Friday, 30 January 2015

Sri Lankan Govt.to investigate into non-strategic investments In Seychelles



An official audit and investigation process will be initiated to inquire into the non-strategic investments at Seychelles, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said on Thursday presenting a special statement in Parliament on Hundred Day Revolution of the present government.
Seychelles a country reputed worldwide as a tax haven has a handful of Sri Lankans living there as expatriates. Minister Karunanayake pointed out that another issue of concern is to rationalize the reason for an international Branch of a state Bank to be established at Seychelles.
He emphasised that the present government will ensure a critical analysis and an in dept evaluation pertaining to the viability of such an operation.

http://www.news.lk/news/sri-lanka/item/5974-govt-to-investigate-into-non-strategic-investments-at-seychelles

Finance Ministry Affirms Probe Into “Seychelles” Operations


An official audit and investigation process will be initiated to inquire into the non-strategic investments at Seychelles, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.
“Seychelles is a country reputed worldwide as a tax haven has a handful of Sri Lankans living there as expatriates. Another issue of concern is to rationalize the reason for an international Branch of a state Bank to be established at Seychelles. Our government will ensure a critical analysis and an in depth evaluation pertaining to the viability of such an operation,” Karunanayake said in his statement to Parliament on Thursday.
Planning and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva earlier told Asian Mirror that there were various ways through which the government could conduct investigations.
“We can seek the assistance of private auditors and proceed with the matter. At the same time, we can conduct inquires with the help of the Stolen Assets Recovery Programme of the World Bank. The government can assure the public that no one will be able to hide the ‘stolen assets’ in Seychelles and dodge local law enforcement mechanism,” the Deputy Minister said.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, nearly seven months before his exit from office, opened a Sri Lankan High Commission in Seychelles while setting up a branch of the Bank of Ceylon in the island.
Despite its population which does not exceed 90,000, Mihin Lanka, an airline started under directives from former President Rajapaksa, started a direct flight to the island last year.

http://www.asianmirror.lk/news/item/6749-finance-ministry-affirms-probe-into-seychelles-operations

 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Surge in Dollar Puts Seychelles Economy At Risk

With Weak Commodity Prices, African Nations With Dollar Debt In Trouble

A surge in foreign debt issuance by African nations has left some fragile economies exposed to the risk of billions of dollars in foreign exchange related losses if the U.S. currency strengthens abruptly, a think-tank said on Wednesday.
Judith Tyson, senior researcher at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), said the notional losses in terms of higher interest and capital repayments could total $11 billion in the event of a slump of 35 percent in African currencies against the dollar.
Ivory Coast would be most exposed, risking losses equivalent to some 11 percent of its GDP, due to its high debt and long maturities, the report said.
Seychelles could face losses equivalent to 6.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), with Gabon and Senegal faces possible losses of around 4 percent, she said.
The CFA currency of Ivory Coast, Senegal and Gabon is pegged against the euro.
“We are calling for caution,” Tyson said, urging investors and governments to be responsible with debt issuance in the face of weaker commodity prices and slowing growth prospects.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to repeat the problems which occurred in the early 1990s in Asia and Latin America, when damaging financial crisis pushed millions back into poverty for a decade,” her report said.
Over the past two years, there has been a rise in sovereign bond issuance in sub-Saharan Africa as countries have exploited robust economic growth and a wave of dollar liquidity to enter financial markets at low interest rates.
Investors, meanwhile, have sought out yield in African frontier markets, due to low interest rates in developed economies.
Foreign debt issues for sub-Saharan Africa last year exceeded $6.25 billion, bringing the stock of debt to over $18 billion. That remains small relative to regional GDP measured by the World Bank at more than $1.6 trillion.
But some countries are more exposed after heavy issuance in 2014. Ghana’s overall debt to GDP rate is 65 percent of GDP, while Senegal and Mozambique both have more than 50 percent, according to the World Bank.
The normalising of Western interest rates risked sucking capital from African markets, further weakening African currencies and plunging them into an economic downturn, the report said.
Commodity exporters, such as oil-rich Gabon, have a ‘natural hedge’ against dollar appreciation because export revenues are denominated in the U.S. currency.
But a slowdown in export markets and a slump in commodities prices – particularly oil – have also placed robust economic growth rates in jeopardy, undermining countries’ ability to pay.
Tyson said that irresponsible use of debt by some countries was adding to the problem, as many raised on international markets had not been used for investment that would boost future economic growth.
She said Mozambique had borrowed $850 million for its national fishing industry but instead spent the money on military boats and equipment. Ghana had also spent heavily on hefty public sector pay increases, resulting in a wide fiscal deficit, prompting it to open talks on an IMF programme.
*Reuters

