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Sunday August 14th, 2022

Bar Association of Sri Lanka warns against using quarantine to suppress peaceful protest

ECONOMYNEXT – Authorities should not use quarantine rules to suppress peaceful protest, violating constitutional rights of the people, especially when they were bailed out by courts, and first contacts were quarantine at home elsewhere, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka has said.

Sri Lanka Director General of Health has permitted the operation of spas, supermarkets and restaurants and have not listed public protests and outdoor meetings as prohibited activities but only mass gatherings of people.

“In the past few days Sri Lanka Police has carried out a number of arrests of persons engaged in peaceful protests on different issues and produced them before courts of law,” the BASL said in a letter the Director General of Health.

“In certain instances, after such protestors are released on bail by the Magistrate before whom they were produced, they have been taken away against their will to quarantine centres by Police officers, sometimes without even informing them or their families of where they were being taken.

“The BASL has taken note of several instance and is deeply concerned as to how individual after having been granted bail have been forcibly seized from the precincts of the court houses and sent to quarantine against their will.

“There is scant evidence that such decisions were based on the advice of health officials such Public Health Inspectors.

“Compounding these concerns are the fact that by new even persons infected with Covid-19 and their first contacts are being quarantined at their respective homes or hotel rather than being taken to Quarantine centres.”

Liquidity injections and Treasury bills purchases have triggered a 2.3 billion US dollar balance of payments deficit in 2020 (purchases of dollars with printed money) and a 929 million dollar deficit up to April.

After multiple restrictions on convertibility at a non-credible peg of 203 to the US dollar, parallel market exchange rates had move up to around 230 to the US dollar.

Instead of controlling liquidity however, authorities have tried to control some types of imports.(Colombo/July12/2021)

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Sri Lanka jet fuel shortages costing SriLankan Airlines US$7mmn a month

ECONOMYNEXT – A shortage of jet fuel in the country due to forex shortages is costing the state-run SriLankan Airlines an extra 7 million US dollars a month, though the airline is operating most of its schedule, an official said.

“Now we are running 90 percent of our flights even though there is no fuel in the country which is costing us about 7 million US dollars per month in extra and lost revenue,” Richard Nuttall, the Chief Commercial Officer of SriLanka Airlines told Economy Next at the sidelines of a media brief.

“To carry the extra fuel, we can’t carry all the freight we like to into the country.”

SriLankan Airlines was stopping at third countries like India to load up on fuel for long haul destinations.

Carrying fuel for the return journey, a tactic known as tinkering, forces an airline to cut down freight

The hit from fuel came after the airline SriLankan reported a profit of 1.7 million US dollars in the March 2022 quarter for the first time since 2006, after cutting costs such as staff costs and overheads; renegotiating supplier contracts and increasing cargo revenue.

Nuttall said few months ago they were not sure of even operating 30-40 percent of the flights due to lack of sufficient jet fuel in the country.

The state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation could not import enough jet fuel due to forex shortages coming from a broken soft-peg. Sri Lanka is currently undergoing the worst currency crises in the history of the island’s intermediate regime central bank.

The Ministry of Energy has said it had appointed a third party to import jet fuel.

“Its not sustainable but we have maintained operations,” Nuttall said. “We understand we will be getting jet fuel very soon.”

The currency collapse had reduced the spending power of holiday makers in Sri Lanka while tourists were also put off by fuel shortages and popular protests.

“While the tourist numbers are not that great there’s demand from Sri Lanka diaspora, Indians,” Nuttall said.

He says being a small airline has allowed them to be nimble and shift capacity.

“If we are getting more demand from one destination, we will put more flights there.”
(Colombo/Aug14/2022)

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Sri Lanka coconut auction prices continue to climb

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s average coconut prices grew 3.7 percent to 64,618.23 rupees for 1,000 nuts at the last auction held on Friday August 12, official data showed.

The highest price was 62,900 rupees for 1,000 nuts, while the lowest was 57,000 rupees at the auction conducted by Sri Lanka’s Coconut Development Authority.

Buyers offered 1,019,395 nuts at the auction and sold 576,906.

Exports of coconut-based products have risen by 12 percent in January to June to 434.48 million dollars from a year earlier, data show. (Colombo/Aug13/2022)

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Chinese tracking vessel cleared to dock at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port

Hambantota Port

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given the green light to Chinese tracking vessel Yuang Wang 5 to dock at the Chinese-built Hambantota Port from August 16 to 22.

Sri Lankan authorities had first given clearance to the Chinese vessel on July 12, to make a port call at the Hambantota Port from August 11 to 17​ for replenishment purposes.

However, following a diplomatic standoff after concern about the tracking vessel’s anticipated arrival were reportedly raised by the US and India, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry requested China to defer the port call until “further consultations”.

A report by Sri Lanka’s privately owned Times Online news website said Saturday August 13 morning that the foreign ministry has authorised the docking of the ship.

Related:

Sri Lanka permits entry to controversial Chinese tracking vessel Yuang Wang 5

The ministry’s official statement released Saturday evening confirmed that the ship has been given clearance to dock at the Hambantota Port for the new dates August 16 to 22.

“The Ministry wishes to reiterate Sri Lanka’s policy of cooperation and friendship with all countries. Security and cooperation in the neighbourhood is of utmost priority. It is Sri Lanka’s intention to safeguard the legitimate interests of all countries, in keeping with its international obligations. The Ministry is deeply appreciative of the support, solidarity and understanding of all countries, especially in the current juncture when the country is in the process of addressing severe economic challenges and engaging in multiple domestic processes to ensure the welfare of the Sri Lankan people,” the ministry said, without naming the stakeholder countries. (Colombo/Aug13/2022)

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