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Friday July 12th, 2024

Sri Lanka says to issue single entry tourist visa for $50 amid VFS crisis

DIGITAL DIVIDE: Frustrated by the VFS Global complex website some tourists are trying to find out whether visa on arrival is available at the airport

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet has decided to issue a single-entry visa to tourists for 50 US dollars, the President’s media office said, after visa fees were hiked to 100 dollars with a shift to a private contractor.

Sri Lanka was previously issuing a double entry visa for 50 dollars allowing tourists to visit neighboring countries and return in line with the island’s logistic hub status, and also to ‘come back for more’.

“Amidst the notable progress in the country’s tourism sector, numerous stakeholders within the industry have recently urged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to maintain the maximum visa fee for foreigners at US $50,” the statement said.

“They have also highlighted that this decision stands as significant support for the future growth of the tourism industry.

“Consequently, President Ranil Wickremesinghe reached this decision after presenting the matter during today’s Cabinet meeting.”

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said in an x.com post that he had opposed the fees charged by VFS Global and the fees were not previously disclosed to cabinet.

Related

Sri Lanka tourism minister opposes VFS Global linked visa fees in cabinet

It is not clear whether tourists will still have to use the IVS-GBS-VFS Global website to get visas or whether the user-friendly government website will be available again.

Bad User Experience

The travel industry as well as tourists have said it is complex and cannot be used easily unlike the earlier ETV website of the Department of Immigration.

Travel forum discussions showed that some tourists were opting to get a visa on-arrival physically at the airport after being frustrated by the strict data and other requirements of the VFS Global website.

They were also being given confusing messages by the new portal’s chat facility about the availability of on-arrival visas, members of tripadvisor.com claimed.

The portal is only in English at the moment.

However VFS said it is statement that it was working to make other languages also available.

A free visa for India, China, Russia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia will be made available, the government statement said.

However as of yesterday tourists had to pay 25.77 dollars for a ‘free’ visa due to fees charged by the IVS-GBS-VFS group, as the cabinet of ministers of Sri Lanka seemingly had lost the powers to issue free visas.

Opposition legislator Harsha de Silva queried an apparent 200 million dollar investment claim made by the private contractor to justify an 18.5 dollar additional fee from tourists.

Can this be real?” de Silva asked in an x.com message publishing what was believed to be a cabinet memo.

” IVS-GBS Global to invest USD 200 million (tech for website and cameras?) as per Cabinet Memo justifying outsourcing at USD 18.50+/visa. “Where did this investment go?

Related Harsha queries Sri Lanka $200mn IVS-VFS Global investment claimed to justify high fees

Another convenience fee of 5 to 7 dollars was also charged from customers.

VFS Global also released a statement explaining their stance.

RelatedVFS Global issues statement on Sri Lanka visa deal

The contract for 12 years was given without tendering, Public Security Minister Tiran Alles who is in charge of Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration.

“If we called tenders, who is there to tender for this and compete against VFS?” Minister Alles asked reporters Monday.

“This is a proposal. There is a method of studying proposals. Many things (orner-tharam-deval) are done that way”.

Related

No tender needed for Sri Lanka visa deal, nobody can compete against VFS: Minister

(Colombo/May07/2024)

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Sri Lanka appoints new Attorney General

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed K A Parinda Ranasinghe PC as Attorney General.

He was appointed in terms of Article 61E (b) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the president’s media division said.

The new AG received the appointment from President Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday.

Ranasinghe is the 49th Attorney General of Sri Lanka.

He fills the post after the retirement of former Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 301.70/302.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger at 301.70/302.00 to the US dollar on Friday, from 302.80/303.00 to the US dollar on Thursday, dealers said, while bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.90/11.00 percent, up from 10.85/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.75/80 percent, up from 11.80/88 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.10/30 percent, up from 12.15/25 percent. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, muted activity

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Friday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.35 percent, or 41.71 points, at 11,843; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.56 percent, or 19.20 points, at 3,454.

Turnover was low at 653 million.

“The market picked up a bit from yesterday but it’s still below the psychological 12,000 mark,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“Local retail participation drove the market predominantly.”

John Keells Holdings Plc brought in Rs109mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 194.50.

Melstacorp Plc contributed in Rs104mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 85.00.

Sentiment around the banking counters was mostly negative. Sampath Bank Plc closed down at 77.00, closed flat at 101.25, and Hatton National Bank Plc closed flat at 195.25.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc (up at 103.50), Bukit Darah Plc (up at 397.00), and Hayleys Plc (up at 101.00).

Foreign participation remained low as well. There was a higher net foreign outflow of 101 million.

“Foreign selling was seen on John Keells Holdings, and banking counters; Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 195.00), Pan Asia Banking Corporation Plc (down at 20.70), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc.

There was selective foreing interest on the diversified financials sector, particularly in companies that had vehicle leasing portfolios. “We think this might be due to the news of the vehicle import ban possibly ending.”

LOLC Holdings Plc closed up at 440.50, People’s Leasing and Finance Plc closed up at 12.20.

Softlogic Holdings Plc which announced the date of its rights issue, closed up at 8.50. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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