Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sri Lanka proposes barter trade with Iran

 11 December 2012 15:19 | Tehran Times

TEHRAN - Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen has expressed willingness to start barter trade with Iran.
 On Tuesday, the Sri Lankan official met with Iranian Industry, Mine, and Trade Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari in Tehran, discussing ways to diversify and expand industrial and trade ties, IRNA reported.
 Ghazanfari said that the value of bilateral trade stands at $1.6 billion annually (including oil trade).
 Bathiyutheen, for his part, welcomed Iranian investment in his country, and proposed bartering as a means to give a boost to the two-way trade.
 U.S. sanctions against Iran had compelled Sri Lanka to pay an additional sum of $1.2 billion for the import of crude oil and refined oil, Sri Lankan Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayanth said in October.
 The Minister said that the country’s oil bill had reached $5 billion by now.
 The government had made arrangements to purchase crude from Saudi Arabia and other oil producing nations and orders had been placed for 135,000 million tons of light crude and another 80,000 million tons in the open market.

Japanese biz house plans clean energy from Lanka’s staple food

Wed, 2012-12-12 01:17 — editor
Sri Lanka’s rice industry, which has earned an international reputation as one of the few producers of some best red rice varieties in the world, is set get a fresh boost when a top Japanese biz house moves in to utilize ‘rice husks’ for clean energy production in large scale.
Rice Husk Briquettes, the low cost clean, bio-mass energy source used internationally, is now set to enter Sri Lanka’s industrial landscape, and even domestic use when MTI Japan begins its project in Sri Lanka.
“Husk bricks are an internationally used energy source well known for their environment friendliness and low cost, often almost freely sourced. For example, their costs savings are more than 20% in comparison to coal, and three-to four times energy output as firewood” revealed Teppei Tanigawa, the President/CEO of Hyogo, Kobe based MTI Japan Co Ltd on 23 November.
Tanigawa was addressing Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka) on 23 November at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo when he called upon Minister Bathiudeen with his high level three-member team from Tanigawa’s Kobe city (Hyogo sector) based MTI Japan Co Ltd is a business house involved in diverse ventures including trading, manufacturing and advanced technology in Japan and abroad. Specially, MTI’s cutting-edge technology is known for state-of-the-art advanced sensing & sensor tech, autonomous support systems, artificial intelligence (AI), and even robot control technology, among others. Interestingly, MTI has a strong interest on ‘technology for SMEs’ and also ‘clean energy.’
“Just 2 kilos of husk bricks can give energy equivalent of one litre of kerosene when used domestically. Rice husk bricks are widely used in Japan for house heating specially in winter. As a result, we know how efficient it is for industry usage. We are studying many ways of producing the bricks in Sri Lanka, including a mobile production unit which can assist to give tech transfer to Sri Lanka’s rice industry” Tanigawa stressed and added: “In other words, you don’t need to bring the paddy husks to us, but we can come to the rural doorstep and on our way back from the farmers home, we can create bricks and the completed bricks are ready to be fed to the burner promptly. We are also planning to set up more than 100 husk grinding mills across the country in proximity to paddy areas. The good news is that we have already introduced this novel mobile compressing technology to Kenya with good results. From Kenya, we are planning to expand to the rest of the huge African market where not only rice husks, but even peanut husks could be used in large quantities.”
“We welcome and thank MTI Japan for choosing Sri Lanka for its next international venture” said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka, addressing CEO Tanigawa. “Biomass energy from such a low cost source is a welcome boost for our industrial sector productivity since it will support our energy efficiency initiatives. I have been given to understand that MTI Japan, in addition to be in technology, also is strong in SME sectors, which is the backbone of Sri Lanka’s economy. As a result, I see strong synergies between MTI Corp and us” Minister Bathiudeen stressed.
- Asian Tribune -

Sri Lankans hearing message - Aussie FM; Six Lankans abandon asylum claims to return home

December 13, 2012  08:48 am | Ada Derana
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr leaves on Thursday for visits to Dili and Colombo, and says Sri Lankans are getting the message that economic migrants will be sent home.
 Carr says Sri Lankans are getting the message that economic migrants who arrive in Australian waters will be swiftly sent home.
 “Every time we send a plane load back, a message goes out to the villages of Sri Lanka,” he told Sky News on Thursday.
“You can pay what is, in Sri Lankan terms, a fortune to a people smuggler, but you will only be sent back, you won’t get to make it to a new life in Australia.”
 More than 600 Sri Lankans asylum seekers have been returned involuntary since September.
 “Sure that has cost a bit of money, but it has asserted Australian sovereignty and Australian control of irregular immigration,” Senator Carr said.
 The foreign minister leaves Australia on Thursday for visits to East Timor and Sri Lanka.
 Meanwhile another group of Sri Lankan asylum-seekers decided to return home rather than wait to have their claims processed on Nauru.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed six more Sri Lankan men returned home voluntarily on Thursday.
Five of the men were transferred from Nauru to the Australian mainland before departing Perth for Colombo on a commercial flight. They were joined by another Sri Lankan man who had been detained in Western Australia.
It follows the voluntary return of eight Sri Lankans at the weekend, five from Christmas Island on Saturday and three from Perth on Sunday, and brings to 767 the number of Sri Lankans who have returned home - both voluntarily and involuntarily - since August 13 when the government announced it was reopening processing facilities on Nauru and Manus Island.
A department spokesman said transfers of boat arrivals to Nauru have continued and more would follow in coming weeks.

