Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Video - Vehicle importers requested the price increase - Ravi - Ravi has completely lost it!!!!

Japan to lend Sri Lanka $4.2 bln to help shore up forex reserves

* Plans for a $2.9-bln development loan, $1.3-bln bond
* Country faces BOP crisis after foreign outflows
* Sri Lanka plans to ease debt crisis after heavy borrowing (Adds details, comments)
By Ranga Sirilal
COLOMBO, May 31 Japan will lend $4.2 billion to Sri Lanka through both a loan and bond financing for budgetary support in the next two years, including infrastructure development, the Indian Ocean nation's finance minister said on Tuesday.

The borrowing comes as Sri Lanka seeks to resolve its precarious balance of payments position after a sharp depletion of foreign exchange reserves - a legacy of massive debt piled up under the previous government.
"Japan has committed $2.9 billion at a low interest rate of 0.01 percent over the next two years, and it's up to us to utilise the full amount," Ravi Karunanayake told reporters in Colombo, on his return from a G7 meeting in Japan.
He said the repayment period for the $2.9-billion loan would be 40 years, adding that a $1.3-billion bond would also be issued in Japan.
On May 19, Karunanayake had said the total borrowing cost of Japanese funds would be 3.5 percent to 4 percent "with the exchange fluctuation risks and dollar swap".
Sri Lanka is heavily indebted, partly due to borrowing by the previous government during its nine-year tenure that ended in January 2015. It faces a balance of payments crisis, with around $2 billion in foreign outflows from the government securities market since October 2014.
Kurunanayake in the past has said the government will repay short-term expensive loans with cheaper long-term loans.
The government delayed its 2016 borrowing plan until it reached a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month for a $1.5-billion bailout to help the $82.2-billion economy avert a balance of payments crisis.
Japan disbursed $2.69 billion to Sri Lanka between January 2006 and September 2014, Treasury data showed, putting it second only to China as a sovereign lender.
Sri Lanka has taken steps to ease the pressure on foreign debt repayment, such as a request that China swap some of the $8 billion it owes to Beijing for equity in infrastructure projects and an offer to sell stakes in its companies to Chinese firms.
It also plans to reform loss-making state-owned enterprises while raising taxes to boost government revenue, after repeated IMF requests. ($1=111.2200 yen) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Shihar Aneez and Clarence Fernandez)

The British Pound is diving after an unexpected Brexit poll result

By Elena Holodny | Business Insider
The British pound is crashing after an unexpected Brexit poll result.
The Guardian reported that a new ICM/Guardian telephone poll showed that 42% of respondents would vote Remain, 45% would vote Leave, and 13% said "don't know."
When including the results for those surveyed online and by phone, the numbers came in at 48% for Remain and 52% for Leave.
The currency was down by as much as 0.6% to 1.4551 against the dollar as of 10:52 a.m. ET.
As for the rest of the world, here's the scoreboard:
  • The euro is little changed at 1.1136 against the dollar. Consumer prices in the eurozone fell 0.1% year-over-year in May, which was a slight uptick from April's 0.2% yoy decline. Taking out the volatile food and energy prices, the core reading climbed 0.8% YoY, in-line with estimates.
  • The Australian dollar is stronger, up 0.8% to .7244 per dollar. On Monday, the Aussie dollar briefly traded near .7150 in early Asian trade before closing little changed near .7180. "Provided it holds above $0.7220 now, it can work its way a bit higher," wrote Marc Chandler, the global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, in a morning note to clients. "As a mile marker, note that the 20-day moving average is found near $0.7285," he added. "The Aussie has not been above this average since a downside reversal was posted on May 3.
  • The US dollar is stronger by 0.3% at 95.78. "The main narrative of increased prospects for a Fed hike in June or July has been pushed off center stage as the market reacts to local developments and investors await US economic data," wrote Chandler in a note to clients.

JVP propaganda Secretary released on police bail

by Sarath de Silva
"I wasn’t under the influence of liquor at the time of the incident’

JVP Propaganda Secretary and Gampaha District MP Vijitha Herath denied allegations that he had been under the influence of liqour when a double cab driven by him met with an accident at Rajagiriya in the early hours of yesterday. The Welikada police arrested him though he was given bail later in the day.

