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Sunday September 24th, 2023

SriLankan Airlines ready to recruit foreign pilots if need arises – CEO

ECONOMYNEXT – State-owned, loss-making SriLankan Airlines will recruit foreign pilots if the need arises, its Chief Executive Officer said, as the national carrier has suffered an exodus of pilots last year following an unprecedented economic crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic, followed by an economic crisis, hit the airline hard as it was deprived of the usual near full capacity flights amid a sharp fall in tourist arrivals to the island nation.

Nearly 60 pilots have left SriLankan Airlines in the last 12 months and the national carrier has recruited a number of new cadet pilots to face the shortage, SriLankan officials said.

Richard Nuttall, SriLankan’s CEO said the airline has already got approval from the government to recruit foreign pilots, if required, to face the shortage.

“It’s approved, and the package is the same as local pilots except for an international standard housing,” he told EconomyNext on the sidelines of a media workshop on airlines.

“For us, we need 30 pilots this year, and maybe 50 pilots middle of next year…. There are plenty of pilots in Southeast Asia and Northern Europe. You get paid as much with us as you will working for an LCC carrier.”

Many pilots left SriLankan after the country declared a sovereign debt default last year, while some others left following the government’s decision to impose higher taxes across the board.

Industry experts say most of the pilots who resigned joined Gulf airlines, including Qatar and Emirates Airlines, which offer higher compensation.

“If you are a Gulf carrier, you need 500 or 1,000 pilots. You have to pay a lot of money for them. You can’t get away with it because you are subsidised and your average size of carrying is 400 passengers,” Nuttall said.

He said the pilot cost will not be affected by the number of passengers a flight carries though SriLankan pilots are “not paid badly”.

“Our pilots don’t get paid badly. They don’t get paid as much as they get in the Gulf. But if you get a salary here and if you live in Sri Lanka, you can live better in Sri Lanka than somewhere else, Nuttall said.

“It’s tight. It’s a concern and there maybe a time when we are really tight, maybe we will have to cancel one or two flights. But I think we will get there.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government has listed SriLankan Airlines to be privatised after continued losses since 2009.

It was managed by Emirates on a 10-year contract until 2007 before then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa stopped extending the deal after his entourage to London was not given seats in the aircraft on a London flight. (Colombo/September 13/2023)

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  1. Bravo says:

    I would be more interested to hear what Nuttall has to say.

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  1. Bravo says:

    I would be more interested to hear what Nuttall has to say.

Sri Lanka India industrial zone around Trinco, maritime links mooted

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had highlighted the desire of both the Governments to work closely to develop the industrial zone at Trincomalee, after accepting an invitation to participate in a maritime summit.

The Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) will be held in India from October 17-19, 2023 at Mumbai where Sri Lanka has been invited at a partner country.

At a curtain raiser event on September 22, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay had said both countries were working on enhancing sea connectivity according to a vision document launched during a recent visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India.

Minister de Silva will lead a delegation from Sri Lanka to the summit.

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, T K Ramachandran said the Global Maritime India Summit aims strengthen the Indian maritime economy by promoting global and regional partnerships and facilitating investments.

The event will give an opportunity to the Government of Sri Lanka to attracting greater investment from India in development of its maritime infrastructure, Ramachandran said.

It will also facilitate greater business to business interactions. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka brings back import para tariff on milk

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has brought back an import para tariff called the Ports and Airports Levy, to several grades of milk powder.

Milk powder has been removed from a list of PAL exemptions, making them liable for a 10 percent tax.

The PAL para tariffs are also a contentious issue in terms of export competitiveness, and the government has previously given undertakings that they will be eliminated.

Trade freedoms of the poor figure in an IMF/World bank reform program with the governments.

Milk is a protein rich food, in a country where children of poor families are facing stunting and malnutrition.

Economic nationalism is seen at high levels in food, with several businessmen are pushing for trade protection, amid an overall autarkist (self-sufficiency) ideology, going directly against policies followed in East Asia, which the same as hold up as examples.

Sri Lanka keeps dairy product prices up ostensibly to bring profits to a domestic dairy company and farmers.

Sri Lanka also keeps maize prices up, ostensibly to give profits to farmers and collectors. (Colombo/Sept22/2023)

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Sri Lanka govt warns liquor manufacturers: pay defaulted tax or lose licence

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government which is struggling to raise the state revenue despite   higher taxes, has warned liquor manufacturers to pay defaulted taxes or lose their licence.

The government is now getting tough with past tax defaulters amid concerns over falling short of this year’s revenue target agreed with the International Monetary Fun (IMF).

“Liquor manufacturing firms owe us 660 crore rupees (6.6 billion rupees),” Siyambalapitiya told  reporters on Thursday (21).

“Most of this or around a third is the only excise tax amount to be paid. The rest is penalty. If a liquor manufacturer does not pay on time, we impose a penalty of 3 percent per month This means 36 percent (penalty) per annum,” he said.

“We have given them deadline to repay the basic excise taxes. If they don’t pay, we will cancel their licence.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government committed an ambitious revenue target among many other reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return to a $3 billion loan package.

However, the revenue could face a short fall of 100 billion rupees, State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said.

A new Central Bank Act also has legally prevented the government of printing money at its discretion as  in the past.  (Colombo/September 24/2023)

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