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Friday August 19th, 2022

Sri Lanka allocates 3.8 bn for organic fertilizer purchase, set to import nutrients 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has allocated 3.8 billion rupees to purchase organic fertilizer from local producers during the next Maha cultivation season, co-cabinet spokesman Ramesh Pathirana said on Tuesday (24).

Pathirana, however, said the government will also be importing some “organically derived” nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to enrich organic fertilizers.

“The amount of money allocated for the local purchase of this organic fertilizer would be 3.8 billion Sri Lankan rupees,” Pathirana told the weekly cabinet briefing.

“We took another decision a few weeks ago in relation to the import of certain nutrients that are organically derived – namely nitrogen, prosperous, and potassium.”

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has completely banned the use of chemical fertilizers from the next cultivation season.

The government, which was spending around 400 million dollars to import mainly chemical fertilizers, has justified its decision saying that such chemicals have resulted in more Sri Lankans with non-communicable disease like chronic kidney disease and cancer.

The government has also acknowledged that they have very low amounts of foreign exchange left for imports.

Rajapaksa in the run-up to the November 2019 presidential election promised to provide fertilizer free of charge instead of a 50 kg fertilizer bag at a subsidized price of 350 rupees.

Farmers and well as experts have asked the government to phase out the “organic only” policy.

The Rajapaksa administration stubbornly refused to compromise on the decision despite pockets of protests by farmers who demanded chemical fertilizers in the last Yala cultivation season.

“Our priority is to procure whatever organic fertilizer required locally. That is the aim of the government.” Pathirana said.

“But until we sufficiently produce that quantity in Sri Lanka, we might have to import a certain quantity of organic fertilizer nutrient enrichment from other countries,” he said. (Colombo/Aug24/2021)

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Sri Lanka schedules 3-hour power cuts for Aug 20, 21: regulator

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will impose power cuts of up to three hours on Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21, Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said.

All areas (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V and W) will have power cuts of 1 hours and 40 minutes between 10.30 am and 06.00 pm and 1 hour 20 minutes from 06.00pm to 10.00 pm.

Click here for a detailed schedule.

The state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said supply interruption time and restoration time will vary within 30 minutes as indicated above.

Sri Lanka’s daily scheduled power cuts that were reduced to one hour in July with power generation from hydro power plants contributing more than 50 percent to the main grid reducing thermal power plant use was extended to three hours last week due to a breakdown at the Norochcholai coal power plant.

According to officials, the breakdown happened in Unit 1 of Norochcholai which will take around two weeks to repair.

The Minister of Power & Energy said Unit 2 is undergoing scheduled maintenance work while Unit 3 will continue to operate. West Coast and other fuel power pPlants will be used to manage the supply, the ministry said. (Colombo/Aug02/2022)

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Sri Lanka guidance peg edges T-bond yield edge down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions edged down on Friday (19), while yields in Treasury bonds picked up slightly and in T-bill remain unquoted in dull trade, a day after the Central Bank announced the policy rates will remain stable, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at 27.95/28.05 percent on Friday, slightly up from 27.90/28.00 percent on Thursday.

No T-bills were quoted on Friday, dealers said.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions further weakened by three cents to 361.00 rupees against the US dollar on Friday from 360.97 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 368.00 and 370.00 for small transactions.  (Colombo/ Aug 19/2022)

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Sri Lanka records 10 new COVID-19 deaths in 48 hours as case numbers rise

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka recorded 10 COVID-19 deaths in the 48 hours from August 17 to 19 taking the country’s pandemic death toll to 16,640, health ministry data showed.

Sri Lanka is experiencing a slight increase in COVID-19 cases with the relaxation of public health restrictions relating to face masks and public gatherings.

Health authorities said the situation will be monitored constantly and have asked the general public to continue to follow basic hygiene measures in order to control the spread of the virus again in the community.

In August alone 2,924 new cases were recorded in Sri Lanka, with 84 deaths attributed to the disease.

So far in 2022, from January onward, health authorities have identified 81,157 patients to date.

Epidemiology unit data showed that 874 patients are currently receiving treatment, out of which 716 are receiving home based care.

The spread of the virus has increased with the use of public transport rising after an easing of a fuel crisis.

Sri Lanka is also facing difficulties in securing essential medicine supplies for the health sector due to a forex shortage.

Health officials said if the number of COVID-19 patients rise to a level the health sector cannot manage,  with the added issues of fuel and medical shortages, the health system might collapse.

“It is the responsibility of us all. There is no use trying to forcibly control people. We all have the responsibility to reduce or stop the spread of the virus before it gets out of control. We have been living with it for the past two years,” Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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