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Looking after vulnerable groups is a prerequisite for attracting tourists and FDIs: State Minister

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By Sanath Nanayakkare

State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said recently that a notable revival in tourism would bring multiple economic benefits to Sri Lanka, emphasizing that however, it is the duty of the government to look after the wellbeing of the vulnerable groups because Sri Lanka should first be seen in the eyes of the international community as a country that can take care of the low-income groups of the country.

“Then only foreign travellers will look at Sri Lanka as a safe and decent destination to travel to and foreign investors will see it as an investment-friendly country”,” he said.

He made these comments during a multi-TV channel programme held recently where several key political and public officials responsible for the country’s economy were quizzed by journalists.

Further speaking he said,” “Our US dollar inflows were hardly hit by the deterioration of tourism in the recent past that stemmed from the severe political instability and economic downturn. However, with the prevailing political stability, our tourist arrivals increased by 500% in the past few months. The message we need to convey to the world is that we are a safe holiday destination. And now there is a glimmer of hope for investments as well.”

“Elections are a vital fundamental of democracy. The past year was a year that disintegrated an all-powerful political power base due to the economic crisis. 6.9 million people that elected a President removed him from office. As a result, the Cabinet became null and void. And the parliament was also on the verge of collapse. In a nutshell, people’s democratic will was nullified by themselves. We are still in the throes of this economic crisis. The economy is still sliding down the slope although its speed has been reduced. Rs. 12 billion is required to hold LG elections and we have already allocated it. However, I would like to put it to you to decide whether going for LG polls at this time would be wise or not.”

“Taking care of the vulnerable groups in the face of the ongoing economic crisis would be an indispensable condition we need to create and ensure if we want to attract tourists to the country. If the people take to the streets in scores because the country cannot even provide the basic living conditions, it would send a very negative signal to the world. The government won’t allow that to happen and that’s why we are keen on protecting these groups through the measures we are taking now. If the larger section of the people is disillusioned and left behind as a result of the economic fallout, there is no way Sri Lanka can expect to create the favourable conditions for foreign visitors to come here and enjoy a good holiday.”

“When tourism booms, economic revival will become more realistic and pragmatic, foreign investors also would view Sri Lanka as a place steadily coming out of the crisis and putting the past behind it. And then other global organizations will also rally round to support us by providing us with advanced technological know-how, insights on how to optimize our productivity in our value chain, environmental sustainability practices, key partnerships etc. So, my point is; looking after the vulnerable sections of the country is a key requirement to revive tourism, attract investment and enable other positive prospects for the country.”



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Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia pledges output cuts – Opec+

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(picture BBC)

Oil-producing countries have agreed to continued cuts in production in a bid to shore up flagging prices.

Saudi Arabia said it would make cuts of a million barrels per day (bpd) in July and Opec+ said targets would drop by a further 1.4 million bpd from 2024.

Opec+ accounts for around 40% of the world’s crude oil and its decisions can have a major impact on oil prices.

In Asia trade on Monday, Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4% before settling at around $77 a barrel.

The seven hour-long meeting on Sunday of the oil-rich nations, led by Russia, came against a backdrop of falling energy prices.

Total production cuts, which Opec+ has undertaken since October 2022, reached 3.66 million bpd, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Opec+, a formulation which refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, had already agreed to cut production by two million bpd, about 2% of global demand.

(BBC)

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Manpower services agency wins accolades for its contribution to foreign employment sector

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Siraj Cafoor, Managing Director of Siraj Manpower Services receives the award

Its MD says. ‘go abroad only if you can work hard’

Siraj Manpower Services, one of Sri Lanka’s leading foreign employment agencies, was honoured with the Three-Star Award at the ‘Golden Awards’ 2023, organised by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE). This award ceremony was organised to honour foreign employment agencies that have made a significant contribution to the development of the foreign employment sector, which is a major source of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Siraj Cafoor, Managing Director of Siraj Manpower Services, was presented with the award at the award ceremony which was held at the BMICH in Colombo under the patronage of Minister of Foreign Employment and Labour Manusha Nanayakkara.

Having been established in 2002, Siraj Manpower Services (www.sirajmanpower.lk) has earned a reputation in the field of foreign employment by winning the trust of customers for more than 20 years. It has been offering job opportunities in the Middle East countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia as housekeepers, drivers, sanitation workers, labourers and also jobs related to the apparel industry. All these workers are entitled to approved salary scales certified by the SLBFE.

“We always stand for the safety of workers who go abroad through our organisation. We work to solve the problems that arise in relation to the contracts that the workers have entered into. I must mention something special to those who go abroad for employment. That is, you should keep in mind that you go abroad only to work. Go abroad only if you can work hard. You have to remember that you are going abroad to earn some more money and achieve the advancement of your family.” said Siraj Cafoor.

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Direct flights between Istanbul and Katunayake to commence from August

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A special discussion between Turkish Ambassador – Demet Sekercioglu and Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation – Nimal Siripala de Silva took place last week at the ministry office. The aim of the discussion was to seek authorization to commence direct flights from the Turkish Capital Istanbul to Katunayake, Sri Lanka. The Chief of Turkish Airlines’ South Asia Office Fathi Bozkurt was also present during the discussion.

Currently, Turkish Airlines connects with Sri Lanka through a route that includes a stopover in the Maldives, resulting in an additional travel time of one and a half hours. The delay caused by this routing is not favored by travelers, as emphasized by the Ambassador.

The Chief of Turkish Airlines requested for time and space to be allocated in order to initiate direct flights between Istanbul and Katunaike, thus providing convenience for Turkish tourists and travelers who prefer visit Sri Lanka.

The Minister announced that the request would be forwarded to the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and the Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Private) Limited. The aim is to establish direct flights between Istanbul and Katunayake starting from August this year.

Turkish Airlines, a renowned airline with a fleet of over 100 aircraft, offers flights connecting Europe’s Vancouver and New York. The Chief of Turkish Airlines said that the new service would not only benefit European travelers but also encourage them to travel to Sri Lanka.

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