Key development projects put on hold
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Central Bank has stated that the implementation of
several key development projects would have to be either
postponed or implemented at a slower pace this year due
to the growing financial crisis looming over the island.
of the ongoing mega projects are Hambantota Port
Development Project, Coal Power Plant at Norochcholai,
Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project, Uma Oya Reservoir
Project, modern oil refinery and the Katunayake
Central Bank in its 2008 Annual Report has said the
financial flows to the government and the private
sectors are likely to decline in 2009 and recover
bank has said therefore it would be "prudent" to
postpone the implementation of new projects till the
recovery of global financial markets.
Bank has further stated that although the government
continues to receive financial flows from development
partners out of funds already committed by them, it has
become very challenging to raise loans from
international markets at competitive rates of interest.
result, implementation of some of the projects that
require additional foreign financing and substantial
domestic financing might have to be postponed or
implemented at a slower pace, especially in
2009."However, in the medium-term with the expected
recovery of the global economy, the government would be
able to mobilise required external commercial financing
to supplement the disbursement of committed funds by Sri
Lanka's development partners.
2008, the government had a cumulative financial
commitment of around US$ 5.9 billion from the country's
development partners in the pipeline as compared to US$
4.7 billion at end 2007 and this amount is likely to
increase further in the medium-term with the expected
external funding for resettlement and rehabilitation of
the liberated Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri
"Several foreign funded projects were implemented in
2008 with the help of commercial financing which
provided the required counterpart funds. However, the
unfolding global crisis would deter the flow of such
funds into the domestic financial markets affecting
business expansion, the continuation of ongoing projects
and also exerting pressure on the domestic money
market," the Bank has said.
has stopped giving aid to Sri Lanka due to an internal
conflict, ending a longstanding partnership which had
given 30 to 40 million Euros each year to the island.
BBC Sinhala Service has reported that the Netherlands
government had informed the country's parliament that it
had terminated aid to a number of countries including
report has said aid to Sri Lanka and the African nation
of Eritrea will be ended due to "the political
situation." "We think it is very difficult to work in
Sri Lanka because of the violence. So, we will end our
partner-country relationship with Sri Lanka," Dutch
Development Minister Bert Koenders has been quoted by
Central Bank in its 2008 Annual Report forecast the
country's economic growth to slow sharply to 2.5% in
2009, from 6% last year and then recover to 5% in 2010.
Let them decide?
London witnesses Tamil protests, a bloodbath on the
beaches of northern Sri Lanka seems an increasingly real
possibility. The Sri Lankan military has pushed the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam into an area so small
that any shooting or shelling inevitably causes
casualties among the 150,000 to 190,000 civilians
trapped in the same zone.
have been many hundreds of civilian deaths caused by
firing from both sides, though exact numbers and who
fired what and when are impossible to verify. It is
clear that the LTTE is refusing to let people flee,
though many are managing to escape somehow, and it is
feared the combatants may be gearing up for a final
full-scale, long-term ceasefire is unlikely to be agreed
now, the only way to get the civilians out of harm's way
is a temporary humanitarian lull, during which aid
workers and relief supplies must be allowed into the
conflict zone, and those who want to leave must be given
the chance to do so.
sides have a duty to bring this about. The LTTE's
leadership claims the civilians in the conflict zone do
not want to leave because they accompanied the LTTE
voluntarily in the first place and are afraid of
government reprisals. Yet there are continuing reports
that the group's fighters are shooting at fleeing
civilians, limiting fishing and sabotaging boats that
might be used to escape, and forcing people to fight
against their will.
Civilians trapped by the fighting must be allowed a free
choice of whether to leave or stay, as we have made
clear to the LTTE. If the LTTE truly has the best
interests of the Tamil people at heart, they should
contribute to ending this unnecessary civilian
its part, the Government of Sri Lanka must stick to its
promise of not using heavy weapons while the fighting
lasts, and hold off from any final attack in the
conflict zone while the pause is negotiated. With so
many people packed into such a small area, further
military action not only risks more civilian deaths and
injuries but also threatens to undermine the
government's credibility with the international
community and the national groups with whom it must soon
this critical juncture independent aid workers must be
allowed to bring in more aid, assess the situation and
help civilians to decide their own fate. Indeed, unless
better access for supplies and aid workers is urgently
secured, the ravages of disease, untreated wounds and
hunger will kill many more people. The government must
also show flexibility by recognising that many of the
civilians in the conflict zone have genuine fears about
possible mistreatment, whether the government deems them
well-founded or not. It must also make clear that the
safety of all civilians will be guaranteed, and that all
those laying down their arms will be treated in
accordance with the rule of law.
vital part of this is ensuring that treatment of
internally displaced people is in line with
international standards - including the need for
transparent screening and registration processes,
guaranteed freedom of movement, and commitments to
ensure speedy return to their places of origin. If the
UN can play a role in bringing this about and monitoring
it with other international groups, it is fully ready to
this we need an end to the conflict, and rapid political
progress to tackle the underlying issues through the
devolution of power and long-term accommodation and
reconciliation. With thousands of lives in the balance
and the clock ticking, the time for decisive action by
the government, the LTTE and the international community
is now, before it is too late.
