The Lanka Academic

VOL. 1, NO. 301

T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Rumours of tremors
The Hindu, Friday, February 02, 2001. COLOMBO, FEB. 1. Rumours of a mild quake in Sri Lanka gained strength after the State-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) announced today that a government scientist had felt a series of tremors in an upmarket neighbourhood of the capital on Wednesday evening. The SLBC's evening news bulletin said employees of a government retail outlet in the area confirmed this, but added that the Meteorological Department had no such information. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 15:28:47 EST 2001

No Connection Fee! Calls to Sri Lanka, only 39c/m!
O  T  H  E  R      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E  S
Chandrika asks supporters to spare opposition rally
Times of India, 2 February 2001 . Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga has asked her supporters not to disrupt an opposition rally to protest against rising living costs, ruling party officials said on Thursday. The opposition UNP has said that the ruling party was planning to unleash bees to disrupt the rally that is due to be launched from the central town of Kandy, some 112 kilometres (72 miles) northeast of the capital. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 15:31:30 EST 2001
Related News Stories
President Kumaratunga asks her MPs not to attack opposition procession  - Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo

Solheim visit brightens prospect of Lanka-LTTE talks
Times of India, 2 February 2001 . The arrival of Norwegian special envoy Erik Solheim here has brightened prospects for peace talks, if not peace, between the Sri Lanka government and Tamil Tiger separatists, according to analysts.Solheim arrived on Wednesday on yet another of his trademark shuttles, this time only a little over two weeks after his January 12 visit amid a slight thawing of tensions between the two antagonists. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 15:32:14 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Solheim visit sparks speculation  - The Hindu (International)
Norwegian peace envoy hold crucial talks with President and Opposition Leader.  - Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo

Local paedophile on the run
CDN, 02 February 2001. Two police teams have been deployed in Badulla and Galle to track down a local paedophile who had sexually abused school children on the guise of conducting teledrama workshops in several parts of the country. Police said the suspect's escapedes came to light during investigations into a complaint regarding the sexual abuse of 10 schoolchildren in Wellawaya. The 38 year old suspect, said to be a resident of Galle had lured these children into immoral acts on theguise of conducting teledrama workshops. The suspect who had posed off as a teledrama producer had vanished from the area sensing that police was now trailing him. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 22:56:22 EST 2001

British charity steps up security after bombed attack, Feb 01 2001 20:29 IST. A British non-governmental agency Thursday announced it was stepping up security for its main office in Sri lanka Thursday, a day after it was bombed by unidentified attackers. Oxfam in a statement said it had no knowledge of an organisation calling itself the national Front Against Tigers which contacted local media to claim the attack. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 10:46:03 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Office of British charity bombed in Lanka  - The Hindu NUS
Sri Lankan nationalists claim Oxfam attack  - MSNBC
British charity bombed in Sri Lanka  -
Hand grenade attack on NGO in Colombo  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo

Sri Lanka Troops Repulse Rebel Attack In Jaffna
Yahoo India, February 1. Sri Lankan troops killed four Tamil Tiger rebels attempting to breach a defense line on the northern Jaffna Peninsula, a government spokesman said Thursday. Wednesday's shooting was at the Karativu defense line, about 290 kilometers north of Colombo, spokesman U. Gajaman said. He added that troops shot and killed three other militants Wednesday at Muhamalai, 15 kilometers further northeast. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 15:33:12 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Troops repulse rebel attack in northern Sri Lanka  - Times of India

Solheim begins talks afresh
The Hindu NUS, 16.00 hrs (IST) on February 1, 2001. Colombo, Feb. 1. (UNI): Norway's special envoy Erik Solheim today began fresh talks with Sri Lankan leaders amid hopes of ending a deadlock in the fragile peace process, diplomatic sources here said. Solheim who arrived here yesterday had a meeting with main Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe today and was due to meet with President Chandrika Kumaratunga, sources said. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 08:49:46 EST 2001
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Solheim meets Sri Lankan leaders  - BBC South Asia