Monday, 26 January 2015

Sri Lankan Diplomat Recalled from Seychelles

Some second-level Foreign Service officers are in line for promotions under Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s plans to depoliticise Sri Lanka’s diplomatic corps.
The Minister said he intends to restrict the number of politically-appointed heads of missions to 19, while the country has 66 overseas missions. It was not immediately clear whether Sri Lanka had sufficient first-level Foreign Service officers to help meet this ambitious target.
“We may have to promote some of the second-level diplomats,” he told the Sunday Times. “I also think it’s high time we injected the system with some new diplomatic blood. There are a lot of talented people who may not be that old, who I feel are much more capable than the people who have been posing as ambassadors in the last few years.”

The Minister said Sri Lanka’s diplomatic corps will be completely overhauled. “It’s a dreadful mess here,” he sighed. “The politicisation is unbelievable.” Thirty-one—over half—of Sri Lanka’s missions abroad are headed by political appointees. These include consuls general. On Tuesday, letters went out to 27 heads of missions, giving them a month to report back to Colombo.
Among those recalled is former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cousin, Udayanga Weeratunga, who has served in Moscow for an unprecedented eight years. High Commissioner to India, Sudharshan Seneviratne will retain his post until after President Sirisena’s visit to New Delhi in February.
The shakeup will happen at all levels, Minister Samaraweera vowed. “First step is heads of missions,” he explained. “If we are to recall all of our political appointees together, many of our missions will collapse because 70 to 80 per cent of them are political. We have to do this step-by-step.”
“I am insisting that the earlier formula of 70:30 will be adhered to,” he continued. “That is, 70 per cent of appointees will be from the Foreign Service and up to 30 per cent for political appointments. But even the latter must be of the highest quality and calibre.”

SOURCE: SUNDAY TIMES (Sri Lanka)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Breaking News - MIHIN LANKA Company Will be Closed


The Government has decided to Close the Mihin Lanka Company and annex it with the Sri Lankan Air Lines Services.
Mihin Lanka was created by the previous government in order to propagate the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to the world. By investing Crores of Rupees from the Public Funds this Mihin Lanka was started, but it was running on loss due to the financial scandals within the company.
This Decision to Close the Mihin Lanka has been taken as per the recommendations made by the Cope Reporting Team. According to its Reports the Mihin Lanka Company had incurred a loss of Rs.3.3 Billion in the year 2013.
Apart from this, during the last year the loss incurred by Sri Lankan Air Lines Services added to the increasing of the heavy loss. The Cope Reports President Gunasekara also recommended annexing Mihin Lanka with the Sri Lankan Air Services.
In the meantime, yesterday, a complaint has been launched with the Ordering Commission to conduct an investigation with regard to the financial fraudulence and the Scams that had took place in Mihin Lanka.
http://www.lankasrinews.com/view.php?224OlX2acV5YA04ecAMMd02eAmB2dd3JBmA2020gAm2e4cY5J3ca4lOAb3



