Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has made the tourism investment process easy by streamlining the project approval process and the facilitation services provided by the Investor Relations Unit (IRU) – the unit established within SLTDA as the centralized facilitation arm for tourism investments in the country.
The key objective of this effort is to provide a single point of contact for the investors in the tourism sector and to provide an efficient, effective and hassle-free investment facilitation process for tourism investments.
In general, an investor in the tourism sector has to fill individual applications for several line agencies for approval of a tourism project. The number of agencies applicable for a tourism project is comparatively higher if the projects are located closer to a sensitive attraction. The process, therefore, becomes tedious, complex and time-consuming and as a result, incurs a considerable cost for the investor. This situation sometimes also encourages third party involvements which lead to corruption.
Finding solutions for the above issues; a centralized facilitation unit was established by SLTDA in late 2010. The IRU has approved 503 projects with a total value of US $ 3789.04 Mns during the past 10 years. The inter-agency collaboration was further strengthened recently with the continuous dialogue which resulted in bringing together all project approving government agencies to prepare one common application for tourism investments.
In addition, the approval processes of key approving agencies were mapped to spot the duplications and delays due to unnecessary steps and multiple signatories. The process was thereby streamlined and as a result, the time taken to issue a preliminary clearance was able to be reduced from 45 days to 25 days. The total average number of reduction of days taken for project approvals is expected to be reduced further in the future.
Technical support for the above streamlining process was provided to SLTDA by USAID’s Supporting Accelerated Investment in Sri Lanka (SAIL) Project with a team of experts with international expertise & exposure. Talking about the contribution made by the SAIL project, Glenn F. J. Mackenzie-Frazer, Chief of Party, IDG Country Director stated:
“The hard work and dedication of the SLTDA Investor Relations Unit is now bearing fruit and making the investment process a streamlined and transparent process which is investor focused. This is one more step on the path of placing Sri Lanka at the forefront of tourism globally. It has been USAID-SAIL’s privilege to partner with SLTDA on this journey”.
Having the tourism mandate as per the Tourism Act No 38 of 2005, SLTDA’s Investor Relations Unit (IRU) makes sure all upcoming developments in tourism by the private sector is complied with specified quality standards and developed in compliance to the existing regulations of the country. This helps reduce low-quality and illegal tourism establishments, which will impact in eradicating informal sector of tourism in the future.
Responding to the achievements recently made by the Investor Relations Unit (IRU, Kimarli Fernando, chairperson of SLTDA stated,
“The above achievements are not made solely by the SLTDA. It’s a joint effort made by all government agencies. The collaboration and support given by all the government agencies in making these improvements to the process are tremendous, SLTDA thanks all the Heads of those agencies and all the government officers who contributed to this effort.
“Very soon, the entire process will be automated and the facility will be available for the investor to submit the application on-line and to track the progress of approvals. This will be an integrated system where all the project approving agencies and utility agencies are connected”
SLTDA encourages all the investors to obtain the services of Investor Relations Unit (IRU) to obtain reliable information on the process, proper guidance and facilitation services to ensure successful tourism projects with proper quality standards. -(SLTDA)
Sri Lanka still ‘under test’ before it can receive crucial second tranche from IMF
by Sanath Nanayakkare
International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff concluding their visit to Sri Lanka yesterday reaffirmed their support to Sri Lanka to move out of the ongoing economic crisis, but did not specify an exact timeline for releasing the second tranche of its Extended Fund Faculty (EFF) arrangement to Sri Lanka.
The IMF mission team led by Peter Breuer and Katsiaryna Svirydzenka that visited Colombo from September 14 to 27, is yet to be convinced that it has received a robust programme from the Sri Lankan authorities where they indicate how they would be addressing the persistent revenue shortfall besides outlining progress in foreign debt restructuring which would give Sri Lanka a breather to balance its financing requirements as it starts to repay its foreign debt.
“We had constructive and productive discussions with the Sri Lankan authorities on economic performance and policies underpinning the first review under the IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement. The people of Sri Lanka have shown remarkable resilience and the authorities have made significant progress on important reforms. The discussions will continue towards reaching a staff-level agreement in the near term that will maintain the reform momentum needed to allow Sri Lanka to emerge from its deep economic crisis, Peter Breuer said.
“The objectives of the IMF-supported program will continue to focus on restoring macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, while protecting the poor and vulnerable, safeguarding financial stability and stepping up structural reforms to address corruption vulnerabilities and unlock Sri Lanka’s growth potential, he said.
However, the press briefing given by the IMF team yesterday signaled that they needed to see more economic and financial policies to support the approval of the First Review of the program under the EFF arrangement.
