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Friday December 9th, 2022

Sri Lanka reduces bus fares by over 11 percent; minimum fare down to 34 rupees

Sri Lanka’s private bus service will be unable to function at normal levels until a solution for the fuel crisis is proposed

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s National Transportation Commission (NTC) has reduced bus fares by 11.14 percent, bridging the minimum fare down to 34 rupees, officials said.

NTC Director General Nilan Miranda said the new fares will be effective from August 04 midnight and will only be applicable to provincial and inter-provincial normal/non-luxury buses.

This is the fourth time bus fares were amended in 2022, with the last reform imposed on July 19 with a reduction of 2.23 percent for all bus types, bringing the minimum price from 40 rupees to 38 rupees.

Miranda told reporters on Thursday August 04 that the minister of transport had approved the price revision with the recommendation of the NTC.

The revision was being done for two reasons, he said. With Sri Lanka’s health authorities imposing a restriction in November 2020 limiting the number of people that can be transported in a bus to the available seat capacity, fares were hiked by 20 percent to reduce the loss incurred by the bus services.

“There are four types of bus services. Non luxury/normal buses can take more people than the seating capacity. Semi and luxury buses can take only people according to the seating capacity. But with the health authority recommendation, a regulation was brought in compelling non luxury buses to follow the rule. In order to continue the service, for non-luxury, we made a 20 percent hike in bus fares on November 11, 2020,” said Miranda.

But now, due to the ongoing fuel crisis and buses limiting their services, available buses are carrying more passengers over the seating capacity.

He added that diesel prices being reduced by 10 rupees on August 01 meant another 1.14 percent reduction in addition to the 10 percent, resulting in a total of 11.14 percent reduction in the bus fare.

“With that, and due to the requests from the general public, we recommended and got the permission to reduce 10 percent from the 20 percent increase we gave in 2020,” Miranda said.

“It will be only for normal bus transport,” Miranda said.

The fare for all normal buses, including inter provincial, provincial, buses in the SLTB”s Gami Seriya programme, buses under the student-trasnporting Sisu Seriya programme, and the under Nisi Seriya programme will thus be reduced.

“With that, the minimum bus fare will be reduced to 34 rupees from 38 rupees. It will be reduced on 350 instances [of ascending order in ticket value] and on the 350th instance, which is the highest priced ticket, the price will be reduced to 2,611 rupees from 2,882 rupees.” (Colombo/Aug04/2022)

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Sri Lanka bond yields end higher, kerb dollar Rs370/371

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bonds yields ended up and the T-bills eased on active trade on Friday, dealers said.

The US dollar was 370/371 rupees in the kerb.

“The bond rates went up, however more interest was seen in the short term bills by the investors” dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.90/32.20 percent on Friday, up from 31.25/70 percent at Thursday’s close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 30.30/31.30 percent steady from 30.30/31.00 percent.

The three-month T-bills closed at 30.75/31.30 percent, down from 32.00/32.25 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar unchanged.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.78 and 372.00 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.78 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Dec 09/2022)

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Foreign minister, US ambassador discuss future assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — In a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung discussed ways in which the United States can continue to support Sri Lanka going forward, the Ambassador said.

Chung tweeted Friday December 09 afternoon that the two officials had reflected on the “twists and turns” of 2022, at the meeting.

Minister Sabry was recently in Washington D.C. where he US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A foreign ministry statement said the two officials held productive discussions at the Department of State on December 02 on further elevating bilateral relations in diverse spheres, including the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations which will be marked in 2023.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka also celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence from the British in 2023, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has given himself and all parties that represent parliament a deadline to find a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

The US has been vocal about Sri Lanka addressing concerns about its human rights record since the end of the civil war in 2009 and was a sponsor of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unlike previous resolutions, this year’s iteration makes specific reference to the country’s prevailing currency crisis and calls for investigations on corruption allegations.

In the lead up to the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Minister Sabry Sri Lanka’s government under then new president Wickremesinghe does not want any confrontation with any international partner but will oppose any anti-constitutional move forced upon the country.

On the eve of the sessions on October 06, Sabry said countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who led the UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka, are greatly influenced by domestic-level lobbying by pressure groups from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

These pronouncements notwithstanding, the Wickremesnghe government has been making inroads to the West as well as India and Japan, eager to obtain their assistance in seeing Sri Lanka through the ongoing crisis.

The island nation has entered into a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended fund facility of 2.9 billion dollars to be disbursed over a period of four years, subject to a successful debt restructure programme and structural reforms.

Much depends on whether or not China agrees to restructure Sri Lanka’s 7.4 billion dollar outstanding debt to the emerging superpower. Beijing’s apparent hesitance to go for a swift restructure prompted Tamil National Alliance MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam to warn of possible “go home, China” protests in Colombo, similar to the wave of protests that forced the exit of former pro-China President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The TNA will be a key player in upcoming talks with the Wickremesinghe government on a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

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India smogs out Sri Lanka’s China tower observers

 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Lotus Tower has halved visitors to its observation deck an official said as dirty air flowing from India triggered air quality warnings and schools in the capital closed.

“Masks are mandatory at the observation deck and roughly around 50 to 60 can go up to the observation deck at a time, time limits have not been altered and still persists at 20 minutes for observation,” the official told EconomyNext.

Prior to the smog, 120 observers were permitted at once to the deck.

However, even after limitations the Lotus Tower has continued to draw visitors, and revenues are coming in, the official said.

The tower built with a Chinese loan by the cash rich Telecom Regulatory Commission has been described by critics as a white elephant that eats the money earned from telecom operators mainly as spectrum fees.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said India air heavily polluted with particulate matter was flowing across the island into a depression in the South West Bengal Bay. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

 

 

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