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Monday February 6th, 2023

Sri Lanka heading for record human, wild elephant deaths in 2019

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is heading for record human and wild elephants deaths in 2019, with a probably expanding pachyderm population and pressure on their habitat as conflict with man escalates, officials said.

In the first 10 months of 2019, 93 human and 293 elephants have already been killed in the conflict, compared to 96 humans and 319 elephants for the whole of 2018.

“It is escalating,” Secretary to the Ministry of Wildlife S Hettiarachchi said.

In 2013, 70 humans and 206 wild elephants died. By 2016, human deaths had increased to 87 and elephant death had shot up to 279.

In 2017, human deaths were 87 and elephant deaths fell to 256. But both human and elephant deaths are rising.

Sri Lanka’s Asian elephants was listed as endangered as its habit shrank, especially after the expansion of rice cultivation in the early 1980s under several irrigations schemes lead by the Mahaweli river valley program.

Before 2011 elephant lovers had warned Sri Lanka had about 2,500 to 4,000 animals left, though seasoned conservationists privately said even then, there were more, based on mortality statistics and observing the number of new calves that were visible in herds in wildlife parks.

A census in 2011 counted 5,879 elephants, or roughly 6,000.

“That is the minimum count,” Sri Lanka’s Department of Wildlife Conservation M G Sooriyabandara said.

“There is a recruitment rate. Then there are deaths. The problem is that a high large proportion of deaths are deliberate.”

In the 10 years to 2018, 2,456 wild elephants had died. In the decade 738 humans had died, though headlines are usually grabbed by elephants.

In 2017, 50 elephants were shot, and 54 animals died from ‘Hakka Patas’, a improvised explosive device. It made by stuffing a fruit or vegetable with explosives and steel balls. They are sometimes placed targeting other animals such as wild boar.

In 2017, 24 were electrocuted, 7 were run over by trains, 22 died of natural causes. Another 50 died of unknown causes.

Elephant lovers had called for the death penalty for elephant killers.

Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Amparai and Baticaloa to the East are where most of the deaths and property damage take place.

Sri Lanka is erecting electrical fences as a way to manage the conflict. The wildlife department erected 488 kilometres of electric fences in 2017.

The department also distributed 734,000 ‘serpent flares’ and ‘thunder flares’ to scare away elephants, spending 69 million rupees. Another 300 million rupees was spent on electric fences and other equipment.

When the British began ruling Sri Lanka in the 19th century it is believe that there were around 14,000 elephants in the island. Thousands were shot as human settlements expanded.

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When the British came to Sri Lanka there were about two million humans in the island.

The population stated to expand rapidly as the British started vaccinating the population against small pox, which took a devastating toll on the population from time to time, and gradually built a health system. Now there are over 20 million humans. (Colombo/Oct01/2019)

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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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