumara, Act. Chairman of the Atthanagalla Pradeshiya Sabha, Government officials and a large number of people were presented at the opening ceremony.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  7 P.C Growth Stability Until 2050  
 

Speaking at the launch of 2013 Central Bank Annual Report at the Central Bank premises yesterday, President Rajapaksa stressed that the present economic stability will remain until 2050 and plans should be formulated accordingly.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said plans should not be formulated targeting 2020. He said he was presented a plan aiming at increasing tourist arrivals by one million by 2016 which he did not accept.

 
 

“I stressed that this target should be increased or otherwise I will not accept it,” he said. He said though the economy has grown at a rate of six to seven percent per annum, the government is determined to further accelerate growth.

“I believe in stability for faster economic growth. If there is turmoil, growth cannot be maintained at a steady rate. Now that there is peace and stability, we have achieved an average economic growth

of over seven percent during the last five years,” he said.

Pointing out that unemployment had dropped to 4.4 percent in 2013, President Rajapaksa said some entrepreneurs wanted the government to relax visa regulations to allow them to recruit foreign workers.

“I did not agree to that, though I am aware that some foreigners come on tourist visas and work in some factories,” he said.

President Rajapaksa said education has been diversified to suit the job market, which has resulted in the drop in unemployment.

“There are many vocational training institutions all over the country now. When I was a student there was only one A Grade school in the Hambantota district while there were 37 in the Jaffna district. Our aim is to provide equal opportunities to all,” he said.

Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Ministers Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga and secretaries to ministries and officials were present.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Hambanthota reaching maritime hub status  
 

The Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MRMRP) in Hambantota, has services rendered at present with that of the highest quality.

The expansions taking place with the oncoming massive development activities around this port, that include the tank farm, the green port city and free zones providing tax havens and bunkering facilities, are sure to realize a long term dream of the vessels sailing in the Indian Ocean, and those involved in the field of Supply Chain Management as well. In the future the port will predominantly operate as a transshipment port .

 
 

In a special note on the port's continued developments, Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Dr.Priyath B.Wickrama stated that when the project was initiated in 2010, many challenged that the location with a hard rock bed would never be ideal and definitely be fatal to the long existence of the port. "Actually, there wasn't any rock but a mere cliff that obstructed the constructions and that cliff no longer exists," he says.

During the official visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to China in 2007, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of bilateral friendship between the People's Republic of China and Sri Lanka, special negotiations were held with the Chinese President Hu Jintao to obtain financial assistance to construct the MRMRP.

Signing of Financial Agreement for the MRMR Port Development Project was held on the October 30, 2007, at Temple Trees under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The constructions commenced on January 15, 2008.

The feasibility study for the construction of Magam Ruhunupura Port was carried out by M/s. SNC Lavolis Canadian International Company and the basic designs were prepared by the Denmark Rambol Company in the year 2005.

Under Stage - I, of the project the West Breakwater of 988 m, the East Breakwater of 312 m, a ships terminal of 600m, a service terminal of 105 m, an oil terminal of 610 m, a ships turning circle of 600 m were constructed with a basin draught of 17 m, and a Port Access Canal that consists of a width of 210 m and a draught of 17m. The deepen land area instage I - was 43 ha. enabling to facilitate 100,000 DWT capacity ships.

"By now the second phase of the port has been completed up to 45%. Anyone who has any doubt of the development of this port can come and see the developments going on for himself with no interference. The port also possesses a huge potential and a growing capacity to overtake even the port of Colombo in a future day," Dr.Priyath B. Wickrama - Chairman of SLPA states.

As an effective measure to ease the long berthing delays experienced by Roll on Roll off vessels at the Port of Colombo, SLPA, with the consultation of shipping lines and importers decided to route all such vessels to the Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port and the first Ro-Ro vessel operation at the port was carried out on 06th June 2012. Commencement of RO-RO operations at Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port expressed itself as a dedicated and reliable facility for international maritime transportation in the region. This new move enabled to reduce congestion over Colombo, introducing a quicker clearance system with SL Customs where the document processing could be done in either Hambantota or Colombo without any delay, and promote transshipment business with a dedicated automobile handling terminal facility in Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port. As at March 2014 the port has received 204 RO-RO vessels and has handled nearly 36401 domestic units and more than 79147 transshipment units.

During the year of 2012 MRMRP has also handled 19716 tons of Break Bulk cargo whilst in 2013 the port handled 118579 tons of Break Bulk cargo showing a growth of 501.4%. The operational performance of the port for the month of February 2013 and 2014 has also shown a growth of 267.9% with the handling of 7037 tons of Break Bulk cargo for the month of February 2013 and 25891 tons of Break Bulk cargo for the same period in 2014.

More than 2000 hectares of lands adjoining the harbour have been declared as a special economic and industrial zone to boost industrial and commercial activities. Out of the 27 investors who expressed interest to commence projects, six investors bid for cement industry while two had expressed for vehicle assembling and another two for gas. The Project Committee received proposals from three investors for warehousing, two for petro-chemicals and one each for sugar refinery, fertilizer and canning.

