Apr 092014

REUTERS: Switzerland’s Holcim has unveiled an all-share deal to buy France’s Lafarge to create the world’s biggest cement maker with combined sales of 32 billion euros. The partners billed the deal as a merger of equals under which Lafarge shareholders will receive one Holcim share for every Lafarge share held, with the combined group to be based in Switzerland and listed in Zurich and Paris.

The new entity, worth just under $60 billion, will see 53 percent shareholder control for Holcim and 47 percent for Lafarge, the companies said in a joint website presentation, which follows news the pair were in talks on Friday and agreement over the weekend. The deal will be the industry’s biggest-ever tie-up, and would help the companies slash costs, trim debt and better cope with the soaring energy prices, tough competition and weaker demand that have hurt the sector since the 2008 economic crisis. The groups complement each other well geographically, with Lafarge stronger in Africa and Holcim stronger in Latin America, company executives told reporters on a conference call. The merged group will be present in 90 countries, with emerging markets such as Latin America and Africa accounting for 60 percent of sales, but no single country representing more than 10 percent. “The new group will offer higher growth and low risk, thus creating more value,” said Lafarge Chief Executive Bruno Lafont, who will become CEO of Lafarge-Holcim. The companies added that they expected total annual savings from joining forces of 1.4 billion euros after three years, thanks to economies of scale, better operational efficiency and lower financing costs.

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Apr 072014
March tourist arrivals up 17.5%
Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 17.5 percent Year- on-Year (YoY) to 133,048 in March 2014, with Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading the list, data released by the country’s tourism authority showed. Arrivals in the first three months of the year were up 24.8 percent YoY to 421,501.

Chinese arrivals which include Hong Kong and Macau rose 155.1 percent YoY to 7,700 while arrivals from Saudi Arabia stood at 2,672, up 98.5 percent while arrivals from the UAE grew 80.5 percent to 767.

From the East Asian region, Japan was up 53.7 percent to 3,800, Malaysia was up 51.8 percent to 2,301 and Philippines dropped 1.7 percent to 951.

Tourist arrivals from Eastern Europe increased significantly in terms of growth with a YoY increase of 49.1 percent to 18,657 arrivals during the month under review of which 8,948 were Russians visiting the country, up 85.4 percent from a year earlier. Ukraine was down 8.8 percent to 3,311 and the Czech Republic up 27.5 percent to 1,464.

Meanwhile SLTDA data suggested that during the month under consideration, Sri Lanka witnessed a decline in arrivals from certain Western European markets such as the UK, Switzerland, and Norway etc. with the German market being an exception.

Accordingly, arrivals from the UK declined 13 percent YoY to 11,823, Switzerland fell 15.7 percent to 1,419 and Norway fell 17.9 percent to 474. However, the German market showed an increase of 19.9 percent to 12,448.

From the same region, France was up 27.8 percent to 9,266, Austria up 23.8 percent to 1,482 and Netherlands up 2.9 percent to 1,540. The North American region, which includes Canada and the USA, showed an increase in arrivals from 5,772 in March 2013 to 6,042 during 2014. Arrivals from the USA increased 4.3 percent YoY to 3,401and Canada 5.1 percent to 2,641. Sri Lanka Tourism follows the UN standard of defining a tourist as “a person who stays at least one night in a country and does not exceed his stay period for more than 12 months.”

Sep 122013
Genocidal military gets pampered as ‘development’ partner of Switzerland

The genocidal Sinhala military that is occupying the country of Eezham Tamils has to be ‘accepted’ and ‘honoured’ as a mandatory partner of any ‘development’ the West is conceiving and providing to Eezham Tamils, was the message coming from a recently held function of the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) in the Jaffna peninsula, local people commented. An occupying SL military official was one of the ‘garlanded dignitaries’, who presided over the opening of a school renovated by the SDC at Uduththu’rai in Jaffna on September 05. One of the diktats of the occupying Sinhala military to Eezham Tamils is that no school function could take place without its presence and without its members being garlanded.

