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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Sri Lanka expects to acquire Sinopharm, Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines in July

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka expects to receive a range of vaccines against COVID-19 in July in varying numbers of doses, officials said, amid uncertainty about the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and doubt about the efficacy of certain vaccines against the highly transmissible Delta variant.

One million more doses of the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on July 06, State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Secretary Dr Saman Ratnayake told Economy Next.

Ratnayake said Sri Lanka has also sent a schedule to acquire the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, with a consignment expected to arrive in due course, though a date has yet to be confirmed.

So far Sri Lanka has obtained 1,264,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine, 130,000 doses Sputnik V and 3.1 million doses of Sinopharm.

Ratnayake said a consignment of the Pfizer-BionTech jab is also expected to arrive on July 05, though the number of doses has yet to be finalised.

State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana told reporters on June 27 that Sri Lanka will receive Sinovac, the other China-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine, in the first two weeks of July. A batch of the US-manufactured Moderna jab is also expected to arrive in the same period, he said.

Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi told parliament on June 23 that the government has allocated 129.35 million US dollars for Sputnik V, 33.7 million US dollars Pfizer, 52.5 million US dollars for Covishield and 210 million US dollars for Sinopharm.

Meanwhile Sri Lankan pharmaceutical company Kelun Life Science said their manufacturing plant in the Kandy export processing zone will be dedicated for filling the Sinovac vaccine in Sri Lanka in the near future.

Kelun Life Science Quality Assurance Manager Gayathri Ariyasinghe told the privately owned Derana network that the solution of the vaccine will be imported from China in bulk and will be filled into vials in Sri Lanka.

“At the moment we are doing trial runs with the machine,” Ariyasinghe said.

Kelun Life Science Quality Control Manager Sajani Wijeratne said that upon receiving the solution in bulk by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC), it will be sent to the Kelun plant and will go through a quality testing process before sent for filling.

“Sinovac is the vaccine that is being tested for most variants of the COVID-19 virus” Wijeratne claimed.

However, Reuters reported June 25 quoting a Chinese disease control centre official that antibodies triggered by the two Chinese COVID-19 vaccines including Sinovac are less effective against the Delta variant compared with other strains but the shots still offer protection.

Sri Lanka has detected five cases of the deadly strain in the community so far.

Wijeratne said in July a specialist team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be coming to Sri Lanka to inspect and audit the filling process to give the approval to continue filling.

“We expect to produce 6 million doses by August, 2021 and 7 million dose by September,” Wijeratne said.

“By bringing in bulk we have a great advantage economically. We will save around 30 percent of the cost we spend to bring in doses and also we won’t need to wait for a vaccine,” he added.

Sri Lanka currently uses three COVID-19 vaccines in the country’s COVID-19 immunisation drive.

So far the second dose of the Covishiled vaccine has been given for only 372,868 out of 925,242.

Minister Wanniarachchi said some 582,000 more are awaiting the second dose of the vaccine.

The first dose of Sinopharm meanwhile has been administered to 1,533,780 people so far, while 492,850 have received the second dose as of June 27.

The first dose of Sputnik V has been given to 114,795 so far, while 14,425 have received the second dose as of June 27.

So far Sri Lanka has spent 41.5 million rupees for COVID-19 vaccination, official data shows. (Colombo/June27/2021)

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Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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