The Colombo bound double cab driven by the MP had skidded off the road causing damage to a telephone post near the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) around 12.30am yesterday.

He was released on police bail. The damaged party vehicle is in police custody and Welikada police are conducting the investigations. MP Herath said that an attempt was being made to tarnish his image.


From CDN - Zahrah Imtiaz and Nushka Nafeel
A black Toyota Aqua Hybrid was Parami Pathirana’s dream car. She had worked tirelessly for three years to be able to finally buy it this week. The government however threw cold water on her dreams with an increase on the excise duty of vehicles over 100cc, and the Toyota Aqua which used to cost Rs 3.5 million, now costs Rs 3.7 million.
“I was planning to buy my own vehicle with no help from my parents but now that seems impossible,” Pathirana said.
The new excise duty on cars will be based on a unit rate excise duty system (fixed rupee amount per cubic centimetre of the engine capacity) rather than the old transaction valuation system. Now, whether you buy a Toyota or a Kia, if their engine capacity is the same, you will be paying the same amount of tax. The exceptions to the rule are lorries, vans and buses.
Taxes on electric car batteries however have been reduced, thus the tax on a Nissan Leaf has been reduced to Rs 1.7 million from Rs 2.9 million. Threewheelers on the other hand have been dealt a heavy blow: A brand new threewheeler which cost close to Rs 600,000, will now have a tax of Rs 400,000 added to it. This puts the price of threewheelers on par with a TATA Nano cab at between Rs 1-1.2 million.
The Vehicle Importers Associations have called the changes arbitrary, and strongly oppose it:
“It is very difficult to figure out the logic behind this sudden increase in vehicle import tax,” Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) Chairman Gihan Pilapitiya said.
He said the CMTA had expected a major drop in the market, as this was, according to them, the highest tax increase in recent history.
“The government should consider ‘true transacted value’ when imposing tax on vehicles, as that is the internationally accepted system,” Pilapitiya said.
The ‘true transacted value’ is the actual Free On Board (FOB) value of the imported vehicle, which includes local charges of every description incurred, until the vehicle reaches the port in Sri Lanka.
“The market is already in distress given the depreciation of the rupee. This will change the competitors in the market. The high-end 1000cc cars will be in high competition in the current scenario,” Pilapitiya said.
Pilapitiya also said engine capacity alone was not a suitable criteria for calculating duty on vehicles:
“The price should be based on the value of the vehicle. An Indian Maruti cannot be compared to the 1000cc mini, made in the United Kingdom. According to the current increase in import tax, equal duty will be charged from both the vehicles,” he said.
“The import of motor vehicles with a cylinder capacity of between 1000cc and 1500cc will be reduced by 75 percent and vehicles of more than 1500cc will hardly be imported with this increase in tax,” Vehicles Importers Association President I. S. Merenchige said.
Merenchige was also of the opinion that this would change the type of vehicle preferred by the middle class:
“Sri Lankans prefer Japanese, used vehicles. Nearly 60 percent of the imports consist of it. Increasing taxes will reduce the gap between the Japanese vehicles and the Indian vehicles. However, 1000cc Japanese vehicles will have more demand, when compared to the Indian vehicles,” he predicted.
With a possible decrease in vehicle imports in the offing, Merenchige also said the government would lose billions in revenue every year.
An official from the Finance Ministry speaking to the Daily News however, explained that the tax change had more to do with protecting the government’s tax base than increasing government revenue:
“We have simply changed the valuation system now. Earlier the tax was based on a percentage of what people declared their vehicle to have cost. But then the depreciation table was removed and both the old and new vehicles were taxed according to the manufacturer’s value,” he said.
He explained further that the system based on transaction value had several people manipulating the tax regime: “People were undervaluing their vehicles and evading tax,” he said.
