SRI LANKA NEWS

SRI LANKA NEWS

(AUGUST 2022)
Compiled by Victor Melder.

Victor-Melder-A Sri Lankan athlete and a senior official have gone missing after the fifth day’s events of the 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England on Tuesday. Initial reports indicate that a female judoka and the manager of the Sri Lanka Judo Team have disappeared from the Sri Lankan camp soon after she lost her first-round event on Monday. The Sri Lankan Team Management have immediately informed the relevant authorities about their disappearance and the Birmingham Metropolitan Police have started a special inquiry into the incident. As a result, the Chef-de-Mission of the Sri Lankan contingent Maj. Gen (retired ) Dampath Fernando told that he has decided to acquire all passports of the Sri Lankan contingent to avoid further disappearances. Sri Lanka are fielding a 110-member strong contingent and 51 officials for the Commonwealth Games with the Judo Team consisting of three Men and two Women. All Sri Lankan athletes and officials have been granted a 180-day Visa for the Commonwealth Games. (Daily Mirror Online, 3.8.2022)

The Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) yesterday said that the new electricity tariff hike of 75 percent would be effective from today. The electricity bill of the consumers who use up to 30 units per month will increase by Rs. 198. The average monthly electricity bill for those who consume up to 60 units will be increased by some Rs. 200. Although the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) had sought an increase of 276% for the consumers who used more than 90 units, the PUCSL stood firm on sticking to 125%, according to PUCSL Chairman, Janaka Ratnayake, who said that 75 % of the electricity consumers continued to benefit from a subsidy. Steps had also been taken to encourage electricity consumers to promote renewable electricity generation with the tariff revision decision, he said. Ratnayake said that the new tariff revision had been formulated to provide relief to the hotel sector and the industrial sector. “During the last nine years, the value of the dollar has increased by 190 percent. Therefore, the industries in the export sector will not be greatly affected by this electricity tariff revision,” he said. Instead of the 116 percent tariff increase proposed by the Ceylon Electricity Board for industries, hotels and general-purpose sectors, with low electricity consumption, will get an approved tariff increase of 39 percent for the public sector and 75 percent for the industrial sector. Only 50 percent of the increase in the approved rates, especially for the tourism sector will come into effect tomorrow. The remaining 50 percent tariff increase will come into effect after another three months as an incentive and relief, facilitating the tourism industry’s recovery, according to the government. In addition, it has been decided to provide a 1.5 percent discount when electricity bills are paid in dollars as a relief to the tourism and export industries. (Daily Island, 10.8.2022)

The Sri Lankan government has allowed the Yuan Wang 5 Chinese research ship to dock at the southern port of Hambantota on August 16. Accordingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued the necessary authorization to the Harbor Master to allow the ship to dock at the Hambantota port from the 16th to the 22nd of this month. The Ministry has issued an official announcement regarding the matter. The ship has now entered the seas 600 nautical miles away east of Hambantota, according to the ships tracking websites and awaiting clearance to enter Sri Lankan waters. The voyage of the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship had become a matter of wide diplomatic attention as India expressed concern over the arrival of the ship in its backyard. The, Yuan Wang 5, was earlier scheduled to arrive on last Thursday and remain at the port until August 17 for replenishment, but the Sri Lankan government had requested the Chinese government to delay its arrival due to security concerns raised by India. Meanwhile, the Indian government said yesterday that it rejects the accusations of exerting pressure on Sri Lanka regarding the journey of the Chinese ship. Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in the weekly press conference that Sri Lanka is a sovereign state and there is no obstacle for the country to take decisions related to it. However, Bagchi has said India carefully monitors any development having a bearing on its security and economic interests. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said today that the government will take steps to resolve the issue of the ship at the diplomatic level. Yuan Wang 5 is one of China’s latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. (Colombo Page, 14.8.2022)

