An Echelon Media Company
Sunday June 23rd, 2024

Abhayarama’s unsanctioned vaccine rollout: Chief incumbent blames Sri Lanka govt

Abhayarama chief incumbent Muruththettuwe Ananda thero – Image credit: Facebook

ECONOMYNEXT – A message of unknown origin that had circulated among Narahenpita residents resulted in a large group of people gathering outside the Abhayarama temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 29, 30 demanding their second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, chief incumbent Muruththettuwe Ananda Thero said.

No government official had asked the public to go to the temple premises to receive their second shot, the influential monk told EconomyNext.

A delay in securing AtsraZeneca doses for some 600,000 Sri Lankans who are awaiting their second jab had led to people desperately seeking out the vaccine on their own, he said.

Ananda thero said no health services staff was present at the temple when people started turning up.

“People came looking for the second jab, because this was where the first one was rolled out,” the thero said.

“People are scared. They’re not looking for money. They’re looking to save their lives,” he added.

Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters on May 30 that the inoculation programme at the temple was not communicated to the ministry.

The Abhayaramaya is one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful Buddhist temples with close ties to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka received 1,264,000 doses of the Covishield-branded version of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). Half a million of these were donated by the Indian government, with another half directly purchased by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) from SII. The remaining 264,000 was received through the World Health Organisation (WHO)-led COVAX facility.

Since January 29, Sri Lanka has administered the first dose of Covishield to 925,242 citizens, leaving 338,758 doses. However, authorities claim that 345,789 people – some 7,000 more than the number of doses as per official data – have received the second jab so far. But according to Minister Wanniarchachi, the number of doses left after the first-dose rollout is 356,730.

If her number is accurate, Sri Lanka should have in its possession roughly 11,000 doses of the vaccine (356,730 – 345,789).

The minister told reporters on May 30 that the doses of AstraZeneca left in the country were reserved solely for cancer and kidney patients.

“Because there were people gathering outside the temple and there was a risk of the virus spreading there, we had to release some of those doses that were in storage to bring the situation under control,” she said.

According to the health ministry’s epidemiology unit’s website, 196 people received their second dose at the Abhayarama over the weekend.

On April 30, Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Samaraweera told reporters that Sri Lanka will not receive the next consignment of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at the expected window due to the prevailing situation in India.

The COVAX facility too is struggling to acquire vaccines from SII which is under pressure to deliver vaccines to epidemic-ravaged India, Samaraweera said in an earlier report.

The Abhayarama incumbent blamed the uncertainty over vaccination on the government.

“This is all because the government and the ministry of health do not have a proper plan in place for vaccination,” he said, speaking to EconmyNext.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath commenting on the situation said the scarcity of vaccines is not in the control of the government. He asked the public to be patient.

“This happens due to uncertainty in supply,” Herath told reporters on May 31.

“It’s not something the government can control,” he added.

According to Herath, it is with this reality in mind that authorities have started targeted vaccination in Sri Lanka.

“We ask the general public to not rush to vaccination centres unless you have been asked to come,” he said.

Ananda thero, however, said people had gathered to the temple for a third day running on May 31, hoping to receive the second dose of the increasingly elusive vaccine. (Colombo/ May 31/2021)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

India supports Sri Lanka Coast Guard to boost maritime security

ECONOMYNEXT – India has given 1.2 million US dollars’ worth spare parts to Sri Lanka’s Coast Guard to be used in a vessel also gifted to the Indian Ocean Island on an earlier occasion, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

“Handing over of the large consignment of spares symbolizes India’s commitment to support capability building towards addressing the shared challenges of Maritime Security in the region,” the Indian High Commission said

The spare parts were brought to Sri Lanka on the Indian Coast Guard Ship Sachet, an offshore patrol vessel that was on a two-day visit to the island.

The spares were formally handed over to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship Suraksha which was gifted to Sri Lanka in October 2017 by India.

India has gifted spare parts for the ship in June 2021 and April 2022 and also provided assistance in refilling of Halon cylinders in January 2024. (Colombo/June23/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka Water Board makes profits, tax-payers inject Rs28bn

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run National Water Supply and Drainage Board has made a profit of 5.2 billion rupees in the year to December 2023, after a tariff increase despite not getting money for 25 percent of its water it pumps out.

