Friday, February 18, 2011

Norwegians to tap into Lankan fisheries and boat industry

Photo courtesy: Jon Clout

Daily Mirror

An eight member, high-powered Business Delegation dealing with Fisheries and the Boat industry from Norway will be visiting Colombo in February, 2011 to establish potential business contacts with the business community in Sri Lanka. In order to facilitate companies to interact with the delegates, the Sri Lanka-Norway Matchmaking Programme of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will be organizing a Matchmaking Event on 23rd February, 2011 at the Cinnamon Lakeside, Colombo.

The delegates are mainly dealing in the designing of catamaran fishing vessels, discharge systems for deliveries for fish meal and fish meal plants, fish farm cages, anchor and mooring systems, fish farming pumps, long line equipment, supply of boats, deck machinery for oil & gas, marine and fishing industries and transfer of technology for aquaculture industry.

The fishing industry is the second largest export sector in Norway after oil and gas. The industry includes the traditional fishing, as well as fish farming and processing of all kinds of seafood at onshore facilities. Due to various factors, such as new technology and equipment, restructuring of the sector and international competition, the Norwegian fishing industry has improved tremendously during past the few years. The main reason for this is that Norway controls some of the world's richest fishing grounds. The North Sea, Norway's coastal waters, the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea polar front are all very productive, and there are important fish breeding grounds just off the coast. Norway's coastal districts also lend themselves to aquaculture, an industry which has developed rapidly in recent years and grown into a valuable coastal industry.

There are many opportunities for Sri Lankan companies dealing in fisheries and boat industry in Sri Lanka to learn the new technology introduced by the Norwegian companies said the spokesman of the Sri Lanka-Norway Matchmaking Programme. The Sri Lanka-Norway Industrial Co-operation (Matchmaking) Programme was initiated by the Sri Lanka-Nordic Business Councils in 1993. Its objective is to facilitate the transfer of Norwegian know-how, competence, technology and skills to Sri Lanka by way of a matchmaking process. The Programme is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD). The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce acts as the National Contact Point in Sri Lanka while NB Partner AS, an industrial consultancy firm in Norway acts as the National Contact Point in Norway. The programme has identified several sectors as having potential for co-operation agreements and investment possibilities on the basis of the availability of Norwegian industrial competence. These sectors include aquaculture technology and equipment, fishing gear, boat building and services, processed fish and shellfish products, power generation, environmental technology, and information technology among others. The programme also facilitates trading between Sri Lankan and Norwegian business enterprises.

© Daily Mirror

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Sri Lankan floods cause $50 million in damages to irrigation networks

By Amantha Perera | Alert Net

Gamhevage Dayananda, a Sri Lankan rice farmer, used to earn a decent living off his two acres of paddy rice. In January, however, floodwaters destroyed the irrigation network that fed his village’s rice fields, taking his livelihood with them.

Unusually heavy rains battered villages like Pansalgolla, about 250 kilometres east of the capital Colombo, in early January and again in February. During the January deluge, engineers were forced to open the sluice gates on water reservoirs used to irrigate paddy fields after the water in them rose to dangerous levels, threatening the structure of the tanks.

In Pansalgolla, the released water crashed into the village’s irrigation network and flooded paddy fields. A 40-feet-deep ditch, filled with muddy water, now stands in a triangular area where the irrigation channel, a dirt road and rice fields used to be.

Today villagers are forced to cross the ditch on an improvised ferry made of used tar barrels.

“The fields are gone and the water channel is gone. In their place we have a large tank,” said Dayananda, 37.

“I have no means to make an income for one year now,” he added. “The floods have taken away everything. No one warned us that rains would be this big. Usually we rejoice when the rains come, now it is like a mass funeral here.”

The damage to the irrigation network in the small village in Polonnaruwa District is indicative of the havoc wrought on a national scale by the two floods – a problem that could affect rice production and food costs in Sri Lanka, experts say.

