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By Namini Wijedasa Non-citizen children of Sri Lankans or non-citizen next of kin can inherit property View(s): New laws prohibiting the transfer of land to foreigners will allow non-citizen children or non-citizen next of kin of Sri Lankans to inherit property through intestacy or gift, a Cabinet paper exclusively obtained by the Sunday Times states. In 2013, the Finance Ministry issued instructions barring all transfers of land to foreigners and throwing a cloud of uncertainty over inheritance rights. While the law allowed individuals to transfer property by gift or testamentary disposition to their heirs, the Ministry directive forbade it. These and other anomalies will be righted through new legislation now held up at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. The laws will have retrospective effect from January 1, 2013. This was the date on which the prohibition of land transfers to foreigners —contained in the budget for that year — started being implemented through administrative circulars. As a result of its retrospective nature, there are likely to be recoveries or refunds of certain taxes which were levied during the transition period. “For instance, the authorities were charging a blanket 15 per cent tax on the lease of land to foreigners since January 2013,” said a legal analyst familiar with the incoming changes. “But the new law envisages a reduced land lease tax of 7.5 per cent for certain categories of companies. The difference will be reimbursed.” The planned amendments, first reported in the Business Times last week, are outlined in a six-page paper presented by the Ministry of Finance and recently approved by Cabinet. Lawyers who examined its contents said the changes were welcome but urged the Government to move faster in translating them into legislation. The Cabinet paper says the draft law is being finalised with consideration to the concerns of, among others, foreign missions and investors. The Act will prohibit the transfer of State or private land to a foreigner, a foreign company or to a company incorporated in Sri Lanka under the Companies Act where any foreign shareholding is 50% or above. Yet, there are a variety of exemptions. Transfers of land to a diplomatic mission of another State or to a dual citizen of Sri Lanka are two of them. Transfer will also be allowed to any foreign entity engaged in banking, finance and insurance, maritime, aviation, advanced technology or infrastructure development subject to approval by the Finance Minister in consultation with the Land Minister and with prior written approval of the Cabinet of Ministers. Such investors must, however, satisfy one or more of the requirements set out in the Strategic Development Projects Act — such as “substantial inflow of foreign exchange” or generation of “substantial employment”. Again subject to approval, land may be transferred to any foreign entity involved in international operations to locate or relocate its global or regional operations or to set up a branch office. These two categories are also exempt from paying the 15 pe cent land lease tax envisaged in the new law. Separately, a foreigner may acquire a condominium property on or above the fourth floor only if its entire value is paid upfront through an inward remittance simultaneous to the execution of the deed of transfer. If land is being transferred to a company incorporated in Sri Lanka on the basis that its foreign shareholding is less than 50 per cent, such shareholding will have to be maintained during a minimum 10 consecutive years from the date of transfer. The lease of land is subject to a maximum of 99 years and the payment of a 15 per cent land lease tax. The Department of Inland Revenue has been charging this tax since 2013 despite the absence of relevant legislation. Exemptions include land leases to diplomatic missions of another State and to dual citizens as well as the lease of land within a bonded area or free port. The lease of condominium property on or above the fourth floor is exempt where the duration of the lease is for 35 years or more. The lease rental must, however, be paid upfront for the full duration through an inward remittance simultaneous to the execution of the indenture of the lease. If the lease is for less than 35 years, a reduced tax of 7.5 per cent will be levied. Several other categories are entitled to the discount. This includes the lease of land in BOI areas, tourist development areas and industrial estates. Among other provisions in the proposed law is that land transferred or leased to a foreign entity cannot for any purpose be mortgaged or pledged to a bank for five years from the date of execution of the related transfer or lease. The Cabinet paper says this is to ensure that money will not be raised in Sri Lanka for such acquisition or lease, creating implications for the banking system.
Ruwini Pradeepa Wimalaratne, a Secretary at SRI LANKA TELECOM in Colombo has cheated a businessman for Rs.11 lakhs. She invites innocent investors on profit share basis for STOCK LOT deals, and then swindle their money for her personal use. Probably she gambles. She issues Seylan Bank cheques that bounces and she never responds. Business Friends are cautioned not to get into her traps or accept her cheques and part with your money. She has an assistant - Rasika, an ugly pig from Balangoda to cheat the investors. You will be terribly frustrated if you get caught to Wimalaratne's tricks. Her home opposite LAUGFS super Kottawa. For more detailed info write to
Ms.Michaele Jeavons of Queensland Australia is in touch with us. She is trying to find information on one Thomas Dawson, originally a bombardier with the Royal Artillery, who was appointed a clerk in the Civil Ordinance Department at Trincomalee in 1810. He married Margaret Flood in 1814 and was then Deputy Store Keeper at Point de Galle from 1828. He died in July 1854 and is buried in the Galle Face Cemetery at Kadugannawa, Ceylon. Any info to
Under MCUDP: By Ranil Wijayapala An artist's impression of the new Beira Lake Hamilton Canal 'Beira Lake' or the Colombo Lake as it was called during the colonial era would have been the most glamorous attraction in the city of Colombo as history reveals that the lake has been covering about 165 hectares of land in the city when it was originally created by the Portuguese in 1521 as a lake that protected their Fort from the locals. The 'Beira Lake' that heralds such a rich history driven towards the Portuguese era may have undergone many changes during the past as it was used for different purposes during its centuries old history. For instance, the Dutch who ruled the coastal belt of the country from the 1658 to 1796 have made use of this attractive waterfront for military purposes while the British who ruled the country from 1796 to 1948 used it for economic purposes. Therefore, this lake had undergone changes to cater to different objectives of different groups of people in its existence. But today anybody who visits the city of Colombo may not feel that lake is a part of the city and also property that can be accessed by them for recreational or any other purposes. May be the bad stench that emanate from the lake due to its neglected state would have been one reason for the people to distance themselves from the lake, but the inaccessibility to this great waterfront would have been the main reason for making it distance from the people. But the Colombo city realised the bigger potential this water body is having to refresh the minds of people when the Urban Development Authority rehabilitated the South West Beira or the part of Beira Lake adjacent to Nawam Mawatha and Gangarama temple to the present status making it a part of the city and a major attraction of the people. However, the East Beira Lake adjacent to D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, the Galle Face Lake and the West Lake has been in a neglected state for years without any rehabilitation, making it a sore spot to the public. So, this great water body which has been identified as a place that has to be developed into a major attraction of the city, after a lengthy study carried out by the Urban Development Authority together with a panel of foreign experts to make use of this water body to reap maximum economic benefit to the city as well as to the country, is now drawing the attention of the authorities along with the great effort made by the Government to make Colombo an attractive city. Therefore, the recommendations made in that study completed in 1996 is now slowly turned into action to make this water body a big attraction in the city of Colombo. Urban Development Authority under the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development is making that effort under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP) with funding from the World Bank. The ongoing activities such as the removal of some structures around the Beira Lake adjacent to D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha heralds some of the major changes directed towards turning this great water body into a major attraction and also an economic booster. Deputy Director Planning of the Urban Development Authority and the Deputy Project Manager, Beira Lake Development Project under Metro Colombo Urban Development Project N.A.S.N. Nissanka, says that the Beira Lake Restoration Master Plan completed in 1996 was aimed to integrate and restore the lake into the city to act as a catalyst for comprehensive development of appropriate, compatible, and desirable users. “The objectives of this master plan was to promote optimal utilisation of lands, recreation , and to improve public access to the lake and to facilitate the lake view creating windows connecting the city and the lake”, he said. Under this master plan it was suggested to have a water management plan, environment improvement plan and a business plan. “What we are doing today is to implement the recommendations in that Master Plan in a step by step process and the funding from the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project has been allocated to implement a few of such recommendations”, explaining the ongoing project undertaken by the UDA to develop Beira Lake under World Bank funding, Nissanka said. Dredging the sediment and treating the sediment, cleaning of water, disconnecting the waste water outlets and the monitoring of the water quality have to be done under a water management plan and the Colombo Municipal Council is already engaged in the process disconnecting illegal waste water outlets and sewer line to the lake and channelling them to new lines to facilitate this process. “The Environmental Improvement Plan has recommended dredging the lake, development of Linear Parks and Nodal Parks around the lake and the re-settlement of about 1,000 families in a new location”, Nissanka said. He said the resettling of the families living around the lake is being done under relocation of underserved settlement by the Defence and Urban Development Ministry after supplying them with quality and better housing facilities as promised to them by the Ministry. “Under the Business Development Plan we are planning to release urban lands for development and it proposes to relocation of existing inappropriate uses such as under-served settlements, stores, garages, industries etc. to suitable locations”, he said. Therefore, the lands will be redeveloped for more productive use, such as offices, apartments, banks and commercial establishments. “To implement the business plan of the Beira Lake project we have identified D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha from Lake House junction to Gamini Hall roundabout and we have declared that zone as a Tourism Related Development Zone”, he said. “We have to remove some of the buildings such as warehouses to facilitate the establishment of star class hotels, city hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and luxury houses. When the Galle Face side is developed with the construction of Shangri-La Hotel, D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha will also be developed parallel for the promotion of tourism”, he said. The Lotus Tower comes at the edge of the Beira Lake and that will be one of the major attractions in the area. “With the above development the stretch of lands mostly facing the East Beira, gets a magnificent view and most of the sites are located in close proximity to the City Centre, the Railway Station, Bus Stand and major city hotels. At the same time the existing land use mainly contribute to be developed as IT Parks, offices, business centres, recreational and amusement centres and other related uses and functions”, he said. “When we are allowing construction we are giving guidelines for them. “This will be a part of the Colombo city development drive like the way we are constructing the Colombo Fort, Tripoly Market development, Bus Stand Terminal development and other major development projects”, he said. “The economic advantages of the project goes to the business establishments around the Lake and it will also address the issue of the lack of space for the people living in the city as it will provide a required space for the people”, he said. Giving more insight about the concepts behind the Beira Lake development project, Deputy Director (Projects) of the UDA and the Deputy Project Manager, Beira Lake Development, Anusha Liyanamana said that the Beira Lake development comes under waterfront development projects of the MCUDP funded by the World Bank, which includes the flood mitigation and capacity improvement of Municipal Councils and Urban Councils among its objectives. “Since UDA undertook the development of South West Beira (Gangarama side) development project we have undertook the East Beira (D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha side), West Beira (Slave Island and Army headquarters side) and Galle Face Beira under MCUDP”, she said. “Beira Lake water body is one of the important assets the Colombo city is having at present. This is now at a neglected state and it has become a backyard in the city . The concept behind the development of Beira Lake is the conversion from Backyard to a Front Yard”, explaining the concept behind the project, she said. “All the water bodies in the country are common to all and they have made public properties under an Act. All these water bodies are having reservations and we are developing this project in the reservation area under the Beira Lake. There is no need to acquire any land for this project”, she said. “Though there are unauthorised settlements around the Beira Lake, we are relocating people giving them better quality housing units to facilitate the project. But for the East Beira, East bank development we did not want any relocation except for the people who lived in the area demarcated for the Lotus Tower development project”, she said. According to Liyanagama a Linear park with a width of six metres will be constructed along the banks of the East Beira Lake enabling the people to walk on the jogging track. “We make use of the reservation of the lake for the Linear Park. Nodal Park that facilitate the people to rest and relax will also be constructed along the bank of the lake at different places. We are making paving, planting trees and having seats for the people to relax and it can be accessed in the day time and night as well with the lighting systems to be installed along the lake”, she said. To facilitate this, the banks of the lake have to be strengthened and the section from Hyde Park to Postal Department building has to be strengthened by having gabion walling. Apart from that, Linear Parks will be constructed along the Galle Face Lake and the West Lake adjoining the Army headquarters and the Defence Ministry. “That will enable the people to enter this area from the Galle Face side also. Like that we are creating connections with many parts of the city through these linear parks. There will be Nodal Parks to provide leisure areas for the people to rest while walking in the linear parks”, she said. Apart from that a Marine Museum will also be constructed close to the McCallum Lock Gates connecting the East Beira Lake with the Colombo Port. “The Ports Authority will undertake the restoration of one lock gate which has been used to take barges to the lake to unload goods to the warehouses located around the lake”, she said. “We have phased out the project into a few packages and we are in the process of awarding the tenders to the contractors to commence construction work within a few weeks time”, she said. “By June this year we will be able to start all the phases of the project and within one year we will be able to complete the project enabling the people to have a relaxing walk in the city by making this historic lake a common property of all the citizens in the country”, she said.
