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Friday January 27th, 2023

Sri Lanka extends COVID-19 lockdown to September 21

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ongoing COVID-19 lockdown has been extended till 4am September 21, health minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

The minister tweeted Friday (10) morning following a COVID-19 eradication committee meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that cases are on the decline and that Sri Lanka will be able to reopen without risk.

Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva said the president has requested that health guidelines continue to be followed if restrictions are to be lifted on September 21. The president has also advised that all ‘economic centres’ (agriculture exchanges) remain open during the lockdown period excluding Poya full moon holidays, said Silva.

Prior to Fridays announcement of extending the lcokdown, there were some indications that the lockdown would be lifted next Monday (13).

Health Services Deputy Director Dr Hemantha Herath said on Wednesday (08) that government officials must plan for the resumption of economic and other activities in a way that will not allow further spread of COVID-19 if Sri Lanka’s lockdown is to be lifted next Monday.

He told reporters that not planning for a controlled lifting of the ongoing ‘quarantine curfew’ will complicate the government’s plans to reopen the country.

Though the daily COVID-19 cases curve has started to flatten by a small gradient, the delta variant-led epidemic is still raging around the country,with 2,856 new cases and 175 deaths confirmed on Thursday (09).

Sri Lanka went into lockdown on August 20 after a surge in cases and deaths attributed to the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Health authorities had fully vaccinated 46 percent of the population against COVID-19 by August 09, with 37 percent getting China’s Sinopharm vaccine.

Dr Herath said on Thursday that Sri Lanka can expect a drop in COVID-19 deaths over time, but as more people are jabbed, the percentage of breakthrough cases or deaths is expected to rise merely as a function of statistics and not because vaccines don’t work.

Related: Drop in COVID-19 deaths expected, breakthrough deaths may occur: Sri Lanka official


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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.


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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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