Cabinet of Ministers approved 7 investment proposals, subsequent to the recommendations by Cabinet Appointed Negotiating Committee with the assistance of the Technical Evaluation Committee. Accordingly, three investors namely, Thatta Cement Company (Pvt) Ltd,Hambana Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) , Lanka Sugar Refinery Company (Private) Limited and Litro Gas Terminal Lanka (Pvt) Limited have already commenced constructions following successful business venture agreements with SLPA.

Hayleys Advantis Ltd (Fertilizer Bagging Plant), McLarens Holdings Ltd (Warehousing), Agalawatta Plantation PLC (Warehousing) and ACE Distripaks (Pvt) Ltd (Warehousing) are among the other cabinet approved investors who have expressed their confidence to commence business with MRMRP.

Meanwhile, the new administrative complex, Sayuru Paya' of Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MRMRP) was also declared open by Mahinda Rajapaksa - the President of the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka on Friday November 8 2013. The building is situated bordering the southern beach front of the new port. The Administrative Building at the site commenced constructions as a part of the main project on 07.10.2009. The building consists of 14 stories including 100,000 sq. ft. and with a height of 200 ft. With the opening of the new building, sooner, the all port customers at MRMRP will be able to fulfill all customer requirements at this one-stop centre. The new administrative building has been constructed with a cost of Rs. one billion. All developmental activities at MRMRP are being successfully carried out with the supervision of Hon.Project Minister of Highways, Ports and Shipping Rohitha Abeygunawardena and instructions by Dr.Priyath B.Wickrama - the Chairman of SLPA. Following the footsteps of 'Mahinda Chinthana' of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Ports Authority has been rightly directed at present, to maximize all the strengths and capacities to efficiently work towards the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka.

Through the guidance by Mahinda Rajapaksa MRMRP at present,is rapidly becoming the potential to bring prosperity not only to the country but also to the whole region.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  More electricity projects this year  
 

The government has carried out 27 large-scale electricity distribution projects in the Galgamuva electorate from 2010. It has carried out 400 electricity extension projects there during this period, too, according to an authority on development work.

Seven large electricity distribution projects have also been approved for the Galgamuva electorate and they are to be launched during this year. Recently, the government completed the Ehatuveva-Valathveva electricity distribution project, Galgamuva-Andaraveva electricity distribution project and the Griribaava-Jayanthipura electricity distribution project, utilizing Rs.9,200,000, Rs.11,000,000 and Rs.10, 000,000 respectively.

 
 

The government utilized funds it received through a foreign credit program to carry out the large electricity distribution projects.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  March arrivals up 17.5%  
 

Sri Lanka tourism sector recorded an increase of 17.5% arrivals for March as against the previous year.

The total arrivals for March stood at 133, 048 and most arrivals were from India, East Asia Eastern and Europe. Visitors from Eastern Europe increased 29.1% to 42,442 with Russia up 85.4 percent to 8,948.

Western Europe grew 4.5 percent to 44,824 with Germany up 19.9 percent to 12,448, France up 27.8 percent to 9,266, Austria up 23.8 percent to 1,482.

 
 

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Ethics vital to boost investor confidence – SEC Chairman  
 

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa called on investor advisors in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) to be more ethical and responsible in their dealing to boost investor confidence in the market.

“Investor advisors are now fortunate with the country's economy on the forward march after three decades of war and they could play a pivotal role in the capital market,” Dr. Godahewa told a seminar on Capital Markets Training last Saturday organized by the Colombo Stock Broker's Association.

 
 

He said all investor advisers should follow ethics and work with sense of responsibility while doing the right thing to build investor confidence in the stock market, which is important to build a strong capital market in the country. “At this juncture, the country's economy is growing at 7 to 8 percent and the capital market could play a pivotal role to increase their contribution to the country's GDP, which contribution towards the GDP is only 30 percent now, he said. Dr Godahewa said that in matured markets in the region, capital market contribution to the GDP is more than 70 percent to 80 percent, while certain markets it is 100 per cent.

“But now with the government's proper economic policies our stock market is also poised for growth,” he said.

Foreign investor contribution in the stock market which is 36.5 percent, could be increased further for front-lines or investor advisers in the market. Since, a lot of infrastructure projects are in place and therefore government economic policies are now moving in the right direction, he added.

Therefore the government's plan to become a US $ 100 billion economy and to increase the per capita income to US $ 4000 by 2016 and could be achieved with these proper economic foundations.

Because of that foreigners have shown keen interest about the government's post war development achievements, he said. Dr Godahewa said that SEC is constantly in consultation with CSE and other stakeholders in the sector to improve the market in order to increase their contribution to the national GDP and also attract foreign and local investors.

SEC is also focusing on listed companies activities and closely monitoring errant directors who misappropriate funds of companies and many measures improve the credibility in the market, he said.

Chief Executive Officer CSE Rajeeva Bandaranaike said ethics in the market is important to enhance investor confidence in market activities.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Higher Education Minister on inspection visit to South Eastern University  
 

Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake visited the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka on Thursday to assess the progress of the development projects being carried out in the Oluvil Campus.