Climate scientists and weather experts warn that more extreme weather, such as the heavy rains Sri Lanka received over the last two months – a year’s worth of rain fell between December and February – likely will become more common in the future.

“Global weather patterns are changing and we need to be mindful of them and perhaps take necessary precautions,” said Gunavi Samarasinghe, director of Sri Lanka’s meteorological department, as the floods raged in the country’s east in January.

The destruction of water channels – a lifeline for paddy rice farmers – has been felt hardest in Sri Lanka’s eastern districts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee, and north central Anuradhapura District. Referred to as the rice-bowl of the nation, together the districts account for over one fifth of the country’s total paddy land.

Worried about the threat to the country’s rice production, Sri Lanka’s government has said it will cover the estimated $50 million (5 billion rupees) in damage to the region’s reservoir and irrigation network.

Larger reservoirs and networks suffered $30 million in damages while smaller ones suffered around $20 million in damage, Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said at a news conference.

“Around 500 tanks have been affected,” he said. The country’s treasury has agreed to release the funds needed for repairs, the minister said.

Irrigation engineers were only beginning to assess the damages to irrigation tanks from the January flooding when the new wave of floods hit this month.

Egalla Sumandasa, regional director of irrigation for Polonnaruwa district, said engineers were left with no choice but to release water in order to save the over-filled reservoirs.

“If a tank (embankment) breaks, it will be a catastrophe. (It would put) thousands of lives at risk and towns and villages too,” he told AlertNet in a phone interview. “When the spill levels were reached, we opened the gates. We had to secure the tanks, sacrificing the irrigation channels.”

The district’s largest reservoir, the Parkarama Samudraya (Parkarama Sea), for instance, covers an area of 20 square kilometres – one indication of the potential size of the problem if a reservoir was breached, he said.

“If we did not release water from the tank, there would be no Polonnaruwa town left by now,” he said.

As water was released from both large and small reservoirs in the region, connecting channels – like the one in Pansalgolla – suffered, he said.

In the small coastal village of Verugal, in Trincomalee district, January floods destroyed over 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) of irrigation channels, according to the government divisional secretariat there. As in other areas of the four districts Verugal suffered even more extensive – but as yet unspecified – damage during repeat floods in February.

Given the ferocity of the floods, the decision to save the reservoirs was the right one, Sumandasa said.

“The (irrigation) channels can be repaired. The cost may look high, but if a (reservoir embankment) was to rupture, the costs would be a hundred times more,” he said.

Repairing the channels and getting the irrigation network back in workable order should now be a priority, experts say.

Nimal Dissanayake, director of the Rice Research and Development Institute of Sri Lanka, says that the over 1 million metric tonnes of rice harvest likely lost to the floods could be made up in part if the irrigation network is quickly put back in working order and the extra water now available used to boost production of the next crop.

“The secondary harvesting season is cultivated using irrigated water between April and September. If we can provide the water then we can get a better harvest because there is enough water in the reservoirs,” he said in a phone interview.

So far the government has not announced any time frame for the repair work. But Dissanayake feels lost time would prove costly.

“We probably can stall the knock-on effects of the floods like price hikes and rice shortages by doing (the repairs quickly),” he said.

© Alert Net

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Petition against Rajapaksa in US

By Sutirtho Patranobis | Hindustan Times

The murder of five young Tamil students and the execution of 17 aid workers feature prominently in a petition filed against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an US court. In January, three Sri Lankan Tamils filed the case in a Washington court alleging Rajapaksa, as the supreme commander of the forces, was responsible for these and other cases of torture and extrajudicial killings. They have demanded $30 million in damages from him.

The petition, an emailed copy of which is with HT, gives examples of unresolved killings including murder of Tamil lawmakers. Among the petitioners, affiliated to Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), is the father of a 20-year-old student who, along with four friends, was allegedly murdered by the Special Task Force in January 2006 in Trincomalee. The subsequent investigation ended without resolving the infamous case.

