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Monday December 5th, 2022

Sri Lanka extends Coronavirus curfews, work from home till Apr 03, to bottle Covid-19 with count at 106

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka extended a work from home period to April 03, and has slapped indefinite Coronavirus curfews on three districts with authorities making a final effort to stop any remaining unidentified carriers infecting others.

The work from home period from March 30 to April 03 will apply to all State, semi-government and private sector entities except which are categorized as essential services.

“This period is not considered as public holidays. Uninterrupted continuation of public services is the responsibility of the Government,” the Presidents office said.

“However, the objective of this measure is to prevent unnecessary gathering of people and pave the way for self-quarantine.”

Since the Wave II surge of the epidemic began with infected returnees from countries other than China in March daily growth of confirmed patients had been in the single or low double digits.

On March 26, the health ministry had confirmed four new cases by 2100 hours taking the total to 106. Another 237 suspected patients are under observation.

Four Coronavirus patients have recovered so far, including a Wave I patient from China who was originally infected with the Wuhan virus in January 2020.

Related

Sri Lanka says a work-at-home period till April 03

Sri Lanka curfew break extended till 1400h Thursday – Jaffna Update

There have been no deaths but two are in intensive care, the head of Sri Lanka’s health service Anil Jasinghe has said.

Sri Lanka has slapped indefinite curfews in Colombo, Kalutara and Gampaha, calling them high risk areas, while a curfew was also extended in Jaffna where an infected Swiss pastor conducted a service.

Out of patients indentified up to late afternoon Thursday Colombo had recorded 22, Kalutara, 15, Gampaha 10 and Puttalam 09, Jasinghe said, prompting the areas to be designated high risk.

Health Workers Discriminated

“Today four people recovered from Coronavirus and left for home quarantine,” Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said in a daily recorded statement.

“That is something to be happy about. The health workers, the nurses, doctors and minor workers deserve the honour of the nation, along with the service personnel and the army commander.

“However we have heard that when they go home they face some discrimination in society”

They are a great strengthen to the people; they need the honor of the people.

Wanniarachchi said Suwaseriya paramedic ambulance workers also performing a great service to the nation.

“They are bringing in Coronavirus patients, going to houses not caring whether people have Coronavirus or not,” she said.

Jasinghe said some health workers have been asked to leave their residences.

“They are not infected persons, they know how to protect themselves,” Jasinghe said.

Jasinghe had also sought police support to protect persons who are not wearing masks in public. Members have been asked to stay away from each other maintaining at least a meter distance (Britain’s National Health Service is advising 2 meters) a the key preventive measure and washing hands frequently.

Wearing surgical masks incorrectly, moving them around with hands will transfer germs to the hands to the mouth and nose, health experts have said. If there is active community transmission, the government would ask people to wear masks.

“Even some officials who do not know the correct position has been creating problems for the members of the public who do not wear masks,” Jasinghe said.

“This is also the advice of the World Health Organization. The Lancet journal has also yesterday published a piece with a similar view.”

Related

Sri Lanka public free to go without a mask, do not harass them: health ministry

Jasinghe also asked the public not to ask for curfew passes especially to visit relatives.

Medicine Distribution – Correct address needed

With ongoing curfews patients who visit hospitals for monthly clinics cannot get their medicine.

“We have discussed with the Postal Service and medicines will be put in packets and distributed by post. For that we need the correct address and telephone number.

“So we are asking clinic patients to call the hospitals and update their addresses and telephone numbers if wrong one has been given.

He said a meeting had been held with a pharmacy association and the pharma chamber to develop a mechanism for private patients who buy regularly from pharmacies.

“There may be problems at first, but we will observe and fix them,” Jasinghe said.

“We are doing all this so that people will maintain their distance.”

Quarantine

Army Chief Shavendra Silva said 223 person who had been quarantined at Punani and Kandakadu centres had been released on March 26.

“They have been asked to home quarantine for 14 days. Up to now 678 persons have left quarantine.

He said 2,866 were in quarantine and another 443 will leave on Friday.

The head of Sri Lanka’s Health Promotion Bureau Paba Palihawadana said they were asked to home quarantine because the virus was new and also visitors tended to come home to see them.

“If a lot of people come home to see them, they can get re-infected,” she said.

Economic Toll

Senior advisor to the Finance Minister Nivard Cabraal has called for a strategy to get the economies working after Covid-19 ends.

“The Sri Lankan economy would also have to be re-shaped and restructured to deal with the new global economic order and the challenges that would unfold,” Cabraal said.

Related

Sri Lanka has to prepare a way forward strategy for a post-Covid19 era: Cabraal

Sri Lanka has imported extra food from India for April season: Minister

Information Minister Bandula Gunewardene had said that Sri Lanka’s traders had imported extra food from India in March to cope with high demand in the April New Year season and there were extra stocks of food.

Health Minister Wanniarachchi said beneficiaries of Samurdhi income supplements will get a 10,000 rupee credit.

However day labourers earners who have been working hard and not depending on tax payer handouts have been badly hit with no income.

Television reports said Sri Lanka’s price controllers have disrupted the work of Dambulla economic trading centre, which works on commission like a stock excahne claiming that traders were pushing up prices.

Angry market participants were interviewed on TV saying prices were pushed down by force to 80 rupees a kilogram depriving farmers of incomes but the same goods were retailed at high prices elsewhere.

The Consumer Affairs Authority also caused a nation-wide shortage of tinned fish, by slapping a 100 rupee price control.

