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Thursday May 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka’s Lanka Pay ties up with PhonePe to help Indian tourists

ECONOMYNEXT – Indian tourists will be able to pay for their purchases in Sri Lanka through their mobile phones using QR codes after a tie up between Lanka Pay and India’s PhonePe, officials said.

With India being the top source of tourists to the county, the tie up will strengthen bilateral relations co-operation, Central Bank Governor Nandala Weerasinghe said.

Enhancing cross border payments was a priority among policymakers, and in Sri Lanka the central bank was also supporting cashless payments, he said.

PhonePe, which uses India’s Unified Payment Interface will now allow Indian tourists visiting the country to pay at large network of merchants which use the LankaQR system of LankaPay.

“This partnership is bound to provide greater convenience to Indian Tourists and Business Travelers in making seamless UPI payments at all LankaQR merchant points in Sri Lanka via PhonePe app,” LankaPay Chief Excutive Chanda de Silva said.

“We are excited about the potential of this collaboration that would enhance payment experience to Indian tourists and business travellers during their stay in Sri Lanka and also provide the merchants with a cost-effective proposition to card payments.”

India has seen a surge in online transactions especially through mobile phones, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo Santosh Jha said.

In 2008, India was the world’s most unbanked which banking penetration of less than 20 percent, High Commissioner Jha said.

In the last decade banking penetration had shot up to over 80 percent. In 2016 India mostly used cash, and now has the highest volume of digital payments globally.

“The digital transformation of India has been driven by the interoperable and open protocols such as the UPI,” he said.

He said the need to pay taxes and government benefits to the citizens gave birth to India’s digital identify number and the unique identity authority.

Governor Weerasinghe said Sri Lanka’s digital payments were also growing but not at the pace of India.

Sri Lanka however has had a banking system spread out around the country, and a unique identity card with a number – which can be presented at the user’s own volition – for decades.

People receiving government subsidies in Sri Lanka not only had bank accounts but also a savings component in their own banking system, and they could also get a loan if they needed from the inception of the program, observers point out.

A new scheme subsidy schemed launched last year required all recipients to have accounts in the larger system and only about 156,000 did not already have accounts in the designated banks.

Central Bank data shows that Sri Lanka which has a population of about 20 million already had about 20 million debit cards, with some having cards from multiple banks.

There have been claims that Sri Lanka is ‘overbanked’ and needs ‘consolidation’.

(Colombo/May16/2024)

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Sri Lanka plans to expand Bingiriya export zone to 1,100 acres

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expanding an export processing zone in Bingiriya in Kurunegala and plans to link the area with Puttalam with roads and other infrastructure, Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

A task force of ministerial secretaries will be appointed to carry out the tasks speedily, following a cabinet paper submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Bingiriya zone already has 157 acres and another 282 acres is being developed by the Board of Investment, he said.

Steps would also be taken to acquire 666 acres.

There was no information whose lands would be acquired. (Colombo/May23/2024)

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Sri Lanka has power breakdowns amidst extreme weather

ECONOMYNEXT – The state-owned power utility, the Ceylon Electricity Board has reported over 36,900 breakdowns resulting in power interruptions to more than 300,000 consumers in the last three days due to inclement weather in the island, the power minister said.

“Additional service staff has been assigned to attend the breakdowns and the CEB management & service staff are working 24 hours to restore power to the affected consumers,” Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera said on social media platform X (twitter).

Wijesekera said consumers could report power interruptions through the CEB hotline 1987, via SMS to 1987 with BD and the electricity consumer number to follow, or use the CEB Care app, or through http://cebcare.ceb.lk.

The South-East monsoon has seen floods, landslides and strong winds do damage to the utility provider’s infrastructure in the last week. (Colombo/May23?2024)

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Sri Lanka President calls for unity, sacrificing for a better tomorrow on Vesak day

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has recalled a sermon from the Buddha about sacrificing for a better tomorrow, and called for unity to heal and rebuild the country, as Buddhists celebrate Vesak.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak as commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.

“At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” President Wickremesinghe said in his Vesak day message.

“We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day.

“Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. ”

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Vesak festival is a profoundly sacred day for Buddhists worldwide, commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, along with their brethren around the globe, celebrate Vesak with deep devotion. They spend this period engaging in religious observances and venerating the Buddha with fervent devotion.

At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day. Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. The principles of Lichchavi Raja Dharmaya will guide us in this endeavour.

Let us keep in mind that the primary aim of the Vesak festival is to foster spiritual growth and character development in a world rapidly advancing physically. I wish everyone a blessed Vesak festival.

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