Gota Faces Risk Of Prosecution Under Jurisdiction Of US Laws
US Law Professor Ryan Goodman, in an article to New York Times, today says that former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka, a US citizen, faces the risk of prosecution under US laws over alleged war crimes.
“As a citizen, Mr. Rajapaksa can be held liable under the War Crimes Act of 1996, which puts war crimes anywhere in the world under the jurisdiction of United States courts if the perpetrator, or the victim, is a United States citizen. Put another way, the United States has a perfect justification to go after Mr. Rajapaksa individually,” Goodman said.
The law Professor added that Gotabaya Rajapaksa was a naturalized American citizen who used to live in Los Angeles, where he worked as a computer systems operator at Loyola Law School.
“The United States could help by signaling its own interest in opening a criminal case against Mr. Rajapaksa in the event that Sri Lanka doesn’t. That would give the new government both an opportunity and a justification to clean its house. Because of Mr. Rajapaksa’s citizenship, the United States would also be less vulnerable to accusations that it was meddling in the affairs of another nation,” Goodman added.
He also says the UN led inquiry offers both too much and too little at this point.
“Too much, because pushing for full, sweeping accountability in this fragile moment of transition could destabilize the new government and jeopardize the warming of relations between the United States and Sri Lanka. Too little, because the United Nations investigation doesn’t have any teeth — the panel leading it doesn't have the powers of a criminal tribunal, and cannot even impose a financial penalty,” the Professor stated.
http://www.lankasrinews.com/view.php?22IOllaacp5YY44e3AMM3022mmB3dddBBmy200CgAAee4IY55cca3lOO23



Fresh probes into several murders committed in past few years

Fresh probes will be launched in to the killings of TNA MPs Nataraja Raviraj and Joseph Pararajasingham, founding Editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper Lasantha Wickrematunge and former Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says.
The Minister made this comment at a new briefing held on the discussions at the National Executive Council.
The Minister further said that he too approves the complaints lodged by former Minister Mervyn Silva to the CID regarding these killings.
A special unit is to be set up to probe these murders.

 http://lankaherald.com/2015/01/22/fresh-probes-into-several-murders-committed-in-past-few-years/




Politically appointed overseas mission heads recalled

The government has recalled all politically appointed diplomats, who are not qualified Foreign Service personnel, in its overseas missions back to the country.
The new Foreign Secretary has informed 57 such Ambassadors and High Commissioners to return to the country before February 28th.
http://lankaherald.com/2015/01/22/politically-appointed-overseas-mission-heads-recalled/

 

 




Monday, 19 January 2015

Former President Rajapaksa Alleged Seychelles Assets To Be Investigated: WB Assistance Needed To Unearth "Stolen Assets"


Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Harsha de Silva said the Sri Lankan government would certainly investigate into the assets in Seychelles belonging to the former first family in Sri Lanka and their closest associates.

“There are various ways through which we can conduct investigations. We can seek the assistance of private auditors and proceed with the matter. At the same time, we can conduct inquires with the help of the Stolen Assets Recovery Programme of the World Bank. The government can assure the public that no one will be able to hide the ‘stolen assets’ in Seychelles and dodge local law enforcement mechanism,” the Deputy Minister told Asian Mirror on Monday.

“Seychelles is known to be a safe haven for stolen assets and a money laundering hub. But, we, as a government, have realized the gravity of this matter,” de Silva also added.

The Deputy Minister, when he was in the opposition, said that embezzled funds, including money swindled from development projects in Si Lanka, were deposited in Swiss banks through Seychelles.

Due to strict laws adopted by Switzerland, he said, the amount of funds deposited in Swiss banks under Sri Lankan addresses had decreased in recent years while deposits through Seychelles had drastically increased.

“The population in Seychelles is slightly more than 90,000 but the deposits under the addresses of that country are worth about 3,000 million Swiss Francs last year, which is higher than the accumulated deposits under Sri Lankan addresses,” he told media.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, nearly seven months before his visit, opened a Sri Lankan High Commission in Seychelles while setting up a branch of the Bank of Ceylon in the island.
Despite its population which does not exceed 90,000, Mihin Lanka, an airline started under directives from former President Rajapaksa, started a direct flight to the island last year.

http://www.asianmirror.lk

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Who Are The Looters In Seychelles? US $ 2.39 Billion Stashed In Swiss Banks Accounts

