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Friday July 12th, 2024

Sri Lanka COPF summons border officials over VFS Global visa crisis

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka parliament’s Committee on Public Finance has summoned the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security and Controller General of Immigration over an ongoing crisis over monopoly visa deal given to VFS Global, a private company.

“Summoned the Secretary to Min of Public Security along with CG of Immigration tomorrow for balanced examination in to the ongoing visa fiasco,” COPF Chief Harsha de Silva said in a post.

“While it is customary for all public finance related legislation be routed through COPF, this strangely was not.”

Sri Lanka used to give a double entry visa for tourists for 50 dollars (30 dollars for South Asia) and a one dollar charge, through its ETA portal, which was quickly filled.

However, after the shift to the VFS Global website, the price went up to 100.77 dollars with a 18.50 service charge and a 7.27 dollar ‘convenience fee’.

Tourists are expressed their shock at the price hike saying family groups had to pay 500 dollars or more to come.

Kids below 12 years were given fee visas, which were no longer available.

The old double entry visa also had a six month validity period.

After the shift to VFS Global the validity period has also been halved to 3 months.

Some tourists have complained that they were sold six months visa by VFS Global portal but told that it would expire in 3 months and they had to change their travel plans.

Tourist industry officials said tourists who bought visas under the old system were told to pay against and get new visas.

“We called the VFS office in India but they did not help,” a travel official who was trying to help a group said.

Many tourists were struggling with the VFS Global websites and also struggling to upload a picture at the correct size.

Others opted to try and get a visa on arrival at the airport instead of wading through the VFS Global website.

DIGITAL DIVIDE: Frustrated by the VFS Global complex website some tourists are trying to find out whether visa on arrival is available at the airport

At this week’s cabinet meeting Tourism Minister Harin Fernando reportedly threatened to resign and a 50 dollar single entry visa was introduced.

Opposition legislators are questioning whether 10 dollars out of 50 was now going to VFS Global.

Sri Lanka’s Public Security Minister had admitted that there was no competitive tender and the IVS-GBS had proposed the deal to the government. (Colombo/May08/2024)

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Sri Lanka appoints new Attorney General

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed K A Parinda Ranasinghe PC as Attorney General.

He was appointed in terms of Article 61E (b) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the president’s media division said.

The new AG received the appointment from President Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday.

Ranasinghe is the 49th Attorney General of Sri Lanka.

He fills the post after the retirement of former Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 301.70/302.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger at 301.70/302.00 to the US dollar on Friday, from 302.80/303.00 to the US dollar on Thursday, dealers said, while bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.90/11.00 percent, up from 10.85/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.75/80 percent, up from 11.80/88 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.10/30 percent, up from 12.15/25 percent. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, muted activity

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Friday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.35 percent, or 41.71 points, at 11,843; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.56 percent, or 19.20 points, at 3,454.

Turnover was low at 653 million.

“The market picked up a bit from yesterday but it’s still below the psychological 12,000 mark,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“Local retail participation drove the market predominantly.”

John Keells Holdings Plc brought in Rs109mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 194.50.

Melstacorp Plc contributed in Rs104mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 85.00.

Sentiment around the banking counters was mostly negative. Sampath Bank Plc closed down at 77.00, closed flat at 101.25, and Hatton National Bank Plc closed flat at 195.25.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc (up at 103.50), Bukit Darah Plc (up at 397.00), and Hayleys Plc (up at 101.00).

Foreign participation remained low as well. There was a higher net foreign outflow of 101 million.

“Foreign selling was seen on John Keells Holdings, and banking counters; Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 195.00), Pan Asia Banking Corporation Plc (down at 20.70), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc.

There was selective foreing interest on the diversified financials sector, particularly in companies that had vehicle leasing portfolios. “We think this might be due to the news of the vehicle import ban possibly ending.”

LOLC Holdings Plc closed up at 440.50, People’s Leasing and Finance Plc closed up at 12.20.

Softlogic Holdings Plc which announced the date of its rights issue, closed up at 8.50. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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