'Voluntary' key to refugee return says UN refugee chief

In an interview with The Hindu, Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, highlighted the need to re-establish the confidence of Tamils so that they may return, whilst making a point of stressing that this return must be voluntary. See full interview here. Extracts reproduced below: "The number of people going back to Sri Lanka has decreased substantially in the recent past. We need to look into what are the obstacles and how the two governments of India and Sri Lanka, working together can improve the conditions and create opportunities for the voluntary repatriation of the people. Voluntary is the key word here."

SL seeks new $1bn IMF loan

The Sri Lankan government is to seek out a further loan from the International Monetary Fund after the failure of foreign investment to materialise. See LBO's report . Interestingly, Sri Lankan Treasury Chief Punchi Banda Jayasundera said: ''We are asking the IMF to extend budget support ... That money cannot go the central bank.'' IMF loans are usually extended to central banks when countries run into balance of payments problems - meaning they can't meet their external obligations, such as paying in dollars for imports. See here . Sri Lanka is however seeking the IMF loan for government...

Australians protest against cricket tour as campaign grows

More than 50 Australians gathered outside the Sydney Cricket Ground to protest against Australia hosting the Sri Lankan cricket team in their tour of the country, as more supporters signed on to the boycott Sri Lanka cricket campaign.

Rs. 95 billion loss and ‘a high quality service’

Sri Lanka’s state owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) posted losses of Rs. 95 billion, according to Managing Director Susantha De Silva, while a government minister insisted that a high quality service was being provided, ruling out privatisation of the company. According to De Silva, the losses were due to the subsidising of fuel and delay in payment by state services, despite several hikes in fuel prices in the last year alone. Debtors included the Ceylon Electricity Board (due to which De Silva claimed to incur losses of Rs. 4.2 billion per month), the national carrier Sri Lankan...

Lions in sheep’s clothing

Two villages in the Vadamaraadchi region of the Jaffna peninsula saw Christmas events organised by the Sri Lankan Army.

Tamil loan default rates almost zero

Sri Lanka’s outgoing Bank of Ceylon Bank of Ceylon chairman has stated that rates of default on state loans were almost zero in the North-East, a stark contrast to the rest of the country. Gamini Wickramasinghe was quoted as saying , "We are happy to say NPAs (non-performing assets) since the war, in the North and the East taken as an average is about one percent... Sometimes in some branches in the North NPAs are zero percent. You can't find this kind of thing around the country ." "They have some kind of belief that what they borrow they pay. Even the East was 1.1 percent last year. I do...

Russian nuclear scientists to visit Sri Lanka

A Russian nuclear power team will visit Sri Lanka laster this month to inspect the energy sector output on the island. The Russian ambassador Alexander Kerchava last month offered Russia's assistance to Sri Lanka in trade, energy, economy and the social sector, reported ColomboPage . The visiting team of nuclear scientists is to support Sri Lanka’s power and energy sector.

Sri Lankan economy to hit $100bn by 2016 – Governor

The governor of the Central Bank, Ajith Cabraal, said that the Sri Lankan economy would grow to $100bn by 2016 and predicted a bright future for the country. “If Sri Lanka is successful over the next three years, the country would surely be the next “Break-out Nation” and the ‘Wonder of Asia,” Mr. Cabraal said. He pointed out that the Central Bank had to adopt ‘strong measures’ to stabilise the economy in order to reach their economic goals of a GDP of $4,000 by 2016, attracting 2.5 million tourists by 2020 and a US$ 100 billion economy by 2016. “These measures resulted in swift responses...

International intervention required for political solution - TNA

Suresh Premachandran, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, has said that international intervention is needed to reach a political solution in Sri Lanka, reports Uthayan . In response to questions on whether the TNA would participate in the upcoming Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), Premachandran stated that international influence would be essential to negotiating a political solution with a government that shows no intention of power-sharing. He further stated that attacks to the 13th amendment, the introduction of the 18th amendment and the Divi Neguma scheme would not have been...

The Great Injustice

There has been uproar and anger amongst Buddhist clergy and trade union leaders over the government's official calendar, which does not include Poya days (full moon days) as holidays for public servants and private sector employees. The national organiser of the Bodu Bala Sena, the Ven. Vitarandeniya Nanda, said : “ Poya is significant for Sri Lanka where most people are Buddhists. It should continue to be a mercantile holiday. Otherwise, it will be a great injustice to Buddhists. We do not know whether this is a mistake or a deliberate act .” The President of the Inter Company Employees...

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