End secrecy on FDI deals

Published : 12:00 am  September 5, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  906 views  |  

THE Government’s decision to pass massive tax concessions for a whopping US$ 4 billion project in Trincomalee without disclosing the parent company is yet another in a long line of transgressions on good governance and transparency that speaks volumes on the level of prevailing corruption. Parliament was in uproar on Tuesday when Democratic National Alliance MP Sunil Handunnetti charged that a new company, Sri Lanka Gateway Ltd., has been floated to invest $ 4 billion equal to Rs. 520 billion but the directors of the company in question remain a mystery. Given that projects under the Strategic Development Program enjoy extensive tax breaks for 25 years including the withholding taxes for foreign... 


Hooked on issues

Published : 12:00 am  September 4, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  634 views  |  

Colombo’s nemesis of sorts, Tamil Nadu, is fishing in turbulent waters by pushing the Central Government to release illegally fishing Indians in what could well result in a major standoff. India’s Upper House of Parliament saw a strong dispute on Tuesday that highlights the increasing discontent ahead of the all-important Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). According to Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, the industry loses an estimated US$ 78.9 million worth of fish from illegal poaching from South India. The Government has targeted $ 500 million in revenue for 2013, but has had to keep its expectation low due to the significant losses from poaching. Sri... 


Provide protection

Published : 12:00 am  September 3, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  679 views  |  

The British High Commission in Colombo has produced a video to advice women travellers to Sri Lanka on their safety, which while emphasising the hospitality the island is famous for also raises some pertinent points that local authorities should also be aware about. The six-minute clip gives advice on dress, behaviour, gestures, cultural differences and beach boys. It details how different Eastern and Western cultures are and gives helpful tips to avoid harassment, stares and unsafe three-wheeler drivers and how to enjoy nightlife safely. It is great news that Sri Lanka’s tourism is promoted despite such cultural gaps, but what is saddening is that these same attitudes that are hurting local... 


Hope amidst hype

Published : 12:00 am  September 2, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  545 views  |  

FOR all the hype that United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay’s visit generated, its findings predicated the spheres that local activists have been pointing out for years. At the end of the longest-ever tour conducted by Pillay, there were no surprises but the list of progressive steps needed to be taken by the Government remained the same. Many of the issues that she was most vocal about, such as investigating into thousands of disappearances, demilitarsing the north, rolling back the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, fast-tracking cases of ex-combatants, witness and victim protection legislation, stamping out religious hate crime and implementing a Freedom of Information Act, have... 


Checklist for new ministry

Published : 12:00 am  August 31, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  727 views  |  

IN a landmark move, Sri Lanka’s brand spanking new Public Law and Order Ministry kicked off its functions yesterday as the Secretary took office. The new ministry will take over functions of the Police force and ensure that it functions as a civil force under President Mahinda Rajapaksa – at least on paper. Retired Major General Nanda Mallawaarachchi during his first address after taking office promised that the police will not be militarised under him despite him having close links to the military. Basic functioning of the Police force, that have long been ignored, such as the salary structure will also be looked into by him, media attending the event were assured. He also pledged to continue... 


Food for thought

Published : 12:00 am  August 30, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  647 views  |  

Sri Lanka’s post-harvest losses are estimated to be as high as 40% and according to a global organisation, not such an aberration of a regional level. Around 35% of food is lost between harvest and distribution across the Asia-Pacific region, depriving millions of nutrition and posing fresh challenges to ending hunger. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says poor production planning, a lack of storage, weak transport systems, crop disease and parasites cause some 30% of cereals and 42% of fruit and vegetables to be lost before reaching consumers. They believe that more effort is needed to raise global awareness of the critical issue of food losses and particularly post-harvest losses,... 


Protect migrant workers

Published : 12:00 am  August 29, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  828 views  |  

SIXTEEN Sri Lankan workers allegedly cheated by their employers and recruiting agents are struggling for justice and have sent a letter detailing their plight to a Qatar newspaper. This incident, which comes ahead of Saudi Arabia’s possible decision to increase access to Sri Lankan domestic workers to meet growing demand, should ring warning bells for the Government. The tragic execution of Rizana Nafeek aside, the increase of migrant workers to the Middle East is worrying for several reasons. One is that despite Government attempts to regularise recruitment agents, there has been little progress on stamping out incidents similar to what has befallen the 16 Sri Lankans in Qatar. Moreover, even... 


Promote manufacturing

Published : 12:00 am  August 28, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  637 views  |  

Despite the rise of services in the Sri Lankan economy, there is increasing evidence that the industrial manufacturing sector needs to remain the backbone of an economy if it is to avoid the middle income gap. In a special chapter of Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2013, its flagship annual statistical publication, the Asian Development Bank emphasises that manufacturing is essential to a high productivity service sector, technological innovation, and modernising agriculture. The report notes that one group of economies — Hong Kong, China; Japan; the Republic of Korea; Singapore; and Taipei, China — rapidly industrialised to become high income countries, while another group of economies,... 


Take a holistic approach

Published : 12:00 am  August 27, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  608 views  |  

Taking a positive step, the Government has decided to rehabilitate drug offenders rather than condemning them to long prison sentences that at times worsen their dangerous habit. However, clamping down on drug lords still requires priority. Recognising that drug addiction has become a huge problem in the society wasting the energetic young generation, Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms has proposed the establishment of rehabilitation centres under the Bureau of Commissioner General of Rehabilitation. According to Government statistics, 78% of imprisonments in 2011 are drug users. The number of imprisonments due to drug addiction reached 10,568 in 2011 while 6,165 persons had been imprisoned... 


Empower ITI

Published : 12:00 am  August 26, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,022 views  |  

Hinting that the milk powder crisis in Sri Lanka is easing up, the enjoining order banning all Fonterra products from being distributed, sold and advertised was lifted last Friday. However, the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) came under a fresh round of heavy fire from Maliban milk that has even offered a reward of Rs. 1 million if the presence of contamination can be proven in any batch of its milk. So sensitive has the tiff become that the Australian company has even hinted of diplomatic repercussions if the presence of DCD (dicyandiamide) in a batch of Maliban non-fat milk powder is not transparently proven. The ITI had ruled out the presence of DCD in Maliban full cream milk powder... 


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