In September 2015 however, the Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake issued a gazette excluding the actual transaction value of a vehicle from the valuation criteria. According to the gazette, Sri Lanka Customs would also calculate the duty of vehicles based on the prices furnished by the manufacturers. It was however not disclosed as to how they arrived at these values.
In the 2016 Budget, the unit rate of tax duty for vehicles was introduced and it promised to revise the duties on the percentage basis for certain vehicles. The Vehicle Importers Association of Sri Lanka at the time claimed that this would increase the prices of vehicles between Rs. 200,000-Rs 2.5 million.
“This is not the first time that vehicle taxes have been increased, the market will adapt accordingly. It hasn’t stopped people from buying cars so far,” said the official in response to Vehicle Importers claims that their industry was on the verge of collapse.
He added that high valued cars would not be greatly impacted by these tax increases.
The move comes at a time when the country is trying to cut down on imports to avert a further worsening of the balance of payments crisis in the economy and to save its depleting foreign currency reserves:
“This is a temporary solution to decrease imports,” the Finance Ministry official said.
When the IMF in April granted a loan of US$ 1.5 billion through a 36 month Extended Fund Facility Programme, it also bound the Sri Lankan government to tough conditions including restrictions on the budget deficit size and the tax to GDP ratio. As a result the government has had to introduce tough measures such as the recent VAT increase and a range of structural changes to its fiscal policy. The latter includes ensuring that all pay tax.
“As a temporary measure, the government has resorted to increases in vehicles taxes and VAT but it does not provide a lasting solution to declining government revenue. There needs to be a long-term, more justifiable solution, instead of just taxing vehicles,” Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne, Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Colombo said.
He advocated for a more equitable tax regime which taxes all in a fair manner rather than ad-hoc increases in vehicle duties as a better way to solve the economic crisis and increase government revenue.
Public transport
For Mahesh Withanage, a warehouse helper whose daily commute is a torturous two hours in the traffic, the recent tax increase on vehicles is a welcome change:
“It would reduce the number of cars on the road, we will have less traffic,” he explained.
Mohamed Riyaz however argued that while it was good to reduce traffic, the government also had to provide an alternative means of transport to the people: “It is time they began with the mass transit projects instead of engaging in these short-term measures,” Riyaz said.
“The personal vehicle culture in not going to work in Sri Lanka. It is not sustainable - both environmentally and economically. Every other developing country is moving towards creating more affordable, accessible and high-quality mass transportation methods. What is our government’s strategy to develop a better public transport system?” asked Hirundha Kanaharaarachchi.
Niresh Perera in the meantime did not expect the vehicle tax increase to last long: “Within the next six months they will have to revise the prices, when they start noticing that nobody is buying cars and that they are losing government revenue,” he said.
He stressed that more people would switch to public transport, especially trains, if they were more frequent, safe and clean.
According to Prof. Amal Kumarage, a Senior lecturer in Transport and Logistics at the University of Moratuwa however, the increase in vehicle taxation has always been counterproductive when it comes to reducing the number of vehicles on the road:
“We will just have more small cars on the road. Sri Lanka has one of the highest tax regimes and one of the highest vehicle ownerships in the world,” he explained.
He instead advocated for a user tax rather than a one-off ownership tax, to reduce vehicles on the road:
“When cars have become an essential item, its cost is absorbed and passed on to others down the supply chain. In the end you pay this cost through other goods and services,” he elaborated.
The professor proposed that the best solution would be to develop a good public transport system and then tax people for the use of their cars. He said this would deter people from thinking a car was an essential item. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Did Negligence Lead To Power Outage?