Minister Dissanayake accompanied by his Private Secretary Thamara Dissanayake and other ministry officials on arrival at the Oluvil campus were received by Vice-Chancellor Dr. S. M. Mohamed Ismail and Registrar H. Abdul Sathar and were taken to the sites where infrastructure development projects are going on. Firstly the minister and the team visited the 100-room-four-storied Students Hostel Project costing Rs. 200 million and thereafter the Library Project which is nearing completion.

 
 

This fully fledged library which is supposed to be one of the biggest libraries in Sri Lanka with all amenities and facilities with latest computerized technology also costs Rs. 200 million. The cultural museum will also be housed in this library. This was followed by the visit to the other Ladies Hostel with 100-room-four-storied building. Minister Dissanayake and the team finally held discussions with Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mohamed Ismail, Registrar Abdul Sathar, Works Engineer S. M. Sitheeque, Librarian M. M. Rifaudeen and other academics of the University at the Vice-Chancellor's office and reviewed the progress of the projects and the constraints confronted by them.

Minister Dissanayake who was satisfied with his visit to the University requested the Vice-Chancellor and his team to expedite matters and complete all the projects in time to make President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit this University to open these projects.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka crowned T20 champs  
 

Kumar Sangakkara guided Sri Lanka to a six-wicket victory over India to win the World Twenty20 in Mirpur and end a run of four defeats in global finals.

Sangakkara, playing his final Twenty20 international, scored 52 not out as Sri Lanka chased down 131 in 17.5 overs.

Tight Sri Lanka bowling had limited India to 130-4 despite Virat Kohli's sublime 77 off 58 balls.

Sri Lanka were beaten in the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals and the 2009 and 2012 World T20 finals.

Sangakkara and veteran team-mate Mahela Jayawardene were involved in all four of those disappointments, and this was a fitting way for both to bow out of international T20 cricket.

 
 

Victory was particularly sweet for Sangakkara, who had scored only 19 runs in his previous five innings in the tournament but oversaw a patient run chase that was finished off in style when Thisara Perera clubbed Ravichandran Ashwin for his third six.

World Cup and Champions Trophy winners India were hoping to become the first team to hold all three limited-overs trophies.

But their quest was undermined by a disappointing batting performance that stalled badly after Rohit Sharma drove to short extra cover in the 11th over for 29 to break a second-wicket partnership of 60 with Kohli.

Yuvraj Singh, so often a destructive batsman in the shorter forms of the game, looked horribly out of touch as he scratched around for 11 off 21 balls.

With Kohli starved of the strike, the innings lost all momentum and even Mahendra Dhoni could add only four from seven balls after Yuvraj's tame lob to long off finally brought the captain to the crease in the penultimate over.

The final four overs, in which Kohli faced eight balls, yielded just 19 runs before the tournament's leading run-scorer was run out trying to force a second from the last ball of the innings.

There was a wicket apiece for Nuwan Kulasekara, Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath as not one of Sri Lanka's five bowlers conceded more than 29 runs from four overs.

India took wickets with enough regularity to keep the match alive and evoke memories of the 2012 final, when Sri Lanka were bowled out for 101 in pursuit of West Indies' modest 137-6.

Kusal Perera sliced Mohit Sharma to mid-off in the second over and Tillakaratne Dilshan holed out to Kohli at deep square leg for 18.

Jayawardene swiped Suresh Raina to midwicket to depart for 24 and, when Lahiru Thirimanne nicked Amit Mishra to wicketkeeper Dhoni, Sri Lanka were wobbling on 78-4.

But Perera announced his intent by hitting Mishra over long-on for a huge six and followed up with another maximum in the leg-spinner's next over.

Sangakkara thrashed consecutive fours off Ashwin to reach his half-century and take Sri Lanka to within four runs of the title.

Perera danced down the track to apply the perfect finish and spark jubilant scenes among the Sri Lanka players and fans.

(Courtesy - dailymirror.lk)

 
   

  President to open new Manmunai bridge on April 19  
 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will declare open the newly constructed Manmunai bridge in Batticaloa on April 19. The new bridge across Batticaloa lagoon on Thalankuda-Manmunai-Mavadimunmari road has been constructed at a cost of Rs.1,870 million, fulfilling a long felt need of the people in the Eastern Province, Ports, Highways and Shipping Project Minister Nirmala Kothalawala said.

"The new bridge plays an important role in connecting the Batticaloa district with the Ampara district. Until the construction of new bridge, the people used the ferry service to cross the Batticaloa lagoon. The newly constructed Manmunai bridge will make river crossings easier, whereas ferries took hours," Minister Kothalawala said.

 
 

The bridge, which is 210 metres in length and 9.8 metres wide, has been constructed utilizing Rs. 397 million local funds and Rs.1,473 million, under the grant aid from Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA).

In line with the construction of the bridge, a new causeway with an average length of 488 metres and 10 metres in width has also been constructed on either side of the bridge to access to the new bridge.

The newly opened Manmunai bridge interconnects two districts of Batticaloa and Ampara in the Eastern Province. The people living in both these districts will be directly benefited by this project. It is also expected to improve the market approachability via facilitating transportation at a low cost. This project would also facilitate people mobility while rapidly improving basic social infrastructure, community and public services to a large number of people living in the East.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Singapore FM calls on countries to engage constructively with Sri Lanka  
 

Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, K. Shanmugam, during a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the President’s Office yesterday, called on countries to engage constructively with Sri Lanka and look to the future rather than dwell on the past.