January 18, 2015 

VENTURES AFRICA – Three days ago, the Swiss National Bank slashed its official interest rate to -0.75 percent; that move, made in faraway Europe, has enormous repercussions for Africans seeking to hide funds there. The Swiss apex bank did not make the move with African looters particularly in mind; the negative interest rate is part of their battle tool against the currency overvaluation which causes their exports to be a lot more expensive. However, with Swiss banks the favourite hub for Africa’s illegal capital flight, the new measure will hurt the stolen funds and those ferrying them.
Swiss banks receive an estimated $150 billion of funds from Africa annually, most of it illegal. But the new measures could lead to a reduction in those figures. Switzerland has in recent years repatriated billions of dollars stashed in its banks to clear up its image, among them around $700 million dollars laundered by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. Now the country is trying to reduce the attractiveness of its banking services, because, ironically, the huge desire for Swiss banks is hurting the country.
Everyone loves to keep money in Switzerland—from African looters to western investors—because its assets, denominated in Swiss francs, is considered a safe haven due to the unsteadiness of the global financial markets. Thus, those who store money in Switzerland’s local currency are certain the value of their investments will not depreciate, in fact it’s guaranteed to appreciate, unlike in Nigeria, for example, where the current oil revenue crises show how vulnerable the country’s financial market is.
But Switzerland is becoming a victim of this global confidence in its financial system. The recent investors throng to the Swiss financial sector, caused in part by the Eurozone crisis, to which the country does not belong, has greatly strengthened the Swiss franc. While this would have been a good thing for the frail South African Rand or Ghana’s Cedi, it is bad news for the European heavyweight. A higher value of the Swiss franc makes the goods produced by Swiss companies more expensive to export.
First action of the Swiss National Bank (that’s like their Central Bank) was to cap the value of a franc at 1.20 per euro. Then they lowered the short-term interest rate from -0.25% to -0.75%. According to the Business Insider, “the Swiss National Bank’s move is nothing short of a revolution in the world of finance: no central bank has ever set its official interest so low. In pushing rates so far into negative territory, it is consciously destroying the value of investments in the franc in an effort to scare off ‘hot money’ that has flooded the country in search of a ‘safe haven’ from turbulent global markets.” In essence, the business new website said in a separate article, “they raised the penalty for stashing money there.”
Here are some of the stashers: as at 2011, $1.46 trillion (1.53 trillion Swiss francs) of African money was held in Swiss banks according to a Swiss National Bank (SNB) report. Seychelles ($2.39 billion), Egypt ($760 million) and South Africa ($757 million) are the top African countries whose nationals have stashed away millions of dollars in the country’s banks.

Source: ventures-africa

Rajapaksa's Assets Under Scrutiny In Seychelles And Switzerland


The Swiss government has reportedly imposed new laws preventing the depositing of monies earned through illegal means through in Swiss bank accounts.
Accordingly, Swiss authorities are to closely monitor the transactions made by politicians, state officials and businessmen with Swiss banks, including Sri Lankans.

During the previous regime, many accusations were raised against the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family members of having deposited illegally earned money in Swiss banks. It was also revealed that such transactions were made not directly from Sri Lanka but through the Seychelles islands, under names of Seychelles citizens.

Economics experts have also pointed out that there had been an unusual increase of money deposited in Swiss bank accounts under names of Seychelles citizens during the last few years.
Interestingly, it was a Swiss company that acted as the intermediary when the Rajapaksas had allegedly sold 350 tons of gold acquired from the LTTE to Japan. The total value of the transaction was reportedly Rs. 40,000,000 million. However, such a massive amount of money has not been deposited in any local bank.
Meanwhile, the Swiss Central Bank has also announced that US$ 98 million has been deposited in Swiss bank accounts by Sri Lankans.

 http://lankaherald.com/2015/01/18/rajapaksas-assets-at-risk/

Friday, 16 January 2015

No Vote, No Show, No say.....Cast your votes!


