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Decline in labour force in 2020 first half

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The general price level as measured in terms of the National Consumer Price Index

(NCPI, 2013=100) increased in January 2020, moved on a declining trend until April and increased thereafter in line with the prices of items in the Food category. Within the Food category, prices of Volatile Food items exhibited mixed movements, while prices of other food items exhibited an overall increasing trend during the period from January to September 2020. With a notable increase at the beginning of the year, prices of items in the Non-food category remained mostly unchanged during the period from April to June 2020, mainly due to the lower demand for non-essential goods and services and non-adjustment of administered prices with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. NCPI based year-on-year headline inflation remained above mid-single digit level during the period from January to September 2020. Meanwhile, headline inflation, as measured by the year-on-year change in the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI, 2013=100), remained broadly within the targeted range of 4-6 per cent during the period from January to September 2020.

The year-on-year core inflation, based on both NCPI and CCPI, remained at stable levels, yet notably lower than that of the previous year. Meanwhile, inflation expectations of the corporate sector remained well anchored during the period from January to September 2020. The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic amidst the persistent structural issues led the labour market indicators to deteriorate during the first half of 2020. As such, the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) and employed population declined in the first half of 2020 compared to the corresponding period of 2019. In line with the decline in the employed population, the unemployment rate increased notably to 5.6 per cent during the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of the previous year. Following the same trend, unemployment rates among the females, youth, and educationally qualified persons continued to remain at high levels during the first half of 2020. Meanwhile, departures for foreign employment declined sharply in the first half of 2020 compared to the corresponding period of 2019 due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

CENTRAL BANK OF SRI LANKA RECENT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS: HIGHLIGHTS OF 2020 AND PROSPECTS FOR 2021 rice,

vegetables, red onion, large fish, meat and green chilli. The increase observed in the prices of Volatile Food items in June 2020 was mainly due to price increases in items such as rice, vegetables, fresh fish and chicken. However, this increasing trend reversed in July 2020, attributed by price decreases in rice, coconut, vegetables and onions. Nevertheless, the prices of items in the Volatile Food category increased afterwards until September 2020, owing to the price increases observed in vegetables, coconut, big onion and fruits. When observing the price movement of selected Volatile Food items, prices of rice varieties underwent several revisions during the period from January to September 2020 to protect consumers from escalating prices during the lockdown period.

Maximum Retail Prices (MRPs) of Rs. 90 each for Samba and Nadu rice and Rs. 85 on Kekulu rice, which were imposed with effect from 10 April 2020, were revised upwards to Rs. 98, Rs. 96 and Rs. 93 on Samba, Nadu and Kekulu rice, respectively, with effect from 28 May 2020.

However, towards the latter part of the period from January to September 2020, a supply shortage in Samba rice was bserved amid the receival of the Yala harvest to the market. In contrast to 2019, prices of coconut recorded increases during the period from January to September 2020 except for May and July, thereupon remaining above the prices prevailed in the corresponding period of 2019. As a result, MRPs of Rs. 60, Rs. 65 and Rs. 70 were imposed on coconut, of which the circumference is below 12 inches, etween 12-13 inches and above 13 inches, respectively, with effect from 25 September 2020. Big onion prices in February, March and April in 2020 remained well above the prices prevailed in the corresponding months since 2014, compelling the government to impose MRPs of Rs. 190 and Rs.150, with effect from 23 February 2020 and 18 March 2020, respectively, to protect consumers from higher prices. Subsequently, big onion prices followed a declining trend during April to July 2020, especially due to lower prices in the international market. Afterwards, big onion prices increased mainly due to decline observed in the domestic production owing to crop damages and export ban

Developments in 2020 Prices

Movements of the General Price Level yy The general price level, which ncreased in January 2020, moved on a declining trend until April and increased thereafter. Both Consumer Price Indices (CPIs), namely, the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI, 2013=100) and the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI, 2013=100),1 which measure the general price level, moved in line with the prices of items in the Food category during the period from January to September 2020. The behaviour of the prices of items in the Food category, which was largely affected by policy decisions taken by the government to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, has exhibited mixed movements so far during 2020. Even though the prices of items in the Non-food category showed an increasing momentum during January to March, prices of the same exhibited broadly a stable behaviour between April and June 2020, signifying the low demand for non-essential goods and services during the lockdown period. However, prices of items in the Non-food category increased again from July 2020.

