Categories
Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka extend support to legal affairs in Fiji island

(SLBC) Sri Lanka is to provide support to enhance legal section in Fiji Island. Visiting Fijian Chief Justice Anthony Harold met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees this morning. At the discussion he pointed out that many Sri Lankan legal experts are engaged in state and private legal activities in the Fiji Island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that service of the Sri Lankan legal experts should be obtained in more efficient manner and pledged necessary support and advice to streamline legal activities in the Fiji island.

Categories
Domestic

Onion Pickle

Sri Lanka onion prices to rise after Indian export ban
Dec 21, 2010 (LBO) – Prices of onions and leeks in Sri Lanka could rise after India’s decision to suspend exports of onions, a trade official said.

Pettah Wholesale Traders’ Association vice chairman Nihal Seneviratne said 90 percent of Sri Lanka’s onion requirement is imported from India and imports from other origins would be more costly.
India on Monday suspended exports of onions, a key food staple, after prices of the vegetable soared, adding to the government’s inflation woes.

Sri Lanka might be forced to import from sources like Pakistan, China, Egypt and the Netherlands, Seneviratne told Vimasuma.com, our sister news website. “Pakistani onions are not as good as Indian onions and they spoil quickly,” he said.

“To ship onions from China takes about a month and requires use of a refrigerated container. Therefore, onion imports from these countries will invariably be more expensive than from India.”

Even if the government reduces a 10-rupee a kilo import tax on onions retail prices cannot be reduced under present conditions, Seneviratne said.

Stocks of onions in the Pettah wholesale market were running low and Indian exporters had even taken back cargoes of onion already loaded on ships, he said.

Prices of onions grown in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsula as well as leeks are likely to rise.

Sri Lanka imports 4,000-5,000 tonnes of onions a week from India which supplies about 60 percent of the world requirements of onion

Categories
Domestic

Healthcare delivery: Lanka on top

Sri Lanka has once again emerged as the most successful country in South Asia in healthcare delivery, recording low indicators in Maternal Mortality and a high rate of Life Expectancy , ‘The State of World Population 2010’ (Report) issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said today.

According to the Report all other countries in South Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives lag much behind Sri Lanka in respect of these important health and social indicators.

The Infant Mortality Rate per thousand births in India in 2010 was 52, Pakistan 61, Bhutan 41, Nepal 38 and Maldives 20 while Sri Lanka had only15 deaths which was highly satisfactory.

The Maternal Mortality rate per 100,000 births stood at a high 830 in Nepal while in India it was 450, Bangladesh 570, Pakistan 320, Maldives 120 with Sri Lanka only 58 mother deaths.

The life expectancy in India respectively for male and female was 62 / 66 years, Bangladesh 68 years for both, Pakistan 66 / 67, Nepal 66 / 68, Maldives 70 / 74 and Sri Lanka was 71 and 74 years.

The country with most dismal indicators in the world, Afghanistan records 152 infant deaths per 1,000 births and 1,800 maternal deaths per 100,000. The life expectancy in Afghanistan is only 44 for both sexes.

Some of the best countries to live in, Sweden, Australia and Switzerland, the Infant Mortality rate, Maternal Morality rate and Life Expectancy stood respective at 3, 3 and 79 / 83, 4, 4 and 79 / 84 and 4, 5, and 79 / 84.

Mrs. Lene K. Christiansen, UNFPA country director Sri Lanka, addressing the gathering at the ceremony held to mark the release of the Report said the Report makes the case for replacing the vicious cycle of crisis and underdevelopment with virtuous cycle of peace and stability.

“It is time to tear down the false barriers between crisis, recovery and development. Investing in the development soften the impact of crisis and natural disaster and whatever is invested during humanitarian response can become a solid foundation for development and rebuilding a society,” Mrs. Cristiansen stressed. Mr. Reza Hassaini and Mrs. Sunila Abesekara also addressed the ceremony.

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka ready to assist India in combating LTTE

Sri Lanka is to consider assisting India in combating the threat posed by LTTE elements said Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella.