The Likelihood of Failure

Although a boycott strategy worked in the South African example, the evidence shows that such successes are exceedingly rare. A 2010 study by Matthew Frankel of the Brookings Institution found that boycotts paid off in just 4 percent of the 171 cases examined between 1990 and 2009. Frankel concluded that the threat of a boycott can be effective when there is strong domestic and international pressure to ensure that elections are fully representative, but that in most circumstances the strategy will backfire.

The consequences of a boycott are especially dire when the opposition is incapable of actually blocking the elections from proceeding, either through crippling street protests or rules requiring a certain turnout for the vote to be valid. For example, in Venezuela’s 2005 legislative elections, an opposition boycott—motivated in part by concerns about ballot secrecy—helped reduce the turnout rate to just 25 percent, but progovernment lawmakers then monopolized the new National Assembly and helped President Hugo Chávez push through radical policy initiatives. By contrast, high opposition participation in a 2007 constitutional referendum helped defeat a controversial package of amendments sought by Chávez, including the removal of presidential term limits.

Another weakness of the boycott strategy is that it allows the opposition’s campaign machinery to go idle and corrode, making it all the more difficult to reactivate for the next cycle of elections. For example, in Iraq’s January 2005 elections, a concerted Sunni boycott amounted to a “strategic blunder,” according to Frankel, because Sunnis won only 5 of 275 parliamentary seats. In the short term, this meant that Sunnis relinquished their veto power during the drafting process for a new constitution. But in the longer term, the groups that boycotted had to redouble their efforts to mobilize their voter base and win representation in the December 2005 elections.

More recent cases reinforce Frankel’s finding that boycotts are almost always counterproductive. In March 2014, Libya’s ethnic Amazigh minority decided to boycott elections for a 60-seat Constituent Assembly, leaving the two seats designated for the Amazigh empty and the community itself without a voice in the drafting of a new constitution.

Likewise, in Algeria’s April 2014 presidential vote, six parties boycotted because they feared that vote tampering would guarantee the incumbent’s victory. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika easily won a fourth term.

Frankel’s study and the recent cases show that executing an election boycott does not force the ruling party from power, and in the absence of serious negotiations as well as strong societal and international pressure, the threat of a boycott is unlikely to win concessions from the government. Instead, such tactics tend to encourage apathy and resignation among opposition voters. In the cases listed above, it would have been better for opposition or minority groups to invest their energy in organizing an election campaign, mobilizing their supporters, building up their political prowess for future contests, and making any fraud or repression by the authorities that much more difficult and obvious to the world.

By
Mehrunisa Qayyum
www.freedom house.org

Monday, 12 January 2015

Doomed!




Here is a man who will not take part in any elections let alone the electoral reforms process. Today, Seychelles is at a standstill on every aspect of the political spectrum. Why? Because of walkouts instead of standing firm against Lepep. Gill's attitude on boycotting every ideals in which affects every Seychellois in their every day life is beyond contempt. He thinks standing on the sideline will hopefully lead Lepep into capitulation. What a bloody buffoon, a person who supposedly have a degree in law. It could be that he is following into Marco Francis footsteps!

Gill is still sore from all the beatings he got on facebook. He has been exposed for who he really is. He failed as a lawyer, he failed in real estate and failed as a politician. We all know that. People in Seychelles will never vote for a traitor like Gill.

He pushes people to do his dirty work and then lets them take the blame. In fact joining his enemies in attacking his own friends. Here is a loser. A big fat bloody loser!
He turned against his own family, insulting them in public. He accuses his own party members of what he routinely does himself, by helping the enslavers. In effect contributing to the crippling of his own integrity. He has sold his soul to Lepep and he wanted to be above everybody else, a sort of guy with a personality disorder. His biggest mistake was to defend a guy who faked his degree. Poor judgement.

On a small island like Seychelles, the Tourism Industry adds a tremendous burden to the local infrastructure which is already streched to the maximum. The waste generated by hotels and guest houses clog up the sewer system in which some are discharged raw into the ocean.