The cold-blooded execution of 17 local aid workers from Paris-based Action Against Hunger in Muttur in eastern Sri Lanka the same year grabbed world headlines. The government blamed the LTTE but under international pressure constituted a futile investigation. The petitioner, wife of a deceased, claims the government troops murdered the workers.

The last petitioner claimed four family members were killed in shelling by the Lankan navy in Mullaitivu in May, 2009 days before the civil war ended.

The government has maintained it did not target civilians. But rights groups have called for international investigation amid claims that there were thousands of casualties.

Officials dismissed the lawsuit as an effort of surviving Tamil Tiger front groups to tarnish the country’s image.

“What we are seeing now is that the same individuals or relatives of these individuals were part of these proscribed LTTE front organisations have started new groups. They continue to spread propaganda against the Government and carry out publicity stunts like this baseless law suit,’’ Lanka’s US ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya said in a statement.

© Hindustan Times

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Friday, February 18, 2011

"Freedom of expression key to democracy and human rights" - Christopher Warren

Photo courtesy: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai | Passion Parade

International Federation of Journalists

Christopher Warren, immediate past President, International Federation of Journalists, and Federal Secretary, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance to the Lasantha Wickrematunge commemoration, Colombo, Sri Lanka, February 15, 2011.

These last few weeks have been exhilarating for those of us who believe in democracy, human rights, freedom of speech and the press.

First Tunisia and now Egypt have embarked on the exciting, tumultuous journey to free and democratic societies. There can be no doubt that the most difficult part of that journey is still to come and those countries – and the dominos that will inevitably follow them – will require all the support possible from the international community of friends and supporters of democracy.

And there can be no doubt that there will be stumbles and disappointments along the way. But there can be no doubt that the end result will be a freer, more open – more normal – society.

The events in north Africa are exhilarating not just for their own sake. They are a beacon to the world.

Partly this is due to the significance of Egypt as a central player in Africa and the middle East. It will force every country in the region to confront this question: If Egypt, why not us?

But it is significant beyond its own borders and its own region. It is significant because it marks the renewal of the global march to democracy and human rights.

Over the past decade, this march has stumbled due to two influences. First, the ill-named Global War on Terror came to justify restrictions on human rights in the name of security, to encourage the democratic world to compromise with authoritarian regimes in the name of fighting terror and conflated the spread of democracy with the use of armed force in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These restrictions came although as that great journalist Benjamin Franklin warned us over two centuries ago: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Yet the sacrifices made in traditional democracies acted not only to set back human rights in those countries. It sent a message to authoritarian regimes around the world that human rights was no longer the central concern that it should be for all democratic nations.

At the same time, the economic growth of China within the strict authoritarian rule of the Communist Party gave new life to the chimera beloved of leaders with authoritarian tendencies everywhere that economic growth occurs best when coupled with strong man rule despite the corruption that goes with it.

Yet we know from within our own region how false that is. All authoritarian regimes sooner or later hit a wall of economic growth that only genuine democracies can break through. We saw it in Korea and Taiwan in 1988 and in Indonesia in 1998. In all those cases, the crisis of authoritarianism could only be resolved through democratisation.

And now, the risings in Tunisia and Egypt have again put a full stop to both these lies. They reopen the understanding that you can only fight terror through democracy and only a democracy built on respect for human rights can guarantee a strong and vibrant economy that eliminates corruption.

There’s a further development that makes the examples of Tunisia and Egypt so exciting. They’ve been driven by the same groups that have been working for democracy throughout the world – human rights and press freedom NGOs, independent trade unions and working journalists.

They have not been driven by the traditional political or oppositional groups but from broad based networks reflecting the frustrations of the people.

For me – as I suspect it would have been for Lasantha - the example of journalists is particularly exciting.

We need to be honest – many journalists do well out of authoritarian regimes, particularly in cases like Egypt where so much of the media is state-owned. They get the perks of status and public recognition. They get to pontificate on national television about the inevitability of strong man rule. They get to hobnob with political heavyweights and get invited to drinks with the president. They are relatively well paid. Too many of our colleagues fall into the trap of comfort and compromise.

