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The premier says the government aims to strengthen urban and rural economies.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe says the government aims to strengthen urban and rural economies. He highlighted that country’s economy should be made vibrant through expansion of the middle class. The premier made these comments at a function held in Gampaha yesterday.

The Prime Minister pointed out that country’s economy was affected badly by the war. The debt burden was also on the rise. The current government has embarked a massive programme to strengthen the economy in different fronts. He pointed out that more direct investments need to be attracted.

Deadly blasts near Afghan parliament

At least 22 people have been killed and 70 wounded in twin bombings near the Afghan parliament in Kabul, officials say. The attack took place during rush hour, as staff were leaving the parliament complex. Minutes after the blasts, a Taliban spokesperson said the group carried out the attack, targeting members of the Afghan intelligence agency. Most of the victims are said to be civilians, including parliament staff.

The President states that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party should tread the path of humanism.

President Maithripala Sirisena states that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party should tread the path of humanism. He added that the party’s future will be depended on the characteristics of the membership itself. Hence the politicians of the SLFP are supposed to be morally sound, patriotic, simple and humble people. The President further noted that when the politicians are corrupt, they will be rejected from the people.

The President made these comments at the 28th death anniversary of Indrapala Abeyweera, Wijelal Mendis, Bartin Silva. Indrapala Abeyweera was a former Deputy Secretary of the SLFP who represented the Kalutara district. Wijelal Mendis and Bartin Silva were stalwarts of the party. They were killed 28 years ago. The President highlighted that their commitment to the party will never be forgotten.

He highlighted that the philosophy of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who was the founder of the SLFP need to be taken for the future with much vigor. The President stressed that though some political opponents have criticized him, he will be committed to fulfill the public will. Dictionaries were presented to the Buddhist monks at the event. School children were given shoes and some health centers were provided pharmaceuticals. 

The SLFP Youth Front says the background has been created during last two years for a huge economic transformation in the country.

The SLFP Youth Front says the background has been created during last two years for a huge economic transformation in the country. The President was able to liberate the country from different allegations at the international level. Chairman of the Youth Front Shantha Bandara said that as a result of President Maithripala Sirisena’s leadership the country has been able to win the heart of international community and obtained many concessions.

A massive programme has been put in place to discourage dangerous drugs and tobacco consumption. Measures have been taken to solve the problems of kidney patients and enhance safety of the children. The priority has been given by the government to improve environmental protection.  Shantha Bandara highlighted that Moragahakanda multipurpose project will be unveiled tomorrow. That will help to provide water for many parts of the country including the North. 

Australia debates handing murderers' pensions to victims.

Murderers and other criminals would be forced to give their superannuation pension to victims' families under a proposal in Australia. The move would give victims more rights in the justice system,said Victoria's opposition leader Matthew Guy.
Mr Guy said he would take the policy to the state's next election in November 2018.If legislated it would be an Australian first, Mr Guy's office said.

MP Wimal Weerawansa remanded till 24th of this month.

Former National Freedom Front Leader MP Wimal Weerawansa who arrived before the FCID to make a statement regarding allegations he misused state vehicles during his time as Housing and Engineering Services Minister, was arrested today. The Magistrate Court ordered to police to detain the former Minister Wimal Weerawansa till 24th of this month.
Mr. Weerawansa was alleged to have taken 40 state owned vehicles and distributed among his relatives and friends during the previous regime. This has caused a huge loss of more than 90 million rupees to the State Engineering Corporation. The FCID says the former Deputy General Manager of the State Engineering Corporation L.H. Samantha is also arrested along with Wimal Weerawansa today.

Minister S.B. Dissanayake emphasizes the importance of unity government.

Minister S.B. Dissanayake emphasizes the importance of continuation of unity government. The unity government was established by the two main political parties. The UNP and SLFP have joined hands together to establish this alliance while safeguarding the unique features of the respective parties. Minister Dissanayake further noted that unity government has achieved many milestones during the last two years in office.

Minister made these remarks at a media conference held in Colombo today. Speaking further at this conference, he said the United Nations Human Rights Council has removed the problematic clauses from the resolution against Sri Lanka during the last sitting. The Sri Lankan government has been able to convince the international community that there is an improvement in the human rights record after taking office in 2015. Therefore,

Minister reiterated that it is important for the present good governance unity government to continue in this manner for the benefit of the country and the people. Minister S.B. Dissanayake also said the present unity government was successfully formed because President Maithripala Sirisena was elected as the President on 8th January in 2015. President Maithripala Sirisena also stated that he is not interested in contesting for the 2nd term.