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The Board of Investment is seeking proposals from interested parties to build a mixed development project or a hospital project in a prime land, located in Colombo. BOI said the 13.5 acre land bordering Kirimandala Mawatha in Colombo 05 will be given on a 99 year lease contract for a potential investor, who comes forward to take up the project. According to Ranjan Sibera, Deputy Director of Investment of the BOI, the land which will be given on lease contract is worth between US $ 40 to 50 million In a paper advertisement published seeking proposals for the proposed project the BOI announced the project will receive tax reliefs and other incentives. Investors from any part of the world are eligible to apply for this project and the proposals should reach the BOI on or before August 24, 2012. “We will also endorse joint ventures” added Sigera.
City Plan 04 Jul, 2012 12:19:47 Sri Lanka to build US$3bn tourism city with Singapore investor: BOI July 04, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s state investment promotion agency said it had inked a deal with a Singapore led consortium to build a 3 billion US dollar tourism city in Katana, north of the capital Colombo. A consortium led by Asian Resorts & Casinos, a Singapore based firm, will invest in Katana City Developments Private Limited, the project company. The BOI said a 200 acre site will see hotels with 2,500 rooms, shopping malls and other facilities that will eventually bring investments of over 3 billion US dollars, and create 10,000 jobs. "Katana City will deliver an exciting tourism offering for high volume arrivals, and the result will be a major step up in job creation, tax revenue and tourist arrivals for this vitally important sector," BOI chairman MMC Ferdinando said . Under the development plan, Sri Lanka's main airport will be connected to the Katana City by a Monorail which will also be built by the developers, the agency said. “This project has been planned to put Sri Lanka’s tourism offer on a par with Singapore and others in this region,” said Katana City’s director, Prashanth Koorapati was quoted as saying in a statement. "We are planning to make sure that the concept adheres to a high standard of eco sensitivity and defines itself to show the best of Sri Lanka, not to just copy previous projects completed elsewhere." Earlier reports had said that Sun City, a South Africa based firm will build an 800 million US dollar resort complex in Katana. The BOI is targeting 1.7 billion dollars of investments this year, lower than 2.0 billion dollars projected by the central bank, due to weak economic conditions in the West, Ferdinando told a UK-based newspaper last month. Since a 3-year war ended in 2009, Sri Lanka has forecasted a five-fold increase of 2.5 million foreign visitors by 2016, who will generate some 2.75 billion dollars in revenues.
Article by Ms.SMRITI SOIN Wellness and weight management as well as figure correction is the new age mantra. To be emotionally as well as spiritually healthy you need to maintain good physical health. There is an old adage -a healthy mind rests in a healthy body. In a crazy rush to meet deadlines and deal with work pressure, time to reschedule your lifestyle is not your top priority. In addition, unhealthy eating habits and regular binging of snack food have resulted in developing of many health related issues, the most significant being obesity. Sustaining a healthy weight is vital to avoid quite a few diseases including those of the heart. People who are obese are more likely to get strokes, arthritis, gout, diabetes, gall bladder stones and high blood pressure. Over weight is also related to lack of appeal and in this modern age where zero-figure is the most sought after quality, it becomes really necessary to maintain a perfect weight. Little change in your eating habits, few lifestyle changes and a bit of exercise can help you cope with the most hectic life, keeping you healthy, wealthy and also wise. Weight management is just about keeping your body weight at a healthy level. To maintain ideal weight all you require is determination. Balanced physical activity under the guidance of a fitness expert with a correct diet plan can help you maintain your desired weight. Regular exercise is vital to burn calories. Yoga, aerobics, stretching, weight lifting, brisk walking, swimming, cycling can help increase your metabolic rate by burning calories. You should always begin your day with a wholesome breakfast. You should take six small meals in place of three big and steer clear of heavy dinner. Weight management experts as well as dieticians strongly discourage crash diets or yo-yo diets. Though self denial or crash diets show immediate results, they are detrimental for your mind-body in the long run. For a successful weight management or weight loss program you need to seek advice from a weight management specialist. Experts swear on the importance of drinking water for any successful weight management program. Water flushes out the build-up toxins in the body thereby facilitating proper digestion and assimilation. Fiber is simply an excellent appetite suppressant. It generates a feeling of fullness leaving the body satisfied for hours. Foods rich in fiber are whole grains, wheat germ, red kidney beans, wheat porridge, vegetables and fruits. Eat salads, fruits, seeds rich in omega-3, whole grain food, sprouts instead of ready to eat fast food. Add Green tea, small pots of yogurt in addition to dry fruits in your daily diet. Avoid puddings, cookies or cakes for dessert and go for fresh fruit. Drink water before every meal and try to avoid alcohol. Maintain a good posture to stay fit. Health is wealth. Good health is vital to have a positive state of mind and to live a happy and fulfilling life .So eat right, sleep right, maintain proper or ideal weight and enjoy life.
Ramani KANGARAARACHCHI Sri Lanka is one of the most dynamic new real estate markets in Asia Pacific region according to a research report titled "Real Estate in Sri Lanka'. This was revealed at the launch of the report by Jones Lang LaSalle at Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel yesterday. Jones Lang LaSalle Asia Pacific CEO, Alastair Hughes said that Sri Lanka is an extremely promising market for organized commercial, residential and retail real estate services. The country has been on a strong growth trajectory since the re-establishment of political stability. The report highlights that investment grade office stock in Colombo is expected to multiply 2.4 times in the next 4-5 years. And the IT sector is expected to generate an additional demand of 7 million square feet of office space during 2012-2015. It said that the expected surge in tourism will require a near doubling of hospitality infrastructure in the coming years. Chairperson Sri Lanka operations Gagan Singh said, that the company already has half a million square feet of quality real estate under management in Sri Lanka, with clients ranging from leading residential developers to the IT field and their aim is to combine local market knowledge. The report has analyzed past and present real estate growth trends taking into account country's demographic and socio-economic characteristics.
