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Monday February 6th, 2023

Sri Lanka confirms second monkeypox case; no plans yet to acquire vaccine

ECONOMYNEXT – As Sri Lanka confirms its second case of monkeypox, health authorities say infections have been contained and that there is no need yet for a vaccine to be rolled out.

However, if the need arose for a vaccine, the authorities will take measures to import it, an official said.

Sri Lanka recently announced that some seven million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was to be administered as the booster shot for COVID-19 had to be discarded as no one came forward to get the jab.

Sri Lanka detected its second case of monkeypox on Wednesday November 09, Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said.

Herath told EconomyNext that the Director General of Health Services will issue a detailed statement on the patient within the day.

Meanwhile, President of the Laboratory Professionals Association Ravi Kumudesh said it is suspected that the latest patient was a recent arrival in the island who had contracted the virus about a month ago.

Media reports said the patient had returned on November 01, from Dubai, where the first patient had also arrived from, gone to a Sexually Transmitted Diseases clinic to do a test. The Medical Research Institute has confirmed the patient had contracted the virus.

Health officials said Sri Lanka does not need a vaccine for the monkeypox virus at the moment but, if the need arose, the authorities would step in.

A 19-year-old returnee from the middle east was identified as a monkeypox patient last week after he voluntarily went to test for any Sexually Transmitted diseases after experiencing symptoms.

Health officials said the patient is currently recovering gradually at the National Institute for infectious Diseases (IDH).

“In Europe and other western regions of the world where cases are high and where this much exposure, a post-exposure vaccine is being used. However there is no recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) or any other international institute to use any vaccine,” Chinthana Perera, Community Medicine Specialist at the health ministry’s epidemiology unit said.

“There is no need of a vaccine at the moment for Sri Lanka, and if the necessity arises, health authorities will take measures to secure a vaccine”.

Sri Lanka has tested seven suspected cases of monkeypox and confirmed only two cases so far. Officials said the relatives and other contacts of the first infected patient were tested, but no positive cases have been identified yet.

“This is a disease contracted through skin contact, and you have to have skin to skin contact for a considerable time in order to contract this virus,” said Perera.

According to WHO in 2022, a total of 78,628 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in 110 countries.

Since January 01, 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported to WHO from 110 member states across all six WHO regions. As of November 07, 3,703 probable cases have been recorded, including 41 deaths to WHO.

Since May 13, a high proportion of these cases have been reported from countries without previously documented monkeypox transmission.

“This is the first time that cases and sustained chains of transmission have been reported in countries without direct or immediate epidemiological links to areas of West or Central Africa,” WHO said.

“With the exception of countries in West and Central Africa, the ongoing outbreak of monkeypox continues to primarily affect men who have sex with men who have reported recent sex with one or multiple partners. At present there is no signal suggesting sustained transmission beyond these networks.” (Colombo/Nov09/2022)

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Sri Lanka to address SME tax problems at first opportunity: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Problems faced by Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprises from recent tax changes will be addressed at the first opportunity, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

Business chambers had raised questions about hikes in Value Added Tax, Corporate Income Tax and the Social Security Contribution Levy (SSCL) that’s been imposed.

It should be explored on how to amend the Inland Revenue Act, Siyamabalapitiya said, adding that the future months should be considered as a period where the country is being stabilized.

Both the VAT and SSCL are effectively paid by customers, but the SSCL is a cascading tax that makes running businesses difficult.

In Sri Lanka SMEs make up a large part of the economy, accounting for 80 per cent of all businesses according to according to the island’s National Human Resources and Employment Policy.

(Colombo/ Feb 05/2023)

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Sri Lanka revenues Rs158.7bn in Jan 2023 up 51-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government revenues were 158.7 billion rupees in January 2023 but expenditure and debt service remained high, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

In January 2022 total revenues were Rs104.5 billion according to central bank data.

Sri Lanka’s tax revenues have risen sharply amid an inflationary blow off which had boosted nominal GDP while President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also raised taxes.

Departing from a previous strategy advocated by the IMF expanding the state and not cutting expenses, called revenue based fiscal consolidation, he is attempting to do classical fiscal consolidation with spending restraint.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has presented a note to cabinet requesting state expenditure to be controlled, Gunawardana told reporters.

State Salaries cost 87.4 billion rupees.

Pensions and income supplements (Samurdhi program) were29.5 billion rupees.

Other expenses were 10.8 billion rupees.

Capital spending was   21 billion rupees.

Debt service was 377.6 billion rupees for January which has to be done with borrowings from Treasury bills, bonds and a central bank provisional advance of 100 billion rupees, Gunawardana said.

Interest costs were not separately given. (Colombo/Feb05/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices down for second week

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices fell for the second week at an auction on January 31, with teas from all elevations seeing a decline, data showed.

“In retrospect, the decline in prices would be a price correction owing to the overall product quality and less interest from some key importers due to the arrival of cargo at destinations ahead of schedule,” Forbes and Walker tea brokers said.

The weekly sale average fell from 1475.79 rupees to 1465.40 rupees from a week ago, according to data from Ceylon Tea Brokers.

The tea prices are down for two weeks in a row.

High Growns

The High Grown sale average was down by 20.90 rupees to 1380.23 rupees, Ceylon Tea Brokers said.

High grown BOP and BOPF was down about 100 rupees.

“Ex-Estate offerings which totalled 0.75 M/Kg saw a slight decline in quality over the previous week” Forbes and Walker said.

OP/OPA’s in general were steady to marginally down.

Low Growns

In Low Grown Teas, FBOP 1 was down by 100 rupees and FBOP was down by 50 rupees while PEK was up by 150 rupees.

The Low Growns sale average was down by 8.55 rupees to 1547.93 rupees.

A few select Best BOP1s along with Below Best varieties maintained.

OP1                     Select Best OP1’s were steady, whilst improved/clean Below Best varieties maintained.   Others and poorer sorts were easier.

PEKOE                 Well- made PEK/PEK1s in general were steady, whilst others and poorer sorts were down.

Leafy and Semi Leafy catalogues met with fair demand,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“However, the Small Leaf and Premium catalogues continued to decline.

“Shippers to Iran were very selective, whilst shippers to Türkiye and Russia were fairly active.”

This week  2.2 million Kilograms of Low Growns were sold.

Medium Growns

Medium Grown BOP and BOPF fell by around 100 rupees

The Medium Growns sale average was down by 33.40 rupees to 1199.4 rupees.

“Medium CTC teas in the higher price bracket witnessed a similar trend, whilst teas at the lower end were somewhat maintained subject to quality,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“Improved activity from the local trade and perhaps South Africa helped to stabilize prices to some extent.”

OP/OPA grades were steady while PEKOE/PEKOE1 were firm, while some gained 50-100 rupees at times.

Well-made FBOP/FBOPF1’s were down by 50-100 rupees per kg and more at times.

(Colombo/Feb 5/2023)

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