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Friday June 2nd, 2023

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 to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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