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Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam recently proposed implementing his concept of Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA), which envisages providing urban amenities to rural areas as a key strategy for rural development in Sri Lanka. PURA envisages provision of physical, electronic and knowledge connectivities leading to economic recovery using rural skills and competence. It was an excellent idea. I expected a broad discussion to emerge among rural policy planners, community planners, social service organisations and NGOs about this concept, but it did not happen. This brief article is intended to rouse that interest. As stated in the Economic Policy Framework of the Government, Sri Lanka’s rural development strategy is based on pro-poor pro-growth income improvement and redistribution policies with participation of a socially responsible private sector and a strong public sector. The Government has understood that higher economic growth alone is not sufficient to reduce poverty; instead it should focus on pro-poor growth strategies. A sustainable six to eight percent growth in real income is targeted over the next five years. This in turn requires raising investment to around 35 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The PURA scheme at Thalikulam, India [Right] Plantations, an area for which PURA has been advocated Such investments include domestic and foreign investment as well as public investment. The ultimate objective is to ensure that Sri Lanka steadily progresses towards upper middle-income country status within the next 10 years. The National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (NPRGS) is the major Government policy approach to navigate pro-poor pro-growth, income and redistribution strategies. There are five main objectives of this strategy: (a) to facilitate poor groups to engage in productive economic activities (b) give them income support during the transition period (c) reduce the poverty gap between different social strata (d) minimise regional variations in the incidence of poverty and (e) to narrow regional disparities in development. In the process of the implementation of these policy interventions and their translation into development strategies, poor segments of society and other vulnerable groups will be encouraged to be active partners in the mainstream development process. Rural development Any public policy formulation requires an enlightened political will and a mighty vision to meet the desired objectives. After Independence in 1948, many novel and innovative policies were formulated as well as implemented successfully. The ‘agricultural strategy’ which was pivotal in making Sri Lanka almost self-sufficient in rice is one such example. At the same time, there were policies such as the one on ‘forest conservation’ with lofty and ambitious goals that failed miserably in reaping the desired objectives and goals. However, nothing should deter the policy makers from innovating and thinking out-of the-box solutions to combat the daunting socio-economic problems in Sri Lanka. Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA), as recommended by the Former Indian President is another step which can become a path-breaking public policy in Sri Lanka. The primary objective of this scheme is to shore up the rural economy by bridging the huge rural-urban divide. It aims at providing urban amenities and livelihood sources in rural areas to check mass distress migration to urban areas and rapid unplanned urbanisation in Sri Lanka. Though the road to recovery is long, I believe, this is definitely a well thought out first step in the right direction. PURA is a rural development program envisaged to be implemented in the much discussed framework of ‘public-private partnership’ (PPP). The scheme, if implemented, would be managed by the private sector on viability and sustainability, considerations which shall be fully aligned with the overall objective of rural development. Fishing industry This framework of bringing together public funds and private capital into creation of infrastructure in rural areas and leveraging upon private sector expertise to manage and maintain the same during the concession period, forms the essence of the PURA Scheme. Historical background Dr. Kalam realised that the lack of livelihood opportunities, modern amenities and services for decent living in rural areas eventually lead to migration of people to urban areas. He also understood that there are wide gaps in the availability of physical and social infrastructure between rural and urban areas. To address these issues, he highlighted a vision of transformation of rural India through the launch of a mega mission for provision of urban amenities in rural areas. PURA was ideated as a self-sustainable and viable model of service delivery to be managed through an implementation framework between local people, public authorities and the private sector. The Government support would be in the form of finding the right type of management structure to develop and maintain rural infrastructure, empowering such management structure and providing initial economic support. The scheme envisages twinning of rural infrastructure development with economic re-generation activities and is the first attempt at delivering a basket of infrastructure and amenities through Private-Public-Partnerships in the rural areas. It is an effort to provide a different framework for the implementation of rural infrastructure development schemes and harness private sector efficiencies in the management of assets and delivery of services. PPP The selected private partners will develop livelihood opportunities, urban amenities and infrastructure facilities to accepted service levels and be responsible for maintenance of the same for a specified period in rural areas. Private sector entities having experience in development and management of community-oriented infrastructure projects will be selected through an open competitive bidding process based on rigorous qualifications and evaluation criteria. The selected private partners would be required to provide amenities like water supply and sewerage, roads, drainage, solid waste management, street lighting and power distribution and undertake some economic and skills development activity. The private partners may also provide add-on revenue earning facilities such as village-linked tourism, integrated rural hub, rural market, agri-services centre and warehousing facilities in addition to the above mentioned amenities. Funding for projects under the PURA scheme would come from four sources; Ministry of Rural Development schemes, other ministry sources who wish to invest, private financing and capital grants from the Central Government. Recommendations Talking about Sri Lanka, Dr. Kalam says that with 16 million rural citizens representing about 79 percent of the population, Sri Lanka has a potential of deploying about 160 PURA complexes based on the core competencies of the cluster of villages. He recommends that these may focus on the following aspects: *Coastal PURA: Focusing on marine industry including sea fishing, processing, packaging and sales. Sri Lanka's vast coastlands can be organised into about 50 coastal PURA complexes, primarily focusing on fishing and also service industry of sea tourism. *Plain PURA: Based on the inlands of Sri Lanka, we can realise about 60 plain PURA complexes, focusing on agro-products and processing such as rice and coconut, forest products, natural and medicinal tourism and IT. *Hill PURA: There is a potential for creating about 50 hill PURA complexes. Suitable rainfall and weather conditions make them ideally suited for creating industry based on plantations. The execution of such a PURA mission can be done in an entrepreneurial way, with Public-Private-Community Partnership model with active involvement from all the diverse societies of the nation. Dr. Kalam has done his homework well, it seems. As he correctly says, there are many more detailed aspects which would go within each of the specific PURAs. A lot more thinking is needed. But the basic fact remains clear and intact. PURA, if implemented, sensibly will work for the benefit of rural masses in Sri Lanka. Consider the amenities we can provide: Water and sewerage, construction and maintenance of village streets, drainage, solid waste management, skills development, development of economic activities, village-linked tourism, integrated rural hubs and rural markets, agri-services centres and warehousing are some of them. It is expected that a scheme such as PURA, wherein all related schemes for rural infrastructure are being converged for a synchronised delivery for 10 years in project mode will maximise its socio-economic impact. Maybe, time is the best judge regarding the success of an advanced scheme such as PURA in Sri Lanka. Such bold and innovative steps are needed today to zero in on the best-suited public policy in the long run for the rural development in Sri Lanka.
Real estate is the fastest growing sector in the country at present, therefore property developers will have to play a lead role in the whole process, Central Bank Deputy Governer D Weerasinghe said. He was the keynote speaker and the chief guest at the inauguration of knowledge sharing conference on “Role of real property development in an emerging economy” at the Centre for Banking Studies in Rajagiriya yesterday. He said Sri Lanka is now entering a high growth path and moving towards a higher quality of life and better living standards. The IMF has categorized Sri Lanka as emerging market economy from low income economy. As such, the per capita income of US$ 4000 by 2015 is very much within the reach. Thereafter, the overall outlook of Sri Lankan economy will change further. In 2010 the country has a clear economic growth of 10 percent compared to three percent in the previous year. Deerasinghe said the tourism industry will develop very fast exceeding five percent growth within the next 10 years through the arrival of two and a half million visitors and the development of five hubs concept of the government which include port, aviation, and knowledge. The development of five ports in Hambantota, Trincomalee, Oluvil, Colombo South and Kalmunai will make a huge difference in infrastructure development within the next few years. “However, the country will need more resources, and some resources are not enough. Therefore foreign direct investments are very vital. Key areas must get serious attention and more IT systems are also required because the country need to be faster than the other countries around us,” he said.
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A new and rare orchid species was recorded from Koslanda by True Nature Conservation Society director Ajantha Palihawadena during his latest research. This species has been identified as Nervilia Plicata.
China Harbour Corporation is planning to build a four star luxury hotel in Hambantota. Urban Development Authority Chairman Janaka Kurukulasuriya said the proposed hotel will be built next to the Peacock Beach Hotel. In addition one of the biggest hotel chains in Asia, Shangri-La will also be building a resort type hotel in the same beach stretch. In addition Insurance Corporation too is planning to build a hotel in Hambantota. The Korean government funded Convention Centre will be opening next year and will provide facilities for MICE tourism and also offer accommodation. In addition to several other hotels that are currently being built in Hambantota, the Ranmihitenna Tele Cinema Village offers accommodation for around 400 guests and support crew. Kurukulasuriya said Hambantota is being designed as the best planned city in the region which will also include three flyovers in key junctions. “A new bus stand too is being built envisaging the future developments,” he added.
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Construction work on the new botanical garden at Awissawela is in full swing, said National Botanical Gardens Director General Dr.Cyril Wijesundara.
The sprucing up of Colombo with emphasis on serving the tourist with a ‘Clean city and a Green city’ with the accent on beautification is in full swing, according to the Special Commissioner of the Colombo Municipal Council, Omar Kamil. “The road development drive and the city beautification programme coined the ‘Garden City’ concept is being personally overseen by the Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa under whom the Urban Development Authority comes,” the Special Commissioner told The Nation yesterday. Accordingly, already landscaping had been done in several places including the removal of the boundary wall opposite the Cinnamon Gardens Police and opposite Thurstan College. Kamil elaborated that the private and corporate sector had thrown in their weight in a big way behind the government in the implementation of the landscaping of the Colombo city. He said that under the Rs.250 million city road rehabilitation project theming on the Galle Road Kollupitiya and Bambalapitiya stretch had seen 50 percent of the foot walk completed. He further said that the dilapidated Bloemendhal Road in Kotahena was also being rehabilitated with emphasis on foot walk, pavements and parking space. The road rehabilitation stretches from Kollupitiya up to the Wellawatte Bridge which was being given top priority in that facelift, according to the Special Commissioner.
