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Friday March 1st, 2024

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka vacate over 16,000 army personnel ahead of IMF deal

Image credit: SL Army

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka’s army has decided to vacate posts of over 16,000 military personnel on a budget proposed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe as the island nation struggling to reduce government spending ahead of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal.

President Wickremesinghe last month proposed to give voluntary early retirement for military personnel in order to reduce the spending on military and train retired military personnel for other skills aiming to use the human resources for the country’s economy.

Ministry of Defence declared general amnesty for the Tri-Forces absentees, enabling legal discharge from the respective services. The period of general amnesty is in force from 15 November 2022 until 31 December 2022.

Ministry of Defence notified that the Tri-Forces absentees who are presently overseas are also eligible to receive a legal discharge from their respective services without reporting to the unit during declared General Amnesty period.

Army Spokesman Ravi Herath said so far 16,141 personnel including officers and other rank soldiers have applied for the amnesty.

“Some 21 officers and 15,838 other ranks have given medical and security clearance and we have given them the resignation letters,” Herath told EconomyNext.

“Also 179 more have come to their respective brigades and the clearances are being issued to them”.

Herath said, the government gave the permission for all military personnel before October 25 to voluntarily leave service, regardless of the time period they had not been in the service through applying for amnesty.

“We also have 12 officers and 96 other rankers who are in abroad, who applied. Those applications are also being processed,” Herath said.

According to Herath, when an army officer does not return on a specific date mentioned after his vacation period, salaries will not be processed and aft personnel will be removed from service and will not be enlisted back.

The Air force Media Spokesman, Group Captain Dushantha Wijesinghe, said 983 Air Force personnel applied for amnesty and 732 were given clearance.

It is not clear how many were cleared by the Navy. (Colombo/ Dec 16/2022)

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  1. sacre blieu says:

    This should also be given serious thought in that our services should and have played an important role in searching and arresting criminals and smugglers. A specially selected group of about 10 to 25 should be given specialised training in civil administration and law to assist the police on a better level to eradicate the increased and even greater incidence of crime and not be manipulated to execute the politically motivated crime. Just a simple example, there is a suburb south of Colombo where one early morning a pot-bellied bare body man had two huge vicious breeds of dogs walking them on the street in total defiance and in a show immunity assured by the local enforcement that should have had him arrested. These breeds of dogs are banned in many countries and illegal to walk them on the street.

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  1. sacre blieu says:

    This should also be given serious thought in that our services should and have played an important role in searching and arresting criminals and smugglers. A specially selected group of about 10 to 25 should be given specialised training in civil administration and law to assist the police on a better level to eradicate the increased and even greater incidence of crime and not be manipulated to execute the politically motivated crime. Just a simple example, there is a suburb south of Colombo where one early morning a pot-bellied bare body man had two huge vicious breeds of dogs walking them on the street in total defiance and in a show immunity assured by the local enforcement that should have had him arrested. These breeds of dogs are banned in many countries and illegal to walk them on the street.

Sri Lanka’s RAMIS online tax collection system “not operatable”: IT Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s online tax collection system RAMIS is “not operatable”, and the Ministry of Information Technology is ready to do for an independent audit to find the shortcomings, State IT Minister Kanaka Herath said.

The Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS) was introduced to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when the island nation signed for its 16th International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in 2016.

However, trade unions at the IRD protested the move, claiming that the system was malfunctioning despite billions being spent for it amid allegations that the new system was reducing the direct contacts between taxpayers and the IRD to reduce corruption.

The RAMIS had to be stopped after taxpayers faced massive penalties because of blunders made by heads of the IT division, computer operators and system errors at the IRD, government officials have said.

“The whole of Sri Lanka admits RAMIS is a failure. The annual fee is very high for that. This should be told in public,” Herath told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Thursday (29)

“In future, we want all the ministries to get the guidelines from our ministry when they go for ERP (Enterprise resource planning).”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government said the RAMIS system will be operational from December last year.

However, the failure has delayed some tax collection which could have been paid via online.

“It is not under our ministry. It is under the finance ministry. We have no involvement with it, but still, it is not operatable,” Herath said.

“So, there are so many issues going on and I have no idea what the technical part of it. We can carry out an independent audit to find out the shortcomings of the software.”

Finance Ministry officials say IRD employees and trade unions had been resisting the RAMIS because it prevents direct interactions with taxpayers and possible bribes for defaulting or under paying taxes.

The crisis-hit island nation is struggling to boost its revenue in line with the target it has committed to the IMF in return for a 3 billion-dollar extended fund facility. (Colombo/Feb 29/2024) 

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Sri Lanka aims to boost SME with Sancharaka Udawa tourism expo

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is hosting Sancharaka Udawa, a tourism industry exhibition which will bring together businesses ranging from hotels to travel agents and airlines, and will allow the small and medium sector build links with the rest of the industry, officials said.

There will be over 250 exhibitors, with the annual event held for the 11th time expected to draw around 10,000 visitors, the organizers said.

“SMEs play a big role, from homestays to under three-star categories,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu told reporters.

“It is very important that we develop those markets as well.”

The Sancharaka Udawa fair comes as the Indian Ocean island is experiencing a tourism revival.

Sri Lanka had welcomed 191,000 tourists up to February 25, compared to 107,639 in February 2023.

“We have been hitting back-to-back double centuries,” Gajabahu said. “January was over 200,000.”

The exhibition to be held on May 17-18, is organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators.

It aims to establish a networking platform for small and medium sized service providers within the industry including the smallest sector.

“Homestays have been increasingly popular in areas such as Ella, Down South, Knuckles and Kandy,” SLAITO President, Nishad Wijethunga, said.

In the northern Jaffna peninsula, both domestic and international tourism was helping hotels.

A representative of the Northern Province Tourism Sector said that the Northern Province has 170 hotels, all of which have 60-70 percent occupancy.

Further, domestic airlines from Colombo to Palali and the inter-city train have been popular with local and international visitors, especially Indian tourists. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 309.50/70 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 309.50/70 to the US dollar Thursday, from 310.00/15 on Wednesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were slightly higher.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.50/70 percent down from 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.10 percent from 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 12.20/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.30/45 percent up from 12.20/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.35/50 percent up from 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.55/13.00 percent up from 12.50/90 percent. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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