The recent explosion at Biyagama sub-power station which led to a countrywide power outage occurred due to negligence, lack of maintenance and inspection by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), a technical report developed by a panel of experts points out.

An expert told The Sunday Leader that CEB engineers should have been more cautious in this regard as it directly comes under their purview. He said that in the past, engineers were very concerned about their responsibilities and conducted regular checks.
The report which is with the CEB’s top management indicates that a comprehensive study is of paramount interest and a necessity to avoid such occurrences in the future.
According to the report, the failure of transformer No.2 had no effect on the restoration of the transmission system. However, the restoration process was unsuccessful four times. Hence, a comprehensive study is necessary to avoid such occurrences in future.
The Biyagama Receiving Station (BRS) was constructed to receive Mahaweli power generation in the early 1980s. The station receives power at 220 kV and switches to Kotugoda, Pannipitiya and Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) Kelanitissa. Also, the 220 kV power is stepped down to 132 kVand 33 kV voltages using 2 Nos. of 250 MVA, 220 kV/132 kV/33 kV transformers. At 132 voltages, power is distributed to Sapugaskanda Grid Substation and receives power from Sapugaskanda Power Station. In addition, there are 8 Nos. of 33 kV feeders available to distribute power.

Detailed report
A detailed technical report says that the load tap changer of transformer No 2 exploded due to a fault in the diverter switch.
“Consequently, the lines connected to bus bar No.1 tripped off resulting in the failure of the total transmission system on March 13,” the report said.
“It also revealed that the failure of the diverter switch was due to lack of inspection and maintenance of tap changing equipment.”
Therefore, the report recommends that inspections should be carried out on all sister tap changing equipment at regular intervals as stated in the relevant operating instructions of the manufacturer.
The report also highlights the evident misses in routine maintenance work and says, “This is an alarming situation and prompt action should have been taken to test dielectric strength of all remaining sister tap changers of BRS and Kotugoda Grid Substations. But maintenance records of BRS do not show such testing had been done.”
Operation records of the day the incident occurred shows that the restoration process had been unsuccessful four times.
The report which recommends immediate action to prevent similar failures in the future said inspections should be carried out at regular intervals as stated in the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
“Load Tap Changers (OLTC) are a complicated device and as such inspections should be carried out by highly trained personnel.”