Yet, as in case after case of democratic revolution around the world, individual working journalists – particularly the rising generation - have rushed to place themselves at the centre of the north African risings.

Even within the state-owned media, journalists have been fighting for – and winning - a free media, for the right to report in the interests of the people, not of the State and the ruling elite. Some have walked out, rather than compromise their journalist principles.

And now we are seeing their battles paying off with the likely break-up and democratisation of State-owned media built on the principles of independent public service broadcasting and publishing and the strengthening of independent and private media.

It will be these reforms, more than any others, that will ensure that Egyptian and Tunisian democracy continues to surge forward. And it is these battles that must lie at the heart of the campaigning commitment of journalist communities.

It is clear from this, that there are many lessons to be learnt from north Africa, not least here in Sri Lanka.

As I said, in most of the world, democracy has marked time over the past decade.

Would that were the case here in Sri Lanka. Instead it has gone backwards. And the murder of Sivaram in 2005, of Lasantha Wickrematunge two years ago, the trial of Tissa, Jesiharan and Valamarty, the effective exiling of friends like Poddala, Sanath and Sunanda, and the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda last year all stand as chilling monuments to that deterioration.

Each of these marked a different phase of that deterioration. The murder of Sivaram and the treason trials of Tissa, Jesiharan and Valamarthy all in their own way marked a common goal of both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE – the elimination of any independent, questioning space in the Tamil community.

The bashing of Poddala Jayantha and others and forcing into exile so many other friends marked the attempt to eliminate the sort of independent network of journalists, human rights NGOs and independent unions in the media that, as Egypt and Tunisia shows, can be so challenging to an increasingly authoritarian ruling elite.

And the murder of Lasantha and the subsequent disappearance of Prageeth marked the attempt to eliminate a questioning and challenging media. I doubt there is a journalist in the country that didn’t hear and understand the message that these two events sent.

Lasantha’s powerful message from the grave And Then They Came for Me indicates how well he understood that the attacks on free and independent journalism did not come in a vacuum – they came as part of a concerted push against democracy and human rights.

He also well understood that, in being attacked, he was not being singled out. As he said, he did not travel the journey alone: “Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands.”

And yet, though his murder was only one of many, his standing in our craft meant his killing was more shocking than most. Here was one of this country’s most senior journalists, a fiercely independent editor of one of its leading independent papers, publisher of critical investigative exposes of corruption and wrong doing.

And yet, if his standing could not protect him, how should the rest of the craft stand up?

And yet journalists do. And that’s because, as the actions of many of our colleagues in north Africa have reminded us this year, free and independent journalism can only exist in a free and democratic society built on human rights.

We are like fish who cannot live without the sea of freedom of expression surrounding us.

An independent Sri Lanka is about the same age as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so it is no surprise that the challenge of human rights has been intertwined in the history of an independent Sri Lanka from the very beginning.

It has been a history punctuated with human rights abuses from the denial of citizenship to the upcountry Tamils in its very early days through to the murder of Lasantha and the disappearance of Prageeth. It has included some of the world’s most terrible events from the anti-Tamil Colombo pogrom in 1983 to the presentation of suicide bombings as the LTTE’s most enduring gift to the world

Balancing these human rights abuses have been an enduring democracy, flawed and inadequate as it has been at times. A simulacrum of an independent judiciary has survived. Civil society has grown.

What intertwines human rights so deeply in the history of Sri Lanka is not that it has been the worst of societies, any more than it has been the best. It is that from the very beginning of the country’s independence, human rights have always been the central contested terrain of struggle.

I have long believed that the history of Sri Lanka can only really be written and understood as a history of the struggle for human rights.

With the murder of Lasantha, the disappearance of Prageeth, freedom of expression has become the centre of the struggle because you cannot have a society founded on human rights without the right of freedom of expression. And, you cannot have freedom of expression without a society founded on human rights.

