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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka holds talks on CEB restructure; ADB, WB, USAID, JICA discuss assistance

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Power & Energy has held talks on the progress of restructuring the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) with a number of multilateral and other development agencies communicating on the assistance they can offer.

Minister Kanchana Wijesekara tweeted Saturday March 11 afternoon that the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had informed the government of its intention to assist.

A roadmap and timeline will be submitted to the cabinet of ministers on the matter, said Wijesekara, adding that reforms that can be implemented before the final Act will be initiated the following week.

As crisis-hit Sri Lanka approaches board approval of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a 2.9 billion dollar bailout package, the government is on a major cost-cutting drive in both the CEB and the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

On Friday, the Ministry of Power & Energy entered collective agreements with trade unions of the two state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for a 25-percent salary increment every three years minus annual bonuses, allowances and other benefits.

Minister Wijesekara said that the bonuses, allowances and other benefits will not be continued or renewed.

“I have instructed Secretary to the Min of Power & Energy to commence the process to terminate them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the head of Sri Lanka’s power regulatory body has filed a fundamental rights case at the Supreme Court against a recent 66 percent electricity tariff hike.

Janaka Ratnayaka, the chairman of Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) said the “purported approval given by the Commission” was an unlawful decision of three out of the five members and not a decision of the commission.

The loss-making state-owned Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) implemented a 66 percent increase in the electricity tariff following a protracted conflict between the CEB and the PUCSL head Ratnayaka. The PUCSL informed the CEB that it had approved the tariff hike.

The PUCSL originally gave approval only for a 35 percent increase in the tariff after a public hearing with highly consuming households being charged heavily. (Colombo/Mar11/2023)

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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