By Charles Wesley Ervin August 2010 A. Patchamuthu, who will soon celebrate his 90th birthday, is one of the last living veterans of the Old Left in Sri Lanka. He was a member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) from 1942 until his retirement from active politics in 2000. I first contacted him several years ago, seeking information about the Samasamajists who had crossed over to work in South India during the Second World War. He obliged cheerfully. When I asked him about his own political career, he said he had been merely a rank-and-file party worker. Yet the more he revealed, the more I admired him. I sense that he is too humble and modest to tell his own story. And so I offer my own tribute to a remarkable "foot soldier of the revolution." Background Appavoopillai Patchamuthu was born on September 29, 1921, in Koslanda, a hill town in the Badulla District of what was then colonial Ceylon. His ancestral roots were in Aranthangi, a town in the Tanjore District of Madras Province, which is now Tamil Nadu. His grandfather, R. Alaghoopillai (1872-1944), had trekked to Ceylon from India at the age of 18 seeking a better life. Through hard work, he developed four plantations in the Koslanda-Nikapotha area as well as a printing business. And his son, R. A. Appavoopillai (1898-1955), further developed the family's holdings in the Koslanda area, providing Patchamuthu and his siblings with a comfortable home, an English education, and opportunities for advance. As Patchamuthu grew up, the Indian freedom movement was in full swing, and the struggle resonated in Ceylon, especially among the Tamils. "My parents were politically inclined up to the point of talking about Gandhi and Nehru and their struggle for Indian independence." (All quotes are from his letters to me.) Attending Uva College in Badulla, an Anglican secondary school, Patchamuthu learned about world politics. "My main source for political knowledge while in college was Nehru's book, Glimpses of World History. From this book I learned about the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. He gave vivid descriptions of the political upheavals in Europe and Asia." The Lanka Sama Samaja Party In 1935, while Patchamuthu was still a teenager, the LSSP came on the scene, a dynamic, radical new force that boldly challenged the conservative status quo in the new language of Marxist revolution. The youthful party had two firebrands in the State Council, Philip Gunawardena and N.M. Perera, who championed the interests of the working classes and denounced the selfishness, stupidity, and injustice of the British overlords and the Ceylonese elite. In Badulla, the local LSSP leader J.C.T. (“Jack”) Kotalawala, a lawyer who was a founding member of the party, had a strong popular following. The LSSP made rapid headway in organizing a militant new union for the Tamil workers on the British tea plantations. The planters fought the Red Menace tooth and nail. Starting in 1939, a wave of militant strikes swept the plantations. The LSSP had become more than just a thorn in their sides. In April 1940 the government arrested Philip Gunawardena, the real brains behind the LSSP, and three other leaders, shut down the party newspapers, and banned party meetings. In this tense situation Patchamuthu attended a huge LSSP rally in Badulla on May 12, 1940, held in defiance of the ban, to protest the police murder of a striker. That day changed his life. "I met J.C.T. Kotalawala, and he introduced me to the party.” The police warned Patchamuthu to stay away from the Trotskyist troublemakers. But he was not one to be deterred by threats. "I continued my political activities with a few of the worker comrades who were not arrested in Badulla.” In April, 1942 Patchamuthu heard welcome news: the LSSP had rescued their four imprisoned party leaders from their jail cells in Kandy under cover of darkness and smuggled them past the military sentry posts back to hideouts in Colombo. Embarrassed and humiliated, the government hunted for the fugitives and arrested more party members. “On December 1, 1942, I was summoned by the Superintendant of Police in Badulla and interrogated. I was let off with a severe warning, since I was a student." "The Glorious Days of the LSSP" Despite the risks, Patchamuthu cast his fate with the LSSP. "I disappeared from Badulla along with a few others. I went to Colombo and got absorbed in the LSSP underground movement." By that time, the fugitive party leaders had already left for India, where they were working with the newly formed Trotskyist organization, the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India (BLPI). The party group in Colombo consisted mainly of second-tier cadres and student recruits who were not known to the police. "We worked with harbour workers, weaving mill workers, and railway workers. We worked among university students. We distributed leaflets to the soldiers. These were the glorious days of the LSSP." In 1944 the BLPI decided to convene a clandestine all-India party conference in Madras. The LSSP elected Patchamuthu as a delegate. "It was perilous journey to meet the LSSP comrades in a city that I was going to for the first time." The conference was an intense political experience. The delegates debated a wide range of issues, from the thorny theoretical question of Muslim self-determination to practical matters of party building. Given the need for tight security, all the participants used pseudonyms. Patchamuthu was "Ganesh." The meetings, which lasted all day and night, evidently roused suspicion in the neighborhood. The police dispatched a squad to raid the house. Alerted to the danger, the delegates had to quickly disperse."The underground days were very challenging and nerve-breaking." Buoyant Optimism When the war ended in 1945, the government lifted the ban on the LSSP and released the political prisoners. "I left Colombo and went to the plantations to organize our trade unions. In a short time we built a strong trade union base in Badulla and Haputale Districts. I was the central figure in Haputale where we had a membership of over 25,000 plantation workers." In April 1946 Patchamuthu and another comrade, S. Chelliah, led a strike of 400 Tamil laborers on the Sherwood Estate in Haputale. Their strike triggered sympathy strikes on another ten estates, involving some 20,000 workers. Patchamuthu, Chelliah, and J.C.T. Kotalawala toured the estates and addressed the strikers. The party newspaper reported optimistically, "The worker Bolskeviks in these estates were in the forefront of the struggle and took an active part in the organising of strike committees on these estates" (Fight, May 1946). Eager to build on this success, the LSSP asked Patchamuthu to contest the Haputale seat in the first elections to parliament in 1947. His election leaflet set forth a series of demands specifically addressed to the needs of the Tamil plantation workers, including free education and free health services. "My parliamentary election campaign was very exhausting. I owned no vehicle and had to walk miles and miles up hills and down valleys. My opponents were very formidable candidates with unlimited resources. My election workers were employed in tea and rubber estates on daily wages." Bitter Disappointment Alarmed by the resurgence of the LSSP, the conservative Ceylonese parties played the communal card to drive a wedge between the Tamils and the Left. Their insidious anti-Tamil propaganda worked. The plantation workers voted for their own communal organization, the Ceylon Indian Congress, in self-defense. The CIC won six out of the seven seats it contested. Patchamuthu came in fourth place for Haputale. J.C.T. Kotalawala lost his bid in Badulla, his home base. After the election, the Tamils deserted the LSSP union in droves. The election defeat was a harsh blow to Patchamuthu. One of his comrades at that time recalls: “When walking along Galle Road, shortly after the ’47 election, I saw Patchamuthu through the open door at a table. It was, I think, a private press office. I walked in to speak with him. He was, as I felt, in a state of shock. He could not, I thought, believe that those workers to whom he had given so much had voted for Congress.” Recalling that period, Patchamuthu told me: "After the grueling campaign, I wanted a break." He went up to India, to Madurai, where he spent the next nine months working with the BLPI student groups and unions of mill workers. That was far more satisfying and rewarding work. In 1948 he returned to Koslanda. His parents gave him a ten-acre plantation with a house. "I continued with my trade-union and political activities from here. I had a reasonable income to live a happy, simple, and comfortable life." During this period, he contested an election to the village council as an LSSP candidate. "In spite of the electorate being predominantly Sinhalese, I won by a handsome majority." The Hartal of 1953 In 1953 the LSSP and other left parties called for a one-day hartal to protest the government's cut in the rice subsidy. The response was completely unexpected, in terms of turnout and militancy. "The Hartal was widespread, from villages to town. I participated and I was arrested and locked up in the Fort Police Station." As crowds clashed with police in the streets, the LSSP leaders debated what to do. None of the Left parties had planned for anything more than a symbolic one-day protest. As the day drew to a close, the LSSP leaders, together with the leaders of the other left parties, issued a statement congratulating the masses and urging them to return to business as usual the next day. Even then, there were incidents where people tried on their own to continue the struggle. In retrospect Patchamuthu feels that the LSSP missed a historic opportunity. "From the start the LSSP had total leadership of a militant mass uprising. It shook the foundations of the government." The Era of Coalition Politics In 1956 Patchamuthu returned to Colombo. He got married, and went to work for his uncle who had taken over the family's printing company, the Nadaraja Press. His first son was born a year later. This was not a happy time for the LSSP. The party had high hopes going into the 1956 elections. But the MEP coalition won in a landslide. The LSSP was reduced to the role of Opposition in parliament. By 1959 Patchamuthu had saved enough to set up his own printing shop. Working hard to support his growing family, Patchamuthu had to withdraw from politics. "I could not be an active member of the LSSP due to my family responsibilities and the need to keep the home fire burning. But I continued my interest and activities in the LSSP." In 1960, after the breakup of the MEP, a section of the LSSP leadership proposed that the party should reverse course and seek its own coalition government with the SLFP. Patchamuthu was against any alliance with "the Sinhalese racial capitalist party of Mrs. Bandaranaike." Although the proposal was defeated, the coalition faction gathered support within the party and raised the issue again as elections approached in 1964. The LSSP was deeply divided. When the proposal was finally put to a vote at a special convention, Patchamuthu voted against it. But it passed by a 2-to-1 majority. At that point the anti-coalition minority walked out of the conference. "Those who left were the cream and the genuine Marxist members of the party." He attended the meeting where they set up a new party, the LSSP (Revolutionary). But he did not join. "My experience with these comrades told me that they were not capable of forming another revolutionary party." He was right. The LSSP(R) soon fragmented. Patchamuthu felt that his duty was to remain with the mother party, which he believed could be drawn back onto the revolutionary path. "I was ignored for some time. In due course, my name was proposed at a party conference for the Central Committee and I was elected. But everyone knew that I was not an admirer of the coalition politics." The Demise of the LSSP Sadly, his optimism in the regeneration of the LSSP was unfounded. Six years later the LSSP joined a second coalition government with Mrs. Bandaranaike. The LSSP leaders ended up authoring a communalist Constitution, smashing strikes, and justifying the brutal police-military crushing of the JVP uprising in 1971. "Their revolutionary Marxist struggles and sacrifices came to a pathetic end." The LSSP was buried at the next elections. "Since then the party functions like a Social Democratic Party. Their mass base was shattered and wiped out - a tragic end to a once Trotskyist revolutionary mass party." Retirement In September 2000, at the age of 80, Patchamuthu resigned from the LSSP. Since retiring from politics, he has suffered serious health problems and weakening sight in one eye. He no longer can write his long letters. Yet, as always, the wonderful twinkle of optimism shines through in his letters to me. "My old heart is still young." Looking back, Patchamuthu summed up his long life in politics: "I have no regrets that my life was spent with comrades who dedicated their life for the emancipation of the working class from exploitation. The LSSP that I knew and under whose banner I fought is no more. Let me conclude by quoting the philosopher Spinoza's famous words: 'Neither to weep nor laugh, but to understand'."
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A prominent Sri Lankan social activist has been named among the topmost influential Muslims of 2010 in a recently released publication the 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010 edited by Dr Joseph Lumbard and Dr Aref Ali Nayed. Jezima Ismail is the only Sri Lankan who has been listed among women who have been trailblazers in their fields. Ismail is the founder of the Muslim Women's Research and Action Forum (MWRAF) and has been an educator for over three decades. She serves on various international committees on women's right and is the recipient of various awards in recognition of her work. The report was released by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic thought, and international non-Governmental independent institute headquartered in Amman, Jordan. The Report lists a total of 500 leaders in 15 categories of influence.
*Lanka highest ranked among S Asian nations Sri Lanka has climbed nine positions from 2009 to be ranked 59 among 110 nations, in the World Prosperity Index - 2010, announced yesterday. Sri Lanka is also the highest ranked country among South Asian nations. In the overall rankings Sri Lanka is just behind China, ranked 58. Among other South Asian nations India has been ranked at 88, Nepal 91, Bangladesh 96 and Pakistan 109. According to the 2010 report Sri Lanka which went nine places up is also the third highest gainer from 2009. Indonesia jumped 15 places to be ranked 70 and Algeria went up 12 places to be ranked at 79. The 'Legatum' prosperity index assesses 110 countries accounting for over 90 percent of the world's population and is based on 89 different variables, each of which has a demonstrated effect on economic growth or on personal well-being. The index consists of eight sub-indexes, each of which represents a fundamental aspect of prosperity. It is done by taking into account both economic growth and citizens' quality of life, drawing on data from various sources, including the Gallup World Poll 2009 and UN development Report. The Legatum Prosperity Index is the world’s only global assessment of wealth and well-being. This means it is the only global index that measures both the factors that produce economic growth and those that produce happy citizens. The eight sub indexes which the report evaluates countries are economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom and social capital. In the overall economic rating Sri Lanka is placed 84th. However Sri Lanka is placed 10th in the world for positive perceptions of the countries economic outlook. Also Sri Lanka enjoys the 24th highest level of foreign direct investment globally. Citing the 2009 survey the report says that 87 percent respondents expressed confidence in the countries financial system in 2009, which is the fourth highest proportion worldwide. In the education category Sri Lanka’s overall ranking is 56th. However the report states that an enrollment rate of 99.7 percent of primary age children places Sri Lanka fourth highest in the index. Citing the 2009 survey it says that 84 percent has expressed satisfaction in the system. In the governance category Sri Lanka is placed 43rd. The report states that 94 percent of the population reported confidence in the Government in 2009 survey. Further 65 percent were satisfied with the countries efforts to deal with poverty, 72 per cent with its efforts to preserve environment. Sri Lanka is placed in the top 15 in the two variables. According to the report most people do not believe corruption to be widespread in government or business, a perception that places the country among the best 25 countries. The report citing 2009 survey says that a very high 97 percent of citizens have placed their confidence in the Sri Lanka military while 87 percent have confidence in the judicial system. Sri Lanka is placed on the top 10 globally in both categories.
Sri Lanka has climbed nine positions from 2009 to be ranked 59 among 110 nations, in the World Prosperity Index - 2010, announced yesterday. Sri Lanka is also the highest ranked country among South Asian nations. In the overall rankings Sri Lanka is just behind China, ranked 58. Among other South Asian nations India has been ranked at 88, Nepal 91, Bangladesh 96 and Pakistan 109.