‘Professional investigations’
When contacted, Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) President Athula Wanniarachchi says the explosion of tap-changers of high voltage transformers has been investigated by internal and external committees.
“Our members extended their fullest cooperation for these investigations. As far as we know their observations and recommendations have been handed over to the higher management of CEB. We are waiting for the report. We believe the investigations had been conducted in a professional manner,” he stressed.
“This is an isolated incident and it should not be generalised as to say engineers are not maintaining the equipment properly. If not for proper maintenance, can equipment that is over 30 years old last this long? Meanwhile some equipment manufacturers are trying to “fish in trouble waters”, he added.
Wanniarachchi alleged that some manufacturers were giving false information even to the Prime Minster and ministers that their proposals for major overhauls spending millions of rupees were not implemented by CEB engineers stating lack of funds.
“It is very easy for our engineers to replace all major assets every 10-15 years. But that is like investing on an entire power system once every 20 years.
Can any government afford to invest only on improving the quality of electricity? The CEB must be appreciated for maintaining these assets this long. What these unwarranted criticisms would ultimately do is, make all engineers “play safe” and recommend replacing assets with new ones instead of maintaining them and taking a risk,” he said.
CEB in the right direction
CEB Chairman Anura Wijayapala told The Sunday Leader that with reports and recommendations they are now on the right track to mitigate and rectify issues. He said it is the duty of the engineers to find solutions to providing the best service –uninterrupted power supply at the cheapest cost for consumers.
Even Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya strongly believes the CEB Chief is the right person for the job and for the betterment of the CEB.
The Sunday Leader learns that Japanese experts had earlier given CEB engineers a programme for transformer maintenance which the engineers had followed. But the German experts say that the maintenance programme was wrong and that the moisture in tap changers was too high. They recommend changing oil in tap changers. The transformers had caught fire since the tap changers exploded. German experts have still not given a final conclusion.
A number of committees showed the reasons and made recommendations. A number of energetic young engineers who have experience in generation, transmission and other sectionswere appointed to the committees. They are Sreepal Gunaratne, Janaka Aluthge, J. Nandakumar, Kusum Shanthi, Dr. H.M. Wijekoon and Lakshitha Weerasinghe. They were appointed under the approval of CEB Chairman and General Manager M.C. Wickramasekara.
The team had been given a free hand to mediate and propose short-term solutions to come out of this crisis.
The Cabinet subcommittee appointed by the President held discussions five times and proposed mid-term and long-term solutions based on those recommendations.  A mid-term solution was that big firms like the Harbour and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have generators of the capacity of 70 MW. CEB proposed that they generate their own power and that CEB would bear the loss incurred by them.
“We are discussing the long-term solutions. We should hand over that report to the President shortly,” a senior Ministry official said.
MHI recording
The dynamic response of the system following the event was captured in the transient recording provided to MHI (Manitoba Hydro International) by CEB.
Upon the tripping of the generating units, the system frequency dropped and as expected, UF load shedding kicked in, in an effort to stabilise the frequency. The system was operating at a light load prior to the event.
Thus,the system was vulnerable to over-voltage situations.
Load shedding and transformer on load tap changer actions aggravates this condition. This is because the net capacitive reactive power generated by the lines increased in response to the reduced loading.
As the system voltage goes up, the transformer on load tap changers (230/132 kV and 132/33 kV step down transformers) act to regulate the low side voltage (LV side).
A result of this action is an increased level of reactive power injection to the HV side of the system. As a result, the above system voltage in the high voltage network reached levels that activated further tripping of equipment and eventual system collapse.
The system collapse of October 2015 was a ‘slow’ event lasting nearly three minutes. This is a further indication of the tap changer action (a slow action) on the overall system response during this event.
The system model of the Sri Lanka power system was provided to MHI by the CEB. MHI performed preliminary load flow studies (steady state) and had a number of discussions with CEB engineers to gain a good understanding of the system characteristics and the specific event background.
The discussions also identified potential limitations of the System Dynamic models provided to MHI in PSS/E format.
The simulation results based on the model provided by the CEB were compared with the actual event recordings. The system response predicted by the model is far removed from what was observed during the event.
Specifically, the model predicts an extremely stable voltage response following the event. Thus the model had to be adjusted.
The ‘adjusted’ model followed key trends of voltage variations observed during the event. Two key adjustments were made to the model based on MHI’s past experience on similar situations.
The tap action of transformers can have a significant impact in a ‘slow’ (also referred to as long-term) voltage instability situation. The model was updated by implementing the tap changer actions based on information from CEB. Reactive power absorption limits of generators were adjusted. The recordings clearly indicated the gradual, uncontrolled voltage increase.
This can only happen when generators (the only dynamic reactive power regulating device in this system) reach their limits (exciters reaching their lower limit).
The model adjustment was a necessary part of the overall study. The important consideration was that the model showed the same trends as those recorded following the generator tripping.
This ‘adjusted’ model was used to perform further dynamic studies to make overall conclusions and recommendation.

The following are the main observations and conclusions of the study.
‘Based on MHI’s extensive experience on similar situations, it is our opinion that the ‘adjusted’ model sufficiently represents the Sri Lankan system for the purpose of examining the event of September 2015. However, the ‘adjusted’ model should not be used for general purpose system planning studies.

MHI strongly recommends the following:
a. the model dynamic data be reviewed and updated based on accurate name plate information, test results and data gathered through site visits.
b. The existing dynamic model is not suitable for long-term event analysis such as the event under consideration.
Proper model update including transformer tap changers and specific load modelling is recommended (i.e. induction motor models and composite load models representing actual load behaviour should be used instead of simple static load model used in existing models).
Based on generator ratings provided to MHI (steady state limits provided in PSSE data), it is very likely that the full reactive power capabilities of generators are not being used. The generator reactive power limits as well as the actual settings that are currently in place should be readily obtained from the respective generating stations.
If the reactive power limits are not at their respective maximum values, this should be reviewed and adjusted where possible.
As per the load flow data provided to MHI, the system steady state voltages on many 230 kV and 132 kV buses were above 105% (1.05pu). The international practice is to maintain the steady state voltage on the High Voltage network at or below 105%. Allowing 110% voltage at steady state will bring the system devices dangerously close to their over-voltage protection limits.

