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Thursday February 29th, 2024

US to provide credit for Sri Lanka’s renewable energy

ECONOMYNEXT – US Ambassador for Sri Lanka Julie Chung has indicated that United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will support renewable energy projects in the island nation, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said on Monday (28).

The Ambassador said this when she called on President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday, the Presidential Media Division (PMD) said without giving any further details.

The US Export Import Bank however has in the past financed renewable energy in Sri Lanka.

The US Ambassador was not immediately available for comments on her pledge. However, Chung in her official twitter feed said she met President Rajapaksa to to discuss Sri Lanka’s economic challenges and human rights.

“The recent US-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue underlined our commitment to a democratic, prosperous, and sovereign Sri Lanka,” Chung said in her twitter message.

“I met with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to discuss Sri Lanka’s economic challenges and how we can work together to promote inclusive governance and protect human rights.”

Sri Lanka is facing a forex crisis due to money printed by US designed central bank to print money set up in 1950 in the style of Argentina’s central bank set up by Raoul Prebisch promoted by Fed official Robert Triffin.

Similar central banks set up by Fed experts have led to severe currency collapses, protein malnutrition, near starvation, mass migration and the coming to power of socialists and authoritarian leaders, analysts have said.

Among the first such central bank’s to collapse was Korea’s which took the country’s First Republic along with it.

Sri Lanka is now facing power shortages as well

India has provided 500 million US dollar credit line to purchase fuel.

A Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) deal with New Fortress Energy, a US private company, has been delayed after it was challenged by many activists and legislators including former Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila and Industrial Minister Wimal Weearawansa.

The Supreme Court dismissed the case soon after both ministers were sacked from their government by President Rajapaksa.

The deal was signed through a back-door process and could be worth up to 6 billion US dollars but is coming in as the sale of share of a power plant, engineers of the state power utility have warned.

They have also said energy security would also be undermined as the national grid would be dependent on a single company for the supply of LNG to the entire country and will also block state-run Ceylon Electricity Board from using cheapest energy source based on market prices.

The unsolicited deal was suddenly struck without open tender for either the sale of a 40 percent Treasury stake in a power plant, LNG procurement for at least five years, or to operate floating liquefied natural gas terminal which is expected to charge fees from the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board. (Colombo/March28/2022)

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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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