Sri Lanka has earned a rave review as a destination for movie and broadcast productions in the 2011 edition of The Location Guide, the film industry's bible for selecting movie and commercial production locales. The latest edition of The Location Guide featured a separate "Focus" on Sri Lanka, highlighting the island's natural beauty, a film-friendly government and its reasonable production costs. The Guide noted Sri Lanka's wildlife parks, central-highlands tea plantations, miles of pristine beaches and the colonial architecture found. "Dubbed the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, my feeling is that Sri Lanka deserves this title and there is no question that it has great locations for filming and excellent production values with crew rates which would have to be considered the most competitive in the region," founder of the London-based The Location Guide, Murray Ashton wrote in the latest edition. "If you need to film anything remotely associated with the tropics, then you are in the right place." The annual guide has provided film and production companies, directors and producers with essential information and location contacts for filming worldwide since 1998. Sri Lanka boasts an impressive history of filmmaking. It was the setting for memorable movies as Bridge on the River Kwai, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Jungle Book and Tarzan the Ape Man. "When you visit Sri Lanka, it is plain to see why the world's best directors chose it as a location," The Location Guide states. Natural Beauty is just one advantage Sri Lanka offers filmmakers. The Guide also noted the abundance of talent in Sri Lanka, where 300 commercials were filmed in 2009. "The production community is also made of around 700 film professionals working across all production categories," the guide stated. While in Sri Lanka, Ashton was assisted by Gopi Darmaratnam of Sri Lankan film actor Ravindra Randeniya's company, The Film Team (Pvt) Ltd. Driver Anton Gomes drove Ashton nearly 3,000 kilometers around Sri Lanka to complete his report. The lack of red tape for production companies and a lack of film unions are other huge pluses for Sri Lanka, according to the guide. Sri Lanka recently established a 235-acre tele-cinema studio facility, the guide states, and the government and President Mahinda Rajapaksa "strongly support the film and television industries." Relatively few film permits are required, and those needed to film in government or historic buildings, or for street scenes, are easy to obtain with a minimum of paperwork, the guide adds. "Sri Lanka can be considered film-friendly as government institutions increasingly realize the importance the role of filming plays in the promotion of tourism to the country," it states. "I am pleased that The Location Guide sees a bright future for the film industry in Sri Lanka," said Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya. "Sri Lanka has a rich tradition of hosting a variety of film projects over the years, and we have the facilities that will make our country a world leader in film production." Embassy of Sri Lanka in America
Channa Horombuwa chosen for World Architecture Community Awards 2010. See the details in the News & Events page.
In a first for Sri Lanka, architect Channa Horombuwa has been selected as one of the Top 20 winners of the World Architecture Community Awards 20+10+X 7th Cycle 2010 for his design for the Jayampathy Aluvihare House, Kandy. Channa Horombuwa The award-winning house is built on a sloping land overlooking the historic Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, across the Kandy Lake. The unique form of the house is the architect’s response to the natural contours of the land and to the panoramic views of the site. The four bedroom house provides undisturbed views of the Lake and Maligawa from every bedroom. The different spaces of this house are on split levels in responding to the natural contours of the site. The form follows the contour lines and possesses a sculptural form as a result. The two tall sal trees in the front garden further enhance this sculptural quality and frame the views of the Temple, the lake and the distant mountains. Every space of the house responds to the panoramic views of the site. The tall glass screen of the double height living room maintains the inside - outside relationship effectively. The family living area has views of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Lake through the tall glass screen of the living area and opens out to a pool deck located next to the swimming pool on one side. The Master bedroom is located at an intermediate level and two other bedrooms at the family living level. The guest bedroom is located at the entrance lobby level. The interior and exterior of the house are almost entirely white. This retains concentration on the breathtaking views outside, without any possible distraction created by wall panels with contrasting colours. The teak colour of the timber-boarded floor of the living and dining areas is the only element used to break the monotony of white. All balustrades are of steel and designed in such a way to maintain the transparency. Lofty views and open spaces. The roof slab covered with turf provides visual connection with the neighbouring properties and acts as an ideal play space for the three kids of the family. It is connected to the pool area with a steel staircase on one side and to the terrace of the family living area with a cantilevered concrete staircase on the other side. Channa Horombuwa is a Chartered Architect and a member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects. A past student of Kingswood College, Kandy, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree with first class honours and Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Moratuwa. The WA 20+10+X Awards is an international architectural awards programme of the World Architecture Community. Its prestige is reflected in its jury who include Udo Kulterman, Hans Hollein, Fuhihiko Maki, Robert Ivy, Wolf D. Prix, Charles Corea, Michael Sorkin, etc., and the remarkable collection of the winning projects of the first six cycles. The Awards recognize remarkable projects that might otherwise remain unnoticed by the international public, but have the potential to inspire exciting questions about contemporary architectural discourse. Novelty, Originality, and Creativity in design that reflect and inspire a commitment to the art of architecture are the major criteria. This online awards programme is repeated in cycles and also contains an extensive international publication programme of the results in collaboration with architectural journals worldwide. Each cycle receives approximately 1100 projects out of which 250 projects are short listed. The winning 20 projects out of the short listed projects are selected by the votes of the Honorary Members. Suha Ozkan Hon. F AIA is the Founding Chairman of the World Architecture Community and is the former Secretary General of the Aga Khan Architectural Awards. The winning projects are available at Channa’s winning design has been published in Espacio y Confort, an Argentine architectural magazine and in, a Swiss architectural website, in addition to a few local magazines. The Inside Outside, an Indian magazine has expressed interest in featuring this house in their popular architectural magazine.
Today at the higher corridors of the Government, there seems to be a lot of ambitious thinking and forecasting in turning Sri Lanka into a regional hub for trade and logistics, which will follow as one of the next in-line revenue generators after tourism in coming years. Hambantota port under construction Sri Lanka is uniquely situated in the backdrop of the Indian sub-continent and within the closest proximity to the international ocean routes that link Asia to Europe and is currently a partial gateway to the Southern and Eastern part of the Indian peninsula, catering to the trans-shipment services for Indian import and export trade for the Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karanataka, Hyderabad, Kerala and Kolkata. Having said this, one also has to keep a close watch on the current developments taking place in the ports sector of the Southern Indian region where new and additional port infrastructure is rapidly being enhanced. Further to these developments, there was also a recent announcement from the Indian Govt, on their plans to develop Port Blair Island as a major port, which can possibly be converted for trans-shipment relays from Far-East and Europe to cater to the Southern ports in time to come? With these far-fledged plans of the Indian shipping authorities, we in Sri Lanka will have to also give some serious thinking on how we are also going to develop our port infrastructure and logistics blueprints to ensure that we are not eventually caught up in the race and investments do not go into under-utilization of resources and assets, as today the reasons for major shipping lines calling at Colombo Port is primarily to trans-ship the volumes of containers to the Southern ports of India. (In fiscal year 2009-10, which ended on March 31, major ports in India handled was 6.87 million TEUs from 6.59 million TEUs, a growth of 4.3 percent, covering 12-major ports which includes Kolkata, Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, JNPT, Mumbai, Kandla and Ennore). Unless Sri Lanka can also increase our export products substantially to the international markets in USA, Europe and Asia, we may not be in an advantageous situation to attract the main liner vessels to frequently call at our ports. the Govt has to now give utmost priority to re-build and bridge our deficit between import spending and export earnings (foreign exchange). This can be done in several ways, not only exporting our manufactured goods but also exporting our services in the form of value addition through Sri Lanka by way of developing our logistics capabilities by creating the most modern warehousing infrastructure facilities to temporary store and deliver 'JUST-IN-TIME' supply chain management systems to the large manufacturing companies in Southern India, mostly in the Tamil Nadu state, with the opening up of SPEZ's where today multinational brands have already set up their plants which cater to the Indian domestic market as well as to exports markets, a major area of concentration can be found in the automotive sector, where OEMs also have shifted their productions from other locations due to cost effective advantages in India. If Sri Lanka is to position herself as the relay hub for goods and services to the ISC region, we must also develop our professional manpower in the logistics performance area, as without having the right skill and knowledge, in the operations aspects of the global logistics concepts, we cannot provide the international service levels to these ventures. Apart from training and developing human resources, we must also find the right synergy that brings about the economic and service advantage to create the conducive cost benefits, similarly what Singapore offers today as a regional distribution-centre in the Asian region for many large multinational companies operating out of Singapore to cut-down shipping time and the execution of supply with the least time frame from order placement to final delivery to the end users. Even today ISC regional countries, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka also buys in the raw-materials, semi-finished goods and fully manufactured merchandise from these regional distribution centres. Some points to be considered to accomplish the hub reality is, * Port charges for third country merchandise should have very low handling tariffs. * Port turn-around of merchandise discharge from containers into trans-shipment warehouses should be done within a maximum time frame of 12.24 hrs from the time of arrival of the import vessels. * Trans-shipment rent to be minimal with 14-days free time allowed * Bonded trans-shipment warehousing facilities to be provided within close proximity to the port. * The private sector participation to be granted in the management of the third country cargo warehousing, where inventory stocks can be managed within a bonded system. * Re-export of third country cargo has to have a one 'stop' Customs clearance procedure where shipments can be loaded onto export bound vessels to ISC ports within a maximum of 6-hr time frame, as the whole idea behind is to fulfil 'Just-In-Time' deliveries to the final consignees. * There should be no element of any Customs duties or surcharges charged on third country cargo. * The Govt should be only targeting a revenue of 1-2 percent on the value (FOB) of the third country merchandise to be competitive and collect this revenue only when the re-shipment/trans-shipment has taken place. All incoming shipments will have to be warehoused once the containers have arrived at the port of Colombo. * The Sri Lanka Customs will have to formulate just one type of documentation in line with CUSDE for third Country shipments. * The Logistics service operators will provide a Bankers Guarantee to only cover the 1-2 percent Govt revenue and the rest of the exposure to the values of the third country merchandise will be covered through insurance by the suppliers who will maintain the inventory in Sri Lanka. * A fully integrated IT-system should be linked with all the stake holders of the venture to minimize undue delays in the time third country cargo is transitting through Sri Lanka. By providing a smooth flow of goods through the hub operations, which is a captive advantage it can provide and manage to achieve the efficiency levels of 'JIT' delivery concept, enhancing the reliability in the 'Supply Chain Management' philosophy, which is today the most important criteria in the process from manufacturing to the final consumer. By providing the advantages of a reliable delivery efficiency coupled with cost efficiency, it can significantly turn around the lead-times of shipments/containers through the hub and will be one of the major factors to increase the volumes, whereby the Govt will be able to generate more foreign exchange in total considering all other value added services including cargo insurance that would generate from such a venture. At the same time Sri Lanka can also attract in actual fact more OEM Industry in the automotive sector as the OEM companies can also take the advantage of exports out of Sri Lanka to other world auto markets. It will also be able to bring in automotive component manufacturing industry to the Sri Lanka manufacturing fold instead of only looking at ready-made garments, which today is showing symptoms of becoming gradually a unsustainable industry from the statistics that are known with several garment factories closing down instead of opening new units. The country must now look forward to getting itself into other potential light industries more technology driven and do not become too much dependent on the old cash-cow. By creating an efficient hub, catering to logistics and inventory management and providing the necessary infrastructure, Sri Lanka can continue to maintain its shipping edge due to its geographical position in the Indian ocean. By guaranteeing a 'JIT' delivery commitment with a lead-time reduction of 50 percent in comparison to goods supplied from the regional logistics hub in Singapore we will be able to harness two fold economic advantage. There are several value additions that can be provided by the logistics providers, from pick and pack, from bulk into consumer packaging, MRP price labelling with bar-code maintaining inventories for re-export to the ISC region and beyond even looking at some of the Central Asian countries. Many other value added services required by final consignees can be provided which then would also generate employment in the logistics services industry and even bring in additional opportunities to the banking sector, by way of developing the required financial environment to multi-national suppliers for cross-trading, from inventories maintained at Colombo.
