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January 16, 2018 [GMT]
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US legislators oppose 92% cut in aid to SL
[Tuesday 2017-09-12 18:00]

A US Senate committee has opposed Trump Administration’s proposal of a drastic 92 per cent cut in US aid to Sri Lanka, citing the geographical and strategic location of the country, the PTI reported today.
The Senate Appropriations Committee had said in a report that it won’t support President Trump’s budget request for Sri Lanka, which proposed a 92 per cent reduction in assistance from the prior fiscal year.

A US Senate committee has opposed Trump Administration’s proposal of a drastic 92 per cent cut in US aid to Sri Lanka, citing the geographical and strategic location of the country, the PTI reported today. The Senate Appropriations Committee had said in a report that it won’t support President Trump’s budget request for Sri Lanka, which proposed a 92 per cent reduction in assistance from the prior fiscal year.

  

The annual State appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2018, beginning October 1, landed on the Senate floor yesterday for consideration. The bill seeks USD 43 million for Sri Lanka. According to the PTI, this includes USD 35 million as economic support fund, USD 6.8 million for non-proliferation and anti-terrorism and USD 500,000 in foreign military financing and an equal amount for training of military personnel.

“The Committee recognises and supports the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to advance democracy and the rule of law, and encourages further steps to address the underlying causes of the armed conflict by promoting justice and reconciliation,” the Senate Committee said. The committee’s report said that Sri Lanka is strategically positioned along key shipping lanes and emerging from decades of conflict. The House Appropriations Committee has also passed its Foreign Appropriations Bill, but defers from that of its Senate bill on Sri Lanka. Last week during a Congressional hearing, lawmakers had expressed concern over massive cut in US aid to Sri Lanka.

“In Sri Lanka, US foreign assistance will be cut by 92 per cent, mostly from accounts that have supported programs to promote the rule of law, democratic reforms, post-Civil War reconciliation and related efforts,” rued Congressman Ted Yoho, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on Asia and the Pacific. “These programs are cost-effective ways to contribute to Sri Lanka’s transformation while pursuing a partnership and strategic lead critical locations. Even at their height in 2016, US assistance commitments to Sri Lanka were about 42.5 million, and that’s a bit less than half the cost of a single F-35 fighter jet. That seems like a reasonable investment to gain a friend in one of the world’s most critical sea lanes,” Yoho said.

“While we’re forming a large Millennium Challenge Corporation compact in Sri Lanka, the MCC will focus on economic activities. I’m concerned that by changing course so drastically, we want to make sure that we’re not throwing away the investments we’ve already made in Sri Lanka, leaving a gap in the democracy and governance programs Sri Lanka badly needs, and potentially forcing the closure of our USAID mission,” said the US lawmaker. For the fiscal year 2018, the Trump Administration has requested USD 3.4 million in foreign assistance for Sri Lanka. It focuses on strong support for security cooperation and enhanced strategic trade controls, while contributing to Sri Lanka’s progress toward becoming a mine-impact-free nation by 2020.

Additionally, the MCC is developing a compact with Sri Lanka after it successfully passed the MCC policy scorecard in 2016. In June, MCC approved an initial USD 7.4 million to study potential projects and conduct due diligence work in the transport and land sectors. MCC is working closely with the Government of Sri Lanka to bring a compact for Board approval in 2018, the PTI reported quoting the US State Department.

  
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Sri Lanka Supreme Court rules President's term is five years
[Monday 2018-01-15 19:00]

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has delivered its ruling on the President's term in office to the President, the President's Media Division said. Having considered the President Maithripala Sirisena's request for the opinion of the Supreme Court regarding his tenure, the Supreme Court has announced that the term of office is five years, the PMD said in a statement.



Government claims money from MiG deal stored in Hong Kong
[Monday 2018-01-15 19:00]

The Government claims money allegedly obtained fraudulently by the former regime through the MiG aircraft deal is stored at a bank in Hong Kong. Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that the former Government purchased a MiG aircraft from Ukraine for USD 7.2 million yet the official documents show the aircraft had been purchased for USD 14.7 million.