Total revenues went up to 61.8 billion rupees in 2023 from 35.4 billion rupees, a Finance Ministry report said.

Water revenue surged to 58.5 billion rupees from 33.1 billion rupees, cost of sales also went up to 32.8 billion rupees from 23.14 billion rupees, helping boost gross profits from 12.3 billion rupees to 29.0 billion rupees.

Finance costs surged to 14.9 billion rupees from 3.9 billion rupees,

NSWD reported net profits of 5.2 billion rupees for the year, against a loss of 2.7 billion rupees a year earlier.

The Treasury had given 28 billion rupees from tax payer money to settle loans.

During the Rajapaksa administration, macroeconomists who ran the Finance Ministry made state enterprises borrow money from banks through Treasury guarantees listing them as ‘contingent liabilities’, claiming they were ‘off balance sheet’.

The Road Development Authority, which had no revenues to speak of borrowed large amounts of money from banks which were listed as ‘contingent liabilities’ though they were a responsibility of the state from day one, allowing macroeconomists to understate both the budget deficit and national debt, critics say.

The water tariffs were raised by 81 percent after macroeconomists printed money to supress interest rates for flexible inflation targeting/potential output targeting. The currency collapsed after macroeconomists tried to float the rupee with a surrender rule in place.

Non-revenue water for which no money is collected was 25.2 percent. The agency was supposed to reduce non-revenue water. In some districts religious establishments are responsible for non-revenue water, according to an official who said it on condition of anonymity.

The water board is also unable to collect money from some services like common toilets for underserved communities. (Colombo/June23/2024 – Update II)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka will expedite Indian projects: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will expedite Indian-backed projects in the island, President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Indian business people after a visit by Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar this week.

“I discussed with Prime Minister Modi the need to accelerate the joint program that we have decided, agreed on. So the major ones are identified, and Foreign Minister Jaishankar came down today [20] to have a discussion. Now this will show the new path we are taking,” president Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

“It won’t be individual projects. We’ve discussed a fair number of them. First is the grid interconnection between Sri Lanka and India, so that sustainable energy can be transmitted to India.

“We have the Sampur solar power project, which is a Government to Government (G2G) project, and a three island project, which is where we hope the ground breaking can take place in July,” he told Indian business people at the 31st All India Partner’s Meet 2024 (AIPM 2024), held at ICT Ratnadipa in Colombo.

The AIPM 2024 which was organised by KPGM Sri Lanka and India provided a platform for both countries to reaffirm their commitment to collaborative projects that promise to redefine bilateral relations and propel socio-economic growth.

“It’s a great pleasure and a privilege to have you in Sri Lanka, in Colombo, holding this meeting. It shows on one hand the close friendship that our two countries have, and on the other hand, the confidence that you have in Sri Lanka.

“Having now survived two difficult years, I must acknowledge that this was possible because India gave us a loan of $3.5 billion. All that will be repaid.”

Cooperation between the two nations needed to be enhanced, particularly in the energy sector, aiming to foster new development for the Northern region, Wickremesinghe said.

“We are looking at developing Palk Straight for wind energy and solar energy, both countries to get together and have a large farm for solar energy, for renewable energy. It also means that we will have a new economy for the northern province, which was worst affected by the war.”

Several Indian-backed projects in Sri Lanka have stalled due to protests from some parties, with some going to courts.

India is helping expand the Kankesanturai port, and is discussing development of the Palali and Colombo airports.

The National Livestock Development Board of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with India’s Amul Dairy Company, is involved in a project to enhance liquid milk production in the country.

The two nations are also considering establishing land connectivity.

Discussions have also taken place regarding expediting the Trincomalee Development Project, which encompasses industrial investment zones and tourist areas.

“Plans are underway to construct a multi-product oil pipeline from Nagapatnam to Trincomalee, pending the final observation report. Trincomalee is poised to become a hub for oil refining, with the development of ports and investment zones, transforming Trincomalee Port into a significant hub on the Bay of Bengal.

“Today, the entire East Coast is being opened up for tourism, with additional land earmarked for hotels in Galle and southern areas. Moreover, there are plans to establish more investment zones across the country, alongside expanding our professional training programs. In these endeavours, we are collaborating closely with India.” (Colombo/Jun22/2024)

Continue Reading