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Friday March 1st, 2024

Sri Lanka’s NPP may reach out to other MPs to form government: AKD

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s leftist National People’s Power (NPP) may have to reach out to individual MPs of other parties in the event the NPP is victorious in a parliamentary election but is unable to secure 113 seats, party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said.

Speaking to a group of Sri Lankan expats living in the United States, Dissanayake said if the election result indicates that the voters have attempted to form an NPP government as opposed to relegating it to its traditional role of “watcher” or security guard of parliament, the party would be obligated to honour that verdict.

“If the voters have attempted to give us power and not to relegate us to the role of a watcher but we were somehow unable to get 113 seats, we think we may have to go into an agreement, not with the other parties, but with some elected MPs,” said Dissanayake.

“If the people’s wish is to form a government, we have no right to disregard that. They have tried to give us a government but were unable to give us 113. To fulfill that we have to come up with a strategy,” he said.

The NPP leader, who also leads the Marxist-Leninist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the party that effectively controls the NPP “collective”, said, however, that there is little chance of an election before the presidential election that’s due in October 2024.

According to Dissanayake, it is not in President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s interest to call a parliamentary election before the presidential election as doing so would negatively impact the latter’s chances at a presidential poll. Even a local government election would reflect voter sentiment that would prove a challenge, he said.

The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on the other hand, said Dissanayake, is in a predicament. An early parliamentary poll would prove disastrous to the Rajapaksa-led party, so they would have to throw their weight behind President Wickremesinghe at the presidential poll, which would also spell a shift of power to Wickremesinghe’s associates and confidantes in his United National Party (UNP).

The only way for an early parliamentary poll would be for the president to dissolve parliament, which he is unlikely to do, with the upcoming budget also unlikely to be defeated, the JVP leader said.

Dissanayake currently leads at least one opinion poll on presidential election voting intent.


Sri Lanka leftist leader AKD leading presidential voting intent poll


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Sri Lanka’s RAMIS online tax collection system “not operatable”: IT Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s online tax collection system RAMIS is “not operatable”, and the Ministry of Information Technology is ready to do for an independent audit to find the shortcomings, State IT Minister Kanaka Herath said.

The Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS) was introduced to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when the island nation signed for its 16th International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in 2016.

However, trade unions at the IRD protested the move, claiming that the system was malfunctioning despite billions being spent for it amid allegations that the new system was reducing the direct contacts between taxpayers and the IRD to reduce corruption.

The RAMIS had to be stopped after taxpayers faced massive penalties because of blunders made by heads of the IT division, computer operators and system errors at the IRD, government officials have said.

“The whole of Sri Lanka admits RAMIS is a failure. The annual fee is very high for that. This should be told in public,” Herath told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Thursday (29)

“In future, we want all the ministries to get the guidelines from our ministry when they go for ERP (Enterprise resource planning).”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government said the RAMIS system will be operational from December last year.

However, the failure has delayed some tax collection which could have been paid via online.

“It is not under our ministry. It is under the finance ministry. We have no involvement with it, but still, it is not operatable,” Herath said.

“So, there are so many issues going on and I have no idea what the technical part of it. We can carry out an independent audit to find out the shortcomings of the software.”

Finance Ministry officials say IRD employees and trade unions had been resisting the RAMIS because it prevents direct interactions with taxpayers and possible bribes for defaulting or under paying taxes.

The crisis-hit island nation is struggling to boost its revenue in line with the target it has committed to the IMF in return for a 3 billion-dollar extended fund facility. (Colombo/Feb 29/2024) 

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Sri Lanka aims to boost SME with Sancharaka Udawa tourism expo

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is hosting Sancharaka Udawa, a tourism industry exhibition which will bring together businesses ranging from hotels to travel agents and airlines, and will allow the small and medium sector build links with the rest of the industry, officials said.

There will be over 250 exhibitors, with the annual event held for the 11th time expected to draw around 10,000 visitors, the organizers said.

“SMEs play a big role, from homestays to under three-star categories,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu told reporters.

“It is very important that we develop those markets as well.”

The Sancharaka Udawa fair comes as the Indian Ocean island is experiencing a tourism revival.

Sri Lanka had welcomed 191,000 tourists up to February 25, compared to 107,639 in February 2023.

“We have been hitting back-to-back double centuries,” Gajabahu said. “January was over 200,000.”

The exhibition to be held on May 17-18, is organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators.

It aims to establish a networking platform for small and medium sized service providers within the industry including the smallest sector.

“Homestays have been increasingly popular in areas such as Ella, Down South, Knuckles and Kandy,” SLAITO President, Nishad Wijethunga, said.

In the northern Jaffna peninsula, both domestic and international tourism was helping hotels.

A representative of the Northern Province Tourism Sector said that the Northern Province has 170 hotels, all of which have 60-70 percent occupancy.

Further, domestic airlines from Colombo to Palali and the inter-city train have been popular with local and international visitors, especially Indian tourists. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 309.50/70 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 309.50/70 to the US dollar Thursday, from 310.00/15 on Wednesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were slightly higher.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.50/70 percent down from 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.10 percent from 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 12.20/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.30/45 percent up from 12.20/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.35/50 percent up from 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.55/13.00 percent up from 12.50/90 percent. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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