Shanmugam said one of the main objectives of his visit is to “tell the world what the (Sri Lankan) people really need is development. What people are really interested in is their future and their children’s future,” he said.

 
 

The Singapore Government is supporting several projects in the North such as a mobile library and an English teacher training program, which Shanmugam will be launching today when he travels to Jaffna.

President Rajapaksa urged the Foreign Minister to consider launching similar training programs elsewhere in the island as well.

The Singaporean Foreign Minister said he believes that relations between the two countries are strengthening including improved people-to-people interactions as well as between the business communities of the two nations.

Describing the relationship between Sri Lanka and Singapore as “very good,” Shanmugam said, “We hope this can carry on with this positive momentum.”

The Non-Resident High Commissioner of Singapore to Sri Lanka Karan Singh Thakral and the Executive Chairman of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore Ambassador Gopinath Pillai accompanied the Singapore Foreign Minister.

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Seneviratne were also present for the bilateral discussion.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  All measures to provide pure drinking water for all - President  
 

The Government will take all necessary measures to ensure that the public would be provided with pure drinking water, improving health conditions and the quality of life for vulnerable communities who face problems due to lack of potable water, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday.

While emphasizing that a healthy future generation was vital to ensure the country's development and progress, the President said that special measures will be taken to safeguard the health of children. The President was speaking at the launch of a national program to provide safe drinking water to schoolchildren at Rambewa Maha Vidyalaya in Anuradhapura.

 
 

Marking the first stage of the initiative, the President distributed water purification units to 50 chosen schools in the North Central province. He also distributed water bowsers which were obtained with the help of JICA to be used in vulnerable at Divisional Secretariat areas. The President went on to say that he has advised the authorities to check all drinking water wells in the vulnerable areas and also protect water tanks from contamination.

While highlighting kidney and other diseases prevalent especially in the North Central the President said "these have significantly increased during the last several years as a result of contaminated ground water due to use of heavy agrochemicals and fertilizer". "The open economic policies introduced in 1977 had an adverse effect on the growth of plants and animals" the President said adding that these measures had brought on acid rain on the plants contaminating both the ground and water. The President saying so encouraged the farmers to go back to more traditional agricultural methods and minimize the use of chemicals in the process of farming.

President Rajapaksa describing the new initiative said that all vulnerable Schools will be provided with a water purifying unit. "Like we developed the country and ensured freedom and peace to the people, we also assure that we will provide safe and clean drinking water to all," the President added. "We are fully aware of the difficulties people are facing, including the spread of kidney disease due to water problems.

We will take adequate steps to alleviate them" the President said. He went on to say that the government has provided equal opportunities and facilities for all areas. He said in education too, equitable distribution of resources has been maintained. While pointing out to the success by a student from Divulwewa, Anuradhapura who won a world event in US recently for new innovations, the President said Sri Lankan children irrespective of wherever they come from were even winning on the world stage now. He said that this is the government's aim to mould a healthy, morally rich and educated child to take the country to greater heights in the future. The initiative is jointly organized by the Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage, Ministry of Finance and Planning, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.

The President on the occasion also opened the new Mahindodaya Technical Laboratory at the School. Child Development and Women's Affairs Minister Tissa Karaliyadda also addressed the gathering. Japanese Ambassodor in Sri Lanka Nobuhito Hobo, Ministers. S.M.Chandrasena, Duminda Dissanayake, Deputy Ministers Weerakumara Dissanayake, T.B.Ekanayake, Chief Minister S.M.Ranjith, Governor Karunaratne Divulgane, other politicians, government officials and general public attended.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  EDB initiates first Internet of Things session  
 

As the consumer end of digital convergence in the country continued to develop, Sri Lanka has officially begun assessing the promise of the "next big thing" in digital frontier-and Sri Lanka's first Advanced Electronics Design Centre is now on the cards.

"This is the first ever initiative for Sri Lanka's ICT sector on the emerging "Internet of Things". There is no doubt that this advanced and novel concept will be useful for everyone" said Sujatha Weerakoone Director General-EDB recently. Weerakoone was addressing the first ever IoT session held in Sri Lanka, organized by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) .

 
 

Global IoT market value and and stake is estimated to surpass $ $14 trillion (CISCO Corp estimates, 2013) in the next decade and Sri Lanka's ICT services, software exports and BPO/KPO sectors are well poised to cater to this highly promising sector, considered as the 'next big thing.'

Currently, two firms, WSO2 and Zone24X7, both headquartered in US but have operations in Sri Lanka, have become the prime movers of IoT related processing here. Zone24X7, a third party end to end design house, is California headquartered, and has advanced product engineering and R&D facilities in Sri Lanka.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Chinese business delegation to arrive on 31 March  
 

It is time for the revival of Iran-Sri Lanka trade-back to its original volumes. "As trade restrictions faced by Iran being eased progressively, we believe it is now the correct time to restart our bilateral trade," said a keen Hussain Ebrahim Khani (Charge d' Affairs, Iranian Embassy in Colombo in Colombo.