It is recommended to maintain the system steady state voltage within ± 5%. The present CEB criteria is ±10%. This can be achieved by mechanically switched shunt devices (reactors and capacitors). Simulation verified that this is a feasible solution to prevent system instability under similar events in future.
The size and location of such shunt devices should be determined through system studies once the model is updated and validated.
As an interim measure, the steady state voltage during low load periods can be improved by ‘tap staggering’ of parallel transformers (though not recommended as a permanent solution). Taking selected transmission lines out of service during low load periods (though not recommended as a permanent solution as this action impacts overall system reliability).
Shunt reactors are an effective means of controlling steady state voltage as well as improving the system dynamic response. The effectiveness of shunt reactor additions is demonstrated through simulations.’

The Sunday Leader investigations reveal that blackouts were frequent since 2009 due to transmission and voltage levels. However, surprisingly, nobody seemed to be concerned enough to do something in this regard.

Independent expert
According to Kanthar Balanathan, former Director and Specialist Power Systems Engineer (Australia), going by the media reports the German specialists, after investigations, revealed the explosion was in the diverter switch, which is the On Load Tap Changer (OLTC). The Load Throw Off (LTO) of the capacity of this Biyagama transformer also causes stability issues and tripped the generators at the Lakvijaya (Norochcholai, Puttalam) power plant. The capacity of the generators at Lakvijaya Power Station (LPS) is 3 x 300MW. The Transformer at Biyagama is rated for 220/132/33kV.
According to the report the feeder lines tripped after the transformer caught fire at Biyagama.

Balanathan says that the statement cannot be true. It may be the first incident of a trip. During the period when this disaster occurred at about 2.15 p.m. there was no lightning or rain. The environment too, was normal. Indeed, there was no rain at all in the region.
Another transformer explosion at Kotugoda caught fire similar to the explosion at the Biyagama grid sub-station.
Both transformers are similar single phase auto-transformers. It could be a “Type Fault” on these types of transformers. Type: Takaoka Autotransformer (1983) 132//33kV (secondary), 200/3, 250/3, 60/3 MVA, YNa0d1, ONAN/ONAF with 13 taps on both. There are three of this type one on each of the phases.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

SriLankan CEO Capt. Ratwatte Ditches Cadet Pilots’ Dreams

From Colombo Telegraph
Six Mihin Lanka Cadet Pilots whose flight training was abruptly terminated by the newly appointed CEO Capt.Suren Ratwatte of SriLankan Airlines, have officially written to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe seeking his intervention to restart their programme.

