The Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Kingdom of Bahrain, in coordination with Lulu Hypermarket, conducted a five-day Sri Lanka Produce and Food Mart, from 29th September to 03rd October 2021, titled “Sri Lanka Fest”, with a view to promote trade, tourism and culture of Sri Lanka, as well as to augment the image of the country, amongst the nationals of Bahrain and foreign expatriates, residing in the Kingdom. The mega event will showcase in all 08 Lulu Hypermarket Stores in Bahrain and expected to be attended by over 10,000 visitors and shoppers, including nationals of Sri Lanka domiciled in Bahrain.
Sri Lankan Ambassador to Bahrain Pradeepa Saram inaugurated the colourful event on 29.09.2021, along with Mr. Fahad Faisal, Senior Executive, International Relations at Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Lulu Group Director Juzer Rupawala. Lulu Group International is one of the largest retail chains in Asia and the largest in the Middle East region.
This year’s event had a number of new products and goods displayed and marketed such as kithul treacle, cinnamon, sea food including tuna, kingfish and prawns, pepper, authentic spices, various kinds of biscuits and confectionary products. Many diversities of healthy organic coconut products such as coconut cream, coconut milk and cold-pressed coconut oil were on the special deals section. A variety of tea and tea-based herbal infusions with turmeric, chamomile and other herbs from signature plantations around Sri Lanka, were also marketed.
Since tourism was one of the key objectives to be promoted, the national carrier “Sri Lankan Airlines” had its stall during Sri Lanka promotional event and offered an attractive tour packages and information brochures to prospective travellers.
Other attractions included the stalls put-up by Sri Lankan origin businessmen filled with confectionary items, spices, handicrafts, handloom and batik products. “Inter Coir Ltd Sri Lanka” had its stall filled with eco- friendly coir products and drew admiration of many eco-friendly shoppers. Ceylon Tea in different flavours such as Dilmah, Devon Tea, Akbar Brothers, and RENUTE Tea were also displayed, while Sri Lankan-run business house “The BookMART”, one of the popular bookstores, offered great promotional deals on bestsellers.
Another feature of the event was the colorful performance of an eleven-member “Thiranga Kala – Bahrain” all of which drew wide applause and appreciation from the audience. Large television screens displayed videos on touristic attractions and traits of Sri Lanka and the Chef from Bahrain based Sri Lankan Restaurant “Zaynah” demonstrated the preparation of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. Many of the foreign expatriates and Bahraini nationals were highly impressed of the Sri Lankan cuisine.
The Embassy facilitated Sri Lanka’s participation at “Sri Lankan Fest” as a way forward in revitalizing trade, tourism and cultural promotion in Bahrain.
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.
Renew firearm license for 2024 before 31st December 2023 – Ministry of Defence
Danushka Gunathilaka found not guilty
Heavy showers about 100mm can be expected at some places in Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in Galle and Matara districts
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
#Sundayisland Sunday Island- 31 January- Headlines
News6 days ago
In terms of RTI Act House releases names of MPs who voted for new law
News4 days ago
Business focus shifting in a more favorable direction
Business4 days ago
SLT-DIGITAL Services and Surge Global forge strategic partnership to propel growth marketing and develop enterprise software solutions
Features4 days ago
PAMANKADE -THE TOWN THAT VANISHED !
News4 days ago
No new date yet for AL exam, postponement to have knock on effect
News3 days ago
US delaying visa for Security Oversight Committee head
Business4 days ago
Nirmal Saverimuttu Chief Executive Officer Virgin Voyages
News4 days ago
Expect more Easter Sunday type attacks: minister