Tourism is a shaky business, yet they keep throwing millions of foreign exchange into it instead of high tech option like other countries. Money which they do not have.

On immigration, would Gill like the US Immigration and Naturalisation service to call him a "fabrike"? This was exactly what he would be by his twisted logic in the United States, a fabrike living in Guam.

When he talks about his time in the assembly, you would think he was there 99 years. What he does not tell the people of Seychelles is his 15,000 rupees pension he gets from Lepep every month. His friendship with Parti Lepep members, inviting them for dinner and a taste of dessert d'amour. What a pillock!

Now Mr Gill, it is my chance to get even, i will make you dig your own grave and then i will bury your fat ass.


The moment this fat bastard feel the pressure in Seychelles, he will run off to Guam.There is no political career left for him as he is trying to extort money from me. Threatening me with lawsuits because he is afraid i pass his emails and messages to Father Ramkalawan of the SNP. That is how it works in Seychelles, extortion and racketeering.That is all that is left.

Here pop goes the weasle! I will always beat him back to his hole and i will make him feel like feeble whimpers, pounding on his head, until he gets it into his coconut!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Black Money In Seychelles Secret Offshore Account Will be returned to Sri Lanka


After a momentous and miraculous turn of events which began November 21 last year, President Maithripala Sirisena was yesterday elected and sworn in as the sixth executive president, with a manifesto pledging to launch a new era of good governance and democracy within hundred days.
Many significant events on election day and yesterday were good signs of the new era. After several years the people of Sri Lanka were given the priviledge of voting and upholding their soverignity in a free, fair and peaceful presidential election. Much credit for this must go to the independent and courageous Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya who took effective measures to prevent any rigging or computer manipulation of the first Presidential election that he conducted. We also need to thank praise his staff including hundreds of senior and junior presiding officers counting centre officers, Sri Lankan and international election monitors.
When the trend became obvious and even before the results were formally announced at noon yesterday the defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa quietly gracefully left Temple Trees around 6.30 am after speaking to Mr. Sirisena and the main opposition United National Party national leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. We and the Sri Lankan people are thankful and grateful to the outgoing president for keeping his pledge that if he lost he would give up power peacefully and without hesitation mainly because of the much awaited visit of Pope Francis to Sri Lanka from January 13 to 15. Thank you Mr. Rajapaksa we and the Sri Lankan people will remember your courageous role in ending the war against ruthless terrorists in 2009.
Adding more significance was the Election Commissioner’s decision to ask his deputy M. M. Mohamed to make the historic nationwide victory announcement in Tamil. The Commissioner then made the announcement in Sinhala in the afterglow of Mr. Sirisena’s victory in which the minority communities played an important role. President Sirisena in his acceptance speech pledged there would be no violence or vengeance and no one would be allowed to break the rule of law. When Mr. Sirisena went to Independent Square for his swearing-in yesterday evening he chose to take his oaths before a senior Supreme Court Judge K. Sripavan. Again a significant act of Sinahala Tamil amity though many legal analysts wondered how Chief Justice Mohan Peiris might respond to this.
With Ranil Wickremesinghe being sworn in by President Sirisena as the new Prime Minister a new cabinet of ministers is also likely to be sworn in with the Sirisena administration hoping it would have a two thirds majority in parliament to approve important legislation in the first 100 days. The most important is the Constitutional amendment to reduce the powers of the executive presidency and revive the 17th Amendment. Through this a Constitutional Council will appoint an independent elections commission, national police commission, public services commission, and a judicial services commissions to restore the independence and integrity of these vital institutions or checks and balances in democracy. Equally importantly the amendment will give wide powers to the commissions appointed to probe allegations of bribery and corruptions.
Rampant corruptions of huge magnitude is widely believed to be one of the main reasons for the downfall of the Rajapaksa government. Mr. Sirisena and other leaders of the common opposition have pledged that all those against whom there is substantial evidence of corruption and plunder of the people’s wealth and resources, will be hauled before courts of law and if found guilty punished with prison sentences and heavy fines. Mr. Sirisena and the opposition leaders have also pledged that top politicians of officials who had allegedly taken hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country and put them in secret accounts in the Seychelles or the Caribbean Island of St Kits and Nevis would be forced by law to bring these plundered billions back to the country. The new leadership has also pledged that action would be taken against state electronic and print media bosses who blatantly flouted election laws and indulge in crude propaganda for the Rajapaksa government. Mr. Sirisena has said he hope such action would in future ensure that the state media acted with responsibility and impartiality.
Mr. Sirisena’s joint opposition administration must also act fast to implement some of its other main pledges—Rs 5000 pay increase for public servants from next month and Rs 10,000 later, relief for pensioners, drastically reducing the cost of fuel and 10 other essential commodities. They have also promised to implement the Right to Information Bill and a Bill to implement the National Medicinal Drugs Policy within two months.
P r e s i d e n t Sirisena you rise to great heights if you are promise-keeper and not just a promise maker, if you are servant leader living a simple and humble life style if you practise what you preach and preach what you practise. We wish you all blessings for this.

