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Tuesday April 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka should say good bye to minimum room rates: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka should end its anti-competitive minimum room rates for hotels, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said, and become a globally competitive country which will avoid another debt crisis.

“When I said we must say goodbye to minimum room rates, some were happy, others were unhappy,” President Ranil Wickremesinghe told a Sri Lanka Economic Summit organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.

“We cannot go on crutches anymore.”

Sri Lanka’s businesses have unleashed the coercive power of the state upon the citizens in the form of import duties.

While citizens are trapped within the borders and can be easily cornered by protectionists, tourists are free to choose the best option that gives value for money.

Sri Lanka’s inbound travel agents and the meetings and conventions industry has said the island cannot compete with East Asia with the minimum room rates.

Sri Lanka was striking free trade deals that will see tariffs falling over 15 years, he said.

Going on the old path meant that Sri Lanka will hit another economic crisis in a decade or less, he said.

Sri Lanka needs to sell a product that attracts high spending tourists, President Wickremesinghe said.

“We are going to market Sri Lanka in a way that you can’t think possible,” he said. “We will have a tourist centre which you all will have to take over and run.

“The whole of Republic Square, the President’s House, Navy Headquarters, all the way down to the lighthouse and down into the museum and independence square.

“Now don’t complain when the President’s House is shifted to Madiwela. You have to do that to open this up.”

Six new golf courses were planned around the country. Two were planned in Nuwara Eliya with one about 300 acres.

India and China were big emerging markets.

“So we will have to re-think our tourist policies, how to get them,” Wickremesinghe said. “So lets work on them and learn how to market them.”

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Iran President to open Sri Lanka $514mn irrigation, hydro power project

MULTIPURPOSE: Uma Oya multipurpose development project is the largest since the end of the Mahaweli projects.

ECONOMYNEXT – Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm and was also initially financed before international sanctions hit the project.

The Uma Oya (River) project will irrigate 4,500 acres of new agricultural land, generate 290 Gigawatt hours of electricity and also provide drinking water, a government statement said.

Sri Lanka had awarded an engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) to Iran’s FARAB engineering group to design and construct the 514 million dollar multipurpose project in 2010.

The project was funded until 2013 with a million US dollar credit from the Export Development Bank of Iran but international sanctions prevented the country from continuing financing, a government statement said.

The project continued with funding from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had since repaid 19.3 million dollars of the credit and 35.2 million remains outstanding.

The Uma Oya project has a 120MW of hydro power generators, which can generate 290 Giga Watt hours of energy.

Each year 145 million cubic metres of water will be taken from Uma Oya to the Kirindi Oya river valley after generating electricity in an underground power station.

It will irrigate 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural and 4,500 hectares of new land in the Moneragala district, where crops can be cultivated in both the Maha and Yala seasons.

About 39 million cubic meters of water will be used for drinking and industrial purposes.

Two reservoirs built at Dyraaba and Puhulpola in Uma Oya basin is connected by a 3.98 kilometre conveyance tunnel and water is taken through a 15.2 kilomtre headrace tunnel to an underground power station. A tailrace tunnel takes water from the power station to the Kirindi Oya basin.

The project was originally expected to be completed in 2015, but due to financing delays and later water leaking into the headrace tunnel and the Covid pandemic had delayed it. The project completion date was extended to March 31, 2024 and defect liability date to March 31, 2025.

(Colombo/April23/2024 – CORRECTED Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm.)

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Sri Lanka state oligopoly allowed to import some black gram

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has allowed the import of some black gram, by three state agencies, according to a gazette notice issued under the hand of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Import licenses will be given for 2,000 metric tonnes of the seed classified under HS Code 7312.31.22 and 29.

Sri Lanka State Trading Corporation, National Food Promotion Board and Sri Lanka Hadabima Authority is to be given import licenses.

Traders have resorted to smuggling some types of black gram (ulundu) mis classified as chick peas, to get over high taxes and import restrictions.

Tamil legislators have also protested the import controls, which they go into several key ethnic foods they consume. (Colombo/Apr23/2024)

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Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry consular division shifted to Battaramulla

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said it consular division would be shifted to the Suhurupaya building in Subuthipura, Battaramulla from May 02, 2024.

Document authentication services provided by the Consular Affairs Division in Colombo will be suspended on 29 and 30 April 2024 held transfer the Electronic Document Authentication System (e-DAS) to the new premises at Suhurupaya.

Urgent applications for authentication to the Consular Division in Colombo, or any Regional Consular Offices by 4.15 pm on 26 April 2024, the Foreign Ministry said.

Regional Consular Offices in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Kandy and Matara will remain open to accept applications.

Authenticated documents will be delivered to the applicants only on Thursday, 02 May 2024.

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