Aitken Spence Travels welcomes inaugural flight of Red Wings Airlines from Russia to Mattala
Aitken Spence Travels welcomed the inaugural charter flight from Red Wings Airlines, a Russian regional leisure airline, which arrived at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MIRA) on Thursday. The flight carried 400 holiday makers on board a Boeing 777 which is a long-range wide-body aircraft that was the first of its type to land at the southern airport in 2022. The airline will be operating two flights per week for four months from Moscow to Sri Lanka till end April 2023, an Aitken Spence new release said.
It said they were offering excursions to showcase the splendour of Sri Lanka with many excursions focusing on the southern coastal belt areas of Hambantota – Kalutara as well as other non-coastal areas covering the country. The excursions are designed to enable and enhance opportunities for the tourism stakeholders of domestic suppliers and partners around the island.
Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, Director Aitken Spence PLC and Head of Tourism and Leisure Sector of the diversified conglomerate commented about the flight saying ‘Making meaningful contributions to the development of our country through tourism is a priority for Aitken Spence and we are excited by the strategic interventions taken by Aitken Spence Travels that would undoubtedly put Sri Lanka on the map for many tourists for years to come.
“Our teams in the sector not only enhance economic opportunities by these targeted interventions but build the industry through specific engagements with local suppliers in the industry. We feel blessed to bid adieu to 2022 and commence 2023 on a positive note”.
Aitken Spence Travels has been at the forefront of marketing destination ‘Sri Lanka’ and Russia has always been one of the key source markets to Sri Lanka as well as for the company, the release added.
“Despite the current situation in Russia, the company continued to maintain its strong relationships with its agents and tour operators always reassuring the safety and comfort of visitors. Russian holiday makers have always been bold and enthusiastic when taking a holiday and the island paradise of Sri Lanka has had a way of making a place in their hearts. The company will take a lead in the visitor seats from ‘Sun and Fun’ tour operator for the inaugural flight and will be sharing the seats subsequently with Anex tours,” the release said.
IMF Executive Board approves US$3 Billion under the Extended Fund Facility arrangement for Sri Lanka
• The IMF Board approved a 48-month extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility
(EFF) of SDR 2.286 billion (about US$3 billion) to support Sri Lanka’s economic policies and reforms.
• The objectives of the EFF-supported program are to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, safeguarding financial stability, and stepping up structural reforms to unlock Sri Lanka’s growth potential. All program measures are mindful of the need to protect the most vulnerable and improving governance.
• Close collaboration between Sri Lanka and all its creditors will be critical to expedite a debt treatment that will restore debt sustainability consistent with program parameters.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 48-month extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with an amount of SDR 2.286 billion (395 percent of quota or about US$3 billion).
Sri Lanka has been hit hard by a catastrophic economic and humanitarian crisis. The economy is facing significant challenges stemming from pre-existing vulnerabilities and policy missteps in the lead up to the crisis, further aggravated by a series of external shocks.
The EFF-supported program aims to restore Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, mitigate the economic impact on the poor and vulnerable, safeguard financial sector stability, and strengthen governance and growth potential. The Executive Board’s decision will enable an immediate disbursement equivalent to SDR 254 million (about US$333 million) and catalyze financial support from other development partners.
Following the Executive Board discussion on Sri Lanka, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, issued the following statement:
“Sri Lanka has been facing tremendous economic and social challenges with a severe recession amid high inflation, depleted reserves, an unsustainable public debt, and heightened financial sector vulnerabilities. Institutions and governance frameworks require deep reforms. For Sri Lanka to overcome the crisis, swift and timely implementation of the EFF-supported program with strong ownership for the reforms is critical.
“Ambitious revenue-based fiscal consolidation is necessary for restoring fiscal and debt sustainability while protecting the poor and vulnerable. In this regard, the momentum of ongoing progressive tax reforms should be maintained, and social safety nets should be strengthened and better targeted to the poor. For the fiscal adjustments to be successful, sustained fiscal institutional reforms on tax administration, public financial and expenditure management, and energy pricing are critical.
“Having obtained specific and credible financing assurances from major official bilateral creditors, it is now important for the authorities and creditors to make swift progress towards restoring debt sustainability consistent with the IMF-supported program. The authorities’ commitments to transparently achieve a debt resolution, consistent with the program parameters and equitable burden sharing among creditors in a timely fashion, are welcome.
“Sri Lanka should stay committed to the multi-pronged disinflation strategy to safeguard the credibility of its inflation targeting regime. As the market regains confidence, the authorities’ recent introduction of greater exchange rate flexibility will help to rebuild the reserve buffer.
“Maintaining a sound and adequately capitalized banking system is important. Implementing a bank recapitalization plan and strengthening financial supervision and crisis management framework are crucial to ensure financial sector stability.