President made these comments as an independent individual. But now the President also serves as the leader of SLFP and UPFA. Minister Dissanayake said President Sirisena will reconsider his stance on contesting for the 2nd term if the members of SLFP and UPFA make a formal request in this regard. Minister Dissanayake also expressed confidence the forthcoming local government election and future general election will be conducted under electoral and mixed system. An agreement in this regard was reached at the party leaders’ meeting held recently.

The UNP parliamentarian Mujubur Rahuman reiterates the present government will never sell any state own lands to the foreign countries

The UNP parliamentarian Mujubur Rahuman says it is not fair for some political elements to involve in sabotage work against the government’s rapid development programme. Parliamentarian also stated some political elements in the country are trying to disrupt the government’s forward march at a time the present government is taking effective steps to build the economy through potential foreign investments. 
Mr. Mujubur Rahuman made these remarks at a media conference held at UNP headquarters Sirikotha today. Speaking further at this conference he reiterated that the present government has established the rule of law and reconciliation among different communities in the country. The government has also taken effective steps to establish democracy in the country. As a result the international community has come forward to invest in many sectors. Many foreign investors have shown interest in investing in different sectors. The parliamentarian also reiterated that the present government will never sell any state owned lands to the foreign countries.

Lanka seeks tripartite trade arrangement with India.

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Harsha de Silva has said Sri Lanka is keen to establish a tripartite arrangement for trade and investment with India and Singapore. Press Trust of India newspaper reported that Sri Lanka aims to conclude Economic Technology Cooperation Agreement with India for services this year, and is negotiating a free trade agreement with Singapore, Silva said.
He said at 'The Indian Ocean' forum organized by the Institute of South Asian Studies yesterday that the ETCA will enhance the scope of our existing India-Sri Lanka FTA to extend freer movement of goods and services with the added emphasis on cooperation in the development of technology and in investments.
The three trade pacts, including India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, will enable South Asia and Singapore to establish a tripartite arrangement for trade and investments, he said. He went on to highlight Sri Lanka's goal to boost exports to 20 billion US dollars by 2020.
The geo-political realities require that Sri Lanka builds strong bilateral relations with Bay of Bengal members of ASEAN, in addition to its fellow South Asian members, he added.

Indian, Sri Lankan fishermen repatriated

Fifty-one Indian and three Sri Lankan fishermen were repatriated today to their respective countries in line with the decision taken at a recent ministerial-level talks held in Colombo. The press Trust of India reported that Sri Lankan Navy handed over the 51 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, arrested over the past few months, to Indian Coast Guard at the International Maritime Boundary Line in the Palk Bay.
Ramanathapuram District Fisheries Deputy Director Kasinatha Pandian said similarly, three Sri Lankan fishermen, released from the Puzhal Prison in Chennai on January 8, were handed over to the Sri Lankan Navy at the IMBL.
The trio had drifted into Indian waters off Dhanushkodi recently after their boat ran out of fuel and were arrested. The Tamil Nadu fishermen would arrive at Karaikal coast from where they would be taken to their respective destinations, officials said.
The 51 fishermen from Tuticorin, Pudukottai and Ramanthapuram districts were arrested by the Lankan Navy while fishing in their territorial waters between November and December, 2016 and lodged in prisons in the island nation.
They were released on January 6 as per the decision taken at a high-level meeting between the two countries in Colombo where the vexed issue of fishing rights in the Palk Bay was discussed.

The Ministry of Mass Media has come forward to provide drone facilities to promote investigative journalism.

The Government Information Department says the Ministry of Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms has come forward to provide drone facilities to promote investigative journalism. Accordingly, the new technology will help the journalists in identifying the place of incident and other footage of the incident in an accurate manner. 
Given the increasing availability of high-end consumer drones in Sri Lanka, the manufacture of sophisticated drones within the country and with their purchase price dropping, the Media Ministry expects their use in commercial and recreational purposes, including in the field of journalism, to keep grow rapidly.
Accordingly, the Media Ministry fully supports the use of drones by journalists and media personnel in pursuit of their professional news gathering operations and coverage of events, places and processes. However, given a rapid increase in usage and the evolving nature of drone technology, the Ministry’s primary responsibility is to ensure usage of drones for journalism is in compliance with existing rules and regulations, as well as conducted in a manner that is, above all else, safe, ethical and respects the privacy of citizens.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles more commonly referred to as drones for commercial and private use has grown exponentially recently, and especially as restrictions around airspace have been relaxed after the end of the war. The Ministry is aware of footage taken by drones, by citizens as well as tourists visiting Sri Lanka, widely available across social media as online video platforms. The Media Ministry seeks to stress that the use of drones for journalism in Sri Lanka must be, at all times, in compliance with the regulations issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka in February 2016, CA-IS-2016-GEN-001 titled ‘Requirements for Operation of Pilotless Aircraft, available freely on its website. Those who fly drones for purposes of journalism need to read these regulations in full and abide by them.

