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Friday July 12th, 2024

Tourists in fix as Sri Lanka visa validity halved after VFS Global deal

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourists who were sold visas by VFS Global which has been given an e-visa monopoly by Sri Lanka, are in a fix after the validity period was halved and the price doubled, according to posts on a global travel forum.

Sri Lanka was widely acknowledged on travel forums to have the best or one of the best e-visas in the world due to a user-friendly website which did not ask for unnecessary details, and charged only 50 dollars for double entry and gave six months validity for first entry.

A British tourist applied though the new VFS Global portal said she sold two visas by VFS Global for 170 sterling pounds (about 200 dollars), based on their arrival dates.

“I put our arrival dates as 23rd September 2024 and departure of 4th October,” the tourist, Jodie wrote on Tripadvisor.com

“The approval notice stated we must travel to Sri Lanka by the 3rd August 24 or the visa then expires. Which is something we cannot do.”

Until the VFS Global deal, tourists could plan their trips to Sri Lanka several months ahead, and make the first arrival within six months of the visa issue.

Most countries have shorter first visit period, which was a reason tourist did not mind paying the 50 dollar fee. The double entry also allowed them to travel to Maldives and come back.

VFS portal had not helped her, after selling the visa, and had referred her to the Department of Immigration, she said.

“I have contacted them via phone and email and they have said to contact the Immigration & Emmigration Sri Lanka but they would not give me their details,” the unfortunate tourist wrote.

“I have emailed that department and had no response. The visas have cost me £170 for two and I cannot simply afford to pay another £170. I really need to know how to get these dates changed,” she pleaded, sounding more helpless than angry.

Sympathetic comments from fellow posters showed that Sri Lanka image was getting a hammering.

“Looking at the dates from beginning of May it appears that this new company running the immigration system has reduced the grace period for use from 6 to 3 months,” commented another forum member, Graham.

He warned that the old website had also warned not to make any mistakes or money will not be refunded.

“I do not think you will have any luck getting a refund or making changes,” he said pessimistically.

“This whole horrible mess is typical of Sri Lanka. Good luck and please keep us updated with any progress you make.”

Others blasted VFS Global for a badly programmed website.

“Was the validity or some similar terms used on the website?,” wrote Simon, another Brit.

“Nonetheless, it’s awful programming on the website as there should be date validation in the entry date field to check it’s within the time limit (3 months).

“If there was a warning you have little chance of a change, but you could protest that the application should have failed.”

Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said a 12-year monopoly was awarded to the company without competitive tender following a proposal made to the Sri Lanka.

Related Sri Lanka to lose 20-pct from $50 tourist visa to VFS Global: legislator

Sri Lanka has since started offering 50 dollar visa but only for single entry, with opposition members questioning whether VFS Global was getting a 20 percent of the price, resulting in a 20 percent revenue loss to government.

Related Sri Lanka ‘free’ visa costs US$21.61 under VFS Global deal: legislator

In another twist legislators have revealed that VFS Global was collecting 21.61 US dollars from tourists from several countries who are supposed to get free visas under a promotion.

(Colombo/May08/2024)

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Sri Lanka appoints new Attorney General

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed K A Parinda Ranasinghe PC as Attorney General.

He was appointed in terms of Article 61E (b) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the president’s media division said.

The new AG received the appointment from President Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday.

He fills the post after the retirement of former Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 301.70/302.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger at 301.70/302.00 to the US dollar on Friday, from 302.80/303.00 to the US dollar on Thursday, dealers said, while bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.90/11.00 percent, up from 10.85/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.75/80 percent, up from 11.80/88 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.10/30 percent, up from 12.15/25 percent. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, muted activity

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Friday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.35 percent, or 41.71 points, at 11,843; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.56 percent, or 19.20 points, at 3,454.

Turnover was low at 653 million.

“The market picked up a bit from yesterday but it’s still below the psychological 12,000 mark,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“Local retail participation drove the market predominantly.”

John Keells Holdings Plc brought in Rs109mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 194.50.

Melstacorp Plc contributed in Rs104mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 85.00.

Sentiment around the banking counters was mostly negative. Sampath Bank Plc closed down at 77.00, closed flat at 101.25, and Hatton National Bank Plc closed flat at 195.25.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc (up at 103.50), Bukit Darah Plc (up at 397.00), and Hayleys Plc (up at 101.00).

Foreign participation remained low as well. There was a higher net foreign outflow of 101 million.

“Foreign selling was seen on John Keells Holdings, and banking counters; Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 195.00), Pan Asia Banking Corporation Plc (down at 20.70), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc.

There was selective foreing interest on the diversified financials sector, particularly in companies that had vehicle leasing portfolios. “We think this might be due to the news of the vehicle import ban possibly ending.”

LOLC Holdings Plc closed up at 440.50, People’s Leasing and Finance Plc closed up at 12.20.

Softlogic Holdings Plc which announced the date of its rights issue, closed up at 8.50. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

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