= Considering the period from January to September 2020, the prices of items in the Volatile Food2 category increased at the beginning of the year, moved on a declining trend till May 2020, and followed an overall increasing trend thereafter. The increase observed in the prices of Volatile Food items in January 2020 was mainly driven by the price increases of vegetables, coconut and red onion.

However, reversing the continuous increasing trend observed since April 2019, prices of items in the Volatile Food category decreased in February 2020 and continued its declining trend until May 2020 owing to price declines in The Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), compiles official consumer price indices, namely, the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI, 2013=100) and the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI, 2013=100) on a monthly basis. The NCPI demonstrates the price movements of elected consumer items at the nationallevel, while the CCPI reflects the same among urban households in the Colombo district.

2 Volatile Food includes rice, meat, fresh fish and seafood, coconut, fresh fruits, vegetables, potatoes, onions and selected condiments.

PRICES, WAGES, EMPLOYMENT AND PRODUCTIVITY

CENTRAL BANK OF SRI LANKA RECENT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS: HIGHLIGHTS OF 2020 AND PROSPECTS FOR 2021 imposed by India with effect from 15 September 2020. Meanwhile, the Special ommodity Levy (SCL) on imported big onion was creased to Rs. 15 and Rs. 50 per 1 kg with effect from 01 May 2020 and 01 August 2020, respectively.

However, the government revised the SCL downwards on imported big onion to 25 cents with effect from 14 October 2020, in view of curtailing difficulties rising with the re-emergence of the risk in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Furthermore, red onion prices, which recorded its highest in the recent past at the beginning of the year, decreased comparatively towards the end of the period from January to September 2020, though the SCL increased to Rs. 50 per 1 kg with effect from 22 May 2020. During the period from January to September 2020, prices of potatoes, which mostly stayed above the price levels observed in the corresponding months of the recent years also experienced an increase in SCL on imported potatoes to Rs. 50 and Rs. 55 per 1 kg with effect from 22 May 2020 and 15 August 2020, respectively.

= Within the Food category, prices of items excluding Volatile Food moved on an overallincreasing trend during the period from January to September 2020, exhibiting a marginal decline only in March 2020. Local milk powder price for a 400g packet was increased from Rs. 345 to Rs. 380 with effect from 28 April 2020 in order to match the imported milk powder price. However, the price of imported milk powder, which underwent several price revisions in 2019 remained unchanged during the period from January to September 2020. MRPs of Rs. 65 per 1 kg of dhal and Rs. 100 per 425g tin of canned fish, which were imposed with effect f0rom 18 March 2020 as provisions of relief to the consumers during the situation prevailed in the country following the COVID-19 outbreak were removed effective from 30 April 2020 with the relaxation of lockdown conditions. Subsequently, the SCLs on dhal and canned fish were increased to Rs. 10 and Rs. 100 per 1 kg, respectively, from 22 May 2020. Another relief measure taken during the lockdown period was to reduce the prices of eggs to Rs. 10 each with effect from 23 March 2020, recording the lowest for the year in April 2020. From May 2020 onwards, egg prices followed a continuous increasing trend, necessitating the decision taken to decrease price per egg by Rs. 2 with effect from 07 September 2020. Having foreseen an attempt to increase chicken prices during the festive season by creating an artificial scarcity of maize, MRPs of Rs. 430 and Rs. 500 on broiler chicken (with skin) and chicken (skinless), respectively were imposed, with effect from 12 March 2020. Even though the chicken prices declined accordingly in April 2020, the prices exhibited an increasing trend afterwards. Moreover, the MRP of maize was also brought to Rs. 55 per 1kg, with effect from 12 March 2020. SCLs on several more imported items were revised upwards from 22 May 2020, among which the SCLs for sugar, yoghurt, garlic, dried chilli and maize were revised upward to Rs. 50, Rs. 800, Rs. 50, Rs. 100 and Rs. 25 per 1 kg, respectively. A MRP of Rs. 750 was imposed on 1 kg of turmeric powder with effect from 21 April 2020 to curtail the rising prices resulting from import restrictions imposed effective from 06 December 2019 with the objective of increasing the local turmeric production. Despite these efforts, turmeric powder prices spiked in the following months owing to the substantial gap between the local supply and demand, resulting in the government removing the MRP with effect from 24 September 2020. Meanwhile, the prices of wheat flour remained stable during the period under review. Considering the difficulties which arose with the re-emergence of the risk in spreading of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the SCL on several imported items such as dhal, canned fish and sugar was revised downwards to 25 cents per 1kg with effect from 14 October 2020.