 http://www.dailymirror.lk/60881/president-sirisena-we-need-servant-leaders-editorial

Monday, 5 January 2015

Battle Of The Aspirational Points And Miles Vacations: Maldives vs. Seychelles

by | Jan 5, 2015
The beauty of points and miles is that each person uses them in a way that’s best for them. For some that’s free domestic flights, for others it’s international Economy flights, and for some it may even be gift cards.
My preferred method for cashing in points and miles? I reserve them for aspirational vacations that give me access to First Class flights and amazing hotel rooms that I wouldn’t normally pay for.
If you took a poll of like-minded people who redeem points and miles for aspirational trips, I’d imagine that of all the destinations in the world, in some order the Maldives, Seychelles, and Bora Bora would be among the top 3. While I’ve yet to visit Bora Bora, I’ve been fortunate to visit the Maldives twice as well as the Seychelles.
That by no means makes me an expert, but it does give me enough background to make a head-to-head comparison of the two. Keep in mind that I’ll be primarily looking at these destinations through the lens of points and miles – in other words, how easy is it to use those hard-earned points and miles to vacation like royalty, and most importantly, for pennies on the dollar. However, I will also touch on transportation and food costs, since those can add up very quickly in these expensive destinations.
For each category I’ll be giving a score out of 5, with 5 being the highest. Let’s see how they stack up:

Redeeming Miles For Flights

Maldives (4/5)

Even though the Maldives may seem like it’s in the “middle of nowhere”, there sure are a lot of ways to redeem miles to get there:
  • Star Alliance: Singapore Airlines via SIN, Turkish Airlines via IST
  • One World: British Airways via LGW, Cathay Pacific via HKG, Malaysia Airlines via KUL, Qatar Airways via DOH, Sri Lankan Airlines via CMB
  • SkyTeam: China Southern via CAN, Korean Air via ICN/CMB
  • Other: Emirates via DXB, Etihad via AUH, Oman Air via MCT
There are multiple options within each alliance, and even bonus options which include Etihad and Emirates. The reason that I’m not giving a perfect score is due to availability, which can be extremely tough to come by. If you have the luxury of planning in advance, I’d highly recommend booking your tickets as soon as the booking window opens roughly 11 months in advance.
Personally, I have used miles to book Singapore Airlines via SIN and Korean Air via ICN/CMB. The legs to/from MLE are actually quite easy to get, and its actually the long-haul international flights that can be troublesome. Here are a couple tips that may help – travel during low season (May through November) or fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB) and purchase a separate ~$100 ticket to the Maldives on Sri Lankan Airlines.

