An Echelon Media Company
Thursday February 29th, 2024

Sri Lanka minister aims ambitious $1 bln monthly remittance by 2023

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is targeting $1 billion monthly foreign inflow from worker remittance by end-2023 with more people leaving the island nation for offshore jobs after an unprecedented economic crisis, Foreign Employment and Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.

Worker’s remittances have fallen 40.2 percent to $2.9 billion in the first 10 months of this year mainly as most Sri Lankan expatriate workers sought informal methods like Undiyal or Hawala to send the money due to higher exchange rate than that offered by the formal banking system in Sri Lanka.

Nanayakkara has introduced several incentives to encourage Sri Lankan workers in foreign countries to send their money through the formal system and the island nation has witnessed a reversal in year-on-year fall in monthly remittances for the first time in September 16 months.

“Since we are giving benefits to the migrant workers, the foreign remittance is increasing and our
target is to achieve the $1 billion per month target at the end of 2023,” Nanayakkara told EconomyNext in a telephone interview.

“In the near future, we will not recruit workers for government service and we will completely limit
it. All the sectors are facing a high shrinkage right now,” he said when asked about the possibility of a labour shortage due to a higher number of Sri Lankans leaving the country seeking foreign jobs.

Sri Lanka saw record high foreign remittances of $7.4 billion in 2020 and analysts believe the minister’s $1 billion monthly target is “highly ambitious” unless the central bank floats the currency and reduces the gap between the formal and informal market exchange rates.

Nanayakkara admitted that “a trust issue was created” due to lower exchange rate in the formal banking system.

“It keeps changing little by little,” he said.

The government has taken some steps including high duty-free allowance, pension benefits, and vehicle imports to boost foreign remittances.

The government has also focused on sending skilled labourers for foreign employment, instead of unskilled, the minister said.

A record 273,988 Sri Lankans have left the country for foreign jobs as of November 14 this year, compared to 203,087 outward labour migration in 2019. (Colombo/Nov18/2022)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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) 

Continue Reading

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)

Continue Reading

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)

Continue Reading