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Thursday June 20th, 2024

Sri Lanka closes all schools amid pandemic resurgence

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will close down all schools, preschools and piriven (monastic schools) in the island till April 30 starting today to contain the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Prof G L Peiris said.

The minister told reporters today that all decisions with regard to school activities will be taken prioritising the health and safety of school children.

Sri Lanka has seen a surge in daily COVID-19 cases following the Sinhala & Tamil New Year holidays, with authorities fearing a newer, more virulent strain that is said to be affecting younger people.

“This weekend we will have a meeting with health authorities, regional education directors and school principals to decide on the course of action for next week, after May 03,” he said.

Meanwhile health authorities isolated two more Grama Niladhari divisions today, bringing total isolated areas since April 21 to 12.

Siriketha in Hingurakgoda, Polonnaruwa and Pallekumburan in Ukuwela, Matale were isolated from 6.30am today.

Other isolated Grama Niladhari divisions are Polhena, Heeralugedara, Kaluaggala in Kotadeniya, Gampaha, Aswennawaththa East in Minuwangoda, Gampaha, Pelawaththa North and East in Megahatenna, Kalutara, Pupuhar in Trincomalee, Kuliyapitiya, Thittawelgama Niraviya and Nikadalupotha in Kurunegala, Adhikarigoda in Kalutara, and Imbulagoda and Katudampe in Galle.

However, broadcast media reports showed residents in isolated areas moving to other districts and non-isolated areas following yesterday’s declaration. Footage showed no security personnel on duty to stop the residents from moving to other areas.

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said 108 people were arrested yesterday for not following quarantine laws, not maintaining physical distance and not wearing facemasks.

“From October 30 till now we have arrested around 3,755, of whom 3,650 have been produced in court,” Rohana told reporters.

“Most were from the Kalutara district,” he said.

Rohana said police will continue to supervise the general public.

“When you return to the workplace after a long weekend, follow the health guidelines. We ask management of all companies to monitor all employees and ensure guidelines are followed,” he said.

“Our aim is to stop the creation of sub clusters and to minimise the spread of the virus as much as possible,” he added. (Colombo/Apr27/2021)

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Sri Lanka shares debt management experience at global forum

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has shared its experiences at a forum on debt management to “provide lessons for others”, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe has said.

Semasinghe spoke on “The Role of Debt Management in Navigating Crises” at the 14th Debt Management Facility (DMF) Stakeholders’ Forum, in Livingstone, Zambia.

“I shared the experiences of Sri Lanka which can provide valuable lessons for others and explored the critical elements of capacity building and sound institutional practices in managing debt, particularly in the context of economic challenges,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“Sri Lanka’s experience demonstrates that effective debt management is not just about managing numbers but also about building robust institutions and capacities.”

The journey underscores the importance of transparent, accountable governance and the need for international support and cooperation in times of crisis, he said.

“Sri Lanka prioritized addressing gaps in public debt management by drafting a consolidated Public Debt Management Act, ensuring clarity and legal robustness and establishing a centralized Public Debt Management Office with operational autonomy.

“The role of debt management in navigating crises is multifaceted and critical. Further, by investing in capacity building, adhering to sound institutional practices, and strategically managing debt restructuring and liability operations, countries can better withstand economic shocks and pave the way for sustainable recovery.”

Developing countries face severe debt distress as they are more vulnerable to external shocks, Semasinghe said, and “managing global debt requires coordinated international efforts on debt restructuring where necessary, timely fiscal policy adaptation and help sustainable economic growth.”

The state minister also pointed out the financial impact of climate change was an emerging challenge, as countries need investment to mitigate and adapt to climate impacts, “especially through non-debt creating inflows, which would require private capital mobilization.” (Colombo/Jun20/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 305.10/30 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger ahead of the long weekend at 305.10/30 to the US dollar on Thursday, up from 305.40/55 to the US dollar Wednesday, dealers said, while some bond yields edged up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.45/80 percent, up from 10.35/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 11.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.00/15 percent, up from 11.95/12.35 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.12.2031 closed at 12.05/25 percent.

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, JKH trade pushes turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Thursday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.19 percent, or 23.11 points, at 12,249; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.15 percent, or 5.33 points, at 3,610.

Turnover was 2 billion. Nearly half of this (Rs980mn) came from a crossing on John Keells Holdings Plc. The share closed down at 202.00.

“There were several crossings today which pushed turnover,” market participants said.

“Institutions and high net-worth activity drove the market, while the retail investors we feel are still about uncertain and adopting a wait-and-see approach.”

Melstacorp Plc was among the companies that saw active volumes (Rs194mn) in the day. The share closed up at 87.10.

Top contributors to the index included TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 41.70), Sampath Bank Plc (up at 79.50), Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 201.00). Hayleys Plc (up at 105.00) and its subsidiary Hayleys Fabric Plc (up at 46.60) were also positive contributors. (Colombo/Jun20/2024)

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