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Human-elephant conflict: Throwing money at problem is of little use, says expert



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The government annually spent Rs. 100 million on ‘elephant thunder,’ a firecracker used to chase away elephants, well known elephant expert Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando said.

It was in addition to significant sums spent on minimising human-elephant conflict through schemes such as translocating problematic jumbos, elephant drives and electric fences, Dr. Fernando said.

“Farmers spend a lot of money and time, protecting their crops and store the harvest in their homes. Then elephants raid villages and damage their homes. It is during such attacks that humans are killed. 120 deaths of humans due to wild jumbo attacks were reported in 2019.”

Dr. Fernando said the wild elephants too were adversely affected by the conflict with humans and each year hundreds of elephants were killed in the most barbaric ways.

“Things that we do to minimise the human-elephant conflict like translocation, elephant drives and fences have not improved the situation although colossal sums are spent annually,”

Dr. Fernando added that for over 70 years, Sri Lankan officials had been following the recommendations of a committee appointed in the 1940s as regards how elephants should live in a particular area.

“However, the members of the committee noted that they were making those recommendations without data and further research should be done, but until recently officials had been blindly following the committee recommendations without doing the research,” he said.

Research showed that humans lived in 82% of the country and that elephants lived in 62%. Both lived side by side in 44% of the country. Thus, it was impossible to confine the elephants to areas devoid of humans, he said.

“Our approach has been very confrontational. Elephants are strong and intelligent creatures. If we are aggressive towards them, they will reciprocate. For example, whether an elephant would attack a human or not depends on its previous experience with humans,” he said.

Dr. Fernando added that electric fencing worked, but it was a tool whose effectiveness depended on the way it was used. “60 to 70% of electric fencing is either on Department of Wildlife or forest Conservation Department lands and 80 to 90% of these fences have elephants living on both sides of the fence, he said. This minimissed the effectiveness of fencing, he said. “For example, in the North Western Province there is some fencing but GPS data of collared elephants show that their foraging ranges have no bearing on the fences. In the South, these fences sometimes prevent elephants living in areas under the Forest Department from going into Department of Wildlife controlled areas. There are about 150 elephants in Kudaoya and Sellakataragama areas that can’t go into the Lunugamvehera Park due to fencing. But ironically there is no fencing between these elephants and human settlements,” Dr. Fernando said.

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Heat Index at Caution level in Northern, North-Central, North-western and Eastern provinces and Monaragala and Hambanthota districts




Heat index Advisory Issued by the Natural Hazards Early Warning Centre At 07.30 a.m. 28 May 2023, valid for 28 May 2023

Heat index, the temperature felt on the human body is expected to increase up to ‘Caution’ level at some places in Northern, North-Central, North-western and Eastern provinces and Monaragala and Hambanthota districts.

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GCE Ordinary Level examination commences on Monday (29)




The General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) examination 2022 (2023) will commence on Monday (29).

472,553 candidates have applied to to sit this years examination which will be held at 3568 examination centers

The examination will conclude on 8th June 2023

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Personal income tax shock dims economic activities



ECONOMYNEXTSri Lanka’s personal income tax hikes have hit economic activity in the first quarter though despite currency stability helped businesses cut prices, Hemas Holdings, a top consumer goods group has said.As the currency stabilized, as central bank ended contradictory money and exchange policy conflicts, businesses had cut prices. Mainstream economists generally claim that price falls lead to delayed transactions and try to generate positive inflation through money printing, though businesses believe otherwise.

“The market witnessed price reductions and promotional trade schemes to stimulate consumption,” Hemas Holding told shareholders in the March quarterly statement.

“However, changes made to the personal income tax structure severely impacted modern trade sales volumes as consumers rationalised their purchases under reduced disposable income levels.”

Sri Lanka hiked personal income tax rates in 2023. Value added taxes were raised to 15 percent from 8 percent last year. Another 2.5 percent cascading tax was imposed on top of VAT, the effect of which was estimated to be around 4.5 or more through the cascading effect.

While value added tax allows the government to get tax revenues after citizens make transactions and getting the economy to work, based on best decisions needed to drive the economy to satisfy real needs, income tax kills economic decisions and transfers money to state actors, analysts say.

Net gains on income tax therefore comes at a cost of lost value added tax as well as killed real economic activities which would otherwise have been based on decisions of those who earned the money.

UK also almost doubled VAT in 1979, also to 15 percent, cut the base income tax rate and widened thresholds above inflation to give choice to individuals, amid criticism from Keynesian style or mainstream economists to recover the economy, after two back-to-back IMF programs failed to deliver concrete results, analysts point out.At Hemas Holdings, group revenues went up 52.6 percent to 32 billion rupees in the March 2023 quarter from year earlier amid price inflation as the rupee fell, and cost of sales went up 45.1 percent to 22.2 billion rupees, allowing the group to boost gross profits 72 percent to 9.8 billion rupees, interim accounts showed.

However, administration costs went up 54 percent, selling and distribution costs went up 36 percent, and finance costs went up to 1.3 billion rupees. Profit after tax was flat at 1.06 billion rupees.Sri Lanka’s central bank stabilized the rupee in the second half of 2022 after the rupee collapsed from 200 to 360 to from two years of money printing and also removed a surrender rule in March allowing the exchange rate appreciate.

The US Fed also tightened policy from March 2022 helping bring down global commodity prices after triggering inflation not seen for 40 years through Coronavirus linked money printing or accommodating a real shock through monetary expansion.

“While the modern trade channels witnessed a slow down due to the adverse impact of the tax reforms and high cost of credit on the middle-class urban population, the general trade channels experienced significant growth and increased foot fall,” Hemas told shareholders.

“The decline in global commodity prices in the second half of the year, enabled the business to make price reductions across the portfolio.

“However, the benefit of appreciation of the Sri Lankan Rupee in March 2023 was not seen during the quarter due to the lag effect but is expected to realise in the quarters to come, provided the current economic conditions prevail.”

Hemas is also has operations in Bangladesh where the central bank is also buying up government securities with tenors as long at 20 years to mis-target the interest rate, triggering forex shortages and depreciating the Taka, according to analysts who study the country.

Inflation had hit 9.3 percent in Bangladesh by March.

“In the face of numerous challenges including slowdown in the global economy, depreciation in Taka, heightened inflation and depleting foreign currency reserves, the country entered an IMF programme in January 2023,” the firm said.

“The value-added hair oil market witnessed a degrowth, as consumers curbed consumption in many non-essential items and switched to value-for-money alternatives.”

Mainstream economists mis-target rates to boost growth known as either monetary stimulus or bridging an output gap, though the effort result in instability and economic contractions.

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