The new Iranian Charge d' Affairs Khani was addressing Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce) yesterday during his courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen at EDB, Colombo.

 
 

According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, bilateral trade between the two countries showed a positive trend from 2002 to 2008, and topped $ 1619.42 Mn in 2011, after which it settled at $ 216.47 Mn in 2013.

Despite the declining trade total, for the first time, in 2013, bilateral trade turned in favour of Sri Lanka. In 2013, Sri Lanka's leading exports to Iran were tea, coconuts, cashew nuts, coconut fibre, lead oxides and apparel while main imports from Iran were plastics, electrical transformers, Insulated wire and cable, and bulldozers. "It is important that the President is leading Sri Lanka - Iran trade revival by activating the Joint Economic Commission," said the new Iranian Charge d' Affairs Khani addressing Minister Bathiudeen, and added: "We are pleased that the President is shouldering the great responsibility of Iran-Sri Lanka bilateral trade cooperation activities and we praise your efforts to enhance it. As trade restrictions faced by Iran now being eased progressively, we believe it is the correct time to revive our bilateral trade with Sri Lanka. We realised that the new climate in Iran can help boost bilateral cooperation with Sri Lanka. We at our side are ever ready to cooperate and help in your trade needs at any time. It is time that we both iron out existing trade issues and begin our trade promotion efforts with each other. Our trade restrictions related talks with some global powers are also progressing well."

"Sri Lanka extends its warm welcome to you" said Minister Bathiudeen, addressing the new Iranian Charge d' Affairs Khani, and added: "I am pleased that your trade restrictions related talks with some global powers are progressing well. I, together with my people in Sri Lanka will pray towards easing of these restrictions faced by your country. It is time that we jointly work to regain our strong trade levels from the current levels of $ 216.47 Mn."

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  ADB tips rapid GDP growth for Sri Lanka  
 

Forecasts above Developing Asia average pick-up of 7.5% in GDP in 2014 and 2015 Says domestic conditions, low inflation, improving consumption demand and falling fiscal deficit augur well for higher growth trajectory Identifies boosting fiscal revenue as key policy challenge

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday expressed confidence in Sri Lanka, forecasting what it described as “rapid” and “above Developing Asia average” growth in 2014 and 2015 due to favourable local and external improvements.

 
 

“An improved external environment, higher investments and a recovery in domestic consumption will sustain a rapid pace of GDP growth in Sri Lanka in the next two years,” stated the ADB’s Asian Development Outlook 2014 (ADO 2014), released in Colombo yesterday. The forecast for 2014 and 2015 for Sri Lanka is 1.3% and 1.1% higher than the predicted GDP growth rate for developing Asia, which is 6.2% for 2014 and 6.4% for 2015.

“Domestic conditions, with relatively low inflation, improving consumption demand and a falling fiscal deficit, all augur well for a higher growth trajectory,” said ADB Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka Tadateru Hayashi at the launch event that was also addressed by ADB Officer in Charge of Sri Lanka resident Mission Ahsan Tayyab, and ADB Senior Economics Officer Hasitha Wickremasinghe.

The ADO also acknowledged Lanka’s GDP grew by 7.3% in 2013, reflecting recovery in domestic demand and a pick-up in exports and tourism. Pointing out that the 7.3% growth rate achieved by Sri Lanka was “more than what was expected” by the ADB, officials noted that while the accomplishment was supported by strengthening domestic demand on an eased monetary policy and a pick-up in exports and tourism, faster growth in wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, banking, insurance and real estate lifted performance in the large service sector, providing the impetus for the rebound.

Noting that growth rebounded last year from a slowdown in 2012, along with a substantial narrowing of the current account deficit, the easing of inflation and the relaxation of the monetary policy by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the report stated that the outlook is for sustained rapid growth leveraging easy private access to credit in the backdrop of the Government’s continued drive to expand infrastructure. Although an improving external environment is expected to lift trade, the current account deficit will expand on higher imports and fiscal consolidation will focus on revenue enhancement, it stated.

For 2014 and 2015 inflation is expected to remain in mid-single digits, whereas for 2013 the rate tended downwards, standing at an average of 6.9%. The broadly-steady international fuel and stable food prices will help to keep inflation in check in the next two years, assuming normal weather patterns prevail.

Exports are expected to strengthen with better economic performance in the European Union and the United States, Sri Lanka’s main export destinations. The ADO also noted that imports will pick-up in 2014, after a decline in 2013 as domestic demands materialise. However, policy measures taken to limit food imports to support local production will affect imports in the medium term, the report stated. On the current account deficit, continued strong performance in remittances will help contain that element at 2.6% and 3.5% in 2014 and 2015 respectively. In 2013 the worker’s remittances expanded as a result of an increased labour migration under the professional and skilled category. With the fiscal deficit estimated at 5.8% of GDP in 2013, which is a drop from a peak in 2009, the report acknowledged the rate is in line with the sovereign target of 3.8% by 2016. “The target was hit, despite unexpectedly weak revenues, by compressing current expenditure,” the report stated.