NFAT claims reposnisbility for Wednesday Lanka attack
Yahoo India, February 1. The National Front Against Tigers (NFAT) Sri Lanka has claimed the responsibility for Wednesday's attck on British charity office in Colombo. The attack at Oxfam's office was carried during the wee hours.NFAT is considered as a Sinhalese extremist group The NFAT surfaced early last year when it claimed responsibility for the assassination of a hardline Tamil politician, though fficials and Sinhala nationalists dismissed that claim as "hoax". More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 10:47:27 EST 2001

Prabhakaran's children appear exams as peers fought
southNexus, january 30. While the chief of one of the world's deadliest armed outfits was waging a war against the Government in a region where civil society has almost collapsed, his children did not miss their examinations. There could not have been anything wrong with the children of LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran appearing for their public exams last August, but for the fact the rebel outfit is widely alleged to be conscripting school children to fight the separatist war for a Tamil homeland in northern Sri Lanka. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 14:47:33 EST 2001

Forex crisis pushing Sri Lanka to Norway peace talks, Feb 01 2001 11:58 IST. COLOMBO, Feb 1 (AFP) - A major economic crisis may encourage Sri Lanka to break an impasse in the Norwegian-backed peace process and enter talks with Tamil Tiger separatists, diplomatic sources here said Thursday. Peace hopes were also raised when Norway's Erik Solheim arrived here Wednesday on his latest mission to try to bring Colombo and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the negotiating table. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 03:45:35 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka Rupee Unch Late;Dollar Pft-Taking Boosts LKR  - Yahoo India
Norwegian peace envoy arrives in Lanka  - Times of India
Norwegian envoy arrives to resume peace process  - The Hindu NUS
Norway envoy in Sri Lanka to lift deadlocked peace bid  -

Cricket-England to stick to winning plan in Sri Lanka
yahoo, february 1. England captain Nasser Hussain said on Thursday his side would keep to the same strategy that brought them their first series win in Pakistan on their tour of Sri Lanka. ``We had a certain specific plan in Pakistan and the conditions are not much different here, so we are not going to start all over again,'' Hussain said in Colombo. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 12:02:38 EST 2001

Lankan poets echo the woes of their Tamil folks
NIP, february 1. Poets and litterateurs lend sanity to a land ravaged by inner turmoil. Yet, when renowned Sinhalese poet Parakrama Kodituwakku and Tamilian poet S Sivasegaram poured out the woes of the Sri Lankan Tamils in one voice and lamented being part of a society trying to whip up Sinhalese fanaticism, something somewhere seems to have gone wrong. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 08:58:09 EST 2001

Fake notes seized from Sri Lankans
ChennaiOnline, february 1. The police recovered counterfeit currency in the denomination of Rs 100 and Rs 1,000 from two Sri Lankan nationals here yesterday. Police suspect that the notes might have been printed in Pakistan for circulation in India. According to the police, M S Bowmi (38), son of Mohammed Zakaria, and Mohammed Kiyas, both hailing from Sri Lanka, produced two 100-rupee notes at Sakthi Wines in Seven Wells last night and asked for liquor. More...
Published: Thu Feb 1 08:55:36 EST 2001
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Two Sri Lankans held  - The Hindu (Southern States)

Britain concerned over LTTE’s ‘Peace in Sri Lanka’ event
Island, February 1. British authorities are concerned over the "Peace in Sri Lanka" event which was held at Members of Parliament office building, Atlee Suite, Protcullis House, Westminster on Monday January 22. The event organised by the LTTE via one of its front organisations the "Confederation of Tamil Associations—UK" was exclusively reported in this newspaper last Thursday. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 19:59:25 EST 2001

Sri Lanka takes a step closer to liberalisation
FT , January 30. Sri Lanka's move to let the local rupee float freely has brought the country a step closer toward easing its tight capital controls, and the International monetary Fund looks ready to reward it with a loan to bolster the country's dwindling reserves."The free float is something that in the medium- to long-term (is in line) with the full liberalisation of the financial markets," said Nouzab Fareed, chief strategist at mercantile Merchant Bank. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 20:12:33 EST 2001