Freedom of expression underpins some other rights directly – the right to practice your religion freely, the right to peaceful assembly as well as freedom of speech or, narrowest of all, freedom of the media. None of these rights exists without the right to freely express.

It’s integral to the rights of women, minority groups and disadvantaged groups. They cannot be empowered without being empowered through their own freedom to express themselves. That’s why I have no truck with those who argue that freedom of expression is marginal to the struggles of the disadvantaged. Those struggles cannot even have the words to express themselves if they are not empowered to speak.

It’s bundled up in the right to a fair trial – part of a fair trial is to be tried in the open.

And it underpins all other rights – rights of security, rights against arbitrary arrest, rights to citizenship, rights against torture because it – along with an independent judiciary – is the means for enforcing these rights. It’s the means for exposing abuse and by exposing end them

Freedom of expression is the catalyst that enables every other right to be freely exercised.

While freedom of the press is really only a subset of the broader right of freedom expression, traditionally, it’s been through journalists like Lasantha and Prageeth bravely exercising our craft here in Sri Lanka that the struggle for human rights has been reported and made known.

And that’s why they and so many other journalists have become the target.

Like every other person, a journalist has a right against abduction, against illegal imprisonment, against torture and against murder. Yet now, for reporting, for analysing, for questioning, for – in short – doing their job, too many journalists have found themselves in the vortex of spiralling human rights abuse in Sri Lanka.

And so Lasantha was murdered and Prageeth disappeared.

It is easy in this environment to think things will never get better.

But Tunisia and Egypt show the decade of marking time is over.

Yet again, authoritarian rule has failed the people – even the sort of soft authoritarianism that uses the veneer of elections to conceal the abuse of human rights.

And it will be up to journalists to make a difference – but it will not be up to us alone. We need to learn the lessons that our friends and colleagues in Tunisia and Egypt have taught us all over again.

First, we cannot compromise our craft. Journalism in the service of an authoritarian state is not journalism at all. It is merely words on a page or voices in the airwaves. Journalism must stand, as it always has, for respect for the truth and respect for the public’s right to know.

Second, we must continue to stand together. The solidarity of the organised media community in Sri Lanka – reflected in the coming together of the six organisations – is a model for the island. The media community – the journalists community - is the only community that appears to be capable of transcending the divisions that cause so much havoc in Sri Lanka.

I know that solidarity has been tested over the past two or so years. It is understandable that under the unbearable pressure that journalists have been under, that tensions have broken out. We all know some friends and colleagues have felt abandoned as a result.

Yet that support and solidarity has largely endured and made bearable the pressures that journalists have faced. And now, it lays the basis for renewing the struggle for a genuinely free and democratic media.

And third, emerging information technologies are shattering the monopoly we used to enjoy as the sole conduit of information to our communities.

Now, newspapers, radio and TV are no longer the sole source of information. Social media like Twitter and Facebook and Web 2.0 like bloggers, citizen journalists and news web sites all add immeasurably to the mix, although none of them are a substitute for independent journalism. We can see the challenge they pose to elites with the recent burning of LankaENews.

But they do more than simply add to the total volume of information.

The potential of these technologies shatters the paradigm that successive Sri Lankan governments have followed. They cannot shut off the faucet of news and information by political appointments to run state-owned media, pressuring advertisers to abandon independent media and threatening, abusing and murdering journalists.

Finally, we need to remember that the risings in Tunisia and Egypt were driven as much by the economic failings of authoritarian rule – and this is the blow it strikes against the so called “China model”.

The people in Tahrir Square in Cairo know what every economist knows: authoritarian rule – soft or hard – inevitably acts to conceal corruption and corruption is the major impediment to genuine economic growth and decent living standards for ordinary people.

Rising prices, unemployment and underemployment, corruption – only a democracy built on human rights can confront these challenges.

