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Friday December 9th, 2022

One million Sinopharm doses to arrive in Sri Lanka June 6; second dose to be rolled out from June 8

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will receive one million doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on June 06 with rollout of the second dose set to begin June 08, Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva said.

This will be the first purchased consignment of the Chinese vaccine to arrive in the island, Silva told reporters on May 29.

Half a million doses of Sinopharm arrived on May 26, 125,000 of which were administered to residents in the Kurunegala, Galle and Matara districts in what was the first rolling out of a COVID-19 vaccine outside the Western province.

According to the army chief, the remaining 375,000 doses which were reserved to be administered as the second jab will now be distributed across more districts following the confirmation of the June 06 consignment.

As instructed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he said, 100,000 doses will be sent to the Colombo district, 75,000 to Gampaha, 50,000 each to Kurunegala, Ratnapura and Jaffna, and 25,000 to Matara. Silva did not clarify how the remaining 25,000 doses will be used.

Sri Lanka is purchasing Sinopharm at USD 15 per dose.

Health Services Director General Dr Asela Gunawardena told reporters on May 29 that prices were decided after discussions with the manufacturer.

Gunawardena was responding to claims by the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) that Sri Lanka has paid USD 5 more than Bangladesh had for each dose.

Indian newspaper Mint reported quoting Bangladesh’s Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal that Dhaka was indeed purchasing the vaccine at USD 10 per dose, contrary to claims by Sri Lankan officials.

Dr Gunawardena, however, insisted that Sri Lanka was paying the best possible price.

“The price can range from 18-40 dollars due to various reasons,” he said.

Sri Lanka has administered the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine for 345,789 out of a total 925,242 who had received their first shot.

The first dose of Sinopharm has been given to 666,612 so far while the first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine has been given to 16,664.

According to Gen Silva, from June 08 onwards first dose receivers of Sinopharm will get their second shot at the same vaccination centre they received the first dose. (Colombo/May31/2021)

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Sri Lanka bond yields end higher, kerb dollar Rs370/371

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bonds yields ended up and the T-bills eased on active trade on Friday, dealers said.

The US dollar was 370/371 rupees in the kerb.

“The bond rates went up, however more interest was seen in the short term bills by the investors” dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.90/32.20 percent on Friday, up from 31.25/70 percent at Thursday’s close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 30.30/31.30 percent steady from 30.30/31.00 percent.

The three-month T-bills closed at 30.75/31.30 percent, down from 32.00/32.25 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar unchanged.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.78 and 372.00 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.78 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Dec 09/2022)

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Foreign minister, US ambassador discuss future assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — In a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung discussed ways in which the United States can continue to support Sri Lanka going forward, the Ambassador said.

Chung tweeted Friday December 09 afternoon that the two officials had reflected on the “twists and turns” of 2022, at the meeting.

Minister Sabry was recently in Washington D.C. where he US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A foreign ministry statement said the two officials held productive discussions at the Department of State on December 02 on further elevating bilateral relations in diverse spheres, including the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations which will be marked in 2023.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka also celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence from the British in 2023, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has given himself and all parties that represent parliament a deadline to find a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

The US has been vocal about Sri Lanka addressing concerns about its human rights record since the end of the civil war in 2009 and was a sponsor of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unlike previous resolutions, this year’s iteration makes specific reference to the country’s prevailing currency crisis and calls for investigations on corruption allegations.

In the lead up to the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Minister Sabry Sri Lanka’s government under then new president Wickremesinghe does not want any confrontation with any international partner but will oppose any anti-constitutional move forced upon the country.

On the eve of the sessions on October 06, Sabry said countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who led the UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka, are greatly influenced by domestic-level lobbying by pressure groups from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

These pronouncements notwithstanding, the Wickremesnghe government has been making inroads to the West as well as India and Japan, eager to obtain their assistance in seeing Sri Lanka through the ongoing crisis.

The island nation has entered into a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended fund facility of 2.9 billion dollars to be disbursed over a period of four years, subject to a successful debt restructure programme and structural reforms.

Much depends on whether or not China agrees to restructure Sri Lanka’s 7.4 billion dollar outstanding debt to the emerging superpower. Beijing’s apparent hesitance to go for a swift restructure prompted Tamil National Alliance MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam to warn of possible “go home, China” protests in Colombo, similar to the wave of protests that forced the exit of former pro-China President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The TNA will be a key player in upcoming talks with the Wickremesinghe government on a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

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India smogs out Sri Lanka’s China tower observers


ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Lotus Tower has halved visitors to its observation deck an official said as dirty air flowing from India triggered air quality warnings and schools in the capital closed.

“Masks are mandatory at the observation deck and roughly around 50 to 60 can go up to the observation deck at a time, time limits have not been altered and still persists at 20 minutes for observation,” the official told EconomyNext.

Prior to the smog, 120 observers were permitted at once to the deck.

However, even after limitations the Lotus Tower has continued to draw visitors, and revenues are coming in, the official said.

The tower built with a Chinese loan by the cash rich Telecom Regulatory Commission has been described by critics as a white elephant that eats the money earned from telecom operators mainly as spectrum fees.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said India air heavily polluted with particulate matter was flowing across the island into a depression in the South West Bengal Bay. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)



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