- The Guardian,
Top brass running terror ops - AHRC
statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
last week quoting a report issued by the five media
organisations entitled, 'The Resurgence Of Terror And
The Paramilitary Forces In Sri Lanka,' stated that
covert operations are carried out by paramilitary groups
that have the patronage of an ultra-powerful authority
in carrying out terror operations.
report referred mainly to attacks on many journalists,
including assassinations. The report reveals that this
terror group is able to pass barricades and checkpoints
because of an efficient network that facilitates the
transport of these attackers.The report refers to
various attacks, these being: the January 6 attack on
the Sirasa Media Network building which was set on fire,
the assassination of The Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha
Wickrematunge on January 8, the attack on the Max TV
station on February 23, the attack on Rivira Editor
Upali Tennakoon on January 16, the abduction of Editor
N. Vidyadaran on February 26 and the abduction of Prof.
Dhammika Ganganath Dissanayaka on March 12.
these attacks occurred this year. Further, earlier
attacks took place last year on Guruparan, a journalist
with Suryan FM, the attack on Keith Noyar, Deputy Editor
of The Nation newspaper, the brutal attack and attempted
abduction of journalist Namal Perera and the Media
Secretary of the British High Commission, Mahendra
report was presented to leaders from the Congress of
Religions on the April 7. The religious leaders, who
listened to the representation of the five media
organisations undertook to bring the report to the
notice of the President of Sri Lanka. Earlier the US
State Department, in their annual report on human rights
also mentioned that: "paramilitaries and others believed
to be 'working with awareness of the government' carried
out unlawful killings, torture and kidnappings of
civilians with impunity."
South Asian citizens
call for UN intervention
Indian writers, academics and activists have sent an
appeal on April 10 to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon,
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging to halt the
alleged mass murder of Tamils in Wanni.
group calling themselves ‘concerned South Asian
citizens’ have called for the prevention of the Wanni
becoming the graveyard of 180,000 Tamils and allege that
the reality is for the Sri Lankan government to utilise
the ‘war on terror’ phrase as a cover to systematically
destroy all democratic processes and institutions in Sri
Lanka and turned it into a terror apparatus.
The signatories state that media reports have reported
the deaths of over 700 Tamils in the last three to four
days alone with only a section of them being identified
as LTTE cadres.
It adds that 19 journalists, both Tamil and Sinhala
being killed in the last two years, over 35 exiled,
driven away from the country or silenced, and numerous
publications closed down with the culmination of the
assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor of
The Sunday Leader, a widely respected Sri Lankan
weekly in January highlighted the fate of anyone
challenging the ruling dispensation.
has expressed concern over reports that the Sri Lankan
government was using banned and illegal explosives,
including bombs with possible chemical and nerve gases.
statement called for immediate UN intervention to
restrain the Sri Lankan Government from using banned and
illegal explosives and weaponry, including explosives
using chemical, nerve and biologically destructive
calls upon the international community to initiate
necessary humanitarian interventions including
prosecution of the highest functionaries of the Sri
Lankan Government for commission of war crimes and
crimes against humanity.
further calls upon the Indian Government to use its
moral influence to persuade Sri Lanka to give up its
belligerent and abusive attacks on anyone raising
humanitarian concerns regarding the crisis.
appeal prepared by General Secretary, People’s Union for
Civil Liberties (PUCL) India, Tapan Bose Pushkar Raj is
endorsed by a group of intellectuals from varied walks
Tusks donation creates uproar
By Risidra Mendis
of tusks presented to President Mahinda Rajapakse by
Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka has created an
uproar among environmentalists.
presentation of the tusks to President Mahinda Rajapakse
at Temple Trees two weeks ago though not illegal has
been criticised by environmentalists and the public, who
feel that the Minister should set an example to the
public by not making such presentations.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader environmentalists said
even though there are special provisions for the head of
state, ministers and the wildlife director to present a
pair of tusks with an authorised permit, the Minister
should set an example to the public by not making
announcements when presenting tusks to the President.
elephant population is rapidly decreasing in the
country. According to recent surveys the elephant human
conflict and killing these animals for their tusks are
the main reasons for their dwindling population. A large
number of elephants were killed during the recent past
and their tusks used for decorative accessories in the
country. At a time when animal welfare activists and
environmentalists are fighting to save the dwindling
elephant population in the country the Environment
Minister is presenting a pair of tusks to the
President," environmentalists said, requesting anonymity
in view of the fact that the tusks had been donated to
Refuting the accusations levelled against him Ranawaka
told The Sunday Leader that there was nothing wrong in
presenting a pair of tusks to the Head of State.
is wrong in presenting a pair of tusks to the state?
