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Sunday February 25th, 2024

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 could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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