Answering a query of a journalist at the Cabinet media briefing held in Colombo a short while ago (16), he said that Sri Lanka will consider on the issue if such a request is made and the country will share all its experiences in combating terrorism.

India is the neigbhouring country of Sri Lanka who has had strong ties for centuries mentioned the Minister.

The Minister mentioned this commenting on the very recent reports on LTTE attempts to take the lives of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and TamilNadu Chief Minister M Karunanidi. These details were revealed by the intelligence units of the country.

Categories
Military

Wikileaks: SL denies NK arms charge

A senior military official said there had been no transactions with North Korea.

Sri Lanka says the country never purchased any arms, ammunition and equipment from North Korea during the war against the LTTE.

A senior official involved in procurement of arms on Thursday (Dec. 9) told The Island that there hadn t been any transactions with NK for a long time.

He was responding to information in diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks of US diplomatic protests about North Korea s alleged sale of rocket-propelled launchers to Sri Lanka in early 2009.

The official pointed out that the international media may have wrongly reported that Sri Lanka was acquiring arms from NK, whereas the actual beneficiary of such arms sales could have been the LTTE.

Alleging possible NK support for the JVP-led 1971 insurgency, Sri Lanka broke-off diplomatic ties with that country.

Military sources say that Sri Lanka hadn t purchased any major items even from South Korea except some Fast Attack Craft (FACs) acquired in the 80s during the JRJ administration.

Authoritative sources told The Island that the leaked US cables, which had been the basis for media speculation on Sri Lanka receiving NK arms, could have dealt with the LTTE procuring arms from China and transferring them overland through NK to be loaded into LTTE ships.

Categories
Economics

Partnership Model

Sri Lanka said keen on public-private partnerships
Dec 13, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is keen on partnerships between the public and private sectors in developing its economy, the International Finance Corporation, which is supporting the initiative, said in a statement.

“Sri Lanka is actively considering options to increase private participation in development,” it quoted Sarath Amunugama, Sri Lanka’s Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation as telling a forum.
“A sustainable public-private partnership model is an important part of our framework for economic growth and infrastructure development.”

The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said it is working with policymakers and private sector players to help meet Sri Lanka’s ongoing development agenda through public-private partnerships.

The forum held in Sri Lanka Monday was part of a series of IFC-led events in South Asia to identify and address concerns and challenges related to public-private partnerships among stakeholders, it said.

The event brought together specialists and expert speakers from around the world and was attended by officials of ministries and public sector departments of health, transportation, and municipal infrastructure and other multilateral partners.

“Improving quality of services in Sri Lanka, gaining efficiencies, and boosting economic growth through private participation in social and physical infrastructure were part of the discussions,” the IFC said.

“Long lasting public-private arrangements receive public ownership while generating interest among local private sector players and other development partners with shared goals,” said Vipul Bhagat, Manager of IFC Advisory Services for Public-Private Partnerships in South Asia.

The Sri Lankan government is committed to facilitating the transition necessary to boost the country’s economic growth and build on development fundamentals, the IFC statement said.

“Public-private partnership activity can make an important contribution to help address the country’s immediate infrastructure needs and garner needed funding for the purpose.”

Categories
Military

Sri Lanka Rules out Defence Agreement with Pakistan

Sri Lanka has firmly ruled out any defence cooperation pact with Pakistan although they maintained very strong military ties during the height of the ethnic war in the country.

Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the powerful defence secretary, said the government did not discuss the possibility of a Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) during the recent four-day visit by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

`President Mahinda Rajapakse hadn`t discussed any defence-related proposal with his Pakistani counterpart,` the privately-run Island newspaper today quoted the Defence Secretary, who is also the president`s younger brother.

The Island said the defence secretary dismissed what he called unsubstantiated media reports on a post-war DCA between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

However, a joint statement issued by Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the end of Zardari`s visit last month said they had agreed to promote a dialogue on, among other things, defence and security issues.

Zardari, who held closed-door talks with President Rajapakse, discussed increasing trade and defence cooperation, the president`s office said on November 28.