Tinned fish prices are artificially kept up in Sri Lanka with import duties to benefit a handful of politically connected rent seeking domestic producers, critics have said. (Colombo/Mar27/2020)

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Time right for elections, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna ready to face any poll: Basil

File photo: SLPP national organiser Basil Rajapaksa

ECONOMYNEXT — The time has come for an election in Sri Lanka and the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is ready to face any election, SLPP national organiser Basil Rajapaksa said, dismissing claims that the party has come to fear elections in the face of growing unpopularity and increased factionalisation.

Speaking to reporters at an event held in Colombo Monday December 05 morning to mark the fourth anniversary of the party’s media centre, Rajapaksa handwaved off assertions that the SLPP has splintered in the wake of the mass protests that ousted his brother and former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“No, our party hasn’t fragmented, not the way this cake was cut,” he said, pointing to the cake that was cut to celebrate the media centre’s anniversary.

“There may be some [dissenters], but we are with the people,” said Rajapaksa.

Political analysts, however, note that the once mighty SLPP has indeed fractured to at least four or five distinct factions. One group, according to party sources, is with President Ranil Wickremesinghe who is keen to involve younger SLPP legislators in his economic reform agenda. The second is with former Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma who launched an unsuccessful bid for the presidency and was roundly defeated by Wickremesinghe at the July 19 presidential vote in parliament. The third group now sits as independent MPs in parliament, while a fourth faction are with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SLPP patriarch.

There is another group that remains loyal to Basil Rajapaksa, though all but one SLPP legislator voted for the 21st amendment to the constitution that prohibited dual citizens from entering parliament. Rajapaksa, a dual citizen with US passport, recently returned to the island after a private visit to his second home.

The former finance minister, who resigned after a wave of protests that demanded his departure along with that of his presidential brother, for their alleged role in Sri Lanka’s prevailing currency crisis, the worst in decades, was in a jovial mood at the anniversary event on Monday and was seen heartily indulging reporters who were throwing loaded question after loaded question at him.

Asked about future plans of the SLPP, Rajapaksa quipped that they couldn’t be revealed to the media at this stage.

“However, time has come for an election. It’s difficult to say how it will be at present, but as a party, we’re ready to face any election,” he said.

Rajapaksa’s apparent confidence in facing an election is in direct contrast to speculation that the SLPP is banking on President Wickremesinghe’s refusal to dissolve parliament anytime soon. Opposition lawmakers have accused Wickremesinghe of providing sanctuary and promising security to the deeply unpopular party by not calling early elections.

“We have won every election we faced so far. We are thankful to the Sri Lankan people for that. If we were unable to meet their expectations 100 percent, we regret that. We will correct any shortcomings and will work to fulfill the people’s aspirations,” said Rajapaksa.

Asked if he is going to remain in active politics despite the blanket ban on dual citizens, the former minister said, again with a chuckle: “Active politics… well, I’m not in governance anymore. Governance [for me] has been banned by the 21st amendment. So no, I’m not in governance, but I am in politics,” he said.

Pressed about possibly entering parliament again, he said: “How can I?”

Nor is Rajapaksa saddened by the development, he claimed. “No, I’m happy about it,” he said.

The former two-time finance minister, noted for his clash of views with Wickremesinghe when the latter was invited by then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for a round of discussions on economic recovery, was cautiously complimentary when asked about the new president. It was the SLPP’s backing that guaranteed Wickremesinghe his lifelong ambition.

“I think that selection was the correct one. We have maintained from the start that all of us in government or opposition must be able to freely engage in politics,” he said, referring to assurances that the president has purportedly given SLPP parliamentarians that they will not face the kind of retaliatory mob violence that engulfed the nation on May 09 after alleged SLPP goons attacked peaceful anti-government protestors in Colombo.

A reporter asked if Rajapaksa believes the incumbent president is capable of taking the country on the right path to recovery?

“The first task was accomplished, by allowing us to engage in politics and to get on the streets. There are economic and other issues, and we have high hopes that they will be resolved,” he said. (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

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Sri Lanka proposed power tariff not to recover past losses: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – The government has not proposed a power tariff increase to recover past losses, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera in response to a statement attributed the head of the power regulator commission.

“The proposal that was presented was for an automatic cost reflective tariff mechanism to be implemented to supply uninterrupted power & to recover the current cost of power supply,” Minister Wijesekera said in twitter.com message.

“Govt has not proposed to recover past loses of CEB from a tariff revision…”

The cabinet of ministers had given the nod tariff revisions twice a year to prevent large losses from building up as in the past.

The Public Utilities Commission has disputed costs protected for the power utility saying the petroleum utility was keeping large margins in selling fuel.

The government in a budget for 2022 also proposed to tax surcharge to recover losses.

The regulator also disputed power demand forecasts.

Also read; Sri Lanka regulator disputes CEB costs, demand projections for 2023

The PUCSL cannot increase tariffs to recover past losses, Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said. (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s shares gain in mid market trade

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged up in mid day trade on Monday (05), continuing the positive run for seven straight sessions on news over a possible debt restructuring from Paris Club, analysts said.

All Share Price Index gained by 0.69% or 60.10 points to 8,829, while the most liquid shares gained by 0.96% or 26.59 points to 2,801.

“The market was pushed up over the news of a potential 10 year debt moratorium,” analysts said.

The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis. 

Related – Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium in 15-year Sri Lanka debt re-structure: report

The market generated a revenue of 2.1 billion rupees.

Top gainers during 1130 hours were Expolanka, Browns Investment and LOLC.  (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

 

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