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Tuesday May 28th, 2024

Sri Lanka to promote aviation sector jobs among school students

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and SriLankan Airlines have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to promote aviation sector jobs among school children, through television programs and in-person orientations by SriLankan personnel.

The ‘Guwan Sihina’ program focuses on schoolchildren from rural areas, Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Bandula Gunawardena said on Thursday (14).

“There are 4.4 million children across the nation, especially in rural areas, who come to school to only learn what they will be questioned in examinations,” Gunawardena said. “There is a skills mismatch.”

“In contrast to most developed countries, we do not offer opportunities for these children to broaden their understanding and ideas of the world beyond the school curriculum. That’s why a majority of Sri Lankans historically have struggled to find stable and sufficient incomes,” he said.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) statistics, in the next 20 years due to rising demand, 27,000 new aircraft will be needed to be added to the current 17,000 commercial fleet. Over 617,000 pilots will be needed to fly these crafts.

It also estimates that 609,000 new technicians will be needed to maintain these new aircrafts, and 40,000 air traffic controllers will be needed on ground, in 10 years time.

Gunawardena said that he was thankful that they can reach children through the television, to offer them the opportunity to see the jobs available in the aviation industry, naval field, ports and shipping sectors at a young age.

“We should help bring awareness to the sector, especially among the young and brave students of the O/L and A/L classes. We should show them what we have, attract them and prepare a generation of children suited for tomorrow’s world.”

Civil Aviation Authority Director General P A Jayakantha said: “We face challenges in finding persons with the right skills, qualifications and experience. This is a national responsibility, and we have to bring awareness to these children with the programs we have conducted.

“Those who benefited the most from our programs, in the past, have been the children of urban areas,” he said.

Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala De Silva said the aviation sector made a profit of 26 billion rupees and the ports sector 19 billion rupees, this year. “I gave 10 billion of this to the treasury,” he said. (Colombo/Dec14/2023)

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Sri Lanka president’s UNP proposes postponing elections by two years

The UNP party headquarters in Pitakotte/EconomyNext

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s United National Party (UNP) has called for a referendum to postpone both presidential and parliamentary elections by two years to extend President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s term to continue ongoing economic reforms.

UNP general secretary Palitha Range Bandara called on the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the leftist opposition formation National People’s Power (NPP) to support the move.

At a press conference on Tuesday May 28, Bandara said postponing the two elections would not be undemocratic as it would be the result of elected representatives in parliament passing a motion, followed by a referendum.

Defending the proposal, he recalled the controversial decision by then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike to postpone elections in the 1970s, which resulted in the decimation of her Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)-led alliance.

Bandara said that all parties must understand that now is not the time for elections as the economy has yet to emerge from bankruptcy and that President Wickremesinghe must be permitted to carry out his reforms which have already brought stability.

The UNP’s latest statement is a far cry from its pronouncements as recently as last weekend that the presidential election would definitely be held between September 17 and October 18 this year, followed by the parliamentary elections in early 2025.

UNP spokesmen also boasted that Wickremesinghe would not only contest the presidential poll but would also win it.

Tourism and Sports Minister Harin Fernando told reporters that Wickremesinghe would definitely contest the election, in response to some speculation that the president may opt to sit out.

“I think President Wickremesinghewill himself reveal his plans next week or one of these days,” said Fernando.

“He will definitely contest. I said he would for sure. Not only will he contest, he will also win,” he added.

Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara concurred.

“President Wickremesinghe will definitely win the election,” he said, adding that the president has provided much relief and that the economy continues to recover having fallen to its lowest point. (Colombo/May28/2024)

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Sri Lanka reforms have started to yield positive outcomes: State minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe says reforms have lead to positive incomes, including an increase in reserves.

“The reforms have started to yield positive outcomes, reflecting significant progress in multiple areas. Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves have seen a significant increase, reaching USD 5.5 billion by the end of April 2024,” Semasinghe said on social media platform X (twitter).

“Additionally, the Sri Lankan rupee has appreciated by approximately 8 % against the US dollar so far in 2024. This will boosts investor confidence and enhances the country’s ability to manage external shocks and meet international obligations and enhance confidence on the economy.

“The appreciation of the rupee can help lower inflation and reduce the overall cost of living and make it easier for the government and businesses to service foreign debt, thereby improving our financial reputation globally. Further, will improve the trade balance by potentially reducing the trade deficit.”

Sri Lanka’s inflation was 1.5 percent in the 12-months to April 2024, measured by the widely watched Colombo Consumer Price Index, data from the state debt office showed.

The CCPI Index fell 0.8 percent, to 195.2 points in the month of April after falling 1.9 percent in March.

Sri Lanka’s central bank has been operating largely deflationary policy, since September 2022, except perhaps in December 2023, and also allowed the rupee to appreciate in the balance of payments surplus it created.(Colombo/May28/2024)

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Sri Lanka risks foreign retaliation over VFS visa deal

ECONOMYNEXT – The Maldives could take reciprocal action after Sri Lanka’s new system of outsourcing its visas, which requires the payment of “processing” and “convenience” charges of 26 dollars, even though the government does not collect any fees.

Maldivian authorities have reminded Sri Lanka of the long-standing bilateral agreement under which their citizens could travel freely between the two neighbours without any charges or bureaucratic barriers.

A one month stay is available without a fee.

Maldivians, who consider Sri Lanka their second home, often spend more than a month in the larger country, but are now required to pay 26 dollars to VFS Global, which has controversially been contracted to handle Sri Lankan visas.

“The Sri Lankan government will not charge a fee, but Maldivians still have to pay VFS after applying online for a visa,” a Maldivian government official said in the capital, Male. “This violates the spirit of our agreement.”

He said the new administration of President Mohamed Muizzu was taking up the issue with Sri Lankan authorities in both Male and Colombo.

In a worst-case scenario, the Maldives will be compelled to reciprocate the new cost of a Sri Lankan visa and charge Sri Lankans traveling to the archipelago. There are also expat Sri Lankans in the Maldives.

There are only a handful of countries to which Sri Lankan passport holders can travel without any visa restrictions.

Singapore is another country which could take action against Sri Lanka if the bilateral deal is found to be violated, according a source said.

Opposition parties have said in parliament that outsourcing the visa handling to VFS Global and their partners was a bigger corruption scandal than the bond scam of 2015 and 2016, when billions of rupees were stolen through insider deals. (COLOMBO/May 28, 2024)

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