It gave no details of the defence cooperation, but Pakistan was a main supplier of arms and ammunition when government forces were locked in combat with Tamil Tiger rebels.
Pakistan provided heavy weapons that were used to crush the Tamil Tigers in May last year which brought an end to their 37-year violent struggle for a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka.

Gotabhatya told the Sri Lankan daily that his brother`s government had not entered into any DCA during the fighting with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), though the country acquired arms, ammunition and equipment from several countries, including Pakistan.

Categories
Politics

UN SG Panel – LLRC will adhere to Warrant

In the event of the government facilitating UN Secretary General’s Panel to visit Sri Lanka, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings, the LLRC said in a statement.

Following is the statement:

UN SG’s Panel

There have been some inquiries from the national media regarding a visit to Sri Lanka by the UN Secretary General’s Panel. Any decision to facilitate the UN SG’s Panel to visit Sri Lanka lies entirely with the Government of Sri Lanka. If a decision is made to permit such a visit the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings

Categories
Economics

Investment Option

Sri Lanka new gilt-edged fund eyes small investors

Nov 30, 2010 (LBO) – Ceybank Asset Management (CAM), Sri Lanka’s largest unit trust fund manager, has launched an open ended gilt-edged fund aiming to attract small investors especially in rural areas, officials said.

The ‘Ceybank Surakum’ fund will invest in government Treasury bills and bonds and other government-backed securities but not in equities and aim to give a return higher than interest rates on bank deposits which have been falling.
Chitra Sathkumara, chief executive of CAM, said their initial target is to raise at least two billion rupees

“This will give small investors a better choice,” he told a news conference.

“In Sri Lanka most people invest a part of their money in savings accounts and fixed deposits but interest rates on savings accounts are falling while the cost of living is increasing, and people get poorer.”

This had prompted some investors to search for high interest yielding but risky products and lose money in financial scams, he said.

“Many investors lost their life saving trying to get super returns. The Surakum fund aims to earn returns above savings accounts while ensuring safety. We aim to bridge the gap between savers and investors through this fund.”

The minimum investment in the fund is 10,000 rupees and each unit 10 rupees.

The Ceybank Surakum fund will pay two dividends a year in January and July, with the first dividend being paid in July 2011.

Dividends from investments are tax free, the investments can be encashed at the prevailing market price and investors can switching their money among other funds managed by CAM.

The fund will be marketed with the help of the branch network of the state-owned Bank of Ceylon, which has a 43.4 percent stake in CAM.

Other shareholders are state-owned Sri Lanka Insurance, Carson Cumberbatch & Co. and Unit Trust of India, said K Hewage, chairman of Ceybank Asset Management.

Proposals in the government’s 2011 budget announced last week exempting unit trusts from certain taxes and relaxing foreign exchange controls to allow foreigners to invest in the funds will help promote the industry, he said.
The budget also made income earned by unit trusts from listed stocks and bonds free from income tax.

Categories
Economics

Sri Lankan Accountants Lure Global Outsourcers

Southern China has its assembly plants. India has customer support centers, research laboratories and low-cost lawyers.

And Sri Lanka’s contribution to global outsourcing? Accountants — thousands of them, standing ready to crunch the world’s numbers.

As this tiny island nation staggers back from a bloody, decades-long civil war, one of its brightest business prospects was born from a surprising side effect of that conflict. Many Sri Lankans, for various reasons, studied accounting in such numbers during the war that this nation of about 20 million people now has an estimated 10,000 certified accountants.

An additional 30,000 students are currently enrolled in accounting programs, according to the Sri Lankan Institute of Chartered Accountants. While that ratio is lower than in developed economies like the United States, it is much greater than in Sri Lanka’s neighboring outsourcing giant, India.

Offices in Sri Lanka are doing financial work for some of the world’s biggest companies, including the international bank HSBC and the insurer Aviva. And it is not simply payroll and bookkeeping. The outsourced work includes derivatives pricing and risk management for money managers and hedge funds, stock research for investment banks and underwriting for insurance companies.