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Thursday June 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka removes on-arrival PCR requirement for all arrivals in bid to boost tourism

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will be open up for fully vaccinated tourists from September 29 as it removes the last COVID-19 travel restriction, the on-arrival PCR test, subject to a negative result within 72 hours of departure, in a bid to boost the dollar-earning tourism sector amid a forex crisis.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella took to twitter to announce the decision, which will go in to effect from 0000hours September 29.

The Indian ocean island has removed a number of COVID-19 restrictions on travellers, despite an ongoing lockdown that is expected to be relaxed on October 01.

Fully vaccinated tourists are free to move across the country the way they did before the pandemic, but were required to undergo an on-arrival PCR test until September 28 that in turn necessitated a one-day quarantine until PCR tests reports were cleared.

Public parks and tourist site are also open on a pre-booking basis for tourists,  while bars and restaurants are open and ready to serve the holiday makers.

However the country continues to report close to 1,000 new COVID-19 infection cases per day, out of which over 90 percent are confirmed to be caused by the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, 50.4 percent of Sri Lankans had been fully vaccinated by September 18, according to Health Ministry data. At least 60.8 percent or 14.18 million of the population have been jabbed with the first dose.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Director General Dhammika Wijayasinghe previously told EconomyNext that health officials and industry representatives were in discussion to ease COVID-19 restrictions as the country has fully vaccinated at least 50-percent of the population.

Shehan Sumanasekara, Director-Chief Operations (all airport) at Airport & Aviation Services (Srilanka) told EconomyNext last week that the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) sees close to 1,000 -1,500 arrivals and 1,700 to 2,000 departures per day.

Of these arrivals, some 300 are from India, while some are from Germany and Spain, according to Sumanasekara.

“Arrivals numbers change day to day but with the gradual ease of restrictions we expect it to increase in the near future,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s pre-pandemic tourism sector was one of three key-dollar earning sectors after apparel and foreign remittance.

In 2018, the sector generated 4.4 billion rupees in revenue and in 2019, after the Easter-Sunday attacks, earned 3.5billion US dollars.

Sri Lanka’s reserves dropped to 2 billion US dollars in July when it repaid a billion dollar bond and some other accounts.

Gross forex reserves were 2.6 months of imports measured as the average of past 12 months in June 2020.

The reserves are the lowest since July 2009, when the country had just finished a war and was rebuilding reserves, but in September it recovered slightly to 3.5 billion US dollars through International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights (SDR). (Colombo/Sep28/2021)

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Sri Lanka exports down in April, trade deficit up from March, rupee stronger

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s exports fell 12.6 percent from a year ago to 849 million US dollars in April 2023, amid weaker external demand, while imports were down 15.8 percent to 1,431 million Us dollars, central bank data showed.

Exports also fell 1,037 million dollars in March 2023, amid seasonal effects.

The trade deficit expanded to 583 million US dollars in April from 412 million US dollars in March 2023. Imports were at 1431 million US dollars in April from 1,450 million dollars in March.

Imports can pick as tourism, worker remittances and net inflows to government go up.

The rupee continued to appreciate.

“Exchange rate showed a notable appreciation during April 2023 with the continued improvement in liquidity in the domestic foreign exchange market, the discontinuation of the daily guidance on exchange rates,” the central bank said.

Up to April exports were down 9 percent to 3.8 billion rupees and imports were down 28 percent to 5.2 billion rupees and the trade deficit was 1.4 billion rupees.

Investment goods imports were down in April amid a contraction in credit.

“Almost all types of goods listed under the three main investment good categories, namely machinery and equipment, building material and transport equipment, recorded a decline,” the central bank said.

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Sri Lanka President discusses debt restructure, program progress with IMF

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake was also in the meeting.

Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Mahinda Siriwardena, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe, Deputy Director of the International Monetary Fund Anne Marie Gulde, and Resident Representative IMF in Sri Lanka Sarwat Jahan, attended this event. (Colombo/June01/2023)

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Sri Lanka cuts petrol to Rs318 a litre, kerosene to Rs245

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has cut petrol 92-Octane by 15 rupees to 318 rupees a litre and kerosene by 50 rupees to 245 rupees a litre from midnight May 31, the Ministry of Energy said.

Petrol 95 Octane will be raised by 20 rupees to 385 rupees, and Lanka Super Diesel 4 Star Euro 4 will be raised by 10 rupees to 340 rupees a litre.

Lanka Industrial Kerosene will be cut by 60 rupees a litre to 270 rupees.

Kerosene which is similar to jet fuel is usually the most expensive fuel in international markets followed by diesel and petrol is usually the cheapest.

Kerosene which is substantially cheaper than diesel is also used by buses to cut costs. (Colombo/May31/2023)

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