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Friday January 27th, 2023

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’s Dialog Axiata hopes to hold prices despite rising costs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata hopes to hold prices despite higher taxes, rising costs like energy, officials said as the country goes through the worst currency crisis in the history of its intermediate regime central bank.

High inflation following a collapse of the currency has reduced real incomes of customers.

“There are many factors to consider, especially with the last price increase we did in last year did not resulted in a significant increase in revenue” Pradeep De Almeida · Group Chief Technology Officer at Dialog Axiata said at the launch of its Future zone at Lotus tower.

In September,2022 following an electricity tarrif hike dialog increased its tariffs on Mobile, Fixed Telephone, Broadband Plans and Value Added Services (Prepaid and Postpaid) by 20 percent while tariffs on all Pay Television Services were raised 25 percent.

Value Added Tax (VAT) was also raised by the government from 12 percent to 15 percent on all Telecommunications and Pay TV services.

“Even though we increase the prices we only saw around 8-9 percent increase in revenue,” Almeida said.

“That is because many users cut off their usage to limit the spending”.

Dialog will increase efficiencies and manage costs in an attempt to avoid prices increases for customers, he said.

Over the 24 months to December 2022, Sri Lanka;s central bank has generated inflation of 76 percent, based on the Colombo Consumer Price Index official data shows. Following the currency collapse, more power tariff hikes are planned.

“We are trying to mainly bear the cost from our side. We are getting a massive support from our parent company Telekom Malaysia International,” Navin Peiris, Group Chief Enterprise Officer at Dialog told EconomyNext.

“Therefore as of now, there is no plan to increase prices”. (Colombo/Jan 26/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares fall at market close on profit taking

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares fell on Thursday as profit taking entered the market mainly on financial and diversified sectors, brokers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) fell 0.13 percent or 11.50 points to close at 8,926.56.

“The market was trading on dull trade mainly due to profit taking,” an analyst said.

“Also we saw investors taking a sideline as quarterly reports started to come”.

The earnings in the first quarter of 2023 are expected to be negative with revised up taxes and an imminent electricity tariff hike.

Earnings in the second quarter are expected to be more positive with the anticipation of IMF loan and possible reduction in the market interest rates as the tax revenue has started to generate funds.

The central bank’s policy decision was expected and investors have been eying on IMF deal with hopes of rapid economic recovery from the current unprecedented economic crisis, however since the market gained in the last sessions profit taking has come about, analysts said.

The market has been on a rising trend on the hopes of a faster IMF deal. However, the central bank government said the IMF deal is likely in the quarter or in the first month of the second quarter.

The most liquid index S&P SL20 fell  0.33 percent or 9.21 points to 2,798.

LOLC had seen some attention by investors as the firm disposed 90,256,750 shares held with Agstar PLC at 15-17.50 rupees a share.

The market witnessed a turnover of 1.2 billion rupees, lower than the month’s daily average of 1.9 billion rupees.

Expolanka dragging the market down closed 2.36 percent down at 186.7 rupees a share. Sampath bank fell 1.41 percent to close at 42 rupees a share while Royal Ceramic Lanka closed 2.59 percent dwn at 30.1 rupees a share.

(Colombo/Jan26/2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yields steady at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bond yields were steady at close on Thursday, dealers said, while a guidance peg for interbank transactions by the Central Bank remained steady.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.00/20 percent unchanged from the last close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 26.60/90 percent, up from 28.50/70 percent on Wednesday.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 28.60/85 percent, up from 28.50/60 percent at the last close.

The three months bill closed at 29.75/30.25 percent unchanged from the last close.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions appreciated by another 2 cents to 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 360.49 rupees on Thursday, data showed.  (Colombo/Jan 26/2022)

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