Despite all this, when it comes to human rights and freedom of expression, the Sri Lankan government is like a general fighting the last war, using the tactics that worked so well in the 1980s and at a loss to understand why they do not work this time around.

And as they have struggled to understand, the government and their military and paramilitary allies, lashed out ever more wildly and ever more journalists fell victim to their failure to understand the world in which we all live.

And, in the short term, they prevailed.

But now, the challenge for us as journalists, as believers in democracy and human rights, is to seize the historic turning that north Africa has illuminated.

We have to reassert the fundamental right of all the peoples of the world and of Sri Lanka. The right to have real meaning put into democratic structures and to have them leavened with human rights, including the right to safety and the right to freedom of expression.

Like Sri Lanka, my country is an island. But as the global march of democracy and human rights resumes, no countries will be islands for long.


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Friday, February 18, 2011

UN denies getting petition on disappeared journalist in Sri Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee | Inner City Press

Two weeks after the UN acknowledged that a petition about a journalist's disappearance was transmitted to New York by its office in Sri Lanka, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky on Tuesday claimed “we here did not receive a petition yet. If there is such a petition.. we haven't seen it yet.”

The UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is accused of not doing enough for press freedom, by the Committee to Protect Journalists and others. On February 15, CPJ's Bob Dietz told the Press that the UN has done “nothing” on the case of Lanka e-News journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda, whose wife has petitioned for Ban's involvement through the UN in Sri Lanka.

When Inner City Press then asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky to respond, he claimed for the second time in two weeks that the UN had not yet received the petition. There is a problem: after Inner City Press got this answer on January 31, the UN in Sri Lanka publicly confirmed it had received the petition. How could it not yet have reached New York?

On January 31, as transcribed by the UN itself, Inner City Press asked Nesirky:

Inner City Press: recently there is a burning down of a publication, Lanka eNews, and various people said this is a crackdown on freedom of speech. There is also a petition that was delivered, I believe, to Mr. [Neil] Buhne in Colombo, seeking UN help to look into the case of a disappeared journalist for a year, Prageeth Ekneligoda, and I am wondering, that one has been sort of pending for a while, is there some… What is the UN’s response to what seems to many to be a crackdown or certainly increase of danger for journalists in Sri Lanka?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, both of those, again, are questions that you sent by e-mail and should we have anything further, then we’ll let you know. But what I can tell you, the key point is that, freedom of the media is vital and journalists should be able to carry out their work without fear of attack or being harassed to do the work that they need to do.

Inner City Press On this petition [about] Prageeth, turned in by his wife, has it yet been confirmed that it was received by the UN in Colombo, and what happens with such petitions for UN assistance?

Spokesperson: Look, we checked. We’re not aware of a petition having been handed in. We’ll check again, but the latest that I had was that we are not aware of a petition having been handed in.

After that, with no correction being provided to Inner City Press by Nesirky or anyone else in the UN, the UN in Colombo told a publication there that,

"A letter addressed to the Secretary General has been received by the Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne and is being forwarded to the Secretary Generals office,” the UN office in Colombo told the Daily Mirror. The UN in New York revealed earlier that it was unaware of the petition handed over by Sandya Eknaligoda on January 24. “We’re not aware of a petition having been handed in”, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Martin Nesirky had told a press briefing.

The next day February 1 Nesirky's acting deputy Farhan Haq said at the UN noon briefing that

I have some answers to questions that were asked at yesterday’s Noon Briefing.We were asked about a letter concerning the treatment of a Sri Lankan journalist. I can confirm that we have now received the letter to the Secretary-General, which was transmitted to New York by the UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo. It was also channelled to colleagues in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The letter is now being reviewed.

Then two weeks after Haq said publicly that the letter “was transmitted to New York by the UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo” and “ is now being reviewed,” Ban's spokesman Nesirky again denied that the petitioning letter was ever received.

Inner City Press asked, what has Ban or the UN done about the petition about Prageeth?