Seychelles (2/5)

While the flight time from North America to the Seychelles is similar to that of the Maldives, there are way fewer options:
  • Star Alliance: South African Airways via JNB
  • One World: N/A
  • SkyTeam: Kenya Airways via NBO
  • Other: Air Seychelles, Emirates via DXB, Etihad via AUH
Both the South African Airways and Kenya Airways options will result in at least 2-3 connections from North America, and it’s extremely rare to find availability. While Air Seychelles is partners with Etihad, unfortunately it is not bookable using American Airlines miles.
On the bright side, award availability via Emirates and Etihad is actually quite good, even in premium cabins. So stock up on those Alaska Airlines and American Airlines miles, respectively, if you’d like those options to be available to you. Or better yet, Korean Air gives you access to both.

Redeeming Points For Hotels

Maldives (5/5)

There are countless 5-star hotels in the Maldives, and for the most part each one is located on its own island. That’s part of the beauty and the allure of the Maldives, you’re literally on an island separated from the rest of the world. Here are the hotel properties available for point redemptions across the major hotel chains:
  • Club Carlson: Radisson Blu Maldives Hulhumale (opening July 2015)
  • Hilton: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
  • Hyatt: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
  • IHG: Holiday Inn Kandooma Maldives
  • Marriott: N/A
  • Starwood: Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, W Retreat & Spa
It’s worth noting that none of them are located on Male Island where the airport is, and where many people end up spending a night due to late arriving flights.

Seychelles (2/5)

Hilton is the king of the chains in the Seychelles with 3 properties. Two of them, DoubleTree Allamanda and Hilton Northolme, are located on Mahe Island, and the 3rd, Hilton Labriz, is located on Silhouette Island. To get there, an additional boat or helicopter transfer is required from Mahe.
  • Club Carlson: N/A
  • Hilton: DoubleTree Resort & Spa Allamanda, Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa
  • Hyatt: N/A
  • IHG: N/A
  • Marriott: N/A
  • Starwood: Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove
Starwood enthusiasts are in luck as the Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove provides another chain option on Mahe.
Keep in mind that the Seychelles is all about island hopping, and you will likely spend multiple nights away from Mahe on Praslin and/or La Digue, and neither of those islands have any chain hotel options available.

Transportation

Maldives (3/5)

Transportation in the Maldives isn’t very frequent, and in fact, you’ll probably just need it twice to and from the airport to your resort. However, it’s really expensive, with boat or seaplanes transfers routinely costing upwards of $500 per person, depending on the resort.

Seychelles (2/5)

Transportation in the Seychelles is not only extremely expensive, it was one of the most logistically-challenging trips I’ve ever had to plan. Even though we saved some money by renting a car, driving in the Seychelles can be down-right scary. If you choose to travel by taxi, daily rentals will cost upwards of $300, or $100+ for transfers to/from the airport. You’ll also need to budget for the cost of transfers between Mahe and Praslin, and island-hopping excursions around Praslin typically cost several hundred dollars.

Food

Maldives (3/5)

Keep in mind here that I’m not rating the quality of the food in the Maldives as a 3 out of 5, but rather the value. The food is actually ridiculously delicious, but be prepared to pay 3-4x what you’d normally pay at a restaurant back home.
Not interested? Well, unless you’re able to catch a fish in the ocean and cook it in your room, or have smuggled enough snacks from the lounge to eat throughout your stay, there aren’t exactly any other options.

Seychelles (4/5)

While we found the food in the Seychelles to be rather mediocre in general, at least there were options outside of the hotel. We ate at the hotels for roughly half of our meals, and for the other half enjoyed exploring the towns and cute roadside cafes. Having that option is really nice, since the prices were typically 50%-70% lower than at the resort.

Overall Points and Miles Vacation Rankings

Maldives (15/20)

Seychelles (10/20)


It looks like the Maldives wins in a landslide. Again, I’m not claiming that the Maldives is much better than the Seychelles as a vacation destination, but rather that it’s a better place to use your points and miles to vacation, and to significantly subsidize costs.
For those that have been to Bora Bora or French Polynesia, I’d be interested in hearing how it stacks up against the Maldives and Seychelles.

http://hungryforpoints.boardingarea.com/2015/01/battle-of-the-aspirational-points-and-miles-vacations-maldives-vs-seychelles/