Sri Lankan Government Current Affairs - 2019

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Sri Lanka Election: Gotbaya Rajapaksa to be sworn in as new President

The former wartime Defence Chief Gotabaya Rajpaksa of Sri Lanka has won the Presidential Election. He took 52.25% of vote against his rival Sajith Premadasa. Mr Rajapaksa won in Sinhalese majority areas and Mr Premadasa had scored in regions that were dominated by the Tamilians.

Highlights

  • National Security was seen as the dominant issue of the state as Islamic Group targeted churches and hotels in the Island. More than 250 people were killed in the state in several bombings in April 2019.
  • Gotbaya is the brother of the former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In 2009, the brothers spear headed the Tamil Tiger rebels where at least 100,000 were killed
  • The country recorded 83.7% of voters turn out.
  • Totally 35 candidates contested in the Presidential Election

India’s concerns

The previous Government had close ties with China. Political experts are worried about the ballooning debt to Beijing. The regional powers especially India is concerned about the extent of Chinese influence in the country. Rajapaksa has told the reporters that he is planning to restore the relations with China. On the other hand, Mr Premadasa was leaning towards US and India.

Falling into debt trap, Sri Lanka has leased the Hambantota port to the Chinese for 99 years.

Sri Lanka exempts Visa Fees by Indian tourists

Sri Lankan Government has exempted Indian tourists from Visa Fees for tourism purposes. This decision comes into effect from 1 August 2019. With this move India is now among 48 countries whose citizens have been exempted from visa fees by Sri Lankan government.

Key Highlights

Visa fees, which ranged from $20 to $40, will not be charged for grant of 1 month visa for tourism.

Tourists can apply for electronic travel authorisations online or even apply for visa on arrival.

Measure will be implemented for 6 months initially and a decision will be taken later for extension depending upon its impact on revenue.

As per Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe revenues from enhanced tourism arrivals is expected to offset loss of the island nation.

Why Visa Exemtion?

Sri Lankan government asserted that security situation has retuned back to normal after Easter Sunday attacks as all criminal suspects have been taken into arrest. Due to the attacks Sri Lankan tourism has been impacted but tourism authorities claimed that there is a revival seen since July 2019.

Also Indian tourist constitute maximum number of tourist to Sri Lanka with around one fourth (25%) of total tourist arrivals.

Tourism is Sri Lanka’s 3rd largest and fastest growing source of foreign currency in 2018 which account for almost 5% percent of gross domestic product (GDP in 2018).