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Come home, let’s rebuild sri lanka: President Independence Day message to expatriates By Sandun A Jayasekera President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his Independence Day address to the nation yesterday extended an open invitation to all Sri Lankan expatriates to return to Sri Lanka and be part of the country’s reconstruction, development and peace process. The 61st Independence Day celebrations were held at Galle Face Green last morning with a colourful march past, an air and sea display by the Sri Lanka Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and the Civil Defence Force. Flanked by the Commanders of the armed forces and the Police Chief, President Rajapaksa hoisted the National Flag and received a 21-gun salute. The President’s address to the Nation was preceded by a Guard of Honour provided by the three armed forces and the police. In a long speech where he outlined his vision for the country, a resolute President Rajapaksa said it was time for Sri Lankans who have left their motherland because of a war that had dragged on for more than 20 years, to return to the land of their birth and to the places they lived in. In his address to the Nation he said: “On this important occasion, on behalf of the entire Sri Lankan nation, I extend an open invitation to all Sri Lankans – Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, Malay and all other communities, who left this country because of war to return to your motherland. Whatever the number of countries in the world, there is no place that is safer to anyone than the land of ones birth. “We have raised the National Flag today over a motherland that is being united in keeping with the heartfelt wishes and prayers of our people. My dear people who through sacrifice of life have come forward to defend the freedom of our land and through their blessings and every thought supported that struggle. “However, due to repeated foreign incursions and invasions there were many challenges to the progress of the nation. The unbroken progress of her knowledge and technology was suddenly interrupted. With the dawn of Independence from British rule on February 4, 1948, she gained the opportunity to move towards progress in a manner that was inherent to our nation. “Although every year in the past Sri Lanka has commemorated Independence through 30 years, she has have lived in the midst of an illegal, armed, terrorist movement. Therefore, throughout this period Sri Lanka could not celebrate true Freedom. Due to this terrorism the Sinhala and Muslim people who lived in the north were compelled to flee from their traditional lands. This period saw the massacre of Buddhist worshipers near the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, at Anuradhapura. At Kaththankudi Muslims were killed while worshiping in their mosque. There were terrorist attacks on the pinnacle of Buddhist worship, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy. Innocent people were collectively massacred in many places of this land. “That is not all, for the first time in the history of our land Tiger terrorists carried out ethnic cleansing. They sought to establish a fascist state in which the Sinhala and Muslim people, as well as the Tamil people who were not prepared to bow before them, would not live. A large number of democratic leaders of the Tamil people were killed by the terrorists. Similarly, many of our national leaders were assassinated by the forces of terror. The entire country was terrorized. “Sri Lanka became the victim of the most powerful terrorist organization in the world. We had come to the verge of the separatist terrorists achieving their goal of dividing the country and establishing a separate state of Tamil Eelam. We were being compelled by some administrators of that time to except the so-called peace brought about by the division of the country, and the victory of the forces of terror. Many foreign forces attempted to persuade us that the path to achieving peace was to be subjugated by a terrorist organization that had power on land, sea and air as well as ruthless suicide killers. Together with this, some international institutions sought to show our country as a failed State, which pained the hearts and minds of all of us at the unfortunate fate that was sought to be bestowed on the land of our birth. We were finally challenged by this unfortunate fate that our great motherland could no more bear. “At the 2005 presidential election, you handed to me and to our government the challenge of being victorious over the threat against us. We faced this daring challenge with determination and to somehow achieve victory over it. We have now been able, within a short span of two and half years, to almost completely defeat the cowardly forces of terror that had wrapped our entire nation in fear through several decades. This great victory has been brought to our country through our Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, the Police Special Task Force and Civil Defence Corps carrying out the task before them, jointly and with great dedication. “Our troops have given us the opportunity to see the dawn of an honourable peace for the country. They have sacrificed their flesh, blood, sinews and life itself to bring this great historic opportunity to our motherland. Our troops were able to carry forward the battle against terror with great care so as not to cause harassment to the innocent Tamil people. The dignified peace that is now dawning upon us becomes greater and more unique than the peace enjoyed by the people of other countries, because it is built on the immense sacrifice of these heroes,” President Rajapaksa emphasized. I am confident that in a few days we will decisively defeat the terrorist force that many repeatedly kept saying was invincible. However, we should not think that with this alone we have overcome all challenges before us.”
H.M. Premathilaka Senior Lecturer, Department of Estate Management and Valuation, University of Sri Jayawardhanapura Land is a form of accumulating and transferring wealth from generation to generations. It is the foundation of all forms of human activity. Land which is a scarce natural resource plays a key role in development. Optimum allocation of land is important to ensure human welfare. There are two kinds of mechanisms for distributing land resources within a society, land markets and governments. The main mechanism of distributing land resources within the City of Colombo is the land market. The Sri Lankan economy and society is vastly different to what it was in early 1960s. This study examines the impact of economic, social, legal and policy changes that have occurred during this period on land market. It is assumed that the effects of above facts on land market are reflected through land values and frequency of land transactions. In order to examine the above 420 land prices from past land sales were collected from five municipal wards and were categorised on the basis of two types of economic and political regimes, viz liberal regimes and dirigisme regimes and analysed. This study shows that the land market development and changes are associated with different regimes. Liberal regimes achieved higher economic growth and land market development and changes than the dirigisme regimes. Introduction Sri Lanka is committed to an open market economy, which implies development through perfectly competitive market. Land which is a scarce natural resource place a key role in development. Land is the foundation of all forms of human activity. It is the means of life without which human beings could never have existed an on which their continued existence and progress depend. Hence optimum allocation of the limited supply of this unique resource within local, regional, national and international levels is an importance aspect to ensure human welfare. There are two kinds of mechanisms for distributing land resources within a society, land markets and governments. The main mechanism of distributing land resources within the city of Colombo is the land market. Based on extensive literature review of the factors affecting property values in urban areas, some of the important components of property values can be listed as follows. (a) Physical factors external to the property. The geographic location, the environment, (class of residents, and the type of residences in the immediate neighborhood and proximity to places of importance) public transport and infrastructural services such as electricity, water, sewerage drainage and telephone services. (b) Factors integral to the property, the physical factors of the property (lie of the land, soil, shape and size) accessibility and economic and legal attributes and/or liabilities. (c) The national and local economic conditions which determine the level of property values. Land values are also influenced by the social, cultural factors and life pattern of the people in the particular area. Land values change when the above described factors that influence value change. This study examines the impact of economic, social, legal and policy changes that have occurred during this period on land market and it is mainly focused on pre liberalisation era and post liberalisation era. If land markets function effectively, price signals can provide the information needed for efficient land allocation, where markets are defective, price signals work at less than full efficiency. (Harvey, 1996). Effective functioning of land market depends on the national and local economic conditions which determine the level of property values, pattern of land ownership and distribution, land titling and registration, availability of a survey plan to identify the property with the boundaries, reduced transaction costs, transparency in transaction, balance knowledge of buyers and sellers, ability to obtain financial facilities and easy access to other relevant information. (Premathilaka, 1998). Development Over time the demand for land resources changes, brought about by changes in the size, income and tastes of the population, the rate of growth of economic activity, methods of transport, techniques of production and distribution. On the supply side, existing buildings wear out or become less suitable to present uses, and the cost of constructing new buildings or adapting old buildings changes. Development is the response to such changes. The fifty-eight years since the independence have witnessed significant structural changes and qualitative transformations in the economy. The predominantly agricultural economy of the 1950's has transformed into a diversified one. This diversification, which was very gradual till the late 1970's, gained momentum in the last two and a half decades. The most notable feature of this transformation is the structural change where manufacturing and services make a higher contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than agriculture. By 2004 industry contributed 26.5 per cent of GDP, while agriculture, forestry and fishing together contributed 17.9 per cent of GDP. This is in sharp contrast to the structure of the economy in 1950, when agriculture's contribution was 41 per cent and manufacturing (consisting mainly of processing tea, rubber and coconut) accounted for only 16 per cent of GDP. This contribution of services rose from 41 per cent in 1950 to 55.7 per cent of GDP by 2004. (Central Bank Annual Reports 1951 - 2004). Though, there is a tendency to think of the period before 1977 as one of little change. In fact, there were significant economic and social transformations that occurred between 1950 and 1977. This period also witnessed profound changes in the ownership and management of economic enterprises. Bus transport was nationalised in 1958. In 1961 the Bank of Ceylon was nationalised and the People's Bank and the Insurance Corporation were established as State enterprises. From 1970 to 1977 the country moved into an import-substitution industrial strategy. The plantations were taken over by the State in 1972-74 and several State industrial enterprises were also established. In short, the commanding heights of the economy were vested in the State. The Post liberalisation era The economic reforms introduced in November 1977 marked a watershed in the country's economy. They reversed the policies pursued from 1970 to 1977. The economic reforms included the liberalisation of trade and exchange controls, and the