CWE on a buying spree -violating tender procedure
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.55 a.m. SLT Wednesday January 31. Soon after the present Minister for Food and Cooperatives, Reggie Ranatunge took office, allegations have been made that he violated tender procedure and bought 4000 tons of red split lentils two weeks before the tender calling for same had even closed. The parippu was also purchased at a much higher price, for USD 495 per ton when the going rate was USD 468 and less per metric ton. The entire purchase cost the nation Rs. 10 million more than if the minister had adhered to tender procedure and assessed offers which he received for as low as USD 440 per metric ton. The closed-door purchases negotiated by the ministerial delegation spent USD 55 more on each ton of parippu. The purchases were made in Karnataka, India.

When questioned, the minister argued that the purchases were made from a state body in India and no commissions were involved. Market sources however say that Indian state bodies, more often than not, are name boards and do not physically do the buying, sorting and shipping.

In fact this system of trading, known as government to government purchasing was abandoned in the 1970s as it was proved to be totally inefficient. This type of trading encourages G-to-G barter and other deals which allow for unfair advantages to be gained over third world nations. 20

According to Minister Reggie Ranatunge what prompted these purchases was because S. Albert & Co. Pvt. Ltd and its sister firm Madhu Overseas Pvt. Ltd delayed in making the required shipments of parippu to Sri Lanka and so the Lankan government was forced to cancel the contract. Ranatunge then declared that he rushed into making a purchase for some 4000 tons of parippu from Spices Trading Corporation and KAPEC in Karnataka, India in order to meet the demands of the festive season in December 2000.

The minister's explanation however does not hold water or grain for that matter. Despite the minister's purported good intentions, the parippu arrived in Sri Lanka only on January 15, 2001. That too, only 600 tons have so far arrived in the country as against the 4000 ordered by the minister and his delegation in November last year. 20

Ranatunge has given a further extension for the balance 3400 metric tons of dhal to arrive in Sri Lanka by January 31, 2001. Why this purchase was made without following tender procedure and at such a colossal lost in anybody's wild guess.20

According to ministry sources this parippu will now cost Rs. 51/- per kg when in the Pettah parippu is freely available at a wholesale price of Rs. 41/- per kg. At a wholesale level the CWE will lose Rs. 40 million on this 4000 metric ton purchase alone. The dhal will soon probably be used as chicken feed as few will buy parippu for Rs. 51/- per kilo from the CWE when outside it is available for Rs. 41/- per kilo.20

The CWE this month floated an open tender for 12,500 metric tons of sugar. The tender closed on January 17 and the lowest price received was for USD 241 per metric ton of sugar. This tender was awarded to Cargills International, a UK firm. 20

However despite this tender, the minister, similar to his dealing with the parippu tender a few days before this tender was scheduled to close again sent officers to Karnataka and purchased 5000 metric tons of sugar from Spices Trading Corporation and KAPEC. 2,500 metric tons were purchased from each firm for USD 295 per metric ton. 20

Indian sugar is freely available for export at USD 272/- per metric ton. When the tender opened on the 17th this month the lowest acceptable price received was USD 271.45 per metric ton. In this purchase too a sum of Rs. 10 million will be needed in order to balance the scales.

When securing this purchase of sugar, Ranatunge at the same time bought 500 metric tons of onions at USD 235/- per ton. The maximum export price for onions in India is USD 210/-. Here again there is a difference of Rs. 10 lakhs. 20

Another purchase was made also from Spices Trading Corporation and KAPEC in Karnataka for 200 metric tons of red chillies. A 100 tons each were bought from the two respective companies. 20

The chillies were bought at the rate of USD 772 per metric ton when the highest market price ranges at USD 685/- to 695/- depending on the quality of the product. For this purchase the CWE has incurred a cost of Rs. 117/- per kilo. Red chillies are freely available on the local market for Rs. 90/- to Rs. 95/- per kilo.20

The 'crack' in the CWE sources reveal began around 1988/89 during the time of the famous Mr. Paskaralingam, Secretary to the Treasury. During this time the Chairman of the CWE was a person - during whose tenure many of his large imports came into question. However since he enjoyed a special relationship with his Minister and Paskaralingam many of his questionable dealings which were documented and reported to government remained unchecked.