Since revenue did not pick up as expected, better economic performance and more imports are expected to result in higher revenue collection in 2014 and 2015. Continued policy action together with improved revenue administration is also needed to achieve a higher revenue ratio. The ADO highlighted and identified that the policy challenge is in boosting fiscal revenues. Although Sri Lanka has been focusing on fiscal consolidation and taking many steps to improve revenue collection, it was highlighted that the revenue ratio has remained low. Despite it standing at 13.6% of GDP in 2013, revenue is noted to have fallen over the past few years, underperforming its target each year.

“As the Government continues its fiscal consolidation, reversing the revenue ratio’s declining trend is critical. The main cause for the erosion of the revenue ratio has been VAT, which accounts for 25% of tax revenue,” it stated.

VAT revenue has declined from 5.8% of GDP in 2004 to 2.7% of GDP in 2012. Many amendments to the VAT Act have taken place since 2002, mainly to improve collection. However, VAT collection has relentlessly declined, affected by exemptions.

“In the context of faster growth reached in the post-conflict years and increased income per capita, the low revenue ratio implies that revenue generation has not kept pace with the rising capacity of the population to pay. Average tax buoyancy (which is about how well revenue mobilisation tracks GDP growth) has hovered for the past five years at 0.78, which is significantly below unity. This indicates that tax collection has been unresponsive to the pace of economic expansion,” the ADO 2014 stated.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Moringa planting under Divi Neguma a major success  
 

The Economic Development Ministry after harvesting the yields of 500,000 moringa oleifera plants, distributed them among people of different districts in the island under the Divi Neguma National programme.

Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Saturday (29) examined the yields of this short murunga plant which President Mahinda Rajapaksa had planted at the Ministry of Finance and Planning premises in late 2012.

 
 

Moringa oleifera which can be harvested within six months has been introduced by the Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa under Divi Neguma National programme to meet the Government’s objective of encouraging people to lead healthy lives by consuming nutritious food free of poisonous chemicals. This crop also known as ‘miti murunga’ has become popular because it is easy to grow and easy to sustain. Introduced to Sri Lanka from South India 13 years ago, it can be grown in tropical climates and is a favorite food of people in the Middle-East which has become the main market for this crop grown in Sri Lanka.

Although this plant grows easily in the island’s dry zone, it can also be easily grown in all areas of the low country from Jaffna to Hambantota, according to Agricultural Radio Service acting Director Hiran Peiris. According to him it is best to grow it in areas where water flows rather than in places where water gets collected. The plant yields throughout the year and contains many nutrients human body need for healthy growth, he says. Among them are vitamins A,B and C, potassium, carbohydrates, calcium, phosperous, sodium, iron and magnesium, all of which are found in the leaves and pods of this murunga plant, which the Economic Development Ministry hopes to popularize throughout the island.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 
   

  Sri Lanka attracts high end French tourist group  
 

The growing demand from incentive Travelers in the MICE tourism segment had increased quite sharply over the past years who are travelling mainly for the purpose of business and investment.

Sri Lanka Tourism has identified MICE segment as a key driver of tourism growth and a contributor for overall economic development of Sri Lanka. As a result of the Wonder of Asia promotional campaign initiated by Ministry of Economic Development and Sri Lanka Tourism in Europe, Sri Lankan Travel agents have been receiving many up market incentive groups to Sri Lanka during the recent past.

 
 

One of Sri Lanka’s leading travel agents Connaisance De Ceylon received a group of 130 pax incentive group from Toulouse – France on 26th March which is latest addition to the group incentive travelers visiting the country.

The group consisted of high end tourists from France representing different segments and mainly looking for investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. Due to the new infrastructure developments in the country especially in the areas of domestic air travel, the group took flight using MI 17 helicopters of Heli Tours. A fleet of 06 helicopters carried the incentive group for sightseeing tour from Kandy to down south. The Helitours Pvt Ltd unveiled its newest fleet of helicopters recently which are highly sophisticated for tourist travel.

The groups was highly impressed with the novel experience of having the opportunity to take a birds eye view of Sri Lanka’s luscious greenery and landscape from skies above. They were in full of praise on the latest developments taken place in Sri Lanka for high end tourist travelers such as what they experienced travelling by helicopters. Chairman of Connaisance De Ceylon Chandra Wickramasinhe played a pivotal role in bringing down and organizing the innovative experience offered to the insentive group from France.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Nurturing the future of birds  
 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open the new Birds Breeding and Research Centre established in the Nagarawewa, in Hambantota on Thursday (27)..

The Centre which has been established to breed of rare birds and those which are threatened with extinction is located in a 38 acre area.

The Centre has a collection of all varieties of worldwide birds. It is also equipped with all facilities necessary to undertake studies by University students, school children or whoever is interested on special varieties of birds.

 
 

Deputy Minister Sanath Jayasuriya and Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa were also present at this event.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 
   

  SLT inaugurates South Asia’s first Submarine Cable Depot in Hambantota Port  
 

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the National ICT Solutions Provider announced that it has been given the opportunity to build, operate and manage South Asia’s first state-of-the-art Submarine Cable Depot in Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MMRP) at Hambantota.