introduction of an economic strategy dependent on private investment and market forces. Foreign investment was encouraged and a greater reliance was placed on export. To support these policies, the Government adopted a unified exchange rate, devalued the Sri Lankan Rupee and adopted a floating exchange rate. These policy reforms relied on large-scale support from international agencies, notably the IMF and World Bank and donor countries. These reforms of 1977 were a sharp break from past economic regimes. The new policies transformed a closed tightly-controlled inward looking economy into a market-oriented outward-looking one. It was the beginning of a process that laid greater emphasis on private enterprise and lesser reliance on State owned and controlled economic enterprises. Foreign assistance was aggressively sought and successfully obtained. The multi-lateral agencies supported the liberalised measure. The IMF provided balance of payments support, while the World Bank gave long-term credit for development programmes and arranged donor assistance through the annual Aid Club meetings. The fiscal policy orientation changed drastically. Fiscal policies were used to support the market orientation and private sector emphasis on economic growth and to create a climate conducive to private investment and private economic enterprises. The reduction in taxes and the use of a wide range of tax incentives encouraged investment. Direct taxation became an instrument for resource allocation rather than to mobilise resources for public investment or for income distribution. The emphasis in government expenditure shifted to investment, particularly in infrastructure and large-scale projects like the Accelerated Mahaweli Scheme, rather than on consumption, welfare and social development expenditure. (Jayasundara 1986: 56-57). The economic policies pursued included an urban renewal programme, the development of economic infrastructure, the establishment of a Free Trade Zone and the implementation of an Accelerated Mahaweli Development Programme, which was to increase agricultural production and enhance energy by the generation of hydro electricity. The economic reforms and enhanced foreign funds led to a high rate of economic growth till 1983, when ethnic violence resulted in a setback. The subsequent period of terrorism undermined business confidence, foreign investment and tourism, besides dislocating agriculture, fisheries and a few industries in the North. The economic growth rate fell from 4.3 per cent in 1986 to 1.5 per cent in 1987. The insurgency in the South from 1987 to 1989 dislocated work and seriously impaired economic activity. In 1988-89 growth averaged only 2.5 per cent. The weak economic performance in the late 1980s led the government to adopt further structural reforms to strengthen budgetary management, reducing inflation and improving the balance of payments and external reserve position that had weakened considerably. The economy was liberalised further after 1989. The process of privatisation gained momentum and by end 1993, 42 State enterprises had been privatised. Further, most of the State owned plantations were handed over to 22 companies for management. The two State banks were re-structured to meet the capital adequacy requirements by the infusion of Rs. 24 billion and restrictions on foreign investment in the Colombo Stock Market were removed. The change of government in 1994 was very significant. For the first time since independence, despite a change of government, a continuity of economic policies was assured. The government announced its commitment to continue market friendly open economic policies. It too gave private enterprise the lead role in economic activity and pledged to support private enterprise and characterized its strategy as "Open Economic Polices With a Human Face". The government liberalised trade further by decreasing tariffs, reduced corporate and personal taxation to a maximum of 30 per cent. The corporate tax rate was reduced to 15 per cent for enterprises in agriculture, fisheries, livestock and tourism. It gave further incentives for foreign investment and embarked on a far-reaching programme of privatisation. The government privatised, inter alia, the plantations, telecommunications, the National Development Bank and AirLanka. It introduced a new safety net for the poor, Samurdhi, which was similar to the earlier Janasaviya programme. The government also gave incentives for garment industries to be established in the regions and introduced a number of measures to assist agriculture. Economic growth has varied significantly within this period. In the 1950's the economy grew by an annual average of 3 per cent; in the 1960's by 4.7 per cent: and in the 1970's by 3.9 per cent. Economic growth has been somewhat higher in the last two decades. In the 1980's we achieved an economic growth of 4.3 per cent, and in the 1990's it was still higher at 5.2 per cent per year. In the last five years (2000-2004) the economy grew by only 4 per cent. The periods of very low growth have been due to external shocks, internal disruptions or both. In the 1970 - 74 period the annual economic growth was only 2.9 per cent. During this period, adverse terms of trade caused by sharp oil price hikes and international food grin shortages, created enormous strains on foreign exchange resources and fiscal operations. The insurgency of 1971 disrupted nearly all economic activities and increased government expenditures on defence from less than 1 per cent of GDP to 4 per cent of GDP in 1972 - 75. In 1971 the growth rate dropped to as low as 0.2 per cent. A severe drought, coinciding with the escalation of international prices of food, fertiliser and oil, led to severe hardships and constraints on economic growth. Again in 1987 - 89 the annual average economic growth was only 2.2 per cent. The insurgency, which disrupted nearly all economic activities, was mainly responsible for this severe dip in economic growth from an annual average of 4.8 per cent in the previous three years to only 2.2 per cent per year in the next three years (1987-89). Once again there was a slowing down in the economy prior to 1987, partly due to the North-East war and partly owing to a slowing down of foreign investment and budgetary difficulties (Atukorala and Jayasuriya 1994). Several other years of low growth were associated with internal shock. In 1983-84 economic growth slipped to 5 per cent from the average of 6.2 per cent for the 1978-82 period owing to the ethnic violence in July 1983. Economic growth fell to as low as 3.8 per cent in 1996, when drought conditions, not only affected domestic agricultural production, but created an energy crisis, which disrupted industrial production. In contrast, periods of high growth did not suffer such external and internal shocks. Alternating economic policies were a significant factor in retarding the country's economic growth. The discontinuity of economic policies was an important factor for slowing economic growth. Fundamentally different economic regimes alternated giving rise to considerable uncertainty, reversal of economic polices and an unsatisfactory climate for foreign and domestic investment. These alternating policy regimes provide useful perspectives on economic growth as differing economic growth rates are associated with different regimes. Periods of economic liberalisation, free trade, lesser controls and lesser State management achieved higher rates of economic growth than periods of State control of the economy. The administrative area coming under the purview of Colombo Municipal Council is relatively small in extent 37.29 which accommodates les than one million inhabitants. The city experienced a slow population growth rate, i.e., annual growth rate during the period 1981 - 2001 was 0.4%. The current city population (as per population census of 2001) was 642,020 people, which is only an increase of 79,570 people (12%) during the last 30 year period since 1971. Method It is assumed that the levels of values in the property market is influenced by the economic growth levels political stability and government policy of the country. In order to examine the impact of economic, legal and policy changes 420 land prices from past land sales of last forty years were collected from Municipal Wards of Kommpagngnaweediya, Wekanda, Hunupitiya and Cinnamon Garden of Colombo City and analysed according to the two types of economic and political regions. Physical development (change of skyline), opening of new roads, infrastructure facilities, service sector improvements (opening of branch of various banks) were observed and identified as the indicators of development and change influencing level of property values in the study area. It is observed that the property values reached its peak in 1969 and gradually falls down up to 1977 and again starts increasing since 1977. Further confirms the Chief Valuer's statement on property market in his administration report for the year 1978. This study clearly shows that there is a positive relationship between economic growth and level of land values. Reasons for the cause of downward trend in the level of property values during 1970 - 1977 were examined and found that the State has acquired some private properties in the study area during this period discouraging private sector investment in the property market. Some of the legislative enactments passed by the parliament during this period are the reasons for it. (i) Protection of Tenancy Special Provision Act, No. 28 of 1970. (ii) Direct intervention on private property rights by the government. Land Reform Law, No. 1 of 1972 to reduce the concentration of ownership of land in a few hands, ceiling limit to ownership of property (maximum 50 acres) (iii) Ceiling on Housing Property Law No. 1 of 1973. (iv) Rent Act, No. 7 of 1972 (direct price control) (v) Land Reform Amendment Act No. 39 of 1975 (Acquisition of Tea Estates owned by foreign companies). It is observed during this period some of the tea companies sold their offices and tea stores in the study area. (vi) Business Undertakings (Acquisition) Act, No. 35 of 1971 Urban Development Authority Law, No. 41 of 1978 was enacted and the Urban Development Authority was established in 1978 with the objective to promote integrated planning and implementation of economic social and physical development of certain areas as may be declared by the Minister and the Colombo Municipal area was declared as a development area on September 30, 1978. It is observed by 1977/78 property values started rising. By this time there were several important features that influence the property development activates as introduced by the State, and also by the private sector. The State had given a lot of prominent, and attractive concessions to investors on housing development, and the number of private property developers in the Urban Sector was growing. This trend continued until 1983. As a result by 1978/79 property values started rising. By this time there were several important features that influence the property development activities as introduced by the State, and also by the private sector. The State had given a lot of prominent and attractive concessions to investors on housing development, and the number of private property dev elopers in the Urban Sector was growing. This trend continued until 1983. In 1983 due to the unsettled conditions that prevailed in the country there was a slight setback in the Urban property market, but still there was no reduction in property values, the number of transactions that took place were few. By 1986 the price of Urban property started rising again. During this period property values in major cities rose rapidly as there was instability in most of the remote areas in the country due to insurgent activities. During the period 1990/93 it is observed very steep increases in Urban property values both in the case of commercial and residential properties. It is observed that in 1995 the economic conditions of the country was not stable and a decline in the share market, nevertheless there was no decline in the property market. Investments on property market mainly on Urban property seemed to be the best secured investment. The reasons observed for rapid escalation in land prices is mainly due to the physical development in the study area. Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2008 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.
