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Monday February 6th, 2023

Sri Lanka relaxes COVID-19 lockdown subject to tightened restrictions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued fresh guidelines to be followed in the Western province and elsewhere after relaxing an islandwide COVID-19 lockdown on June 21 amid tight restrictions.

The curfew-style movement restrictions will be reimposed at 10pm June 23 until it’s lifted again at 4am June 25, Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva said. The 30 hour temporary lockdown will cover the Poson Full Moon Poya day, a Buddhist holiday that marks the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, that falls on June 24 this year.

The MoH said company meetings, workshops, promotion campaigns, street vendors, malls in the Western province will be prohibited, while non government exams, gyms, indoor stadiums, pools, wedding ceremonies, religious ceremonies, cinemas, museums, libraries, outdoor shows, parks, restaurants, pubs and bars, casinos, night clubs, betting stations, spas, hotels and guest houses will be closed islandwide.

Public transport will be available, but at 50 percent seating capacity and only essential services workers can use the public transport in the western province.

State-run vegetable exchanges, or Economic Centres as they’re known, will continue to operate for wholesale activity. Mobile vendors registered with their respective provincial council will be permitted to continue, the MoH said.

In conjunction with the easing of travel restrictions, authorities have also lifted quarantine isolation of 82 Grama Niladhari divisions in 12 districts.

However, another 24 Grama Niladhari divisions including Heta Eka (61) Watta and Heta Haya (66) Watte in Dematagoda where five cases of the deadly delta variant were found will continue to be under isolation until further notice.

Health authorities detected 2,248 COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period that ended at 0600 am on June 21. A majority of these cases, 307, were identified in the Gamapha district. Another 302 were found from Colombo while 253 patients were identified in the Kalutara district.

With the newly identified patients, the total number of cases islandwide has increased to 239,688. Of these, 201,388 have recovered, according to official data, while 35,719 patients are still undergoing treatment. With 47 deaths being recorded in the last 24 hours, Sri Lanka records a total of 2,581 deaths due to COVID-19.

In the third wave started from April 15,2021 Sri Lanka has recorded 14,346 new cases and 1,972 COVID-19 related deaths.  A total of 7,751 are in quarantine centres.

Areas under Isolation:

Gampaha
Yatihena, Siyabalapewattha, Nahena

Ampara
Nawa Walathapitiya Village

Batticaloa
Eravur 02, Meeravodi East, Meeravodi West, Manchcholai Baduriya

Rathnapura
Dapane, Kelandagala GN Division Mullekanda Watta, Kottala

Kalutara
Maha Waskaduwa South, Minnerithanna Tsunami Village

Jaffna
Savatkaddu

Matale
DemadaOya, Nikagolla, Nikagolla North, Kiulawadiya, Guruwela

Puttalam
Marakkalagama

Nuwaraeliya
Karolena State Kadawala Watta Area

Galle
Gonagala GN Bolthuduwa Village

Matara
Palana South

Colombo
Aramaya area Heta Haya Watte, Aramaya area Heta Eka Watte (Colombo/June 21/2021)

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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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