As a token of the company’s appreciation and gratitude to President Mahinda Rajapaksa , for his guidance and support towards achieving this significant milestone for Sri

 
 

The presentation ceremony was attended by several VIPs including Ranjith Siyambalapitiya - Minister of Telecommunications and IT, Dullas Alahapperuma – Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development and Namal Rajapaksa – Member of Parliament. Representing SLT, Nimal Welgama – Chairman, . Jayantha Dharmadasa – Director, . Shameendra Rajapaksa – Director, Lalith De Silva - Group Chief Executive Officer as well as senior officials of SLT were also present at the occasion.

SLT will operate the cable depot in Sri Lanka as a joint venture with IOCPL (Indian Ocean Cableship Pvt Ltd) which is a ship service provider for SEAIOCMA (South East Asia & Indian Ocean Cable Maintenance Agreement. This opportunity was realized as a result of a free port policy declaration and tax concessions offered by the GOSL for MMRP operations at Hambantota.

SEAIOCMA is the international consortium for maintaining the undersea cables. Sri Lanka is an important destination where multiple cable systems are already in operation passing the country. Sri Lanka will be the only Submarine Cable Depot in the South Asian region. Prior to this initiative, Singapore was overlooking the Submarine Cable Depot to facilitate international cable systems. Through this operation in the South Asian region, SLT believes in the possibility of bringing in foreign currency to strengthen the country’s economy in the future.

Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port at Hambantota has been selected to set up a submarine cable depot by the cable consortium with the participation of a number of countries and Sri Lanka will facilitate the cable maintenance ship berth and warehouse facility. SLT has already commenced on the construction work of its Submarine Cable Depot in Hambantota and SEA-ME-WE 5 cable landing station in Matara.

SLT selected a location at Browns Hills, Matara to establish the full cable landing station. Landing this international cable at Matara will be a key milestone as well as a landmark for the telecom industry of Sri Lanka as well as the whole country. The SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable system will further enhance the uninterrupted connectivity to the world since any redundancies of the existing submarine cable systems (SEA-ME-WE 3 and SEA-ME-WE 4) can be routed through SEA-ME-WE 5 cable system.

The new cable system will enable Sri Lanka to leverage on its strategic marine geographical location in achieving the country’s strategic goals. Moreover this global project will have a positive impact on the overall growth of the country’s economy. On the economic front, a high speed broadband environment will encourage higher GDP, enhanced exports, increased productivity, inward migration and modernizing of other sectors. At all micro and macro-economic levels, it will reduce transaction costs, increase market coverage and competitiveness and create significant opportunities for job creation and income generation. In addition, it will foster economic growth and development through affordable, reliable and seamless global communications. This initiative will be one of the key enablers in achieving the move towards an inclusive digital economy and a SMART Sri Lanka.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa received the token of appreciation from Chairman-SLT, Nimal Welgama and Group CEO-SLT, Lalith De Silva at the Carlton House at Tangalle recently.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka and Spain enhances trade and commerce between the two countres  
 

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to France and Portugal and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Professor Karunaratne Hangawatte presented Open Papers at the Santa Cruz Palace in Madrid recently as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Spain.

Upon presenting Open Papers to Ambassador Carlos Perez-Desoy Fages, Director General of the Chancellery of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Ambassador Hangawatte conveyed the warmest regards of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the people of Sri Lanka. Meeting Ambassador Ernesto de Zulueta y Habsburgo Loreno, Director General for North America, Asia and the Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Hangawatte appreciated the long standing bonds of friendship that exist between Sri Lanka and Spain and renewed the cordial nature of relations while articulating the need for the exploration of areas of cooperation and highlighting the mutually beneficial nature of such endeavours.

 
 

Meeting with the Spanish Secretary of State for Commerce, Jaime Garcia-Legaz, Ambassador Hangawatte highlighted the investment, commerce and tourism potential that existed in Sri Lanka. Looking to enhance the strong links between the two countries, Ambassador Hangawatte stressed the importance of trade and commerce as both countries looked to economic stability, diversified investment and enhanced connectivity.

Discussions were also held with the Director General of CASA ASIA, Ambassador Ramon Moreno, the Chamber of Commerce of Madrid and several business conglomerates that have invested in Sri Lanka and other multinational companies that have expressed interest in entering the business domain of Sri Lanka.

While in Madrid, Ambassador Hangawatte also attended the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Asia and Pacific Ambassadors Meeting at the invitation of its Director General, Dr Taleb Rifai at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid. During discussions on the sidelines of the annual meeting, Ambassador Hangawatte and Director General Rifai explored avenues of enhanced cooperation and efforts already underway to stimulate programmes being implemented. The discussions focused on exchanging business and tourism delegations to and from Sri Lanka to advance economic relations between the two countries.

Ambassador Hangawatte was accompanied by Serrano Salvador, Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka in Madrid and Ms Yoshitha Jayasuriya, Second Secretary (Commercial) at the Embassy in Paris.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 

  Chinese business delegation to arrive on 31 March  
 

A Business delegation will arrive in Sri Lanka from Guangdong Province of China on March 31, 2014, to explore trade and investment opportunities in the country.

The upcoming trade delegation is organised by the Sri Lanka China Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from eleven Chinese private sector companies are expected to arrive in the country to strike ties with local partners.