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is staying at a hotel in Bangkok in the heart of Thailand’s capital, where police have advised the ousted Sri Lankan president to remain indoors for security reasons, according to a media report on Friday. Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand with three other people on a chartered flight from Singapore at Wing 6 of the military airport adjacent to Don Mueang International Airport around 8 pm local time on Thursday. The group had planned to land in Phuket but concerns about a possible information leak resulted in the flight being redirected to the military airport in Bangkok, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported, citing a source. At the hotel, the location of which was not disclosed, plainclothes police officers from the Special Branch Bureau have been deployed to ensure safety of Rajapaksa. Officials have asked the embattled former Sri Lankan president to remain within the hotel during his stay in the country, the report said. Rajapaksa arrived in Bangkok on the same day that his visa in Singapore expired. He arrived here for a temporary stay before seeking permanent asylum in another country. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o- cha on Wednesday confirmed a temporary visit to Thailand by the 73-year-old Sri Lankan leader for humanitarian reasons, and said he promised not to conduct political activities in the kingdom during his search for permanent asylum in another country. After fleeing to the Maldives on July 13, Rajapaksa then flew to Singapore, where he announced his resignation a day later after months of protests over Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis. (Daily Mirror Online, 14.8.2022)

Three wild elephants including a tusker have died due to electric shock in Mihintale, Ihalagama area. Among the dead wild elephants are an elephant with tusks and a small female elephant calf of about five years of age. The tusker and the other elephant were about 15 years old, according to the wildlife officials. Two adult elephants were found lying near a harvested paddy field and the dead baby elephant was found in an abandoned chena field. The three elephants are suspected to have been electrocuted. The owner of a house adjacent to the place where the elephants died has been taken into the custody of the wildlife officials, and several poles used for electric wires and cables found near his land have also been seized. The suspect is to be presented to the Anuradhapura Magistrate’s Court and the post-mortem examination of the three dead wild elephants is to be carried out tomorrow by Dr. Chandana Jayasinghe, the Wildlife Veterinarian in charge of the Anuradhapura region. (Colombo Page, 15.8.2022)

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickramasinghe has said in an interview with Reuters yesterday (18) that he is asking Japan to invite the main countries that have given bilateral loans to Sri Lanka, including China and India, to come to debt restructuring talks with Sri Lanka. President Wickramasinghe has said in the interview that someone should invite the main creditors to come to discuss the restructuring of the loans given to Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka is asking Japan to do so. President Wickramasinghe told Reuters that he will visit Japan in September to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. According to the reports of the International Monetary Fund, by the end of 2020, Sri Lanka’s bilateral debt was recorded at 6.2 billion US dollars with Japan and China holding the largest shares. Analysts say that since Japan is a Quad country, apart from China, other major countries, including India, which have given bilateral loans to Sri Lanka, can be brought to one table. “As one of the Quad countries, Japan can bring India and the rest of the key bilateral creditors together and Sri Lanka can work on a restructuring plan that will cover a large part of the debt,” Reuters quoted Udeeshan Jonas, chief strategist at Colombo-based investment bank CAL Group. Wickremesinghe has said that talks were ongoing with China, and that they had been positive so far. Besides seeking help from its allies, Sri Lanka is also negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan package worth between $2 billion and $3 billion, the President has said. Reuters reported that International Monetary Fund officials are scheduled to visit Sri Lanka at the end of August to discuss reaching a staff-level agreement with Sri Lanka. (Colombo Page, 19.8.2022)

The carcasses of a large number of Sambar deer that inhabit in Hortain Planes were found floating in the Ambewela reservoir in Nanu- oya, people fishing in the reservoir said. They said about ten such carcases of Sambar deer were found within a week. According to the fishermen, these animals that come to the reservoir for water might have been bitten and chased away by some hounds, abandoned by hunters and they might have drowned. They said people who use water from this reservoir for drinking and irrigation purposes are faced with serious issues due the contamination of water. They complained that wildlife officials were yet to take any action against this, despite several complaints. (Daily Mirror Online, 19.8.2022)

Sri Lanka Friday reported six deaths due to COVID-19 after the figures were confirmed by the Director General of Health Services on Thursday, August 18. Among the deaths reported today, are one male and five females. While four deaths are of elderly people in the 60 years and above age group, a male between 30-59 years of age and a female below 30 years of age also succumbed to the disease. Meanwhile, another 164 people infected with Covid-19 have been identified today (19). According to the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in February 2020, Sri Lanka has reported 668,827 infections and 16,646 deaths to date. (Colombo Page, 20.8.2022)

The downturn in the manufacturing and services sectors worsened in July as per the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by the Central Bank. The Manufacturing PMI declined in July 2022, indicating a contraction in manufacturing activities on a month-on- month basis. Accordingly, Manufacturing PMI recorded an index value of 41.4 in July 2022, with a decline of 2.7 index points from the previous month driven by the decreases in all the sub-indices, except Suppliers’ Delivery Time. The Services PMI recorded an index value of 43.0 in July 2022 indicating a contraction in services activities for the fourth consecutive month. This continual contraction was driven by the declines observed in New Businesses, Business Activities, Employment and Expectations for Activity. Expanding on the Manufacturing PMI, the CBSL said the decline in New Orders in July 2022 over the previous month was mainly due to subdued demand conditions, particularly in the manufacture of food and beverage sector. Deterioration of consumer purchasing power and reduced retail footfall due to fuel shortage were among the major reasons for the subdued demand condition. Production declined on a month-on-month basis, particularly in the manufacture of food and beverage sector, which was a combined outcome of subdued demand conditions and supply side concerns such as shortage of materials and fuel. Employment also declined, particularly in the manufacture of food and beverage sector, mainly due to the discontinuation of casual employees. (Ceylon Today, 20.8.2022)

The Colombo district saw its Land Value Indicator (LVI) increase to 186.9 during the first half of 2022. The Statistics Department of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka this week shared that the latest LVI measure is an annual increase of 17 percent and a semi-annual increase of 4.6 percent. However, it is a deceleration of the increasing trend observed in the second half of 2021, the Statistics Department said in a statement. All sub-indicators of the LVI, namely Residential LVI, Commercial LVI and Industrial LVI, contributed to the overall increase. The Industrial LVI recorded the highest annual increase of 20.6 percent, followed by the Commercial LVI and Residential LVI. The per perch bare land prices are obtained from the Government Valuation Department on a semi-annual  basis.                          

The Land Price Index (LPI), compiled from 1998 to 2008 on an annual basis and from 2009 to 2017 on a semi-annual basis, covers the five DS divisions in the Colombo district. From 2017 onwards, its geographical coverage was enhanced to represent all 13 DS divisions in the Colombo district and was rebased considering the first half of 2017 as the base period. From 2020 onwards, the LPI was renamed as the Land Valuation Indicator and continued to be released on a semi-annual basis. (Daily Mirror Online, 20.8.2022)

The tea exports for the month of July saw a decrease of 7.8 MnKgs when compared with the corresponding month of the previous year. The exports of Ceylon Tea for July totalled 22.76 MnKgs, where all the main categories showed a negative variance compared to July 2021. The cumulative analysis of the January to July 2022 period showed that the exports totalled 148.05 MnKgs for the seven months. Here again a decrease of 14.47 MnKgs is observed when compared with the 162.52 MnKgs exported in the corresponding period in 2021. Iraq has remained as the major importer of Ceylon Tea, with an increase of 35 percent in imports year-on-year (YoY) for January-July 2022. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) secured the second position, with a total of 12.77 MnKgs, a 5 percent increase against the total imports recorded for January-July 2021. Russia sits in the third place, with a total of

12.34 MnKgs, followed by Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Libya for the January-July 2022. A significant decrease in imports is reported from Russia (22 percent), Turkey (58 percent), China (21 percent), Syria (26 percent) and Jordon (20 percent) YoY. Meanwhile, a notable increase in imports is recorded from Azerbaijan (6 percent), Libya (8 percent), the USA (8 percent), Saudi Arabia (7 percent), Germany (20 percent) and Poland (16 percent) YoY, as expanding markets for Ceylon Tea. (Daily Mirror Online, 20.8.2022)

The government had made arrangements to pay USD 610 million for 2.2 million MT of coal needed between September and April, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera told senior engineers of the Ceylon Electricity Board.CEB Senior Engineers Association (CEBSEA) Spokesperson Engineer Nandika Pathirage told The Island he believes there would be a continuous supply of coal. However, he said that out of the two non-functioning units of the coal fired power plant complex at Norochcholai one would be restored within five days and the other unit would take about 50 days to repair. Meanwhile, Dr. Hasala Dharmawardena, Electric Power Distribution Planning and Analysis Engineer at Leidos, commenting on energy prices, told The Island: “I think energy prices are increasing. We will not have energy security unless we go for mass renewables. LNG is better than coal because the power plants are much cleaner, more flexible in operation, and can be built much faster. But it is just a stop gap. This is the option the USA is going for now. But the US produces natural gas. Also, it is going to be a tough pill, because all our fossil fuel choices are going to be expensive. Coal too comes with a lot of financial and geopolitical risks, future loans from global organizations will contain terms that will force us to stop operating coal plants” (Daily Island, 20.8.2022)

Sri Lankan scientists, and their foreign colleagues, had discovered a new bat species, living in Sri Lanka and India. This bat is scientifically known as Miniopterus phillipsi, and Phillip’s long-fingered bat in English. The research team was led by young biologist, a PhD candidate of Ruhunu University, Tharaka Kusuminda, currently working at the Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr. Amani Mannakkara of the University of Ruhuna, former Professor Wipula Yapa of the University of Colombo, Dr. Kanishka Ukuwela of Rajarata University, Rajika Gamage of the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka, Chamara Amarasinghe of Jetwing Yala Hotel,. Mathisha Karunarathna of the Sandaraja Wilderness Tourism Centre, in Kegalle, Professor Bruce D. Patterson of the United States of America Field Museum of Natural History. Scientists from Hungary, Switzerland, India, Russia and the United Kingdom have contributed to the study. The research team told The Island that the discovery is the first time that a new species of Miniopterus bat had been discovered here and in India after eight decades.It is also the first time that a new bat species of this genus has been discovered in Asia after six decades. Animal specimens, related to this new species of bat, have been found in Sri Lanka and India before, but they have been identified as a different species of bat. The morphological and genetic data of this species of bat have been used for this research, which was conducted under the initiative Kusuminda. There they have discovered that previously these bats were mistakenly identified as the species Miniopterus fuliginosus. The research team stressed that the species was spread only in the temperate climates of South Asia and the countries of the Southeast Asian region. This is the second time that genetic technology has been used to confirm the taxonomic status of a bat species in Sri Lanka. “But it is very sad and the use of this technology scarcely has been the main reason why the real species diversity of bats living in our country has not been properly revealed for decades, according to the researchers,” said the young biologist. This species of bat has been named in honour of an English scientist, W.W.A. Phillips. Animal specimens collected from several places in Sri Lanka and a large number of animal specimens deposited in various museums of the world have been used for this research. Specimens of this new species have been found near the Bio Tea Garden Tea Estate, located in the Idalgashinna area, and additional specimens have been found in the Aranayake Sandaraja Forest, Thalawakele, Wellawaya Vaul Galge cave, and Wavulpane limestone Cave. This species of bat shows a general distribution in wet and intermediate environmental zones in our country and has been reported in several places in the dry zone. But this species of bats choose only rock caves and much similar places as their day roosts, which is a matter of more concern in their conservation activities. The destruction of ecosystems in the guise of informal development projects in our country is a major threat to them and the destruction of large rocks that provide them with habitats, for the need of granite stones, will directly affect the future survival of this bat species.The last new species of bat introduced to the world from our country was in 1932 by Mr.

W.W.A. Phillips. After that three bat species were reported from Sri Lanka. But in those three cases, it has only been confirmed that the range extension of these three species into our country. Therefore, this new discovery can be considered as the first time to describe a new species of bat from our country to the world after 90 years. These research findings have recently been published in the latest issue of Acta Chiropterologica, a world-renowned scientific journal. (Daily Island, 22.8.2022)

Sri Lanka’s tea crop in July had plunged to a 21-year low of 19.8 million kilos, according to Asia Siyaka Commodities PLC. Citing Sri Lanka Tea Board preliminary data, Asia Siyaka said July 2022 crop also reflects a 25% drop from a year ago’s production of 26.4 million kilos. It said the lowest crop on record for July was in 2001 at 19.5 million kilos. Crop for the first seven months was 153 million kilos, down by 18.6% from the corresponding period of last year. “This loss of 35 million kg has come primarily from the Low country which has declined 20 million kg to 92.4 million kg for the period January – July 2022 compared with 112.7 million kg last year,” Asia Siyaka said.   It added that the high grown crop was down 16% to 35.5 million kg from 42.4 million kg last year and Mediums dropped 23% to 25 million kg from 32.9 million kg by end July 2021. (Daily Financial Times, 22.8.2022)

Sri Lanka’s nationwide inflation in July 2022 determined under the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) rose to 66.7 percent from 58.9 percent recorded in May 2022 on a year-on-year basis, the Department of Census and Statistics reported Monday. The NCPI for all items for the month of July 2022 increased to 244.4 from 231.5 in the previous month. With respect to July 2021, the reported inflation for the month of July 2022 was mainly due to the higher price levels prevailed in both food and non-food groups. Accordingly, the Year-on-Year inflation of the food group increased to 82.5 percent in July 2022 from 75.8 percent in May 2022 and the Year-on-Year inflation of the non-food group increased to 52.4 percent in July 2022 from 43.6 percent in previous month. Contributions to the inflation rate of July 2022 from food group and non-food group are 39.28 percent and 27.44 percent respectively. The moving average inflation for the month of July 2022 is 25.9 percent. The corresponding rate for the month of June 2022 was 20.8 percent. (Colombo Page, 23.8.2022) Sri Lanka ended 2021 with a total outstanding Government debt of 17,873 BN (105% of GDP). At the end of the first quarter of 2022, total outstanding Government debt increased to 21,697 billion. Foreign debt as a percentage of total outstanding Government debt increased from 37% at the end of 2021 to 47% in the first quarter of 2022. On average for the past decade domestic debt has accounted for 56% and foreign debt has accounted for 44% of total outstanding Government debt. The rupee value of the country’s foreign debt increased by 68% from February to April 2022, following the depreciation of the exchange rate in March 2022. This was the main contributing factor for the increase in total outstanding Government debt. (Daily Financial Times, 23.8.2022)

Sri Lanka ranked 5th among the 10 countries with the highest food price inflation in the latest World Bank assessment. According, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Turkey ranked first four countries in the assessment while Iran, Argentina, Suriname, Ethiopia and Moldova ranked behind Sri Lanka. The World Bank said that record high food prices have triggered a global crisis that will drive millions more into extreme poverty, magnifying hunger and malnutrition, while threatening to erase hard-won gains in development. The war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, and the continued economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic are reversing years of development gains and pushing food prices to all-time highs. Rising food prices have a greater impact on people in low- and middle-income countries, since they spend a larger share of their income on food than people in high-income countries. This brief looks at rising food insecurity and World Bank responses to date. Domestic food price inflation remains high around the world. Information from between April and July 2022 shows high inflation in almost all low- and middle-income countries; 92.9% of low-income countries, 92.7% of lower-middle-income countries, and 89% of upper-middle-income countries have seen inflation levels above 5%, with many experiencing double-digit inflation. The share of high-income countries with high inflation has also increased sharply, with about 83.3% experiencing high food price inflation. (Daily Mirror Online, 23.8.2022)

Australia says it is working with India to provide fuel to the Lankan military. The Australian High Commission, in Colombo, said that the move would help the fight against transnational crime. “Australia is pleased to be working with India to provide fuel to Sri Lanka’s Navy and Air Force. It will help our longstanding cooperation against transnational crime to continue. As Indian Ocean neighbours, all three counties share a commitment to preserving regional security,” the Australian High Commission tweeted. Sri Lanka and Australia are working closely to fight human smuggling, with several boat loads of Sri Lankans trying to reach Australia, illegally, already thwarted. (Daily Island, 23.8.2022)

The Govt. yesterday issued new regulations via an extraordinary gazette suspending the import of a plethora of items, with effect from August 23, 2022, until further notice.: CHOCOLATES, SPECTACLES, SUITCASES, PRESSURE COOKERS, TOASTERS, WRISTWATCHES, TELEPHONES, AIR CONDITIONERS, COSMETICS, PERFUMES,MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, CLOTHING, ALCOHOL, NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. The ban comes into effect from Aug. 23, 2022.

Goods shipped on or before Aug. 23 and arrive in SL before Sept. 14 will be allowed Customs clearance. Not applicable to BOI firms; re-exporters and other entities need approval from Finance Ministry and Industries Ministry President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies Minister, yesterday issued new regulations via an extraordinary gazette suspending the import of a plethora of items, with effect from August 23, 2022, until further notice. However, the gazette notification stated that any goods shipped on board with the date of bill of lading/airway bill on or before August 23, 2022 and arrived at any sea port or airport in Sri Lanka on or before September 14, 2022, would be allowed for Customs clearance. While there were gazette notifications issued previously suspending imports, the latest one slaps the ban on a wide range of goods, as the dollar-hungry nation struggles to stay afloat until a deal is struck with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package. The import ban is slapped on a wide range of consumer goods from chocolates to spectacles, to suitcases, to pressure cookers, to toasters, to wristwatches, to dishwashers, to telephones, to air conditioners, to cosmetics, to perfumes, to musical instruments, to clothing items including underpants, to alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and a number of products that fall under the investment goods imports. However, the gazette notification said the import suspension would not be applied to Board of Investment (BOI) companies engaged in processing and re-export and enterprises/ operators approved under the Temporary Importation for Export Purposes (TIEP) scheme of the Sri Lanka Customs. The other businesses involved in processing and re- export could import suspended goods, with the approval of the Controller General of Imports and Exports Control on recommendation of the Industries Ministry Secretary or Export Development Board Director General, on a case-by-case basis. Any other request for importation of any goods specified in the gazette by any other party could be entertained by the Controller General of Imports and Exports Control, subject to the approval of the Finance Minister, on the recommendation of the Treasury Secretary “for the purpose of direct usage, not for trading purposes, of such enterprises, case-by-case basis,” the gazette notification said. It also said the Controller General of Imports and Exports would issue operational instructions to the Director General of Customs and licensed banks for effective implementation of these regulations. (Daily Mirror Online, 24.8.2022)

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has instructed the UDA to initiate legal action to recover money from the activists of the Aragalaya for the damage The damage caused to the Galle Face Green due to the Aragalaya has been estimated at Rs. 5 million, a statement from the Housing and Urban Development Ministry said.The Urban Development Authority (UDA) has estimated the damage done to the ground because of the GotaGoGama protest campaign carried out for three months. According to the report submitted by the UDA, it will incur Rs. 150,000 for basic landscaping and another Rs. 4.7 million for grass sodding. The statement said Minister Prasanna Ranatunga instructed the UDA to initiate legal action to recover money from the activists of the Aragalaya for the damage. The Galle Face Green is a public property coming under the purview of the UDA. (Daily Mirror Online, 24.8.2022)

Dr. Nimalka Pannilahetti Community Medical Specialist of the National Dengue Control Unit said about 1,500 dengue cases are reported every week. Speaking at a special media conference held yesterday (25) at the Government Information Department regarding the risk of the spread of Covid-19 and Dengue, Dr. Pannilahetti said such a high number of infected people reported in a week creates some obstacles for patient treatment management. She also stated that such a number of infected people reported in a week creates some obstacles for patient treatment management. She said that if about 500 dengue cases are reported in a week, patient treatment can be successfully managed, but there were occasions where 3,200 cases were reported in some weeks. Dr. Pannilahetti said since the beginning of this year, there has been an increase in the number of dengue patients reported every month and 52,500 dengue cases were reported in the first eight months of this year, while last year only 36,000 cases were reported throughout the year. She stated that according to dengue larva surveys, there is a high trend of dengue mosquito breeding in institutional premises which is 12 percent. Therefore, a three-day special dengue control program will be conducted from September

1 to 3 covering the 60 high-risk Medical Officer of Health (MOH) divisions, Community Medical Specialist Dr. Nimalka Pannilahetti said. (Colombo Page, 27.8.2022

Sri Lanka’s tea exports in value in the first seven months of this year have hit an all-time high on lower volume, industry sources said. The country earned the highest ever Rs. 206 billion between January and July 2022 up by a massive 37% from the corresponding period of last year. Whilst depreciation of the rupee played a significant part, Asia Siyaka Commodities said that the dollar average FOB per kilo in July was a high $ 5.16 per kg, In the first seven months it was $ 4.69 per kilo, marginally down from

$ 4.71 per kilo a year ago. Customs data analysed by Siyaka Research also confirmed tea exports of 22.7 million kg in July, down

2.7 million kg from last year. Asia Siyaka said the 2022 July figure was the lowest on record in recent history going back to 1999. 23 years ago, the country shipped 22.8 million kg with total exports for that year reaching 269 million kg. Volume of tea exports in the first seven months of 2022 amounted to 148 million kg, down by 9% from a year earlier. “The cumulative total too is lowest on record in relation to increased tea production which led to Sri Lanka’s exports rising to 300 million kg for the first time in 2004,” Asia Siyaka recalled. Iraq continues as the prime destination for Ceylon Tea exports, with absorption of 27.9 million kg, up by a sharp 35% from a year ago. The average FOB per kilo however is a low $ 3.31, compared with the national total of $ 4.69. The UAE followed with 12.7 million kg up 5% with a FOB of $ 4.77 per kilo. Asia Siyaka said Russia’s poor performance continues with quantities dropping to 12.3 million kg from 15.8 million kg a year ago and a low FOB of $ 4.38 per kg. Exports to Turkey were down by 58% to 8.2 million kg whilst purchases by Iran remained steady at 7.5 million kg and followed by Azerbaijan 7.3 million kg up from 6.9 million kg. Libya’s imports have increased by 8% to 6.9 million kg in the first seven month. China’s purchases were down by 22% to 6.5 million kg. Germany has increased purchases by 21% to 4.4 million kg and imports by Saudi Arabia were up by 7% to 3.7 million kg. Shipments to Syria were down to 4.8 million kg from 3.5 million kg. Japan makes up the top fifteen destinations with imports of 3 million kg, but down by 13%. Japan FOB per kilo is a high $ 5.54 but less than last year’s January-July figure of $ 5.66 per kilo. Sri Lanka’s tea crop in July plunged to a 21-year low of 19.8 million kg. Citing Sri Lanka Tea Board preliminary data, Asia Siyaka said July 2022 crop also reflects a 25% drop from a year ago. The lowest crop on record for July was in 2001 at 19.5 million kg. Crop for the first seven months was 153 million kg, down by 18.6% from the corresponding period of last year. “This loss of 35 million kg has come primarily from the Low country which has declined 20 million kg to 92.4 million kg for the period January – July 2022 compared with 112.7 million kg last year,” Asia Siyaka said. It added that the high grown crop was down 16% to 35.5 million kg from 42.4 million kg last year and Mediums dropped 23% to 25 million kg from 32.9 million kg by end July 2021. (Daily Financial Times, 27.8.2022)