Allegations are now being made that the CWE under the management of Minister Reggie Ranatunge is manipulating inflated prices of chillies, lentils, onions and sugar and earning millions in the process. While several members of the management staff at the CWE are aware of what is happening the Minister appears to somehow have a way of handling then and keeping this questionable system unaccountable.

Another modus operandi in this entire fiasco is that the CWE sends several members of CWE staff connected to the Import Division on a "cargo-surveying safari." The persons concerned are rewarded not only with a foreign trip but more attractively a per diem of nearly USD 250 per day for each person. In addition sarees and other gifts are handed out to these officers by unscrupulous exporters in India who ship sub-standard goods to Sri Lanka.

Traders speaking on grounds of anonymity said that the exercise of inspecting sensitive food items costing millions of rupees like rice, sugar, lentils and dried fish should be the work of persons qualified in food technology - since experience and knowledge of technical specifications, like taste, aroma, colour and moisture come into play. Few of the persons sent so far by the CWE fall within this category. Most of them who are sent in fact are senior clerks, store keepers, assistant managers and others with political backing. In fact, there have been men under interdiction for cases of fraud who have also been sent on these trips to India because they happen to have the good fortune of enjoying a friendly relationship with influential politicos.
Published: Wed Jan 31 09:04:28 EST 2001

Maj. Gen. Neil Dias appointed Chief-of-Staff of army
Island, 01 February 2001. Major General Neil Dias will assume duties as Chief-of-Staff of the army today.He was earlier the deputy Chief-of-Staff and Commander of the Volunteer Force.Maj. Gen. Dias led divisions in the ‘Riviresa’ and ‘Jayasikuru’ operations to liberate Jaffna. He also commandered Wanni troops. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 20:57:19 EST 2001

Sri Lanka trims cars, phones for ministers, Jan 31 2001 18:23 IST. Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga Wednesday asked her cabinet ministers to cut down the number of vehicles used by them and also to reduce their fuel and telephone bills. Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said the President asked the ministers to adopt the austerity measures as the government allowed the local currency to float freely in a bid to avert a major foreign exchange crisis. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 09:09:48 EST 2001

Sri Lanka raises electricity tariffs by 25 pct
Yahoo India, 01 February 2001. Sri Lanka on Wednesday announced a 25 percent hike in electricity tariffs to offset losses caused by high fuel prices and a falling rupee. "The government has...approved the imposition of a fuel adjustment surcharge of 25 percent...," the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said in statement. It said the failure of monsoons in the last two years had resulted in "a huge increase in thermal power generation (which) coincided with skyrocketing fuel prices" that cost an additional eight billion rupees. The statement said the increase would take effect on March 1. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 22:25:07 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka Ups Electricity Tariffs By 25% Effective March  - Yahoo India

Sri Lanka launches drive to recruit soldiers
The Hindu (International), Thursday, February 01, 2001. . Sri Lanka has launched a drive to recruit at least 10,000 more soldiers for the war against the LTTE even as moves by Oslo to bring the two sides to the negotiating table seem to be gathering pace. Norway's special envoy, Mr. Erik Solheim, was back today in the Sri Lankan capital to take the process forward, reportedly after a meeting earlier this week with the LTTE representative in London, Mr. Anton Balasingham.In keeping with this, the government announced today that it had launched a month-long programme with the theme ``Obstacles are temporary, Victory is at Hand'', to felicitate the bravery of soldiers. The programme would also include a recruitment drive. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 18:11:22 EST 2001

Sri Lanka to Take Stern Action Against Errant Traders: Minister
Xinhua-Northernlight, january 30. Sri Lanka will take stern action against errant traders who increase the prices of food commodities under the pretext of the floating exchange value of the country's currency rupee, the state-owned Daily News said on Wednesday. The paper said that Minister of Food and Marketing Development Reggie Ranatunga has received a number of complaints from consumers and ordered an immediate probe and stern action against errant traders. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 10:34:47 EST 2001

