How has the worldwide economic downturn affected Sri Lanka?
We don't feel that there is a worldwide economic downturn in the day-to-day life in Sri Lanka. Due to the recent fuel price hike, public transportation rates are about to go up, and the rates for petty transportation services like the three-wheelers have already increased. Apart from that the banks and other financial institutions are stable. They issue business, housing and personal loans to the public. Rice, vegetable and fish prices too are quite stable even during this Christmas season, because they are amply produced locally.
Recently LKR was downgraded by 3% compared to the US$ as a budget proposal. Prices of imported items are expected to increase therefore. After the war victory, over 750,000 tourists have come to Sri Lanka so far (highest record ever), and we expect it to be 800,000 next year. I think they might have brought in a lot of money. Government is promoting development of the hospitality sector very much. We've got a new harbour built and completed, and a new international airport is under construction. A 10% salary increase was given to all government servants by the recent budget. A lot of corporate sector vacancies are being posted in the weekend newspapers.
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