Wigneswaran calls for bigger role in India-assisted NP projects
[Monday 2018-01-15 19:00]

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran has sought greater collaboration between the Government of India and his administration in development projects in the province. “We would like to be brought in as an active stakeholder, through the Government of Sri Lanka, in projects being carried out in the Northern Province. At present, they are mostly done unilaterally by the Colombo government,” he told The Hindu on Saturday.



Gazette notices by Finance Ministry on liquor to be reversed
[Monday 2018-01-15 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena today said that he has decided to reverse two gazette notices issued by the Finance Ministry on liquor. Speaking at an election rally in Agalawatte today, the President said that the gazette notice on business hours of liquor outlets and the one on allowing women to be employed at liquor outlets will be reversed. It was announced last week that the business hours of liquor licensed establishments have been revised.



Wrong to revoke Jaliya's diplomatic immunity: Gammanpila
[Monday 2018-01-15 19:00]

MP Udaya Gammanpila said today the diplomatic immunity of former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US, Jaliya Wickramasuriya has been revoked for duties he had performed during his term of office and that this was the first such instance in diplomatic history. He said the Foreign Affairs Ministry had, on October 27 last year, informed the Sri Lankan Embassy in the US that Mr. Wickramasuriya’s diplomatic immunity has been revoked despite a prior assurance given to him.



UN Committee on Rights of the Child meets on Jan 15
[Monday 2018-01-15 19:00]

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is meeting in Geneva from January 15 to February 2 to review children’s rights in eight countries including Sri Lanka, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said. The Committee, which is composed of 18 independent experts, monitors how States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are complying with their obligations.



THAI PONGAL GREETINGS FROM US AMBASSADOR
[Sunday 2018-01-14 19:00]

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap conveyed his warmest Thai Pongal greetings to the Chief Minister of Northern Province C. V. Wigneswaran. In a tweet message the Ambassadors said that the two ‘had a good discussion on Northern Province issues as well as the need for Sri Lanka to fulfil its Geneva commitments to ensure lasting national reconciliation and a brighter future for all its citizens.



President’s Thai Pongal message
[Sunday 2018-01-14 19:00]

I am extremely happy to convey my greetings to Hindus across the world celebrating Thai Pongal, the festival that expresses gratitude to nature. Since the dawn of civilization, the importance of agriculture was widely known to human beings. In a background of rural community migrating to urban areas abandoning agricultural farming to obtain material benefits from industrial and technological growth, the celebration of Thai Pongal depicts the ardent desire to protect and cherish ancient traditions to refill humanity with culture, kindness, peace and reconciliation with utmost devotion towards fellow human kind.



Sampanthan calls for new Constitution Highlights ‘undivided and indivisible SL’
[Sunday 2018-01-14 19:00]

Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance, R. Sampanthan expressed hope that the proposed new Constitution would be framed sans any further delay this year. In a statement greeting and wishing all Tamils a peaceful and prosperous Thai Pongal which falls tomorrow (14), he pointed out that of the many expectations in the hearts of the people for the new year, of particular importance is the Tamil people's long-standing aspiration for a lasting political solution to the national question, which hitherto remains unattained.



Tamil nationalist songs in Jaffna Polls campaign CaFFE complains to Elections Commission
[Sunday 2018-01-14 19:00]

Campaign for Free and Fair Eelections (CaFFE) has complained to the Commissioner of Elections that several political parties in the Northern Province are playing songs echoing Tamil nationalism that were used during the LTTE period, in violation of election laws. On Friday United People's Freedom Front (UPFA) politician Angajan Ramanathan had aired such songs while opening his party office at the Jaffna Municipal Council, Executive Director/CaFFE Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon told Ceylon Today.



TGTE man booted out
[Sunday 2018-01-14 19:00]

A senior member of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) Suresnath Ratnabalam was deported along with his family. They left Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) during the early hours of yesterday morning, officials said. Ratnabalam and his family were placed on a Bangkok bound SriLankan Airlines flight after he was refused entry into the country as he is blacklisted.