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Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan owned company to receive FAMI-QS certification

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Farmchemie has obtained FAMI-QS certification being the first Sri Lankan owned company certified with FAMI-QS. FAMI-QS stands for Feed Additive and pre-MIxture Quality System, which compromises the safety of animal feed and the quality of processed goods in accordance with European regulation no. 183/2005 on animal feed. Farmchemie is a BOI approved leading manufacturer and exporter of animal feed additives and nutritional supplements in Asia. Farmchemie is equipped with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility from Bühler, Switzerland to offer quality assured manufacturing services for world-renowned European brands as well as own brands under Farmstar. Farmchemie has already established their presence in numerous international markets such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kuwait, Lebanon, UAE, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia, Cambodia and Uganda. FAMI-QS will enable them to expand their markets including the European and USA.

“We are honoured to announce that Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan-owned company to be certified with FAMI-QS in combination with ISO 9001: 2015 and Good Manufacturing Practices certification for animal feeding. By attaining FAMI-QS, we are able to anticipate the expectations of our clients for safe, high-quality goods by lowering the related risk and enhancing the quality of onsite feeds via a supply chain that is properly guaranteed. For that Farmchemie implements measures for Feed Fraud and Feed Defense according to FAMI-QS supply chain integrity module V2. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our customers and suppliers for their continued support and dedication. We look forward to elevating the firm to new heights in the coming months and years, as our aims will always be centered on quality assurance and innovative manufacturing.” Managing Director Uditha Wanigasinghe stated.

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Exports Gold Award for Textrip

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Textrip Pvt Ltd, the export arm of the Elasto Group, was recently recognized, as the gold award winner for rubber and rubber-based products, medium scale category at the NCE Export Awards ceremony held recently in Colombo. The Chairman and Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera accepted the award at the gala event held at Shangri La Hotel. The national export awards ceremony, organized by the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE), recognizes and rewards Sri Lankan exporters on their performance in the international market.

“We always strive to manufacture high-quality rubber-based goods, using the latest technology, adhering to the highest international standards, and showcasing Sri Lanka on the global stage. I would like to thank our clients, locally and internationally for their continuous trust and my staff for their hard work and dedication. They are the pillars of our success,” Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera stated. Textrip products have obtained a number of national and international quality standards such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, CET, REACH and their products are designed to adhere to the ‘Wellness Wisdom’ theme. The company works with over 100 top sports and wellness brands and exports to more than 30 countries including European countries and the United States. TEXSTRETCH Progressive Exercise Resistance Bands is one of the most popular products of the company. The product is a great full-body workout solution for users of any level.

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Sri Lanka Tourism returns to Spanish market after pandemic

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Spain is one of the fastest recovery markets for Sri Lanka Tourism after the pandemic and participation in FITUR argues well for the much-needed exposure for Sri Lanka as an attractive tourism destination for Spanish-speaking countries, contributing in a substantive manner to its overall growth strategy. Sri Lanka Tourism made the presence with the 28 private sector companies at 43rd edition of FITUR International Travel Mart which was held from 18- 22 January 2023, Madrid, Spain. FITUR is the largest tourism event in the Spanish Market where all the sectors leisure, business and MICE tourism meet under one roof.

Sri Lanka Tourism stall was ceremonially opened by Mr.Chalaka Gajabahu ,Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka in Barcelona, Mr. Agustin Llana and representatives of the leading private sector members of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was able to attract high level of attention from the trade and travel visitors attended at the event. The Sri Lanka pavilion highlighted many aspects of its potential culture, beauty, Ayurveda and many more which Sri Lanka would offer as a tourism destination. Sri Lanka stand optimized the “So Sri Lanka” and “Visit Sri Lanka” vivid sights to attract the potential visitor segments. At the Sri Lanka pavilion, Ceylon tea was served for the visitors with a view of promoting Ceylon tea in the Spanish market.

On the sideline of the FITUR travel fair, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Burau officials participated at the events organized by the UNWTO. During the events, SLTPB officials met with the Mr.Harry Hwang , Director of Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO.As a result of discussions, Mr.Harry Hwang has shown the interest to hold the UNWTO Joint commission in Sri Lanka in 2024.

Meantime, the SLTPB and Sri Lanka Embassy of France also took steps to arrange Business Meetings, exclusive media interviews, Air Line meetings at the FITUR 2023. The Media gathering conducted during the fair created the great opportunity to highlight the updates on the destination and create awareness on the destination.

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