Price of kerosene has been reduced by 5 rupees effective midnight today.

The Finance Ministry says the price of kerosene has been reduced by 5 rupees effective midnight today. Accordingly the new revised price of kerosene oil is 44 rupee per litre. The price is reduced as per the Budget proposals.

Minister Ravi Karunanayake has been selected as the best finance minister in Asia Pacific region.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has been selected as the Finance Minister of the Year for Asia-Pacific by the prestigious The Banker magazine for his efforts to steer Sri Lanka into a new era of economic reform and a change of mindset. The banker a prestigious international financial publication published in London inter alia select the finance minister of the year who has best managed to stimulate growth and stabilize the economy of their country.

The Banker says Karunanayake secured a 1.5 billion dollars International Monetary Fund loan program that the country needed to avoid a balance of payments crisis, replenish reserves and rebuild confidence among international investors. Sri Lanka’s latest bond issues in the international capital markets suggest Karunanayake has indeed reached his objective.

In 2015, the sovereign issued a 1.5 billion dollars dual-tranche note – its largest since 2007. A year later, it printed a second bond of the same size, with order books of 6.6 billion dollars, despite market volatility after the UK voted to leave the EU. Sri Lanka is also working towards fiscal consolidation. Sri Lanka’s budget deficit has dropped from 7percent when Karunanayake took office in January 2015 to 5.4 percent in 2016 – below the targeted expectations of 5.6 percent

The President says youth should be educated on the social evils caused by narcotics.

The government has planned to implement an awareness programme to educate youth on knowledge, skills, discipline and attitude. The aim of the programme is to make the youth active, dynamic and socially motivated individuals. A discussion in this connection was held at the President’s secretariat under the patronage of the President. Addressing the gathering the President said the youth community should be educated on the damages caused by narcotics to the society They will also be trained to use modern technology and internet for the well being of society.

The youth will also be enlightened on quality food consumer patterns food security, sustainable environmental conservation, child safety , control of renal diseases, control of drugs and many other topics. The initial programme will be held at the Polonnaruwa royal college from 27th to the 29th of this month. Shramadana campaigns, vocational training sessions and counseling for local and foreign jobs will also be held during this period.

The newly constructed S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike Training Center at the premises of Sapugaskanda oil refinery plant was declared open by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yesterday.

The newly constructed S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike Training Center at the premises of Sapugaskanda oil refinery plant was declared open by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yesterday.


Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, named top adviser.

President-elect Donald Trump has named his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as one of his senior White House advisers.The 35-year-old played a key role in the presidential campaign and his new White House job will cover both domestic and foreign policy.


The President instructs the officials to properly enforce laws on securing the intellectual property.

President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed the relevant officials to properly implement the existing laws on securing the intellectual property. If the existing laws are not adequate new rules and regulations should be compiled to minimize the exploitation of intellectual property.

The President gave these instructions at a discussion held this evening at the President’s Secretariat with a group of artists and relevant officials. They focused attention on measures that will be taken to proper payment of royalty to the writers and protecting the copyrights.

The President also instructed the Ministry of Mass Media to take measures to upgrade the quality of media culture in Sri Lanka. Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka was also present at this meeting.

Representatives of all political parties met today to take decisions on the matters relating to the local government polls.

Special discussion with regard to holding the local government election and the report of the demarcation committee was held at the parliament complex today under the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe.


National programme of empowering state establishments with solar power begins.

The national programme of empowering state establishments with solar power commenced from the Finance Ministry. Accordingly the Ministry said that its electricity bill will come down by 200,000 rupees.


Six policemen were sentenced to death on the charges of culpable homicide.

Badulla high court today sentenced six police officers of the Kandeketiya Police to death under the charge of killing a youth who was in police custody three years ago.

Meanwhile, Matara high court today sentenced four suspects to death under the charges of unlawful assembly and killing a person in the year 2005.

Assad says Aleppo bombing was justified.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the bombing of eastern Aleppo, which his forces recaptured from rebels last month, was justified. "This is the price sometimes, but at the end, the people are liberated from the terrorists," he told French media.


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