This pair of tusks was not presented to President
Rajapakse at a personal level but to the state. The
public cannot find any reasons to criticise the
Environment Ministry. Our hard work has brought results
with the Environment Ministry winning awards. There are
many tusks piled up at the Wildlife Department. These
tusks are gathering dust in storerooms at the
Department. We are proud of our elephants and have to
give them due recognition.
is nothing wrong in presenting a pair of tusks to the
state. This pair of tusks will be given its due place at
Temple Trees and not be gathering dust in a storeroom,"
added that in ancient times when objects of symbolic
value were found they were presented to the king. "Tusks
have been presented to the Dalada Maligawa and temples.
We will continue to present tusks to religious places in
the future as well," Ranawaka said.
Commenting on the issue regarding the tusks Environment
Lawyer Jagath Gunewardene said special provisions under
the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO) allows
for the donation of tusks with a permit.
added another dimension to the moral and ethical dilemma
of this issue asserting, "The pubic are worried about
dead elephants being given from one state institution to
another, but not about the large scale wanton
destruction of animals such as sea horses and jelly fish
which we are left alone to fight."
Trading accusations while
sides blame each other for a shell attack on the Public
Health Centre at Pokkanai last Wednesday April 8. The
military however maintain they have suspended offensive
operations having surrounded the safe zone, in an
attempt to rescue thousands of civilians.
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said,
"We have surrounded the safe zone, but we have not
infiltrated the area."
Nanayakkara said that announcements had been made to try
and clear the safe zone and that 301 civilians had
managed to leave following these announcements.
Nanayakkara said, "We are not firing into the safety
zone. We are not carrying out any offensive operations
in the area."
article last week “Taking commercial aviation to the
next level” we inadvertently referred to Mr. Lal
Liyanarachchi as Director General of Civil Aviation when
in fact he is Chairman.
Intl media calls for free access to
the north for local media
Without Borders has reminded the Sri Lankan government
of its international undertakings as the media continue
to be prevented from moving about freely in the north of
the country, especially in the area where tens of
thousands of Tamils are surrounded by the army.
organisation has stated that the death of at least two
journalists in the so-called “no-fire” area tends to
support allegations that the Sri Lankan security forces
are responsible for war crimes against civilians.
also shows the government is violating UN Security
Council resolution 1738 (adopted in December 2006) about
protecting journalists in war zones.
“With a major humanitarian crisis and war crimes clearly
taking place, the government must heed the international
community’s calls for a ceasefire and for better access
for humanitarian workers and journalists,” Reporters
Without Borders has said.
is a disgrace that this war is being waged without
independent journalists present. And by preventing
thousands of innocent civilians from moving freely, the
Tamil Tiger rebels bear a large share of the
responsibility for these crimes.”
press freedom organisation has added: “By limiting media
coverage to guided tours with the purpose of confirming
military victories, the armed forces are preventing the
press from doing its job and are disregarding the
public’s right to be informed in an independent manner.”
Reporters Without Borders has also condemned the
propaganda orchestrated by both the government and the
LTTE about the fate of the civilians who have been
trapped by the military offensive against the rebels.
The organisation has called on the Sri Lankan and
international media to join in its condemnation of the
obstacles put in the way of the news media in war zones
by using its campaign ad: “Whenever blood flows,
reporters’ ink should flow too”
Reporters are unable to travel freely in the northern
Wanni district, especially the coastal area where nearly
100,000 civilians and rebel combatants have been
surrounded by the army. More than 2,000 are already
believed to have died in air strikes or as result of
appalling sanitary conditions.
least two journalists have been killed in the area.
Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy, the correspondent of several
Tamil media based in Canada, was killed in a shelling on
February 12 and a reporter for pro-LTTE Tamilnet was
killed in a bombardment by government forces in early
March. Sasi Mathan, who was in charge of distribution
of the Tamil nationalist daily Eezhanaatham, was
killed in March in the Aananthapuram area.
SLTB strike spreads to Moratuwa
By Risidra Mendis
Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) employees have vowed to
continue with their on going bus strike if the President
and the Transport Minister fail to address their issues.
bus strike that started in the south a few days ago has
now spread to Moratuwa as well.
Sunday Leader learns that the bus strike is now
effective in the depots of Hambantota, Matara,
Kalutara, Colombo, Gampaha, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Kandy,
Matale and Badulla.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader Secretary, All Ceylon
Transport Union, Sepala Liyanage said their demands to
the government are not unreasonable.
government servants can be paid Rs 4500, why can't the
government pay SLTB employees the same amount? The
government promised us Rs. 5000 but are now paying Rs.
2000 to the employees. The government has also failed to
pay up the arrears of Rs. 34,000. We have requested the
government to pay us Rs. 10,000 out of the Rs. 34,000
before the Sinhala and Hindu New Year," Liyanage said.
Liyanage added that this was a reasonable request
especially since SLTB employees are in need of cash for
the New Year. "We have written to President Mahinda
Rajapakse and Transport Minister Dulles Alahapperuma but
are yet to receive a response from them," Liyanage said.
Alahapperuma was not available for comment.