The further you go into the past the lesser your chances of meeting the word poverty. This may come as a surprise to you, but that’s because you and I have been taught to look at the past as a dark, gloomy, dismal and altogether a primitive era compared to the state of enlightenment we are living in now. When we see a thatched roof, mud walls and cow dung floors, what comes to our minds is ‘poverty’; but as an adequate source of shelter only a foreigner, surprisingly, can see its advantages. Let us see what the foreigner says: “Such a house, since the rain cannot beat very much against the walls, can stand unharmed for a long time. The floor is also made of beaten clay, and on their feast days they take fresh cow dung, mix it with water into a thin paste, and smear with their hands both floor and walls quite flat with it. Although while being put on it smells badly, yet after a few days, when it is dry, this changes to a pleasant odour; and the ants, which are a great plague in this land, avoid it,” written by Heydt, a German who served the Dutch in the 17 hundreds, living in the Maritime Provinces for three years. Another foreigner, a British Civil Servant, A.B.Denham, who had even a closer look at our people and country makes the following reflections on poverty. He was here at the turn of the 19th century and what provoked him to make his reflections on poverty was “the enormous quantities of goods which are poured by the West into the Eastern store “ and “the extraordinarily few wants of the Eastern people.” He says that comforts among the people of the East have to be created. “The villager never possessed any.” All he had was his mud built house and the clothing and the household goods, which could be stuffed into a small bag to flee unencumbered into the jungle at a pinch. Comfort “Such conditions in the East,” Denham goes on, “do not indicate a state of poverty, but a complete lack of comfort, the absence of which was not felt...The chroniclers of the reigns of Eastern monarchs do not concern themselves with the standard of comfort among the subject people for the very good reason that no historian of those days would have understood what was meant by such an expression, or if he had would have scoffed at the idea.” So, having introduced comfort to a people who had nothing to do with it, we have today, thanks to the imperialists who introduced it, not for the welfare of the people but for their own profits, and in consequence we are impoverished today. Poverty has been here with us for a while and it may be here for some more time because it is a useful slogan at election times to mislead people by promising to ‘eradicate poverty.’ The United Nations, not to thwart the aspirations of our politicians as such but to join them, is planning to introduce a series of ‘quick win’ proposals under their Millennium Plan to eradicate poverty. They have set the target year for eradication as 2015. The proposals don’t seem to look as being any too startling because all their plans seem to be only a going back to the days when things went on smoothly before the ‘comfort’ program stepped in. By the way, the Millennium poverty eradication ‘quick win’ plan needs $40-60 billion for a year. Compared to what the US is reported to be spending on its armaments contracts amounting to $230 billion a year, the poverty eradication money is just a pittance. One way the UN has proposed to help poverty eradication is to introduce what we call free education and they call ‘elimination of school fees.’ This is not a new scheme at all, but one that they may even have borrowed from our country where education right along our history has always been free, and I don’t mean the days of the Kannangara Plan, but our ancient pirivena system of studies where the monks acted like talent scouts to spot the brighter students among the young. And neither was education compulsory then. Being a free people we only created opportunities for all those interested in pursuing either linguistic studies or the arts and crafts and sciences in which Sri Lanka has done pretty well. A case in point is the creation of some of the finest water management engineers the world has seen. And all this without the help of any ‘quick win’ Millennium Plan. Eradicate poverty Supporting breast-feeding is another of the plans that are thought of as being able to eradicate poverty. This country never had anything except breast-feeding in all its history. If a mother ran out of milk, which was exceptional, then they looked around for a foster mother to help out. Such co-operative efforts went into disuse with the arrival of the business fraternity from the West. The business fraternity took a lot of trouble to persuade the medical fraternity to advice mothers to change over to the bottle. And along with the ‘comfort’ plan introduced to our country by the imperialists it didn’t take very long to persuade mothers to change over to the bottle. “Stuff and nonsense” says the Millennium Plan now, and they are determined to go ahead to persuade mothers to throw out the bottle and get back to the breast. User fees for basic health care is a term that is being used to say that in developing countries, which is the polite form of telling us that we are poor countries, who are now paying for obtaining medical help to keep ourselves alive, must be discouraged. There was a time in very recent history when medicine was freely given in all state hospitals in this country. Our then international money-lenders frowned on us for this and screwed our then Finance Minister, Dr N.M.Perera, to charge twenty five cents per patient. Now all this is forgotten - the Millennium Plan will now take the health costs under its wing. We had no problems, however, under our own kings when medical treatment was freely given with the King himself acting the physician. Millennium Plan Community health training in rural areas, another one of those ‘quick win’ plans to eradicate poverty, is to be introduced under the Millennium Plan. But this is something that we always had, with each village having its own ayurvedic physician, who advised patients to look after themselves with inguru-kothhamlli treatment as a preliminary before visiting him, and the payment in any case was a gift of a sheaf of betel leaves. There is also evidence that our women could also look after themselves quite well without any medical assistance. “The Sinhala women,” says Heydt who is mentioned above,” are not accustomed to have midwives, as do ours, to assist at births or give a helpful hand; but they take to them only the women of their neighbours, who serve as midwives. They rarely die in childbirth, and such a death appears strange to them, from which one can deduce the ease of their bringing-forth.” Then there is going to be instruction for women on women’s rights as part of the poverty eradication campaign. How the two are related is somewhat difficult to conceive. There was a time, however, in the history of our country when the Sinhala law prevailed from north to south and from east to west and this law was particularly generous to our women. Marriage and divorce was a very simple affair. And when it came to divorce, “They divorce for a small cause, and it is no disgrace among them... When they cannot live with content together, they separate themselves, and the man seeks another wife and the wife another husband.” As for any conditions for separation there are none, for the law entitles her to take with her, “the dowry that she brought, perhaps a few heads of cattle, some clothes, and now and then, if she is of higher rank, some slaves; and goes to her parents or nearest relatives or other friends, until she sees another opportunity better to her liking than the first.” So, as we can see, the Millennium Plan has nothing new to offer us except to restore now the ‘balance of power’ destroyed by our puritanical Victorians from England. Tree planting And one more item from a list of about 14. The Millennium Plan recommends tree planting as a measure to eradicate poverty. We had prophets around 2000 years ago who asked us not only to care for trees but also for wild animals and in fact the entire environment as the Arahat Mahinda did when he surprised King Devanampiya Tissa while he was hunting animals, in the following words: “O great King, the birds of the air and the beasts have as equal a right to live and move about in any part of the land as thou. The land belongs to the people and all living beings; thou art only the guardian of it.” And this has its echo in a modern prophet who says, “The teaching of the Buddha... enjoins a reverent and non-violent attitude not only to all sentient beings but also, with great emphasis, to trees. Every follower of the Buddha ought to plant a tree every few years and look after it until it is safely established, and the Buddhist economist can demonstrate without difficulty that the universal observation of this rule would result in a high rate of genuine economic development independent of any foreign aid.” - E.F. Schumaker ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.
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The Government is to restrict permission for expatriate workers in Sri Lanka by directing Government Agents to first ascertain whether locally qualified personnel are available. It is only thereafter that foreign personnel assigned by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will be given work permits to serve, in terms of new guidelines. These guidelines were issued by the Government on Wednesday. In terms of these, only exceptions to this rule will be the positions of a head or deputy of the NGOs concerned. A series of restrictions have also been imposed. Hereafter foreigners will be granted residence visas only for a maximum of three years to work in Sri Lanka, under the new guidelines. At present, such visas are renewable annually on the recommendations of the organisation concerned. The Ministry of Internal Administration has sent a circular regarding the new rules to all ministries, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Government Agents/District Secretaries, heads of departments and Sri Lanka’s diplomatic missions abroad. Under the new rules, foreigners will be required to submit a security clearance report from the security authorities of their respective countries and they will be forbidden from engaging in any political or unlawful activity during their stay in Sri Lanka. In the circular, the Ministry said that while acknowledging the contribution made by NGOs or INGOs operating in Sri Lanka towards reconstruction and rehabilitation activities during the disaster periods, it was necessary to streamline procedures for granting of visas to such expatriates working for these organizations. The Controller-General of Immigration and Emigration may carry out any investigation including security concerns in consultation with the Ministry of Defence or intelligence agencies before granting entry or residence visas. When the applicant gets a clearance certificate or work permit issued by the Ministry of Defence, visas will be granted for the validity period of the certificate. In cases where it has been found that the expatriates or dependents have engaged in any unlawful or political activity during the stay in Sri Lanka, the Immigration and Emigration Controller General will take immediate action to cancel the visa of such expatriate and deport him or her with immediate effect. According to the circular, the Attorney General will also initiate legal action with the assistance of Police against an expatriate who violates the law before any decision is taken by the Controller to deport the expatriate. For organizations that are working in the provinces, the Government Agent, the District Secretary or Divisional Secretaries should make preliminary recommendations for visa requests of NGOs functioning in their areas. They have been asked to ensure that the NGO requesting a visa for an expatriate, has initially attempted to recruit locally and has been unable to find a suitable person locally due to unavailability of required manpower/expertise in the country. This will be applicable to posts other than the posts of Chief and Deputy Chief of the organization. The concept here is that NGOs should recruit locally as far as possible and should only find expertise for the posts which cannot be filled locally due to unavailability of suitable candidates, the circular points out. Foreign nationals who arrive on entry or prior visas should apply for residence visas within one month upon arrival. The ministry has told all parties concerned to ensure strict compliance with these rules.
Chamber of Construction Industry which represents all stakeholders of the domestic construction industry drawn from both public and private sectors ranging from large multinational corporations to micro enterprises, satisfied a long felt need of the industry by publishing the first ever construction industry catalogue. This was another initiative launched by the Chamber towards enhancing the capacity and competitiveness of the domestic construction industry. The construction industry trade catalogue has become a technical reference document for the industry professional. It reflects the capacity of the domestic construction industry to foreign investors, multidisciplinary consultants, contractors, multilateral and bilateral donors among other stakeholders. It provides vendors of construction related goods and services with a most cost effective channel of reaching their targeted clients and customers. The 2008 edition of this catalogue will have a free of charge circulation of 5000 copies that will be received by stakeholders of the domestic construction industry, diplomatic, consular and other representatives in Sri Lanka, multilateral banks and donor agencies, international non-governmental agencies and Sri Lankan missions abroad among others. The 2008 version is more comprehensive and is expected to be encyclopedic in terms of listing products and services across the total spectrum of the market. In view of the Chambers’ role as a focal point for promotion of export of construction related professional services, contracting capacities and other construction inputs, Chamber will facilitate circulation of this publication to targeted export markets in the Gulf region with special reference to the State of Qatar, Sultanate of Oman, United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain. The catalogues’ maiden publication in the year 2006 has attracted commendations from both statutory authorities and the market as being on par with similar international publications of this nature. Construction Industry Trade Catalogue 2008 is expected to be released in November 2008.
Director HR Residencies Ananda Jayasekere, Chairman Benison International Dr. Sunil De Silva, Managing Director Sanken Lanka, Ranjith Gunetilleke, General Manager Nawaloka Construction Kalana Alwis and Marketing Manager City Developers Prasad Croos at the press briefing. Leading players in the construction industry and property developers urge the public to invest in real estate as now is the exact time to do it. “There is a misconception amongst the public that real estate prices will come down. On the contrary they are going to escalate by over a 100% due to price increases in material, labour, transport, overheads, service connections, as well as the new tax levied by the Government where 5% of the total construction cost has to be paid to the UDA even before construction starts” Managing Director Sanken Lanka, Ranjith Gunatilleke said at a joint press briefing held at the Nawaloka Auditorium on Tuesday. “Real estate has always been a good investment as currency rates keep fluctuating and urged the public to invest their monies in property development. “Real estate has been proven to be one of the best investments in this country for over two decades and land prices are known to escalate no matter what” Gunatilleke said. He said for the past 18 months they had not had a single new Apartment construction project whereas previously they would tender on an average for at least 2 -3 new projects every month. “Recently however some developers have been unable to meet their payments to contractors as they are unable to sell their apartments, while some developers have been forced to stop construction mid way. Buyers are expecting real estate prices to come down, this is not going to happen, they will only escalate,” he said. Gunatilleke stated that the economic situation in the country, the worsening security situation which makes people think twice before investing in apartments both as a second home or city home as well as an investment, the shortage of cement, the absence of skilled labour and the escalating price of raw materials as reasons for this situation. “The enforcement of a 5% tax of the total construction cost which came into effect about one and a half years ago has virtually put a halt on any future construction and this coupled with the escalating price of raw materials has had a negative effect on the construction industry as well as for property developers”. General Manager Nawaloka Construction, Kalana Alwis said today people spend a significant amount of time traveling, wasting both time and fuel. It makes sense to have a second home in Colombo, particularly an apartment which could be locked up when not used. “Not only is there the convenience factor but you also have an investment which appreciates almost daily”, Alwis said. Chairman Benison International Dr Sunil de Silva said his development project, namely 189 Residencies on Baseline Road had seen an appreciation in land value of over 100%. “In 2004 a perch was valued at Rs 1.2 million, whereas now the price is Rs 2.5 million for a perch. Steel which at that time cost US$ 400 per tonne is now US$ 950 a tonne, therefore as an investment there is no way you can lose as land and housing are appreciating rapidly”, de Silva said. Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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