Parliament fracas: PM to seek disciplinary action
[Sunday 2018-01-14 19:00]

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would seek disciplinary action against UNP MPs who behaved unruly in Parliament last week, State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said over the weekend. Responding to a question made by a journalist at a function held in Gampaha on Saturday (13), the State Minister said the issue was not scripted by the involved parties as speculated by some.



TGTE Member refused entry Ratnabalam on banned Tamil Diaspora list Strong moves to refute deportation order
[Saturday 2018-01-13 18:00]

A member of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) was refused entry into the country on Thursday (11), shortly after landing at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Katunayake, with his family, officials said yesterday (12). They said that 48-year-old Suresnath Ratnabalam had arrived on a scheduled Etihaad flight from Abu Dhabi along with his wife and two children at 3:45 p.m. and were stopped by Immigration officials at passport control as he had been blacklisted.



Two Jaffna Uni. student factions clash after consuming liquor
[Saturday 2018-01-13 18:00]

A clash is reported to have erupted between two groups of students of the Jaffna University's Management Faculty after consuming liquor inside the premises on Thursday resulting in four students being admitted to the Jaffna Base Hospital. According to reports the students had been behaving in an indecent manner after receiving the Mahapola Scholarship fees. The university authorities said they would take disciplinary action against the students involved in the fracas and for consuming liquor in the premises.



SLFP candidates play LTTE songs in Jaffna
[Saturday 2018-01-13 18:00]

A chaotic situation prevailed in Jaffna after some SLFP candidates contesting the forthcoming local government elections played some songs of the now defunct LTTE. Number of politicians in Jaffna had complained to the Election Related Violence Centrers about the conduct of some politicians who had used the liberation songs of the Tigers in their campaigns when the elections commissioner had strictly instructed not to use such songs during the run-up to the local government election.



LG polls: Postal voting for nine districts begins
[Saturday 2018-01-13 18:00]

Postal voting for Local Government bodies in nine districts began yesterday. Commissioner General of Elections, Director General Elections R.M.A.L. Rathnayake speaking to the Daily News explained that they had sent ballot papers for postal voting in the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa.



President to meet Civil Society groups next week
[Saturday 2018-01-13 18:00]

A discussion between President Maithripala Sirisena and civil society groups that had been instrumental in bringing the current regime to power will be held next week. Sources said that during this meeting several issues are to be discussed at length such as the promises given to the masses during the last Presidential and General Elections including the enactment of a new Constitution, abolition of the Executive Presidency, the punishments which are to be meted out to rogues of the previous regime, and a few more.



Seeking SC determination; UNP says Prez should have consulted Govt. allies
[Saturday 2018-01-13 18:00]

The United National Party (UNP) said yesterday it would have been much better for President Maithripala Sirisena to have consulted the government allies before seeking a determination from the Supreme Court on the expiry of his term of office. In an interview with Daily Mirror, Minister and House Leader Lakshman Kiriella said this had caused some uneasiness among the government allies.



Postal voting begins in nine districts
[Friday 2018-01-12 18:00]

Postal voting for local government bodies began in nine districts today. Commissioner General of Elections, Director General Elections, R.M.A.L. Rathnayake speaking to Daily News explained that they had sent ballot papers for postal voting in the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa. In addition to those, they had also sent ballot papers to few of the local bodies in Gampaha, Kurunegala and Anuradhapura districts. The rest of the districts will receive their ballot papers tomorrow, Rathnayake said. There are 1.3 million people working in government and semi-government institutions in the country.



Sri Lankan Defense delegation observes construction of OPV being built in Goa
[Friday 2018-01-12 18:00]

A high level Sri Lankan Defense delegation headed by Secretary of Defense Kapila Waidyaratne has visited the Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) at Vasco in South Goa on Thursday to observe the building of an Offshore Patrol Vehicle (OPV), UNI reported. According to a statement from the GSL, Defense Secretary Waidyaratne was accompanied by Commander of Sri Lanka Army, DG of Sri Lanka Navy, DG Sri Lanka Coast Guard and other senior officials of Sri Lanka Ministry of defense.


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