“Regular transfers to Nauru and more Sri Lankans returning home is further proof there is no advantage engaging with people smugglers,” the spokesman said, Australian media reports.

Sri Lankan lawyers go on strike over CJ’s impeachment process

PTI | Colombo,
Sri Lankan Human Rights lawyer Chrishantha Weliamuna(second from right in front) with representatives of various lawyers associations supporting Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. Photo:AP

Lawyers across Sri Lanka went on strike on Wednesday protesting the impeachment motion against the island nation’s first woman Chief Justice, bringing the judiciary to halt.
The protesters were seen clashing with pro-government protesters who called for the resignation of Ms Bandaranayake staging counter demonstrations in support of the impeachment
“We have come out today to protest in the branch association across the country on the single theme, ‘let’s protect the independence of the judiciary’”, Wijayadasa Rajapaksha, the head Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said.
Mr Rajapaksha said the BASL committee had resolved to condemn the procedure adopted and the findings of the parliamentary select committee on the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
The parliamentary panel last week announced that Ms Bandaranayake has been found guilty of three of the 14 charges slapped against her by the government.
The protesting lawyers said that some of the court’s functioning was crippled in many provincial areas throughout today and is likely to remain so tomorrow.
Bandaranayake, 54 awaits removal from the position early January after parliament holds a vote on the recommendations of the parliamentary select committee submitted last week.
The report was released after Ms Bandaranayake and her lawyers walked out of the proceedings calling it unfair.
Following concerns raised internationally, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on Tuesday, said he would appoint an independent panel to seek its views on the select committee report prior to acting on them.
However, the lawyers rejected the President’s offer.
“The President’s statement that he would appoint an independent panel to review the report is an admission by the President that it was an unlawful process and that the report is flawed. Therefore the said Report must be withdrawn immediately. Any future inquiry must take place only after a fair procedure and tribunal are lawfully introduced. Until then the agitation of the Bar will continue”, a lawyer’s union statement said.

Sri Lanka lawyers boycott courts over chief justice impeachment

By Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez

Thursday, December 13, 2012

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan lawyers boycotted courts on Wednesday, crippling the judicial system in protest at what they call unfair impeachment moves against the chief justice.
A parliamentary panel found the first woman to lead Sri Lanka's Supreme Court, Shirani Bandaranayake, guilty last week of financial irregularities and failing to declare her assets.
The United States, United Nations and Commonwealth have raised concerns about the process -- which could see parliament voting next month on whether to sack her -- and have called on the government to ensure the independence of the judiciary.
"Lawyers are staging a protest today in protest that the chief justice had not got an impartial, just and fair trial," said Wijedasa Rajapaksa, an opposition legislator and the president of the lawyers' Bar Association.
Hundreds of lawyers in official uniform marched in different parts of the island nation.
Some carried placards reading "hands off from judiciary" and "today judiciary, tomorrow?", while others put up posters warning of the risks from what they called an unfair trial.
Impeachment moves began after Bandaranayake ruled against a bill proposing a budget of 80 billion rupees (380 million pounds) for development, saying it had to be approved by nine provincial councils.
The ruling angered some of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's backers, who accused the judiciary of overstepping its authority, while Bandaranayake's supporters complained of political interference.
The ruling party filed a motion against Bandaranayake last month.
Parliament is expected to vote on the panel's finding in January. The president, whose party has more than two thirds of the 225 seats, needs just a plain majority to remove her from her post.
Saliya Pieris, a lawyer who represented her at the panel, issued a statement on behalf of the chief justice saying she could have proven her innocence but had not been allowed to cross-examine witnesses.
Parliament speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, the president's brother, appointed the panel, seven of whose 11 members were from the ruling party, to investigate 14 charges against Bandaranayake. On Friday she was found guilty on three of the first five charges.
The four opposition members on the panel quit on Friday, before its ruling, citing injustice, and the entire opposition party left the parliamentary chamber en masse. A day earlier Bandaranayake withdrew from the proceedings.
Lawyers and rights groups have challenged the legality of the select committee in the courts.
Diplomats who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said the impeachment process was without due process or transparency.
"This gives the effect that the executive can do anything in the supreme court using its parliamentary two-thirds majority," one diplomat from a European country said.
"We don't have any problem with removing the chief justice. But we are concerned on the process."
(Writing by Shihar Aneez, edited by Richard Meares)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters