SRI LANKA NEWS (OCTOBER 2023) – By Victor Melder.


Compiled by Victor Melder.

INTRODUCTION As of 2010, there were 45,159 Sri Lankans living in the US. Substantial immigration began in the 1990s when many fled the violence of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The majority of Sri Lankan-Americans live in the vicinity of either New York City (where there’s a Little Sri Lanka on Staten Island), central New Jersey, or Los Angeles.

Victor-Melder-The ban on single-use and short-term use plastics is scheduled to come into effect from tomorrow, 1st October, said the Central Environment Authority (CEA). A gazette notification issued on 19 July 2023 by the Minister of Environment has banned any use of nine plastic products. It prohibits the use of the single-use drinking. Accordingly, the use of those items in any process including manufacturing, and importation for local use, sale, offering for sale, displaying for sale, offering free of charge or exhibiting them will be prohibited with effect from October 01, 2023. CEA chairman Supun S. Pathirage said legal action will be taken against the violators in terms of the provisions of the National Environmental Act and measures will be taken to carry out related raids from tomorrow. (Colombo Page, 1.10.2023)

Headline inflation, as measured by the year-on-year (Y-o-Y) change in the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI, 2021=100) decreased to 1.3% in September 2023 from 4.0% in August 2023. The decline in headline inflation is mostly in line with the projections envisaged by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) in July 2023. The Food deflation (Y-o-Y) continued for the third consecutive month, recording 5.2% in September 2023 from 4.8% in August 2023. Meanwhile, the Non-Food inflation (Y-o-Y) decreased further to 4.7% in September 2023 from 8.7% in August 2023. Monthly change of CCPI recorded at 0.88% in September 2023 due to the price increases of 0.18% observed in the items of Food category and 0.70% recorded in the items of Non-Food category. The core inflation (Y-o-Y), which reflects the underlying inflation in the economy, decreased to 1.9% in September 2023 from 4.6% in August 2023. (Daily News, 2.10.2023)

Sri Lanka ranks 116 out of 165 jurisdictions included in the Economic Freedom of the World: 2023 Annual Report, released by Advocata Institute in conjunction with Canada’s Fraser Institute.  The current ranking represents a decline in the economic freedom of the country which ranked 104th during 2020. The report measures the economic freedom of individuals—their ability to make their own economic decisions—by analysing the policies and institutions of 165 jurisdictions. The policies examined include regulation, freedom to trade internationally, size of government, legal system and property rights, and sound monetary policy. The 2023 report is based on data from 2021, the last year with available comparable statistics across jurisdictions. Sri Lanka’s decline in score was driven by 4 out of the 5 sub indicators of economic freedom registering declines in their respective individual scores. These indicators are the size of government, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and the regulation of credit, labour, and business. The only indicators that registered an improvement in its score is the indicator of legal system and property rights.  “The report captured a stark warning: Sri Lanka’s economic freedom declined prior to the economic crisis of 2022, a testament to the vulnerability of nations with limited economic freedom in the face of economic turmoil. If the country is to recover, Sri Lanka must prioritise economic growth within the framework of maximising economic freedom for its citizens to trade, work, and transact freely in a stable monetary and fiscal environment,” said Advocata Institute Chief Executive Officer Dhananath Fernando. The number one spot is now occupied by Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Other notable countries include Japan (20th), Germany (23th), France (47th) and Russia (104th). According to research in top peer-reviewed academic journals, people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer lives. For example, countries in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $ 48,569, compared to $ 6,324 for bottom quartile countries. Poverty rates are lower. In the top quartile, less than 1% of the population experienced extreme poverty ($ 1.90 a day) compared to 32% in the lowest quartile. Finally, life expectancy is 81.1 years in the top quartile of countries compared to 65 years in the bottom quartile.  (Daily Financial Times, 3.10.2023)

Deshabandu Tennakoon, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the Western Province, says that on average about 5,000 criminal incidents involving children are reported in Sri Lanka every year. In 2021, there were 5,306 crimes against children in Sri Lanka, 5,404 in 2022 and 3,876 in the period up to June 2023. SDIG Tennakoon further said that the main crimes against children reported to the police stations are child cruelty, child abuse, assaulting, inflicting injury, physical abuse and corporal punishment. (Colombo Page, 4.10.2023)

President of the Sri Lanka Janatha Workers’ Front, Chamira Perera said a secret ploy was being hatched by the government to exterminate the wild elephant population in the country as a short cut to resolve the human-elephant conflict. He said that at least four elephants are killed every day and that 38 wild elephants had been killed for the last eleven days. “Killing of wild elephants is going on unchecked and it is well planned by the government. A Civil Security Department officer had shot a domesticated elephant on chain recently during the Mahiyangana Perahera. He came out with the excuse that he was under the impression that it was a wild elephant. It is a clear indication that wild elephants are being killed by officers who have received instructions to do so. It is not the people who shoot the wild elephants but officers who have been provided with guns and ammunition,” he said. He further said the government, in an attempt to hoodwink the people claims that the killing of wild elephants is a plan of NGO’s and the organizations against using elephants in Peraheras. (Daily Mirror, 4.10.2023)

Five persons were confirmed dead and 17 others were injured when a massive tree fell on a passenger bus in Kollupitiya early this morning. According to the Deputy Director of the Colombo National Hospital, Dr. Rukshan Bellana, the condition of several people who were hospitalized is serious. The massive roadside tree uprooted and fell on the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) plying from Deniyaya to Colombo on Duplication Road near the Liberty Roundabout at around 6 this morning. The police said the road has been blocked due to the accident and traffic along the Duplication Road has been restricted. (Colombo Page, 6.10.2023)

At least six people have been killed due to the adverse weather conditions while over 50,000 people have been affected in several districts, according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC). As per its situation report, a total of 53,399 people from 13,027 families in 12 districts have been affected so far. The districts include Colombo Kalutara, Gampaha, Nuwara-Eliya, Galle, Matara, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Puttalam and Kurunegala. Besides, 720 houses have been partially damaged due to flash floods and strong winds, it said. (Daily Mirror, 6.10.2023)

Sri Lankan migrant workers remitted over US$ 4.3 billion in the first nine months of 2023, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe said. Remittances from foreign employees to Sri Lanka has increased to US$ 4.345 billion from January to September 2023 which is a 68.8% increase compared to the same period in 2022. The minister said remittances stood at US$ 482.4 million in September 2023 compared to US$ 359.3 million last year. State Minister Semasinghe said the increase in migrant workers’ remittances will help strengthen foreign exchange reserves and stabilize the exchange rate. It will further help offset trade deficit and strengthen balance of payments for faster recovery and lead to economic growth, according to the State Minister of Finance. (Colombo Page, 7.10.2023)

Around 700–800 fatalities are reported annually due to breast cancer in Sri Lanka, a medical expert said. Consultant Community Physician of the National Cancer Control Program  Dr. Suraj Perera told the media that there were 5,189 patients identified in Sri Lanka by 2020. “It means there are 14 cases reported on a daily basis,” he said. Asserting that early diagnosis can lead to a cure for the disease, he said around 10,000 women who fell sick with it had been treated fully. He said monthly breast cancer screening is important for every woman above 20 years. (Daily Mirror, 7.10.2023)

The tally of Dengue cases reported for 2023 has surpassed the 65,000 mark, according to the Epidemiology Unit. As of October 08, 65,178 cases had been reported in 2023, with the highest number of cases from the Colombo district. It stood  at 13,700. The Western Province has recorded over 31,000 cases, the highest province- wise. The month of October has also logged 692 Dengue cases. Meanwhile, a total of 38 fatalities have been reported since January 2023. According to health officials, dengue cases are expected to rise due to prevailing showery conditions. In this context, people are urged to keep their surroundings clean and destroy mosquito breeding places in order to keep dengue at bay. (Daily Mirror, 9.10.2023)

Sri Lanka’s tourism sector has surged ahead in 2023, with earnings totalling nearly $ 1.5 billion in the first nine months of the year, alongside a notable influx of over 1.01 million visitors. The latest data from the Central Bank reveals that tourism earnings in the third quarter of 2023 were over $ 1.45 billion, reflecting a staggering 67% surge from the corresponding period of last year.  September earnings stood at $ 152.2 million but witnessed a 28% dip from August. This dip is attributed to September falling short of its monthly arrivals target.  In a month-to-month comparison, both August and September fell short of their monthly arrivals target, despite July surpassing projections and generating a remarkable income. This $ 219 million makes July the highest monthly earnings of 2023 thus far. Separately, a faction of the industry contends the data highlights a pronounced decline in earnings since the announcement of the minimum room rate (MRR) in June, signaling the impact of this policy shift on the industry’s revenue streams. Sri Lanka Tourism’s anticipation is running high for the winter season, as the sector sets ambitious targets of welcoming 1.55 million visitors and generating over $ 3 billion in income by year-end. “Achieving these milestones would mark a significant triumph in the industry’s path to recovery,” analysts said. (Daily Financial Times, 10.10.2023)

Sri Lanka’s real estate expert, the Research Intelligence Unit (RIUNIT), says that Wattala in the Colombo suburb region is one of the developing markets for apartments.  According to the most recent data from the RIUNIT, the average apartment (Tier 2 and 3) pricing in the Wattala area grew to Rs.23,447 per sq.ft. in August, from Rs.23,411 per sq.ft. in July. This represents a 3.5 percent annual rise, compared to Rs.22,689 in August 2022. With the influence of rupee depreciation, the prices in US dollars dropped to US $ 73 per sq.ft. in August, from US $ 74 per sq.ft. in July. This is a 15 percent yearly increase, compared to US $ 63 in August 2022 .“It’s great to see new supply additions coming into the market after a period of several years when hardly any new residential developments were launched,” RIUNIT CEO Roshan Madawela said. Moreover, he says the local developers are leading the way with new and innovative projects that are breathing new life into the suburbs.  “Overall, a new stock coming to the market amidst an environment of high absorption in residential developments is a positive sign for this industry.” (Daily Mirror, 10.10.2023)

In line with the announcement made by the leaders of the two countries in July 2023 during the visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India, the ferry service between Nagappatinam in India and Kankesanthurai (KKS) near Jaffna in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka commenced on October 14, 2023, India’s External Affairs Ministry announced. The high-speed ferry operated by the Shipping Corporation of India has a capacity of 150 passengers. The distance of about 60 nm (110 Km) between Nagapattinam and KKS will be covered in approx. 3.5 hours depending on sea conditions. Vessel Cheriyapani traveled with 50 passengers on its inaugural journey to Sri Lanka and will return back to India by evening with passengers from Sri Lanka. In order to commence the service, the Government of India supported the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board in upgrading facilities at the Nagapattinam port. Similarly, the Government of Sri Lanka has created necessary infrastructure at the port of KKS. The Government of India’s efforts to start the ferry service are in line with the Government’s priority to enhance connectivity with neighbors and in the wider Indian Ocean Region. A direct passenger ferry between Sri Lanka and India will provide an efficient and cost-effective means of travel for the people of the two countries, boost tourism and trade links and strengthen people-to people ties. The ferry will also enhance economic activity around the two ports and invigorate local economies. External Affairs Ministry recalled that direct air connectivity between Chennai and Jaffna, which was suspended during the Covid pandemic, was resumed in December 2022. The Governments of India and Sri Lanka will continue to work towards commencement of ferry services between other ports, including the traditional route between Rameswaram- Talaimannar. (Colombo Page, 14.10.2023)

Parliament watchdog committee COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) has discovered that Elakaduwa Plantations Ltd, a state-owned enterprise, had spent Rs 27.4 million as litigation costs to recover the value of two kilos of stolen pepper worth Rs 800, parliament sources said on Friday. This was revealed during a recent COPE investigation on Elakaduwa Plantations, parliamentary sources said. Questioned about this staggering loss of public funds, Elkaduwa officials present at the probe admitted that Rs 27.4 million had been spent on a case against two employees who had stolen two kilos of pepper. They said the case had been instituted in 2014 and the incumbent officials were not responsible for the decision to go before courts to recover Rs 800. COPE was of the view that necessary action should be taken against those responsible for filing this case. The COPE Chairman said that officials including the Board of Directors during this period would be summoned before the committee in the near future. State Ministers Shantha Bandara, Indika Anuruddha and MPs Eran Wickramaratne, SM Marikkar, Sanjeeva Edirimanna, Jagath Kumara Sumitraarachchi, M. Rameswaran, Sudarshan Denipitiya and Madhura Withanage participated in this committee meeting chaired by Prof Ranjith Bandara. (Sunday Leader, 15.10.2023)

Tea exports for the month of September 2023 totalled 23.16 M/Kgs, showing an increase of 1.62 M/Kgs vis-à-vis 21.54 M/Kgs of September 2022. Majority of the product categories except for Bulk Tea and Instant Tea have witnessed an increase against the corresponding period in 2022. January-September FOB values were up by Rs. 256.96 to Rs. 1,784.67 YoY. Negative variances were recorded in most categories except for instant tea and green tea categories in USD terms. Despite the Middle East tension Iraq has emerged as the No. 1 major importer of ‘Ceylon Tea’ with a total of 25.83 M/Kgs from January-September 2023. Türkiye has secured second position with 23.50 M/Kgs, an increase of 54.13% vis-à-vis 10.78 M/Kgs imported last year, the Forbes & Walker (Pvt) Ltd report said. Russia has maintained its position at third place with 17.47 M/Kgs followed by U.A.E. with 13.19 M/Kgs, which has witnessed a decline of 21% YoY. China has secured the fifth position with a marginal increase in imports by 4.2% YoY. Other notable importers are, namely, Syria, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Chile and Germany. (Daily News, 19.10.2023)

The Advocata’s Bath Curry Indicator (BCI) which is a price-index that tracks the monthly changes in the retail price of a basket of commonly consumed food items recorded a year-on-year increase of roughly 2% between September 2022 and September 2023 and a month-on-month fall of 1.6% in between August and September 2023.  Additionally, the BCI also tracks the price of the same basket of food items as they retail at local supermarkets, which shows an annual decline of roughly 16% of the BCI’s basket of items between September 2022 to 2023, and month-on-month fall of 3.2% between August and September 2023. According to the BCI, the items that contributed the most to prices falling between August 2023 and September 2023 were tomatoes (12%), pumpkin (10%) and brinjals (8%). Alternatively the prices of green chillies (7%) and beans (4%) increased during this period. The Advocata BCI tracks the weekly retail prices in the Colombo market of the most commonly consumed food ingredients that might be used in a typical bath curry meal. The prices are collected from the “Weekly Indicators” that the Central Bank publishes. (Daily Financial Times, 19.10.2023)

The Bribery Commission has informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court that it will not take further legal action into the sum of Rs. 17.85 million recovered from the President’s House on  July 9, 2022. The Bribery Commission had earlier informed the court that it had commenced an investigation into the incident pursuant to a complaint lodged by the Puravesi Balaya Organisation. However, the Bribery Commission on Wednesday (18) informed the court that further legal proceedings regarding this incident will not be taken owing to insufficient evidence to proceed with the matter. On a previous occasion, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa through his lawyer claimed his rights to the amount of Rs. 17.85 million recovered from the President’s House.  However, the defence counsel raised objections to releasing the said amount to the former President and said prosecution has to ascertain whether there are offences committed under the Money Laundering Act and Bribery Act.   The CID had told the court that they had recorded a statement from former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 6th February regarding the ongoing investigations into the sum of Rs. 17.8 million recovered by protesters inside the President’s House. According to the former President’s statement, he has stated that the money found inside the President’s Office belonged to him but he was unable to take care of them due to the prevailing security situation at that time. He has told police the sum of money that belonged to him was to be distributed among the people whose houses were destroyed by the protesters. (Daily Mirror, 19.10.2023)

A survey conducted by the National Physical Planning Department revealed that the population in town areas has increased to 44.57 percent, said Urban Development, Housing Minister and Chief Government Whip Prasanna Ranatunga. The relavent report was handed over to the Minister yesterday at the Parliament complex by the Director General of the National Physical Planning Department, Gamini Hewage. Ubanization in a country changes its decisions. The last survey of urbanization was conducted in 2012 and it was 18.2 percent at that time. Urbanization was calculated while considering facts such as population density, supermarkets,  clothing centres, filling stations, banks, private schools, the number of private hospitals and the number of storied apartments in a Grama Niladhari area, the percentage of houses on rent or lease and the number of people who engage in employment, except in the agriculture sector in a local council-governed area within a 10-kilometre distance. According to the survey, Colombo has been identified as having the highest percentage of urban population, which is 96.74 percent, while 76.76 percent were recorded in the Gampaha district.  Also, 67.28 percent of the urban population was recorded in the Jaffna District, and the minimum percentage of the urban population was recorded in the Mullaitivu District, which was 2.84 percent. (Daily Mirror, 19.10.2023)

Turning the archaeological research, conducted so far, into a new direction regarding the prehistoric era of Sri Lanka, for the first time an ancient settlement of Homo-erectus human of the Palaeolithic era has been found in the Nakolagane area of ​​Ambanpola. During an archaeological excavation conducted by the Social Sciences and Comparative Studies Department of the Sri Lanka Bhiksu University, it has been possible to find this human settlement dating back more than 100,000 years. The excavation is being done under the guidance of Dr. Nimal Perera, the former Deputy Director of the Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka. He is an archaeologist who has engaged in many a research on the prehistory of Sri Lanka with Dr. Siran Deraniyagala.  “Many caves can be seen around the existing small hills. In the current excavations, it is clear that human settlements belonging to the Palaeolithic Age existed here for several hundred thousand years. “In excavations such as Batadombalena and Pahiyangala, we find human settlements dating back 47,000 years. In those excavations, we found geometric micro-stone tools. They were made of quartz. For example, if we take Batadombalena, 95 of the stone tools found there are made of quartz. “A very small number of stone tools made of kahanda stones were found. Kahanda is the best material for making stone tools than quartz. Kahanda mineral has high cutting edge. A large number of stone weapons made of kahanda stone were found. We can say with certainty that this place is more than 100,000 years old, which can be confirmed by dating tests. More than 700,000-year-old hand-axe tools have been found in excavations in other areas of the world. Bones have also been found in India. We may not be able to come to an exact conclusion on the excavations findings of Nakolagane with the currently used carbon 14 dating tests. More advanced technologies will have to be implemented. The archaeological evidence found here confirms that Homo-erectus human lived in Sri Lanka. It can be concluded that the prehistoric settlements in the North-West region later spread throughout Sri Lanka. This place is a complete archaeological deposit. Three phases of stone tools are found here. Humans may have lived in this place for hundreds of thousands of years and spread all over Sri Lanka, but the strange thing is that this place has not been recorded so far. So far, we have found only a part of the Middle Stone Age in Ceylon. We have not been able to complete the excavation of Nakolagane yet. We have not yet reached the digging level. This cannot be carbon 14 dated. We have to adopt other methods, or we will have to adopt advanced timing methods such as OSL. Currently we have collected a large number of samples.” (Ceylon Today, 21.10.2023)

President Ranil Wickramasinghe has reshuffled the Cabinet of Ministers today (23) morning, the President’s Office said. Accordingly, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana was appointed as Minister of Health in addition to his portfolio as Minister of Industries by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and took oaths before the President at the Presidential Secretariat this morning. Dr. Ramesh Pathirana was the Minister of Plantation Industries and Industries previously. Mahinda Amaraweera was sworn in as the Minister of Agriculture and Plantation Industries and former Health Minister, Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella as the Minister of Environment a few moments ago at the President’s Office. Dr. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has been sworn in at the President’s office as Non-Cabinet Minister of Plantation Enterprises in addition to his current post as State Minister of Finance. The minor cabinet reshuffle was necessitated by the removal of former Minister of Environment Naseer Ahamed from his Member of Parliament post. (Colombo Page 23.10.2023)

Sri Lanka’s main export engine, apparel, saw its shipments plunge further in September worsening the sector’s status quo. Apparel exports in September were down sharply by 26% to $ 332 million whilst performance in the first nine months was down by 20.5% to $ 3.4 billion. “September was a bad month. The industry was hoping to see some signs of slight recovery but that may now be October at best,” an apparel industry source told the Daily FT.  In September exports to the USA decreased by 34.37% year on year to 122, exports to the EU (excluding exports to UK) also decreased by 24.54% to $ 106.79 million. At the same time exports to the UK and to other countries also decreased by 4.61% to $ 54 million and 25.19% to $ 50 million respectively in September 2023. In the first nine months overall exports to the USA decreased by 25.19% to $ 1,36 billion, exports to the EU (excluding exports to UK) decreased by 18.15% to $ 1 billion over the same period in the year 2022. At the same time overall exports to the UK and to other countries also have decreased by 16% to $ 480 million and 15.94% to $ 538 million respectively over the same period in the year 2022. Industry sources renewed their call for a more favourable environment if exports pick up in the remainder of 2023 whilst external market conditions remain challenging. (Colombo Page, 23.10.2023)

Sri Lanka’s nationwide inflation in September 2023 determined under the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) decreased to 0.8 percent from 2.1 percent recorded in August 2023 on a year-on-year basis, the Department of Census and Statistics reported Monday. The NCPI for all items for the month of September 2023 increased to 203.5 from 201.9 in August. The month-on-month change was contributed by increases in food items and non-food items of 0.41 % and 0.36% respectively. On a monthly basis, Year-on-Year inflation of the food group increased to -5.2 percent in September 2023 from -5.4 percent in August and the Year-on-Year inflation of the non-food group decreased to 5.9 percent in September from 9.0 percent in August 2023. On Year-on-Year basis, contribution of food commodities to inflation was -2.40 percent in September 2023 compared to the month of September 2022 and contribution of non-food items was 3.17 percent. (Colombo Page, 24.10.2023)

The wildlife department has reported that a total of 400 wild elephants have died this year. They said nearly 200 of the wild elephant deaths were a result of conflicts between elephants and humans. Many wild elephants have died in shootings and road accidents. Meanwhile, wild elephants are also reported to have died due to various diseases. The department said that there are about 6,000 elephants in the country. Due to the loss of habitat due to human activities, there has been an increase in elephant attacks, the department said. (Daily Mirror, 25.10.2023)

Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports decreased by 11.88 % to US$ 951.5 Million in September 2023 compared to September 2022 as per the provisional data released by Sri Lanka Customs. Also, it is a 14.94 % decrease when compared to the value recorded in August 2023. The decline in merchandise exports is due to decreased demand for export products, particularly in sectors such as Apparel and textiles, Rubber and rubber-based products, and Coconut and coconut-based products. (Colombo Page, 25.10.2023)