Wild boars, monkeys and hedgehogs (porcupines) have been removed from the National list of Animal Protection Act so far, Agriculture and Wildlife Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said. Addressing a meeting held at Hambantota, the minister said that elephants, wild boars, hedgehogs, monkeys and peacocks have been categorised as creatures that are causing harm to crops and agrarian activities. A committee was appointed to look into this and is still being discussed subsequent to the removal of the animal species from the list. However, wild boars, monkeys and hedgehogs are the animal species which have been removed from the animal protection act, and the power to control those animals will be given to the agriculture committee. (Daily Mirror Online,27.8.2022)

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has affected demand for legally produced liquor by 40 per cent with patrons staying away from liquor bars and wine stores in the country at present, the demand for liquor has dropped significantly due to unbearable price hike of arrack and other alcoholic beverages by manufacturing companies and present economic hardships faced by the people. The daily revenue of the department has dropped by Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 million as the people cannot afford to buy the widely-consumed 750 millilitre bottle of extra special arrack at the price of Rs.2500, an increase of Rs.680 from the previous price, he revealed. Locally manufactured beer containing 450 millilitres also rose by Rs. 30 with the market price at Rs.330. This was not due to the tax hike but owing to a massive decline in the buying power of people, he pointed out adding that the monthly excise duty paid to the government which used to be approximatel. Rs. 9 billion has reduced to Rs. 5.4 billion. Liquor manufacturing companies made three price revisions recently due to high prices and scarcity of the main ingredient ethanol being produced locally using sugar cane which has been impacted by organic fertiliser demand, a senior official of a leading distilleries company said. Production costs and raw materials as well as other ingredient costs like essence have also increased, he pointed out adding that ethanol previously priced at Rs. 500 to 600 has been increased to Rs. 1000 to 1500. Domestic ethanol production has come down drastically due to low harvests of sugar cane and corn as a result of using organic fertiliser for cultivations. Leading local manufacturers have urged the government to enable the importation of ethanol as the scarcity of ethanol (Sunday Times, 28.8.2022)

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his power as the Minister of Finance, delivered the second reading of the 2021 Appropriation (Amendment) Bill in Parliament today (30). He announced an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 12% to 15% and noted that the retirement age of government and semi-government sector employees will reduce to 60 years. The Head of State also proposed to issue 20% stake of state-owned banks (Bank of Ceylon & People’s Bank) to its employees and depositors. Meanwhile, expectant women will be awarded Rs.2,500 in addition to the Rs.20,000 that is currently being granted and allowances given to Samurdhi beneficiaries, the elderly and disabled persons will also be increased by Rs.5,000 to Rs.7,500. Further, a total of 61,000 low-income families will be given Rs. 10,000 monthly for a period of 4 months and loans obtained from state banks by small-scale farmers will be waived off (excluding interest). The Treasury will pay Rs.680 million owed to the banks in stages. A staggering sum of Rs. 200 million will also be allocated to improve the local dairy industry. President Wickremesinghe also said that a National Food Security programme is to be introduced. In an additional move to develop the country, the President proposed to only purchase electric vehicles for the use of state services. Furthermore, tenders will be called from investors to develop the Kelani Valley Train Line. Education, health, digitalization, public sector, and social security will be given priority under capital expenditure. A proposal has been put forward to establish a branch of General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University in Kurunegala. Further, the government has been advised to amend regulations to encourage foreign universities to open branches in Sri Lanka. The retirement age of government and semi-government sector employees is set to be reduced to 60 years. President Ranil Wickremesinghe made the announcement while delivering the 2022 Interim Budget in Parliament today (30). He urged all employees who have served up to the age of 60 to retire by 31 December 2022. (Ceylon Today, 30.8.2022)

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