CEO Capt. Ratwatte who secured his job through the means of a nepotistic appointment found fault with the recruitment and assessment criteria used by Mihin Lanka that selected the students of this First Officer programme.
The assessment criteria which was part of the cadet pilot’s recruitment process was conducted by the Alpha Aviation Group whose services had already been used in the past to assess over 70 current pilots flying for Sri Lankan Airlines. This was way before Capt.Ratwatte joined the airline.
The cadets who commenced their training programme on the 10th of July 2015 completed their ground school training on the 28th September 2015 which was incidentally three days prior to CEO Capt. Ratwatte joining Sri Lankan Airlines.
Thereafter their simulator training was halted and they were informed that they were going to be reassessed once again by a different company.
The cadets who had already signed contracts with Mihin Lanka had made payments for the course which was to eventually cost them over Rs 8 million.
Some cadets had even obtained bank loans for this purpose after the contract was signed.
It is yet to be established what the real reason was for CEO Capt.Ratwatte to have made such a decision.
However it is a known fact that eight other cadet pilots who are sons of current senior pilots of Sri Lankan Airlines are awaiting to be enlisted into the national carrier.
We publish below the letter in full which the cadet pilot batch sent to Prime Minister’s Office:
Hon. Prime Minister,
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister’s Office
No: 58, Sir Ernest De Silva Mawatha,
Colombo 07.
Dear Honourable Prime Minister,
We write with reference to the above subject matter and hence initially give you an insight of the entire development of the situation initially. As per the initial advertisement published on local newspapers upon receipt of numerous applications from eligible candidates the initial interview was held on the 07th May, 2015. Upon successful screening from the first interview, the selected candidates were subjected to the secondary evaluation carried out by a very reputed Alpha Aviation Group.
Kindly note the assessment held by Alpha Aviation Group consisted of all professional aspects required and was carried out very thoroughly by the very experienced interview panel. The interview panel was head by two very experienced captains.
As it is evident this whole process is a very thorough screening process and was overlooked and monitored by Sri Lanka’s most experience pilots namely Capt, Pujitha Jayakody and Capt. Themiya Abeywickrama. If required you may pull out our personnel files and see the professional way the screening was carried out.
Eventually upon screening about 40 candidates 06 were selected to follow Trainee First Officer Program. Upon completion of same we were advised to be present at head office on the 06th of July, 2015 to sign the training contract which assures completion of training by Mihin Lanka.
Thereby our initial training began on the 10th of July, 2015 by commencing the ground school phase. Please note we completed the ground school phase successfully on the 28th of September, 2015. Then we were waiting for the next phase of our training which is the simulator phase. But unfortunately the merger of Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka took place in between and we were kept idling around without any information or clarification. During this period we requested for any clarification from Sri Lankan Airlines regarding the training progress. For same we met the Deputy Chief Pilot Training and Standards Captain. Romesh De Silva at his office where he assured that the training department has been taken over by Sri Lankan and the training will proceed as per what we were initially agreed by Mihin Lanka.
All this time we were waiting for any information and when we addressed the officials in charge of training we were given vague answers stating that “We are currently assessing the carder requirement and we will give you all a feedback soon”. Which at that time too sounded very un-professional and very unofficial. Also it is noteworthy we were not kept informed about any of the future planning and proceeding of the training.
Then we were asked to be present for a briefing on the 31st of December, 2015 at the Operation Department of Sri Lankan Airlines. When we went without any information of who is going to be present at the meeting or about what we were going to discuss at the meeting, the CEO came and gave us this shocking news that Sri Lankan will have another evaluation in 06 days to evaluate the 06 of us and upon passing the evaluation the selected will proceed the training. We are well educated enough to know that what Sri Lankan Airlines is planning since they have become excess staff of late. Hon. Minister please note Sri Lankan has been recruiting unnecessarily during the past years. Kindly note in our batch we all have Frozen ATPL, and 04 of us have higher education qualifications and Advanced level (Maths and Physics Requested even by Sri Lankan Airlines during past intakes). Therefore no one can blame us for lack of qualification or lack of professionalism in the recruitment process. But all Sri Lankan Airlines previous intakes have been questioned by many, even the senior captains.
At the meeting on the 31st of December, 2015 we were informed that Alpha Aviation screening process is not professional enough and it has many loop holes. Alpha Aviation is a very reputed organization in UK carrying out screenings for various reputed international airlines. Also it is noteworthy that Alpha Aviation did screening for many years for Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka for many years and over 70 first officers who are flying now are from alpha aviation screening system. This will then eventually suggest who are flying screened out of this system is not eligible and they too should be screened again. It is noteworthy that the CTC Aviation interview panel consisted only of two ladies who has no flying experience. It is our belief that to recruit pilots at least one experienced pilot should head the interview panel.
As per the administration CTC Aviation has already been informed and Sri Lankan Airlines is willing to spend unnecessary government money to re-access us. It is very un-ethical what the administration has done as we were not made aware of any of the progress and at the last minute the administration verbally informed us of what they have decided.
Therefore we sincerely request you considering the unprofessional nature the incident has transpired to allow us to continue our training as agreed by Mihin Lanka, at the acceptance of the agreed charges. Please note we have spent our most important time towards this training and we have psychologically adapted our systems to be pilots.
This is a very bad game which is been played by the Sri Lankan administration and it is clearly to do with the lives and future of young pilots. Please consider to Also at the same time to carry out a thorough investigation on our incident and also previous intakes which will suggest the biased nature of recruitment operated by Sri Lankan Airlines to satisfy Captains and Administrators.
Thanking you and expecting your sincere assistance and advice,
Yours Faithfully,

Distressed Rajapaksa Turns To UN Chief For Security Protection

From Colombo Telegraph
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who once snubbed the international community has turned to United Nations Security General Ban Ki-moon, seeking his intervention to restore the Army protection provided to him.

