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Monday February 6th, 2023

China tourists to Sri Lanka plunge since Coronavirus scare, bigger fall expected

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourist arrivals from China to Sri Lanka have dropped about 40 percent from January 23 as both countries tightened travel requirements in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials said.

“A considerable number of travelers have stopped coming to the country from China, as a percentage it could be on average 40 percent,” Director of Sri Lanka’s Airport and Aviation Services Shehan Sumanasekara said.

“We are anticipating a considerable drop in the future too.”

The head of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Kimarli Fernando said Chinese arrivals had dropped 15 percent in January 2020 from 26,414 visitors last year to 22,363 this year.

Sri Lanka’s overall tourist arrivals dropped 7.4 percent in January 2020, from a year earlier to 226,094.

Arrivals from other countries have dropped only 5 percent.

But February would see a steeper drop from China, though she was unable to make a firm forecast. China has stopped group travel and Sri Lanka has restricted entry visas from cities which are known to be virus hotspots.

Sri Lanka welcomed 35,929 visitors from China last February. Out of a total of 2.33 million visitors last year, 265,965 were from China.

Sri Lanka has received about 4840 Chinese arrivals from January 23, 2020 to date after special screening was introduced which was followed up with visa restrictions, Sumanasekara said.

SriLankan Airlines had brought 2572 Chinese and 362 SriLanka visitors in the period.

China Southern had brought 449 Chinese and 37 Sri Lanka passengers. China Eastern had carried 483 Chinese and 50 Sri Lankan visitors.

Air China had carried 504 Chinese and 110 Sri Lankans and other airlines had carried 262 Chinese and 11 Sri Lanka passengers.

Most tourists have come from Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.

Tourism and health authorities said Sri Lanka was still welcoming tourists from China, with additional precautions taken.

“We should not panic, but we should not be careless either,” Thilanka Ruwanpathirana Consultant Epidemiologist of Sri Lanka Ministry of health said.

Sri Lanka has also issued a declaration form to all the passengers arriving in the country. This form would be used to monitor the movement of the passengers according to the details provided by the passengers.

Novel Coronavirus is not an airborne disease but spreads from droplets and any secretions that may have got into objects which are touched.

Hence Ruwanpathirana said priority should be given to wash hands frequently than the face mask.

Health officials said guides and drivers who are handling Chinese tourists have been instructed to wear masks and wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizers. The officials also said the virus would not be passed through beddings and swimming pools.

Hotels are also told how to clean and make hotel room safe, he said.

Ruwanpathirana said it is not necessary to close a hotel where a patient had been, but the hotels are adviced to follow the cleaning methods.

Sri Lanka confirmed its first novel coronavirus patient on January 27, a tourist who had arrived from China’s Hubei province. The female Chinese national was reported to have made a full recovery and was soon to be discharged from the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH).

Japan has found a driver and guide infected. In Vietnam, a receptionist is suspected to have contracted the virus.

The Philippines became the first country outside China to confirm a death from the virus. (Colombo/Feb/2020-SB)

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Sri Lanka to address SME tax problems at first opportunity: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Problems faced by Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprises from recent tax changes will be addressed at the first opportunity, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

Business chambers had raised questions about hikes in Value Added Tax, Corporate Income Tax and the Social Security Contribution Levy (SSCL) that’s been imposed.

It should be explored on how to amend the Inland Revenue Act, Siyamabalapitiya said, adding that the future months should be considered as a period where the country is being stabilized.

Both the VAT and SSCL are effectively paid by customers, but the SSCL is a cascading tax that makes running businesses difficult.

In Sri Lanka SMEs make up a large part of the economy, accounting for 80 per cent of all businesses according to according to the island’s National Human Resources and Employment Policy.

(Colombo/ Feb 05/2023)

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Sri Lanka revenues Rs158.7bn in Jan 2023 up 51-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government revenues were 158.7 billion rupees in January 2023 but expenditure and debt service remained high, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

In January 2022 total revenues were Rs104.5 billion according to central bank data.

Sri Lanka’s tax revenues have risen sharply amid an inflationary blow off which had boosted nominal GDP while President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also raised taxes.

Departing from a previous strategy advocated by the IMF expanding the state and not cutting expenses, called revenue based fiscal consolidation, he is attempting to do classical fiscal consolidation with spending restraint.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has presented a note to cabinet requesting state expenditure to be controlled, Gunawardana told reporters.

State Salaries cost 87.4 billion rupees.

Pensions and income supplements (Samurdhi program) were29.5 billion rupees.

Other expenses were 10.8 billion rupees.

Capital spending was   21 billion rupees.

Debt service was 377.6 billion rupees for January which has to be done with borrowings from Treasury bills, bonds and a central bank provisional advance of 100 billion rupees, Gunawardana said.

Interest costs were not separately given. (Colombo/Feb05/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices down for second week

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices fell for the second week at an auction on January 31, with teas from all elevations seeing a decline, data showed.

“In retrospect, the decline in prices would be a price correction owing to the overall product quality and less interest from some key importers due to the arrival of cargo at destinations ahead of schedule,” Forbes and Walker tea brokers said.

The weekly sale average fell from 1475.79 rupees to 1465.40 rupees from a week ago, according to data from Ceylon Tea Brokers.

The tea prices are down for two weeks in a row.

High Growns

The High Grown sale average was down by 20.90 rupees to 1380.23 rupees, Ceylon Tea Brokers said.

High grown BOP and BOPF was down about 100 rupees.

“Ex-Estate offerings which totalled 0.75 M/Kg saw a slight decline in quality over the previous week” Forbes and Walker said.

OP/OPA’s in general were steady to marginally down.

Low Growns

In Low Grown Teas, FBOP 1 was down by 100 rupees and FBOP was down by 50 rupees while PEK was up by 150 rupees.

The Low Growns sale average was down by 8.55 rupees to 1547.93 rupees.

A few select Best BOP1s along with Below Best varieties maintained.

OP1                     Select Best OP1’s were steady, whilst improved/clean Below Best varieties maintained.   Others and poorer sorts were easier.

PEKOE                 Well- made PEK/PEK1s in general were steady, whilst others and poorer sorts were down.

Leafy and Semi Leafy catalogues met with fair demand,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“However, the Small Leaf and Premium catalogues continued to decline.

“Shippers to Iran were very selective, whilst shippers to Türkiye and Russia were fairly active.”

This week  2.2 million Kilograms of Low Growns were sold.

Medium Growns

Medium Grown BOP and BOPF fell by around 100 rupees

The Medium Growns sale average was down by 33.40 rupees to 1199.4 rupees.

“Medium CTC teas in the higher price bracket witnessed a similar trend, whilst teas at the lower end were somewhat maintained subject to quality,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“Improved activity from the local trade and perhaps South Africa helped to stabilize prices to some extent.”

OP/OPA grades were steady while PEKOE/PEKOE1 were firm, while some gained 50-100 rupees at times.

Well-made FBOP/FBOPF1’s were down by 50-100 rupees per kg and more at times.

(Colombo/Feb 5/2023)

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