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Thursday April 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka railway station in the dark for nonpayment of electricity bill

File photo

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has disconnected the power supply to the Bambalapitiya railway station due to nonpayment of electricity bills amounting to over 78,000 rupees.

Railways Deputy General Manager (Traffic) M J Indipolage told reporters Friday January 26 that the CEB has not heeded a routine request of a few days’ grace period to settle outstanding bills.

“The accounts division takes measures to pay these electricity bills the moment they arrive. Sometimes, there are instances where it’s delayed. At those time, we talk to the CEB and request a grace period of a few days, without resorting to disconnection. It seems that this time that request was not heeded,” he said.

Indipolage said the request is made taking into account the inconvenience to the public as well.

The Bambalapitiya railway station is a key stop on the busy coastal line where thousands of commuters gather at weekday rush hours. News footage on the privately owned Ada Derana network showed on Friday that the station had plunged into darkness, with workers lighting oil lamps after dusk after power was disconnected on Wednesday January 24. The station’s sound system had also ceased to function in the absence of electricity.

The unsettled bill had amounted to 78,080 rupees, according to Ada Derana.

“The cheque was sent this morning. We make these payments within the confines of the provisions the government has allocated to us for bill payments. There is no way of paying this from revenue collected by the railway station, because that money has to be credited to the Treasury,” said Indipolage.

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa told parliament in December that half a million Sri Lankan electricity consumers have been disconnected from their power supply due to nonpayment of outstanding bills.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers recently approved a proposal to change the frequency of power tariff revisions from every six months to every three months. This was after the Sri Lanka Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL), the power regulator, approved power tariff hikes by about 18 percent for domestic consumers taking the energy charge for users above 180 units to 89 rupees while hotels and industry rates were hiked by around 11 to 12 percent.

Cost-reflective market pricing energy is required under an ongoing International Monetary Fund programme to stop the CEB from borrowing from state banks. (Colombo/Jan26/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s discussions with bondholders constructive: State finance minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan authorities continue to engage all debt restructuring negotiations in good faith, within principles of equitable treatment among creditors, and with maximum transparency within the norms of such negotiations, State Minister of Finance, Shehan Semasinghe has said.

“It is standard practice, when a representative group of bondholders is formed, to entertain confidential discussions with such group and its appointed advisors. In the case of Sri Lanka, the Ad Hoc Group of Bondholders represents holders controlling more than 50% of the bonds, which make them a privileged interlocutor for Sri Lanka,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“It is well understood that given the price sensitive nature of the negotiations, and according to market regulations, discussions with the Group and its advisors are to be conducted under non-disclosure agreements. This evidently restricts the ability of the Government to unilaterally report about the substance of the discussions.

“The cleansing statement, which was issued on the 16th of April, at the conclusion of this first round of confidential discussions with members of the Group, aims at informing the Sri Lankan people, market participants and other stakeholders to this debt restructuring exercise, about the progress in negotiations. It provides the highest possible level of transparency within the internationally accepted practices in such circumstances.

“As informed in this statement, confidential discussions held in recent weeks with bondholders’ representatives proved constructive, building on the restructuring proposals presented by both parties. During the talks both sides successfully bridged a number of technical issues enabling important progress to be made. Sri Lanka articulated key remaining concerns that need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner.

“The next steps would entail further consultation with the IMF staff regarding assessments of the compatibility of the latest proposals with program parameters. Following these consultations, we hope to continue discussions with the bondholders with a view to reaching common ground ahead of the IMF board consideration of the second review of Sri Lanka’s EFF program.”

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Sri Lanka rupee weakens at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Tuesday, from 299.00/10 on Tuesday, dealers said. Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.05 percent up from 11.95/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent down from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2031 closed at 12.30/50 percent. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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Sri Lanka Treasury Bill yields down across maturities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields were down across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 3-month yield moving down 7 basis points to 10.03 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

The debt office sold all 30 billion rupees of 3-month bills offered.

The 6-month yield fell 5 basis points to 10.22 percent, with 25 billion rupees of bills offered and 29.98 billion rupees sold.

The 12-month yield dropped 4 basis points to 10.23 percent with 18.01 billion rupees of bills sold after offering 23 billion rupees. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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