In a petition addressed to the UN Chief and Human Rights Commissioner, Rajapaksa’s media division who initiated the campaign on change.org has claimed that following the government’s decision to withdraw army protection from the former President, he has the risk of being assassinated as he is considered anti-LTTE and is instrumental in defeating the terrorist outfit.

“Due to the pressure of the current government leaders of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Army Commander has ordered to remove the Army personnel providing security to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The particular Army squad consists of 89 soldiers and the majority are commandos, who are highly trained to protect the VVIP in any situation,” the petition said.

Citing reasons further, the petition said that the recent discovery of several suicide jackets and C4 explosives along with firearms, were all causes for concern and the government’s failure to repair Rajapaksa’s bullet proof vehicle that met with an accident several months back is yet another reason which increases his vulnerability.

Meanwhile, Rajapaksa declared that even though his security was removed he still had the self-satisfaction that he was able eliminate the fear of war from the minds of the people. “Even though I may no longer have my security beside me, I will always have the self-satisfaction that I was able to eliminate the fear of war from all of you,” he said in a post on his official Facebook page.

Speaking in Parliament, just minutes before clashes erupted between MPs this afternoon, Minister of Regional Development, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka recalled how the security of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga was drastically pruned from 60 to 30 during Rajapaksa’s era. Kumaratunga narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in 1999 when a suicide bomber triggered the explosive device at the final presidential election rally in Colombo. She sustained injuries to her right eye and face, while the blast claimed over 30 lives.

“Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is just a Parliamentarian, cannot protest about his security being replaced with police. He should be grateful that he at least has sufficient police security,” Fonseka said.

Fonseka also disclosed that he has a security detail of just 15 policemen. “So if the Army Commander who won the war is provided with just 15 policemen, then I don’t see why a former President who is now a mere Parliamentarian wants massive security detail,” Fonseka added.

He also faulted former Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and said he should take the responsibility for the killing Major General (Retired) Janaka Perera in 2008 at a rally in Anuradhapura. Fonseka said that Perera and his wife died due to the insufficient security provided on Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s orders. According to Fonseka, at the time Perera was killed, he only had six police officers as his security detail. Major General Perera was also the opposition leader of the North Central Provincial Council at the time he was killed.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed Parliament that it was the police that was providing security for him as well as President Maithripala Sirisena. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sri Lanka's political numbers game at May Day

ECONOMYNEXT -  Sri Lanka's political parties used this year's May Day rallies to demonstrate their strength in a spirited contest to woo audiences, but the real winner appears to be the state Transport Board (SLTB).

Unlike in previous years, the state-run bus giant chartered some 3,800 busses for political rallies and all had to pay up front at commercial rates.

"If May Day is celebrated on the first of every month, the SLTB will return to profit within a year," a news editor who was monitoring all May Day rallies across the country told Economynext.

There are no reliable estimates for the number of people at the respective rallies of the rival parties and factions, but unofficial police estimates are about the closest, yet with a bias towards the ruling parties.

According to these unofficial estimates, the ruling UNP had the biggest crowd of 80,000 at their Campbell Park rally, while 40,000 turned up at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party show headed by President Maithripala Sirisena at Galle.

The Kirulapone rally led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa had 32,000, while the JVP saw 17,000 show up.

Journalists covering the rallies thought there were more people at the Kirulapone rally, but what is more important is that according to police estimates the numbers had grown at Rajapaksa's rally compared to their Hyde Park show recently.

"You don't have to believe the absolute numbers, but what they show is an increase in support for the Rajapaksa faction of the SLFP," a police source said.

The UNP by far outperformed the JVP in creative exhibits at their rally, but some of the vehicles used were clearly state property. One of the exhibits was built on a truck belonging to Sri Lanka Tourism. No wonder Sri Lanka is a land like no other.