Suspects in murder of British tourist granted bail

A local politician, who is accused of murdering British tourist Kuram Shaikh Zaheer, has been released on bail, the Daily Mirror reported today. The Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman of Tangalle, Sampath Vidanapathirana, was released by a court on Monday, along with seven other suspects. Vidanapathirana, who is a close friend of the Rajapakse dynasty, is accused of involvement in the killing of Mr Zaheer and the rape of his Russian girlfriend, on Christmas Eve last year.

China to launch Sri Lanka's first satellite

Sri Lanka's first satellite will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Chinda on 22nd November, reports ColomboPage. The announcement was made by none other, than the little less well known - Rohitha Rajapaksa - President Mahinda Rajapaksa's youngest son on Saturday. The satellite will be operational for commercial purposes by early June 2013. The project is run by SupremeSAT, a BOI approved company that is in an exclusive agreement with China's state owned China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC). Rohitha Rajapaksa said that the logistics for a space station is being...

'People's dynasty' hindering investment

Sri Lanka’s post-war boom may not be living up to economic expectations, reports Reuters; the island has failed to attract adequate foreign investment and home-grown businesses also not investing, with critics put down to the Rajapakse ‘dynasty’ keeping a tight grip on all economic and industrial institutions. See here Reuter's full report. Some extracts: “The government reported $1 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) last year, a record, but even officials accept that is not enough. More worrying, because it raises questions about the reliability of official data, the United Nations put FDI at just $300 million last year, its lowest level since 2005." “There are several possible explanations, but critics say that by making Sri Lanka something of a personal fiefdom and dragging his feet on reconciliation between the ethnic minority Tamil-dominated north and the majority Sinhalese Buddhist population, Rajapaksa shoulders some of the blame.”

50 more asylum seekers deported from Australia

A group of 50 men have been deported from Australia to Sri Lanka, after having been classed as failed asylum seekers. The recent return of the group of men brings up the total number “involuntarily” returned to 282, since August the 13th alone. Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen’s office said in a statement , "Without a valid visa they had no legal right to remain in Australia and were removed at the earliest opportunity, "They raised no issues that engaged Australia's international obligations". He also went on to say that, "We will continue to regularly transfer...

Offshore oil bidding to start next month

Sri Lanka has announced that "eight to ten" offshore oil blocks would be offered for bidding as early as next month, in the Cauvery and Manner basins. The announcement by Saliya Wickramasuriya director general of the island's petroleum exploration office, follows the discovery of two potential gas reserves by Cairn Lanka in Mannar last year. Wickramasuriya stated that bidding would be kept open until around May 2013 and went on to state that oil companies from Russia and Vietnam had expressed interest. It was also reported that Sri Lanka has offered the oil blocks to both China and India.

Sri Lanka provides new settlements… for trees

Acting in compliance with the government’s ‘Deyata Sevana national tree planting campaign’, Sri Lanka’s ‘peacetime’ Army have been converting the land, formerly used for Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, into an orchard, reported ColomboPage . The Army run project, will initially plant 1,000 saplings at Manik Farm. The army has also launched another 225 acre joint agricultural project with a private company, Prima Ltd. The Sri Lankan army’s tree prosperity initiative, comes as 178 families, who were forced to move out from the camps and resettled unaided , in little more than a clearing...

Sri Lanka’s ‘peace dividend waning’ – Moody’s

Moody’s rating’s agency has said in a new report that Sri Lanka’s B1 rating outlook is looking positive, but is dependent on policy performance, including the “effective management of macroeconomic challenge”. While Sri Lanka’s strong economic growth is behind its positive rating, the so-called “peace-dividend” appear to be waning, “namely, the reductions in inflation and in government funding costs”. Read full press release by Moody’s here .

Reconciliation in Trincomalee

Photographs Daily Mirror Sri Lanka's Navy paraded its next generation of personnel at a 'passing out parade' on Saturday, and where better to hold it than in Tamil heartland of Trincomalee.

Indian vehicle imports curbed, as Chinese investors approved

High taxes on cars and trucks have been placed on imports from India, reports Sri Lanka's Sunday Times. According to the customs official who spoke anonymously, the taxes would meanwhile be an advantage to Japanese car imports. Speaking to the newspaper, the president of the Vehicle Importers’ Association of Lanka, Sampath Merenchige, said that the price of a Maruti or Alto would increase by a minimum of Rs 250,000. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government has cleared two Chinese investments of US $20 million - a car-assembly plants in Hambantota and Gampaha.

65000 in the North-East mentally affected by war

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health has officially announced that around 65000 people in the North-East have been affected by some form of mental trauma or illness as a consequence of the three-decade long war. The Deputy Health Minister told Parliament that in that tally almost 63000 have received treatment and over 2000 are currently undergoing treatment. The shock announcement came in response to questions from TNA MP A. Vinayagamoorthy regarding mental illness statistics in the war affected North-East.