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Friday March 1st, 2024

Sri Lanka opposition NPP will support short term programme if govt doesn’t resign

JVP/NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake at a public rally in Nugegoda – Pic by Himal Kotelawala

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka opposition National People’s Power (NPP) MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said his party will support a short term economic recovery plan by the government before going for an election, if the government refuses to resign and give power to the NPP.

Responding to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s speech in parliament on Tuesday July 05 morning, Dissanayake said the NPP never intended to solve the economic crisis in the country within six months as claimed by Wickremasinghe.

“What I said was, we will provide immediate solutions to the current fuel, gas and medicine issues in the country within the next six months. After that we can go for an election. The reason we should go for an election is, to overcome this issue, it is not only a stable government that we need, but also a stable and trusted government,” said Dissanayake.

“If you won’t let us form our own government, we said, we will support a short term plan within a specific time period.”

Replying to Dissanayaka’s remarks on the speech, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the government is ready to take any suggestions from the NPP or any capable parry to overcome what has become Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence.

Both parties came to an agreement to discuss a short term plan, forming an all party committee as per a proposal made by Minister of Justice Wijedasa Rajapakshe.

“Now with the speeches of the PM, ministers and all other MPs, one thing is clear and that is the need to find an immediate solution ti the current situation,” said Rajapakshe.

“The government has already taken some measures to provide immediate solutions. I would like to propose that, with the government’s steps to achieve this short term and long term goals to provide relief to the public, to form a committee with the representation of all these parties and to discuss the government’s plans with that committee.

“So we can get their ideas to initiate the best solution. We can come to an agreement that within a specific time period we will follow this decision and after that we will go for an election,” he said.

Responding to Rajapakshe’s proposal, the NPP leader said they will support a programme with a specific time period.

“There should be a programme with a specific time period. As I said, it should be either us or you. If you are forming the government, there should be a short term programme with a specific time period. If that is being done, we are ready to respond to that,” he said. (Colombo/Jul05/2022)

 

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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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