“The ongoing efforts to tackle corruption should continue, including revamping anti-corruption legislation. A more comprehensive anti-corruption reform agenda should be guided by the ongoing IMF governance diagnostic mission that conducts an assessment of Sri Lanka’s anticorruption and governance framework. The authorities should step up growth-enhancing structural reforms with technical assistance support from development partners.”
SLT and Lanka Hospitals share prices in sharp appreciation following divestment approval
By Hiran H. Senewiratne
Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals PLC were attracting investors yesterday as a disclosure was put out stating that the Cabinet of Ministers had approved the divestment of the stake held by the Secretary to the Treasury in SLT, stock market sources said.
The divestment is to be implemented by the State Owned Enterprises Restructuring Unit under the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies. Following the statement, share prices of both companies appreciated significantly. Sri Lanka Telecom shares appreciated by Rs 10.70 or 13 per cent. Its share price shot up to Rs 95.30 from Rs 84.60 and Lanka Hospitals shares appreciated by Rs 8.50 or eight per cent; its share price shot up to Rs 120 from Rs 111.50.
Amid these developments the CSE started on a positive note. Later it indicated a negative trend following marginal profit- takings and also mainly due to the IMF statement on tax reforms that created a panic situation among the corporate sector and investors, stock market analysts said .
“The market is down and dull, because as expected Sri Lanka got the IMF bailout and now investors are pushing to sell off their shares and attempting to make a profit, stock market analysts added.
The All- Share Price Index was down 95.53 points, while the most liquid S&P SL20 was down 57.82 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.47 billion sans any crossings. In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; SLT Rs 236 million (2.5 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 123 million (17.9 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 119 million (868,000 shares traded), Distilleries Rs 77.3 million (3.6 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs 54.9 million (674,000 shares traded), Softlogic Capital Rs 51.7 million (4.2 million shares traded) and Capital Alliance Rs 47.8 million (1.5 million shares traded). During the day 78.9 million share volumes changed hands in 22000 transactions.
It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Hemas Holdings, Hayleys and JKH. Mixed interest was observed in Access Engineering, Expolanka Holdings and Sri Lanka Telecom, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, LOLC Finance and Union Bank.
The Capital Goods sector was the top contributor to the market turnover (due to Hemas Holdings, JKH, Hayleys and Access Engineering), while the sector index edged up by 0.08 per cent. The share price of Hemas Holdings decreased by Rs. 2.60 to Rs. 65.40. The share price of JKH moved up by one rupee to Rs. 145. The share price of Hayleys closed flat at Rs. 81. The share price of Access Engineering appreciated by 90 cents (6 per cent) to Rs. 15.90.
The Food, Beverage & Tobacco sector was the second highest contributor to the market turnover (due to Browns Investments), while the sector index increased by 1.83 per cent. The share price of Browns Investments gained 50 cents (7.81per cent) to Rs. 6.90.
According to analysts, with the IMF agreement being finalized, market analysts expect inflation to get on to a path of deflation, balance of payments to be stabilized and interest rates to be pushed downwards.
Yesterday, the Central Bank’s US dollar buying rate was Rs 316.84 and the selling rate Rs 334.93.
‘Sew Desatama Dialog’ initiative commissions new tower in Gonapathirawa, Anuradhapura
Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s widest network, recently commissioned the Gonapathirawa tower in the Anuradhapura district, as part of its commitment to expanding connectivity to villages and deep rural communities across the country via its “Sew Desatama Dialog” initiative.
The commissioning of towers under Sew Desatama Dialog has improved overall connectivity in the country and as a result it facilitates better communication, accessible educational resources while improving the quality of lives in Sri Lanka. In addition to the Gonapathirawa tower, additional towers were also built in Sangattewa and Labunoruwa in the Anuradhapura district along with towers in Habarana Galoya, Habarana Minneriya, and Magulpokuna in the Polonnaruwa district.
Dialog has connected over 180 Grama Niladhari divisions and surpassed 4,700 mobile 4G sites in its network by the end of 2022, the highest ever tower count recorded in Sri Lanka, as a result of its ongoing efforts to expand coverage and support customers during these unprecedented times. Dialog has also achieved 95% 4G Data population coverage, using Green Field towers to rapidly expand its coverage to deep rural communities and Lamp Pole solutions to meet urgent capacity requirements in dense areas.
Dialog’s dedication to expanding its coverage footprint has been recognized by global network testing leaders, coveting the titles of ‘Best 4G coverage experience’ and ‘Fastest upload and download Speed experience’ from Open Signal.
Representatives of Dialog at the site of the newly commissioned tower under the ‘Sew Desatama Dialog’ initiative in Gonapathirawa, Anuradhapura
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