 
 

The delegation is looking at business opportunities in the areas of Investment and Real Estate, Electronic Products, Stainless Steel, Import and Exports, Tea, Copper, Aluminium, Building Material, Lighting (LEDand Solar products), Furniture and Furniture Fittings and Sea Food.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  First 3D digital film goes live  
 

The trend in the global scenario has shifted towards concentrating on space and films that are unconventional. Although Indian cinema is attempting to break new ground in this regard, the local industry, although it has improved on several aspects, is yet to attempt this novel and challenging change.

The launch of a film which will change all this was held in Colombo yesterday, under the patronage of Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa. This film will be the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, a production which spanned nearly a decade on research and development and evolved with the ever-changing leaps in technology.

 
 

Based on a story by renowned science fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clark, this groundbreaking film will take the Sri Lankan cinema into outer space. Even in the global scene there have been only two productions involving Sir Arthur’s works in the big screen (2001 A Space Odyssey and 2010). Both these were mega level Hollywood productions and ‘Into the Comet’ is the third story by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, which is about to be transformed onto the silver screen. The exceptional feature of this film is the handling of all the aspects of the production, including the high-end visual effects, by an entirely local crew.

At the helm is Thilanka Perera as Director of the film; the script has been developed from the original story by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, jointly by Thilanka Perera and Maheel R. Perera. The technical crew includes veteran Editor Stanly Alwis and Cinematographer Kavinda Ranaweera.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  Sri Lanka maintains growth goal at 7.8% despite drought  
 

Sri Lanka is maintaining its 7.8% economic growth target for this year despite a lingering drought because it thinks falling lending rates could spur investment, the country’s treasury secretary said on Monday. Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera said the combination of lower interest rates and expansion in the export and construction sector could lead to a pickup in spending.

“There is no particular reason for growth to be revised either direction,” he told reporters in Colombo. Sri Lanka kept policy rates steady at multi-year lows on Friday as it hopes that slowing private sector credit expansion will rebound and push up the country’s growth pace.

 
 

The Central Bank has cut the repurchase rate by 125 basis points (bps) and reverse repurchase rate by 175 bps to 6.5% and 8% respectively since December 2012 to spur growth, but commercial banks’ lending rates have still been high at around 15%.

“Lending rates should stabilise between 10-12% at some point,” said Jayasundera, who has already ruled out any further rate cut during the next 2-3 months.

The $ 67 billion economy’s private sector credit growth has slowed to near four-year low of 5.2% year-on-year in January, compared to the previous month’s 7.5%.

“We are not in a mighty hurry to bring rates down, because it must be a very smooth adjustment,” Jayasundera said. Despite slowing credit expansion, economic growth picked up to 7.3% last year from a three-year low of 6.3% in 2012. Boosting growth were massive state-led infrastructure projects started after the end of a 26-year civil war in 2009.

(Courtesy - development.lk)

 

  We ended the war, developed the country and we will provide relief to the people - President  
 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he and his government was able to end the 30 year long war and develop the country. Likewise it is only the present government which can provide relief to the people.


President expressed these views addressing a public rally at the 18th Mile Post in Katunayake in support of the UPFA candidates contesting next week’s Provincial Council elections. He said that the country was developed and it is the present Government which can provide relief to the people and develop the economy. He further added that schools, education, electricity, hospitals and roads were developed by the Government and requested the people to have faith in him.

 
 

He called upon the people to give a resounding mandate to the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) by casting their vote in favour of the party symbol the ‘Betel Leaf’ and be with the Government which carry forward the country on the development path. The President emphasised that it is only the present government under his leadership which can and will reduce the cost of living.

A mammoth crowd including Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Ministers Basil Rajapaksa, Dinesh Gunawardena, Tissa Vitharana. Felix Perera, S.B.Dissanayake, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Mervin Silva, Priyankara Jayarathna, Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna and MP Sudarshani Fernandopulle were present at the rally.

(Courtesy - news.lk)

 
   

           
  Fast Developing Infrastructure    
 
  The Sri Lankan government has launched an ambitious program of physical infrastructure development to completely upgrade the sea, air, road, power and telecom backbone of the country. The following are the main features of this program:  
 
  1. Sea Port and Airport Development

The Sri Lankan government has declared its intention to develop the country as a leading regional aviation, navigation and trading hub in South Asia. Therefore, the development of maritime & aviation transportation is at the forefront of the government's infrastructure development agenda. The focus of these developments is to expand the capacity and improve the efficiency of existing ports through modernization and construction of new ports and airports in strategic locations.

 
 
   
     
  2. Development of High Mobility Road Network

Road development in the country, which was left behind last few decades due to the war, has been given prominence by the government. The national Road Master Plan has already been prepared, which focuses on the construction of highways, widening of highways, reduction of traffic congestion, road maintenance & rehabilitation and bridge rehabilitation & reconstruction. It has become an urgent necessity for further investment in road network, thus the development of road network has become a major determinant factor in attracting new investments to the country.

 
 
   
     
  3. Power & Energy

Development of power & energy sector is a key aspect of the government's infrastructure development agenda and long term strategies have been introduced with active participation of the private sector, as a key component.