Coronavirus to have economic ramifications for SL

30 January 2020 03:17 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Today the world is so interconnected that there is the possibility of the Coronavirus being spread to other countries -AFP

The highly contagious Coronavirus is taking its toll by the day in China. The disease, which is also called ‘Wuhan Pneumonia’, had claimed 132 lives in China and infected around 6000. Nearly 1000 patients are in critical condition. Today, the world is so interconnected that there is the possibility of the disease being spread to other parts of the world.  Already, one Chinese national infected by the virus has been detected in Sri Lanka triggering fear whether there are others who have contracted it from her.

The disease is taking its toll   on human lives in China. At the same time, it has triggered implications in   global economic and political affairs. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, the health crisis in China has cast a pall of uncertainty over President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official visit to Beijing next month. Originally, it was scheduled to be conducted by the middle of February.  Now, it is doubtful whether the visit would take place according to schedule.

The authorities of the two countries do not even discuss dates for the visit at the moment since the health situation has to improve. The new Government of Sri Lanka is looking forward to the visit since it has pinned high hopes on China for economic cooperation. The economic growth   slowed in recent times. The country badly needs to revive it to cushion the burden on the people.  Sri Lanka is no longer in a position to go for further external borrowings because the debt component is already high.  The government, instead, looks to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to stimulate the growth.  The government sees China as one of the best sources of such investments to address infrastructure needs of the country and to stimulate the growth. It is so much so that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa sought financial assistance from China when Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on him early this month to lay the groundwork for the President’s visit. He specifically mentioned phase 1 of the central expressway, the expedition of work on the southern expressway up to Hambantota   which is to be further extended to reach the eastern coast of Sri Lanka.  

Now, the government is hoping to have elections at the end of April.  Already, politicians have started campaigning in a small way for the elections. Parliament will be dissolved on March 2 to enable the authorities concerned to conduct elections on April 25.  


The health crisis in China has cast a pall of uncertainty over Gotabaya’s  visit to Beijing next month

Afterwards, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi also briefed about steps taken to  pre-emt  any outbreak

The governing party has to instill fresh hopes in the minds of people at the elections about economic prospects for the country. The visit to China, prior to the general elections, would have been fruitful for the government in that sense. A host of investment opportunities are to be announced during the visit. 

Vitarana briefs Govt leaders on coronavirus

The leaders of the political parties, aligned with the government, had their   weekly meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday evening. In the past, they used to devote much of their time to discuss on political matters.  There was an exception this time because they primarily discussed the coronavirus and steps taken by the government to prevent the disease spreading in Sri Lanka. 

LSSP leader Prof.Tissa Vitarana who is a virologist   made a presentation to the party leaders about this particular virus, its origin and impact on humans.  Prof. Vitarana is now the Governor of the Central Province. Now, his subject knowledge is of use to the party leaders. 

Afterwards, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi also briefed about steps taken to pre-emt any outbreak. 

The party leaders sounded satisfied about the measures kept in place both at the airport and in the country. 

The death toll had risen to 132 in China, by yesterday. Besides, there were around 6000 confirmed cases of infection in that country. The day-over-day increase is more than 1,000.  Sri Lanka, like other countries, pulled out its nationals from Wuhan which is the 
outbreak epicentre. 

The deadly coronavirus is bound to impact Sri Lankan economy in terms of tourism which just started picking up after the April 21 terrorist attack. According to President of Cultural Triangle Hoteliers’ Association Saliya Dayananda, the inflow of Chinese tourists will stop for the time being.  

“Our staffs are fully geared to cope up with the challenge. The problem is guests from other countries are not willing to stay with Chinese tourists. They try to avoid Chinese tourists as much as possible,” he said. 

He believes arrivals from China would drop, meaning a blow to the industry. China is the second largest source market for tourism in Sri Lanka.    As such, a drop in arrivals from China will hit the industry.  Annually, around 160 million Chinese nationals travel around the country, the largest from a single country. Of them 300,000 visit Sri Lanka.  The Coronavirus will impact the global tourism industry in this manner. Emerging and re-emerging viral diseases have been threat to the world.   Nipah Virus, SARS, MERS,   Ebola and the H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza are some of the diseases that affected people during the last two decades.  

Every time, the World Health Organization (WHO), was backed by the health authorities of the respective countries, it managed to control the situations, courtesy advanced technology and medical science. 

This time also, the WHO, according to the Chinese media, expressed confidence that China had the capacity to curb outbreak. 

India wants to make sure

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s visit to Sri Lanka sheds light on his country’s interest in making sure that things agreed upon bilaterally are implemented on the ground. During the past five years, most bilateral projects did not take off the ground despite political will on both sides. 

President Rajapaksa undertook his first official visit to India shortly after election to office. Doval’s visit was a follow- up on the implementation of what was agreed to.   He primarily discussed the defence cooperation under US $ 50 million pledged by India.

Besides, the Prime Minister will be heading for India on an official visit on February 7 for three days. He will be discussing projects under economic cooperation utilizing US 450 million line of credit offered by India during the President’s visit. 

Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu   will leave soon to take up his next posting as India’s ambassador    to the United States of America. His posting is a promotion for him in recognition of his diplomatic role in Sri Lanka. 

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