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Monday February 6th, 2023

Promoting adventure tourism in Sri Lanka could’ve prevented Yala reckless driving: state minister

ECONOMYNEXT – The controversial incident of reckless driving in Sri Lanka’s Yala national park could’ve been avoided if measures had been taken to promote adventure tourism in the country, State Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Rohana Dissanayake said.

Individuals said to be associated with several prominent politicians went on a joyride in a restricted area of the the Yala national park recently. Video footage of four-wheel drive vehicles drifting in an open plain inside the park went viral, causing much outrage on social media and elsewhere. The suspects were later arrested and blacklisted by the Department of Wildlife, prohibiting them from entering any national park in the country.

“Children from a young age have an interest in such adventurous activities and with time they get the urge to try these adventurous sports,” Minister Dissanayake said on Thursday November 30 speaking to reporters.

“I am not taking their side, but what we saw in Yala was an example of a burst of this urge to participate in these types of ports.

“If we had at least provided the youth with nine tracks in the nine provinces, this could have been avoided. I think as a ministry we have been a bit behind in this,” he said.

The minister was speaking at a media briefing in Colombo to promote adventure sports in the country and to unveil the ministry’s plans to work with the private sector to promote and regulate adventure sports such as 4×4 adventure riding and white water rafting in Sri Lanka contributing to sports tourism.

Sri Lanka, going through its worst currency crisis in decades, is struggling to attract more foreign exchange and is currently exploring ways to attract more tourists and send more locals abroad for foreign employment in order to increase foreign remittances.

Dissanayake said the ministry is collaborating with the Maxis tire company and the Iron Man 4×4 teams for a public private partnership to promote these sports in the country and develop it to national levels.

The ministry is currently exploring lands in nine provinces to create off road tracks for the sport, he said.

The ministry will also take measures to reform and regulate white water rafting in the Kitulgala area following requests by the locals, tourists and local politicians, he added.

Though Sri Lanka is known for its various adventure sport locations, the country’s tourism sector has only been promoting white water rafting, kite surfing and surfing, the minister said.

By improving adventure sports in Sri Lanka, the country will have a higher possibility of attracting more tourists, helping improve its forex situation, he added.  (Colombo/Nov03/2022)

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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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