Grenades damage Oxfam head office in Sri Lanka
MSNBC, 31 January 2001. Two grenade blasts damaged the main Sri Lankan office of the British charity Oxfam on Wednesday, but there were no casualties. Police said the grenades were thrown into the car park of the Oxfam office in Colombo's plush Park Road area damaging two vehicles and shattering windows in the building. ''We are totally baffled by this attack... we did not receive any prior threats,'' said Simon Harris, Oxfam's programme manager in Sri Lanka. There have been no claims of responsibility. Harris said Oxfam did most of its work in Sri Lanka's north and east where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are fighting for a separate minority Tamil state. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 00:56:04 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Aid agency bombed in Colombo  - BBC South Asia

Sri Lanka rupee steady in cautious trade
Yahoo India, 31 January 2001. The Sri Lankan rupee held its ground on Wednesday in cautious, subdued trade. They said the rupee was unchanged from Tuesday's close of 90.50 to the dollar."Everything is very quiet and rupee is steady," said one dealer at one local bank.A legal challenge to the central bank's decision last week to float the rupee appeared to have had little impact on the foreign exchange market. Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party said on Tuesday it was going to court to try and reverse the central bank's decision to float the rupee. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 01:17:19 EST 2001

Muralitharan takes five in Sri Lanka win
Yahoo India, 01 February 2001. Muthiah Muralitharan claimed five wickets to spin Sri Lanka to an easy 61-run victory over New Zealand in the first one-day international on one of his favourite grounds on Wednesday. ``I like this ground,'' Muralitharan said after the match at Napier's McLean Park. ``Last time I came here I got five wickets in a Test match. The pitch was keeping low and it's difficult to play a spin bowler when the ball keeps low. I had a feeling it might be a good night for me tonight.''New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming bitterly criticised his side's inept batting. ``Our batting throughout was poor,'' he said. ``We needed a good start and we didn't get it. There were a number of soft dismissals in that and it's not good enough.' ``We have got the best players in the country playing in this series but they certainly didn't perform today. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 22:23:35 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Murali spins web of torment for hapless New Zealand  - Yahoo India
New Zealand no match for Sri Lankans  - Yahoo India
Cricket: Sri Lanka beat New Zealand by 61 runs in 1st match  - NDTV/MSNBC
Arnold shepherds Sri Lanka to modest total against New Zealand  - Cricinfo

Lankan names stump NZ Cricket officials
Age, 01 February 2001. Sri Lanka beat New Zealand in the opening one-dayer but New Zealand Cricket (NZC) officials seem to be having just as much trouble with the tourists off the field - if press releases distributed yesterday are any indication.As the New Zealand players struggled to find ways of combating the tourists in the series-opener in Napier, NZC also suffered an identity crisis - naming Javed Miandad as the coach of Sri Lanka. He will be here, but later this month when the Pakistan team arrive for a Test and one-day series.Sri Lanka's coach Dav Whatmore, a former Australian Test player, was probably unconcerned at the oversight, preferring to bask in the glow of his side's 61-run win. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 18:03:05 EST 2001

NZ will not play Tests in Sri Lanka
The Pavilion, 01 February 2001. Concerns over the workload on its cricketers has led New Zealand Cricket to reject a Sri Lankan request for three Tests to be incorporated into the Black Caps visit to the island starting in mid-July. Instead the New Zealanders will play a tri-series including India, and face a maximum of seven matches should they make the final in the second week of August. NZC chief executive Chris Doig said three Tests would add unnecessary strain on the players who were already committed to playing 11 Tests in a 12-month time frame, starting with three in Pakistan in September. ``That's a hell of a lot of cricket, playing (tests) in Sri Lanka just didn't suit us at the time of year,'' he said. More...
Published: Wed Jan 31 18:08:31 EST 2001

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