Road accidents had killed 115 children from 01 Jan., to 15 Oct., in 2023 the police said.Six people die every day in road accidents in Sri Lanka, according to the police “About 2,515 people died in road accidents in 2022,” Director- Traffic Administration and Road Safety, SSP Manoj Ranagala said. A large number of schoolchildren were killed in road accidents year in year out, he said. “129 children died in 2022 and 115 had died by 15 October this year”, he said, adding that most vehicles used to transport children were not roadworthy. (Daily Island, 27.10.2023)

Fifteen wild elephants had been killed last week alone, Chairman of Surakimu Sri Lanka Association, Ven. Pahiyangala Anadasagara Thera said on Thursday.About 400 elephants had died by 25 October this year, he said. The famous tusker ‘Barana’ of Kalawewa was electrocuted yesterday. “An organised group is behind these elephant deaths,” the Thera said. Anadasagara Thera said the organised group was backed by some senior politicians and public officials. (Daily Island, 27.10.2023)

One–fifth of Sri Lanka’s total landmass, particularly the areas in the central hills- is prone to landslides according to a study by the National Building Research Organization (NBRO). According to the NBRO study, around 13,000 square kilometers of lands spread over in Badulla, Nuwara-Eliya, Kandy, Matale, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Kalutara, Galle, Matara and Habantota- are landslide –prone. The study has found that incidences and frequency of landslides are growing, and it is common have such disasters including cutting failures along with every bout of rain. The major causes for the increase in the frequency of landslides are un-planned land use practices and unplanned intensive cultivation, ever increasing non- engineered constructions, construction blocking the waterways, construction in the reservation area of water bodies, deforestation and human intervention. Another study done Professor in Earth Resources Engineering University of Moratuwa and President of Institute of Geology Sri Lanka Prof. Ranjith Premasiri, major landslides which occurred during the past two decades have claimed thousands of lives, about 175,000 people have been rendered homeless. Besides, damages in multi-millions have been caused to property. He says in his study the climate of Sri Lanka varies from semi-arid to mild temperature. Sri Lanka can be divided in to three main climatic zones on the basis of annual rainfall- wet zone (over 3000mm annual rainfall), intermediate zone (2000 to 3000mm), and dry zone (less than 2000mm). “Landslides are very often triggered by continuous rainfall characterized by showers of high intensity that occur for short periods of time. Central hilly area of Sri Lanka experiences rain from two monsoons, North-East and South-West,” he said. Sudden opening and progressive widening of cracks on sloped surfaces or on the walls of building are signs of landslides. (Daily Mirror, 28.10.2023)

Sri Lanka’s services exports have recorded a substantial growth, surging by 55.6 percent to reach USD 2,304 million by end of last month compared to first nine months of 2022, as reported by the Export Development Board (EDB). Services exports include services such as ICT/BPO, construction, financial services, transport, and logistics. In September, the EDB revealed that services exports up to August had increased by 12.9 percent to USD1, 409 million. However, in September, services exports saw a growth of USD 985 million, marking a 39 percent rise. The exact reason for this significant surge hasn’t been disclosed. In the broader context of Sri Lanka’s export performance, earnings of both goods and services combined for the nine months leading up to September 2023 was USD11,262 million, a marginal decrease of 1.8 percent compared to the previous year. Services exports do not encompass remittances. In the same period, official remittances showed impressive growth, surging by 68 percent to USD 4,345 million in the first nine months, EDB said. This surge brought the total inflows, excluding tourism, to USD 15,610 million—a significant 68 percent increase from the previous year. This report does not include data related to tourism. In terms of imports, they reached USD10, 974 million up to September 2023. The decline in imports was influenced by a slowdown in private credit and a halt in money printing. Other significant outflows include tourism, remittances, interest payments on borrowings, dividends, and net debt repayments. These figures provide a comprehensive overview of Sri Lanka’s evolving economic landscape, reflecting both challenges and opportunities. (Daily Island, 28.10.2023)

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