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Saturday April 20th, 2024

Ceylon Electricity Board chairman steps down amid Sri Lanka power crisis

ECONOMYNEXT – Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) chairman/member M M C Ferdinando has handed over his resignation effective February 01, a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa revealed on Wednesday (26).

Fernando said in the letter that he was stepping down due to personal reasons.

Ferdinando was one of the signatories to Sri Lanka’s controversial agreement with the US-based New Fortress Energy which together with Sri Lanka’s LTL group proposed to build a 350 megawatt gas-fired power plant in Kerawalapitiya, north of Colombo, on July 14, 2021.

As part of the deal, New Fortress will have gas supply rights to the Kerawalapitya Power Complex, where 310 MW of power has been operational from September 23, 2021 and an additional 700 MW scheduled to be added, of which 350 MW is to be operational by 2023.

A CEB spokesperson said so far no new appointment has been announced for the vacant chairman position yet.

Meanwhile Additional General Manager, Corporate Strategy, D C Rohantha Abeysekara has been appointed as the New General Manager, with former acting GM Susantha Perera resigning from the position on Tuesday (25).

Perera was appointed by Chairman Ferdinando in early January. However, the appointment created a conflict in the management, with the CEB Engineers Union warning of an escalation of trade union action claiming that the appointment was made illegally.

The CEB’s general manager is appointed on the basis of seniority and under CEB law, the GM has to retire at 60 years.

This principle has been followed since the beginning of the CEB, though the minister in charge can extend the service under certain circumstances.

Sri Lanka this year extended the retirement age of state workers to 65 years. The CEB Engineers Union had opposed attempts to extend the service of M R Ranatunga.

Ranatunga went to court in order to stay in office. Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal did not issue an interim order at a hearing last week extending the term but ordered an interim general manager to be appointed until the case was completed.

Chairman Ferdinando then appointed Susantha Perera, a former employee as ‘Acting GM’ on January 17.

However, with Perera handing in his resignation as GM on Tuesday (25), Abeysekara assumed duties as the new GM on Wednesday.

“We are in a crisis situation. Let’s see how we can manage it going forward. I believe everyone will give their fully committed effort to solve the issues,” Abeysekara said after assuming duties. (Colombo/Jan26/2022)

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Sri Lanka discussing giving extra land, water for Chinese oil refinery

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in discussions with China’s Sinopec to give extra land and assure water supplies after the company decided to expand the capacity of a planned oil refinery in Hambantota, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“There are concerns on how the water supply is going to be provided for the refinery,” Minister Wijesekera told reporters Friday.

The refinery will need more land and also revise conditions in a Board of Investment agreement, he said.

Read more
Sinopec to double capacity of new refinery in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota

Recommendations and decisions from Sri Lanka’s side had already been sent and Sinopec is expected to revert back in May.

“We are hoping to sign the agreement once everyone has agreed,” Wijesekara said.

The principle agreements are expected to be signed by June, he said.

The refinery could sell up to 10 percent of its output in the domestic market.

“There is no commitment by the government to purchase anything,” Minister Wijesekera said. (Colombo/Apr19/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 302.00/50 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 302.00/50 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Friday, down from 301.50/302.00 a day earlier, dealers said.

There was increased demand for dollars after the central bank bought 715 million dollars from forex markets. In the previous two months it was buying on average about 200 million US dollars, leaving market participants and bank in a ‘oversold’ position.

There were some official dollars sales Friday dealers said.

READ Sri Lanka rupee quoted wide to US dollar as peg inconsistencies flare up

Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 11.30/40 percent down from 11.35/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.95/12.05 percent up from 11.90/12.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed stable at 12.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed stable at 12.30/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed stable at 12.40/50 percent. (Colombo/Apr19/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, banks trade down

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Friday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.38 percent, or 44.80 points, at 11,753; while the S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.53 percent, or 18.46 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was at 1.4 billion. The diversified financials (Rs366mn) and banks (Rs266mn) sectors continued to see selling pressure.

“This was possibly due to uncertainty around the bond discussions,” market participants said.

With the exception of Sampath Bank Plc (up at 77.50) all other banks traded down in the day. Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc was down at 104.50, Hatton National Bank Plc was down at 188.50, and DFCC Bank Plc was down at 77.00.

LOLC Finance Plc saw the most trades and closed up at 6.40. Another LOLC company, Browns Investments Plc, also saw high traded volumes and closed up at 5.60.

Softlogic Capital Plc was up at 7.00, and Softlogic Holdings Plc was up at 11.20. A trading suspension imposed on SHL.N0000 was lifted effective today as the company submitted the annual report for the year ended 31st March 2023.

However, shares of the Company will remain in the Watch List “due to Qualified Audit Opinion and Emphasis of matter on going concern in the Independent Auditor’s Report in the Audited Financial Statements for the year ended 31st March 2022.”

Dialog Axiata Plc, which announced its merger with Bharti Airtel Thursday, saw its share price close up at 11.90.

“There was some traction on index heavyweights,” market participants pointed out.

Top contributors to the APSI included Aitken Spence Plc (up at 134.50), Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc (up at 1,245.25, and Lion Brewery (Ceylon) Plc (up at 1,048.50).

There was a net foreign inflow of 5 million. (Colombo/Apr19/2024)

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