“Sri Lanka has made commendable progress in implementing difficult but much-needed reforms. These efforts are bearing fruit as the economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization. Inflation is down from a peak of 70 percent in September 2022 to below 2 percent in September 2023, gross international reserves increased by $1.5 billion during March-June this year, and shortages of essentials have eased. Despite early signs of stabilization, full economic recovery is not yet assured. Growth momentum remains subdued, with real GDP contracting by 3.1 percent in the second quarter on a year-on-year basis and high-frequency economic indicators continuing to provide mixed signals. Reserve accumulation has slowed in recent months, he said.
Speaking further Peter Breuer said: “Sustaining the reform momentum is critical to put the economy on a path towards lasting recovery and stable and inclusive economic growth. The authorities have met the program’s primary balance targets and remain committed to this important pillar of the program so as to support their efforts to restore debt sustainability. However, revenue mobilization gains – while improved relative to last year – are expected to fall short of initial projections by nearly 15 percent by year end, in part due to economic factors.
“The onus of fiscal adjustment would fall on public expenditure if there were no efforts to recoup this shortfall. This could weaken the government’s ability to provide essential public services and undermine the path to debt sustainability. To increase revenues and signal better governance, it is important to strengthen tax administration, remove tax exemptions, and actively eliminate tax evasion.
“Against continued uncertainty, it also remains important to rebuild external buffers through strong reserves accumulation. Building on the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s success in controlling inflation, refraining from monetary financing will help keep inflation in check. Other challenges include maintaining cost recovery in electricity pricing.
“The government has made steady progress on structural reforms. Key legislations passed in Parliament, including the new Central Bank Act and the Anti-Corruption Act, could improve governance if implemented effectively. The IMF Governance Diagnostic report would inform future reform measures to strengthen governance when published.
“A new welfare benefit payment scheme was enacted with new eligibility criteria that aims to improve targeting, adequacy, and coverage of social safety nets. To ensure financial stability, steps were taken on conducting bank diagnostics, developing a roadmap for addressing banking system capital and liquidity shortfalls and improving the bank resolution framework.
“The authorities have also made headway on regaining debt sustainability through the execution of the domestic debt restructuring and advancing discussions with external creditors. As Sri Lanka is restructuring its public debt which is in arrears.
“Executive Board approval of the first program review requires the completion of financing assurances reviews. These financing assurances reviews will focus on whether adequate progress has been made with debt restructuring to give confidence that it will be concluded in a timely manner and in line with the program’s debt targets.
“Discussions are on-going, and the authorities are continuing to make progress on their plans for revenue mobilization targets, anti-corruption efforts, and other important structural reforms.”
The IMF team held meetings with President and Finance Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Dr. P. Nandalal Weerasinghe, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe, Chief of Staff to the President Sagala Ratnayaka, Secretary to the Treasury K M Mahinda Siriwardana, and other senior government and CBSL officials, during the visit. The IMF team also met with parliamentarians, representatives from the private sector, civil society organizations, and development partners.
‘Imposing minimum room rates on five star hotels could ruin tourism sector’
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The imposing of a minimum room rate on five star hotels on the basis of a recent gazette notification is actually killing the industry. Room rates, accordingly, could henceforth rise to between 80 percent and 100 percent, top travel and tourism industry expert Chandana Amaradasa said.
“The minimum room rate of a five star hotel currently comes to about US $ 65 but with the new gazette notification it would go up to US $ 170 per day. But our competitors, such as, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are maintaining a minimum room rate of US$ 80 to US$ 85, Amaradasa told The Island Financial Review.
Amaradasa said that the tourism industry is just picking- up and ‘this type of move is detrimental to the entire sector because these room rates are normally determined by demand and supply and not by gazette notifications.
Amaradasa added: ‘At present, Colombo five star hotels are mainly patronized by Indian tourists, corporate clients and MICE tourists. This will not only impact hotel revenue but the outside supply chain as well. Nowhere in the world is the tourism industry regulated in this manner and this would enable our competitors, such as, Vietnam and Thailand to attract tourists.
“As a long term consequence, some of the airlines could also pull out of Sri Lanka and hotels will halt recruiting new staff and training them with the limiting of their revenue sources.’
ADL’s journey continues: Unveiling new offices in Indonesia and Malaysia for tech excellence
Axiata Digital Labs (ADL), the renowned technology hub of Axiata Group Berhad, is proud to announce the grand opening of two new offices in Indonesia and Malaysia. These strategic expansions, respectively, mark significant milestones in the company’s journey since it’s inception in 2019. This signifies ADL’s unwavering commitment to revolutionizing the telecommunications industry and propelling the global rate of digital transformation.
The inauguration of these state-of-the-art offices exemplifies the dedication ADL has towards expanding its footprint and harnessing the power of innovation across Southeast Asia. As the first CMMI 2.0 Level 3 IT organization in Sri Lanka and an ISO-certified company, ADL is well-positioned to lead the charge in transforming traditional telcos into techcos through its groundbreaking Axonect Product Suite.
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