In the past, no such development function used to take place with the presence of any guest from the armed forces. The present ‘culture’ is a clear indication of the endorsement of the West to the genocidal military, militarisation of ‘development’ and forced reconciliation of Eezham Tamils with the SL military occupation of their country, observers in Jaffna said.

The SDC has initially invited the occupying Sinhala ‘military’ governor in the North, Major General (retd) G.A. Chandrasri to preside over the function. Local people questioned the timing of the function and the space provided for the SL governor, just three weeks before the NPC elections.

Despite media exposure of the controversy, the SL governor wanted to bring in a Rajapaksa-allied politician to the event, and when it was politely declined by the SDC organisers, he chose to boycott the event, informed circles said.

However, the SL military was present at the function and it was distributing Rajapaksa-party supporting leaflets, local people said.

The whole concept of the introduction of a ‘development’ process by the West, in which the occupying genocidal military is a mandatory partner that should be honoured and garlanded by Eezham Tamils, aims at absolving the military of its crimes. This should be carefully perused by those who look upon the West in pursuing international investigations on war crimes, commented Tamils for alternative politics in the island.

The genocidal Sinhala military is a pampered child of all the powers involved in the geopolitical game in the region, especially the USA, India and China, the activists further said.

SDC_uduththurai_01_104672_445 In 2010, the SDC has gone on record for avoiding SL military or ministers in its development functions. Why the shift in the policy now, the activists asked.

SDC_uduththurai_04_104684_445 SDC event held at Uduththu’rai

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Sep 112013
Self-immolated Senthilkumaran called for mass struggle to achieve Tamil Eelam
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[TamilNet, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 10:15 No Comment]

35-year-old Senthilkumaran Ratnasingam, who immolated himself in front of the UN office at Geneva on Thursday had recorded a video message in the cell phone which was in his possession. The message has come out on Monday after the Switzerland police handed over the phone to the family. In his message Senthilkumaran called for a mass people’s struggle to achieve an independent Tamil Eelam. “That is why I am sacrificing my life,” the message said.

Text of the message:

 Senthilkumaran Ratnasingam (13.02.1978 - 05.09.2013) “I am standing in front of the United Nations at Geneva. All our people should get together and take part in all [the protests]. With that call, I am about to sacrifice my life by setting fire to myself. That is what I want to tell you. After this [ I expect] you should win Tamils rights. Our people need a separate state. That is why I am sacrificing my life. I am taking farewell with the hope that you will also look after my children. […] Tamils’ yearn for Tamil Eelam. We should have our own independent state. What I would like to convey to all Tamils is that you should all come together to win your rights. On 16th, there is a gathering. You should support that. And then on 30th there is another mass gathering on 30th. My sincere plea to you all is that you should come forward to win your rights. Also take care of my children like your own children. Thank you. Va’nakkam.”

* * *

Senthilkumaran was a regular participant in all the protests since he came to Switzerland, his friends said.

While the past genocide and the on-going structural genocide against Eezham Tamils committed by the Sri Lankan State are still not even recognized by the UN, the UN Human Rights chief Ms. Navi Pillay coming out with a statement calling the LTTE brutal and asking the diaspora not to glorify it, has created much resentment in the diaspora.

On August 26th, Norwegian Ambassador for Sri Lanka Ms Grete Løchen, speaking at a development conference in Oslo, convened by the Oslo University, said that “The Diaspora has to be strategic and conscious in its actions and public statements regarding calls for reconciliation and political solution, by avoiding feeding into the rhetoric of the current government that the Diaspora is still working for Eezham.”

Switzerland and Norway, at the behest of the USA and the West, are now actively involved in a South Africa-based initiative. The process harps on a formula “label-less” for Tamils, but explicitly positive for the genocidal State of Sri Lanka in upholding its unity and integrity and in the imposition of its identity on Eezham Tamils, informed circles said.

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