Nesirky answered that the UN is not just the Secretary General and that would check with UNESCO. He then said, “As I mentioned, we here did not receive a petition yet. If there is such a petition... we haven't seen it yet.”

In the rest of his noon briefing, Nesirky parried and dodged questions about criticism of Ban's lack of action on press freedom. Nesirky said, among other things, the Ban is “well briefed” on such issues, “not least by me.”

But Nesirky wasn't even aware what his own deputy said about a petition about a disappeared journalist, and instead insisted that the petition was not received. Some briefing.

© Inner City Press

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Six state entities to be leased out for 30 years

By Prasanna C. Rodrigo | The Bottom Line


The government is planning to lease out six state entities to potential investors on a thirty year term to redevelop and revive out of which some are operating and some are defunct.

Among the earmarked entities rank the Ambilipitiya Paper Mill, Kantale Sugar Factory, Ceramic Corporation, Mawanella Rubber Factory, BCC Lanka and the Lanka Salusala.

Secretary to the Ministry of Public Resources and Enterprise Development Willie Gamage said, they have already informed this plan to the Cabinet of Ministers.
He further added, “This is the only option we have to revive those loss making entities”.

According to him, the Kantale Sugar Factory has not been operating for last nine years while Ceramic Corporation is only making ‘Bricks’ and ‘Tiles’ despite high potential to produce other varieties.

“Mawanella Rubber Factory is only producing crepe rubber”, added Gamage.

The Secretary said, the BCC which manufactures coconut oil and the Lanka Salusala which is engaged in retail business of textiles are making profits.

However, he said those two firms also will be leased out owing to strategic reasons.
Commenting on Salusala Gamage said, “There is no logic in government engaging in retail business in areas such as textiles”.

The Ministry of State Resources and Enterprise Development is planning to utilise the money expected to be generated by leasing out above firms, to settle liabilities of those enterprises.

Gamage disclosed, the Ambilipitiya Paper Mill for which the ‘Expression of Interest’ has already been called to be leased out, has a liability of around Rs. 350 million.
He revealed, “The entity has not settled EPF and ETF of its employees for a long period of time”.

Part of the money is expected to be utilised to launch a ‘Voluntary Retirement Scheme’ for the employees working in the mill.

Gamage revealed “Already two foreign parties have shown interest in Ambilipitiya Paper Mill”.

The ‘Expression of Interest’ for Kantale Sugar will be called on within two weeks.

© The Bottom Line

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Sri Lanka India coal project hit by legal queries: report

Photo courtesy:

Lanka Business Online

A state joint venture coal power plant between India and Sri Lanka which has been negotiated for several years has been hit by further delays following legal queries from the island nation, a media report said.

India's National Thermal Power Corporation and Sri Lanka's Ceylon Electricity Board has been talking on a 500 MegaWatt 50:50 joint venture coal plant in the Eastern coastal town on Trincomalee from 2006.

The Times of India newspaper quoting an unnamed source said Sri Lanka's attorney general had raised 70 queries "on basic issues at the nick of time" delaying the signing of the deal.

India's foreign ministry had "advised NTPC against responding to the queries for the time being," the report said.

Sri Lanka is building a 900 MegaWatt fully CEB-owned coal plant with Chinese finance in the West coast reducing the urgency for a additional capacity. The first 300 MW stage is almost complete and is being tested now.

The Times of India report said queries on 'basic issues' included Sri Lanka's government budgetary support for CEB's part of the investment, government guarantees, laws governing the joint venture and place of arbitration.

But analysts say power purchase agreements, a key component of power deals in particular are complex documents running into several hundred pages and Sri Lanka's power officials have earlier expressed unhappiness at some of the clauses in earlier deals.

The CEB is running massive losses partly due to its inability to pass on the costs paid to independent power producers.

Sri Lanka's attorney general is also battling two cases of arbitration and court proceedings in three countries relating to a disputed energy deal relating to the island's state run petroleum utility.


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